Jason Fried

March 9, 2021

Nodding heads, not turning heads

There's so much energy spent on trying to convince someone to do something, or buy something, or change their mind. It's all possible, but it's the hard road.

Instead, I tend to try to get people to naturally nod their head in agreement.

Whenever I write something with the intention to explain, sell, or promote, I'm aiming for head nods. I'm looking to find a certain resonance with those who are already traveling in this direction, who already see things similarly.

I'm just not that interested in trying to pull anyone into agreement. To realign their poles. To spin them around and point them in my direction. If it happens, that's a bonus, but it's not what I'm aiming for.

I don't want to sell someone something they're reluctant to buy. I'm not interested in trying to grease grinding gears. I'm more interested in meshing with those who are excited to come along.

I like it when they're already there with me. The words, the phrasing, the tone, and the rhythm just helps them synchronize their head nods with mine. And then we connect.

To me this is eminently more satisfying. And easier.

An example? Take this letter about HEY:


This letter was all there was at hey.com for a good long while. It was even the entire home page for weeks after we launched. There's no convincing in here. No telling anyone their position is wrong. No attempt to change minds. Just a gentle story that aligns a sympathetic reader's point of view with mine. One that gets them to nod their head. One that helps them feel good about their perspective being shared with someone else. Until, finally, at the end, we've merged together.

Because in the end, I'm really just writing to myself. Trying to find my own satisfaction in describing how I feel and what I want. And if we want the same thing, all the better.

About 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.