Select Page

We’ve taken a little break from blogging lately, thanks to a busy few weeks of work!

This morning, while I was poking around Google Reader getting some inspiration for the workday, I came across a short interview with Jason Fried, the founder and CEO of the highly successful tech company, 37signals. They’ve been around since 1999, and as their incredibly simple website puts it, they make collaboration productive and enjoyable for people every day. Their apps help small businesses manage projects, contacts, and assist teams collaborate in real-time over the web. In their series “Fast Talk”, which reveals snapshots of innovators who grapple with big ideas, Fast Company sat down with Fried to pick his brain about his surprisingly different approach to running his tech start-up, which makes millions of dollars a year.

For one, the employees at 37signals only work 4 days a week. In the cut-throat tech industry, this is virtually unheard of. “Lots of startups burn people out with 60, 70, 80 hours of work per week,” Fried says. “They know that both the people or the company will flame out or be bought or whatever, and they don’t care, they just burn their resources. It’s like drilling for as much oil as you possibly can.”

“I would never trade a short-term burst for a long-term decline in morale. That happens a lot in the tech business: They burn people out and get someone else. I like the people who work here too much.”

An interesting way to look at it, right?

Mr. Fried also talks about looking for inspiration outside of the tech world–and one of the most surprising business models he pointed out is, yes–his cleaning lady.

“She’s on her own, she cleans people’s homes, she’s incredibly nice. She brings flowers every time she cleans, and she’s just respectful and nice and awesome. Why can’t more people be like that?”

He also points out that his cleaning lady has been in business for some twenty-odd years–far longer than most tech companies are around. Her business model, he says, is “far more interesting than a tech company that’s hiring a bunch of people, just got their fourth round of financing for 12 million dollars, and they’re still losing money. That’s what everyone talks about as being exciting, but I think that’s an absolutely disgusting scenario when it comes to business.”

We talk to clients so much about mission and vision as they are starting their own practices. Why? We really believe that success is so much more than a number. It’s about what kind of care you give, how you treat your employees, and how much you enjoy your own life. No matter what industry you’re in, I think Jason Fried’s business ethic is something to keep in mind.

Read the entire interview from Fast Company here.