Startup Therapy Podcast

Episode #115

Ryan Rutan: Welcome back to another episode of the startup therapy podcast. This is Ryan Rutan from startups dot com, joined as ever by Wil Schroder, the founder and ceo of startups dot com. Well let's talk about breaking up, not you and me, not you and me. We gotta keep doing this thing man. People seem to like it. Um Let's talk about what happens when break ups occur within the startup. Um How many good stories do you remember of breakups throughout your career?

Wil Schroter: It kills me to say. But I think like in my career, like nearly 30 years, I've probably employed maybe 1000 people if I really had to kind of put a number to it. And I think I can remember and these aren't necessarily all the ones that happened, but I think I can remember like two good breakup like where we parted company on good terms and there was a hug and it was like really meaningful and it felt great, but the ones I remember were not those at all, they were expletive laced, they were very intense. Um in some cases people, in a lot of cases people crying if you're letting people go, I mean that's a very natural emotion, but they weren't good and I think, you know what we'll talk about today early in my career. The problem for me is I just didn't appreciate what a bad breakup was, right because you haven't been around long enough to understand how many times that bad breakup is going to come back to haunt you or in all the ways you would have never thought of. And we're not just talking, you know, today or anytime about like an employee breakup, like letting someone go, oh, that's pretty frequent. It's when you have to break up with the investors, it's when you have to break up with the customers, there's a lot of break ups to be had. And if you're sitting in this seat, you know, if you're in the founding team, if you're the folks running this thing, you're going to break up with a lot of people. Things go, well, you're gonna have to let go of people that you can't keep up if things go poorly. Well, he just had to let go of everybody. Either way. There's a lot of break ups to be had and people suck at them because I don't think they understand the cost. So, you know, I I think, you know, let's dig into that a little bit today.

Ryan Rutan: Yeah. Yeah. I think, I think it's, it's not understanding the costs. And I think in a lot of cases, because we have typically gone through the justification in our own heads, right? We've gone through the reason this needs to happen. We've talked it through ourselves, whereas when the breakup happens often for the other party, this is new news and that's the part that I think we forget to manage sometimes is that like we've somehow made our peace with this and we've decided this is the right thing. Dare I say it? Sometimes we're even excited about it, right, it means

Wil Schroter: that it's

Ryan Rutan: it's like, you know, they're either toxic or they're just not good at their job. And and you know, them not being there opens other opportunities and means that, you know, you can bring in somebody who's better, different, whatever it is that you're you're actually excited about moving forward. And so you're having the exact opposite reaction, right? And when people on opposite sides of the table in, in any kind of a breakup or negotiation discussion, anything are in two very different places, they tend to end poorly. So let's unpack it all.

Wil Schroter: All right. 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. Sure, Well, you know, part of it is, let's let's kind of start here. If things go, well, it's kind of a forgotten moment, but when they go poorly, that is what gets stamped in people's memories, right? And so when we talk about the cost of a bad breakup, you know, let's start here. I think a lot of people think, well it's just, you know, it was a bad, tough conversation. That conversation is just the beginning. If we screw up the breakup, right? If we leave with bad blood, whether it's a customer, whether it's an employee, whether it's an investor, that is just the beginning of our nightmare. Because here's what happens. People that are really piste off about how you treated them tend to mention it to other people. I would go so far as to say

Ryan Rutan: most of the internet is based

Wil Schroter: on people bitching about what they're not happy

Ryan Rutan: about.

Wil Schroter: If you become looking exactly like, like every other facebook post Glassdoor isn't filled with current employees that are mad, It's filled with ex employees that are mad, right? Yelp. When when people say I'm rushing to yelp, because I'm so angry, they're not like, oh well, I guess I have nothing to say. No, those are the most intense reviews. People will say a little bit about what they're happy about, but holy cow, they'll say a lot, a bit about what they're not happy about and that's on us, right? That's on us.

