Career & Business

ML176: David Heinemeier Hansson on How To Learn Anything, Fighting Back Against Apple and Navigating the Culture Wars at Work

Discover the learning process and philosophy of an exceptional learner and how it can been applied to anything, the challenges of competing with Big Tech and the difficulty of navigating conversations on the culture wars at work.
By Nasos Papadopoulos

David Heinemeier Hansson is the creator of Ruby on Rails, the Co Founder and CTO of Basecamp (formerly 37signals), and the best-selling co-author of Rework and Remote with his co-founder Jason Fried.

On top of all this, David is an exceptional learner and has applied his methods to multiple skills including photography, coding and race car driving. He went from not having a driver’s license at 25 to winning, at 34, the 24 Hours of Le Mans race, one of the most prestigious car races in the world.

In this episode we discuss:
- David’s learning process and how he’s applied it to everything from photography to race car driving
- Basecamp's recent battle against Apple and the implications of Big Tech monopolies for business and society
- David’s take on a recent controversy at Basecamp around discussing political issues at work

We also cover why and how David is expanding Basecamp and growing their new email software business Hey, after two decades of keeping the business as small as possible in terms of employee numbers.

This conversation will give you access to the methods and philosophies of an exceptional learner as well as insight into some of the key issues of our time.

Show Notes

  • Introducing David [00:32]
  • What was school like for David? What was the main thing he got out of it? [02:24]
  • How did focusing on his interests from an early age help realise what David wanted to do in life? [05:57]
  • Why embracing beginner's mind is the first step to learning anything [08:45]
  • How role models who are better than you can help you improve faster [12:13]
  • Why David believes you shouldn’t aspire to be the best at what you do [13:34]
  • Why Basecamp is expanding after 20 years of staying small [15:26]
  • How crises can serve as opportunities for growth [19:47]
  • How can organisations navigate difficult conversations that arise in the workplace during the culture wars? [25:52]
  • What efforts are being made to counter monopolies in big tech today? How do these companies affect the way society functions? [34:27]
  • What are some tools that David recommends to help you protect your privacy online? [38:39]
  • How stoicism and negative visualisation help David manage conflicts better [42:23]
  • What David learned during the pandemic and what he's changed in his life [45:49]
  • Closing remarks [48:11]

Resources

Follow David online

Basecamp | Hey | Newsletter

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