Love Your Work Podcast
Jason Fried said: "I think your show has a lot of legs, because you’re a really good interviewer, and you have really good, deep questions and original questions." Best-selling author David Kadavy interviews entrepreneurs and creators who have achieved success by their own definition, and built lives and businesses that are uniquely theirs. Topics will include entrepreneurship, marketing, creativity, neuroscience, productivity, lifestyle, and travel. Guest include Steve Case, Jason Fried, and Laura Roeder. Kadavy digs into how his guests found a path that was uniquely theirs. How did they discover their hidden superpowers and block out the noise? If you're an entrepreneur just starting a business, if you're looking to change your career or start your career, or if you're just looking for inspiration to find your own path, this show will be perfect for you.
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70. 7 lessons from my neighbor, Warren Buffett
Thu, Apr 20, 2017
Warren Buffett (@WarrenBuffett) and I were neighbors. He lived in his famously modest house on Farnam. I lived in a $535-a-month 1-bedroom, in a basement with moldy carpet, several blocks down, on 49th.
I used to live down the street from the famous mega billionaire, Warren Buffett. I never even saw him, but his presence taught me a lot.
This article originally appeared on Medium.
Show Notes: http://kadavy.net/blog/posts/warren-buffet-lessons-podcast/
Download File - 5.7 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device) Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)
69. Be creatively persistent. Bachata dancers Ataca y La Alemana (Jorge Burgos & Tanja Kensinger)
Thu, Apr 13, 2017
Jorge and Tanja wanted to travel the world, dance and party. It turns out, they were able to do that and make more money than they ever imagined they would.
Jorge and Tanja wanted to make it as a professional Salsa dancing couple. They aspired to travel the Salsa circuit, to perform in competitions, and they figured they could make ends meet teaching classes in their home city.
But the Salsa world was crowded. To make their debut as a dancing couple, they found they couldn't get a slot as Salsa performers.
So, they put together a performance dancing Bachata. Bachata is a Dominican style of music first recorded in the 1960's. (Medicina De Amor is played at this point in the intro.)
In recent years, Bachata has been remixed with current pop hits. Bachata is kind of Salsa's little cousin. (Latch Bachata Remix is played at this point in the intro.)
Bachata wasn't as popular as Salsa, so Jorge and Tanja were able to make an appearance.
The performance – danced to Xtreme's "Te Extra?o" – ended up on YouTube. And it exploded.
Their debut performance has amassed nearly 100 million views, and it's launched Jorge and Tanja – and Bachata dancing – into super stardom.
Today, 9 years later, Jorge Burgos and Tanja Kensinger are known as Ataca y La Alemana (joint Instagram). They're Bachata royalty. They travel the world, run conferences, and their dance company, Island Touch, has dance teams all over the world.
Show notes: http://kadavy.net/blog/posts/ataca-la-alemana-interview/
Download File - 36.5 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device) Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)
68. 10 unconventional ways to achieve full focus
Thu, Apr 06, 2017
I take focus seriously. The way I see it, being productive is not about time management. It's about mind management. If you're fully-focused on the task at hand, you can have way more creative output.
So, I experiment a lot with ways to deepen my focus. Some of the methods I've settled into are unconventional. I'm going to share them with you today.
This article originally appeared on Medium.
Show Notes: http://kadavy.net/blog/posts/10-unconventional-podcast/
Download File - 8.2 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device) Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)
67. Ryan Hoover of ProductHunt: Start with community
Thu, Mar 30, 2017
Ryan Hoover (@rrhoover) loves software products. He wanted to share new software products with other people who love software products.
So, he started a little email list. There were a few dozen people on the list. They were submitting products to the email list, so Ryan got to learn about new products every day.
But the email list grew rapidly. Once it got to a few hundred subscribers, Ryan decided it was a time to build a site.
Three years later, Ryan sold his site, ProductHunt, for about $20 million.
I don't spend much time in Silicon Valley these days, but I've at least heard that Ryan Hoover is kind of the golden child of the valley. He's perfectly executed building ProductHunt, and most importantly, building the community that drives ProductHunt.
And I think you'll notice in this conversation. I actually got kind of frustrated talking to Ryan. He seems to have always made the right decisions. I think some people are able to do that, but I'm not one of them.
I think it's actually hard to learn from people who do things right. That's why, on Love Your Work I'm always digging for the ways my guests have changed over the years, and where they went wrong along the way. Maybe I'm wrong, but I feel you can learn more from hearing about how someone changed than about how they executed everything right.
In any case, Ryan's story is a great example of how you can build something explosive by starting with something you're curious about, and building a genuine community around it.
Show Notes: http://kadavy.net/blog/posts/ryan-hoover-interview/
Download File - 34.2 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device) Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)
66. Read more books by hijacking your habits
Thu, Mar 23, 2017
Learn how to hijack habits you don't want, and replace them with habits you do want.
I'll specifically be talking about how to replace a Facebook habit with a book-reading habit. That's what I did, and that's what worked for me. But, you can try this with any habits you want to hijack.
This article originally appeared on Medium. You can follow me at kadavy.net/medium
Don't forget to take the Love Your Work survey for a chance to win a $20 Amazon Gift Card: http://kadavy.net/survey
Show Notes: http://kadavy.net/blog/posts/hijack-habits-podcast/ Download File - 5.2 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device) Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)
65. Getting writing done. Joanna Wiebe of Copy Hackers & Airstory
Thu, Mar 16, 2017
One day, Joanna Wiebe (@copyhackers) was hanging out on a web forum, helping a few startup founders with their copy. The next thing she knew, she had an inbox filled with requests for her help.
So many people needed her copy help, that she couldn't help them all, so Joanna released some ebooks, under the name Copy Hackers, and made about $30,000 right away.
Since then, Joanna has helped hundreds of entrepreneurs with their copy. But the more time she spent writing copy, the more she realized that all writers struggle with one thing: facing the blank page.
Joanna has built a new app, called Airstory, to help serious writers collect together all of the pieces that make good writing, and make it happen.
I immediately found it interesting, I've learned the hard way over the years that writing is not linear. Airstory helps bring the research and collaboration components of writing into a single cohesive experience.
Joanna and I will talk more about how to keep the creative process going smoothly. Plus, she'll share some great tips on doing customer research – I especially like her hack of combing through Amazon reviews.
Learn how, by following her passion, improvising with what she had, and facing her fears, Joanna has gone from her day job, to an information business, to building Airstory.
Take the listener survey (before April 7) for a chance to win a $20 Amazon Gift Card: http://kadavy.net/survey
Show Notes: http://kadavy.net/blog/posts/joanna-wiebe-interview/
Download File - 26.3 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device) Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)
64. Write first. Coffee later.
Thu, Mar 09, 2017
How do you feel first thing in the morning? If you're human, you're probably at least a little bit groggy. You aren't thinking straight, you can't focus. You're a wasted morning just waiting to happen.
So, the first thing you do is reach for the coffee.
I have a suggestion that may help you get more out of your mornings. Are you ready for this? I think you'll hate me for it.
Well, I think you should let the coffee wait.
I promise, I can explain. You see, that groggy feeling you have in the morning. You can do some amazing things in that state.
It's the subject of this week's episode. This article originally appeared on Medium. You can follow me on Medium at kadavy.net/medium.
Before I begin, how would you like a $20 Amazon Gift Card? Sound good? Well, I'm GIVING AWAY a $20 Amazon Gift Card every Friday from March 10th until April 7th. All you have to do is go to kadavy.net/survey and answer our short listener survey to be entered to win.
It's seriously short. It will take you less than two minutes. I promise.
Remember, I'm giving away a gift card EVERY WEEK, so, the sooner you answer the survey, the more chances you get to win. You only have to answer the survey once, and you'll get up to 5 chances to win.
This episode comes out March 9th, so if you go to kadavy.net/survey and answer the survey RIGHT NOW, you'll have a very high chance of winning a $20 Amazon gift card, because I'm giving away a gift card TOMORROW.
Again, go to kadavy.net/survey for a chance to win a $20 Amazon Gift card.
Show notes: http://kadavy.net/blog/posts/write-first-coffee-later/
Download File - 5.2 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device) Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)
63. Peter Bragiel – Make your dreams reality
Thu, Mar 02, 2017
Peter Bragiel wanted his own travel show. So, he got a camera and started traveling.
At first, not much happened. Peter Bragiel just kept stowing the tapes away in a box.
But, eventually, his adventures got bigger, and his videos got better. He's travelled the entire trans-Siberian railway, he's canoed the entire Mississippi river, and he even rode a tiny scooter, with a maximum speed of 29 miles-per-hour, across the United States. Peter's adventures are released on his YouTube channel, under the brand In-Transit TV.
And Peter makes a living off of these travel videos. He's worked with brands such as Range Rover and American Express. He also learned Spanish using Rosetta Stone, as preparation for a sponsored trip to Cuba. (He ended up crashing a vintage car during the shoot. You'll hear about that, and what they did about it.)
This week's episode is a great story about making dreams happen. How did Peter finally get the courage to publish his videos? How does he plan bigger and bigger trips? Why did Peter – who worked as a runway model in Milan, and an actor in Los Angeles – reject the gatekeepers and choose himself?
I can't help but feel, after listening to this conversation, that Peter and I are a lot alike. It seems like he has always felt compelled to travel and make videos, even if it didn't immediately make sense. I know I'm always spending hours on things that don't immediately make sense.
I especially liked hearing about how things he wrote in his journal years ago, eventually came to light. I think this is important to be aware of. Your subconscious is always trying to tell you something about your destiny, so it pays to listen.
Show notes: http://kadavy.net/blog/posts/peter-bragiel-interview/
Download File - 48.3 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device) Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)
62. My top rejections
Thu, Feb 23, 2017
Rejection hurts. Sometimes it hurts a little more than other times, but it still does hurt.
But, rejection is a part of life. If you never get rejected, you’re not really trying.
In 2016, I quadrupled my creative output. But, I got rejected harder and more frequently than any year before. I’m hoping for bigger and better rejections in 2017.
I reviewed my 2016 rejections, and it didn’t feel good. I had to relive them all at once. But, it was a valuable exercise, and?—?if nothing else—you can take some sadistic pleasure in reading about them.
Show notes: http://kadavy.net/blog/posts/top-rejections-podcast/
Download File - 8.2 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device) Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)
61. Ignore Everybody. Hugh MacLeod of Gapingvoid
Thu, Feb 16, 2017
Hugh MacLeod (@hughcards) is a hero of mine, who helped me find my own path.
It was 2004, I was sitting in a gray cubicle in Nebraska. And I discovered a PDF on the Internet called "How to be creative." I read it, and it was one of the most moving and inspiring things I had ever read.
You know how sometimes you read something and you're like "yes! That's exactly what I was thinking! Except I didn't have words for it." This little PDF was like that for me. It was subversive, and edgy, and bold, and spoke to the non-conformist part of me that wanted to live outside of the template.
And it had these brilliant little cartoons in it. They were all the same format. And small. Very small.
It turns out they were all drawn on the back of business cards. Hugh MacLeod, the man behind this PDF had been drawing these cartoons for 7 years by this point.
I came across his blog, called Gaping Void, and found more bold thinking and brilliant cartoons there. It was one of the blogs that inspired me to start my blog in 2004. I even put it in my "blog roll."
You see, there was no Twitter or Facebook, so that's how you would connect people and ideas. You'd just put a link to their blog on your blog. And that's how you would say "listen to this person. This person has things to say."
Since then, Hugh's cartoons have been seen everywhere. He's built a consulting business around the cartoons, helping companies define and express their culture. Companies like Microsoft, Cisco, Volkswagon, Zappos, eBay, and Intel. Hugh even illustrated a book with Seth Godin.
Well, I'm very excited to be connecting you with Hugh MacLeod's ideas today. Listen to this interview to discover how to overcome perfection paralysis in your work. How do you discover your creative DNA? How do you fill your work with the universal truths of human experience, to make it resonate with others. And ultimately, how, and why, do work that serves others.
Show notes: http://kadavy.net/blog/posts/hugh-macleod-interview/
Download File - 37.2 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device) Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)
60. Focus with practical minimialism
Thu, Feb 09, 2017
I talked about minimalism with some of my guests. I talked about it with Craig Benzine on episode 39, and with James Altucher on episode 53.
I'm not an extreme minimalist. I don't count the number of things that I own, trying to keep the number down. I consider myself to be a practical minimalist. I have just enough things to improve my focus, but I don't have so many things that it hurts my focus.
I recently went minimalist when I sold most of my things and moved to Colombia. In this episode, I'll share just how being a practical minimalist helps me focus.
This post originally appeared on Medium. You can find it and follow me at kadavy.net/medium
Show notes: http://kadavy.net/blog/posts/practical-minimalism-focus-pod/
Download File - 6.7 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device) Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)
59. The net appears. Vinnie Lauria of Golden Gate Ventures, Singapore (leaving a secure job, traveling Asia, overcoming emotional barriers, power networking)
Thu, Feb 02, 2017
Vinnie Lauria found his calling after backpacking around Asia.
He had just sold a company. He had just gotten married. He feared that if he spent a year traveling, he'd run out of money, and he'd run out of momentum. He worried it would be career suicide.
But his wife, Kristine, pushed him to seize the day. They sold everything, gave up their apartment in The Mission and hopped on a one way flight across the Pacific, planning to come back in a year.
Throughout his travels, Vinnie kept doing what he does best. He was meeting entrepreneurs everywhere he went – Korea, Japan, China, Indonesia, India, you name it – all over Asia.
Along the way, he stumbled across a unique opportunity. He noticed there was a gap in funding for entrepreneurs in Southeast Asia. All of the Venture Capital firms were risk averse, and didn't invest with a Silicon Valley mindset. Meanwhile, there was an explosion of early-stage startups hungry for funding.
So, with no investment experience to speak of, Vinnie partnered up with some friends and started a Venture Capital firm. Golden Gate Ventures is an early-stage VC firm in Southeast Asia. They've invested $60 in over 30 companies in 7 countries, including TradeGecko and Redmart.
He and Kristine now live in Singapore, with their two children. They never did move back to San Francisco.
Vinnie is a really close friend of mine. A year after I moved to California, I was pretty lost. I didn't like living in San Jose, and I didn't like the direction my startup was going in. I couldn't bear to give up and move back to Nebraska. Meanwhile San Francisco was just up the road, if only I had the courage to make the move.
Around that time, I met Vinnie, and spent a lot of time with him and his now wife, Kristine. They were both adventurous, and had a bold perspective on living life. I did move up to San Francisco, and fulfilled a life-long dream of living in a bustling city.
Vinnie always offered inspiration when I needed it. You'll see he's not afraid to do things that many people consider risky. He values adventure, and he's a big advocate of putting yourself in a situation where you have no choice but to succeed. As Vinnie likes to say "when you jump, the net appears."
Listen to this episode for inspiration on making big changes in your life. Vinnie will share his story of quitting a secure job at IBM and moving across the country with no plan. We'll talk about how he used to live and work with as many as 12 people in a 3-bedroom apartment. He'll share his unique methods for managing the roughly 1,000 new people he meets every year, and how best to connect them. Overall, you'll hear how a guy from Long Island ended up founding a VC firm in Singapore.
Show notes: http://kadavy.net/blog/posts/vinnie-lauria-interview/
Download File - 34.7 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device) Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)
58. How I quadrupled my creative productivity (writing, healthy habits & routines, & facing fears)
Thu, Jan 26, 2017
We're well into 2017 now, and I've been reflecting on 2016. It was a great year. In fact, I more than quadrupled my creative output.
I'm just talking about words published here. I'm not even talking about the weekly episodes I published here on Love Your Work. Almost every episode of Love Your Work so far has been in 2016.
I spent much of 2016 experimenting with some methods of optimizing my creative output, and I'll be sharing them today.
This post originally appeared on Medium. You can find it and follow me at kadavy.net/medium
Download File - 7.9 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device) Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)
57. How Noah Kagan manages his mental energy (productivity, sleep, time management, & creativity)
Thu, Jan 19, 2017
Noah Kagan first appeared on Love Your Work back on episode 41. On that episode, we talked about why discomfort is your compass, and learned that Noah even makes his bed in hotel rooms.
I asked Noah to come back on the show because he had a blog post awhile back that I wanted to ask him about. It's called "my organization system," over on his blog, Okdork.com, and he talks pretty in-depth about how he manages his calendar week-to-week.
I've been thinking a lot about managing mental energy throughout the week – after all, productivity – especially creative productivity – is more about mind management than it is about time management.
So, listen to this show to hear, in-depth, how Noah optimizes his creative output by managing his mental energy. How does he get into flow? How does he juggle all of the details of running AppSumo and SumoMe? And how does he recharge?
Noah is also joining the world of podcasters with his new show, Noah Kagan Presents. Noah interviewed me, and that episode should come out in a few weeks. Go subscribe to Noah Kagan Presents to be sure not to miss it.
