Dean Clough

June 16, 2023

Portico Darwin: 18 More


<5 Minute Read
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Happy Friday.  Sure, family is nice, but a highlight of our almost 2 weeks here is Julie's dad's dog, Lucy, who I've mentioned before.  I also mentioned bragsnapshots.  Can't we have both?

Onward to the weekend (!) and as promised, here are the remaining 18 of the 37 Signals, by my management heroes Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson. 

20. Small tech
Big tech takes.  Big tech snoops.  Big tech targets.  Big tech gouges.  Big tech muscles.  Big tech tramples.  Big tech homogenizes.  We’re for small tech.

21. Know no
“No” is no to one thing.  “Yes” is no to a lot of things.

22. Stayups
The world is obsessed with Startups.  We prefer to champion Stayups — companies who’ve proven their worth, figured out their businesses, and strive to stick around for the long term.  Companies that endure inspire confidence.  Longevity isn’t a fluke.  Along those lines, we’re proud that 2022 is our 23rd year in business.

23. Thoughting vs. thinking
Long-term planning is what you thought.  Short-term planning is what you think.

24. Fixed
Here’s an easy way to launch on time and on budget:  keep them fixed.  Don’t throw more time, money, or people at a problem, just scale back the scope.

25. Disagree and commit
Consensus is cozy, but broad agreement is not our aim. The right decision is. Which is why we take the time to think, debate, persuade, listen and reconsider and then, someone, decides. If you disagree, that’s fine, but once the decision is made, it’s time to commit and support it completely.

 26. Kick in the face, kick in the ass
A crisis is a terrible thing to waste.  Sometimes events that grind you to a halt are the ones that propel you forward.  Adversity helps you grow antifragile.

27. Broadly speaking
Between Basecamp and HEY, we have paying customers in over 160 countries, and our fully-remote team is spread out across five continents.  Our perspective is increasingly global, and intentionally diversified against one worldview, one cultural lens, and one sociopolitical outlook.

28. Shots on goals
The reason that most of us are unhappy most of the time is that we set our goals — not for the person we’re going to be when we reach them — we set our goals for the person we are when we set them."  (Jim Coudal)

29. JOMO not FOMO
Have you seen?  Have you heard?  What’s your take on?  Can you believe?  OMG that tweet.  Read that story yet?  Seen that video?  Finish the second season yet?  So much FOMO.  We’d rather celebrate JOMO — the Joy of Missing Out.  Life’s better when you’re missing the stuff that doesn’t matter anyway.

30. Miscommunication problems
Companies don’t have communication problems, they have miscommunication problems.  The smaller the company, group, or team, the fewer opportunities for miscommunication.  As Osmo Wiio said, “If communication can fail, it will.  If a message can be understood in different ways, it will be understood in just that way which does the most harm.”

31. Easy?
Easy is a word people use to describe other people’s jobs.  Be careful not to assume the things you don’t know, or don’t routinely do, are easy.  Would it be fair to call what you do “easy”?

32. Ruby on Rails
Ruby on Rails was invented here. It’s the free, open-source framework that runs powerhouses like Shopify, Coinbase, GitHub, Airbnb, Kickstarter, Square, Twitch, Basecamp, HEY. In fact, Basecamp is the first Ruby on Rails app ever. Rails continues to launch thousands of programming careers, and has taken companies to millions of users and billions in market valuations.

33. Planning is guessing
Plans are guesses.  The longer-term the plan, the worse the guess.  Replace years with weeks.  3 year plan?  Make it a 3 week plan.  10 year plan?  10 week plan.  Plan more often, not less often.  The nearer-term your plans, the more accurate they’ll be.

34. Sleep on it
The end of the day has a way of convincing you what you’ve done is good, but the next morning has a way of telling you the truth.  Even if you’re sure, sleep on it.

35. Companies aren’t families
When companies say they’re a family, it’s a veiled way of demanding total sacrifice.  Nights, weekends, whatever it takes for, you know, “the family”.  But great companies aren’t fake families — they’re allies of real families.  They don’t eat into people’s personal time, they don’t ask people to dial-in during vacations, and they don’t push them to work Sundays to prep for the meeting on Monday.

36. Context > consistency
Following a formula can be comforting, but when it comes to design, we think designing around the current context is better than designing to satisfy prior consistency.

37. What’s in a name?
Mankind constantly analyzes radio waves from outer space in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence.  Since this analysis started, almost all of the signal sources have been identified.  37 signals, however, remain unexplained.

I really think these guys have it mostly figured out.  And, as a reminder:
Here it is at Amazon, of course with no affiliate commission BS.

It Doesn't Have to be Crazy at Work

Have a great weekend.  Not working. 

And don't worry:  I have some original content coming Monday.  After all, one can only drink so much Weissβier poolside.


I was flattered to hear from Joey "Bishop" Simon, a long-time friend and the younger brother of Steven.  It seems one of his own kids has landed his first job - some kind of DoD hush-hush thing in Monterey.  To celebrate, his son and girlfriend are making their first trip to Napa, and Joey thought I might have some advice.

Shocker - I did.  But the funnyman Simon stayed true to character.  He found it . . . let's call it advanced . . . that my advice included starting a weekend wine tasting day early, at 10AM and with some sparkling at Gloria Ferrer. 

Listen, skirt-boy:  I don't know how they roll in Boston, but out here, men are men, and they drink fizzy wine on a terrace under pastel umbrellas at a faux mansion at 10AM.

10 Seconds of Seriousness:  on a weekend, you want to get up there, experience it, and get out.  Late starts even on Silverado Trail can result in traffic cluster f's coming south later. 

But I bet any kid in the Simon lineage will figure it out.

Thank you to any one reading this newsletter.  Especially those that insist their workplace is different and things can't possibly change and they must keep grinding.


Mysterious signals?  Of course that means UFO and their seminal and completely Killer live album, Strangers in the Night.

About Dean Clough