Ryan Rutan: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Making sure that, you know, look, people will have bad experiences, right? Not everybody is going, it's not works not shrank shangri la for everybody, we can't we can't control all of that. Um But I think that what happens at the very end, like at that point of breakup has a lot to do with how they carry and how they choose to then express those sentiments, right. Whether they choose to go to Glassdoor and shout about it or whether they decide, look, it wasn't a good experience, but we ended amicably. Um, I was treated with respect and dignity and I was, I was, you know, giving away out that allowed me to maintain my self respect and that of my colleagues and therefore I don't feel the need to come back in full assault mode, right? Which is the glass door piece,

Wil Schroter: right? And one of the things I don't think we appreciate, you know, on the employer side or you know, on the invest east side if you will is that we're having one conversation among many. If I have to break up with my investors right? I may have to break up with like seven and you know, talk to him about, you know, what happened, what didn't happen kind of why we're here etcetera. And so I'm just thinking about seven conversations that we had, where I'm thinking about it as seven people, I had to let go. Those are some of the most seminal moments of their lives, right? So the asymmetry and impact is significant. Remember a year or two ago when, when Covid was starting bird the scooter company Let go of like 400 people over a zoom call. I mean, it was it was like this really it was blown up because a lot of um you know, um Huge, huge kind of mass firings, layoffs, etc were happening and Airbnb did it, etc. But they did it in like this this one form where it was like a recorded voice on a zoom telling 400 people they didn't have a job,

Ryan Rutan: it was like something out of a bad dystopian future movie. Like,

Wil Schroter: yeah, corporation has

Ryan Rutan: released,

Wil Schroter: it was shitty all around. However, That was a moment for all 400 people that was going to have this exponential effect and we'll get into how to treat people.

Ryan Rutan: Like how, like, I mean, just in terms of ways to bungle that, I'm not sure you could do much better. Let's

Wil Schroter: gather four

Ryan Rutan: 100 people together. It's like, it's like if you were like, how could we turn this into something as close to a riot as possible? Let's get them all together in one place. Right? Well, virtually, but

Wil Schroter: where they're all obviously

Ryan Rutan: able to talk to each other and let's let's do this in a very incendiary way. I mean, like, it's it's like they were asking, it's like they were asking

Wil Schroter: for it.

Ryan Rutan: Um you know, well, this was this some sort of like, you know, deep state um publicity stunt on their part. I hope so, because if not just looks like

Wil Schroter: stupidity. Well, they did achieve the publicity, publicity, but but here, in this case this was again that asymmetrical, Uh, you know, kind of response. Not only did they let go of 400 people in the wrong way, But they also now created 400 people that are that are that are challenging against them every single day for enemies. Those 400 people will remember that job, right? As that phone call is that shitty, inconsiderate phone call where, where they were treated like ship, right? And so again, I'm not going to, you know, try to defend why they did it or you know, how they could have done it. That's here. Nor there. The point is, most people will will quit jobs. They don't necessarily get let go right or get separated. Most people, you know, will will work with an investor. And hopefully things go, well, most of the time it doesn't, these things do happen. The changes do happen. What we're talking about is when we look at these changes, we can't be cavalier with them, right? We can't be like, oh, well, we're letting this person go, good for us, bad for them. We're gonna move on. We at least have to be considerate enough to say, okay, there actually is some collateral damage to this, whether we like it or not, Maybe it's good for us, but there is a bad for us that's out there and we need to be considerate of that. And I don't think that's unreasonable at any level. No,

Ryan Rutan: I don't I don't think it's unreasonable from a human perspective, right? In terms of just thinking about what's going to happen to that person next and how this affects them. As you said For us, this maybe one out of 100 conversations like that that we have over a year period or a two-year period or a five-year period, whatever. For them, it may be the only time they ever get fired in their entire lives, right? And so like for them and again, like to your point doesn't matter what else happened up to that point, it could have been pure shangri la and yet just use, we'll just continue use bird as an example. If you were to ask any one of those 400 people what their experience with Bird was like, what do you think the first story they're going to tell is if you think it's gonna be like, oh man, there was this one time you were in a product meeting and I had this idea and I was scared to tell it, but then I did and like I was so well received by management and and you know, they applauded my courage for stepping up, even that was kind of, you know, above my pay grade. You know, they're going to be like those assholes fired all of us at once at one time on a zoom call, right? So that's the narrative. And so that's what you're planting. You want to talk about like uh this is the human version of S. C. O. That content is going to exist and it's going to get traffic, it's gonna get traffic because people will ask right? And people will talk because at the end of the day for that person, it's the only thing that they have left out of that is to be able to say like I was treated with indignity. It's the story they can tell, right? Because they know they were treated wrong. And so that's the one little thing that they can walk away with and feel okay about, yeah, it's a bad story, but they weren't the bad actor in the story. So they're going to tell it, it's a piece of social cred for them, right? So that will exist, it will exist into the future. People will hear about it and there's an internet now, so a lot of people will hear about it. So yes, these things have a ton of collateral domino effect damage. So from the human side, Yes, you want to be a good actor, but also from your company's perspective, this is important, right? It will hurt you too, not just them. So you're doing yourself and everyone else a favor by not doing things like firing 400 people on a zoom call.