Show notes: http://kadavy.net/blog/posts/noah-kagan-interview-2/
Download File - 51.0 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device) Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)
56. See you next year. Here's why. (New Year's resolutions, & the importance of sleep & rest)
Wed, Dec 14, 2016
Over the past year, pretty much every week, I've released a new episode of Love Your Work. This will be my last episode this year. I'll be taking a break for a few weeks.
We've come so far since exactly one year ago, when the first batch of episodes debuted. The show has now been downloaded over 200,000 times! If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook, you may have seen some of the growth charts. The downloads just keep growing week after week.
I'm thrilled that the show is resonating with people, and I appreciate the subscribes and the reviews. I've had a great time over the past year, and I've learned so much from our guests.
The show is really taking off, so why am I taking a break? I thought I'd share my thought process. I think it will make a good mini-episode in itself.
Show notes: http://kadavy.net/blog/posts/see-you-next-year/
Download File - 7.5 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device) Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)
55. Make your bed, change THE WORLD!? (ft. James Altucher, Dan Ariely, Jason Fried, Ryan Holiday, Tucker Max, Noah Kagan & more)
Tue, Dec 06, 2016
There's this sort of productivity meme going around that you should make your bed.
But, isn't making your bed kind of a waste?
And isn't making your bed especially wasteful if you're busy?
Here on Love Your Work, I've spent the past year interviewing some of the most successful entrepreneurs and creators. People like James Altucher, Jason Fried, Ryan Holiday, Laura Roeder, billionaire Steve Case, and many more.
I wanted to get to the bottom of this meme. Today, on a very special episode of Love Your Work, we ask: do you really need to make your bed to be successful?
Show notes: http://kadavy.net/blog/posts/make-your-bed/
Download File - 17.5 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device) Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)
54. 8 Things I Wish I Had Known About Building Online Courses (having an impact, & self-motivation through product development)
Thu, Dec 01, 2016
One of the best ways to impact others, while making money, is through building online courses. And, if you're considering writing a book, developing an online course is a great way to validate your idea, and see if your advice works.
But, building online courses can be totally overwhelming. It seems there's so much you need to know about developing it, and marketing it. Then, there's all of the technical nuts and bolts for collecting payment, and delivering the course.
Like many things, your vision of what your online course could be can get in the way of you even starting.
I learned the hard way just how much energy you can waste with things that don't add value to your course. And, what I learned can be applied to product development at large.
Show notes: http://kadavy.net/blog/posts/8-things-online-courses/
Download File - 7.2 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device) Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)
53. James Altucher: Invest in Yourself (Warren Buffett, minimalism, & writing openly & honestly)
Tue, Nov 22, 2016
James Altucher doesn't need an introduction for many of you. But for the rest, James is currently best known for his book, Choose Yourself, which is a National Bestseller, and which USA Today named in the top 12 business books of all time. You can buy Choose Yourself at kadavy.net/choose
He also has a very popular podcast. The James Altucher show has featured guests such as Tim Ferriss, Dan Ariely, Peter Thiel, Coolio, and Jewel.
James has published well over a dozen books, and first made his name as a financial pundit, writing for The Financial Times, and TheStreet.com. He's also appeared many times on CNBC as a financial expert.
James has become a millionaire, then lost it all, multiple times. He's been an entrepreneur, a hedge fund manager, and even hosted an HBO show. He writes about what he's learned through the ups and downs of his life and career on his website, jamesaltucher.com. Popular articles include "How to be the luckiest guy on the planet in 4 easy steps," and "I want my kids to be drug addicts."
Listen to this conversation to learn the hows and whys of investing in yourself, including why buying a house may be a terrible decision for you.
James and I will also talk about our recent experiences with going minimalist. He has a method for getting rid of things that I wish I would have used.
I really wanted to dig into how James has managed to be so prolific in his work. He produces a ton of work, It seems like he rarely doubts any ideas he has.
It seems like it's always been that way for him. Which doesn't help much if you're struggling to be more courageous in your work. If you're someone, like me, who wasn't born thinking big, James will share his tips on how to make progress.
As someone who has learned a lot from reading James's writing, I was also excited to learn more about how he approaches writing. James is going to share some absolute gold on writing that has already helped me make my own writing connect with others.
Also, learn how my former neighbor, Warren Buffett chose himself. And, if you happen to be a podcaster too, I selfishly asked James how he connects with influential guests, and how he prepares for interviews. Even if you aren't a podcaster, his answers, of course, could help you connect with influencers, and help you get more out of the books you read.
Download File - 56.7 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device) Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)
52. My $40,000 DIY MBA (investing in your self-education)
Thu, Nov 17, 2016
One of the more subtle underlying themes of this show is that you should invest in yourself. There's a lot of noise out there you'll hear from others who want you to spend your money in ways that will benefit them. Ultimately, you have to be mindful in your decisions so that you're sure you're really investing in yourself.
I'll be talking about that a bit more in my conversation next week with James Altucher.
Look out for that episode to drop next TUESDAY. I'm going to release it slightly early so it doesn't interfere with Thanksgiving in the US.
For now, I want to share my own story of choosing myself. This is about the time that I almost went to business school. What I decided to do next defined the course of my career.
Download File - 6.2 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device) Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)
51. Dan Ariely: Self-Motivation Through Behavioral Economics & Psychology
Thu, Nov 10, 2016
Dan Ariely is a researcher on the forefront of behavioral science. He specializes in understanding irrational behavior, for example, why do people take less candy if you give it out for free, than if you charge a penny for all the candy you want?
Dan actively works to find ways to change behavior for the better using this knowledge. Dan is a professor of Psychology and Behavioral Economics at Duke University. He's also the founder of the Center for Advanced Hindsight, which helps companies improve well-being using behavioral science. Dan has also co-founded many companies, including a productivity app called Timeful. I worked with Dan on Timeful, and Google bought the company. Now, some of Timeful's features, such as "Goals" have been integrated into Google Calendar, impacting what must be hundreds of millions of people. Dan's numerous TED talks have been viewed nearly 15 million times. He's the author of three New York Times best-selling books, including Predictably Irrational. He has a new book called "Payoff: The Hidden Logic That Shapes Our Motivations," which you can buy at kadavy.net/payoff
Download File - 57.3 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device) Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)
In Dan's new book, he unlocks the secrets of motivation, whether you're motivating others, or yourself. Listen to this interview to learn why bonuses can reduce productivity, what is it that people really want from work? How does Dan – who is a self-proclaimed bad manager – manage a big lab of talented people? And how can you hack your own motivation using behavioral science research?
50. Productivity isn't about Getting Things Done anymore (mindfulness for creative breakthroughs)
Tue, Nov 01, 2016
The current productivity wisdom is all about getting things done. Now, productivity is about making creative breakthroughs happen.
Getting Things Done brought us beyond todo lists and priorities, and made us think about breaking projects into actions, and giving those actions contexts.
By considering the context of our todos, and by giving ourselves a place for the “someday maybes,” we freed up our minds from the overwhelming wave of clutter delivered by our newly-digital world.
GTD was the killer tool of the knowledge worker. But, in an increasingly distracted world, where even knowledge work is threatened by technology, productivity needs to evolve once again.
This article originally appeared on Medium. You can follow me on Medium at kadavy.net/medium
Show notes: http://kadavy.net/blog/posts/productivity-isnt-gtd/
Download File - 8.3 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device) Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)
49. Medium.com Writing, Book Positioning & Marketing Psychology – Nir Eyal & David Kadavy
Thu, Oct 27, 2016
Nir Eyal, author of Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products, has been on the show before. We had a little debate about digital distraction back in episode 21.
Nir and I have both been exploring new book ideas independently, and practicing writing about those ideas, somewhere within that space. I've been leaning more into the productivity space, which you've heard a lot of on this podcast.
So, we recently had a call where we discussed where we were headed, how we're testing out new ideas, and how we might position new ideas. We figured, just in case, we'd record the conversation, in case it would make a good podcast episode.
And I think it will make a good episode, especially if you're an aspiring author who wonders how to home in on the right book idea. We'll talk about writing for Medium.com, and why it's such a powerful tool for testing out new ideas. I'll get very specific about my process for analyzing ideas I write on Medium, and how I decide what's worth pursuing further. We'll also talk about the psychology of book positioning, book marketing, and coming up with titles for books – a bit of an extension of the book marketing conversation I had with Tucker Max on episode 29.
Note that I say "we," and I'm aware I ended up dominating the conversation. This is something I do when I get too excited about something. Still, it should be useful. And if you have no book-writing aspirations, it will be a perhaps unsettling behind-the-scenes look at how the sausage is made.
Show notes: http://kadavy.net/blog/posts/medium-book-marketing-nir-eyal/
Download File - 57.6 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device) Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)
48. Make it easy to do what's good for you (digital detox & building healthy habits through design)
Thu, Oct 20, 2016
If you have certain behaviors that you want to encourage in your life, you can be intentional about making them happen. Here's a trick I devised to make it easy to do things that are good for me, and a little harder to do things that are bad for me.
This article originally appeared on Medium. You can follow me on Medium at kadavy.net/medium
Show notes: http://kadavy.net/blog/posts/make-it-easy-podcast/
Download File - 7.2 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device) Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)
47. Getting the most out of email: Jocelyn K. Glei (productivity & business networking through email)
Thu, Oct 13, 2016
Jocelyn K. Glei is author of Unsubscribe: How to Kill Email Anxiety, Avoid Distractions, and Get Real Work Done. You can buy the book at kadavy.net/email It's an awesome book that I really wish I had when I was first trying to get things done with email in the working world. I've since gotten my email decently organized, just through learning the hard way. Still, Unsubscribe had some very useful ideas and tools for me, I'll be exploring it all in my conversation with Jocelyn today.
Listen to this episode to learn how you can keep email from distracting you from your important work, how can you use it to move projects forward, to build relationships with influential people, and how can you use it in a way that will nurture the relationships that you do have?
Show notes: http://kadavy.net/blog/posts/jocelyn-k-glei-interview/
Download File - 56.9 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device) Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)
46. #YOLO, so point your face at a blank wall (building discipline for creative habits)
Thu, Oct 06, 2016
Back when I was writing my first book, I was shocked how hard it was. I was spending all day just trying to get into that flow state.
So, here's one way I've found to help make that flow state happen on demand.
Show notes: http://kadavy.net/blog/posts/yolo-blank-wall/
Download File - 6.1 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device) Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)
45. Cards Against Humanity's Max Temkin – Become a Connoisseur (and the psychology of marketing)
Thu, Sep 29, 2016
Max Temkin (@maxtemkin) is co-creator of Amazon's #1 selling card game – actually the #1 seller in all of the whole Toys & Games category. It's a game for horrible people, and it's also America's #1 gerbil coffin. It's called Cards Against Humanity, and you've probably played it before.
Max Temkin and his friends were self-described "nerds." They didn't play sports, they didn't have girlfriends, and they were bored. So, they played lots of board games. They played Balderdash so much, they couldn't even play it anymore because they knew all of the words in the game.
They became game connoisseurs. They played so many games, they had to make their own. Cards Against Humanity started as PDFs you could download and print out. The game is still available this way, for free, on their website, but Cards Against Humanity has independently produced and sold their game, making millions in profit.
Listen to this interview to learn how to make a good impression on notable people, how to be ready to act when luck comes your way, what deep two psychological phenomena made Cards Against Humanity so explosively popular, and why it's important to figure things out for yourself. Also, learn how Max and team made $70,000 by literally selling "nothing," and nearly $4 million selling bullshit. I mean actual shit from bulls.
Show notes: http://kadavy.net/blog/posts/max-temkin-interview/
Download File - 72.3 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device) Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)
44. I Failed. (overcoming rejection & ego in book publishing)
Thu, Sep 22, 2016
This week, I share you a story of failure. I know everyone seems to be obsessed with failure lately, and I always thought it was strange. I didn't usually look at things as failures, but as lessons learned.
Well, in this case, I really tried for something, really thought I would succeed, and I really failed. Or at least I felt like it. In actuality, it could just be another lesson learned – another step on the path toward meeting my goal.
This is an article that originally appeared on Medium. You can follow me on Medium at kadavy.net/medium
Show notes: http://kadavy.net/blog/posts/love-work-episode-44-failed/
Download File - 6.8 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device) Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)
43. Stop Giving a F*ck? Why and How. – Mark Manson on counterintuitive self-help, cognitive biases, travel, & being a digital nomad
Thu, Sep 15, 2016
Mark Manson is known for writing personal development advice that doesn't suck. He writes at markmanson.net, which has more than 2 million readers a month. Mark writes about a variety of topics, including happiness, self-knowledge, habits, and relationships.
You've probably read Mark's work before. Big hits include "Fuck Yes or No," "In Defense of Being Average," and an article by the same name as his upcoming book: "The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck."
I love Mark's writing because it cuts right through the usual self-help nonsense you read that may make you think that all you need to do is follow your passion and think positively and you'll somehow magically become successful.
Instead, Mark encourages you to see things as they are, to find comfort in discomfort, and to accept that when you try to have it all, you really end up with very little.
So, this interview is great for anyone ready to face the hard truths in life in pursuit of being the best version of themselves.
Find out why mark starts off his new book telling you "don't try." How can you find fulfillment and shut down unhealthy cycles in your life and relationships. How can travel clean away your biases and insecurities. If you're living or considering living the digital nomad lifestyle for awhile, how does Colombia differ from Brazil? How can you get the benefits of travel without leaving your hometown? And how does your lifestyle change when your values change?
Show notes: http://kadavy.net/blog/posts/mark-manson-interview/
Download File - 71.1 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device) Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)
42. Yes, You Can Leave the North America Bubble (personal enrichment through the spread of the digital nomad lifestyle)
Thu, Sep 08, 2016
On Tim Ferriss's podcast, Malcolm Gladwell urged his 30-year-old self to “Leave North America…. Which is?—?despite the fact that it pretends to be the only place that matters?—?is not the only place that matters.”
I recently moved out of North America myself, and I share my thought process in this Medium article (which also appeared on Observer).
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41. Noah Kagan of AppSumo/SumoMe on marketing, positivity, habit-building, operations, hiring, & management
Thu, Sep 01, 2016
Noah Kagan is a close friend of mine who has been one of my secret weapons in my own battle as an entrepreneur. Years ago, when I first started out on my own, and I was wandering from cafe to cafe in San Francisco, working on a Facebook app, Noah Kagan invited me to bring my laptop to his office space. He was building his own Facebook app empire at the time.
We'd get burritos in South Park, in SOMA, and Noah always had fresh ideas. Ever since then, whenever I've struggled with motivation, whenever I've felt overwhelmed in my business, I've asked myself What Would Noah Kagan Do?
Noah is now best known for AppSumo, which is a daily deals site for digital goods, and also SumoMe, which is a little toolkit you can install on your website to grow your audience with email sign-ups, a share widget, click heatmaps and a bunch more tools.
You may have also heard of Noah because he's missed out on some big exits. He was #4 at Mint, which sold to Intuit for $170 million, and he was #30 at Facebook, which is currently valued at more than $350 billion, but he got fired after 8 months.
So, Noah potentially missed out on easily more than a hundred million dollars. Most people hear that, and it sounds totally devastating. But, I know Noah, and I don't think he would change a thing.
That's because Noah has injected his own personality and his own unique way of doing things into his business. And he's found success his own way. He's done that better than anyone I know. He works really hard, but he always makes it fun. In fact, I sat down during a retreat he organized with his company in Chicago. The retreat even had a t-shirt, and Noah was of course wearing it.
I can recall many different 2-minute conversations I've had with Noah that have lead to big breakthroughs, and – wow – we have more than an hour here.
Listen to this episode and learn about continuous improvement:
- How does Noah keep improving in his business – specifically when it comes to running webinars?
- How do you incentivize others to be selfish and get them to share?
- How do you balance the art of a business with the operations?
- How do you find complementary team members?
- How do you pick your battles to have the biggest impact with the least headaches?
- Why is discomfort your compass?
- Why might you want to read the same book over and over again?
- and more...
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40. 3 Productivity Lessons from Google Calendar (cognitive biases, habit-building, & daily routines)
Thu, Aug 25, 2016
Google Calendar has been adding new features lately. You can find time for your goals, and set reminders, for example. I played a very small part in these features, but I learned a lot about my own productivity in the process.
This post originally appeared on Medium.
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39. Embrace Constraints: WheezyWaiter (Craig Benzine) on Minimalism & Creative Habit-Building
Thu, Aug 18, 2016
Craig Benzine hit rock bottom when he wasn't getting any tables at his job as a waiter, and he feared he wouldn't be able to pay his rent. So, he started making YouTube videos.
Okay, that's not the first thing I'd advise you to do if you're having trouble paying rent, but it worked for Craig. He's built a life and living for himself making videos featuring clones of himself, imaginary whales, explosions, beards, and coffee.
Craig is known on YouTube and elsewhere as WheezyWaiter. And he also runs a channel called The Good Stuff where he teaches you all about things like renewable energy, robots, and albino squirrels.
