David Heinemeier Hansson is not only the creator of our favorite web dev framework Ruby on Rails, but also a NYT bestseller with his books Rework and Remote, a seasoned entrepreneur and leader of opinion for the modern working world.
He agreed to talk to us during our January 27th event, « Dreaming Bigger with Rails« , for an exclusive fireside chat about remote working, innovation in a COVID-19 world, and how to dream bigger as an entrepreneur without losing your soul.
Check out our summary of the main points we covered or scroll down for the full video interview:
On remote working since COVID-19
The thing is, I’ve been living in this future for the past twenty years, even though we’ve all just started working remotely…I’ve been working remotely for twenty years and I can’t imagine a different present and past then what I’ve gone through.
In fact, when we wrote our book Remote Office Not Required in 2013, the whole idea was because I was so shocked talking to entrepreneurs and they seemed to not even understand the basics of remote work: why it could work, what the advantages were…
And I found it so strange, it seemed so obvious to me. It had been obvious to me for over a decade: this was the future! Not only was this the future but it was what I had already been living.
Why wouldn’t people want to live like this? Especially if you’re a new start-up. Why would you want to spend your money on office furniture and rent? Why would you want to constrain yourself so you can only collaborate with people who are within a commute distance of you? That seems such an odd constraint to put on yourself.
Was Basecamp cheating?
For many years it did feel like Basecamp was cheating. We had access to this incredible talent, all over the world, because no one else wanted to hire people that weren’t from the tech hubs.
I used to live in Denmark, now I’m living in Spain…None of these two places are tech hubs but it just doesn’t matter! You get to live the best place for you. For me the best place is a place where I can see the mountains, where I can see the ocean and when it’s 20 degrees all year round and the sun is shining.
Out of a crisis comes innovation
Out of a crisis comes innovation. Out of a crises comes progress. We’re being forced to go through one of the biggest workforce experiments in history since industrialization. Suddenly everyone has to work from home.
Now reality is here, we’ve been in this situation for a year and companies are still here…Even more importantly then just « aha we had a point here » is we are going to get out of the other side of this and things are going to be fucking better for a lot of people who now get to live the place they want to live, who get to not spend their time commuting.
The world is going to be better after this and I think that’s exciting.
COVID-19: an acceleration of trends
The future is a distribution of the present. The future is already here and that’s true in almost all regards. If you look at what a few people are doing, and then you go like 5 -10 years forwards, that’s what we’re all going to be doing.
We’ve had such a drag forward: all the things like how we’re ordering food, how we’re shopping…But all those trends were already there. So I think more than anything, it’s been an acceleration of the trends that we’d already seen.
If you look at the history of big tech companies, a lot of them were founded just after some crisis. You look back and think that was really the time to start.
What connects us to both the Ruby on Rails story and the Hotwire story is that this is about lowering the cost to getting a shot. I’m not going to fucking guarantee anyone that they’re going to win, I’m just going to give you a shot. Give more people, in more circumstances, living in more places, having less of a pedigree or experiences in this stuff…give them a chance to have a shot.