EPISODE 28: David Heinemeier Hansson, Basecamp Founder & CTO, Tech Genius, and Race Car Driver

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Now, meet TODAY’S guest:

Today we’re having another first on the How Did You Get Started Show  — I’m interviewing a guest I’ve never met or spoken to, and have only interacted once with on Twitter. That’s because he’s a legit superstar in several worlds. In fact, it’s been said that he’s “changed the future of technology.”

If you’ve used Twitter, Hulu, or Groupon, you’ve experienced the creation of Danish-born David Heinemeir Hansson, who is the tech genius behind the infrastructure those behemoth sites are run on.

David Heinemeier Hansson calls himself “a reluctant programmer,” because he never really had any interest in most programming languages. Yet when he discovered Ruby programming language, he says his mind was blown with the possibilities. David, or @DHH as he can be found on Twitter (he’s not on Facebook, LinkedIn, or Instagram), has gone on to create an open-source (that means FREE for anyone to use!) software program called Ruby on Rails, which led him to working with his business partner Jason Fried to become the co-founder & CTO of a project management software company called Basecamp, which he describes as a “saner, organized way to manage projects and communicate company-wide.”

He’s a great writer, and while you wait for the delivery of the books below, you can read this article all about the day he became a millionaire.

David is also a New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Sunday Times best-selling author of four books, where he and Jason Fried wrote about how they have set up their business differently, which is why I initially wanted to interview him. (He’s also co-written another book about Ruby on Rails). His books include:

It Doesn’t Have To Be Crazy At Work is the latest book written together with Jason Fried. It’s about how to run a calm company by forgoing the lure of excessive growth and making your time count for more. Entrepreneurs have forever believed that long hours, aggressive hustle, and “whatever it takes” while sacrificing your life and family is the price you pay for growing a business. It doesn’t have to be.

REWORK has sold more than half a million copies sold around the world. It’s a book about starting and running businesses a better way. Much like my own “Kill the Elevator Speech” book, this book takes a contrarian approach to doing business the way it’s always been done. In it you’ll discover how plans are actually harmful, why you don’t need outside investors, and why you’re better off ignoring the competition. The truth is, you need less than you think. You don’t need to be a workaholic. You don’t need to staff up. You don’t need to waste time on paperwork or meetings. You don’t even need an office. Those are all just excuses. They’ve proved it at Basecamp where they’ve built a business that to date has more than 3 million accounts signed up, yet only have a team of about 50 people working remotely.

REMOTE: Office Not Required encapsulates all he’s learned about working remotely for the past decade. It includes all the arguments for why the time is right for remote work to blossom, and for how you can navigate the pitfalls. I’ve personally worked “remotely” since 2006 – with various team members from around the globe. It’s a fabulous business model.

Finally, Getting Real was the first book he wrote with Jason. It shares everything they learned while building Basecamp and a web-app software business. It may be over a decade old, but it’s still on point.

In the midst of doing all that, oh by the way, in 2014 he also won the 82nd running of the 24-hour Le Mans car race, the world’s biggest endurance race. He’s raced many different cars over the years, competing in dozens of races.

He used to speak at many events, but these days he only speaks at his own company’s event. He’s a frequent podcast guest, hobbyist photographer, and family man, married with two sons.

I want to meet him on air for the first time today because I like the way he thinks. I may be a wee bit star-struck when we talk, but I’ll do my best to sound professional ;-).


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