Jason Fried

Best quotes by Jason Fried

Founder & CEO at Basecamp. Non-serial entrepreneur. Co-author of Getting Real, REWORK, Remote, and “It Doesn’t Have to Be Crazy at Work”.

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If your company requires you to work nights and weekends, your company is broken. This is a managerial problem, not your problem. This is a process problem, not a personal problem. This is an ownership problem, not an individual problem.


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 less. Think about how effective you’re being, not how productive you’re being.


Instead of a hackathon, try a sleepathon. You’ll be better off.


You can only iterate on something after it’s been released. Prior to release, you’re just making the thing. Even if you change it, you’re just making it. Iterating is when you change/improve after it’s out. So if you want to iterate, SHIP.


Top skill for entrepreneurs: Being great at ignoring what everyone else is doing.


I don’t 100% agree with anyone - not even myself. I’m always surprised when Person A disqualifies Person B as a source of learning simply because Person B said/did something that Person A doesn’t agree with. Full agreement is a terrible requirement to place on anyone.


Ideas are never in short supply, focus is.


When making something new that clearly competes with something that exists, gravity will pull you towards trying to do everything they do PLUS the new stuff you want to do. I’d encourage you steer clear of feature parity. Instead, handle common struggles in novel, unique ways.


People don't have short attention spans. They have short interest spans. If they're interested, they'll give you their full attention.


When I was starting my first business, I remember using a totally large random number as my first invoice number to make it seem like I’d sent *a lot* of invoices before. Hands up if you were as insecure as I was when you started your first business.


Seek fewer mentors. Seek more self-confidence. Too many people are stuck waiting for someone wiser to show them the way. There is no way.


Managers… I understand the temptation to want to track your employees’ every moment while they’re newly WFH, but I implore you to trust them to do the right thing rather than assume they’re taking advantage of the situation. Don’t look over their digital shoulder.


In the same way that sound isn’t music, traffic isn’t audience.


Humans don’t have short or long attention spans. They have attention spans commensurate with their motivations. If you don’t care about something then you have a short attention span. But care about it? You’ll make/find all the time in the world.


“No” is no to one thing. “Yes” is no to a lot of things.


You typically compete more against habits than you do against competitors. In most cases, comfort and familiarity are stronger forces than new, better, and different.


Giving out equity in startups benefits ownership way more than employees. It allows the owners to push employees harder and harder because “you’ve got skin in the game now… you’re an owner.” No you aren’t. Owning less than 1% of anything isn’t ownership.


If you want to feel good, brainstorm it. If you want to appear good, test it. If you want to know if you’re any good, ship it.


People often ask “How do you convince customers to XYZ?” Answer: I never try to convince anyone to do anything. There are plenty of people who *want* to do something, *want* to try something, are *ready* for a change. Sell to those customers.


It’s unfortunate that the default response when somebody changes their mind is often “gotcha!” or “told ya!”. A changing mind should be met with praise, not scorn.


When prototyping, always try wackier/quirkier stuff first. The deeper you get into a project, the more conservative it tends to get. Stranger ideas are more at home earlier in the process.


Company culture isn’t a moment in time. It’s not something you write down. Culture is the by-product of consistent behavior. It’s what you do over time. Your current company culture is essentially a 50-day moving average of your actions.


A manager’s top responsibility is to shield all the bullshit that happens at work from the people that need to do the work. Managers should be making sure each person on their team gets as close to a full eight hour day to themselves as possible…


It doesn’t take talent to do something new. It most certainly doesn’t take experience to do something new. It takes courage to do something new.


You can do big things with small teams, but you can't do small things with big teams. And small things are often all that’s necessary.


Working more than 40 hours a week doesn’t mean you’re working hard. It just means you are working more than 40 hours a week.


People are plenty productive. It's systems that aren't. It's the process, the methods, the overbearing oversight, the absence of trust, the incessant checking-in, the lack of contiguous time, and the red tape that bog things down, not the people doing the work itself.


Project stuck? Throwing more time, money, and people at it is like struggling in quicksand - you only get more stuck. Instead, scale it back, slice it up, siphon resources away from it on a specific date. Limits, not unlimited, helps things finish up.


You don’t have a brand until someone else tells you what it means. Until then you just have a logo, a mark, a word, a personal vision of what you want your business to be. A reflection, not introspection, is what gives a brand shape and meaning.


If you like saying yes, get better at saying no. No gives you more opportunities to say yes to the things you really want to do/make/try/explore/discover.


Email tip: If you know someone is very busy, occupied, focused on other things, the best way to get a chance at a piece of their time is with a very short email, not a very long one. I understand the tendency to go into detail, but it works against you. Think about the receiver.


One of my favorite interview questions: “What's something you know you need to get better at?”. It’s revealing.


Busting your ass doing what doesn’t need to be done isn’t a strong work ethic - it’s a strong waste of time.


Most salespeople would be better at sales if they studied the buying process more than the selling process.


The best way to get things done is to have fewer things to do.


When you cancel a service, you can tell if a company is a “Keep Customers” company (hostile, tricky policies, retention mazes, etc) or a “Keep Customers Happy” company (easy to cancel, well wishes, fair policies, etc).


A pattern I’ve seen repeat over and over again: Ask a lot of people for feedback, get stuck. Ask a few people for feedback, get moving.


Want someone to read the whole thing? Write half as much.


I’m starting to believe nothing should be designed in a day. A design needs to stand up to fresh eyes in the morning.


If you look back 5 or 10 years, would you want that version of you determining what you’d be doing today? For me: No. that’s why I’ll never understand the “where do you see yourself in 5 or 10 years?” question.


A good way to be unsure about something is to ask for one more opinion. More opinions often lead to indecision, not clarity. If necessary, ask for a few, add your own, make a call, and move on. Nearly all decisions are temporary, but stalling is permanent time lost.


There's an epidemic of interruption out there. No wonder people have to put in 60+ hours a week just to get 40 hours worth of work done.


Don’t apologize for taking a couple days to get back to someone. The apology is usually due when you get *right* back to someone. “Sorry, I didn’t put much thought into this reply - I just wanted to get back to you right away…”


Don’t start an up. Start a business.


Don’t give advice to be right. Give advice to be helpful. If it’s the right advice it’s a bonus.


When writing marketing copy, read it out loud. Then ask yourself “Would I ever say it this way to someone if I was talking to them?”


Perspective comes from zooming out. Insight comes from zooming in. They’re both enhanced by zoning out for a while.


Instead of asking “Where do you see yourself in five years?” ask “What would you prefer to be doing tomorrow?”


If you’ve only got 3 hours of work to do on a given day, then stop. Don’t find 5 more to fill your day, just to stay busy or feel productive. Never feel bad about being done with something.


Customer service isn’t a cost, it’s an investment.

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