Wil Schroter: Well, let me build on that because you said something you said, um there's your reputation personally and there's the company's reputation. They're not necessarily, uh, you know, totally separate. So for example, when, when people have to shut down a startup and statistically, most of the time, they do have to shut down a startup. And we talked about this in a previous episode. What the founders don't realize they're so caught up in their own ship. You know, they're thinking, well, you know, here's how it affects me and here's how I was wrong in all of these things and maybe all that's true. I would

Ryan Rutan: argue in this

Wil Schroter: case. It doesn't matter when it comes to the breakup because if you're breaking up with investors, you may forget that the investors circles are hundreds of people at its nexus, right? And only thousands as the rings go out. Right. Which is to say if you fire a hole in that boat because this year you're piste off at how things went. How many people do they even need to talk to? And by the way, if you ever raise money again, no credible investor is ever going to not talk to those investors like you can guarantee right that this is going to be your resume in your reference. So I was talking to a founder last night and he's wrestling with the situation, companies kind of out of money and trying to figure out how to, you know, kind of take himself out of the situation, which by the way, is the right move. It's actually what I recommended. You gotta get out of this thing. But what I also say, and I say this a lot to founders when they're in this situation is how you do this is how they're going to remember everything. They'll remember the company didn't work out. But what's most important at this very moment is you going out like a total professional, Right? And again, we talked about this in a previous episode where we're saying, you gotta own it right? You gotta be able to say that this was on me etcetera. But in the back of your mind, aside from just being a decent human, you have to realize that your reputation takes years to build in seconds to destroy. And this is one of those seconds. This is specifically like if you had to rank them of all the seconds in your life that are going to matter on your reputation is pretty

Ryan Rutan: much at the top there. Yeah, this is not, this is not your moment to drop mike walk out slam door, right? Because that door never opens opens again. And I think that where, where this gets misunderstood is that people assume that the failure is the failure and that's it and that writes the resume. But that's absolutely not true because you and I can point to hundreds of examples of founders who have raised funds, failed, restarted something else and gone back to the same investors and gotten money a second time or a third time because of that exit, right? The failure is not the failure, the failure and your inability to return to that is in that moment where you decide to drop the match on that bridge and then run across it based on the way you handle that communication. So you're absolutely right. Well, like this is one of those moments in time where like you can ruin your ability to go back to that. Well in an instant, like it's just, it's a second in time where it can inextricably change your path, right? You will no longer be able to separate yourself from that reputation because as you said, this is a small group of people at the top and not much bigger even as you move down that pyramid and that news will travel and you will poison the well and you will not be able to go back however, um, treated appropriately, it doesn't impact that much. Right? Like you said, most startups will fail, Most investments will fail. That does not mean that just because you failed. Once you cannot get investment again, we know plenty of folks who have gone back time and time again after failure and finally hit a success or not. Right. Some of them just continue to fail. That happens to right, right? Yeah. How you leave it, um, is dictates what the next steps can be. It either closes that path completely or leaves it open.