He also appears on a channel called Crash Course, where he's the U.S. Government and Politics instructor.
If all of that weren't enough, Craig is also in a band called Driftless Pony Club, and they have released 6 albums since 2004.
I dabbled with making silly YouTube videos myself several years ago, and that's when I first discovered Craig's work. I couldn't figure out how on earth Craig was managing to make a video every single day before going to work. It was inspiring to watch, and at the same time it made me feel totally inadequate.
Fortunately, I got to sit down with him in Chicago, and ask him how he does it. You'll learn about how Craig uses habit-building and constraints to increase his creative output. How does he manage to put out so much great work.
You'll notice also how Craig works with his productivity cycles. He knows the best time of day for his creative work, and he makes the most of it.
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38. Build the Habit First
Thu, Aug 11, 2016
We all have habits that we'd like to build. But we usually aim a little too high. If you understand that the building of the habit is in itself something to achieve, then building good habits will be easier. This article originally appeared on Medium.
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37. Harness the Power of Your Productivity Cycles – David Kadavy
Thu, Aug 04, 2016
David Kadavy (that's me) being interviewed by Almog from the Unstagnate podcast. He did such a great job of researching, and teasing out the things I've been thinking about a lot lately that I just had to share it with you, which he was kind enough to let me do.
In this discussion, I'll share the rituals and thought frameworks I used to write my first book, Design for Hackers, in half the time of most books like it. Bear in mind that's total time from book deal to book release. It actually was 12 hours a day of agony, but I'll tell you about the cohesive personal productivity system I've devised to make my flow states happen at the right times.
You'll also hear the story behind how that first book even happened – how I had set up my entire life so that when something like that opportunity came along – I would be ready for it.
Also, how did I get the opportunity to work with behavioral scientist Dan Ariely, on features that are now being integrated into Google Calendar, such as "Goals" and "Reminders."
Find out why you might want to grab a pen BEFORE you grab your morning coffee. How to create a virtuous cycle of productivity to train yourself to focus more deeply. Why is it so important to develop a well-defined worldview? How do I weigh the pros and cons of various ways of naming things, such as my book Design for Hackers, and this podcast, Love Your Work? How does the name of this podcast tie into landing big guests like Steve Case and Jason Fried, and how do I convince such busy people to be so generous with their time?
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36. Follow the "First-Hour" Rule
Thu, Jul 28, 2016
Do you have a big daunting project that you just can't seem to get started on? Try the "First-Hour" rule. This article originally appeared on Medium.
Download File - 6.9 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device) Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)
35. Using Paleo & Ketogenic Diet Principles to Fight Inflammation – Dr. Terry Wahls on ketosis, anti-inflammatory foods, & the microbiome
Thu, Jul 21, 2016
Dr. Terry Wahls (@terrywahls) is an inspiring example of turning a struggle into an opportunity, but I was more interested in her area of expertise.
You may have already seen the inspiring TEDx talk of Dr. Terry Wahl's. She has MS, and was confined to a wheelchair for 4 years. But, using her knowledge of biology, Dr. Terry engineered a diet based upon paleo and ketogenic principles to feed the power centers of her cells. Now, she rides her bike to work, and is out of the wheelchair.
Dr. Terry is now running clinical trials based upon her diet protocol, and has written a book. I recently picked up, The Wahl's Protocol to seek relief from chronic inflammation, and I've implemented her diet with great results. I have less pain, more energy, and I've also noticed my mental performance improve. You can pick up the book at http://kadavy.net/wahls
In this interview, we cover some of the building blocks of Dr. Terry's diet: What really does "paleo" mean? How does this "ketosis" thing you've heard about so much lately really work, and what does it mean for your health – especially for epilepsy and cancer? What does someone really mean when they say a diet is "detoxifying," and how does detoxification work?
What are the challenges in proving and implementing dietary treatments, and how do you evaluate the potential upsides or downsides of experimental approaches in general. We'll even talk about stem cell transplants, fecal transplants, and the microbiome.
If you or anyone close to you is battling an illness, you may find something useful in this interview, and even if you are healthy, you'll hear interesting and exciting things on the frontiers of health.
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34. Productivity Hack: Do Nothing
Thu, Jul 14, 2016
This is an article that originally appeared on Medium. It was later picked up by The Atlantic's Quartz.
Give yourself permission to do nothing once in awhile. You may be surprised how productive it makes you.
Show notes: http://kadavy.net/blog/posts/love-your-work-episode-34-productivity-hack-do-nothing/
Download File - 6.9 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device) Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)
33. Double Down on Love – SimplyRecipes' Elise Bauer on creative habits, mindset management, & cooking
Thu, Jul 07, 2016
Elise Bauer's SimplyRecipes (@simplyrecipes) is where I go when I'm searching for a recipe. I always find something healthy and delicious, with clear instructions and beautiful photos, all posted by Elise herself.
Honestly, I probably don't have to type in the "simplyrecipes" part because the site is extremely popular. It's been featured in Time Magazine and was named the #1 food blog by the Daily Meal 4 years in a row.
Whatever I'm looking for, I find it, because Elise has posted about 1,600 recipes over the past 15 years. She started SimplyRecipes when she was so sick, she had to move back in with her parents at the age of 40. At first, she was hand-coding her recipes in static HTML and just posting them to her personal site, Elise.com.
Now the site has grown so massive, she recently sold it to Fexy Media, but still handles all of the cooking and writing and posting of recipes.
I wanted to bring Elise's story to you not only because I love SimplyRecipes, but also because she has such a great story. As you'll hear in the interview, during a difficult time, she took the little things that were good in her life and expanded on them. She doubled down on love and built something great.
Show notes: http://kadavy.net/blog/posts/elise-bauer-interview/
Download File - 54.0 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device) Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)
32. Stop A/B Testing
Thu, Jun 30, 2016
A/B testing is a really hot topic in entrepreneurship. Fortunately, I think people have started to come to their senses with it. It's not that it doesn't work if you really know what you're doing, but it can really lead you astray when you are early on in a project.
I've heard Ramit Sethi mention recently that he wasn't really A/B testing until he was at about $1 million revenue. I recently heard Noah Kagan say "almost nobody should be A/B testing."
In this article, I share my experiment with A/A testing, and some of the misleading "results" I discovered.
Download File - 14.3 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device) Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)
31. Ryan Holiday: Tame the Enemy Inside – using stoic philosophy to tame your ego in aspirations, success, & failure
Thu, Jun 23, 2016
How can your ego hold you back in your aspirations, your successes, and in your failures? Ryan Holiday (@ryanholiday) covers it all in his new book, "Ego is the Enemy." You can buy it at kadavy.net/ego
As Ryan talks about in the discussion, he sort of wrote this book for himself. Ryan had an unusual amount of success very early in life. He dropped out of college at 19 to apprentice under author Robert Greene. He worked for a Beverly Hills talent agency, advising multiplatinum musicians, and he was the head of marketing at American Apparel by the time he was about 21.
In addition to writing books, Ryan helps other authors market their books. He's worked with authors like Tucker Max, (who we spoke with on episode 29), Tim Ferriss, and James Altucher.
In this discussion we talk about how to recognize how ego holds you back in all aspects of life and work, and what to do about it. There are lots of helpful thoughts about how to balance your passion projects with your day job, and we also talk about so-called "pageview economics," something Ryan has a lot of insight into. If you want to know how media works, you should also read his first book, "Trust me I'm Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator." You can find it at kadavy.net/trustme
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30. Buy a $600 lamp. Read more books. (changing your mindset to build a reading habit)
Thu, Jun 16, 2016
The places you invest your money, and the objects you surround yourself with both have a huge influence on how you spend your time and energy, and buying this $600 lamp helped me read more books.
This article is available on Medium. You can just google $600 lamp, or go to http://kadavy.net/medium
Show notes: http://kadavy.net/blog/posts/love-your-work-episode-30-buy-a-600-lamp-read-more-books/
Download File - 7.4 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device) Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)
29. Tucker Max: Jedi-Mind Book Marketing, Book Positioning, & Book-Writing
Thu, Jun 09, 2016
Tucker Max (@tuckermax) is best known as a self-proclaimed "asshole." He has written three NUMBER ONE New York Times best-sellers, including "I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell." He is only the third writer EVER to have three books on the nonfiction best-seller list at the same time.
Tucker is a book marketing GENIUS, and it shows in this interview. Since I've been trying the crack the positioning code for a new book lately, it was such a privilege to get Tuckers insights on what makes a book successful.
As Tucker will dissect for us, there's a big difference, psychologically, between an article someone will click on and read on the web, and a book that they will dig into their pockets to pay for. It's absolutely essential to understand this if you plan on writing a book.
By the way, this psychology is relevant to the conversation I had on episode 21 with Nir Eyal: just think of how differently Facebook would be designed if you were PAYING for it!
Anyway, Tucker is using his book marketing Jedi-mind tricks to run a really exciting new business called Book in a Box. They help you take your knowledge, and turn it into a book. It's not ghost writing, which we'll get to in the interview.
Amongst many things, Tucker will dissect for us the difference between a good click bait title, and a good book title, how to feel fulfilled in your life to break free of social media, and how Hillary and Trump brilliantly "flip the frame" on each other.
In case you couldn't tell by now, this episode is more NSFW than usual. Enjoy it with your headphones on.
Active Campaign: http://kadavy.net/activecampaign
Show notes: http://kadavy.net/blog/posts/tucker-max-podcast-interview/
Download File - 57.9 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device) Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)
28. Start where you are
Thu, Jun 02, 2016
Tuesday was the 12-year anniversary of my very first blog post. On this week's show, I'm bringing you the top lesson that I've learned from 12 years of blogging.
That blog post could easily be the worst blog post I've ever written, but it's actually the best blog post I've ever written.
Download File - 6.8 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device) Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)
27. Jeff Goins: Listen to Your Life – creative habit-building, deliberate practice, & finding your calling
Thu, May 26, 2016
Jeff Goins is the author of The Art of Work: A Proven Path to Discovering What You Were Meant to Do.
In The Art of Work, Jeff explains why finding your calling doesn't always follow the neat storybook path that you expect. You have to listen to your life, engage in painful practice, and build bridges all to let your story emerge.
In this discussion, we talk about how clarity comes with action, what makes practice deliberate practice, and why frequency matters more than quantity.
He'll also share the most cringe-inducing story of asking someone out I think I've ever heard. Don't worry, there's a lesson to be learned from it. Here's the interview.
Download File - 51.0 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device) Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)
26. 37 lessons from 37 years
Thu, May 19, 2016
I recently turned 37, and this is everything I've learned so far. I originally wrote this post on Medium.
Here's the text of the post, in case you're reading this description:
37 LESSONS FROM 37 YEARS
I have been alive for 37 years. Here is everything I’ve learned:
1. Whenever possible, act now.
2. You’re worth so much more than your eyeballs.
3. What you think is “all in your head,” may actually be in your body. Find a good doctor.
4. Trust your subconscious. It knows your path better than you do.
5. Get therapy.
6. You’re bombarded with mediocre opportunities.
7. Thus, it’s your challenge to ignore mediocre opportunities.
8. You’re bombarded with mediocre friendships and relationships.
9. Thus, it’s your challenge to ignore mediocre friendships and relationships.
10. Most people are dying to distract themselves from their own thoughts.
11. There is a lot of money to be made in distracting people from their own thoughts.
12. Thus, everything around you is built to help people distract themselves from their own thoughts.
13. So, ignore most everything, and make space for your own thoughts.
14. Nobody reads the whole article before commenting.
15. Nearly everybody is “juicing.” They’re making themselves sick trying to catch up with one another.
16. Thus, your challenge is to catch up with your self.
17. You can only know so much.
18. And, your brain is ruled by biases.
19. Thus, you can hardly trust what you think you know.
20. And, you can only know so much about a person.
21. So, if you feel jealous when comparing yourself to someone else, you’re wrong.
22. Take improv classes. It will get you out of your head, and into the moment.
23. Take voice lessons. It really is possible to improve your singing.
24. Only sing in a key that is comfortable for you.
25. Take lessons in a social dance (Salsa, Swing, Tango, etc.) You’ll learn to cooperate, and you’ll have instant community anywhere you travel.
26. Traveling sucks. It’s much better to live in different places for short bursts.
27. What you think is a personality flaw may just be the bad influence of the place where you live.
28. What you think sucks about where you live may just be a flaw in your perception.
29. If you merely suspect something is holding you back. It’s not. You are.
30. When you dream of something, that thing seems impossible.
31. When something you dream of feels impossible, it makes you unhappy.
32. Thus, be comfortable with where you are.
33. But still, dream, while being comfortable with where you are.
34. When you use a bookmark, you invite yourself to forget what you’ve read.
35. Thus, don’t use bookmarks.
36. Smart people do dumb things when the pressure is on.
37. Even though it’s clich? to end a list with something pithy, it ties it up nicely. Clich?s are clich?s for a reason.
Show notes: http://kadavy.net/blog/posts/love-your-work-episode-25-37-lessons-from-37-years/
Download File - 7.8 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device) Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)
25. Steve Case: Persevere in "The Third Wave" – how entrepreneurs will transform entrenched industries
Thu, May 12, 2016
Steve Case is the former CEO of AOL – America Online. Many of you probably chuckle when you see someone with an email address that ends in AOL.com, but for me and many millions of others, AOL was our first contact with the Internet.
Steve has a new book out called The Third Wave. The premise is that the first wave of the internet was building the infrastructure – things like getting computers with modems into people's homes, and getting them on the internet, the second wave was software-focused – things like Facebook, and now that we have all of that built out, it's time to change more entrenched industries like Healthcare, Food, and Government.
Steve stresses that perseverance is going to be critical in the Third Wave, which is something for all of you Lean Startup practitioners to consider: you can't necessarily abandon your idea because you don't get traction right away. You'll also have to form partnerships – sometimes with big, entrenched organizations that are slow-moving. So, opportunities to create something world-changing by just writing a few lines of code are becoming scarce.
I really enjoyed the book – especially the parts about the early days of AOL. AOL had a huge impact in the 90's, and I remember flipping through channels and seeing Steve on CNN giving some kind of Senate testimony. I don't remember what exactly he said, I just remember thinking it was really next-level stuff to my 17-year-old brain. It was the first time I had any awareness of how entrepreneurs and technology shape culture and shape humanity.
I hadn't realized before reading the book that it took AOL about a decade to really get traction, so it was interesting to hear those stories of the perseverance that is going to be so critical in the Third Wave.
I think Steve's theories about the Third Wave make a ton of sense. Thanks to having infrastructure, we had a good decade or so where our world was reinvented by software, but now there are big challenges in changing slower-moving industries. Even if you're a solopreneur like me, even if you're an employee for life, and you don't have interest in disrupting entrenched industries, it's important to think about these larger trends and how they effect the world around you, and your relevance.
Show notes: http://kadavy.net/blog/posts/steve-case-podcast-interview/
Download File - 29.4 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device) Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)
24. Save Time & Mental Energy With Mind Management and Perpetual Productivity
Thu, May 05, 2016
The most popular question (and answer) from my Quora session was "What tips or hacks have saved you the most time and/or energy in your life?" This answer had more than 24,000 views, and was featured in Inc.com. Inc also has tweeted it a couple of times to their 1.6 million followers.
What ended up coming out was a somewhat cohesive philosophy for full output I've devised over the years, and some of the most effective ways of redesigning ones life to fit within that framework.
If you're interested in seeing this answer, as well as other answers from my session, go to http://kadavy.net/quora
Sponsor: ($50 off Pavlok) http://kadavy.net/pavlok
Show notes: http://kadavy.net/blog/posts/love-your-work-episode-24-save-time-mental-energy-with-mind-management-and-perpetual-productivity/
Download File - 6.7 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device) Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)
23. Travel by Your Taste – Jodi Ettenberg of Legal Nomads on lifestyle design, personal discovery, & food
Thu, Apr 28, 2016
Jodi Ettenberg used to be a lawyer. She took a year off to travel 8 years ago, and never went back.
Her blog, Legal Nomads, won a Lowell Thomas Award for best travel blog and has been featured in the New York Times, National Geographic, BBC Travel, CNN, and more.
Legal Nomads is full of tips on packing, planning, and budgeting for travel, as well as beautiful hand-drawn typographic food maps and t-shirts, and guides and translation cards for eating gluten-free while traveling. Jodi has written a book called The Food Traveler's Handbook, which shows you how to find cheap, safe & delicious food anywhere in the world.
This interview is full of wisdom on the benefits and challenges that come with a life of travel. Jodi is really insightful when it comes to recognizing how travel relates to all of human experience. If you're someone who has ever thought about making a big change Jodi did, or if you've ever struggled to be more minimal and have less stuff, you'll find this conversation especially inspiring and enlightening.
