Ryan Rutan: Welcome back to the episode of the startup therapy podcast. This is Ryan Rutan from startups dot com joined as ever by Wil Schroder, my friend partner and the founder and Ceo of startups dot com. Well, it's been a weird year. It's been a difficult year for a lot of people and it's been devastating. We are now coming out of, we're getting close to the other side, at least in the US um of the global pandemic. That was COVID-19 still is COVID-19. And there's a discussion now around what happens when we return to our offices. And I think we're, we're posing the question, why do we need to, you know, is that is that still a valid decision? But let's have a little fun with, let me put it this way. Well, I've had this, had this idea, I want to open a space that's inconvenient for all of us to get to write. I want it to be um I wanted to be a place where, where we, we go and it's less comfortable um than where we've been doing this for the last year, I want to separate us from our from our families. I want us to spend more time just getting to and from this place. Um and over the next three years I want to spend about a million and a half dollars on it, you know, fully loaded. Um what do you think, man, that sound like a good proposal to
Wil Schroter: you, Ryan, I think you should fire yourself. Yeah, right. I mean when you put it in the context of what we're actually trying to accomplish. It sounds insane, right? Like in other words, in, in this day and age, the concept of an office, the way we've inherited it, you know, over the decades. It just sounds insane. Now. This isn't, this isn't us making an argument that says, it's insane for everyone. There are plenty of businesses with whom I would agree if you ran the same kind of query against, I'd say it's a bargain at whatever you're about to pay for it, given what you're going to get. I just don't think anybody's having those conversations right. In other words, it's a foregone conclusion. Great. It's like not to mention, you know, for for the whole time, Ryan, you and I have been building businesses and office was always not only a default condition, it was a status symbol. It
Ryan Rutan: was, I mean, it was, it was one of the success metrics achieved office. He signed lease. Oh, money. Like we were so excited about it.
Wil Schroter: When I opened up my first office, I'll never forget this. I opened it over a concert hall in the office. Used to be an old hippie clothing store on campus. Right?
Ryan Rutan: Yeah, I know it well,
Wil Schroter: yes, yes, you do. And I negotiated with the landlord to get a $900 a month, month to month lease, right? And I remember being so excited about negotiating down from, I think it was 9 50 to 900 and mind you, this place was a total schiphol, right? There was, there was, this was long before people took over beat up spaces and made him cool. It was just a schiphol by the way, we didn't have a bathroom that we had to go down.
Ryan Rutan: So it doesn't even to arrest the whole, it was just,
Wil Schroter: it was disgusting. And so, but I remember being so proud of signing that check for money. I didn't have That. We had an office because you know, at the time it was, if you had an office, you were a legitimate company. Conversely, if you didn't have an office, you were not a legitimate company that was damn near 30 years ago. Now, a lot has changed completely since then. And I gotta say it. And Ryan, I'm curious your thoughts here. I was born inbred diehard office guy, right? I was in the office first thing, offices loaded up. The quality of your office is the quality of your business and all these things. We bought huge 100,000 plus square foot buildings to house all these people and we were so proud of it and looking back, we didn't have the tools we have today, right? You know, we didn't have like slack and you know hell, I barely had email. Um, we had facts and so you don't have a
Ryan Rutan: choice anywhere but in office, right,
Wil Schroter: my God, if you wanted to collaborate if you wanted to have, you know, do all the things you need to do, you kind of needed to have an office, right, that was the way to do it. But a couple of things changed since then. So in current times Ryan, if you were if you were to say it in current times, if you're starting a new business, what would be the use case you could make for an office? Like if you know, I really forced you into that decision, I said, okay, you've got to sell me on why you would have an office. What might come to you know, what are some things you might try to achieve with an office? Let's start there because we can't come up with you. It's a bigger issue.