Wil Schroter: You bet. 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 every day, working through exactly

Ryan Rutan: these types of topics

Wil Schroter: 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, I think, you know, for for me what I didn't understand early in my career, let's say in my twenties and a lot of folks listening are in their 20's. So I'd say definitely listen to this part. We haven't been around the world, you know long enough in order at that point to understand how this is going to affect us down the road. We just haven't seen it yet. We will, you guarantee you will see it. So when, when, you know, we break up with a co founder and we're like, f that guy, you know, like, you know, whatever we're better off without him. Okay, here's what you don't see yet, that guy winds up going to another company, he goes to a venture firm, he goes somewhere else where he can wreak so much havoc on your career. Here's the worst part

Ryan Rutan: and you never see

Wil Schroter: it, right? You never see all the calls you never got. You never see all the people that called him and said, hey, you worked with Ryan, what would you like to work with and then never called you all the customers, all the employees, all the investors, all the partners and now take that, take that, that that giant grenade of your future that you threw out there and now multiply that by every interaction that you have, right? And think of how much damage a single blown relationship can do compounded over time. And, and we're on the other side of it, Ryan, you know, you know, we were decades later And, and we see both, we see where we did well by people. It comes up. Um, I was, uh, I was at an event last night and a guy that I worked with that I haven't worked with for 20 years was at the event and I haven't seen him since. Incidentally, he proposed to his wife at my house. Like, I mean, so it's like, it's kind of cool. I saw his wife since then and they're still together. Great. Um, but I had this really cool effect in their life, right? And there's this amazing, powerful conversation and he had some leads for me and places, you wanna introduce me. It was wonderful. An example of when things go well, right? Like he wanted to help. I've got plenty of run ins that could have gone very differently. Yeah. Which again would have been a little more expletive laden and their spouses would have definitely jumped.

Ryan Rutan: There's a couple of people I can think of that if if you and I encountered together, we would immediately like don the Groucho Marx glasses and duck and run the other way, just disappear.

Wil Schroter: Yes. Yeah. And so, you know, if we advance this a bit, if we talk about not only the cost of the bad breakup, but like those final words, like specifically let's get a little more tactical here, the kinds of things that we're saying in that moment. And let's kind of isolate for just a moment. I just want to just talk about just the conversation. The final conversation, the actual breakup conversation kind of the context of it a bit about um you know, what should and shouldn't we say, what should we bring to the table, which we kind of leave at home? Um You know, I'd kick it off and then I'll kick it back to you. But I'd kick it off by saying We have a very limited window. Let's call it 20-30 minutes, no matter how long this conversation is to probably say all the most important words And the rest of them kind of don't matter. No one here's what you say after the words, I'm leaving you, right? It's like 111, it doesn't matter after that they just hear those words and then Exactly, right? And they and they tune everything out. But I do believe that we have to be very, very mindful of exactly what we say, because we have to think of that as being like, cast in stone forever. Like, those words matter, you know, we're talking about the birth thing that matters, you know what I mean?

Ryan Rutan: Yeah. You know, it's interesting because you're talking about the last conversation and and there is always a final conversation, right? At least in in that context, you may come back and talk to them again in the future, but in, in the context that we're talking about there is that final conversation. Um one of the things that I've done is actually break that into 22 conversations. Um because I think you're you're absolutely right at that moment where it's we're breaking up comes out, it's it's shocking, right? Um even even if even if there were plenty of prelude right to this, like, and you've you've given reviews, you've given notice, there's probation, there's whatever, and they sort of know it's coming, there's still that, like, you know, skin crawling, you know, can't hear, right? Every, like, just the world starts to close in on your moment when it finally happens. And so I've had some success in the past with breaking the conversation into two parts, where that piece gets delivered with all of the things that are required to sort of from an HR perspective from a legal perspective to make sure that you've covered your bases and that you've you've done the breakup right? If we're talking about an employee, if it's an investor, it's a different story. Um I'm speaking specifically about an employee breakup at this point and breaking that into two conversations because what I found is that people just don't have the ability to hear anything else in that moment, because they're true. They're in shock and they're just shut down, right, They can't hear you. But there are these important things that you want to say to them right beyond all of the legal necessities, right? There are things that you want to say um to help them on their way right? We talked about this more specifically an episode around employee breakup. So I won't go into a ton of detail. Here. You can go listen to that episode um was a fairly early one, and it's a really important one. Um but where I had some success was breaking this into two conversations. One give them the bad news and then to open the door for two way feedback for them to talk about it to me, and for me to talk about it with them if they wanted to. Um and those typically went pretty well, those are the ones that I remember when those were agreed to, those were the ones that that I can remember that actually ended well. Um and the things that I tried to focus on in those were not the reasons like it wasn't a rehash of, here's why I had to do this. I'm not justifying my decision. It was, here's what I think you can do going forward to leverage the things that you were good at, right, assuming that there are some of those things existed in some cases. That

Wil Schroter: was very difficult.

