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AMA: Jason Fried, CEO and Co-Founder of Basecamp (formerly 37signals)

over 4 years ago from , Basecamp

Hey all!

I'm Jason - one of the original founders of Basecamp (which, for 15 years, was called 37signals).

Over the years we've done a lot of different things. We started as a web design shop, then we made some software (Basecamp, Backpack, Highrise, Campfire), then we wrote a few books (Getting Real, REWORK, REMOTE). All the time we've always done things our own way - we answer to ourselves and our customers, not investors, not the public stock market, not to trends or fads. We're in this to build a long-term lasting company.

My TED talk on why work doesn't happen at work has been viewed nearly 4,000,000 times. The gist is that in most cases offices are the worst places to work because they are full of unavoidable distractions and distrations are the enemy of productivity.

I've worn every hat over the years. From a designer, to a programmer (a terrible PHP programmer way back when), to a writer, to a customer service person, to a marketer, to a salesperson, to a CEO - I've seen most everything that goes into starting, running, building, and keeping a business running. I enjoy talking about it at all.

I'm happy to discuss anything. Anything at all. I'll answer any question without reservation. So throw them at me and let's have some fun!

82 comments

  • Nick Sloggett, over 4 years ago

    What are the greatest challenges of running a semi-remote team? How did it impact growth, teamwork, and overall direction of the company?

    8 points
  • Amazing RandoAmazing Rando, over 4 years ago

    How do seek out mentors/teachers?

    How do you handle being a mentor/teacher for others?

    ...

    Thank you for doing this AMA. I love your writing and philosophy. (I have this quote hanging outside my office)

    Workaholics

    6 points
    • , over 4 years ago (edited over 4 years ago )

      I’ve never sought out mentors or teachers, because I think they are plentiful and all around us. The person who you think has all the answers, probably has far fewer than you think.

      I observe. When I walk into a small retail store, I observe how they do business. What’s working, what isn’t? How do they treat employees? Customers? Their merchandise? What can I learn from them at this moment?

      When I get my hair cut I observe the salon. Who’s there? Why? If I had an appointment at 3:30, but it’s still 3:50 and I’m waiting, what’s that feel like? How does it feel to be on time and then have someone else who’s not on time? How does it feel to pay for something? To tip? When? How?

      When I go to a restaurant I observe. How is the food presented. How does the server communicate? How’s the menu written? How’s the lighting? Is it sufficient to read the menu? Do I have to as twice for things, or do things just show up on time before I have to ask? What happens if I have a substitution request - how do they handle that? Is it a burden for them or a pleasure to serve?

      Every moment is a teaching moment. You don’t have to wait to be taught anything. Don’t delay learning because you haven’t found that magic teacher yet. Everyone, and everything, is a teacher.

      As far as being available to mentor/teach others... I try my best to be available for people as often as I can, but I also put a premium on my attention. It's misleading to tell someone you'll help them if you really don't have the time or attention to give them the focus they need. So it all depends on my current attention surplus. I try to be very upfront about this when people ask - I feel like it's the only fair way.

      And BTW... Wow, flattered and humbled that you'd put my quote up in your office! So glad that resonated with you.

      8 points
  • Wes OudshoornWes Oudshoorn, over 4 years ago (edited over 4 years ago )

    Hi Jason,

    Thanks for doing this!

    We are running a SaaS and sales is not our most "natural skill". What would be your #1 tip for doing sales? Basecamp marketing and sales always looks very authentic (not pushy), is that a strategy that has paid off?

    3 points
    • , over 4 years ago

      Sales… Like any skill, it takes practice. But how do you practice the sales cycle rapidly so you can get better quickly?

      There are a few ways I’d recommend. One is - get a part time retail sales job. Sounds nuts, but do it. Nothing teaches you more about sales than selling to the public in a retail environment. Sales is so much about listening, and when you have to sell a dozen pairs of shoes a day in a shoe store, you’ll get way more experience selling than trying to sell software with a sales cycle that can range from days to months.