You may notice that there are a TON of book recommendations in this interview. There are links in the show notes for all of the books Jodi mentions. Remember, if you buy through those links, you'll be supporting the show.
$50 off Pavlok http://kadavy.net/pavlok
Free install of SumoMe http://kadavy.net/sumome
Show notes: http://kadavy.net/blog/posts/jodi-ettenberg-2/
Download File - 65.8 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device) Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)
22. The Behavioral Revolution (Not The Information Revolution) – using behavioral science & product design to build healthy habits through technology
Thu, Apr 21, 2016
The economics favor digital distraction, but we have everything we need to make humanity great. We have the behavioral science knowledge, and with increasingly ubiquitous technology touchpoints such Apple Watch and The Internet of Things at large, we have a growing opportunity to shape behavior with technology.
The big question is: will this power be used for "good" or "evil?"
Show notes: http://kadavy.net/blog/posts/love-your-work-episode-21-the-behavioral-revolution-not-the-information-revolution/
Download File - 13.3 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device) Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)
21. Nir Eyal – Is Silicon Valley Leading Us Into The Robot Apocalypse? Artificial Intelligence, digital distraction, & the dangers of habit-forming products
Thu, Apr 14, 2016
Nir Eyal is the author of Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products. So he is really manufacturing the drug. Fortunately, he's also concerned about the implications of digital distraction, so he agreed to have a discussion with me about it on the podcast.
In this discussion, we cover our views on the potential effects of distraction. Is it making people less creative? Is it as addictive and harmful as smoking? Do we have the agency to free ourselves from technology? And, of course, is it making us vulnerable to a potential robot apocalypse?
Join the discussion in the show notes at http://kadavy.net/podcast
Show notes: http://kadavy.net/blog/posts/is-silicon-valley-leading-us-into-the-robot-apocalypse-love-your-work-episode-21-w-nir-eyal/
Download File - 45.7 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device) Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)
20. Kill Your Todo List – Sell Your Ideas to Google (overcoming decision fatigue for better creativity & productivity)
Thu, Apr 07, 2016
Sometimes, the things you feel like you should do create so much cognitive burden you can hardly get anything done. When I feel that way, I know it's time for me to have a "Week of Want." I give myself a whole week where I can work on whatever project I want, without having to think about what goal I'm trying to achieve.
This has brought me great results many times, including writing a blog post, which connected me with Timeful, which later sold to Google.
I talked about the Week of Want a little in my interview with neuroscientist John Kounios, but in this mini-episode, I explain the technique in-depth.
Sponsor: Get 50% off my White Hot Course when you use WHITEHOTLOVE at http://designforhackers.com/whitehotcourse before April 16, 2016.
Show notes: http://kadavy.net/blog/posts/love-your-work-episode-20-kill-your-todo-list-sell-your-ideas-to-google/
Download File - 17.3 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device) Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)
19. Relax! Andrew Johnson on building an app empire; overcoming anxiety, depression, & bad habits through hypnosis
Wed, Mar 30, 2016
Andrew's famous "Relax" app has been a key ritual for me for a couple of years now. Andrew has a whole empire of apps with guided recordings that help people not only relax, but Quit Smoking, reduce anxiety, lose weight, or build confidence, amongst many other things. His apps have been downloaded more than 10 million times.
I have literally found Andrew's apps to be life-changing for me, but I've also been fascinated by these apps as a business. They seem so simple.
But, behind Andrew's apps is more than 20 years as a hypnotherapist, and in this interview I'll be digging into how he got into such an unusual career, what are some misunderstandings about hypnosis, and how did he create his own luck to have the best-selling "self-help" recordings on the Apple and Android app stores. We'll also find out why he lights a candle to do his work.
Andrew's Relax app: http://kadavy.net/relax
Treehouse Sponsor: http://kadavy.net/treehouse
Show notes: http://kadavy.net/blog/posts/love-your-work-episode-19-relax-andrew-johnson-on-building-an-app-empire/
Download File - 56.6 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device) Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)
18. 2-Minute Meditation (Guided)
Sat, Mar 26, 2016
READ ME! Lots of people beat themselves up for not being able to meditate. I think they're too hard on themselves. If you can simply make a habit of meditating 2 minutes a day, you can begin to enjoy meditation to the point where you're ready to do longer sessions.
I have little formal meditation training, but this 2-minute meditation is roughly how I do my sessions. Part of it is rooted in what I know of mindfulness meditation, and, from what I've heard of Vipassana meditation, may have some influences from that as well.
I started meditating about 10 years ago, off and on, and have "practiced" regularly for about 5 years. Progress has been very slow, but grew more profound as I grew more disciplined about doing it regularly. Meditation has helped me eliminate anxiety, and think more deeply and clearly about whatever I face in work in life. I now relish sessions that are sometimes longer than 90 minutes!
There's one BIG limitation about presenting a guided meditation as a podcast: It makes you likely to meditate using a device that is also full of distractions. If you have a device on which to play this file that isn't going to distract you with a notification – either while meditating, or while glancing at the screen afterward – I highly recommend that. It might be an iPod, or I use my iPad, because I don't allow notifications on it. If you don't have anything like this ready to go, don't let that prevent you from trying it out! Try putting your device in airplane mode, instead.
This 2-minute format is inspired by my "10-Minute Hack." The idea being that, by setting an absurdly simple goal for yourself, you can "trick" yourself into doing more than you originally set out to do. You can learn more about this trick here: http://kadavy.net/blog/posts/the-10-minute-hack/
Download File - 2.9 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device) Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)
17. Eight Life Hacks for Health Wealth and Happiness
Thu, Mar 24, 2016
A 10-year-old kadavy.net classic, this "mini-episode" (or is it just an "episode?") distills eight rules of living that make me feel like I really have an edge on the world.
The original post is here: http://kadavy.net/blog/posts/life-hacks/
Below is the content of the post:
I’ve noticed in my short existence that I tend to do many things differently from most people. Some of those things probably work just as well, whereas others make me wonder “why doesn’t everyone do this?” Here are eight things that may make you feel like you’re cheating the system, too (in no particular order):
- Walk – No, I’m not saying “go for a walk,” I’m saying design your life so that you walk more. Live close enough that you can walk/bike/razor scooter to something that you frequent whether that’s work, a grocery store, a friend’s house, a bar, or preferably – all of them. Why spend 15 minutes driving to a gym to spend half an hour on a treadmill? If you’re fortunate enough to have legs that work – use them. Thomas Jefferson on Walking.
- Smile – All of the time. Even when the cashier gives you the wrong change. People’s intentions are usually good, especially when they’re dealing with someone who isn’t being a dick.
- Drink Water – Or I could say “don’t drink soda orcoffee.” It’s a waste of money, health, and teeth. Save your caffeine tolerance for when you really need it.
- Buy Used – I’ve already told you about my philosophy as this applies to music. Buying my clothes at a thrift store yields items that are not-so-watered-down versions of what I would get at my other favorite clothing store, and that are a fraction of the price. This strategy transfers well to books and furniture. When you buy used you get the adventure of discovery, and avoid the flat artistic experience that comes with only consuming the contemporary.
- Underorganize – There are a number things you can apply this to, but I can’t give a better example than my “inbox/outbox” method of doing laundry. Should you keep all of your financial documents etc. in a filing cabinet? Probably, but recognize when your organizing reaches the point of diminishing returns.
- Live Small – What’s that, you can’t afford a three-bedroom, three bath house with a huge yard and garage in a neighborhood where #1 is possible? Good. Then you won’t buy so much crap. You’ll save money in the long run, and you’ll be happier, too.
- Remember How Adaptable You Are – How long could you live if you were transported to the middle of a forest? You would probably surprise yourself, so don’t be afraid of perceived “big” changes in life. It’s a part of human nature to do what is necessary to reach at least previous levels of happiness, but risks succeeded will get you there and then some.
- Don’t Make Lists of Rules – or Follow Them (They All End This Way) – Such things are only made by bloggers hoping to get lots of del.icio.us bookmarks. The world is too complex to be condensed into a list of rules.
How do you cheat the system? What are your Eight Life Hacks?
Show notes: http://kadavy.net/blog/posts/love-your-work-episode-17-eight-life-hacks-for-health-wealth-and-happiness/
Download File - 11.4 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device) Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)
16. Earn It
Thu, Mar 17, 2016
This is a mini-episode based upon a previous post here on kadavy.net. The original post is over here: http://kadavy.net/blog/posts/earnit/
Show notes: http://kadavy.net/blog/posts/love-your-work-episode-15-earn-it/
Download File - 8.5 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device) Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)
15. Sail Around The World (While Running a Business, With Three Kids) – Paul Bennett of Context Travel on overcoming fears, lifestyle design, & streamlining operations to follow your dreams
Thu, Mar 10, 2016
Paul Bennett (@contextpaul) ran his business while sailing around the world with his whole family. He's CEO and co-founder of Context Travel. Context Travel organizes high-quality tours around the world, given by historians, authors, and PhDs. I took a Context tour myself when I was at The Acropolis in Athens a few months back, and it was orders of magnitude better than any large group tour I've been on.
I met Paul through a friend recently, and instantly felt he was exactly the type of person I'd want to have on my podcast, were I to ever have one.
In this conversations, you'll find lots of lessons about overcoming your fears, and turning nebulous dreams into actionable steps. Chances are there are some dreams you have that aren't nearly as crazy as sailing around the world while running a business, and you may find some parallels there. We also wax about some of the benefits of travel (corollaries to this can be find in the "mini lives" mini episode that I did awhile back.)
Show notes: http://kadavy.net/blog/posts/love-your-work-episode-15-sail-around-the-world-while-running-a-business-with-three-kids-w-paul-bennett-of-context-travel/
Download File - 68.3 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device) Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)
14. The Solopreneur Manifesto (redefine success, keep freedom in your lifestyle, & diversify your skillset)
Thu, Mar 03, 2016
I'm a pretty dedicated "solopreneur" – an entrepreneur who goes it on their own: no cofounders and no investors. This is a mini-episode in which I introduce the tenets that distill the power of solopreneurship, and which help me remain confident as I move forward as a solopreneur. The content of this episode is also in this blog post: http://kadavy.net/blog/posts/the-solopreneurs-manifesto/
Show notes: http://kadavy.net/blog/posts/love-your-work-episode-14-the-solopreneurs-manifesto/
Download File - 9.2 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device) Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)
13. Your Weakness is Your Superpower – Maneesh Sethi of Pavlok on breaking bad habits, making the most of ADHD, & hiring
Thu, Feb 25, 2016
Maneesh Sethi (@maneesh), is the founder of Pavlok. Pavlok is a wrist band that gives you an electric shock that helps you break bad habits. It's a crazy idea, so it's definitely gotten a lot of attention. Pavlok has been featured on Good Morning America, The Colbert Report, and Jimmy Fallon. In our discussion we talk about how I used Pavlok to break my bad Facebook habit, and I can tell you, it's extremely effective.
Maneesh is a great example of someone who has taken what he used to consider his weakness, and turned it into his superpower. He has always struggled with focusing, but he's found ways to cope with that, and harness the creativity that is a product of that lack of focus.
You'll find relatable things in this conversation if there's anything you've felt was your weakness. Maneesh has learned to surround himself with people who fill in his gaps, and Pavlok is an obvious product of his struggle with his attention.
Show notes: http://kadavy.net/blog/posts/love-your-work-episode-13-your-weakness-is-your-superpower-w-maneesh-sethi/
Download File - 59.4 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device) Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)
12. Stop Reading Books Straight Through. Start Reading in "Layers." (a different kind of "speed-reading")
Thu, Feb 18, 2016
Have you ever been really excited about a book you were reading, only to realize – as you tried to describe it to someone – that you had NO IDEA what it was actually about? This happened to me all of the time, until I realized I was reading the wrong way. This is a mini-episode in which I introduce the "layered" reading approach that changed the way I read books. Now I read more books than ever, while retaining more of what I read. This is a reading of my Observer article Reading for Scatterbrained People With Neither Patience Nor Respect for Authority.
Show notes: http://kadavy.net/blog/posts/love-your-work-episode-12-stop-reading-books-straight-through-start-reading-in-layers/
Download File - 13.0 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device) Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)
11. Hack Hidden Value – Nick Gray of Museum Hack on creating memorable customer experiences, turning a hobby into a business, & keeping healthy habits
Thu, Feb 11, 2016
Nick Gray (@nickgraynews) is the founder of Museum Hack. Museum Hack makes super fun museum tours such as the "Un-Highlights Tour," the "Badass Bitches Tour," and the "Big Gay Met." You've heard in previous episodes such as "Transform Stuff into Things" that I think the world moves forward when someone explores the hidden sources of value that are out there, & gives them form. I've always found Nick to be great at doing just that, not only with Museum Hack, but also with everyday things like sharing an inventive Facebook birthday greeting, or throwing a very rapid but worthwhile cocktail party. We explore this tendency for extracting hidden value in our conversation, in the context of upgrading your social life, using virtual assistants to take care of email while going for a walk, or getting yourself to read more books.
This will also be a useful discussion for anyone who has struggled with whether to turn a hobby into a business, or anyone who has felt the discomfort of charging money for something they enjoy doing.
Show notes: http://kadavy.net/blog/posts/love-your-work-episode-11-hack-hidden-value-w-nick-gray-of-museum-hack/
Download File - 75.9 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device) Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)
10. Stop Managing Your Time, Start Managing Your Mind (to maximize productivity, with optimal creativity)
Thu, Feb 04, 2016
Many people think their productivity struggle is one of managing their time. In reality, it's more a struggle of managing their mind. In this mini-episode, I introduce my framework for Mind Management: using knowledge from behavioral science, psychology, and neuroscience to work with the subtle fluctuations of your mind. Check out the article here: http://kadavy.net/blog/posts/mind-management-intro/
Show notes: http://kadavy.net/blog/posts/love-your-work-episode-10-stop-managing-your-time-start-managing-your-mind/
Download File - 10.5 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device) Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)
9. Be Decisive. Laura Roeder of MeetEdgar on batching for productivty, 80/20 thinking, & quitting her job to go from freelance to SAAS
Wed, Jan 27, 2016
Laura Roeder is the founder of Edgar, which is (or maybe I should say "who is") a social media automation tool (no offense, Edgar, but you are a tool). Edgar helps you create a library of social media updates that you can schedule to repeat.
Laura has been honored at the White House, and spoke at the White House for being in the Empact 100, which is a list of the top young entrepreneurs in the US.
I've personally known Laura for about 8 years now, and I've always admired her decisiveness. I've never seen her really agonize over a big decision. In this interview I try to dig into the source of that decisiveness, and the philosophy that drives it.
One note in here is that I ended up abandoning a story about how it is – as Laura puts it – I'm responsible for her meeting her husband and CTO. First of all, she's giving me more credit than I deserve, but secondly, wait until later on in the interview, and we do eventually pick that story back up. So be patient.
Download File - 39.1 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device) Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)
8. Create "Aha!" Moments – Neuroscientist Dr. John Kounios on the neuroscience of creative insights
Wed, Jan 20, 2016
Can neuroscience make you creative on command? Dr. John Kounios is the Director of the PhD Program in Applied Cognitive & Brain Sciences at Drexel University. He's also co-author of the book The Eureka Factor: Aha Moments, Creative Insight, and the Brain.
Dr. John Kounios, studies the neuroscience of insightful thinking. It turns out that insightful or creative thinking is, in fact, a different type of thinking than analytical thinking, and there are conditions that will encourage insightful thinking.
In this lengthy discussion, Dr. Kounios unpacks what is unique about insight, and what conditions will encourage insight. We also share specific techniques that each of us uses to get ourselves into an insightful state, including sleep, nutritional supplements, and sensory deprivation.
Download File - 96.6 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device) Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)
7. Transform "Stuff" into "Things" (for creative ideas)
Fri, Jan 15, 2016
One of the keys to creating something original and remarkable is being able to see how all of the "stuff" in the world can be created into "things." This is a must-understand for any entrepreneur. Original article: http://kadavy.net/blog/posts/stuff-and-things/
Get a 14-day free trial from our sponsor, Treehouse: http://kadavy.net/treehouse
Show notes: http://kadavy.net/blog/posts/love-your-work-episode-7-transform-stuff-into-things/
Download File - 8.9 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device) Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)
6. Don't let your "baby" get slaughtered – Adrian Holovaty of Soundslice, Django, and Everyblock
Wed, Jan 06, 2016
Adrian Holovaty (@adrianholovaty) has learned the hard way that he wants to retain control of his business. After selling Everyblock, Adrian watched in horror as it was later shut down without warning.
Adrian's new business is SoundSlice (incredible interactive music notation, for music teachers and students), and he's resolved to retain control of his business.
In this episode, Adrian shares some lessons learned from watching his "'baby' get slaughtered." He shares some useful perspectives for anyone who is on the fence on deciding whether to bootstrap or take funding.
