Screwing up with class

Those that know me know I’m a big fan of 37Signals. Heck, I even applied for a job there once upon a time along with several hundred other people.

Over the last week or so they have been having some major issues with their campfire product. And in true 37signals style, they have an explanation and apology all wrapped up in one great blog post.

What’s so great about it?
Well, first off, its honest. There’s no marketing bullshit. No fake apology. Its sincere and straight forward. They had several issues, they laid them out, and took full responsibility for stuff breaking.

You could feel the pain. They rely on this product and were pissed it was down. More to the point, they were pissed that they were letting their customers down. Many of which, like me, are fans. Its easier to win back fans. But there are others that are on the fringe that they could have lost and they come right out and state that they need to earn their trust back.

The structure of the apology. Not many people realize that there is an art to writing this sort of message. The Pointy Haired Bosses (PHBs) will read a few sentences to maybe a couple of paragraphs. The first section is for them. The second paragraph is for those that have to answer to the PHBs. Middle managers that made the recommendation that are going to get the heat about it. They can state, “Yes, there was a problem and we’re getting a credit” The 3rd section is for the admins out there. The guys that want to hear what happened and learn from others issues. We’re guys that may run into this ourselves and knowledge is power here.

For those reading this thinking that it doesn’t apply to them because they’re not a tech company I say to you, wake up. Just take point number 1 as an example. No matter what profession you are in, you’re going to screw up at some point in your life. And when it comes time to apologize, be honest. Don’t sugar coat it or bury it in a non apology. Take responsibility, be sincere and admit you fucked up. Your customers will respect that sort of apology.


How often are you interrupted during the day? Do you have the new email notifier turned on? How often is that thing going off? How often are you seeing IMs coming in, both personal and professional? Twitter? facebook? Yup, those too are major enemies to productivity.

You may not have it that bad. Your company may lock down some of the social media services which eliminates a lot of the distractions. For many of us out there we are getting bombarded by interruptions. And as a programmer, it is horrible for productivity.

I think Jason Fried from 37Signals has summed it up best in this snippet from his BigThink interview.

So do yourself a favor, turn off your IM, your email etc. Avoid tapping your co-worker on the shoulder when an email will work out just as well. And get back to getting stuff done!

Staying Late

Now this is a different twist on book advertising. How often do you see a trailer for a book?

If you haven’t had a chance to read their first book, its all online at Its well worth the read.

Backpack comments…

Thank you 37signals!

Even before I signed up for my Backpack account, I had been wanting to allow others to comment on some of my todo items on pages that I was sharing. I use my BackPack account as my personal intranet. And I have a page for each of my major topics and some just random bits of information. Most of my projects involve doing some side programming for websites. In order to keep myself organized, I’d like to allow others to view the pages, add todo items or post comments on the items, notes, files that I already have up there. Up until now, it has been rather difficult to do.

But…37Signals finally brought over some functionality of their BaseCamp app into BackPack and has won me over even more. Thanks guys!

Secure Backpack

Those that work with me know that I am a huge fan of the products put out by 37Signals. They have created some great apps that are simple, clean, and rock solid. The concepts aren’t always new, but they have made it so anyone can login in and hit the ground running. There is a *lot* to be said about that ability to have well design applications. I can’t say enough great things about their apps!

However, they are not without fault. I’m finally moving from a free plan to a solo plan in my backpack account. I am doing enough side programming jobs for friends and family that having a page for each project just makes sense. So I’m finally moving up to the solo account to add more pages, space and overall functionality. While I was on the upgrade page, there was something that stuck out to me as just not adding up. Take a look at the packages below:

Missing SSL

I’m all for having limits to packages. It makes sense. It makes you want to upgrade to the next level. What I don’t understand is the SSL Security. I get it on a solo level but once I move to the home or basic level I lose it? Logically, that removes my desire to upgrade. Sure, I could skip to the plus level, but that is a big step up in price from the $7/mo solo plan. This seems like a short coming and something that quite frankly, should be a standard option for those paying a fee on a monthly basis.

With that being said, if you are looking to see for yourself how great these application are, please use the following affiliate links to help support this blog. All the products have a free plan of some sort so give it a try today!

Basecamp – a great for project management,

BackPack – You can setup your own personal intranet site or use it for your entire company.

Highrise – manage your contacts, leads and deals.