You’re reading What They Said, a project by Chris Gallo.

Jason Fried


The following is an excerpt from Chicago Founders’ Stories. Jason Fried shares the the story behind 37 Signals, Basecamp, and working with Jeff Bezos. Thanks to Pat Ryan and builtinchicago.org. Watch the entire interview here. The transcript starts at 1:18:30.

I love listening to him, more than talking to him. I will give you one business thing and one life thing he told us.


Business

The most important thing in business is to figure out what’s not going to change in your business. And invest heavily in that.

A lot of businesses are focused on what’s changing. Change. Change. Change. But he says you should do the opposite.

He gave me an example of Amazon. 10 years from now, people are not going to wake up and say I wish Amazon’s selection was worse. Right. So they are going to appreciate a big selection now, and forever. Invest in big selection.

People are not going to wake up 10 years from now and say I wish Amazon’s shipping was slower. So they can invest in Amazon’s shipping now and it will always pay off forever.

People are not going to wake up 10 years from now and say I wish Amazon’s customer service was crappier. So let’s invest in customer service.

Find those things that are never going to change. And pour everything you have into those things.

For us, people are not going to wake up 10 years from now and I say I wish Basecamp was slower. So we’ve invested heavily in performance and speed. Our app is very, very fast.

People are not going to wake up 10 years from now and say I wish Basecamp’s customer service was crap. We’ve been investing heavily in that. Right now, if you email Basecamp support - you will get a response in under 2 minutes. Some days under a minute. And that’s unheard of in email response. We’ve invested heavily in that. Because that is a great experience and people aren’t used to that. It’s crazy.

People aren’t going to wake up 10 years from now and say I wish Basecamp was hard to use. So we have to invest in making it simpler. A lot of people want more stuff. That’s a trick. But fundamentally people aren’t going to want to make things harder to use.

So those are the places we invest. And I believe in that a lot.


Life

About life, he said you don’t find your passions. Your passions find you. So when I ask him, why are you into space? He says, I don’t know space found me.

I ask him why are you into a 10,000 year clock? And he says, I don’t know that concept found me. He’s really big into that. If you don’t really know what you’re passionate about yet - don’t search for it. It will find you.

And I thought that was a really cool piece of advice.

Me too.