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Books Recommended by Jason Fried

Jason Fried is the co-founder and the CEO of Basecamp, the project management software he runs with David Heinemeier Hansson. Together they also co-authored several bestselling books on company and work culture.

Jason co-founded 37signals in 1999, as a web design firm. They started looking for a project management tool for their clients and, because they couldn’t find one for their needs, they decided to build their own simple project management app: Basecamp (came out in 2004). In 2014, they decided to focus solely on their most popular product, Basecamp, and changed the name of their company (15 million people have worked on a project with Basecamp in those 10 years, until they changed their name). Their company now helps hundreds of thousands of companies improve their work.

Jason co-wrote several books with his business partner David Heinemeier Hansson: ‘Getting Real’ (self-published in 2006), ‘Rework’, ‘Remote: Office Not Required’, and their latest release, ‘It Doesn’t Have to be Crazy at Work’.

In their new book, Jason and David talk about what they call “the calm company”: a different company culture, one that questions all the “best practices” of the modern work environment, such as long hours of work, sleepless nights, shared work calendars, hyper connection, being always available on instant messaging apps, and so on. They strongly believe that longer hours are not the answer, as it’s impossible to outwork everyone in the world. Jason and David show us what they did in order to build a successful business without all the chaos, anxiety, and stress that became the norm in today’s modern work environment.

In the summer of 2019, Basecamp released a free web-based book as a follow-up to ‘Getting Real’. Titled ‘Shape Up: Stop Running in Circles and Ship Work that Matters‘, it details how they work at Basecamp.

In 2010, Jason gave a very popular TED Talk on the topic of distraction at work, that’s been viewed by more than 6 million people: ‘Why Work Doesn’t Happen at Work‘.

If you want to learn more about Jason, you should listen to his conversation with Tim Ferriss, from the podcast episode titled ‘How to Live Life on Your Own Terms‘. They go through topics such as why it’s important to protect how you spend your personal time and attention, how to politely say no to future obligations, why Jason doesn’t set goals or KPIs and how he tracks professional progress instead, why he doesn’t read fiction, how he uses negative visualization (one of the basic Stoic principles) to make plans and be prepared. He also talks about how he quit reading online news and, instead, reads the newspaper in the morning – the joy of missing out and not competing in the sports information. So, if you enjoy podcasts, I can’t think of a better way to invest two hours of your time.

All books recommended or written by Jason Fried: