Jason Fried

Hey! I'm Jason, the Co-Founder and CEO at 37signals, makers of Basecamp and HEY. Subscribe below to follow my thinking on business, design, product development, and whatever else is on my mind. Thanks for visiting, thanks for reading.
November 27, 2023

Live with it for a while

In the course of building products, you'll likely experience moments when you're unsure of a certain screen, flow, condition, label, idea, whatever. Maybe this button doesn't feel right. Or the name of this feature feels unresolved. Or some color is jarring, but kind of interesting nonetheless. Or the way something gets set up seems a ...
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November 16, 2023

Commodities, generics, and software

Once a product category proves popular, it's common for more companies to enter the market. Eventually, many options appear that are essentially mostly the same. Now we've got something that quacks like a commodity. Once we've got a commodity, generics eventually follow. Devoid of fancy packaging, marketing, and advertising, prices fal...
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November 8, 2023

Heard Something, Read Something, Saw Something [#16]

Hey there! Here’s the 16th installment of my popular Heard Something, Read Something, Saw Something series. So, what do we have this time... Heard Something Lately I've been enjoying listening to discussions about free will. Do we have it? If so, how much? Always? Sometimes? Never? Is it real or an illusion? I find the concept fascinat...
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November 3, 2023

Look back less

I have a theory. One of the reasons companies have a hard time moving forward is because they've tangled themselves in the near past. Eyes aimed backwards rather than ahead, staring at the dark, feet in their own concrete. They've trapped themselves looking for certainty where there isn't any. Searching for actionable advice where ther...
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October 23, 2023

An influence or a trap?

Watch this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H9NruIjkGEw Roger Smith is a watchmaker, in the most traditional sense. He apprenticed under George Daniels, one of the best there ever was. And for the first few years, he made everything himself — just him, no one else. Even if you aren’t into watches, I bet you’ll be into Roger W. Smith af...
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October 19, 2023

Always cheer

I often hear from people writing in asking for advice about some broken team dynamic. Someone's against them, they're against someone, another group doesn't want them to do well because it'll make them look bad. Management this, team that, individual something or another. People want to know how to handle these unfortunate conditions. ...
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October 18, 2023

Then just say it like that!

Over the last 20+ years I’ve been part of too many discussions where someone goes “I’m having a hard time explaining this or that…” Then they say “I just really want to say this…” And then they say it and it’s clear, concise, and obvious! They nailed it, but… …it’s as if they aren’t even listening to themselves because they’re right ba...
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October 13, 2023

Teaching iteration

I’ve written about the class I’d like to teach, but what I’ve been thinking about lately is the class I’d like to attend. Not necessarily now, but when I was growing up. In the 6th grade, let’s say. I don’t know why people ask me this, but I’m often polled for my opinion on the American education system. What’s my take? What would I do...
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October 2, 2023

No one's complaining

I’ve heard this one before. I’ve used this one before. “No one’s complaining” so it's fine. “No one” really means “no one has complained to you“. It doesn’t mean no one is complaining to someone else, somewhere else. In fact, if the thing you make/sell isn’t meeting someone’s expectations, there’s a good chance you’re the last one who’...
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September 29, 2023

Don't take their word for it

A few years ago, we needed some hardware fast. After some back and forth with the vendor, they promised “expedited delivery”. That sounded like a good thing, but it meant nothing. To us, expedited delivery meant overnight delivery. That’s what we had in our head. Our experiences elsewhere equated expedited as overnight, but expedited i...
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September 25, 2023

Keeping easy from becoming hard

Each Basecamp project has eight built-in tools you can toggle on or off. One for to-dos, one for file storage, one for scheduling, one for a message board, and so on. One of those tools is called "Campfire". Campfire is a real-time group chat. Think of it like Slack, but built right into Basecamp so you don't need Slack or anything els...
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September 12, 2023

Company culture is the last 50 days

There's nothing complicated about company culture. Culture simply happens. It's emergent behavior. There's nothing to do, it just is. A company's culture is a 50-day moving average. It's what you've been collectively doing as a company over the last 50 days. How do you treat people? Who have you hired (or fired) and why? What do you wh...
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September 8, 2023

Feeling it

I'm often asked how you know if an idea — product, business, or otherwise — is good. Good enough to pursue. Good enough to follow. Good enough to invest in. Good enough to get behind. You don't know. You feel. You give into your intuition, you tune into your senses, you notice goosebumps. What does it feel like? What's the vibe of this...
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August 24, 2023

Admiration makes the team

When people talk about great teams, they'll talk about hard work, trust, respect, looking out for one another, etc. All good things. But there's one quality amongst teammates on great teams that often goes unrecognized by all but the most astute organizational observers: Admiration. Great teams are made of people who *admire* one anoth...
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August 23, 2023