Show notes: http://kadavy.net/blog/posts/love-your-work-episode-6-dont-let-your-baby-get-slaughtered-adrian-holovaty-of-soundslice-django-and-everyblock/
Download File - 75.3 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device) Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)
5. Stop Traveling. Start Living "Mini Lives" (for self-improvement, self-discovery, adventure, & creative inspiration)
Thu, Dec 31, 2015
"Traveling" by its traditional definition is like licking a filet mignon. You get a taste, but you don't get the nourishment. This is why I stopped traveling, and started living "Mini Lives." Original article: http://observer.com/2014/02/a-month-at-a-time-why-i-quit-travelling-and-started-living-mini-lives/
Show notes: http://kadavy.net/blog/posts/love-your-work-episode-5-stop-traveling-start-living-mini-lives/
Download File - 13.7 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device) Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)
4. Find your superpowers: Saya Hillman of Mac & Cheese Productions on self-help, community, & personal development
Mon, Dec 28, 2015
After getting fired from her job, Saya Hillman (@sayahillman) made a list of things she wanted to get paid to do. 11 years later, she's made all of those things a reality. She gets paid to play board games, do improv, or scrapbook, for example. Her company, Mac & Cheese Productions runs events that help people face their fears, and connect with others. She shares insights on living a "life of 'yes,'" and finding your superpowers, as well as some productivity tips for running a business while wearing multiple hats. Show notes: http://kadavy.net/podcast
Claim your free Audible Audiobook: http://kadavy.net/audible
Show notes: http://kadavy.net/blog/posts/saya-hillman/
Download File - 63.1 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device) Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)
3. Make Something Remarkable: Timehop's Jonathan Wegener on creativity, hiring, and explosive ideas
Mon, Dec 14, 2015
Jonathan Wegener (@jwegener) spent 3 months traveling to every subway station in the NYC area, meticulously documenting the fastest way to get out of each station. The app he made with the data supported him for two years, until he built Timehop. Timehop is an app that compiles your memories and sends them back to you, and Jonathan built it in a weekend hackathon with his cofounder. Since then, he's raised over $14 million, and hired a great team. He shares insights on hiring great people, creating remarkable products, and getting press that makes things go viral. Show notes: http://kadavy.net/blog/posts/love-your-work-episode-3-making-something-remarkable-hiring-getting-press-jonathan-wegener-of-timehop/
Show notes: http://kadavy.net/blog/posts/love-your-work-episode-3-making-something-remarkable-hiring-getting-press-jonathan-wegener-of-timehop/
Download File - 64.7 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device) Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)
2. Give Yourself Permission to Suck (for the confidence to break through creative blocks)
Mon, Dec 14, 2015
Are you holding yourself back from starting something because you're afraid you're not going to be good at it? You have to give yourself Permission to Suck. This is something that the best entrepreneurs and creators learn over time.
Show notes: http://kadavy.net/blog/posts/love-your-work-episode-2-permission-to-suck/
Download File - 11.2 MB (Click to Play on Mobile Device) Listen To This Podcast (Streaming Audio)
1. Jason Fried: Product Design, Customer Development, and Contrarian Thinking
Mon, Dec 14, 2015
Jason Fried (@jasonfried) of Basecamp (formerly 37 Signals) shares his wisdom on cutting through the noise to find your own voice. There are some great nuggets in here about design, and how to be a contrarian thinker. This will be a great episode for entrepreneurs, whether they're experienced, or relatively new. Also, this is the FIRST EPISODE of Love Your Work! Please subscribe, and leave us a review to help us get featured in the iTunes "New and Noteworthy" section. Show notes: http://kadavy.net/podcast
Show notes: http://kadavy.net/blog/posts/jason-fried-basecamp/
David Kadavy 00:11 This is Love Your Work. On this show we meet people who have carved out success by their own definition. I'm David Kadavy, best-selling author and entrepreneur. This is the first episode of the show, so if you're not familiar with me, I wrote a book called Design for Hackers, which is a bestseller. It debuted in the Top 20 on all of Amazon. Before that, I was the lead designer for a couple of startups in Silicon Valley, and I freelanced as well. I blog at kadavy.net. That's K-A-D as in David, A-V as in Victor, Y, and you can tell how many times I've repeated that in my life. You can follow me on Twitter at @kadavy, or you can join 60,000 others and take my free design course at designforhackers.com. One thing that's really important to me is helping people build a business and a lifestyle that suits them. It's something that I've managed to do, and I want more people to experience it, and that's kind of the idea behind the show. With this show, I want to introduce you to people who have created businesses and lifestyles that are all their own. They've achieved success by their own definition and built a life according to their own values. They're not necessarily going to be millionaires, but they will be happy people. As the name of the show would imply, they love their work, and also, I love their work. Now, to help us get the show off to a great start, can I ask you a favor?
David Kadavy 01:26 In this first few weeks of the show we have the opportunity to be featured in the iTunes store in their new and noteworthy section, and this show is a bit of an experiment. I'm launching with a few episodes and I'm going to see how it goes, but this first few weeks is absolutely critical. This is the one chance in the lifetime of this show to really bring in more listeners, and more listeners means I can put more of my energy into bringing you great guests with wisdom to share. But in order for that to happen we need reviews on iTunes. Lots of them. They also have to be positive reviews, but that's, of course, up to you and the actual quality the show. So can you please review this show on the iTunes store? If you loved it and want to hear more, please give it five stars.
David Kadavy 02:14 I'm very grateful to bring you this first guest. He is one of my biggest heroes, and he's the perfect example of someone who has built a business and a life according to his own values. Jason Fried - yes, the Jason Fried - hardly needs an introduction. He is the CEO of Basecamp and a New York Times best selling author. Jason co-founded Basecamp way back in 1999. It was originally a web design shop, but they built a little project management app called Basecamp, and now that's the focus of the company. In the process of building Basecamp the company also created Ruby on Rails, which is an open-source web framework that powers thousands of sites. And the thing I admire most about Jason is his contrarion thinking. Whatever the prevailing wisdom is, Jason seems to speak up and explain
why that wisdom is wrong. He intentionally has setup his company small. His employees can live and work wherever they want, and they get a three day week during the summer months.
The company is almost totally bootstrap. I say "almost" because they did take a little bit of investment from the one and only Jeff Bezos of Amazon, primarily just to be able to give him a call once in a while.
David Kadavy 03:23 Jason has co-authored three books, one of which is the New York Times best selling Rework, in which he and his co-founder, David Heinemeier Hansson, share their rules for running a simple business. This interview is about one hour long, and there is so much more that I wanted to ask Jason. It could've been several hours easily. We talk about Basecamp in the beginning, which you may already be intimately familiar with, but stick it out and we soon start digging into the source of Jason's famously contrarion thinking. I'm really fascinated by where it comes from, because I'm someone who tends to be a bit contrarion myself, but these thoughts, they usually come after I have this deep internal conflict, and it seems like it just comes so naturally to Jason. So that's something that I try to unpack in the interview, and you're going to find some good tips for listening to that mischievous voice in your head. If you aren't already familiar with Jason, prepare yourself. He really spews brilliance. Everything that comes out of his mouth could be quoted, or could be a Tweet or could be the subject of a blog post. He's really easy to interview, which is great because he's one of the first people that I've interviewed. So I'm very excited to bring you this interview. Let's get started.
David Kadavy 04:44 Okay. So I'm here with Jason Fried in the Basecamp offices, and I look around here, and there's this beautiful wood paneling and it's just a quiet office. I can't help but notice there's nobody here.
Jason Fried 04:58 No one's here. One person's here, but he's at lunch.
David Kadavy 05:00 Oh, okay. That person's at lunch.
Jason Fried 05:02 That person's at lunch.
David Kadavy 05:03 Well, we are talking here on the day before Thanksgiving, so I wonder if that has something to do with it.
Jason Fried 05:09 A little bit, but also most of the people even who work in Chicago work remotely, so we're a remote company. People across 30 some-odd different cities around the world, and, including the people who are here, we have 14 people in Chicago. Usually any given day there's five of them here, and it might be a different five each day but that's how we work here. Yeah.
David Kadavy 05:28 Wow, five people. Okay. And this is a huge office.
Jason Fried 05:31 It's a big office, yeah. So we have 50 people in the company and we all get together twice a year. We have an office that's built to handle the whole company, but a very small portion of the company is in the office on any given day. Half the office, too, is dedicated to public space. We have a theater. We've got a big kitchen area, a reception area. It is still a large office, though.
David Kadavy 05:54 Yeah. We're in Chicago so there's a little more space available. So you guys have had this office for how long now?
Jason Fried 06:04 Since August of 2010.
David Kadavy 06:07 Okay. It's quiet, there's lots of space, there's lots of private spaces as well. To what extent do you feel like this office kind of is an expression of your own personality?
Jason Fried 06:19 Well, I think it's an expression of the company's personality, which is probably derived at some point from mine since I was one of the founders. But mostly we're kind of an introverted group for the most part. Definitely there's some extroverted people here though as well, but we try to be respectful of one another's space, and privacy and time. So we kind of treat the office like a library, in that the rules here are kind of like library rules, which is that you walk into a library, everyone knows how to behave. You're respectful of one another. You're quiet. You don't interrupt people. People are studying, and thinking and working, and that's the same way the office here works. So for the most part, even if it's full of people, it's pretty quiet and pretty hush, and then people can go into these private rooms like you and I are sitting in right now and have a full volume conversation without interrupting people on the outside. Just like a library, they have little side rooms where you can sort of talk loudly and not interrupt people who are reading outside.
David Kadavy 07:14 Yeah, that was always something that bothered me whenever I worked at a company. I might have a bunch of different roles, but I might be ears deep in some code, and somebody would come up, and tap me on the shoulder, and interrupt me and just lose all of it.
Jason Fried 07:28 You lose it all. You lose the focus, the zone, and so we want to protect that because that's a really hard thing to get into in the first place. So if you're in that, we want to make sure that you stay in that as long as possible, versus inviting interruptions all day long, which is what a lot of modern offices are all about these days.
David Kadavy 07:45 Yeah, I can definitely relate to that. I've noticed that before. So you guys started out as a software sort of consultancy, right? Or a web design company.
Jason Fried 07:57 Web design. Yeah, we started as a web design company.
David Kadavy 08:01 And that was called 37signals.
Jason Fried 08:02 Yeah. In 1999 we launched the company in August, and we were doing website design for hire, but just redesign work for the most parts. So we weren't doing programming. We were just doing visual redesigns. So people already had the sites and we were like, "We can make that site a little bit better," and so they would hire us to do that.
David Kadavy 08:19 Yeah. And now you are concentrated entirely pretty much on this one product, Basecamp.
Jason Fried 08:25 Yeah, Basecamp. And Basecamp 3, the third version of that, just launched a couple weeks ago.
David Kadavy 08:30 Oh, cool.
Jason Fried 08:30 Every four years or so we completely reinvent the product from the ground up. Not a single line of code, not a single piece of design is shared. We make it all over again every four years, roughly. So we just did that for our third major time. Basecamp's been around for 12 years. It came out in February 2004. So about 12 years total now. So we're on the third major version.
David Kadavy 08:50 That's funny. I guess I hadn't noticed that you reinvent the whole product every four years.
Jason Fried 08:55 There's similar themes. So it's a lot like-- think about cars. We'll take the Porsche 911. Porsche 911 was released in 1963. It's about 52 years old now, but there's been seven generations of the Porsche 911. So every seven years, roughly, they do a new chassis, they do new engines, they do new technology around it. But it's still a Porsche 911. It looks roughly the same. The engines in the back. The driving dynamics are similar. You can identify a 911 that was made today and a 911 that was made 50 years ago. You can tell there's continuity, but roughly every seven years it's an entirely new car. And the same thing is true for like a Honda Accord or a Civic. These lines have been around for decades, but every four, five, six, seven, eight - in cars it's more like five to eight years because it's very expensive to make a new car - they make a new car. It's still an Accord, which means it's a four-door primarily. They have a coupe version too, but it's like a family car. And the Civic's a little bit smaller. They have these themes and these spirits around the things, but they're all new. And so that's what we do with Basecamp, is that Basecamp today, in 2015, can trace back to base camp classic, which is the first version of Basecamp in February 2004. The themes were similar but the product is reconsidered in a big way every four years, and in between that we just sort of improve the existing version. But then there's a point where you can't pack new ideas onto an old chassis, so we kind of redo the thing from scratch.
David Kadavy 10:26 Yeah, that car analogy is interesting. I'm not totally up on the designs of cars, but I imagine that, say a Honda Accord, there's certain values that are portrayed - values about what a car is and what is important in a car being portrayed in that. And then there's all this changing technology, and then there's certain trends maybe that are influenced by other--
Jason Fried 10:47 Exactly.
David Kadavy 10:48 --what the drivers are used to.
Jason Fried 10:52 Yes.
David Kadavy 10:53 That those sort of things change, and so that sort of calls for a total redo.
Jason Fried 10:59 Totally. And you think about, like-- I think just cars are really good metaphors for this because you think about the Corvette, which has been around, I think, since the 50s, and there's like a spirit to that car. It's a two-door sports car, it's kind of a long-nose. There's a spirit to it. And even though they don't all look the same over the years, there's a language and an idea behind the Corvette which stays in the DNA of the car, but the car is redesigned and reengineered completely from the ground up every seven years or something. That's just how that industry-- most industries work that same way.
David Kadavy 11:33 Yeah. I mean, they're still positioned, in a way, against other types of cars. The Corvette, it's a different thing from a Camaro, right? It's a different type of person that will drive it and it's different sort of values that person has. Right?
Jason Fried 11:48 Yes. So each car has it's spirit-- it's much like-- look, you are not the same person - I'm not even talking, like, personality - you don't share a single cell in common with yourself from ten years ago.
David Kadavy 12:00 Yeah.
Jason Fried 12:01 So you're actually-- but you're still David. You're still the same guy. You've changed. Your tastes have changed and your points of view have changed, but you're still you, even though you've been completely reengineered from the ground up in many ways all the time. So there's iterative tweaks, and then at a certain point you're all new. You're actually all new compared to what you were ten years ago.
David Kadavy 12:23 Yeah. So let's talk about that.
Jason Fried 12:24 That's a little bit of a weird analogy, let's stick to the car one. But that's kind of what we're trying to do here, instead of the alternative, which is typically how software works, which is that it's constantly iterated on. Which is good, but that's when the code base gets really difficult to work on at a certain point, because it gets old and the technologies that you build on are kind of old. It becomes hard to work on, you begin to slow down, and you can't handle brand new ideas because you try and fit them into the current patterns and it's like, "But this won't quite fit anymore." So you kind of shoehorn it in, then you make compromises, and that's how things start to get bad over a certain point of time.
David Kadavy 13:01 Yeah. So let's talk about that DNA, then. Basecamp, for those who aren't familiar, is a project management web app, basically.
Jason Fried 13:14 Yes.
David Kadavy 13:14 I mean, there's probably--
Jason Fried 13:16 There's iOS and android apps, yeah. All that stuff [inaudible].
David Kadavy 13:19 When you started, it's like your main competitor was maybe Microsoft Project.
Jason Fried 13:26 Main competitor has always been the same: email.
David Kadavy 13:28 Email, okay.
Jason Fried 13:28 Email and habits.
David Kadavy 13:31 But when people would think of project management, would they think of email back when you guys were first starting?
Jason Fried 13:39 If you ask people even today what their primary method of working on projects with people is, it's still email. So email is still the biggest. Our industry thinks there's certain products of the time that are the big product, but the biggest of them all is email. And that's not a product, it's like a thing.
David Kadavy 13:58 It's a protocol.
Jason Fried 13:58 Yeah, right. But that is the thing you're always battling against, is email, phone, in-person habits. That's the thing you're battling mostly against. The biggest thing that you're trying to do is sort of-- there's this idea of non-consumption, which is this concept that there are people out there who work with others, and they need a better way to do that, but they don't know how to do it. They don't use any products to do it yet. I mean, they use products, but they use products that are not built for this purpose, but they just use other things. And they don't even realize that there's something out there that would help them. They're non-consumers. They want to consume. They want something better, but they don't even know something exists. So our industry sometimes thinks that whatever the hot product of the moment is, that everybody uses that. But actually, all things told, a very small slice of people use that, and most people don't use anything. So that's always the biggest competition in our opinion, is the people who don't use anything.
David Kadavy 15:03 I feel like there's a parallel we draw in there between email and what we were talking about with office interruptions. The email is this sort of portal where anybody can interrupt you, and you're providing a space through which everything is about this project that you're working on right now - all the communication that's happening and all that within Basecamp. What is that DNA of Basecamp?
