Startup Therapy Podcast

Episode #121

Ryan Rutan: Welcome back to another episode of the startup therapy podcast. This is Ryan Rutan joined as ever by my friend and the founder and Ceo of startups dot com, Wil schroder will we talked to lots of founders, which is probably the understatement of the day, if not the week, maybe the month. Um, we talked to lots and lots and lots and lots of founders and I know one of the areas that we, we spend a lot of time talking to founders early stage and sometimes even, you know, 2nd and 3rd timers Is this concept of like, I'm working on the idea, I keep looking for the idea, I'm trying to find the perfect idea, you know, I just keep going back and back. I filled out 15 business model canvases and crumpled them all up and throwing them into the fireplace, like what is it that gets us stuck here and what should we actually be doing? What should we be actually thinking about in this moment as opposed to like the next big idea. Where do we go from there? Like when we find ourselves stuck at that point, what's what's the actual next step?

Wil Schroter: I think what's screwing with us is let's say we want to get from Connecticut to California and what we're trying to think of is okay, what's the first step, you know, what's what's the perfect path to getting there? You know, this, this, this perfect idea that I've thought of and the reality is it kind of doesn't matter right? Like whatever idea we have right now is going to change anyway, but where we we throw ourselves off is the idea which we're spending so much time trying to perfect. It's just a mechanism, it's a mechanism to get us somewhere to create a life that we want. It's a mechanism to let us not have to do things we don't want to do. It's a mechanism to make me feel feel the way we want to feel. It does all these things, but we never talk about that stuff, right? People

Ryan Rutan: inherently think that the idea is just about the idea and what the business ends up being when what we're really trying to do to your point is change our own circumstances in some way? Yes. Impact the world. Yes. Change things, yes, do good. But at the end of the day, it really is about the transformation of the founder as much as it is about the idea, and we leave all of that by the wayside as we white board ourselves to death over exactly how we're going to get from Connecticut to California.

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. I think, you know, in statement, this analogy, we are so hung up on the business model, right? We want to be this for that, right? You know, and we wanted, this is beautiful business model, that's gonna, you know, it's just this genius idea and, and that's cool. There's nothing wrong with having that. But when I talked to founders who are in this stage, whether they're first time founders or whether they've done this a bunch of times, always ask them the same questions, assuming whatever idea you have or don't have works. Yes. What will life be like for you? Well, successful. Okay, that's still just a mechanism, not, not the right answer. Also very poorly defined

Ryan Rutan: one because what does that mean

Wil Schroter: correct? Right. That's like saying I'll be successful. I just want to go west. I don't even know where it's taking me, right? I just, I'm in the east, I want to go west and that's, that's all the thought I've put into this, right? So what I, what I want to drill down with today. Uh, and what I talked to founders about and Ryan you and I go through the same catharsis with folks, is that I want to be able to say, let's take the idea that the business model, whatever off the table for a second, let's talk instead about what we want this business to achieve. And then guess what? Once you start to work backwards from what you're actually trying to achieve in life, you find a whole bunch of stuff that you thought might be a cool business idea, that once, you know where you're trying to get, it doesn't sink at all. On the other hand, there's a much higher probability that you're going to wind up in a spot. Well what your business idea is, and we'll give you some examples like our own actually is in sync with what you'd love to do. Had you given in just a little bit of thought. And so today we'll walk through exactly what that series of questions, that battery of questions look like. What, what are those themes that you have to think through and really, what are some of the costs of not having thought through this and just kind of going guns in because you just want to start a startup, you know what I mean? Right? Yeah,

Ryan Rutan: I would also say that there's a there's a case to be made for the opposite, which is that sometimes we overthink this right, particularly the part around the plan that we just keep planning and planning and planning and planning and planning and guess what you're never going to leave Connecticut if you don't stop planning and start taking some action to your point, it's going to change 1000 times right? I 70 is going to be closed somewhere along the way or you're just not going to want to drive across Kansas

Wil Schroter: and right, something's going to change your way through this.

Ryan Rutan: You can't, you can't, what you can do is is plan to take action.

