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.
August 9, 2022

How it goes downhill

Comparing warning labels on gym equipment. From the 80s on the left, from the 2000s on the right. The one from the 2000s says a lot more, but the one from the 80s means a lot more. -Jason
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July 22, 2022

Binaries over priorities

Low, medium, high. 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. Must have, should have, could have, don't need. These are various forms of priorities. People seem to love them. I've always hated them. Especially when it comes to product development. When it comes to choosing what to do, it's always binary for me. Yes or no. Now or not now. Do or don’t. What about m...
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July 20, 2022

Down in front

Look around YouTube at car reviews, and you’ll see a lot of people standing in front of cars. Below I’ve snapped captures of early frames in three car reviews. These represent the first time the car is shown whole, in profile. Who’s on review here? The car reviewer or the car? Get out of the way people! Take it from Doug DeMuro. His re...
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July 14, 2022

Return On Effort

Over the last few days, a few department heads at 37signals got together for an offsite gathering, lead by Bill Joy from The Joy Group. We've worked with Bill in a somewhat different capacity in the past. This time he was here to help us understand some truths about how we really run the business, make decisions, and value what's worth...
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July 8, 2022

Like a squirrel

Stick with me on this one. I've been spending more time watching birds, squirrels, and insects lately. Nature has always fascinated me, and the longer I observe, the more I notice. And one thing I've noticed in general is that birds, squirrels, and insects stop and start a lot. They're headed somewhere, but context plays an enormous ro...
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July 2, 2022

Working around people

We all know it’s important to work with people. That’s collaboration. But it’s perhaps even more important to learn how to work around people. To uncollaborate. Not by ignoring them or dismissing them. But moving without them because they simply aren’t available to move with you. This isn’t about avoidance, it’s about “ah, you’re busy,...
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June 21, 2022

Heard Something, Read Something, Saw Something [#13]

Hey! Back again with another installment of Heard Something, Read Something, Saw Something. So, what do we have this time... Heard Something Really enjoyed this heady Making Sense episode that asks "Do you really have a self?" Theoretical conversations like these feel like a massage for the mind. They get down to root assumptions upon ...
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June 6, 2022

Risk, decisons, and scarcity

This weekend I took a long walk with a fellow founder/CEO. We talked on the phone before, but never met in person. We found ourselves in the same city, so it felt like it was time to shake hands and catch up IRL. He runs a company that's an order or magnitude larger than 37signals, so his experiences, responsibilities, and perspectives...
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June 2, 2022

Wait to concentrate

Procrastination is often tagged as a negative. If you're putting something off until the last minute, it's assumed it's because you don't want to do it, or it's too hard, or you've been avoiding it for some other reason. Maybe I'm making excuses, but lately I've found procrastination can be aimed to your advantage. Not always, but more...
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May 26, 2022

Don't defer quality

Ever find yourself about to ship something that isn't good enough? You know it, you feel it, but you still want to get it out there because regardless of outcome, lots of work went into it. You want something to show for it. You can often make yourself feel a lot better by wrapping the uneasiness with a statement like "We can always co...
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May 3, 2022

37signals: Hello again

When we launched our company in 1999, we were called 37signals. We started out as a web design firm that ultimately transitioned into a software company. As 37signals, we made a bunch of products over the years including Basecamp, Backpack, Campfire, Highrise, and others. We wrote a number of books, and blogged like crazy too. We were ...
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April 7, 2022

Heard Something, Read Something, Saw Something [#12]

Hey! Back again with another installment of Heard Something, Read Something, Saw Something. So, what do we have this time... Heard Something My friend Bob Moesta is out with a new podcast on product development and innovation, and this 27-minute episode is an especially good one. By the end, you'll have a new framework for thinking abo...
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March 26, 2022

Getting together again

We've worked remotely for nearly 20 years, but we've sustained the distance by lining up intense, one-week-together-in-person bursts twice a year. Over the last 10 years, we've mainly held these bi-annual all-company meetups at our Chicago office. But the combination of the pandemic, and an expiring office lease in July of 2020, conspi...
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March 4, 2022

Reframing it

A friend of mine is pissed off. He hired someone to replace a bunch of windows at his house. The guy did the work. Poorly. And now it turns out he needs to have everything redone. Given how badly the job went, he's going to work with someone else to get it done right the second time. What's there isn't really salvageable. Even the wind...
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February 22, 2022

How to land the job you really want

As someone who's been hiring people for 23 years, I've seen, read, and reviewed tens of thousands of job applications. The ones that typically rise to the top are the ones that demonstrate effort to get this job, and not just any job. We recently hired our first Email Marketing Manager. Nearly 400 people applied for the position. As ap...
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February 15, 2022

