Opening the Rework Mailbag, Part 1

It’s our first mailbag episode! Jason Fried and DHH answer listener questions on topics like the role of luck and timing in starting Basecamp; how they approach pricing (spoiler: It’s something called “ass pricing”); hiring in the early stages of a business; and more.

We’ll have Part 2 with even more questions next week, so be sure to subscribe to Rework via Apple Podcasts, Google Play Music, or your favorite podcatcher so you don’t miss it.

If you have a question for Jason or David to tackle on a future mailbag episode, leave us a message at 708–628–7850. We’re also collecting stories about meetings for a future episode. I heard from someone whose CEO held monthly 8-hour Skype meetings. Yes, they were eight hours long (with only two breaks under 20 minutes each) and consisted of him reading aloud some Google Docs. Do you have a similar story? Or—shudder—one that tops a recurring 8-hour Skype call? Call us or send an email to hello@rework.fm.

Can You Sell Water? Part 2

Abraham Celio and Maria Mendez own Yolis Tamales on Chicago’s Southwest Side.

Some of the tech industry’s most vaunted companies revel in their origins as mavericks or rule-breakers, having flouted regulations in the name of disruption. That kind of risk-taking is celebrated in Silicon Valley but punished in other places, most notably minority communities.

In this episode of the Rework podcast: A legal advocate for low-income entrepreneurs talks about the hurdles her clients face, and a husband-and-wife team of street food vendors share what they’ve learned making the transition from the informal to the formal economy.

Can You Sell Water?


Selling is a core skill. You have to know how to sell, whether it’s a product, an idea, or yourself. In 2012, Basecamp CEO Jason Fried saw the results of a bottled water-selling challenge at Techstars Chicago, a bootcamp program for startups. That one-day competition is the starting point for a conversation that includes the art of negotiation, Jason’s experiences selling knives, tennis rackets, and software; and other adventures in business.

Message on a Bottle

The famous Dr. Bronner’s label

Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps, which bills itself as the top-selling natural soapmaker in North America, wasn’t founded to sell soap. The company was started to promote a religious philosophy developed by Dr. Emanuel Bronner, a third-generation German Jewish soapmaker, who printed his message on the labels of his potent peppermint liquid soap. Successive generations of the Bronner family have used the label’s message of a united humanity to guide the company, which spends much of its profits on charitable causes and is outspoken on issues like wage equality and fair trade. Today, even as the idea of a united humanity seems more distant than ever, Dr. Bronner’s continues to spread its soap and message worldwide.

This episode sounds a lot different than the previous ones we’ve released. Instead of a traditional interview, we’re letting company President Michael Bronner and his grandfather, Emanuel, tell the story of how the current generation is interpreting the bottle’s message for the modern age. We hope you enjoy it!

Take A Stand

Flowers for Dreams put this pop-up on their website after the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville.

Business and politics tend to make uneasy bedfellows, but in these divisive times, even businesses that have historically stayed out of hot-button issues are coming off the sidelines. In this episode: An online florist tells racists to shop elsewhere; Basecamp stops reimbursing employees for Uber rides; and a Chicago couple creates a lighthearted product with a serious message about the treatment of female bodies.

If you’d like to get new Rework episodes delivered to your phone as soon as they’re released, subscribe via Apple Podcasts, Google Play Music, RadioPublic or your favorite podcatcher app!

Say No

It’s easy to say yes, whether it’s to a customer request or a deadline from your boss. But saying yes too many times can result in an unmanageable workload or distract you from the stuff you really want to be doing. It’s good to practice saying no and setting boundaries. In this episode of the Rework podcast: A personal organizer helps her clients say no to physical clutter; a programmer at Basecamp peers into the abyss of burnout and steps back just in time; and a healthy meal-planning startup rejects complexity, even if it means letting some customers go.

Pick A Fight (on Twitter)

Basecamp CTO David Heinemeier Hansson is known for many things, including creating Ruby on Rails and writing business books. He also has strong opinions and likes to share them on the Internet! And sometimes DHH’s Twitter posts spark some lively debate, and by lively debate, we mean grown-ups yelling at each other in 140-character spurts.

In the latest episode of the Rework podcast, I interview DHH about how Twitter is like a virtual pillow to scream into and the role that extreme voices play in moving important conversations forward. We also relive some of his memorable Twitter melees, including the one that got him blocked by Paul Graham.

Be sure to subscribe to Rework so you get new episodes right as we release them. Also, if you have a question for DHH or Jason Fried, call 708-628–7850 and leave us a voicemail! You might hear them answer your question on a future mailbag episode.

Workaholics Aren’t Heroes

Working more doesn’t mean you care more or get more done. It just means you work more. (Rework)

Being tired isn’t a badge of honor. We’ve been saying this for a while now, because our culture loves to glorify toiling long hours for its own sake and we think that leads to subpar work and general misery. In this episode of the Rework podcast, we talk to a veteran of the video game industry and a member of Basecamp’s customer support team about workaholism and burnout. We also hear from the owner of a new business who’s balancing mindfulness with the demands of starting her own meditation-focused company.

https://art19.com/shows/rework/episodes/ca99d845-34be-49b6-88fb-d8dd5dee5517

The issue of workaholism, particularly in tech startups, continues to be a prickly topic—so much so that when DHH wrote a piece for this very blog entitled “Trickle-down workaholism in startups,” he kicked off a Twitter fight about it. We’ll be talking about that dust-up in the next episode, which is entirely devoted to why and how David argues on Twitter. So listen, subscribe (via Apple Podcasts, Google Play Music, or the app of your choice), and stay tuned!

Sell Your By-products

It’s the debut of the Rework podcast!

Welcome to the first episode of Rework! This podcast is based on Jason Fried and DHH’s 2010 best-selling business book, which was itself based on years of blogging. So what better way to kick off this show than talking about by-products? In this episode, Jason explains how Basecamp’s ideas have been packaged as blog posts, workshops, and books. We also visit J.H. Keeso & Sons Ltd., a 145-year-old sawmill in Ontario, Canada to see how this family-owned business sells its physical by-products.

We’ll be bringing you new episodes every other Tuesday, so be sure to subscribe via Apple Podcasts, Google Play Music, RadioPublic, or wherever you listen. We’ll take you behind the scenes at Basecamp and bring you stories of other businesses—startups, established companies, makers of physical products, brick-and-mortar stores, and more. Follow along and let us know what you think!