Wil Schroter: Yeah, whatever your idea is right now, it's just a mechanism to get started. But that doesn't even matter because my concern and Ryan, what you and I talked through a lot is building a business model and by way of that, building a business that you're going to spend all of your time in and effort into that isn't aligned with what you're actually trying to achieve personally professionally, if you can call it that um, is a huge waste of time. You're totally misaligned with where you're headed. And I gotta say for all the founders that I talked to and walk through this with, I can't, I'm being generous when I say maybe 10 have answers to any of this, which kills me And I will say this with 100% certainty, I didn't give this a lick of thought for every bit of 20 years. So this isn't like pointing to everybody else and being like, Oh my God, you know, you did something wrong. The only reason I know this is true is because I did it wrong much longer than probably most people will ever do it wrong and I learned my lesson, which is part of the reason we're here. Um and so Ryan first things first when we when we talk about all the different aspects of what we're trying to get people done packed with this north star. Where do you, I'm curious where do you tend to open up with when you're asking folks, you know how to take a better path?

Ryan Rutan: You know, a lot of times it's it's kind of a time based thing. It's like, you know when you're looking back at this 15 years from now, like what what do you want to have have have happened right, what is it that should have occurred in order to make this future state true? And it's a future state that you're actually happy and right. Which is just a different way of asking them, what did you want to achieve, right? And it typically starts out with them immediately talking about something that the business has accomplished and I try to redirect that back into Manana, you what have what have you achieved in this period. What is different about your life at this point? We'll talk about how the business enabled empowered um and and and enforce that change and transformation. But it really starts with something along those lines, right? It's really trying to understand how do they see this future state in this transformation so that we can at least start to draw some vectors around directions to head right? Because if you're still not even sure that you want to head to California, I can't even tell you go west right? Like at that point it's like, I don't know right? I don't know, you don't know where, you don't know where you want to get to at all. Um you can't see that future state. It's really hard to take steps in that direction. So it's, it's about kind of unpacking as cliche as it may sound like what are some of the hopes and dreams you have for your life, Right? And, and or for your family. Um, and just to, to jump back a step to what we were talking about around this, over planning and, you know, trying to get it exactly right on the, you know, the business model, um that can also lock you into a path That may be counter to what your life changes to want to be over time. Because certainly the aspirations I had as a 19 year old were different than I had at a 25 year old is a 31 year old is now a 42 year old. The aspirations have changed along the way. And so so would the answers. Right? And so luckily, um because we've, we've been fortunate enough to be entrepreneurs and to be founders and to be able to have agency in these decisions and not having been fixed into some like business model where it was just set in stone, this is exactly what I'm gonna do and it's going to achieve everything I ever wanted. Um turns out I didn't know the answers to either of those things at the time, right? So it's about projecting out what you think you want to have happen and then the age old, you know the age old trick just keep asking why right? I just keep asking why that's what they want. And you eventually kind of get down to some core things um that are really these fundamental principles of what they want to achieve and why, you know what's what's driving this individual. Um and sometimes I

Wil Schroter: agree with him, sometimes I don't

Ryan Rutan: right, but that's not for me to decide, that's what's going to set their path, that's what's going to dictate, you know, what their approach to all this looks like and I can help in either way. Um but that's usually where it starts for me, how how different is your approach?

