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.
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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May 5, 2023

Heard Something, Read Something, Saw Something [#14]

Hey! It’s been many months since my last installment of the Heard Something, Read Something, Saw Something series. Let’s get back into it. So, what do we have this time... Heard Something A buddy randomly sent me this Turkish Electro Funk Güzel Mix on YouTube. This wasn’t on my radar at all, which is all the more reason I was glad he s...
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May 2, 2023

Evaluating a redesign

We're fortunate we get to make things. But sometimes something sticks around long enough that we have the good fortune to have a chance to remake it. When evaluating a redesign, your first instinct is to compare the new design to the old design. But don’t do that. The first step is to understand what you’re evaluating. If you just put ...
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April 26, 2023

Founder & CEO is kinda a BS title

Founder & CEO is a common title, especially in tech. It happens to be my title too. I've come to believe it's an impossible title. You're either CEO, or you're Founder. You can't hold both full-time jobs. And unless your company is probably 100+, CEO isn't really a job anyway. It's more of a role someone needs to play occasionally. The...
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April 14, 2023

Innovation is overrated

Yesterday I was speaking to a university class and, as it usually does, a question about innovation came up. "How do you stay innovative? How do you encourage innovative thinking at work?" My answer: You don't stay innovative and you don't encourage innovative thinking at work. WHAT? Yes. Innovation should almost never happen. It's inc...
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April 11, 2023

Rescuing a project in progress

A friend of mine called. He was overwhelmed by a home renovation project that ballooned in size. What started as a simple kitchen countertop replacement turned into more work in the kitchen, new lighting throughout the house, a master bathroom gut rehab, and new flooring in every room. It became too much. He felt like he was sinking an...
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April 4, 2023

How we built something useful

The product development process encompasses many moments. Moments of novel breakthrough, moments of mundane maintenance, and everything in between. But some of the most rewarding moments consistently come from making something simply useful. Yesterday we shipped a feature in HEY called "Reply to Everyone" that was exactly that: Simply ...
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March 29, 2023

The improv instinct

Last week I was talking with another business owner from a different industry. He was frustrated with an employee who kept asking him what to do if x, y, or z happens. This was a long-time employee who'd been in these situations before, not someone new who was learning the ropes. With this particular employee, it's always the same set ...
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March 21, 2023

Don't be a knee-jerk

At most companies, people put together a deck, reserve a room (physical or virtual), and call a meeting to pitch a new idea. If they're lucky, no one interrupts them while they're presenting. When it's over, people react. This is precisely the problem. The person making the pitch has presumably put a lot of time, thought, and energy in...
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March 20, 2023

Delegating projects, not tasks

We recently received this email from a REWORK Podcast listener who had a question... “...I think it was in Shape Up that the idea of delegating projects rather than tasks came up. And I'm trying to move this way, of working with my own team. I just wonder if you guys have any tips or help for making that transition, helping team member...
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March 15, 2023

Just the two of us

There's a lot of talk right now about smaller, slimmer, tighter teams. Economics are forcing companies to cut back, and what they're finding is progress. Trim the overgrown crown, let the sunshine meet the ground, and all sorts of new life blooms on the forest floor. Even Zuck, master of a megacorp, is noticing it: https://twitter.com/...
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January 13, 2023

On Sabbatical

I'm out. Today marks my last day of work until March. I'm taking my first sabbatical in 23 years. It's embarrassingly overdue. I do the 8 hour day, 40 hour week thing just fine, but when it comes to taking extended time away from work, I'm terrible. Subtracting time away when my kids were born, and aside from from personal days dotted ...
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January 6, 2023

The new normal

Normal comes on quick. First it starts as an outlier. Some behavior you don't love, but tolerate. Then someone else follows suit, but either you miss it or you let it slide. Then people pile on — repeating what they've seen because no one stepped in to course correct. Then it's too late. It's become the culture. The new normal. This ha...
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January 2, 2023

Where's the bug?

The feature doesn't work. It's not critical, but there's a rush to fix it. Two people are pulled off something else to deal with this. The code is sloppy, but the original problem is gone so the fix is deployed. A post-mortem is scheduled so 9 people can review what happened. New QA procedures are applied to every project moving forwar...
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November 19, 2022

On company size

I have no idea how the the Musk-era Twitter saga plays out. That's a time will tell situation. And this isn't a post about Elon, his personality, his management style, decisions being made, talent drain, morale at the company, or the thousands of people who've been laid off or outright quit. There's plenty to be said there, and plenty ...
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November 16, 2022

Collaborating away

“"But how do you brainstorm remotely? Or riff remotely? Or collaborate creatively remotely? Isn't it better when you're in a room, tossing ideas back and forth?"” I hear some version of this fairly often from people who aren't used to making things with others from far away. There's an assumption that four walls, a whiteboard, a table,...
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November 7, 2022

Against Maximization

In business, maximization is the minimization of joy. I can’t imagine anything less interesting in business than maximizing shareholder value. Yet this is what public companies are pressured — if not legally required — to do. A lot of non-public companies follow the same path towards performance and results. To take it further, maximiz...
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October 27, 2022

Do you have to love what you do?

Attend enough business conferences, read loads of LinkedIn posts, or listen to enough motivational speakers and you’ll hear one piece of advice repeated over and over again: You’ve got to love what you do! If you don’t love what you do, you might as well stay home. No less a giant than Steve Jobs famously told Stanford’s 2005 graduatin...
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September 20, 2022

Just get moving

In business, moving is one of the hardest things to do. People think change is hard. It is. But moving is harder. Morphing from thinking and talking to actually doing and moving is the hardest. It's hard because talk is easy. Theorizing is easy. Imagining is easy. Waiting is easy. Second guessing yourself is easy. Third and fourth opin...
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September 14, 2022

It's not an experience

Alto.com is a wonderful pharmacy that offers same day delivery. I have nothing but great things to say about them. But they're following a pattern I'm seeing far too often these days. They're trying to track everything, and asking people to attribute "experience" to things that are mere, routine happenings. Most things just don't need ...
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August 30, 2022

The longer

The longer you do something, the more you'll be asked "what keeps you motivated?" People are typically looking for a goal-based answer. Or some big mission. Or some sort of target you just haven't hit yet. The question is often aimed at revealing a deep, purpose-filled motivation. The assumption is that you're still doing it because yo...
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August 25, 2022

Tossing a key

This weekend I was riding my stationary exercise bike when I noticed a sharp poke in my pocket. I reached in, pulled out a house key, and looked for a place to put it. But since I was on a bike, there's really no where for it to go other than not here. So I tossed it on the ground, broadly aiming — without accuracy or expectations of p...
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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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