Ryan Rutan: Um, in others, it was really trying to talk about, you know, here are your superpowers, here are your leverage, Herbal skills, here are the things to focus on here. The things and you know, build them up a bit to try to give them some momentum as they go on and do that next thing because that's where their head's at. That's all they're thinking about now, right. All they care about is how do I recover from this

Wil Schroter: situation again?

Ryan Rutan: Very different with investors. They're like, yeah, you failed. We saw it coming six months before you did by right? Um, well, we'll talk to you again if you got another great idea. But with the employee, they're worried about where is the next paycheck going to come from? And so they ended far better when it was here are the things that I think that you did amazingly. Well, these are the things that, that I would, I would leverage in the resume in your conversations with people. Um, and we talked about this in the other episode and let me know how I can help and let me know how I can open up my Rolodex to help you find opportunities, right? And you and I have both made a practice of doing that. And I think that goes a long way in maintaining that goodwill and it's just a good thing to do, right?

Wil Schroter: So the thing is I think a lot of founders just because we're all people, I want to use that as a moment of my personal validation. Here's where I get to vent about what's on my mind, what my feelings are, right? Let me share that with you. I'm talking to an investor. Let me tell you how screwed I got in all this, how much money I lost. How much that, you know, you didn't help me, you know, seek the right outcome. Sounds awesome. And if you have those feelings by all means share them, just not with your investors, right? Share them with your spouse, share them with another. Like there is no mileage in, in being able to vent, right? And, and honestly I would argue. And and, and, and, and maybe there's there's a counter case here. But I think that's just childish and unprofessional. I think if there's ever a time where you're doing a break up like this. It's the one time as a professional to shut the hell up and just take it right? And, and a lot of people will say no, that's not true. Like, you know, if I feel a certain way, I should be able to express it by all means do and understand that when you do there is now an exponential and I'm going to argue useless consequence that you're taking with it if you want to lay into the investor about how shitty they were during the whole time that that they worked with you awesome. That buys you what? Exactly? Oh, well, maybe next time they'll know not to treat people like that. No, Next time you'll know you're an asshole, right? And not work with you. Next, it

Ryan Rutan: buys it buys you not working with them, which you can simply not asking to work with them, right? It's not like they're just gonna come chasing you with bags of money. So that's a, that's a self soothing problem.

Wil Schroter: Yeah. This idea that it's this teaching moment that everyone's gonna be like, oh, you know, you lost all my money or you're, you're, you're eliminating my job, please teach me in this moment. It's like teaching another moment, Maybe next week, next month. This, this ain't the time. This is the time to if nothing else. Show some contrition. Show some empathy. Just some, some human connection to say, hey, I understand this is tough, right? But also to be able to say, I understand, right? Because often we're so busy, we're so concerned with being heard that we don't stop and say I'm listening and I understand and that's actually what people on the other side of the table need to hear. Not a very popular sentiment sentiment in my uh, in my experience.

Ryan Rutan: No, no, it's it's it's not in, like, unfortunately, again, people just aren't considering the cost of that, right? They feel the need to justify themselves in that moment, which buys them a moment if that, and only for themselves because nobody else in the room is going to feel the same way. They're not going to be like, oh damn, you're right, three cheers for Ryan. Um they're just gonna think continues to be an asshole. Um and uh and they're just waiting for you to leave at that point, and then they're assuming or guaranteeing that you won't come back. Alright, so that's what it really buys you. And and so I think that this is again, like one of those moments where it's important to get it right?

