Jason Fried is the co-founder and President of 37signals, the Chicago-based web-application company. He has co-authored all of 37signals' books, including the upcoming, "Rework," as well as the 'minimalist manifesto,' "Getting Real: The Smarter, Faster, Easier Way to Build a Successful Web Application" He also helps to maintain the company's popular blog, Signal vs. Noise, and is regularly invited to speak around the world on entrepreneurship, design, management, and software.
Question: What’s the worst advice you’ve ever received?
Jason Fried: Well, the worst advice I always hear from people is when they say, “Well that wouldn’t work in the real world.” It’s like we hear that all the time from people. That wouldn’t work in the real world. And it’s not really advice as much as it is this condescending like – well, you guys, you’re lucky, you live in your own world. Well everyone lives in their own world. Who gave you the real world. What is the real world thing? You know, the real world is this depressing place where change doesn’t happen and everyone is afraid of everybody else and everything has to be hard and slow and difficult. So, whenever we hear that, we know that we are doing something right and whenever someone’s like that doesn’t work in the real world, we’re like good. Because that real world sucks and I don’t want to live in it and we don’t have to. So, that’s something.
I don’t know. Most people, that’s really what it comes down to, this real world comment that we hear a lot. But also people would say, well, you need sales people. That’s another thing we used to hear a lot. You can’t sell software without sale people. We don’t have sales people, like everyone who uses our product signs up for themselves. It’s self-service. You need sales people if your product’s hard to explain. You need sales people if you have to lie to people and convince them to buy something. Like, we make our self hopefully simple enough and clear enough and straightforward enough that you don’t need sales people. And that’s something. So that whole thing like, you need a sales team.
Oh, the other one is, you need a **** guy. Like, I don’t even know what a **** guy does. I don’t know what that’s all about. So, there’s a lot of these “You need,” or like, you need money, or you need a **** guy, or you need a VP of this, or you need to give your employees equity, or you’ll – you need all this stuff. And you don’t’ really need those things. You need those tings if you don’t think about it and you don’t want to think. So, those sorts of things like “you need” things. I just don’t like that advice.