Scatter. Scatter is the silent killer at work. Scatter is tools siloed by teams. Scatter is multiple apps to do one thing. Scatter is doing the same thing at the same time in multiple places. Scatter is asking around rather than doing it right now. Scatter is pulling people off this to jump on that. Scatter is wondering where something...
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July 20, 2023

Effective > Productive

So much talk about hacking productivity these days. There’s an endless stream of methodologies and tools promising to make you more productive. But more productive at what? Productivity is for machines, not for people. There’s nothing meaningful about packing some number of work units into some amount of time or squeezing more into les...
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July 17, 2023

Stalking, not sales

What you see above is a 17-day sales sequence, or cadence. A friend of mine just sent it over and it creeped me out. From email to LinkedIn to phone to email back to LinkedIn back to phone, and so on. I assume day 18 would be a bullhorn outside your window. Somehow this is allowed to be called sales. But in any other realm it would be ...
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July 12, 2023

Who do you do business with?

Way back when we launched the first version of Basecamp in 2004, we ran all our credit card charges through a merchant account provided by JP Morgan Chase. Charging credit cards wasn't easy in the early 2000s. This was back when being an "internet company" was a major red flag. The process required mounds of paperwork, proof, and busin...
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July 10, 2023

You only compete with one thing

There's so much chatter and advice out there about how to handle "the competition". How much should you worry about them, what you can do to beat them, how much should you pay attention to what they're doing, how you should respond when they release or say something new, what you should say when a customer compares you to them, etc. Es...
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June 20, 2023

73% of what?

Look around in the tools you use. Especially project management tools. You'll likely find the products proudly displaying the percentage of this or that that's been completed. This project is 73% done. This task list is 57% done. This process is 42% complete. It's almost certainly wrong. A lie would be more accurate. Most of these perc...
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June 19, 2023

Promise not to promise

Since the beginning of Basecamp, we’ve been loath to make promises about future product improvements. We’ve always wanted customers to judge the product they could buy and use today, not some imaginary version that might exist in the future. It’s why we’ve never committed to a product road map. It’s not because we have a secret one in ...
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June 11, 2023

Heard Something, Read Something, Saw Something [#15]

Hey there! Here’s the 15th installment of my popular Heard Something, Read Something, Saw Something series. So, what do we have this time... Heard Something These 11 minutes will restore your faith in humanity. A student pilot loses her front nose gear on takeoff on her 3rd solo flight ever. An incredible amount of support comes in ove...
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June 8, 2023

Advice Expires

The internet's a living, breathing, professional self-help platform. If advice on how to run your company isn't coming at you 280 characters at a time on Twitter, you can hear it on a podcast, read it on a Substack, or get it right here on your LinkedIn feed. There's hardly a CEO, an entrepreneur, or a cultural figure these days who do...
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June 6, 2023

Two visions of the future

What an interesting moment. We're staring at two distinctly different visions of the future. They may co-exist, but they are radically different takes on what's modern, what's current, and where things are headed. One vision gets the UI out of the way. The other vision is UI everywhere you look. One vision gets the computer out of the ...
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June 2, 2023


Companies love to protect. They protect their brand with trademarks and lawsuits. They protect their data and trade secrets with rules, policies, and NDAs. They protect their money with budgets, CFOs, and investments. They guard so many things, but all too often they fail to protect what’s both most vulnerable and precious: their emplo...
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May 17, 2023

Kill Overkill

Business is often seen as the art of acquisition. Acquiring talent, customers, revenue, profits, mindshare, marketshare. Building and growing requires consumption, addition, parlaying some of this into a lot of that. But the smartest businesses — the ones that tend to stick around for the long haul — know that existence is also about a...
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May 12, 2023


In the past I’ve written about how I used to be a hothead, reacting instantly to whatever I disagreed with. I didn’t even let someone finish their thought before I started forming my rebuttal. The remainder of their statement was just filler before I could slam back. I’m far from perfect, and I still occasionally catch myself doing thi...
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May 11, 2023

We stand with the Underdogs

What do they got? A big team, lots of money, a strong brand, seemingly unlimited resources, panache, reputation, all that. They’re established. They’re your competitors. You want to look away, but you see them everywhere. Their ads on your social, their name in the media, your dream clients on their website. But you know what else they...
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May 10, 2023

You can learn AI later

Throw a dart on LinkedIn, or toss one into the ether on Twitter, and you'll likely hit a post proclaiming that you better "learn AI" or you're falling behind. Master the tools and become a prompt engineer or someone else will tell the AI to summarize the long documents, kick off initial first drafts, and rewrite the headlines for you! ...
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May 8, 2023

On hiring, rehiring, and one question to answer them all

Out of all things I’m asked about, hiring tops the list. From the actual hiring process, to reviews, to motivation and retention strategies, curiosity about hiring is on full charge. There’s a lot to cover, but I’d like to share some thoughts about a moment that doesn’t get enough attention: The end of the first year and the beginning ...
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