      Here’s another thing you can do… I wrote about it in this Inc article called How To Get Good at Making Money:

      Like I said at the outset, it’s all about practice. Whether you’re playing drums or building a business, you’re going to be pretty bad at something the first time you try it. The second time isn’t much better. Over time, and after a lot of practice, you begin to get there.

      So here’s a great way to practice making money: Buy and sell the same thing over and over on Craigslist or eBay. Seriously.

      Go buy something on Craigslist or eBay. Find something that’s a bit of a commodity, so you know there’s always plenty of supply and demand. An iPod is a good test. Buy it, and then immediately resell it. Then buy it again. Each time, try selling it for more than you paid for it. See how far you can push it. See how much profit you can make off 10 transactions.

      Start tweaking the headline. Then start fiddling with the product description. Vary the photographs. Take some pictures of the thing for sale; use other photos with other items, or people, in them. Shoot really high-quality shots, and also post crappy ones from your cell-phone camera. Try every variation you can think of.

      I love doing this, because there’s no real risk involved. If you already have a business, you don’t need to dream up a new product line or rock the boat with crazy experiments. If you don’t have a business, it’s a perfect way to work on your chops.

      14 points
  • Tyson KingsburyTyson Kingsbury, over 4 years ago

    just wanted to say I'm a huge fan. Loved the 'getting real' book (bought it and shared it around the office) and have long been a fan of Basecamp as well as 37signals in general... Just a few questions for you (and thanks for taking the time to do this) 1) although you're not a design firm any more, and haven't been for some time, how do you feel about the current state of web design?...there's been a lot of talk recently about how things are all trending to look the same etc...do you think web design has plateaued-so to speak.....

    2) the branding for Basecamp has always struck me as very successfull....how did you come up with that?....how do you think it's changed over the years, and do you see it changing again?...

    3 points
    • Jason Fried, over 4 years ago (edited over 4 years ago )

      Thanks Tyson! I still think Getting Real is the best thing we’ve ever written. I keep toying with the idea of re-releasing it somehow.

      The current state of web design… I’d call it technically impressive, but feeling very me-too.

      There was a wonderful burst of innovation a few years back, but so many things look the same today. It reminds me of advertising in the 60s (which I love studying)… The big photo at the top, the catchy headline, and then columns of text below. Not that current web sites look like that - but that there was a formula that sorta took off and then everyone just emulated it because it appeared to be successful. It took years before someone broke out and did something original again.

      So many sites today follow this pattern: A nearly full-screen hero image up top (often a photograph shot from above of a desk with a coffee cup and stuff nearly arranged, or a looping video). Over that is a superimposed headline. Below that are either full-width horizontal blocks or staggered blocks left and right and left and right. Or you’ll see a grid of 3 to 6 blocks, each talking about a specific feature of the product. Sometimes you’ll see parallax scrolling, sometimes not. But there’s a clear formula. Sound familiar?

      BTW, I’m not suggesting it’s a bad formula, only that it’s a formula. And when everyone’s solving the same formula, there aren’t many new discoveries. So I really admire people/companies who have the courage to break out. Those who say “come on, there’s got to be another way.” And they go for it.

      We did that when we launched the original 37signals site back in 1999. This is what it looked like. No other web design company’s site looked REMOTELY like this. Not sure any other site period did. It was black and white. It was only words, only ideas. No portfolio images, no obvious client list. We presented our minds - this is how we feel, this is what we think, this is how we see. If you like that, then let’s talk and we can show you all the pictures you want.

      So, break out! Do something original!

      16 points
  • Kevin LetchfordKevin Letchford, over 4 years ago

    Over the past 5 years a lot of project management tools have come and gone. How has this affected Basecamp and its team?