Ryan Rutan: It's really really very few. And I think we would default to a couple. I think we would default to a couple which are things like collaboration right? However, that can be accomplished without it. We've all been doing it for a year and a half, right? So we know this is possible. We've actually been doing it for longer I think if if will and I sound overly glib in this episode, it's because we've been doing this for 67 years now where this our staff, our team has had work from home time, right? We started with one day we went to two days, we went to three days. We were only in the office for portion of our staff two days a week. Alright so we've we've already been on mostly on the other side of this coin for some time now, so if we seem you know a little bit more cavalier than you're ready for, it's because we've been doing this for a long time and now this this year and a half has crystallized this for us. So collaboration is the one that everybody kind of you know leans on and I was like well how can we white board together with without being in the same room as the white board? Actually there are digital whiteboards allow you to do this and how much time did you spend on the whiteboard and what wonderful and amazing things did you actually accomplish besides spending some time and inhaling some fumes. So I think collaboration is the one that people lean on um I think that people believe that company culture is built around those water cooler conversations and yes some of the culture does come from that is it only positive parts of the culture, No people complain as much in front of the in front of the water cooler as they as they solve great problems for the company. Um So I think those are the two that most people will will lean on. Um other things come up like focus like productivity, but here's the reality people who are focused and productive will find a way to do that otherwise. Right. Very rarely do you find somebody who's just not productive and not focused, but you throw them into a quiet environment and all of a sudden there, like now I'll get work done right. It just doesn't work that way. You're either a focused and productive person or you're not now, yes, there were circumstances over the last year and a half that made that very, very difficult being thrown back into a home environment um with, you know, 1 to 20 Children. Um Maybe the specter of school, um your spouse also being home all the time, which you weren't used to and yes, there could have been distractions that that would have been quite meaningful. There are ways to solve that. It's called locking the door, which is what I do now again, if you were a primary caregiver or you needed to spend more time, you had to do that. Yes, that could change the amount of time in which you can focus, but it doesn't change your ability to focus if we're honest. Most of those things are sort of token things that we can check a box and say, yeah, this would be easier in an office potentially. But is it worth the cost? Is it worth the time cost of having that commute and and the getting ready and all of the other things that go into preparing to walk out the door and then having to walk back through at the end of the night and that transition time that it takes to switch from being office minded to being home minded. Where those worth it, right? I think that's that's a big part of what I want to talk about today is what is that actual value that manifested? Yes, we can point these things and say yeah they exist, I could maybe be a little more focused, maybe a little more quiet, maybe a little more isolated in the office at times. Um if we go back to my experience, it was actually quite different, I became more focused um and and had more privacy when we left the office and came home, my personality is such that I tend to over here lots of things going on around me and because I'm a helper, I want to dig in and help people with things that they probably don't need help with and they didn't ask me for help with, but I overheard and I was like let me pitch in and help, let me waste some of my time doing something, they don't need me to do, right? Not healthy for me, it was far healthier for me from a productivity standpoint, from a personal outpoint um output standpoint fumbled that one um to just be in my own space um and and still maintain those relationships with people um but on different terms, right? And with a different amount of time input. So yeah, my two cents will
Wil Schroter: alright, so before we get into this next topic, I just want to let you know what we talk about here is like 1% of the conversation, you know really this conversation is going on all day long online at groups dot startups dot com. Where Ryan and I pretty much talk endlessly with founders about every one of these topics. So if by the end of this discussion, you like the topic and you want to dig into it a little bit more with Ryan and I just had two groups dot startups dot com and we'll pick it up from there. You make a bunch of points, let's take each one, let's unpack it a bit, let's kind of do a little bit of pros and cons for each. I think one that always gets dropped in there is we need an office to build culture Now now I want to use some counterpoints here. First point is an office to build culture may not be exactly the mechanism were looking for, right. In other words, we could probably put people in any environment, we could put them in jail and they'll get to know each other better, right? They'll build a culture within the prison system and but that's not necessarily the best way to do it. Right? I think what, what we, we keep doing, it's lazy, I think we keep saying culture equals office and therefore we have to have an office or we won't have culture conversely though, I will say creating culture remotely is not easy, right? You said it earlier right about you know those water cooler moments, those are, those are important. But I think what we're doing is we're creating this big kind of finite solution To solve a problem that's very small in relation to the amount of time and resources we're putting around it. In other words I don't think we need 10 hours a day taken up by our staff and an uncomfortable commute in this, you know, uncomfortable setting to create culture. In fact I think it's the worst place in the worst way to create culture, there's got to be a better way, you know what I mean? Well yeah
