Big Think Interview With Jason Fried
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.
And I should say that one of the really cool things has been "Rework" has been received, our book, by a lot of people all across the spectrum. So we knew technology companies would like it, but we’re hearing from, you know, people in their 80s, we’re hearing from—we heard from some hairdressers actually who’ve read it and loved it. A lot of restaurant owners from big huge manufacturers. There’s a spring company out in Chicago that just sort of, they make springs. They’re like an industrial manufacturer and they’re like, "These ideas are great. We’re going to try working on some of these." And other people have written this and saying, "I’m glad I’m not the only one who thinks this way. You know, I’ve had this business for 20 years now making this, that and the other thing and we’ve been working this way too, and everyone’s been telling me we’ve been crazy." So it’s great to sort of hear from all these other different people in different industries who think these ideas do work for them as well.
And the main reason why I think this is important is because people often make decisions with the wrong information. So they make decisions far into the future, based on information they have today. You’re better off making decisions today based on information you have today because that’s when you make your best decisions. You make your best decisions when you have the best information. That’s always right now. You and I know more about this interview right now then we did three months ago. So, you can ask me a new question right now. If you had all your questions, you have some written now, but if you had all of them written out and never changed your ideas on the questions you might want to ask, the interview wouldn’t be as good as you can say, "Jason just said something now I can ask something else." So, that’s why... that’s the agile side of it. So there’s a little bit of planning, but there’s the agile side of paying attention to the information you have right now. And that’s why I don’t like the big long plans because you’re saying in two years you’re going to be here and in three years you’re going to be here. Well you’re just saying that based on information you have today. It’s not really going to be any good in two years. The best information today is the information you have today and that’s the information you have to make decisions.
Try them out. So we try to try people out, we give them a project. When we hire designers, we give them a project to do for us, a one-week project to do for us and we pay them for their time. So because, when you look at someone's resume or the work that they’ve done, you don’t really know like, was this just them or did they work on a team, it’s very hard to tell. And a lot of work, especially with developers, you can’t see their code because it’s written for proprietary product that’s owned by a company. So we looked at the open source world, because that code's available. We can look at their actual code submissions and look at their documentation, look at all the stuff that they’ve actually contributed, not said they’ve contributed. So we want to try to get to real as soon as we can. So real code, a real design. If we have to hire someone temporarily on a project basis to show us what they can do, that’s far more valuable than looking at their resume or looking at their portfolio because that’s usually not a great representation of who they are today.
Our marketing approach is, first of all to make something great because that’s the best marketing you’ll ever have. When people talk about your products and we don’t really spend, we've spent maybe $10,000, $20,000 over five, 10 years advertising, or so, our whole thing is word of mouth. And you only get that if you make something great. You don’t get that by faking it, you don’t get that by seeding viral marketing stuff. I mean, you get that by making something great. And so we’re focused on that first and foremost. And then sharing. So we try to share everything that we know and we learn and that’s a great way to get the word out. Just like chefs share. Chefs have cooking shows, which ultimately leads people to their restaurants; ultimately it leads people to buy their chips or their salsa at the stores, because they get to know the people when they teach them something on TV, or in a book. So, we’re big in to sharing. Sharing, building something great, and...
My thing also, I will say one more thing about marketing is I don’t believe in a marketing department. I don’t believe marketing is a department. I think marketing is in everything you do. It’s from the error message in your product when something goes wrong, what does it say? It’s from the sign-up form, are you asking too much from somebody? If you ask too much from someone, that’s not good marketing. It’s in, you know the customer service response times, it’s in the customer service friendliness, it’s in the designs and the copywriting, its on the button, what does the button say, it’s clarity, it’s all of those things. That’s marketing. And if you only think of marketing as this thing that these people over here do, I think you’re going to have... you’re not going to be as well off as you could be if you thought of everything you do as marketing.
Recorded on July 22, 2010
Interviewed by Peter Hopkins
A conversation with the co-founder and president of 37signals.
Get smarter, faster. Subscribe to our daily newsletter.
A tourist generally has an eye for the things that have become almost invisible to the resident.
A large new study puts caffeine-drinking moms on alert.
- Neuroregulating caffeine easily crosses the placental barrier.
- A study finds that the brains of children born to mothers who consumed coffee during pregnancy are different.
- The observed differences may be associated with behavioral issues.
