💾 David Heinemeier Hansson on founding Ruby on Rails and Basecamp, and why it does not have to be crazy at work.
Rad Dad, hosted by Kirill Zubovsky
David Heinemeier Hansson is the founder of Ruby on Rails and co-founder and CTO of Basecamp. He is an outspoken defender of living a fulfilling life, and a true believer that it does not have to be crazy at work. When not writing code, David enjoys endurance car racing and time with his wife and two kids.
Over the years, David has become a very influential person in technology and business, and has developed a number of philosophies which are helping him live a happy and fulfilling life, a life in which there is time for business and pleasure.
As you will hear for yourself, happiness is a simple secret. You too could have a great life and ensure that you kids have one too. David does not try to hide what it takes to be truly happy. At the end, it is on you to give it a try. Are you ready?
In this episode
- 01:05 - Why does David Heinemeier Hansson (@DHH) still go to work now that he is a millionaire ?
- 05:33 - Can you only work on what you like as the company gets bigger?
- 06:05 - Are wealthy people really happy with life?
- 06:46 - Can you only do your favorite things all the time?
- 07:18 - David Heinemeier Hansson explains Stoicism and Stoic philosophy?
- 07:43 - How to live the good life?
- 11:24 - What is existentialism ?
- 14:06 - The definition of a job is changing. Can we work differently now??
- 17:22 - How did DHH figure out his own metric for success?
- 41:39 - What is the meaning of "It does not have to be crazy at work"?
- 42:13 - What do you mean that slow is fast?
- 43:33 - How do you make work meaningful?
Smash Notes summary for this episode
Why does David Heinemeier Hansson (@DHH) still go to work now that he is a millionaire ?
Given that neither Jason (co-founder of Basecamp) nor David H. Hansson need to go to work, they should only continue because working brings them joy. DHH could start another company, or start another pursuit, but he chooses not to. Basecamp is a place that allows David to program and Jason to design, and that works for them, on their terms. Same goes for growing the company. If they were to try and get really big, eventually they would hit a point where they would not be able to do their favorite things, and that would not be enjoyable, so why do it?
Can you only work on what you like as the company gets bigger?
At the early days of Basecamp David had to do a lot, as he was the only technical person, all the technical issues therefore were his. As they grew, he was able to hire people to do this work for him, but in that transition more management type of work was created, which once again required his attention.
Are wealthy people really happy with life?
DHH says that if you are fortunate to make authentic choices about the way your life should be, it is your obligation to do so. Yet, he knows a lot of people who can, but don't do, and that's just sad.
Can you only do your favorite things all the time?
You can get to do your favorite things most of the time, but probably not all of the time. If you are fortunate to be successful in what you do, you would need to have to consciously design your life choices.
David Heinemeier Hansson explains Stoicism and Stoic philosophy?
Stoic philosophy teaches people to re-examine how they view the world, and by adjusting one's expectations, thus improving the way we live life. The approach was developed about 3,000 years ago and has worked since, not a bad place to start.
How to live the good life?
Stoicism is this ancient Greek and Roman philosophy school that focuses a lot on our expectations and how the things that we think that are bad or good are often bad or good because we had expectations of how they should be. So if we can change the way we set expectations, we can change how we feel about the outcome, making ourselves happier in the process.
What is existentialism ?
Existentialism is a notion that we are free to make our own choices. This freedom can be scary, and to protect ourselves we pretend to not have a choice.
A lot of people end up unhappy because they have not sat down and faced their own view of the world and carefully examined whether what they are doing is getting them to what they truly want. Which of course requires an understanding of what you actually want in life.
Taking the time to answer these questions is scary.
The definition of a job is changing. Can we work differently now??
Absolutely. At Basecamp they only work 40 hours a week, and in the summer they take Fridays off and work for 32 hours and enjoy their long weekends. This is the choice they made as the company, and as a result the people are happier and healthier, living better lives. This allows both a happy career and a happy life. Work-life-balance can absolutely happen if you make it a priority.
How did DHH figure out his own metric for success?
Early on in life DHH realized the importance of intrinsic motivation. He wanted to do what he wanted to do.
In his third year in high school, for example, DHH realized he did not want to do math homework, so he stopped. He failed the class, but passed the year, and all the extra time allowed him to spend time playing video games and programming.
Survivorship bias aside, it's worked out pretty well for David.
What is the meaning of "It does not have to be crazy at work"?
A lot of people get wrapped up into what work should look like, that being busy is what work is, and being busy is good. David Heinemeier Hansson and his team try to advocate for the calm company, that busy is not the right answer, that work does not have to be crazy. It is better when it is come, you do bette when you do not work 100 hours with unrealistic deadlines and an overflowing inbox. Weekends should be yours. You should get enough sleep...etc. 8 hours a day is enough. Time for self is important. Everything does not have to be a rush.
What do you mean that slow is fast?
Calm and careful inputs on the steering wheel drive the race car faster, and the same is true in business and work. If you are frantic and your hair is constantly on fire you might be busy, but it does not mean you are doing the right things, and moving the right things forward.
How do you make work meaningful?
Part of it is figuring out what work is, and what your aspirations and goals are. Maybe you do not have to crush the competition all the time, and to dominate all the time. War mentality and zero-sum approach to everything is not healthy. You do not have to strive to annihilate each other.