    Looking at a couple of screenshots from Basecamp on your homepage, I haven't used it in a long time but it looks like the user experience hasn't changed much at all. I always wonder with big products like this, what do your designers actually do in the long term?

    3 points
    • , over 4 years ago

      Good question Kevin.

      There will always be more competition. Some stays, some goes, some things you don’t know you compete with that you do, and some things you think you compete with that you don’t.

      Competition is a force you can’t control, you can only do your best for you and your employees and your customers and hope you’re doing it well enough to survive and thrive.

      Basecamp… Basecamp is always changing. Always some big changes and then hundreds of minor improvements a year. Lots of stuff you don’t see too - shoring up infrastructure so it’s more reliable, faster, etc. There are no idle moments.

      For the past year or so we’ve been very hard at work on an entirely new version of Basecamp. Every four years or so we’ve decided we’ll be redesigning it and rewriting it from scratch. New ideas, new challenges, always looking to beat ourselves. We ask ourselves “if we were competing with Basecamp, what would we build to take them down?” And then we build that.

      In a few short months we’ll be releasing this all new version and you’ll see we’ve been up to quite a lot ;) Stay tuned.

      26 points
  • Eric Chu, over 4 years ago

    Hi Jason! Thanks for participating in this AMA.

    I love your writing and your ideas. It's very clear and concise and I look forward to each blog post you share.

    Are there any bloggers or writers that you admire?

    2 points
    • , over 4 years ago

      Thanks much! Very kind of you.

      Writers I admire… I think Andrew Sullivan is/was one of the best writers out there. He stopped writing on his site (the one I linked up) earlier this year, but you’ll be impressed by ability to write his mind if you go through the archives.

      John Gruber of Daring Fireball, obviously. He knows how to make his point.

      I really enjoy reading anything by Camille Paglia. She’s hard to agree with sometimes, but I can’t think of anyone I agree with all the time anyway. I just love the energy in her writing. She isn’t afraid of anything or anyone and her words are hers alone. She’s provocative and I like people like that.

      Louis CK is another person who comes to mind when I think of great writers. He’s a comedian, but read the way he writes (see the link above). Casual. I love casual writers. I’m not much for academic writing. Write like you speak, write to be read. Louis CK is a great writer.

      Paul Ford is a wonderful writer. So thorough and tight and clever without being cute. When you write such long pieces it’s easy to get sloppy. He’s not sloppy.

      I haven’t read anything else by Maciej Cegłowski, but I think this presentation is exceptionally well written.

      Hope that’s a good list to get started with!

      4 points
  • Josh Long, over 4 years ago

    Hey Jason! What are some of the things that make you "uneasy"?

    2 points
    • , over 4 years ago (edited over 4 years ago )

      Opportunities I can't get to for one reason or another.

      Moving slowly.

      Bureaucracy.

      The systematic destruction of nature.

      Incredible people who haven't had the opportunity to be incredible yet.

      Someone else executing better than we are at something we thought we were good at.

      Ignorance.

      11 points
  • Jon MyersJon Myers, over 4 years ago

    Jason, thanks for doing this.

    How awesome.

    Being that this is Designer News, I'm very interested in your perspective on how the role and economic value of design has changed since you first started?

    Thanks!

    2 points
    • , over 4 years ago

      Great question!

      Impossible for me to know for sure, but it sure appears that design has taken a bigger seat at the table over the last few years. People are paying more attention to the value, however loosely that is defined. People who may not have cared that much about it in the past still aren’t entirely sure how much they care about it, but they know it’s important which is a big leap forward. I think that’s the right direction ahead.

      That said, everything that’s valuable can be less valuable too. Very few things go up forever. And there’s a point of diminishing returns. One thing I’ve noticed is that there’s a bit too much design for design’s sake going on right now. Everyone’s trying to be Apple. Trying to be the most polished diamond in the world. I’m not sure there’s as much value in that level of fit and finish as designers often think. I think there’s a point where that becomes standoffish - too museum like. People like comfort, people like things they can relate to.

