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37Signals unapologetic not arrogant

Jason Fried 37Signals
photo from ArsTechnica

37Signals is profiled in this month’s Wired. It paints a picture of some very talented and intelligent people who come across as supremely arrogant.

I have long admired Jason’s approach to design and technology. His fervent and passionate drive for simplicity is admirable. I don’t agree with everything he says or does, but I do see his point of view.

One of the criticisms against 37Signals is that they are “arrogant” that their attitude is dismissive of other point’s of view. But I don’t think they’re arrogant, instead I think they are unapologetic about who they are and what they value.

They don’t want to apologize for the decisions they make and as a result it comes off as being arrogant. By definition arrogance has an “exaggerated sense of one’s own importance”. Exaggeration leads to an unrealistic or distorted sense of reality.

I don’t believe Jason exaggerates his importance. Quite the opposite. He says that his products aren’t for everyone. He has always stated that they design products for themselves and no one else.

There have been times where Jason will talk in absolutes about being small as if there is no other choice and that you are stupid if you are large. This is arrogant because it exaggerates the importance of being small.

I believe he speaks this way for effect and because he is passionate. If you listen carefully, Jason will qualify that this is what works for them. Unfortunately, it’s sometimes the last thing he says or buries it in other points.

It is easy to confuse arrogance and being unapologetic but they are very different things.

Jon Lax More posts by Jon Lax