Ryan Rutan: 100% I mean so what if it takes 10 hours if you're not being delivered about it, if you're trying to let this happen by proxy, let me use another example. So I was homeschooled for a a good portion of my of my primary and elementary school um and we actually homeschooled my my daughter because we knew we were getting ready to make an international move. And so for her kindergarten we actually end up cramming kindergarten and first grade into a single year with her. Um we homeschooled her and when I was a kid we got pushed back um even you know 30 plus years forward when we decided to do this with with Hannah there was pushback and you know people were saying well what about the socialization aspects of it? And I said, look, you send your kids to school, how happy are you with the education they're getting ah well, you know, it's okay, you know, you know were, you know, there it's it's, it is what it is, right, you know, it's it's a, it's a really good charter school, it's a really good public school, but you know, it's still a public school, whatever, it's okay, so you're not happy with the primary objective that the school is intended to achieve, but you're really hopeful that they're also going to get magically socialized, which isn't even something that they're trying to accomplish. Does that make any sense to you? Right? Like there's nothing deliberate about school in terms of socializing kids unless it's just by proxy and by happenstance and chance. That is exactly the same approach that most companies take with culture, they'll write something about it, they'll say something about it, but the actual amount of time that goes into deliberate activities around reinforcing and and and making clear what the culture we want to build is is almost zero. In most cases they just let culture develop organically. Um and sometimes that works, sometimes it doesn't right that has far more to do with the humans that you selected to join the team in the first place than it does your ability to build a culture, right? So I think that it's very, very dangerous and your point is well well received that It doesn't take 10 hours unless you just leave it to chance and then you're not really building culture. You're just watching it develop,
Wil Schroter: right? It's, it's in deliberate, right? In other words, if we believe culture is so important that, you know, people spend time together etcetera. That's the, that's your point. That's the lamest way to orchestrate it. Why don't we just do it deliberately? Why don't we say, okay, you go to, you go to work one day a week that day is actually determined and, and and scheduled around, uh, you know, um, services and things that will do to engage with each other and to, to get to know each other, right. If the best the best we can do to get our team to get to know each other is put each other in a whiteboard session. What the hell, again? That's not only lady lazy lacks all creativity, all creativity whatsoever. It also puts everybody in essentially the most guarded uncomfortable situation they can possibly be in in a way that they may not even want to be in. I mean, the other side of it is like we put all these people together, they'll build culture. Not everybody feels that way. There's a lot of people at home right now that covid solves one of their biggest problems, which is, I don't like these forced interactions, right? I actually like it's not that I don't want to spend time with these folks and maybe I don't, but not like that. You know, maybe when everybody's talking around the water cooler about something, like maybe they're talking about sports, I hate sports, right? So I don't want to talk about it. Not true in my case, but whatever. Um, the point is, uh, I think we keep doing exactly what you said culture by proxy. The office is a proxy for culture, but to your point about school, which is spot on. It's a lazy proxy. It's an in deliberate proxy. It's not how we should be accomplishing that goal. And I think the role everybody in for 10 hours a day is a dumb way to accomplish that goal. What are your thoughts?
Ryan Rutan: 100%. I mean, I have another example. I was lucky enough to coach my, my daughter's soccer team the last year that we were in Florida. Um, and about, I don't know, six weeks in one of the parents from, from another team came over and said, your practice is the only practice that looks like soccer practice. The rest of these look like some sort of Fizzy meets daycare. Um, she said, you know, how are you managing to do this differently? And I said, I'm very deliberate. I have a plan for every practice. I have a set of skills that we're trying to develop over time. Um, and I also have, you know, 30 years of experience in this game. So that helps. Um, and the results showed, right, like tooting my horn here. But the kids did a great job. We went undefeated that season because we were deliberate about learning and playing the game and building skills right? We didn't just show up and say, let's just have a lot of fun. We had fun, but we had fun in the context of soccer, right? So socializing in the context of work, building culture in the context of work is very important. It's also not the primary thing, Right? So again, if this is the only reason you're having an office, is that the best way to get to that point is that the most efficient is the most cost effective. It would be really hard to get me to believe anybody with a case around saying yes, sure. There are sometimes where like you need people physically proximal, right? If I turn one screw and then I passed and you need to turn the next screw probably best done if we're in the same spot. But if we're talking about what most startup founders are building, that's just patently not the case.
Wil Schroter: It's also not necessarily environment where you're deemed to connect on a personal level, right? I think, you know, with a lot of offices, there's a lot of policy, uh, for good reason that states that here's what you're kind of in decorum, like, here's what you're kind of allowed to do and say, etcetera and here's what's a bit off base right now. Are you talking
Ryan Rutan: specifically about playing NBA jam next to somebody who's trying to finish their work day?