Jason Fried 15:32 Here's the thing. So the DNA of Basecamp, there's a couple things going on here. No matter what it is that you're working on, if you have a team there's a few things you need to do. I don't care if you are building a building, or you're working on a small school project, or you are putting together a publication or you're building a website, when you work with people you've got people problems. So you need a way to divvy up and organize the work that needs to get done amongst the group. Our take on that is to-dos, but let's forget our implementation for the moment and just get back to the fundamentals. So you've got a group of people. You want to do some work together or whatever it is. You've got chunks of work, pieces of work that need to be outlined and divvied up in some way and assigned out. You need a way to hash things out quickly. So sometimes you just need to hash stuff out and go informally back and forth really fast. Sometimes you need to slow down and present something, and think about something, and pitch something, and write a thoughtful post or something and give people a chance to write back in time. So there's moments when you need to make announcements, there's moments you need to hash stuff out quickly. You need to keep track of when things are due and what the major milestones are - what's coming up next, when is thing launching or when are we doing this thing together? So there's some dates around it. There's artifacts. There's files, and there's documents, and there's sketches, and there's PDFs and there's stuff that-- typically you need to keep track of that stuff.
Jason Fried 17:00 You want to organize that stuff. You need a place where everyone knows where it is, and where to go to get it and that sort of thing, right? And then finally, you need a way to check in on people. Like, "How's it going?" And, "How are we doing?" And, "Are we doing the right thing?" And, "How do you feel about how we're doing it?" And, "Are you stuck on anything?" Those kind of things. So to me, it doesn't matter the kind of work. When you work with people, those are things, right? Hashing stuff out, divvying up work, dates, artifacts, making announcements, being able to get a hold of people when you need to no matter what their speeds are, that sort of thing, right? So that, to me, is the DNA of what Basecamp's about. It's about understanding how groups actually work together to make progress on something. There's difference too, because there's moments when you're just social and you're just kind of, like, social. You're not trying to make progress there. But when you want to make progress on something, Basecamp comes in and helps you make progress on things with other people.
David Kadavy 17:51 Yeah, and I like that you're--
Jason Fried 17:52 It's a collection. Let me-- it's really a collection. That's the the thing that's always set Basecamp apart, is that it's a collection of unique tools that work together to help a group make progress on something together. There's many ways to approach things. There's a way to piece together a bunch of separate tools, and duct tape them together and try to point at each thing, or there's a way to buy something that kind of tries to do all those things really well in a simple way, and that's kind of our side. We want to give you one thing that you can use to do all these things together with a group, versus you having to go out and shop for a bunch of different solutions, and try to tie them all together and get people on board on five or six different products.
David Kadavy 18:35 It sounds like you've been able to really think about the abstract needs that are there and separate that experience from the technology itself. It's not Ajax, to use a very 2002 term [chuckles].
Jason Fried 18:50 Very early, yeah.
David Kadavy 18:51 It's not Ajax. It's not about all these individual technologies or something. It is managing these sort of abstract things that are floating in the ether and making them into something that you can get a handle on.
Jason Fried 19:04 And getting your head around it and getting organized around it is a really important part of working together with people. The thing is that everyone can have their own individual messes, but if you bring someone else into your mess they're going to be like, "Woah, I don't know where things are." So you need to have an organized place, a space, a shared place where you can do this kind of work. But yeah, it's not about technologies. It's not even necessarily about individual feature sets, because when I say, "Hash things out quickly," what I actually mean is-- in our implementation is more of like chat. Campfires are now in Basecamp 3. But in five years chat might not be they way to hash things out quickly. There may be another way to hash things out quickly. So, it's not about staying true to a tool set. It's about staying true to the problems you're trying to solve. This is what gives us the opportunity to resolve those in new ways [crosstalk]
Use it to [crosstalk] technology at hand.
Just like the cars that change over time
Jason Fried 20:00 Totally. Yeah. Bluetooth wasn't a thing in cars eight years ago. Now it is. Navigation wasn't a common thing, and now it's in almost every car. So technology moves, ideas move and things you can do change. And that's why I think forcing yourself to reinvent yourself and be willing to look at those technologies and those new options on a regular basis is very viable.
David Kadavy 20:23 Now, when I think about you reinventing the product every four years, I can't help but think about how most people would react to doing something like that or the idea of doing something like that. They would be so scared that everybody would be so pissed when you change everything that they'd be afraid to make a change like that. How do you get over that?
Jason Fried 20:49 Yeah, it's a great question, and the way to get around that is to, again, get back to people. People do not like to be forced into change. People don't mind change. People hate forced change. So we never force anyone to switch versions of Basecamp. People who've been using Base-- we have customers who've been using Basecamp for 12 years. Same version. They signed up for Basecamp when it was just called Basecamp. Now it's called Basecamp Classic, which is the original version. We've never forced anyone on Basecamp Classic to move to Basecamp Two and no one on Basecamp Two has to move to Basecamp 3. We've made a commitment to our customers to always maintain every major version of Basecamp forever. So if you're happy with Classic, our definition of new may not matter to you. New doesn't matter to you. Consistency might matter to you--
Jason Fried 21:39 But the new customers, it would be to your detriment to have the original interface with the technology of 2002 or whenever it was--
David Kadavy 21:48 2004, yeah exactly.
Jason Fried 21:49 --2004, and somebody shows up and that's what you've got, that would be a problem.
David Kadavy 21:53 Totally. So new customers today who go to Basecamp.com will be signed up for Basecamp 3. That's the only thing they can sign up for. The newest, latest, greatest version of Basecamp we've ever made before. Customers who've been with us from 2004, some of them might still be on Classic if they've chosen to. Some of them might be on Basecamp 2 if they've chosen to be. Up to them completely, entirely. That's how we solve that problem. We don't force change on anybody ever.
Jason Fried 22:17 You don't run into situations where that backwards compatibility is just impossible to support?
David Kadavy 22:21 We don't support backwards compatibility.
Jason Fried 22:23 Maybe I'm using the wrong terminology there, but--
David Kadavy 22:26 If you start on 3 you can't move to Classic, because there's not a future parity. For example in Basecamp 3, you can assign - this is a small example - but you can assign to-dos to many people. In Classic you can only assign to-dos to one person. So if you're in Basecamp 3 and you assign a to-do to six people, and you try to go back to Classic somehow, you'd lose data because we wouldn't know where to-- you can't move backwards in time.
Jason Fried 22:50 So you've been doing this for a long time. Basecamp has been around for 12 years in itself. The company has been around--
David Kadavy 22:57 16 years.
Jason Fried 22:57 --for 16 years. This reinventing every four years, is that something that helps you keep it fresh and keep it being something that you want to be doing everyday?
David Kadavy 23:08 Yeah, it's for everybody. It's partially for us. It's fun to make something new and it's fun to improve that thing for a while, but at a certain point you want to make something new again. The way we did it in the past was we kept making new products. So we made Basecamp, then we made Backpack, then we made Campfire, then we made Highrise and then we made the job boards. We've made a variety of things over the years. What ends up happening, though, is that making something is actually the easy part. The hard part is that once it's out in the wild you've got to maintain it. You've got customers using it. They have demands, and you've got to provide customer service, and support and all these things. So we love the act of making new things, but we've decided that we want to focus on making one new thing over and over. That's how we keep it fresh for us, also keep it fresh for the market and keep it fresh for customers, but also not ever upset existing customers by forcing them on to something new that they're not ready for or they don't want to be in. Something I learned early on - and it's sort of a ridiculous revelation because you just expect that you would know this, but it's one of the things you just don't think about. Software companies especially almost never think about this. People are always in the middle of something, right?
David Kadavy 24:19 So if I release a brand new version, and they're in the middle of a project and they're trying to work on a client project with somebody, and we release a new version, we push some them on to the new one, they're in the middle of something else. They're not ready to move to this. They don't want their software to change in the middle of their project. So once we realized that, we realized, like, "Okay, that's a deep insight and very important. Our product is not their lives. Their lives is their livelihood. The work that they do for their client is what's important to them, and they don't want their software tool that's aiding them all of the sudden changing on them in the middle, because that's really disruptive and anxiety producing and stuff." So that's why we don't force anyone to change. You've got to get to those human insights. The thing I've noticed most is that the things that drive people away are fear and anxiety. It's not about, "You don't have this feature. You don't have that feature." It's the fear and anxiety attached to forcing me to shift, or forcing me to change, or forcing me to switch or forcing me to do something I'm not ready for - that's where people really recoil.
Jason Fried 25:24 Not having control.
David Kadavy 25:23 Yeah. People don't want to be in a situation where someone's changing up underneath them that they rely on. That's a really uncomfortable feeling. It's like an earthquake. You live somewhere. You rely on the ground to be solid. You trust that the ground will be solid. Then one day the ground starts to shake, and that is terrifying because you can't go hide from that.
Jason Fried 25:45 Have you experienced a couple earthquakes before?
David Kadavy 25:48 I have, and it's terrifying.
Jason Fried 25:48 Yeah, I have too. It's terrible.
David Kadavy 25:49 Terrifying.
Jason Fried 25:50 And they weren't even big ones.
David Kadavy 25:52 No. Right.
Jason Fried 25:52 It's the worst.
David Kadavy 25:53 I'm a Midwesterner, so a small one is a big one for me. But the thing is, if it's really crappy weather-wise outside you can kind of go inside and hide, but you cannot hide when the earth beneath you moves, and that's a terrible feeling, and that's what software's like to people. When there's this thing they've been relying on that's been consistently working a certain way and all of a sudden it changes on them, that's an earthquake. We don't want to create earthquakes for customers.
David Kadavy 26:14 Yeah, especially this things that they're relying upon to help them--
Jason Fried 26:19 Do their job.
David Kadavy 26:20 Do their job, do their work, to manage their projects. If I'm using a bad word there, I don't know.
Jason Fried 26:25 Totally fine. Actually, what's interesting is we've gone away from the word "project," which maybe we can talk about in a little bit. But yeah, fundamentally, absolutely. People use Basecamp to run projects, and they use it for other things too. Imagine if you're doing work for a client. You're a designer. You do work for a client. You've trained the client on this thing. You've told them this is how it's going to work. This is a client relationship, which is often delicate. They're paying you a lot of money. You might be friends with them, but it's still a delicate relationship at some level. And all of a sudden, this thing you told them was going to work one way, all of a sudden works a different way on Tuesday then it did on Monday. That is a bad situations, so we don't ever want to put our customers in those situations.
David Kadavy 27:04 Right. You've definitely gotten really comfortable over all these years with your particular way of doing things, but I want to step back a little bit further and get an idea of where it all comes from. I'd say that you're probably known for being a contrarian thinker. Would you agree with that?
Jason Fried 27:26 Yeah, probably. It's funny because I don't think my ideas are contrarian at all, of course, but against our-- let's call it against our industry, yes.
David Kadavy 27:35 Yeah. I think that a lot of people have thoughts from time to time where there's a prevailing wisdom and they think, "Well, that doesn't seem right." But then they think a lot of people-- they bottle it up inside or they don't act upon it. They don't give themselves the permission and the confidence to go ahead and say, "I don't think it should be that way. It should be this other way," and to go ahead with it. I think that that's somethin, even if you go back and look at the 37signals - which is the former name of the company - 37signals.com/manifesto, there's all these things about, "We're small on purpose," and all these things that are against the prevailing wisdom. "We purposely are not full service," things like that.
Jason Fried 28:23 By the way, even that site itself-- actually, that site is the most contrarian thing we've ever done. We're a web design company. There wasn't a piece of work on that site. It was black and white. It was all text. 37 ideas is what that was. If you think about back then - that was in '99 - web design firms, even today--
David Kadavy 28:45 1999 for those who can't remember--
Jason Fried 28:47 Right, 1999, the previous century.
David Kadavy 28:50 It was a different century [chuckles].
Jason Fried 28:53 But even today, it's all the same. Basically, agency sites are portfolio sites for the most part, which is like, "Here's our shining work and here's the work we've been doing. Here's pictures of it," and I get that. We didn't have a single picture of any work that we'd done on that site, and the whole idea was that everyone's work pretty much looks the same. If it's good, it's roughly the same, right? But what sets companies apart and people apart, I think, are the ideas that they have, and most companies don't think they way we thought we thought. And so we want to put our ideas out there to make us appear different and to attract the kind of customers that we want to work with, who were people who'd appreciate this kind of thinking, versus just someone who'd appreciate a pretty picture of a website that we made. That doesn't help us self-select our clients. So that was the idea behind that.
David Kadavy 29:38 I think this is something that's so important for people to master, to be able to have a thought that's different from the prevailing wisdom and to give themselves permission to go forth with it. Take us back to 1999 when you decided to make this all text. Was that something-- did you know that it was something different from the prevailing way to do it? How did you arrive at that and give yourself permission to do that?
Jason Fried 30:04 Great question. We knew it was different. We knew no one had never done anything like that before. It's funny, they were almost like tweets or short blog posts. They were just these really short thoughts. We weren't trying to be different. We just realized that we were, and then we're like-- Originally, one of my partners in the business was a guy named Carlos Segura, who's a graphic designer in Chicago. He has a line that says, "Communication that doesn't take a chance doesn't stand a chance." That's his motto, and that drove us early on, which is like, "Let's take a shot. What do we have to lose here? What we actually had to lose is not being ourselves, and that is a bigger loss than being yourself and not getting traction." If we were trying to act like everyone else then we weren't really being ourselves, and that's the loss. "So let's take a shoot at putting ourselves out there, doing this differently, and let's see who we attract this way. Everyone's fishing with this lure. Let's put a different lure out and see what we attract, and maybe we attract some big fish that no one else knows how to attract, because everyone things the only way to attract this kind of fish is this way."
Jason Fried 31:20 And it turned out that we landed a couple big projects, and we've been profitable as a company ever since then because of that. I mean, looking back, it's a bold move, but at the time we just didn't think it was bold. We're like, "We have nothing. We have nothing yet. We have no company yet, so we have nothing to lose. So let's take a shot." It's a lot easier now, in my opinion, to be hesitant and being afraid to take a risk when you have something to lose. Like, "We have something to lose. We've got a great business. We've got a lot of customers. We've got a reputation. We could lose that now," and then you get a little bit tight. So we've tightened up as a company over the years. I think most companies do. But when you're fresh and brand new, that's the time to take a real shot. Why not, you know?
David Kadavy 32:10 It's funny to think about that thought process that you had, because I think-- how old were you then?
Jason Fried 32:17 25.
David Kadavy 32:19 Maybe around 25 was when I started to wise up to, "Okay, these thoughts that I have in my head that are different from the way other people are doing things, I should do something to pursue those," but I think before that I allowed other people's ideas of what success was, or what it meant to what I should be doing, I think I allowed those ideas to-- I know I did. I know I allowed those ideas to dictate my own actions and put me in situations that didn't make me happy. So did you ever experience that sort of thing where you were maybe making decisions based what somebody else had decided?
Jason Fried 33:02 Oh, absolutely. Yeah. Before 37signals, I was just a freelancer doing website design on my own, and I always referred to "me" as "we." When I was doing proposals I'm like, "We will provide a--" because I always felt like I had to act bigger. I had to act like I was a company. I wasn't a company. I was me. I was just me, and I just thought I had to be something else. I remember at the time-- you've been around for a while, too. You might remember there was something called USWeb, which was like wrapping up all these small web design firms trying to make this big web agency made of-- I don't know if you maybe remember this. I barely remember it.
David Kadavy 33:46 I don't remember that. What year would that have been?
Jason Fried 33:48 That was like mid-90s, late 90s sort of thing. It was like--
David Kadavy 33:54 Mid-90s I was making web pages on my AOL space and not really--
Jason Fried 33:58 Yeah, but so was I. Anyway, it's just a thing that didn't go anywhere, but I'm like, "Man, my firm might be acquired by a conglomerate." Like, this weird, stupid shit I was thinking about at the time.
David Kadavy 34:14 I remember wanting to work for Razorfish and seeing, "Oh, wow. MTV is a client, and they're doing all these good things." Actually, my thing was Communication Arts magazine.
Jason Fried 34:25 Sure, CA. Absolutely.
David Kadavy 34:25 As a designer, I would pour through the pages, and I'd write down every firm that was there, and I would go to the city and I would call and try to get an interview.
Jason Fried 34:34 I'd do the same thing. Same thing.
David Kadavy 34:37 Really? That's interesting.
Jason Fried 34:37 Yeah. I'd go through these designing [annuals?] and go, "Man, I wish I could do that kind of work." That's actually how I met Carlos for the first time.
David Kadavy 34:41 That's exactly the way I was.
Jason Fried 34:44 Yeah. I think most people are that way. I think it's good. I think it's a good start, and then you come into your own at a certain point. I think your mid-20s are actually a really healthy moment for that. Before that I was wide-eyed, and excited, and wanted to act bigger than I was and wanted to be more professional. This is the thing. I want to be more professional. That's the thing you have when you're fresh out of school - you want to be a professional. "I need to write really long proposals and I need to talk in a certain way. I need to act a certain way. I need to appear bigger." And that's just insecurity, and it's natural. Like, you don't know. What do you know? You're 21, you're 20. You don't know anything yet, right? So you're trying to act. You're an actor, and at a certain point you become yourself. And I think that's when it's formative, is when you begin to realize-- and I realized this at some point. I realized it by accident. I was doing these long proposals because I thought that's what you had to do. Like, 20-page proposals. I remember writing 20-page proposals about--
David Kadavy 35:47 Oh, yeah. I've done a couple of those.