      So I guess my somewhat murky point is this… Design can do itself wrong as well. So while things are pointing up for design right now, I don’t think designers should take that value for granted. That value can go away, too. Design as a thing on its own has very little value. But design in the service of communication, in the service of utility, in the service of progress - that’s valuable.

      6 points
  • Mike Gyi, over 4 years ago

    Hey!

    We love Basecamp!

    What software do you use at Basecamp to design?

    Best, Mike

    2 points
    • , over 4 years ago

      Hey Mike! Thanks for the kind words. We love that you love Basecamp!

      Designers mostly use pen/sharpies, paper, Photoshop, various iPad-based sketching tools (GoodNotes, Paper), Sublime Text, and Illustrator. Sometimes we use Framer for interactive iOS mocks as well. The tools aren't that interesting - just basic tools. Whatever works. There are no rules on what tools you can, should, or must use - you just use what works best for you. 90% of my mockups are on paper, drawn with the fattest Sharpie marker I can find.

      In the end, what's important is communicating an idea and whatever tool works best for you to do that is the one you should use.

      7 points
  • Kieranne Humpston, over 4 years ago (edited over 4 years ago )

    Hey Jason!

    1) you guys had a service called 37express that was a fixed-price, fixed-scope service for clients. Almost like a product. There's been a recent trend in freelancing to create these types of offerings (http://inwheelhouse.com). Where do you see this going? And did you run into any trouble as an agency with this approach?

    2) I love your thoughts on teaching. but can't help but feel like blogging Isn't the best use of my time as a small biz compared to email marketing. Drip campaigns and courses can teach my customers AND put me directly in front of readers when i have something to say - why hasn't basecamp used email marketing more, besides the monthly newsletter you send?

    2 points
    • , over 4 years ago
      1. We did, and I think more people should do it. I think it’s a very lucrative idea because it speaks directly to what clients want. They don’t want huge expensive long-term projects where they don’t really know what they’re going to get. They want quick (in a week or two), clear (I know exactly what I’m going to get), and affordable (a few thousand bucks).

      2. Whatever works for you is what you should do. Some blog, some speak at conferences, some post videos every day, some do drip campaigns, some do webinars… We don’t really do any email marketing, but we should and we plan to down the road.

      1 point
  • Martin LeBlancMartin LeBlanc, over 4 years ago

    Did you ever try racing David?

    1 point
  • Trevor McKendrick, over 4 years ago

    With so many opportunities available to you, how do you pick what to focus on?

    For me it can be frustrating working on one thing, not knowing whether I made the "right" choice. It makes it harder to really dig in and do the work.

    1 point
    • , over 4 years ago

      There's no good answer here. It's hard. But the thing is... When you find that thing, it's all you want to work on. So that's sort of how you know. If you bounce from opportunity to opportunity it may be because you aren't really into any of them.

      A lot of it just comes down to what holds your attention, what's challenging and stimulating, and can you use the thing you're building?

      0 points
  • Diego LafuenteDiego Lafuente, over 4 years ago

    Hi Jason,

    I miss so much the first days of 37signals and their HTML prototypes of anything.

    Is 37s into that process of creating prototypes of other businesses just for test?

    Cheers,

    1 point
    • , over 4 years ago

      Thanks! The "37better" series was a really fun thing to do.

      We don't take on client work anymore, but we've considered jumping back into the game. Not for the money, but for the experience of using Basecamp with clients. Lots of client services firms use Basecamp and we should fully understand that experience again to make sure we're making the product better for them.

      2 points
  • Omotola GB, over 4 years ago

    Hello Jason, You tweeted a while back online about getting up to speed on your Ruby skills for the sake of sport and enlightenment. How's the journey going?