Wil Schroter: No, Ryan, that's both policy and it makes a ton of sense for everybody. Um, but no, I'm saying like think of all the friendships you have and think of how an office environment would be the least likely way that you would build those friendships. Now, Ryan, you know, I've got to know each other over 10 years. Right? And a lot of times we were in the office, together a lot of times, we weren't. but If I had to say what is the best way to get to know Ryan, my last thing on my list would would be, let's put us both in an office for 10 hours a day. Go back
Ryan Rutan: to that, go back to that time, do you? I mean it's it's hysterical, but you and I and I've said this before, but you and I used to sit About 4.5 ft apart. We could literally reach out and touch each other. Right? We were, we were sitting adjacent. And yet most of our communication was via email or slack because the room was quiet, right? We had a huge open office. The room was quiet. It was like the science and engineering library on, on Ohio state's campus and you know, nobody talked if anybody did people looked up in there. we had this very quiet culture. Um and so yeah, you got, you got to know me almost in a remote sense even though we were sitting
Wil Schroter: next to each other. Right. Well that's also true and I think that if we're going to look for ways to to build the culture, let's step back, let's take the office off the table, let's stop using the office as a proxy, lets you stop using the office as an excuse. Right, correct. And let's say look, uh here's the most natural and productive way for us to drive culture, right? And and maybe their outings, I'm not a huge fan of outings because I tend to think that that there there also forced. Um but let's figure out uh maybe it's a one day in the office where the primary focus is spending time with each other and getting to know each other, you know, and we do do some activities etcetera that focus on that. So we kind of build some relationship right? And not pretend that the smartest way it's going to happen is totally impromptu by standing at the water cooler, right? If it's important to us like anything else in our company, let's put time into it, let's make sure that there are, there are outcomes and objectives and strategy around what we're trying to do. I think we have to get back to the office to build culture, like I said at a high level is just lazy. I think culture is super important
Ryan Rutan: if you don't have a plan for building culture. Yeah, if you if you have no, if you have no plan for building culture, but you think that it's you know something that has to happen, putting people into an office together will build culture, right? But again it's it's the laziest way to do this um And you're not going to get a very deliberate culture at that point, a culture will develop whether it works for you, works against you or as neutral will largely depend on factors out of your control right? At that point, if you're not going to put them into this, then don't be surprised with what you get. Well actually you will be surprised with what you get maybe pleasantly, maybe not. So um you know, if you recognize that culture is a really important part of a company um then be deliberate about it and take where it happens off the table, It's not necessary just to go back to another example of how how you can build culture within the work environment. And I want to talk about something else really quickly before we move on as relates to this, this culture and what I'm just gonna call general socialization piece, but before that if you if you know you have teams who are working together. Um but especially in this time getting siloed can happen a lot. I think one of the things that I've always tried to accomplish is pulling people from disparate departments, people who maybe otherwise wouldn't have had a chance to work together and giving them an opportunity to work together. That is also a great way to get to know somebody. I think there's a fallacy that says I'm only going to be able to create relationships with my colleagues at that culture level. Um, if it's non work related stuff, like I will only get to know them better if I play ping pong with them bullshit, right? Go back to university days or somewhere where you had, you know, group of collaborative projects. I had the same classmates through a lot of my, my university career because we're all in the same subset of the university and the ones that I really got to know, we're the ones that I was thrown into group work projects with, right and learned what a bunch of lazy jerks they were. Um, right now there were some great people there. Um, but that was where we got to know each other that we did and there was time outside of class, but there were, you know, you dug in and you accomplish things with people and you achieved something right? And you work together to do that. That is always going to be a critical component to building those connections between people and giving them a chance to see a little bit more of that individual, right? If we're just working adjacent to each other, you don't really get to know enough about that person to know how to interact with them, when to interact with them. You know what their superpowers that you can lean on. Well, we're seeing the same thing interestingly enough within founder groups right now, right? Each of these founder groups that were putting together 6 to 8 person cohorts are starting to develop their own culture, but it doesn't happen immediately and it starts to happen over a couple of meetings and by like meeting three, something really magical happens where they know enough about each other through the context of helping each other's problems, not just socializing, not playing beer pong right there. They're helping each other with real issues and they get to know enough about the other person to contextualize who I'm talking to and why I need to talk to them and how they're going to impact me and how I can impact them. That builds culture, right? So I think that's super important before we move on to the next bucket because I think this is really important if the reason you want to go back to the office and I know this is true for a lot of people, um maybe less so at the founder level, but the teams that are pushing to go back to office is a