Jason Fried 35:47 Right?
David Kadavy 35:48 Yeah.
Jason Fried 35:49 And you spend-- I don't know. Weeks and all-nighters, and you write these proposals--
David Kadavy 35:53 You don't get the job.
Jason Fried 35:53 You don't get the job, right? And then I realized-- first of all, I hate writing 20-page proposals. I think they're a waste of time. Because here's what happened to me. My parents were doing a kitchen renovation at home, and they were getting these proposals from contractors. I saw them look at them, and all they did was they turned to the last page. Like, "How much is it going to cost and how long is it going to take?" That's all you care about when you get a proposal, because to get a proposal from somebody, you've already vetted them at a certain level. Like, "I'm curious about what they would do for me. I know who they are, so what would they do?" You just want to know, how much is it going to cost and how long is it going to take? So I realized this. I'm like, "I'm doing these 20-page proposals. I'm busting my ass on them. I don't like doing them. It's what you're supposed to do, right? Or is it?" So I started doing shorter, and shorter and short proposals and started winning jobs. At the end of my freelance career I was doing single-page proposals, and I wasn't losing any business over them. I realized, "Holy shit, I don't need to do what everyone else is doing. I thought this is how you had to do it, but you don't have to do it that way." That's where I gave myself permission to go, "Well, what else don't I have to do that everybody else is doing?"
David Kadavy 37:01 Okay. This is exactly what I'm looking for. This is the time when you slowly started making the proposals shorter and shorter, and you realized that this thing that other people had told you was so, or somehow you had come to the conclusion was true, was in fact not true.
Jason Fried 37:18 It was in fact not true. I don't even know if people told me, or I just thought you-- I don't even know.
David Kadavy 37:23 It was more than not true. It was false.
Jason Fried 37:24 It was false at a variety of levels. It was false that I had to do that to get jobs. It was false that I had to stay up late and bust my ass to get work. It was also false that it would make me happy. I was miserable making these long proposals, so I realized if I can eliminate the misery, and I don't have to stay up late, and I can be concise, and get to the point and present my work clearly in a page or two, man, that's a bunch of wins, plus it's a win for the customer on the other side. And I told them that. I'm like, "Look, I know how proposals are. You're just going to look at the--" I said this in my proposal. I'm like, "I know how proposals are. You thumb through a bunch of stuff, and at the end of the day you just look at the price and how long it's going to take, because you've already seen my work because that why you've asked me to submit a proposal. So I don't need to go through all my work again. Here's how much it's going to cost. Here's how long it's going to take." That was my pitch, basically. Like, "Look, let's cut through the bullshit, because that's going to represent how I'm going to work with you. I'm not going to bullshit you. I'm going to be direct and clear, and we're going to work concisely together." It was like an embodiment of how we're going to work also. That resonated with people. Then I started to realize, "Man, I don't have to be like everybody else. This opens up opportunities." Now, I didn't see all the other opportunities. It was just like a moment where I could poke the way you're supposed to do it and get away with it, and then like, "Oh, maybe I can do this more." So I started doing more things like that.
David Kadavy 38:57 There's sort of a sense of mischief to it. It kind of makes things more fun that way.
Jason Fried 38:59 Absolutely.
David Kadavy 39:00 I know I'm that way where if I get stuck in a rut, I just kind of say, "I'm going to just write this silly, mischievous blog post or email," and suddenly it feels fresh and people respond more.
Jason Fried 39:12 Absolutely. This is something I'm actually thinking about here right now. Next year there's some stuff I want to do that doesn't seem like it would be a reasonable thing to do. Like, it would be difficult to justify in the same way that I think a single page proposal would be difficult to justify until you realize it works, and then you don't have to justify anymore because it becomes true. And so there's a couple things - I'm being very vague here because I don't want to talk about it quite yet because I haven't formed any ideas thoroughly - but there's a couple things I want to do that seem counterintuitive to our own company or our own way of working that I want to ruffle a bit.
David Kadavy 39:58 Yeah. So it sounds like you're trying to shake things up a little bit in the office. You don't want to get too complacent in doing things a certain way. Is that going to bring some freshness, or what's driving that?
Jason Fried 40:10 Yeah. Well, that's part of the whole-- reinventing Basecamp is part of that. Like, being on this schedule where we have to reinvent Basecamp on a frequent basis. It's not that frequent, but like four years.
David Kadavy 40:19 Four years is [inaudible].
Jason Fried 40:20 But yeah, in this industry-- actually, it seems like a long time in some ways, but--
David Kadavy 40:25 Yeah.
Jason Fried 40:26 My opinions change over the years, and I have new ideas, and a thought comes to mind, and I've been doing some-- one of the things that's been interesting is I've been doing a lot of in-person demos of Basecamp 3. I've never really done a lot of in-person demos of Basecamp before, and it's been really interesting because I'm seeing some really cool insights that come from followup questions. We've always thought about demoing Basecamp with videos, or tutorials or whatever, right? But what I've realized is that that kind of demo doesn't lead to followup questions, and followup questions are really valuable, because that is where someone requests or looks for clarity. Like, "Wait. What do you mean by that?" Or like, "Wait, how do you do that?" Or, "Wait, how do you think about that?"
David Kadavy 41:21 It's kind of like where they ask the question that they were initially too afraid to ask or something like--
Jason Fried 41:26 That's a good way to put it.
David Kadavy 41:27 --but they thought was a dumb question before, but somehow--
Jason Fried 41:30 Totally. [crosstalk] That's a great way of putting it. Yeah, a great way of putting it. Those moments, I'm realizing, are extremely valuable, very valuable. In fact, it's almost all the value. Yet, when you do a lot of self-service stuff you don't get to that value because you don't talk to the person, right?
David Kadavy 41:49 See their facial expressions or--
Jason Fried 41:51 Yeah, or just the things that-- it's like a comedian. A comedian writes material, and if they want to do a one-hour show on HBO, they spend a year in the clubs perfecting that material They don't know how audience are-- they think all the stuff they're writing down is funny, but they've got to try that stuff out. You've got to try it out in front of an audience and see what reactions-- and sometimes the audience give a reaction on something that you didn't think was going to be that funny, or they react to the timing or something. You've got to try that stuff out. So what's been interesting is I gave a couple of demos of Basecamp 3. One of the interesting features of Basecamp 3 is-- it's such a basic thing. You can create folders, and you drag things into folders to organize them your own way, and I got a standing ovation from this one group [chuckles]. I was really surprised by that. It was not something that I thought was going to be like this eureka moment for people, right? But I had to be there to see that, to feel it, to know that there's something there now. Then I can follow up on that and get-- wow. I'm like, "Whoa. Why was that such a big deal for you." "Oh, because--" and then you get the because.
Jason Fried 43:06 Every word after because is gold, you know? You don't get that when you just kind of like put material out there that people can do on their own. So I want to do a lot more in-person stuff next year. This is stuff that does not scale. We have well over 100,000 paying customers. We have a very big business. Tons and tons of customers, millions of people use Basecamp. I can't possibly demo it for all of them, right? But I don't have to. What if I can demo Basecamp to 200 companies a year? What if I could do that? How much better would the product be? How much better off would they be and how much better off would we be? I think it's undeniable that there'd be a deep value there, and I want to think about doing that kind of stuff. Anyway, that's very different from how we've ever done things before. So that's just one of the things I'm thinking about, but I just feel it's really important to shake up your own thoughts from time to time.
David Kadavy 44:02 Yeah, and I love this idea of these insights of these things that you are taking for granted in a way for whatever reason - maybe it was an obvious solution to make the folders draggable like that - and then it just blows away these other people. I think that that's something that-- I find that myself just in trying, or I have found that in trying to find my own entrepreneurial voice or deciding what to do in my own career, is that every once in a while somebody will make an observation. They say, "Oh, you're really good at explaining things," or something like that. And you're like, "Well, wait. I didn't know that." Was there anything like that for you personally that helped you find your own path in the early days of 37signals or something? Things that you didn't necessarily know that you were good at but you later discovered through observations like that.
Jason Fried 44:58 Yeah. I'm not sure if it's a specific thing other than like a way of looking at things. So we would do work for clients all the time, oftentimes bigger clients. Like, back in the early days we'd do work for Hewlett-Packard or something. We did a website for them. And I'd be sitting in a meeting with them, and there'd be a lot of people on the table, and they'd be talking stuff through, and they'd be like-- they'd be talking stuff through, putting the ideas through their own process, which often involved a lot of people, followup meetings and a whole timetable to get something to try something. I'd be like, "Why don't we just try it right now? Why don't we just make the change right now and just look at it together?" That, to me, was like, "Of course. If we want to see how it looks, let's just do it, and then let's look at it." For them, that was just like a revelation. Like, "What? But doesn't it have to be this, and that and approved?" I'm like, "It could be, but it doesn't have to be. Right now, let me pull out my laptop, and I'll make the change, and I'll hit reload and let's look at the page." That came from me being a freelancer. I was working on my own. I had no one else to talk to. No one else to rely on. I had to do it all myself. I did all the HTML and design. There was no process.
Jason Fried 46:18 So for me, just growing up that way in the industry, helped me realize that you don't need a lot people to get things done. You don't need a lot of process to try stuff. But a lot of the clients I worked with early on, they couldn't believe-- they're like, "You're a genius." I'm like, "I'm not a genius at all. That is like the worst label to give me. I'm actually being a simpleton." I'm just being like, "Let's just change it and hit reload." So it wasn't like a thing. It was just a way of cutting through. So what I saw there was that process creates layers, and layers and layers, upon which you then begin to rely. And you don't realize that there was a time, when you didn't have to have all those layers, but you've become used to them and you think then that's the only way. So I think what I was good at early on was coming in and cutting through that stuff, and being like, "We don't need to do all that. Let's just do it this way." And they'd be like, "What? What? You're not allowed to do it that way."
David Kadavy 47:15 Again, it goes to this contrarian thinking thing. I'm trying to figure out like how much of it is your DNA and then how much of it was-- was there ever a time--? Huh. I guess what I'm trying to figure out is-- I think that, yeah, I can show a lot of people, "Here we're talking with Jason Fried. He sees things differently from the way other people do," but somebody can't just flip a switch and start thinking in their own way or gain that confidence. Was there ever a time when you didn't have the confidence to do that, and how'd that happen?
Jason Fried 47:53 Oh yeah. I mean, I've always had a world view, I think, which is things are simpler than they appear actually. Which is funny, because they're also way more complicated than they appear. What I mean by that is that things can be simpler. Like, whatever the thing you're trying to solve, there's a simpler version of that. I've just always had that in me, that I'm like, "There's no way this is the only way we can do this. We can do this simpler. We can be clearer about this--"
David Kadavy 48:18 What do you think was the earliest example you can think of--
Jason Fried 48:22 Of that?
David Kadavy 48:22 --where you did that?
Jason Fried 48:29 I remember back before the web was around-- the way I got started in any of this stuff was I made this program called AudioFile, which was a music organizing tool. It was like iTunes kind of way, way back, but there was no digital music. So it was just like a way to organize your CDs and your tapes. Because I had bunch, and I was loaning them out to friends and never getting them back.
David Kadavy 48:51 Tapes, for people who don't know, was this thing that had two reels on it and there was this tape-like thing that had music on it.
Jason Fried 48:57 It was actually tape. It was tape that moved [chuckles].
David Kadavy 49:00 It wasn't sticky.
Jason Fried 49:01 Right. It was magnetic and weird. Anyway, so I would loan stuff out to friends and never get it back. I didn't know who borrowed it and I didn't know-- so I'm like, "I need to organize this stuff. I need to get my stuff together." So I started looking on AOL, actually, because the internet wasn't around. This was like the early 90s. But AOL was around. There was software boards and stuff where you could download shareware and stuff. I downloaded a bunch of these music apps, because there was lot of other people who had this problem, and I just found them incredibly complicated, and just really weird, and strange, and ugly and all the things that-- it's still subjective, but my aesthetic was not being satisfied by their aesthetic. I'm like, "I don't know how to do this, but I need something, and I'm going to make one myself." So I just got FileMaker and learned how to do it, and made a much, much, much, much simpler version, because I just made something that I knew I needed. And it wasn't about imagining what everyone else needed, it was just like, "What do I need?" And I was able to cut right to that, and it became very successful product. I made $20,000 off this little shareware thing.
David Kadavy 50:08 Just getting checks in the mail and--?
Jason Fried 50:10 Yeah, and this was the revelation that I could do this for a living. So I put in the [product?]-- just like it was shareware, which is like, "You could use it for free, but if you like it, send me 20 bucks, and here's my home address." So people started sending me $20 bills, and I'm like, "Holy shit, I can do this."
David Kadavy 50:29 Were there moments of doubt along the way?
Jason Fried 50:31 Never, because I didn't care.
David Kadavy 50:33 You didn't care. It just happened.
Jason Fried 50:33 It was for me. The product was for me. If no one used it, didn't care. And that's how I've always tried to make it, which is like-- we still make Basecamp for ourselves. We need Basecamps to run our own business. I care a lot more now because we have tons of customers and we've got a payroll - 50 people - and the whole thing. But fundamentally it's still we want to make something for ourselves, because we know there's a lot of people out there just like us who need what we need. That's how we look at it. But with AudioFile, the first thing ever, I was in high school or whenever it was, and there was never a moment of doubt because it didn't matter if anyone used it. It was a miracle that anyone did. But I needed it for my own thing, and so it wasn't even about confidence. It was like, "I need it anyway." That's how I kind of learned graphic design, and learned a little bit of software development, and learned usability, and learned about customer feedback and all that stuff I learned through those channels because I'd made my own little software thing.
David Kadavy 51:32 So there are no existential crises over like, "Should I do this or that?"
Jason Fried 51:40 I think the biggest one we had recently in the company was deciding to go all in on Basecamp, and then what to do with the other products and stuff. That was like an existential thing, but it was like a moment, and there was risk involved and all that stuff. Those moments still come up. I mean, deciding what to do with a product. Do we release it this way or release it that way, and how do we price it? We have those discussions and decisions all the time, but I try not to worry about it too much. I worry about it probably more than I should still, but it's like, "Let's make a call, and move forward and see how it does."
David Kadavy 52:17 All right. I've got a few questions that are a little more canned questions as we wrap up. What's the biggest compromise that you've had to make in your career to have the success that you have?
Jason Fried 52:30 Well, the biggest compromise. That's a really great question. I've never been asked that question. I love when I've never been asked a question before. Those are great questions. So I made a compromise-- I'll talk about inside the business, and this is interesting because it turned out to be a great thing. So David, who's my business partner-- I'd had two partners originally in 37signals and then they both left, and so it was just me. And taking on another partner was a compromise in some ways, because it's, to me, like, "I'm running the show now, and now I'm going to bring someone else in and someone else's opinions are going to matter at that level." So it was like--
David Kadavy 53:19 And David, by the way, could be called a contrarian thinker as well, right?
Jason Fried 53:24 Absolutely.
David Kadavy 53:25 So lots of opportunities for you to disagree.
Jason Fried 53:27 Yeah, and we do disagree. We still disagree deeply on certain things. We agree on
most things, and then there are some things that are on the edges that we disagree on deeply, which is really healthy, and that's my point. Sometimes it feels like I have to give-- it would be easier if I could just do whatever I wanted, right? But the company wouldn't be better, and that's what I've come to realize, and I realized it pretty early. I'm just talking about the moment of thinking on taking on another partner, again, was this moment where I have to make compromises, and it turns out that compromises are actually really damn good things to make sometimes. But at the time I just remember thinking, "I've got it all now." And this actually includes ownership in the company. I owned a 100% of the company, and David came on as a partner and now he owns a piece. He owned more and more over time. Looking back on it, it's one of the best decisions I've ever made, but I just remember, going back, thinking about--
David Kadavy 54:28 It was a point of tension, right?
Jason Fried 54:29 Yeah, absolutely. Internally.
David Kadavy 54:30 It could have gone either way.
Jason Fried 54:32 It could have gone either way. Also, I talked to my dad about it, and my dad's always been someone who's like, "Never have a partner in business. Never take on a partner because a lot of them dissolve and it gets really messy and horrible," and I've been really fortunate to always be able to work with great people. But this is not a compromise I've considered recently. I'm thrilled with how things have turned out. But I just remember at the moment really feeling like I'm taking--
David Kadavy 54:57 And the two of you had worked together before that point. It wasn't just blindly going into this partnership.
Jason Fried 55:02 No. Yeah, we'd worked together, and I actually encourage people to do that. I hired David--
David Kadavy 55:06 Like dating before getting married.
