Jason Fried is the Co-Founder & CEO at 37 Signals. 37signals is a privately-held company committed to building the best web-based tools possible with the least number of features necessary. Jason is also the co-author of Getting Real, REWORK, Remote, and “It Doesn’t Have to Be Crazy at Work.”

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The Learning Leader Show

  • Making decisionsDecisions aren’t hard — it’s the moments after that are. Whenever I make decisions, I don’t think about now, I think about eventually. How will this feel then, maybe a year from now. When it’s real, not raw. When the complications around the concern have cleared, and distance has done its job.
  • Goal setting – 37 Signals does not set long-term goals. Jason (as the CEO) helps set the direction and they work in six-week sprints.
    • Think, “What am I optimizing for?”
    • 37 Signals does not have a board of directors or advisors.
  • Is it more helpful to have a chip on your shoulder to prove someone wrong or to be motivated to prove your supporters right?
    • Both can be useful.
  • Keys to a great partnership? Jason works with his co-founder, David Heinemeier Hansson (a previous guest on The Learning Leader Show).
    • Mutual admiration
    • Have complementary skills (Jason is design, DHH is engineering)
  • A company is essentially two things: a group of people and a collection of decisions. How those people make these decisions is the art of running a business.
  • Maxims:
    • Decide what you’re going to do this week, not this year.
    • Whenever you can, swap “Let’s think about it” for “Let’s decide on it.”
    • Momentum fuels motivation.
  • Just ship it. You’ll figure out what needs to be fixed as you go.
  • Mark Zuckerberg is coming into his own… There are lots of reasons for it. One of them (maybe)? He’s working out, in great shape, fighting MMA style, and surrounding himself around others who are doing the same.
  • All leaders should have a writing practice. Hopefully, you don’t feel the need to send it to a lawyer or a comms team before publishing it or sharing it with the people you’re leading. Write like you talk. Write what’s in your head. Think about what you want to say, and say it.
  • You never know who is watching: Jeff Bezos sat in the front row for one of Jason’s keynotes and was so impressed that he asked to invest in his company. When you have the guts to put your thoughts and beliefs out into the world, it can work as a magnetic effect to attract people to you. It’s refreshing to hear Jason talk about one of the core qualities he loves most about Jeff: he is overwhelmingly optimistic. The world is built by optimists.
  • You don’t create culture. It happens. A company’s culture is a 50-day moving average. It’s what you’ve been collectively doing as a company over the last 50 days. How do you treat people? Who have you hired (or fired) and why?
  • Company off-site events:
    • They do two per year (one in the United States, and one abroad).
    • Members of Jason’s team meticulously design them.
    • One day of business followed by time for the team to hang out, do activities together, eat together, and bond.
  • Does Jason have plans to sell 37 Signals? “No, that would be the demise of the company.”
  • Apply to be in my Learning Leader Circle

Time Stamps

More Learning:

Episode 078: Kat Cole – From Hooters Waitress To President of Cinnabon

Episode 216: Jim Collins — How To Go From Good To Great

Episode #300: AJ & Keith Hawk – How To Instill Work Ethic & Curiosity In Your Children

Episode #303General Stanley McChrystal – The New Definition Of Leadership