big part of this is just human adult interaction, right? This is a direct impact of what we've been over for the last what we've been through for the last year and a half, right? People are just like, I want to go somewhere where there's nobody under 3ft tall wearing pajamas and screaming and I get that right. Good. Do that. However, using the office as a proxy to correct some of these, you know, these feelings of isolation is not your only option and it's probably not your best option, right? If you think about what you're going to give up in order to get that office back time money, uh, in my case, focus, right? I can trade that time for real socialization with people who are my friends, not that my colleagues aren't my friends, but we became friends because we were put in the same place because we served a function within a company, right? If I just get to go and pluck people out of the ether that I want to spend time with on a personal level that usually looks fairly different. Now, I do gravitate towards other founders as friends because there's a lot of shared and common ground there and we can complain and cheer about the same things. However, I think that if you're looking at going back to the office simply as a way to have some grown up interactions think about that a bit differently, right? And help your teams to think about that differently and say, look, spend that time instead that you're not going to spend commuting and brushing your teeth and hair, please do those things by the way. Um, continue to do those even in covid. Um, but seek out meaningful relationships that have nothing to do with work. Alright. I find it to become very dangerous and very toxic when I run into somebody whose entire life is wrapped up in the office and office culture, right? When when they're only friends are people who also worked at the same company. The only people they spend time within a day nights, weekends are also that same group. On one hand, that can sound really cohesive and fantastic, but I think it's also really dangerous. You start to lose perspective of what's going on outside that context. And I think that can be really bad. I now surrender my
Wil Schroter: soapbox. Um you know, by the way, I just want to mention if what we're talking about today sounds like the kind of discussion you wish you were having more often, you actually can. You know, we're online all day everyday working through exactly these types of topics with founders, just like you. So any question you would have or maybe some problem you just want to work through. We're here and we love this stuff and we're easy to find. You know, head over to groups dot startups dot com and let's just start talking, let's move on, let's talk about the most obvious one, which is we didn't need an office to get work done, right? You know, if if office it's the office doesn't exist. Work will not get done. Understanding
Ryan Rutan: the elves. That's absolutely true. You gotta have the workshop to make the toys
Wil Schroter: well, I gotta say, and this is going to be some kind of hypocritical. I actually have been a an ardent fan of the fact that offices are where you go to get work done and and so here's how I felt about that. I was very much a if everybody's but isn't a seat by this time each day then work is getting done. And to be honest, I think that was true for a long time. Right before social media. Yeah, right up until the point where facebook released an app, right? And I'll never forget. I remember, I remember walking around the office and seeing someone on facebook and this was like when it, when it 1st 1st came out and I was like, oh okay, because remember prior to that you like, you can surf the web, but it wasn't quite the same thing. Facebook made it. So you were literally just physically mentally not here anymore, You're off somewhere else. And it wasn't that it wasn't a facebook thing, it was that all of a sudden amongst all the staff, it became okay to just stop working. And I remember just my head exploded. I was like, what the is happening here. Alright, I'm like, that's like that's what you do it at home.
Ryan Rutan: Yeah, this is this is what home is
Wil Schroter: for when we have a staff member, they're not here anymore. Uh that was watching netflix all day at the office at the office and I remember being like how would that even occur to you?
Ryan Rutan: Right? That that would be a thing. I just leave the background noise um
Wil Schroter: like what? This
Ryan Rutan: was invented a long time ago. It's called music do that, right? Do
Wil Schroter: that. No, I mean this is just straight up just watching tv all day watching that. And I remember thinking like what is happening? Uh they were a good team members, so I'm not knocking them. This is more isn't so much a reflection of them. It's a reflection of at which point I started to realize this ship has sailed right? Like this whole idea that you know, I can cut it all down and remember big companies would start shutting down you or else that they thought were non productive, right? As if your phone didn't work anymore. And so this idea that you know, people are going to come to work and when they come to work, they're going to work, it's mostly sort of but I think the idea that the office is the only catalyst or said differently by kind of isolating you in an office in the way we used to go to a library to study, that you'll no longer be distracted by anything. I think that ship has sailed unless you run some totally different business that I'm unaware of right where? That's not the case. I think the moment that our team members anywhere anywhere could show up with a mobile phone, it was the end of office equals work. There's nowhere I go and I watched this so closely. Ryan, there's nowhere I go anymore where I don't watch like an administrative assistant valet uh anybody that has a job that for most of the day it's just I just want to be able to check out that doesn't have their phone prominently in front of them. Like when I was I was in florida recently and I remember I went up to the hostess stand to get seated. All three of the hostesses had their phones and we're actively on them the whole time. Like man, this ship has sailed right easier
Ryan Rutan: to post a question to them on instagram than to actually wait for them to look up from their phones.