A large study of nine- and ten-year-old brains<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNTY3NzIyOC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY1MDk5MjQ0N30.UCu1Ygfi_rmO-xLpW-KOgCX-MJ3bfqjzfIVg4Kmcr9w/img.jpg?width=980" id="d2e15" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="c96aa86f8dbe08aa8536502ac1769497" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" data-width="1440" data-height="960" />
Credit: myboys.me/Adobe Stock<p>For the study, its authors analyzed brain scans of 9,000 nine and ten-year-olds. Based on their mothers' recollections of their coffee consumption during pregnancy, the researchers found that children of coffee drinkers had clear changes in the manner in which white brain matter tracks were organized. These are the pathways that interconnect brain regions.</p><p>According to Foxe, "These are sort of small effects, and it's not causing horrendous psychiatric conditions, but it is causing minimal but noticeable behavioral issues that should make us consider long-term effects of caffeine intake during pregnancy."</p><p>Christensen says that what makes this finding noteworthy is that "we have a biological pathway that looks different when you consume caffeine through pregnancy."</p><p>Of children with such pathway differences, Christensen says, "Previous studies have shown that children perform differently on IQ tests, or they have different psychopathology, but that could also be related to demographics, so it's hard to parse that out until you have something like a biomarker. This gives us a place to start future research to try to learn exactly when the change is occurring in the brain."</p><p>The study doesn't claim to have determined exactly <em>when</em> during development these changes occur, or if caffeine has more of an effect during one trimester or another.</p><p>Foxe cautions, "It is important to point out this is a retrospective study. We are relying on mothers to remember how much caffeine they took in while they were pregnant."</p><p>So as if being pregnant wasn't difficult enough, it sounds like the most conservative and safe course of action for expectant mothers is to forgo those revitalizing cups of Joe and switch to decaf or some other uncaffeinated form of liquid comfort. We apologize on behalf of science.</p>
A leading British space scientist thinks there is life under the ice sheets of Europa.
- A British scientist named Professor Monica Grady recently came out in support of extraterrestrial life on Europa.
- Europa, the sixth largest moon in the solar system, may have favorable conditions for life under its miles of ice.
- The moon is one of Jupiter's 79.
Neil deGrasse Tyson wants to go ice fishing on Europa<div class="rm-shortcode" data-media_id="GLGsRX7e" data-player_id="FvQKszTI" data-rm-shortcode-id="f4790eb8f0515e036b24c4195299df28"> <div id="botr_GLGsRX7e_FvQKszTI_div" class="jwplayer-media" data-jwplayer-video-src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/GLGsRX7e-FvQKszTI.js"> <img src="https://cdn.jwplayer.com/thumbs/GLGsRX7e-1920.jpg" class="jwplayer-media-preview" /> </div> <script src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/GLGsRX7e-FvQKszTI.js"></script> </div>
Water Vapor Above Europa’s Surface Deteced for First Time<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="9c4abc8473e1b89170cc8941beeb1f2d"><iframe type="lazy-iframe" data-runner-src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/WQ-E1lnSOzc?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
Can playing video games really curb the risk of depression? Experts weigh in.
- A new study published by a UCL researcher has demonstrated how different types of screen time can positively (or negatively) influence young people's mental health.
- Young boys who played video games daily had lower depression scores at age 14 compared to those who played less than once per month or never.
- The study also noted that more frequent video game use was consistently associated with fewer depressive symptoms in boys with lower physical activity, but not in those with high physical activity levels.
How do video games and social media impact young kids?<img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8yNTY3NDY2Mi9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0NjM5OTQwMn0.FUGlBVN0uGa9jYXpbSjHssFpcdJGcpM-hsA8vJb1mJc/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C488%2C0%2C111&height=700" id="d4200" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="6a1be92721c981f409d8c9efb574fe45" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" alt="two kids sitting on the couch playing video games together" data-width="1245" data-height="700" />
The study gained interesting insight into the link between depression rates at age 14 and video game usage a few years earlier.
Credit: Pixel-Shot on Adobe Stock<p>The study's lead author, Ph.D. student Aaron Kandola, explains to <a href="https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2021-02/ucl-bwp021721.php" target="_blank">Eurekalert</a>: "Screens allow us to engage in a wide range of activities. Guidelines and recommendations about screen time should be based on our understanding of how these different activities might influence mental health and whether that influence is meaningful."</p><p><strong>How this study was conducted: </strong></p><ul><li>These findings come as part of the Millennium Cohort Study, where over 11,000 (n = 11,341) adolescents were surveyed. </li><li>Depressive symptoms were measured with a Moods and Feelings Questionnaire (age 14). </li><li>"Exposures" were listed as the frequency of video games, social media, and internet usage (age 11). </li><li>Physical activity was also accounted for on a self-reporting basis. </li></ul><p><strong>When comparing young boys (age 11) who played video games to those who don't, the study showed interesting results: </strong></p><ul><li>Boys who played video games <strong>daily</strong> had 24.3 percent lower depression scores at age 14 (compared to those who played less than once per month or never). </li><li>Boys who played video games <strong>at least once per week</strong> had 25.1 percent lower depression scores at age 14 (compared to those who played less than once per month or never). </li><li>BOoys who played video games <strong>at least once per month</strong> had 31.2 percent lower depression scored at age 14 (compared to those who played less than once per month or never). </li></ul><p><strong>When comparing how depression impacted young girls based on their social media usage, the researchers found that:</strong></p><ul><li>Compared with less than once per month/never social media usage, using social media most days at age 11 was associated with a 13% higher depression score at age 14. </li></ul>