Wil Schroter: It isn't. And I think that the verbs you use, the actual words you use matter because those will be forever stamped in how that relationship ended, and if you really think about how the relationship ended, what you're really talking about is the relationship still exists. It just now exists in a very different form and we have a limited amount of power to control, like which direction it goes, we can make it way shittier and now we have a relationship that's a massive liability or we can make it marginally better and we have a relationship that can be built back into, you know, an asset at some point, but that's entirely up to us. And what I think people miss is this is a pretty small moment, right? I mean, if you think about the actual, the amount of time that we're talking about, right? We're talking about in some cases, minutes, like the zoom call for bird, it wasn't a three hour zoom call, right? It was ones of minutes, like at its core at the important part where they said, you're all fired. Right? Okay. So it's deliberately one of the worst examples ever. But my point is if we were looking at that moment, you know, from, from management standpoint and we said, okay, We're probably gonna have 15 minutes of this conversation, right? Not only does our word choice matter, but everything that we walk out of the room with, right? For example, in certain cases when we've had to let folks go or folks have moved on from the organization, we've walked out with a hug. It was actually a really incredible moment, right? Because you know, we're both excited about maybe their next journey, et cetera or we did a really good job of saying, hey, it didn't work out, but here's how we're going to support you going forward. We still love you. It just, it just isn't the spot for you, which by the way mattered. Um they still didn't have a job, they're still worried, et cetera, but they didn't feel like they were mistreated, which is a huge difference.

Ryan Rutan: They don't feel like they're mistreated and or alone, right? Because I think that's the other thing when when when the relationship ends on a sour note, they're all of a sudden completely isolated when it doesn't, and it feels like that door is still open, not in the same way, right? You said the relationship has changed, but there's still aligning communication and there's still an ability to help again. You know, they weren't the right fit for us at that time. That doesn't mean that they weren't fit for any type of work. Obviously most people will go on and get another job. Um And and again, we talked about being part of that process and and why that's a good thing to do, not just from reputation standpoint, but because it's the right thing to do. Um And and so I think that that again completely changes how things end right, when they when they don't feel that isolation, when they don't feel that desperation, it gives them a reason to go on and do something positive, which is to begin the job search to go to the network to maybe even reach back to us for help with that um and receive it versus going to Glassdoor, trying to figure out how to put less than one star and saying bad words about us

Wil Schroter: right, agreed.

Ryan Rutan: It's important.

Wil Schroter: I got a lesson actually from one of our own staff about what a genius pro move post break up is. And, and by the way this isn't like a scheme or anything, it's just an incredibly human thing to do. And I was just so impressed by it. We had an employee that we had to break up with a while back and and we both saw it coming. Um, you know great guy etcetera. So it wasn't like, you know, these are fighting words kind of thing. But afterward, a week later, um he sent me a bottle of my favorite vodka uh, with an inscription on it basically just saying, hey man, you know, it didn't work out, but but the the time together meant a lot to me, right? The coolest thing in the world, right? The the vodka didn't cost all all all the money in the world. And the inscription was actually exceptionally cool. But the consideration, it was awesome. And I'll give you the flip side. So that was actually somebody being let go doing something that cool, which I thought was the most pro move I've ever seen. The converse is often, you know, when we had to break up with, it could be a customer could be an investor, it could be employee. It doesn't matter who

Ryan Rutan: follow nuclear instead.

Wil Schroter: Yeah, a follow up call. How are you doing? Right? That's it, 99% of the time. Um that just the gesture alone Goes for miles right now. The 1% of time maybe people don't respond etc. But I've had almost 100% response to that. And it wasn't disingenuous. Like I wanted to make sure they were okay right? But it changed everything. I don't think we realize that the point of breakup isn't the last touch point right there. Like you said, they're gonna go home. They're gonna process, they're going to think about this. They're gonna stew, right? And what they're gonna do is we're gonna take it very personally. We're humans, right? We take stuff personally when things cool down. A simple gesture to say, hey, I still love you, right? Um is so powerful. And if we think about this exponential effect. Ryan of all the people that that person is going to touch in the future. You gotta think about it. How could you not do that? Even if you weren't this most empathetic person, even if you were just this dr evil plotting version, this machiavellian version, right? That we're trying to Yeah, yeah. Like like um I'm saying what? Either way you take it, it's still the pro move. It