    REWORK is the best thing to come out of 37singnal(BaseCamp) now :)

    1 point
    • Jason Fried, over 4 years ago

      It didn't go anywhere, unfortunately. I'm still interested, but just don't have the free attention at the moment to really dive in. And this is one of those things you have to dive into. Tip toeing around a new skill doesn't really get you anywhere. You can tip toe around something you're already great at, but if you aren't yet good, it requires a deep focused dive to get there.

      2 points
  • Mackenzie DavidsonMackenzie Davidson, over 4 years ago

    Was it hard to transition from web design at 37signals to product design at Basecamp?

    I imagine that at first it would seem unnatural, or at least out of workflow. Was there any resistance at 37signals towards that move? Designers are opinionated.

    1 point
    • Jason Fried, over 4 years ago

      It wasn’t hard since it wasn’t forced.

      We continued to do client work until Basecamp (the product) was earning more money than our client work was. Then the switch was easy. There was no risk in that switch.

      We were also a company of 4 people back then - me, David, Ryan, and Matt. That’s it. We were all on board.

      3 points
  • Mike HeitzkeMike Heitzke, over 4 years ago

    I've been a huge 37signals/Basecamp fan and user for years now. I have to say that I'm especially excited to see where you all take the Watchville/Hodinkee group.

    What is your involvement like in that effort? There's such a wealth of talent in that group, I'm just curious where everyone fits in.

    Also, what's your favorite watch at the moment? (I assume you're like me, in that it changes pretty often).

    1 point
    • , over 4 years ago (edited over 4 years ago )

      Thanks Mike!

      My involvement is as a fan first, investor second. As an investor, I’m available to help in any way I can. I’m a very minority investor so I don’t have (or want) any power in the relationship, I just want to help if/when when called upon.

      They are in very capable hands. I love their plans and where they’re headed. Very fun to watch from courtside seats.

      Favorite watch at the moment… Instead of a watch, I’ll give you a brand: I love everything Laurent Ferrier is doing. I think they make the most beautiful modern watches today.

      What’s your favorite?

      3 points
      • Mike HeitzkeMike Heitzke, over 4 years ago

        Very cool, thanks for the response. The intersection of technology and the global watch industry is going to be a very interesting space here pretty soon. Looking forward to seeing how the product forms.

        Lovely design details on the Laurent Ferrier. Love the shape of the case flowing into those curved lugs, but especially those hands.

        Probably too obvious, but I borrowed a Nomos Tangomat for a few weeks and have been stuck on them since. Maybe a Datum for me next, but to actually purchase this time.

        0 points
  • Jure ŽoveJure Žove, over 4 years ago

    Hey Jason!

    You've been quite active on Instagram and it's obvious you're a watch enthusiast and collector. Where did this love for watches come from?

    Can we learn anything from watchmakers we can apply to tech products?

    Thanks!

    1 point
    • , over 4 years ago

      Back in high school my dad started collecting old American watches. Elgin, Illinois, Hamilton, etc. He’d pick them off of eBay purely based on the way the dials and cases looked. They had such cool looks. That’s when I fell for watches.

      I’ve been an on again off again collector for a while, but have really gotten back into it strong recently.

      Watchmaking has a lot to teach. There’s so much talk about how Apple makes these amazing consumer products with incredible tolerances and fit and finish. And they do! Apple is amazing - no one does mass market products better at they scale. But high-end watch makers like Patek, Vacheron, A. Lange & Sohne, Laurent Ferrier, FP Journe… They really set the bar for what’s possible in terms of material finishing, attention to detail, mechanical craftsmanship, art, science, and design. I think a lot of tech/designer people would be floored by the attention to detail and the wonderful combination of disciplines that go into modern mechanical watchmaking.

      2 points
      • John HowardJohn Howard, over 4 years ago

        I worked on an app for a company called Crown & Caliber (they are doing really well in the watch space for reselling, collecting, etc.). Check them out!