Wil Schroter: It's not that I don't get it. What I'm trying to point out though is that that that ship has sailed, Yeah,
Ryan Rutan: office equals work is
Wil Schroter: no longer true the way it used to, you know and I also think it's it's lazy as as managers to think that the only way to get people to create outcomes is to put them literally in a box, right, enforce those outcomes. I mean where's your head on the side?
Ryan Rutan: Yeah. No, it is. You know, we've we've been talking about this for years. Right? Again, like we have so much, so many cycles on this, given that we started the work from home peace. And look, it comes down to a couple of things, right? Do your people have clear objectives? And do they care about accomplishing them If both of those things are true work gets done. If one of those things falters or fails or isn't completely true work doesn't get done, it doesn't matter where they're sitting. They will. I mean, even even back in the day, there have always been deltas in productivity between people, right? Just because we were in an office and even before the internet, right? People could just sit and do nothing, right? You could be sitting in front of a typewriter that doesn't even have a browser, like you still might not be typing Or you might be typing 30 words a minute instead of 120. It's always been an issue. Right? The the idea that the only way to solve for that is to put them, like as you said, into a box and then have somebody walk around form and style and make sure that they're doing these things pretty archaic, right?
Wil Schroter: I think the idea though is the same. Like we're saying, hey, uh, if the office is where we get work done. It's also where we get collaboration done, right? Because because here's how collaboration works in this mindset, collaboration works when we're all in the same room and we're working toward a common goal and you know, we're sharing with each other, we're on the white board were, you know, at each other's desks, etcetera. And yes, that does happen for minutes. And if you take the entire amount of time, we're devoting to this temple, that is the office. And you're saying how much of it leads to those interactions. It's not that much. And you're gonna say no, it's not minutes, it's ours. Okay, 234 hours less than one day, most likely. And if you're saying no, we're actually working with with each other nonstop all day every day for 50 hours a week, then get a fucking officer,
Ryan Rutan: Yes, we've solved this for you go sign the lease now by a building. In fact, because you're going to need one,
Wil Schroter: but to say once again that collaboration equals office like Maybe 10 2030 years ago. It did right. It just doesn't. I mean, Ryan, you nailed it. We spent years sitting next to each other Collaborating all day, 10 hours a day, right next to each other without speaking a word and look every now and again we would get up and we'd go in the conference room and on the whiteboard and work on something that was important time. But but as a pie chart of all the time that we're in in office to have that moment, it was like 10% of our total investment.
Ryan Rutan: We could have met for a coffee anywhere.
Wil Schroter: Yes. So this is my crazy idea how much I spend one day in the week, one day a week in the office, right? Where we actually say this is collaboration day. This is the day that, you know, it's all about meetings, It's all about, you know, sharing, it's all about doing those things and not waste all this other time, you know, trying to backfill these serendipitous moments with a box. You know, I think again, you said it best the moment we got slack, right? It changed everything. We didn't actually have to talk to like grab everybody because we already solved the problem before we got out of our seats.