Ryan Rutan: is and it should be done. It's funny and sometimes they happen a bit accidentally funny timing. I just did this yesterday. It's gonna sound like bullshit because it's it's such a perfect timing. Yesterday. I was searching for an email and in the search results for the email I was looking for popped up a very different email and it was a disgruntled client from nine months ago now. Um, who was, who was unhappy about something and I got roped in. You got roped in. I think they basically just started to email everybody in the company that they felt like had a title who could do something about it, right? And so it was just like this, this huge situation um, created out of not much, but it was very important to them. And so we jumped in, tried to solve it. I spent significant personal time trying to help reconcile. It turned out to be irreconcilable. We broke up on relatively good terms, but still, you know, they weren't satisfied with with, with what happened, right? Still a breakup. Um, so I just happened to stumble across that email thread and so last night at 11 30 I sent a note to that founder saying, hey, just wanted to check in and see how things are going. Um, did you continue with the planned fundraise? How's that going? Um, you know, anywhere. Um, I can be useful, let me know, blah, blah, blah. Right, get this wonderful email back in the morning. It's funny, I was thinking about you just the other day and how nicely you handled the way things ended, right? So not only were they actually pleased them on, which I didn't know because she didn't express that at the time, but now I know that, right? And you know, so great of you to follow up. Actually, we do have some news that'll be coming, can't talk about it yet, blah blah, blah. Um, but um, I will send you an email the minute. It's it's it's it's public information and would love to get your feedback on some of this, right? So it's it's amazing, you know, how just, like one little touch can completely change the spin and and and reignite a relationship that maybe ended prematurely for the wrong reasons. Um,

Wil Schroter: and

Ryan Rutan: I want to go back to something really quickly here, which is this, this collateral effect, right? And the collateral damage and reputation that can be done right now, I don't know how many other people this founder talked to or or whether they talk to anybody or not. And that's kind of the point. You don't have a lot of control over that. I have a story right now around doing some some some reputation control um, here locally and it's it's kind of a funny story because this is actually positive reputation, but that I haven't earned. Okay, so we've run into this situation where um, my wife and I were used in publicity for a friend's project, a very big and very visible project here where we live in Antigua and we were used in a video and some instagram posts as people who are participating in in this business. Um but like as customers, as users, right, just as part of this community, um and all of a sudden as we're walking around town, we start getting congratulated on our project and it didn't occur to us until like the fourth person that said it, people started to say they thought it was our project and so we've had to go back and so now, interestingly on one hand, like there's this this this this, you know, wonderfully positive spin around like, oh you've done this great thing for, for the town, thank you for, you know, Billy, this looks like a great project, awesome, wonderful. And then we're, you know, explaining one off, that's not the, that's not really the case, but then on the other hand, I've got, I now have damage control to do with my friend who is this is actually their project because I need them to know that I'm not running around town going, it's mine, it's mine, it's mine because how would they know, because neither of us saw this coming, right? So it just, it just goes to show like how quickly things can spread and that you have very little control in this case, it was a positive thing. Um in most cases, I would argue, um you're not accidentally going to be given laurel's, you don't deserve, that rarely happens. Um just happened to be a funny case that's existing in my life right now. So it is super, super important to consider these things because they can and will spread without your knowledge and there's very little that you can actually do once it's in the wild. So best to keep it contained, um best to keep it positive. Um, and and simply act with the best intentions and all will go better.

Wil Schroter: Right? Look, what we're really talking about here is there were talking about in some cases, ones of minutes, Ryan that have so much effect on our company's reputation, on our reputation and all of those minutes are typically at the end and so if we're thinking about parting company with whomever it is, we have to be so structured and so strategic about exactly what words come out of our mouth. We have to be thoughtful, We have to be empathetic during that moment. We don't get the opportunity to just vent, We have to think about what the follow up looks like because we have to think about this is just a moment in time, but the true true cost, the true true moment is every interaction we have for the rest of our lives. 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, like all day long, pretty much talking about every startup topic you could think of from fundraising, the customer acquisition to just really had 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 were 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

Ryan Rutan: having more of these conversations.

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