        0 points
  • Anand Muthukrishnan, over 4 years ago

    Every employee (designers/developers) might not have high motivation on a product for a long time. If you see your own company, there are some really good people who are sticking with you for a very long time. Of course they could have got bigger offers than what 37signals (Basecamp) can offer. But they are not choosing that path.

    So. According to you, what are some of the motivational factors to keep the really good people from leaving your team/company?

    1 point
    • Jason Fried, over 4 years ago

      I think it all comes down to the same things - human things... People need to be intrinsically motivated by the work they do, they have to enjoy the people they are working with, they have to feel like they are doing meaningful work, they have to feel appreciated and powerful, they want a comfortable combination of autonomy and support, they want to be treated fairly and respected thoroughly, and of course they want to be fairly compensated. I feel like we've done - and continue to do - a good job on these fundamentals.

      0 points
  • Kieranne Humpston, over 4 years ago

    Hey Jason!

    Does basecamp ever work with freelancers/consultants? Would you ever? Why or why not?

    1 point
    • , over 4 years ago

      We've experimented in the past, but we prefer to work with full-time employees. Software and design is never done - it's a forever iterative, long-term process - so we prefer more permanence than shorter-term engagements.

      1 point
  • Michael AleoMichael Aleo, over 4 years ago (edited over 4 years ago )

    Hey Jason, thanks for taking the time. Own all your books, have used all of your products, and share your love for watches on Instagram.

    I know not inviting feature creep into the product is a big deal to you guys—sticking to what you're good at and making it better. But it has really felt to me in the past two years or so that Basecamp not adding ANY features sort of left us looking around at other, albeit, less refined options.

    Do you foresee adding more features to Basecamp anytime soon? Things like:

    • Gantt charts
    • Task completion percentages
    • Recurring tasks
    • Task reminders
    • Task priority

    Maybe I want to lean on a product too much to help me run my business, and while there are lots of other options out there who have options like these, none feel as refined, or are as easily used by our clients as Basecamp. I just wish it did... a little bit more.

    1 point
    • , over 4 years ago

      Hey Michael!

      Thanks for your question.

      First to be clear, we’ve been adding a ton of great stuff to Basecamp and making it better all the time. Here’s a list of just some of those things. They may not be the items on your list, but there are thousands of people with different lists and demands and requirements and we continue to make Basecamp better for as many people as we can as often as we can.

      As to your list… We have a few of these things coming up in this all new version of Basecamp we’re working on now. I think you’ll like what’s coming. No Gantt charts at this time though, sorry.

      2 points
      • Michael AleoMichael Aleo, over 4 years ago

        Appreciate you taking the time to reply. Maybe I've had my head in the sand—when is the "new new" Basecamp slated to roll out? Posted any sneak peeks? Totally get what you're saying about thousands of people wanting different features. Respect that you curate Basecamp's growth carefully.

        1 point
        • , over 4 years ago

          New new Basecamp in a few months. Will be talking a lot more about it in September, so just around the corner.

          1 point
  • Drew Haines, over 4 years ago

    Hi Jason, I do much of the design at our firm and I'm a true believer in the only way to get better at something is to 'beat on your craft' (aka DESIGN/READ MORE)

    Do you have any recommended books, blogs or resources? Something for DO and DONTS of design.

    1 point
    • , over 4 years ago

      The only don't I have is don't stop. I don't mean go 24/7, I mean don't put down your craft. Drop it and you lose it. I know this first hand - I've lost some of my touch with HTML/CSS because I hadn't been doing it consistently for a while and new stuff comes along and you fall behind. It's a lot harder to pick it up again than to never let it go.

      3 points
  • Sean GeraghtySean Geraghty, over 4 years ago

    Hi Jason,

    What was it that motivated you to start 37 signals? Were you fed up of where you were or did you always want to run your own shop? If so do you think that changing to Basecamp was maybe a move away from your initial idea, and does this bother you or are you happier now?

