A point of view spreads. (Jason Fried)

I’ve been following Jason Fried and his unconventional business wisdom for years, via his books like Rework, and Remote: Office Not Required (published 7 years before coronavirus was a thing!). I enjoyed this bit from his recent interview with Kara Swisher, where he talks about what I’ll call mission-driven business-building.

Instead of asking, “what products can we develop to generate profits”, and later trying to incorporate sustainability and mission, Fried takes the reverse approach. He and his team at Basecamp, and now their new ambitious email service Hey.com, give the impression that their values permeate who they are, what they stand for, and everything that they do as a company.

This idea also touches on the rising trend of new open-sourcing models as a distribution method.


I think [you can have a significant impact as an entrepreneur] is… about igniting a bunch of different fires. For example… [at hey.com] we’re going to open-source part of our tool. We put together a list of 40 or 50 services that track people… and are making that available on GitHub [so that] other people can add to that list.

If this feature ends up in 12 other products, wonderful.

We don’t have to dominate the world to have this [feature] spread. [It’s] the same thing with ideas.

As a small company we [at Basecamp] have had a very big impact on the industry. We’re a small company, but we have ideas and a point of view, and that spreads. And other people then pick up that point of view and maybe some adopt it, maybe some change it, maybe some reject it. But it gets spread, and it gets spread in other areas. And then those things happen.

It’s like seeds blowing in the wind… it’s not about one seed. You’ve got to seed ideas. And then the world will go with what is better.

But you have to provide an alternative to [products seeking global domination.

And if our impact is [only] 100,000 customers who are paying us for Hey, or 50,000 businesses that pay us for Hey… but it shines a spotlight on the ideas that have, the concepts that we have, and the point of view that we have… and other things sprout up because of that… that’s how you really change things versus going out and trying to dominate the world.

Competence + Confidence [Personal Theme]

I shared in the Growth Mentor mentee community yesterday:

YOU GOT THIS.

And I don’t mean that as some kind of trope.

What I mean is the following:

All of the top performers, ever, made mistakes. There’s that famous Wayne Gretsky quote about missing 100 percent of the shots you never take. Michael Jordan missed a lot of shots and the opportunity to win many games for the Bulls. One of the reasons Jordan is known for making so many buzzer beaters (25 game winning shots) is because he tried. Jordan missed a lot of shots, too (He was 9-18 in the final 24 seconds and 5-11 in the final 10 seconds). Yes, he had an amazing record, but imperfect, and mortal like all of us.

I think one of the necessary ingredients in winning is just trusting yourself. You got this.

I come up with these 2-word themes every couple of months, that serve me as kind of a theme for everything I do professionally. I write these on a piece of paper that I tape to my fridge, for the constant reminder (I work from home as many of us do these days). Throughout the summer it my theme was “Focus + Courage”. That had a lot to do with career uncertainty and just figuring out “what game” I was playing (more on that, and Jordan, on my blog here).

Now I feel like I’m in a place where I have clarity on what the personal flywheel I’m building, and what I need to do (happy to elaborate about my own flywheel and what I’m building, but this isn’t about me; it’s about you). I’m happy to share my new theme with you, which I just put up on my fridge this week. And that is “Competence + Confidence”. And I think that’s relevant to Growth Mentor for obvious reasons.

Importance vs. urgency

​We live in a digital world which pulls us into conflating the urgent and the important. As marketing decision makers we need to build up our prioritization and decision-making muscles. We need to constantly rebucket “nice to have” and “need to have”. And we need to constantly realign our activities with business objectives, which can be all the difference between calling something a “success” or a “failure”.

Inspired by hearing Nir Eyal talk about his book Indistractable: How to Control Your Attention and Choose Your Life.