Jason Fried 55:07 Yeah, absolutely. And I hired David as a-- David was still in school when I first met him, and I hired him. He only had ten hours a week to give me as on a contract basis to build Basecamp. Actually, before that we were working on some client work together as a contractor, because we didn't have any programmers on staff and he was the first programmer I had ever worked with. This client hired us to build an intranet for them and we're like, "We can do the design," and they're like, "Well, we want you to do the back end too," and I didn't know how to do that. I found David, and he did it with us. Anyway, we had experience working together on multiple levels, but it's still-- like, the moment you decide to bring someone into your business, as the remaining founder, it's a difficult moment. Even though [crosstalk].
David Kadavy 55:58 I [?] it myself. I own 100% of my business, and it would be kind of agony to make a decision like that.
Jason Fried 56:07 Totally. And I think there's still times-- I'll speak for David. I'm guessing David feels the same way, that there's times David would just like to do things his own way and there's times I'd like to do things my own way. But the fact that we can't do that and we discuss these things with each other, we end up with something better. But there's also, of course, frustrating moments for everybody in every relationship. I mean, it's a relationship, right? And that's cool, but it is important, I think, when you-- I think a lot of entrepreneurs these days look for founders. They're like, "I need a co-founder. I need a co-founder. I need a co-founder." So they just go out and try and find one. You've got to date someone first, basically, for a while. I really think that's important. Because people are complicated, money is complicated, and people and money together is extremely complicated. There are few things in the world that are more complicated than that, and that's the kind of complication you're getting yourself into when you take on a partner in a business.
David Kadavy 56:59 Yeah, it's almost like this commodity approach to something that's so personal, or a person. Co-founders. Like, "Oh, I'm just going to grab some milk at the store."
Jason Fried 57:11 Yeah, it's not that way.
David Kadavy 57:13 "I'm going to go grab a co-founder."
Jason Fried 57:14 It's not that way. Especially if you're in a business 50/50 or something, like a lot of people do. They start out co-founder for 50/50. Actually, 50/50 is the worst number in business. There needs to be tiebreakers. But anyway, that's another topic. But anyway, as far as compromises - to get back to that - I think at the moment it was a major compromise that I had to get over, but I'm so glad that I did. But it was a big moment.
David Kadavy 57:41 Yeah. Well, that's a great one. I'm so flattered to have asked you a question that you hadn't been asked before [chuckles].
Jason Fried 57:45 I love that.
David Kadavy 57:47 I'm sure you've been asked a lot of questions. What was the last book that you read that changed the way that you saw something?
Jason Fried 57:52 A great questions too. I typically do not like business books. I find them boring and too long, but I read something recently which I don't even consider to be a business book. A book called--
David Kadavy 58:03 It doesn't have to be a business book, by the way. It could be about-- Adrian, who I talked to, said he read a book about ants.
Jason Fried 58:11 Totally. And I know that book, and he told me about it and it's on my list. But just being honest about it, the last thing I read that really changed my mind on something happened to be a business book.
David Kadavy 58:23 Got you.
Jason Fried 58:23 Although, actually there's-- can I give you two answers?
David Kadavy 58:26 Yeah, absolutely.
Jason Fried 58:27 Okay. So one of them was a business book called Turn the Ship Around, which is a wonderful book by this guy named David Marquet, who was a captain on a nuclear sub, and he was brought in to turn the worst sub in the Navy around. Like, turn it from the worst sub in the Navy to the best, and the way they measured this was sailor satisfaction, people who wanted to sail on that ship again. There's a variety of things. I don't remember all of the details, but it was like-- let's say there was 100 of them. It was number 100. The worst.
David Kadavy 58:56 Yeah, wow.
Jason Fried 58:57 And they brought him in to make it great, and he did it by doing something extremely contrarian. In the military it's all about orders. You give orders.
Business is often structured a lot like military. The orders come from the CEO and we all follow the orders, right? And he realized, "Look, there's 800 people on this ship. I'm one of those 800. If I'm the one getting orders, then there's only one brain on the ship. It's mine. What a terrible waste to have 800 brains but only one of them has to work, and everyone else just does what I say. That is a waste." So he decided not to give any orders, which is something the military-- you don't do. It's the opposite of what you do. The only order--
David Kadavy 59:47 This sounds like a great book.
Jason Fried 59:47 It's a wonderful book and it's a great story, and he tells it. It's not a business book at all, by the way. It's not at all. But it's sort of like--
David Kadavy 59:54 Lots of parallels.
Jason Fried 59:54 Tons of parallels. But it's not a business book. He talks about how the only order he reserved for himself was the order to fire a weapon that could kill somebody. So if they had to fire a torpedo, that was still on him. Everything else-- what he did was, he said-- and it took him a while to make this work, which is what's really cool about the book is he is very honest about the failings of it initially. After he enacted the system, everything in his bones told him to step in and fix these problems, but he's like, "No, I got to let this settle out the way I want it to." Anyway, was that people were not-- so the way that it typically worked is people would come to him, and they'd say, "Captain, what should I do?" Or whatever it is, and he'd be like, "Turn this ship 30 degrees starboard," or whatever. I don't know. They'd be like, "Aye, aye captain," and they'd go do it. He'd give the order. But what he wanted people to do instead was to come to him and say, "I intended to turn the ship 30 degrees," and then he could okay that. But the point is that his okay would just-- they're already saying what they're going to do. They have to, in their mind, already know what they're going to do. They can't come to him to ask him what to do. They have to come to him and tell him what they intend to do.
David Kadavy 61:12 They have to go through that whole mental process of taking it through which is--
Jason Fried 61:15 "Because if he says yes, I've got to do this now."
David Kadavy 61:17 Yeah.
Jason Fried 61:16 "And I came to him with the idea." So he got people to come with intent--
David Kadavy 61:20 Accountability there.
Jason Fried 61:21 Totally, and think it through and come with intent.
David Kadavy 61:25 And ownership [crosstalk]--
Jason Fried 61:25 And that changed everything. Totally. And they started thinking. It took a while because it was weird at first, and this is part of the thing, is whenever you enact something new at a company, it's very easy to fall back on, "This isn't going to work. This is too weird." But he talked about the process of getting over that and giving it space and distance to see if it would work, and it turned out that it worked and became the best ship in the navy.
David Kadavy 61:47 That's a great recommendation.
Jason Fried 61:49 It's a wonderful book.
David Kadavy 61:50 I will read that book.
Jason Fried 61:50 He's a wonderful writer and a very honest storyteller. So there's that book, and the other book is a book which has the cheesiest cover ever and also a very cheesy title. It's called the Mayo Clinic Guide to Stress-Free Living, and it's like the cheesiest-- the book cover is someone doing a cartwheel in a field.
David Kadavy 62:09 Stress-Free Living.
Jason Fried 62:11 It's horrible. But it's this guy--
David Kadavy 62:13 Made by the Church of Scientology?
Jason Fried 62:14 It looks like it would be, but it's actually the Mayo Clinic, which is like the world's best hospital. This guy who wrote it is a doctor there who sort of unlocked a couple of really interesting truths about the brain and how to reduce stress in your life, and it's fascinating. It changed my life in terms of-- I haven't mastered the techniques, but they've influenced me greatly. The number one thing I'll tell you about it is that basically there's a sense-- what he's realized - and different religions and theologies have come to similar conclusions, but he's trying to make this very practical - is that there's two modes of the mind. There's the default mode and the focused mode. The focused mode is when you're working. He talks about when you're really into something, it's all you're thinking about, and you're cruising and you're nailing it, right? But when you're not focused and you're wandering, your mind tends to wander towards worry. It tends to wander towards-- you start having these thoughts in your head about the things you should be doing, the things you're not doing, and, "What's going to happen if I do this?" And, "Oh my God, global warming. We're all going to die." You just start-- because evolutionarily, you're programmed to do that, because if you just--
David Kadavy 63:31 It's amygdala taking over.
Jason Fried 63:32 Yeah. It's like, "There's a tiger who's going to kill me, and I've got to be wary." But he's like, "In the modern world, most people don't have those things anymore." We're pretty safe. Not everywhere, but most places. So you've got to get your mind off the default mode, which is the wandering mode, and back into focus. So he helps you figure out ways. Some people do meditation. He's like, "Meditation's a wonderful thing if you have all this time to commit to it, and learn and really master it--"
David Kadavy 63:59 Is that something you've tried?
Jason Fried 64:00 I have, and I've never been able to do it very well. So this really spoke to me, because he's like, "I think meditation is a wonderful technique, but it's not a practical technique for most people." In fact, a lot of meditation's about just letting your thoughts come and go, and that's when you have a lot of the bad thoughts. It's very hard to really, really master that technique. So anyway, I'm not going to get into deeply, but the book's wonderful. It's really, really approachable, and there's just some really good fundamental things that have sort of changed my way of dealing with those moments when I race towards bad thoughts, how to deal with those in a practical way. Anyway, those two books I highly recommend.
David Kadavy 64:39 This is my first time asking this one. Do you make your bed?
Jason Fried 64:44 No. I sometimes throw my bed. Like, I kind of just flop the sheets so it looks made up. But no, never been into that.
David Kadavy 64:57 Just, one of these things I'd heard over and over again is, like, "You should make your bed," and I started doing it.
Jason Fried 65:06 It's like a thing you just--
David Kadavy 65:08 It's one of these things I never did when I was a kid because it was like, "It's such a waste of time, mom. I'm not going to make my bed."
Jason Fried 65:12 The reason why I don't do it is because I don't like made beds. When I go to a hotel the first thing I do is I tear the bed up. I don't like them--
David Kadavy 65:20 I kick sheets from under. I hate having my feet trapped.
Jason Fried 65:22 Me too. I don't like things tucked in and tight that way. I like it to be semi-presentable on a certain level, but I don't go through the details. I certainly don't tuck things in.
David Kadavy 65:34 Yeah. You maybe flatten it out a little bit or something.
Jason Fried 65:36 A little bit. Sometimes, but not all the time.
David Kadavy 65:38 So it's not all just a bunch of--
Jason Fried 65:39 A flop. Yeah, floppy.
David Kadavy 65:41 Yeah, just flop it. When have you left money on the table?
Jason Fried 65:49 All the time.
David Kadavy 65:50 And what did you get in return? I guess the question I'm really asking is, what sort of values have you guided-- because money is a certain value, and then there are other values. What are the values that have guided your decision making?
Jason Fried 66:06 I've never ever been someone who's been interested in squeezing the last dime or penny out of anything. I don't find that to be interesting at all. I don't find extreme optimization to be interesting, like, "How can we move the numbers by .5%? Because there's money out there that we're not--" That doesn't do it for me, and also I feel like there's a moment where - this is very non-scientific - you're doing well enough. It's about enough. And we continue to make efforts to grow the business revenues, and we always have every year. Our revenues are higher than the previous year. Our profits are greater than the previous year. I'm a fan of that level of growth, but I'm not a fan of trying to bust our ass to make 10% growth if naturally we can just do 8. If we can just do 8, I just don't need 10, you know what I'm saying? I just don't need that, so--
David Kadavy 66:57 That last 2% is what ruins your life [chuckles].
Jason Fried 67:02 Exactly, and so I've just realized that, "Hey--" I'm just making numbers here. "If we can do 5% growth, I'm actually pretty happy with that." We do more than that, but what if we did just do 5% every year forever? That's pretty damn good still. That's wonderful. Fine. What if we could do 20% with a simple change? I'd love that, but I'm not gonna bust my ass to try and go from 5 to 6. That just doesn't interest me. So those kind of things don't interest me. What interests me is having-- I do believe in creating cushion. So I do like to have room. I don't like to feel like we're so tight that payroll would be a problem. That is something I've never had to deal with, and I don't want to deal with that. So I always want to create very healthy margins and lots of room to try to experiment and not struggle through those things. I've always worked that way, but I've never looked at the numbers and felt like I need to move the numbers in a meaningful way by squeezing. So I'm not a numbers-driven CEO in terms of like, "There's got to be a way to pick up more," but I'd also think that there is plenty more to pick up, and I'm interested in picking it up as an exercise, but not because I feel like we must. That's kind of how that happens.
David Kadavy 68:32 What do you feel like you get in exchange?
Jason Fried 68:33 By the way, I'm also big fan of just profit. So getting back to that, numbers for me have never been about top line growth or revenue. It's about profit, because profit to me is food, air and water for a company and it allows the company to continue indefinitely, and that's sort of what I want. Revenues do not do that, profits do. So I'm very big in the profit generation and not just trying to grow. Companies are like, "I want to get to $700,000,000 in revenues so we're worth $44,000,000,000." If they're only making $3,000,000 off all of the effort that goes into making [?], that doesn't interest me. Anyway, that was just an aside there, but I forget what else you were saying.
David Kadavy 69:15 What do you feel like you get in exchange for leaving that money on the table?
Jason Fried 69:19 A lot less stress. A lot less worry. Those things. And also just, I think, time back, and also a focus on more important things, like taking care of people. We do a lot of really interesting things for employees here that, if I was financially driven, I couldn't justify these expenses. We do some very expensive things for employees. Above and beyond salary, above and beyond benefits, but just other things. I don't need to go into them specifically, but they don't make sense from a financial standpoint, but they make sense to me as someone who wants to create great experiences for employees who spend their days working for me and I get to work with them. So those are the things you get when you don't worry about those other things.
David Kadavy 70:16 Do you have a final message for our listeners? Any parting words that you'd like to give them?
Jason Fried 70:22 Well, tell me about the listeners. Who are the listeners? Tell me about the audience.
David Kadavy 70:26 The audience. Well gosh, I don't know. You've really stumped me with that question, Jason [chuckles]. You know, I'm bringing in people like you, and the reason why you're going to be the first guest on this podcast is because you're somebody who has played by your rules and you have very clearly worked to achieve your own definition of success, which the evidence abound in this interview, I think. I'd like for people to see, through you, parallels in their own life. Not for them to do the same thing that you're doing, but for them to give themselves permission to listen to whatever contrarian voice might be in their head or whatever new way they might have of seeing something, and to give themselves permission to go forth with it.
Jason Fried 71:22 If that's the sort of the goal of the show, I think the most important thing - and it took me a while to realize this in my own life - is just to be completely true to your self and recognize that you've got to get to know who you are and then you've got to just live that life. I don't mean give up. That's not what I mean by, "Just live that life," but what I do mean is that if you believe in doing things your way and it doesn't compute with the rest of the world, do things your way, because you know yourself and that's how you want to live. If you want to take a certain chance and everyone else thinks you're crazy but you believe in it, then do it. You really have to get to know yourself and answer to yourself, versus letting other people define your own limits and your borders. It's a little self-helpy, which I don't like about it, but it's really true. You've got to get to know yourself. Something I hear from people when I speak, they're like, "Oh, I want to be like you guys." I'm like, "No, you don't. You want to be like you." You want to be like you, because acting is hard. Acting makes you have to hold a bunch of things in your head about a different state of the world that is not natural to you. Once you stop acting, then everything becomes a lot easier. You may succeed and you may not, but at least you're being honest and true to yourself. That is the most important thing.
David Kadavy 72:49 I can totally relate to that because I know, sitting across from you, you're somebody who I followed online for so long, and I was always watching what you were doing, and reading what you wrote and things. Eventually I had to find my own way of doing things. I know I'm not Jason Fried. I'm not going do things the same way that Jason Fried does things.
Jason Fried 73:08 Yeah, and you shouldn't. You shouldn't. You should do things the way you do things. I think there's a lot of copying in our industry. I think there's a lot of people who try to be someone else. This is probably not even just in our-- I think this just in the world, right? I think the earlier you realize that acting and playing a part is really hard but being yourself is really easy, then you should take the easier road. There's nothing wrong with that, and it's actually the more honest road, and I think that you'll ultimately be happier at the end of the day. So that's my advice to people.
David Kadavy 73:43 That's great parting wisdom for everybody. Thanks so much for meeting with me. It's been a huge honor, and I think it's going to be a huge help to a lot of the listeners out there. Thanks so much.
Jason Fried 73:54 Thank you. Let me say this, too. I think your show has a lot of legs, because you're a really good interviewer, and you have really good, deep questions and original questions. So I'm really excited to hear all your future interviews.
David Kadavy 74:05 Hearing that from you is fantastic. Thanks so much, Jason.
Jason Fried 74:08 You bet. Thanks.
David Kadavy 74:17 So there we have it. Before I go I've got to ask, do you like books? If you do, I'd love to send you my book recommendations. About 90% of them will be nonfiction on subjects spanning from biographies to neuroscience. Just go to kadavy.net/reading/, and make sure you put one more trailing slash on the end of that URL. Sign up, and you'll get my first set of recommendations right away. You'll be supporting this show if you buy any of those books through the links in the email. This has been Love Your Work, and I'm David Kadavy. The theme music for this show is See In You, performed by the Album Leaf, courtesy of Sub Pop Records. Love Your Work is a production of Kadavy Inc.
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