Work The System by Sam Carpenter

Last week I recorded a podcast in which I talked about thinking of life as a system. I have been profoundly affected by the work of Sam Carpenter, author of the book Work the System. Today's post is a review and recommendation of that book.wts-book

Sam operated his own stagnant and dying business for 15 years. He worked hundred-hour weeks, literally lived at his place of business with his kids, and spent most of his time “putting out fires”.  Playing the role of entrepreneurial superhero. More than once, the payroll checks bounced, and Sam found himself standing on the doorsteps of his employees' homes, handing them cash, and begging them to give him one more chance.

In his most desperate hour, Sam had a bit of a revelation. He realized that everything (including his then-failing business) is a system (a primary system, or a sub-system of a primary system); and 99.9% of the time the systems work perfectly (that's the nature of systems). When they don't work perfectly, all we need to do is isolate the system, identify the malfunction, repair it, document the process (in case we ever need that “fix” again), and develop a SYSTEM of maintenance.

With this insight, Sam began to take uncomplicated, mechanical steps to turn his business and life around… without turning it inside out.

I am now on my third reading of the book Sam wrote explaining his epiphany, and the transformation that took place in his business and his life as a result. Sam's workweek went from 100 hours at its peak down to two hours these days. His company grew by multiples, and so did his revenue and income. His stress level plummeted to zero. He pays his employees the best salaries in the industry, and they are happy to work for him.

The dangerous thing about Sam's book is, you may read the summary inside the jacket, and perhaps even read the first 2 – 3 chapters, and think you understand. After all, the idea seems simple: every business is a system, and every system is a collection of processes that produce a result. The more you focus on improving your processes, the more your systems improve, and the better results you get from your business. Most people will nod and say that make sense. And then most people will do exactly nothing to improve the systems in their own life.

You, however, Eternal Entrepreneur, are different. You will read the book, heed its wisdom, and change your life as a result. When you follow Sam's instructions, however and create better processes for your business, the results are:

  • You make more money, and do less work.
  • You get more focus and less stress.
  • You make fewer mistakes, and produce better work.
  • You fix the mistakes that do occur, and you never make them again.
  • You feel more calm, in control, and stress free than you ever thought possible.

In the book, Sam tells the sometimes not-so-pretty story of what happened in the early days of his company, how he came to see his business as a system, and how he began to work on the simple mechanics of making the business better… by perfecting its processes. Sam has reached a point where his business is simply a machine that produces money for him and his family, and his proposal is that you and I can do the same.

I have been working intensely on perfecting the systems in my own business, and I think everyone reading this could benefit by doing the same for themselves. The best place to start is with Sam's book, Work the System, and I recommend you get it today.

More importantly, I recommend that you read it, and put Sam's wisdom into action.

Ray Edwards is a world-renowned copywriter and communications strategist, writing for some of the most powerful voices in leadership and business including New York Times bestselling authors Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen (Chicken Soup for the Soul) and Tony Robbins. Ray is a sought-after speaker and author, hosts a popular weekly podcast, and blogs at