    Thanks

    1 point
    • Jason Fried, over 4 years ago (edited over 4 years ago )

      I had been working on my own as a freelancer for a while, and wanted to work closely with other people with complimentary skills. I was doing the same kind of work on my own - same ideas, same philosophy - but it was all me and I was tired of that. So I'd known a couple guys for a while who had similar ambitions. Eventually the timing was right, the stars aligned, we each put in $10,000 of our own savings to get the business started, and we went for it.

      0 points
      • Sean GeraghtySean Geraghty, over 4 years ago

        What a great story, was the initial investment added as an insurance against not gaining money etc, for salaries of employees or was it office and equipment purchase/hire?

        0 points
        • Jason Fried, over 4 years ago

          It was just table stakes to show we were all serious. Since the money was all ours, and it was just the three of us, it didn't pay any salaries because we'd just be paying ourselves back. We each had our own laptops, and we borrowed a couple of desks in an office one of us already had.

          0 points
  • Max LindMax Lind, over 4 years ago

    What's playing in your speakers/headphones currently? Music, podcast, something else entirely?... and adding to that, how does what you're listening to change based on what you're working on? (especially with wearing so many hats over the years)

    1 point
    • Jason Fried, over 4 years ago (edited over 4 years ago )

      I’ve found myself mostly listening to Pandora on random. I’ll set up stations but then play them randomly. This way I’m still drawing general boundaries around the things I like, but I can still be surprised by things I haven’t heard. I find it’s a great way to discover music.

      Re: bands… Beck, Wilco, Calexico, The Black Keys, and anything Jack White is doing. Also a big fan of early blues, bebop jazz, 60s stuff, Zeppelin, Hendrix, that era. Really getting into solo piano music right now - Eric Satie, specifically. It’s just so relaxing and enlightening.

      Growing up, I was all about Public Enemy. I still think Chuck D is the best rapper that ever lived.

      Occasionally I’m playing Beats 1 to hear what’s current - stuff I’ve never heard, artists I wouldn’t normally be into. While it’s often not my taste, I like to know.

      Lastly, I really love Tom Petty’s Buried Treasure radio show on Sirius XM. He plays the stuff he loves - old rock, rhythm and blues. Lots of stuff form the 50s through the 70s. Rare stuff, stuff you’d never heard anywhere else on the radio. And he’s such a fun DJ to listen to - drops really interesting tidbits, you get a sense he’s loving listening to his own programming. Like you’re hanging with him just listening to his old records. It’s great.

      What I’m listening to does affect my mood and focus, so I tend to reach for certain things at certain times, but often I just sort of zone out and work and let music reach me subconsciously.

      I'm not a podcast guy currently. I've tried to get into them, but I don't often find myself in situations that benefit podcasts.

      1 point
  • Jason HorneJason Horne, over 4 years ago

    Do you read fiction? Favorite book or author?

    1 point
    • Jason Fried, over 4 years ago (edited over 4 years ago )

      Not much a fiction reader. I’m 95% non-fiction.

      Next question is why… Mostly because I find reality so fascinating. The world is full of amazing stories about amazing people and things and ideas and inventions and cultures and natural wonders and you name it - I want to know about these things, I want to learn about these things, I want to be able to visit these things for real.

      I know this sounds anathema to a lot of people, but when I read fiction I feel like I’m wasting time. I know, it’s weird. But I just feel like I’d rather spend my time digging into a wonderful story or biography or research or experience that is real, not fictionalized or imagined. My imagination is more stimulated by saying “wow, I didn’t know that!” rather than “wow, imagine that”.

      I do read great fiction from time to time - and there’s so much wonderful fiction writing out there, obviously - but, personally, non-fiction just speaks to me at a whole different level.

      As far as favorite authors go... I don't have a favorite author, I have favorite subjects.

      4 points
  • Ruben PlatteRuben Platte, over 4 years ago

    Hey Jason,

    I love working with Basecamp. So cool that you're doing this AMA!