Watch out for 12-day weeks

Way back when, we used to release new software on Fridays all the time. That often meant working Saturdays and Sundays to fix an urgent problem with the new stuff, wrecking the weekend for whoever did the release. It was stupid yet predictable, because we kept setting deadlines at the end of the week, as most naturally do. But Friday i...
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February 10, 2022

Getting better vs. feeling better

Over the past few months I've been taking guitar lessons from a friend of mine who happens to be an exceptional teacher. I got lucky. I used to play years ago, but probably only retained 10% of what I knew, so I was as close to starting from scratch as any barely-experienced player could be. Basically, I could dabble and play some chor...
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February 1, 2022

Heard Something, Read Something, Saw Something [#11]

Hey! Back again with another installment of Heard Something, Read Something, Saw Something. So, what do we have this time... Heard Something While this is a video, it's really about sound. If you like cars, or simply dig physics, I bet you'll find this video (and audio) fascinating. I sure did. Why do engines sound they way they do? I ...
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January 28, 2022

No big deal or the end of the world?

Here’s something that should be obvious: People don’t like to have their grievances downplayed or dismissed. When that happens, even the smallest irritations can turn into an obsessive crusade. Imagine you’re staying at a hotel, and the air conditioning isn’t working right. You call the front desk to mention it, and they say, oh yeah, ...
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January 25, 2022

The Presence Prison

As a general rule, nobody at Basecamp really knows where anyone else is at any given moment. Are they working? Dunno. Are they taking a break? Dunno. Are they at lunch? Dunno. Are they picking up their kid from school? Dunno. Don’t care. The vast majority of the time, it just doesn’t matter. What matters is letting people design their ...
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January 19, 2022

Creativity requires optimism

Pessimism can spark an idea. Annoyance can drive ingenuity. Disappointment can redirect effort towards change. But creativity requires optimism. Creativity isn't about starting something. It's about making something. Making requires sustained effort, and sustained effort requires fuel. That fuel is optimism. When you run out, momentum ...
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January 6, 2022

Deployments: How we announce new features and updates internally at Basecamp

A few weeks ago I shared how we write Heartbeats at Basecamp. Heartbeats are written by team leads that summarize their team's work over the past 6-week cycle. They are published to Basecamp, and shared with everyone at Basecamp, so everyone knows what's happening across the company. The post was really well received, and people have b...
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January 5, 2022

Faith in eventually

Making something new takes patience. But it also takes faith. Faith that everything will work out in the end. During the development of most any product, there are always times when things aren’t quite right. Times when you feel like you may be going backwards a bit. Times where it’s almost there, but you can’t yet figure out why it is...
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January 4, 2022

Why the hell not?

Whenever I dive into something new, I try to find at least one “why the hell not?” moment. And when I can, I try to leave evidence of that moment in whatever it is that I’m building. When we launched our company (37signals) back in 1999, we launched a black and white, text-only site without a single piece of portfolio work to be found....
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December 30, 2021

Does it make you enjoy?

My friend and I have been discussing cars. He's thinking of buying his first fancy one. His dad had one years ago, and he's thought about buying a car like this — like his dad's — for years. He's stressed over it, he's agonized over it, and he's spent a few too many hours thinking about all the reasons why and why not. This morning he ...
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December 20, 2021

What's in a Heartbeat?

We're famous for having very few meetings at Basecamp. We generally think meetings are toxic. Yet, meetings do convey information, and we need to convey information, so what's our replacement? Writing. Long-form, complete-thought, considered writing. We write a lot at Basecamp. Since long-form writing is an asynchronous form of communi...
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November 19, 2021

Distracting? Is it?

In the course of designing user interfaces, and processing feedback about designs, one sometimes runs into a "That's distracting" comment about something specific in the design. You may even say it — or feel it — about something you're designing. What's distracting about it? Maybe something's too colorful. Maybe it's something regardin...
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November 10, 2021

Heard Something, Read Something, Saw Something [#10]

This is the tenth post in a new series I'm calling Heard Something, Read Something, Saw Something. I'll post these periodically whenever I can fill up three slots — one for something interesting I recently listened to, one for something I read that I liked, and one for something I saw that caught my eye. Hope you enjoy these. — Heard S...
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October 30, 2021

Fewer options can create more optionality

Designing products is one of my favorite things to do — period. There's a lot to love. The twists and turns, the surprises, the creative explorations, the collaboration, and the moments when things really come together. But it's the practical choices, the tough decisions, and the tradeoffs that really make the work challenging and inte...
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October 20, 2021

How we acquired HEY.com

As more and more people discover our new email service, HEY.com, I continue to get questions about how we acquired the domain name. While I can't tell you how much it cost, I can share the story behind the acquisition process. Here goes: — Back on June 9, 2018, I cold emailed help@hey.com: “Hey there– Curious… Would you entertain an of...
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