Ryan Rutan: Yeah. And, and it limits, I mean, okay, slack can have its issues, right? You can definitely develop slack toxicity. But um, rather than, right, when we used to do, let's say, you know, when it's just you and me one on one or two other people, you can just ask like, hey, do you have time to sit down and talk right now? But when this is coming down from leadership and you're, you're pulling in maybe middle management or maybe even, you know, uh, staff line, right? And you say like, Hey, we need to, we're gonna jump in the conference room for a few minutes. Who has time? Like nobody feels like they can say no to that. You may have pulled them something out of really important, distracted them to go sit in a meeting of which 5 to 10 minutes of the hour is Germane to that individual, you need them there in the sense that you need their input. But where this semi synchronous stuff like slack becomes really valuable when done correctly because you can do it wrong when done correctly. It allows people to provide the input that you need from them with the context that they need from you and not Hamas right? You don't need to spend all of this time. I remember sitting and thinking we had done, I don't remember what we were going through that point. We had spent a good three days in the conference room and we were pulling in lots of people like the entire team over over a couple of days, right, this was 40 people were talking about. I remember at some point when I wasn't really involved in the discussion that was happening in that moment, I was kind of leaning back and just looking around the room and going through this mental calculation of what this was costing us per hour to have all these people in this room. I was like holy sh it we could have done a lot of other things with this money. Um I am with you have to be mindful and deliberate about the culture, right? You can't just be lazy and say, well if we bring everybody in here, anybody with a good idea will then be able to share it. Right? Really? That's your move. So by being deliberate about what gets shared and what inputs you need from people, you don't waste their time making them slog through a, you know, an hour meeting or a 10 page document, send them what they need, ask them what you need from them and get just that, right? That's collaboration, right? The rest of that stuff is just time wasting. So be clear again on what you're trying to accomplish and whether or not group collaboration is actually what you need or do you just need inputs from multiple individuals and then somebody's going to collate that into something. That makes sense. That's collaboration. That's good, efficient collaboration. You don't have to be in the same place for that to happen.
Wil Schroter: Also, not everybody needs collaboration. Right? That's the other part. Right there, maybe 10 people out of 100 that actually need to collaborate on a consistent basis, maybe the management team etc, why are you bringing 90 people, you know into the office all day to sit at their desk and just because one day you might call them for a single meeting, right? If you think about the pie chart of roles and and who needs to be collaborative and how important that time is, like you were saying, there's a cost to your point to having a bunch of people accessible and just being able to pull into dumb sh it they don't need to be for a whole lot of the time. They don't need to be. And you said something else. We talked about this a little bit earlier and we're talking about where and how we're going to spend those hours, right? You know, for for all the people on our staff. And right now we're talking about putting me in meetings, but you said something that that kind of struck me, You said if we're sure that we need 10 hours a day to put toward our our business or office etcetera. But we only need one hour a day to spend with our kids. Like how broken is that pie chart if we're talking about where and how we're gonna be accessible and interactive. Right?
Ryan Rutan: That's just lazy thinking about it again. Right? That's that's you know, well I'll spend really focused time with my kids and that'll work but I need 10 hours to collaborate with my colleagues and and to build culture there. Right? Again, it's just it's just lazy and if you're forced to look at it that way, hopefully you go yeah, yeah, that's that's that's probably true. Right? So it's a lot of this is just about being deliberate and what you're trying to achieve and making sure that the tool is the right one, right? And office was this catch all tool um for bringing people together when the technologies and and the methodologies didn't exist for being able to do that at scale? Uh One of the things I'd like to point out is we talk about you as you were saying, you know, like maybe management needs to be together. There's also a difference between collaboration and coordination and I think we we we get this misconstrued a lot, which is that management needs to be able to communicate with each other, you know, cross teams across departments, across silos to be able to ensure that the efforts are aligned, right? That's coordination. That doesn't really take collaboration. Collaboration implies that somehow what you tell me is going to impact how and when and where and why I do something right, That's not what happens in most cases it's coordination to make sure that our efforts are pointed the same way and that they land in the same spot at the same time, such that they benefit and and leverage each other's value, right? It is not the same thing as saying, I need your brain to tell me what I don't know about what I'm working on. That's collaboration and there's just honestly very little of that, right? If if I'm the head of my stack and my silo, who else is going to be better at doing what I'm doing than me, right? Not that I don't need input from other people but what are the chances that they're gonna walk into a meeting and with 10 minutes of introductory context, be able to hand me a solution that I've spent months thinking about that I haven't come up with. Right, right, right, sort of not how that works.
Wil Schroter: Alright, so that was fun, but let's actually keep this conversation going. You've heard what we think about this, but you know, Ryan and I would really like to hear what you think and we're online all day long, pretty much talking about every startup topic you could think of from fundraising, the customer acquisition, to just really how to get all of this crazy startup stuff out of your head. And there's tons of other founders, just like you, they're weighing in on these topics so you'll get a chance to just hang out and meet some really smart founders. We're also super, super easy to find. You head over to groups dot startups dot com and let Ryan and I hear what's on your mind, let's get to know each other a little bit and let's just start having more of these conversations