How about fixing the workplace rather than avoiding it at 4am?

Oh those superhuman CEOs who get up at 4am for that killer start to the day! Aren’t they just amazing? Such sacrifice, such grit, such tenacity.

Such fucking bullshit.

If you’re the CEO, and you can’t get work done at work, you only have one person to blame for it: Yourself. There’s no law of nature that dictates that it should be impossible to get deep work done at 11am or 2pm, just habits, values, and policies.

It’s your job to fix the damn workplace, not run away from it. Stop playing calendar Tetris with a whole organization. Stop loading up on meetings. Stop demanding endless status reports. Stop interrupting everyone all the time with shit that can wait.

Organizational dysfunction, such as the inability to get work done at work during regular work hours, is a reflection of executive habits and beliefs. Work isn’t crazy because of the nature of its being. Work is crazy because you’re making it crazy!

But it’s hard to fix that which you don’t know is broken. So let me spell it out: Having to get up at 4am to get real work done is broken. Busted. Kaput.

And it isn’t any less broken because a fawning business media keeps exalting the virtues of your morning routine or strict regiment. Quite contraire.

You know what’s cool? Getting to work at 9, putting in eight solid hours, and then being done by 5. There’s nothing stodgy or uncool about having reasonable work day that allows for a workout at 7:30am or playing with your kids at 5:30pm.

There’s no prize for being the first to rise. You’re not a fucking bird and there ain’t no fucking worm. So chill. Set a good example for your organization. Make calm a mission. Start getting work done at work again.

The AI apocalypse is already here

Fight this shit if you want to live

We don’t need to wait for the singularity before artificial intelligence becomes capable of turning the world into a dystopian nightmare. AI-branded algorithms are already serving up new portions of fresh hell on a regular basis. But instead of worrying about run-away computers, we should be worrying about the entrepreneurs that feed them the algorithms, and the consumers who mindlessly execute them.

It’s not that Elon Musk, Stephen Hawking, et al are wrong to ponder whether Skynet might one day decide that humankind is a bug in the code of the universe that should be eliminated. In much the same way that evangelicals aren’t necessarily wrong to believe that the rapture will at some point prove the end of history. Having faith in supernatural stories about vengeful deities condemning us all to an eternity of misery is a bedrock pastime since the cognitive revolution. Precisely because there’s no scope for refuting such a story today.

It’s just that such a preoccupation with the possible calamities of tomorrow might distract us from dealing with the actual disasters of today. And algorithmic disasters are not only already here, but growing in scale, impact, and regularity.

A growing body of work is taking the algorithms of social media to task for optimizing for addiction and despair. Whipping its users into the highest possible state of frenzy, anxiety, and envy. Because that’s the deepest well of engagement to draw from.

Keep reading “The AI apocalypse is already here”

“Eat, sleep, code, repeat” is such bullshit

Despite the hype, programming is not an all or nothing endeavor


I’m on my way back home from Google I/O 2016. It was a fantastic conference — I met some great people and learned a lot.

But while I was there, I saw something horrifying, something I couldn’t shake from the moment I saw it…

Eat. Sleep. Code. Repeat. Bullshit!

“Eat. Sleep. Code. Repeat.” was printed on everything. I’d seen the phrase before, but this time it burned into my brain, probably because it was being so actively marketed at a large conference. I literally let out an “ugh” when I saw it.

What’s the big deal? It’s just a shirt.

Look, I get it — Google I/O is a developer conference, and the “eat, sleep, code, repeat” phrase is intended to be a clever way (albeit a completely unoriginal one) of saying “coding is awesome and we want to do it all the time!” I appreciate the enthusiasm, I do.

But there’s a damaging subtext, and that’s what bothers me. The phrase promotes an unhealthy perspective that programming is an all or nothing endeavor — that to excel at it, you have to go all in. It must be all consuming and the focus of your life.

Such bullshit. In fact it’s the exact opposite.

At Basecamp I work with some of the best programmers in the world. It’s no coincidence that they all have numerous interests and talents far outside of their programming capabilities.

Whether it’s racing cars, loving art, reading, hiking, spending time in nature, playing with their dog, running, gardening, or just hanging out with their family, these top-notch programmers love life outside of code.

That’s because they know that a truly balanced lifestyle — one that gives your brain and your soul some space to breathe non-programming air — actually makes you a better programmer.

Life outside of code helps nurture important qualities: inspiration, creative thinking, patience, flexibility, empathy, and many more. All of these skills make you a better programmer, and you can’t fully realize them by just coding.

Don’t believe the hype

It’s no secret that the tech industry loves hyperbole. How will you ever reach the coveted title of ninja, rock star, or wizard if you don’t spend all your waking, non-eating hours programming?!

I’ll give my standard advice: ignore the hype.

It’s wonderful to be so dedicated to your craft that programming is all you ever want to do. I love that enthusiasm. It can carry you to great heights.

But if you want to become the very best programmer you can be, make space for some non-programming activities. Let your brain stretch its legs and you might find a whole new level of flow. 🤘


When I’m not programming, I love being a dad. I also enjoy donuts and pizza.

And when I’m not thinking about kids, donuts, or pizza, I do my best programming for Basecamp 3 and its companion Android app.

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