Adam: 1. My first question is to give some background for those reading along tonight who may not already know who you are – So, who are you, Jason?
- Jason: I’m Jason! I’m the CEO and co-founder of Basecamp (formerly known as 37signals).
Adam: I absolutely love what you do Jason. Basecamp is awesome. Want to tell people more about it?
- Jason: Sure thing… Basecamp is a very straightforward project management app. It’s used by hundreds of thousands of businesses and millions of people. The basic premise is this: When you run your projects with Basecamp, people know what they need to do. They know where things are, and you can stay on top of it all the time. It’s super easy, really fast, and battle tested over 10 years. We’re updating it all the time and invite people to check it out at http://basecamp.com.
Adam: 2. Who are your heroes? The people who inspire you.
- Jason: I’m inspired by a lot of different kinds of people. My cleaning lady inspires me… She’s been cleaning for 30 years and she’s one of the happiest people I know. She just loves cleaning. That’s success right there, so basically anyone who’s doing what they want, their way, inspires me. I love original thinkers and people who are willing to follow their gut rather than do what everyone else tells them to do.
Adam: Well, that’s a beautiful way to look at it.
Adam: 3. What is the best advice you have ever received?
- Jason: Such a hard one to answer. Summing it up, it’s not direct advice but an old quote… “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” I think Roosevelt said it, but it may be attributed to other people too.
Adam: 4. Who is the one person you would like to collaborate with in the future and why?
- Jason: That is a tough one! Let me think more on that and I’ll get back to you.
Adam: 5. What is one topic that you feel needs to be discussed that isn’t being talked about?
- Jason: Customers. Lots of talks about exits and fundraising and big valuations, but the big loser in all of this is often the customer. When companies get bought founders/shareholders get rich, but products often die. That hurts customers. I don’t like that. It just bugs me that they’re always left out of the conversation when funding/selling/IPOs are concerned. To me it comes down to how much you care about them. Factoring in their outcome too. What happens to them? For example, we didn’t sell Highrise to a variety of potential buyers because they would have shut down the product and forced the customers into another solution. That wasn’t acceptable to us, so no deal. That sort of thing. It’s not all about the money. I think this book [amazon] is amazing on the topic. Charlie Munger is a genius. Highly recommend everything he’s written.
Adam: I wish more businesses realized that – it seems this isn’t being talked about enough – just like you said.
- Jason: Yes! Maybe we can help spark that conversation.
Adam: 6. What is success to you?
- Jason: I think something is a success if you want to do it again.
Adam: 7. I found out about your work through the book Rework, which I loved. If you could have people take away 1 point from the book, what would that be?
- Jason: Business can be casual. It doesn’t have to be so serious or official or professional all the time. Loosen the tie and have fun. I’ve heard from thousands of people who’ve read REWORK and so many of them say the book was VALIDATING for them. They’d been running their business successfully following similar REWORK principals, and everyone thought they were crazy, so when they read REWORK, it was like this huge “YES!! I’M NOT CRAZY!” moment. That’s been so rewarding to hear. So many businesses are casual businesses. Great, profitable, friendly, fair, honest businesses. That’s REWORK.
Adam: It was such a refreshing read, because the business world is so….boring?
- Jason: Boring, big, unfair, entitled, and nearly always focused on growth at all cost. Just doesn’t feel right to me.
Adam: 8. What are you currently working on?
- Jason: A future version of Basecamp. Can’t say more about it right now, but you’ll hear more later this year. But I’m also working on a variety of other things around the business. New site, messaging, helping customers, etc.
Adam: 9. What would be your advice to someone wanting to step out and do something big with their lives? What should their next step be?
- Jason: Make sure you know why you are doing it. Sometimes we can get carried away and want to do something big because other people want us to do something big. But if you’re going to do something, you should be internally motivated, not externally driven. You can be both, of course. But if you don’t have the internal motivation you’ll likely flare out when the going gets tough. I think people eventually run out of motivation if it doesn’t come from within. External motivation is more variable & fragile.
Adam: 10. What’s your favorite thing about Chicago?
- Jason: Solid people. I think the midwestern work/life ethic is rooted in the fundamentals, and I’m a fan of the fundamentals.
You can view the entire dialogue over on twitter at #tenquestions.