    Recently I had a discussion with a colleague about building a business. What it came down to was that he thought your team is more important than your idea. Because you're probably going to pivot anyway, and changing you team isn't as easy as changing your product. What do you think of this?

    Cheers!

    1 point
    • , over 4 years ago (edited over 4 years ago )

      I don't think one is more important than the other. Both are essential. A great team with a bad idea doesn't get anywhere, and will likely disband at some point because there's no reason to continue. A bad team with a great idea probably can't execute and will also fall apart. Both are required. And still, there's so much more.

      1 point
  • Dan SimDan Sim, over 4 years ago

    Hi Jason,

    I'm curious as to how a feature makes it from sharpie sketch into production in your environment. Do you work cross-functionally, or is it a matter of "here's an idea I sketched" which get's built out and then iterated on. If so, what does that iteration look like?

    0 points
    • , over 4 years ago (edited over 4 years ago )

      Process questions are always fun!

      It’s pretty simple really…

      The idea will start as a crude sketch. Very crude, often. Just a few lines, boxes, squiggles, nothing more. I’ll post it to Basecamp along with the backstory, how I see it working, additional sketches if there are additional flows, etc. Then we’ll discuss it - sometimes in Basecamp, sometimes in person, sometimes via Skype or Hangouts or whatever.

      Then we’ll go to HTML/CSS/JS (or native if it’s iOS or Android) and get real with it. Then we’ll share some screenshots or start using it and evolve it from there. Sometimes new sketches come out of it, sometimes we just work in HTML/CSS/JS/Native at that point, it all depends. The goal is always to use the thing as fast as possible so know if it works, what needs tweaking, etc.

      Programmers are involved early as well to debate the viability of the idea. They may suggest modifications like "Yes, we can do that, but if we tweaked it a little bit here we could get it done 3x faster" etc. Or maybe they'll have an idea the designers didn't think about and we'll incorporate that.

      It’s a very fluid process. I’ll share more about how we do it when I start talking more about the all new Basecamp.

      1 point
  • Diego LafuenteDiego Lafuente, over 4 years ago

    Way back you wanted to pay 100k for an iOS programmer to explore the capabilities of the medium. What did you find doing that compared to the web?

    0 points
    • , over 4 years ago

      I found that it's easy to have a bias against things that are foreign to you, but that the opportunity to get familiar with the unknown is always valuable. I still feel like we're a little behind on iOS because we didn't get comfortable with the platform early enough. Catching up fast - we have a great team in place today - but we're definitely playing some catch up here.

      1 point
  • James Morris, over 4 years ago

    I'm a huge fan of your books. I've read them all and just re-read REMOTE the other day. Do you think you'll ever write another book or maybe make a new edition of Getting Real? Thanks for your time :)

    0 points
    • , over 4 years ago

      Thanks James!

      Another edition of Getting Real would be great fun, but honestly we don’t have a whole lot more to say about the topic than what we said in Getting Real. That’s still what we believe and try to practice as often as possible.

      We might write another book down the road, but we’re not on a book writing schedule. When we find we have something new to say about something new, and we have enough new stuff to say about it, we’ll likely put it in book form. Right now nothing specific comes to mind where we could fill 200 pages.

      0 points
  • Askar HussainAskar Hussain, over 4 years ago

    Thanks for those great contributions Jason. Can you please ask @DHH why the setup and deployment of a RoR app is a pain in the rear while developing with it quite a breeze? I gave up switching completely to RoR a few years because of the deployment overhead and now setting it up on 2 different platforms is making me think twice.

    0 points
  • David Maybach, over 4 years ago

    Hi Jason,

    Do you see a reward on having your iPhone voicemails saved elsewhere (backed-up)? so they could be shared or treasured?

    0 points
  • Nick Dominguez, over 4 years ago

    What are some real world problems, that are currently on your mind or are interesting to you, that could potentially be solved by software?

    0 points