Wil Schroter: Well here's here's what I've learned. Ryan is it takes just as much time to build a business that accomplishes none of your goals as it does aligns perfectly with it. That's that's the part that's missing when I started my first company. Um I had no no understanding that I could actually, I didn't even know you could pick your own goals. I was like I'm broke, this will make me un broke, that's my business, that's all there is to it, right? And so it didn't even occur to me, like I said that, that any, any of my other ones were even on the table and so that's part of this discussion, folks that are listening to make it very clear, you can spend just as much time with this big idea and get none of what you're really trying to accomplish accomplished and and folks are going to push back and like, no, that's not true. You know, I want to be independently wealthy, you know, I want to create these professional goals etcetera. Of course you do, who wouldn't we're not saying you don't want to do that? What we're saying is what if you could do that and accomplished 10 other things that you were actually trying to do if you gave it like five seconds of thought, which most people do not. And so, but here's the other side of it, you know, we'll take that off the table for a second. The other side of it is that by setting out exactly what you do and don't want to achieve, it makes finding your idea 1000 times easier to give an example, give an example When we started almost 10 years ago, what became of startups dot com kind of the genesis of it was I was in a position where I had done a bunch of startups and none of them made me happy, right, good, good exit, bad exit, whatever, I felt like I was on this, this hamster wheel where nothing would change, right, no matter how many times I ran, I wound up in the same spot on the hamster wheel and it drove me insane. And so finally I was like let me stop the part where I just come up with good ideas or what I think are good ideas or business models or whatever, because I did it eight times now and that part clearly didn't get me any further, it sounded cool because I could come up with a business idea and nobody had thought of, but it didn't get me anywhere, so what am I missing? So I'm sitting there on the whiteboard and I'm trying to come up with business ideas like I normally do because it's all I know right? And one day I was like okay, I'm getting nowhere, what if I try something else instead, what is this really trying to achieve? And this this is where I went down the rabbit hole, this is where it changed everything. This was the red pill, blue pill moment, right? And I was like, wait, wait, I never remember, I can never remember that scene. Well well enough to remember what which which clue which pill matters anyway, so I um uh I end up starting to write down all of these things had nothing to do with the business idea and I said what do I want to get out of this? And it's like, well I actually I love talking to people, I'm a super outgoing person and I love chatting with people, I love helping people. And then I was like, well who do I love helping? And and and I'll be honest, I kind of just founders, I would love to say I love to help so many different people, I'm only good at one thing and that's helping founders and when I'm doing it, which is like all the time, I'm so happy and that's that's where all this started to come from again. This wasn't if this were a business idea, it would be the dumbest business idea because all I knew at the time is talking to founders makes me happy, How can I get paid to do that for the rest of my life, or can I write, I don't really wanna be a consultant and I don't really want to be like venture capital guy. And I was like, there's got to be something there, but here's where it got interesting, right? The moment I locked in on what I was actually trying to do without knowing how I was going to get there, Everything started to fall into place right? At that point, right? I wasn't saying I just want to go west, I was like, I specifically want to be in California and now I started to think, okay, what's the best route to get there. But it changed because I stopped thinking about business ideas, business ideas being like the equivalent of, of roads on the map, right? And I knew exactly what I was trying to get out of it even if I didn't know how to get there yet. You know what I mean?

Ryan Rutan: What do you think changed? Like what, what finally led you to that moment? Was it just the realization that you've done this enough times that just coming up with business models wasn't really going to get you there. I get that moment. And, and I remember a similar one in my own life and I want to, I want to hear from you, what was it that made it stick that time? Because for me it wasn't the first time that I had considered it, right? It wasn't like this was a brand new idea that like, hey, maybe I should think about myself and all of this. But what was it about this time that made it actually stick for you? What made you decide that time? It's like, hey, I'm gonna break this apart into two pieces. I'm really going to consider myself in this. How did you get to that point where you felt okay? We talk about permission a lot on sort of therapy and I think that there was some some permission happened there, right? Was this a conversation with somebody else? Was this? You giving yourself permission? What allowed you in that moment to say, I'm gonna think about me, that's okay.

Wil Schroter: I kept playing the same movie through, right? I kept saying, okay, I just did this like five times in the last seven years, starting other companies. And and I feel shittier. Like, even though I was successful, I actually feel shitty like what happened? And so I just, I felt so it's like a such a massive waste of time to go down this, down, you know, down this path again, knowing full well, but every once you've done it eight times, like, how many more times do you have to, you know, run through this gauntlet to realize that you can't win. And and it just occurred to me that like my my objectives were broken, right? I didn't have time picturing, I'm picturing the movie Groundhog

Ryan Rutan: Day with nine more Days added to it. It does not make it a better movie, It makes it far worse, In

Wil Schroter: fact, I don't know. And so just because I was so frustrated with, I didn't know what idea I wanted to pursue at all. Um and because I was so frustrated that every time I thought I would just have to find an idea and the rest will take care of itself, it never ever did at some point, I started to say, okay, there's gotta be some other angle that I'm missing and this was specifically it, here's the cool thing about this. Once you start to lay out all of the things that you're trying to achieve. It makes picking an idea super easy because guess who does for the first time you've got criteria for example like right when I said, hey I know I want to be talking to founders all day. That's such useful criteria, right? And then I started to say, well okay let's let's throw paths at that right. One path. Um can I be a consultant? Did that before, hated it? Right, okay. That one's off the table. Could I be a B. C. I would suck at it, take that off the table. Right. And so now I had criteria to throw against my idea and here's the important difference prior to that. The criteria would be these things like is does the business model have a SAS or revenue model or a recurring model? Right. L T. V. And I had these business metrics for what a good idea would be what I missed in that is even if they made it past those metrics, I still would feel like ship when it was all over because they didn't have the other metrics, The ones that were more important than the ones I was looking for,

Ryan Rutan: yep. Because as we've said before, this is just, you know, the business is just a conduit to something else, right? We've talked about it right? Like it's just a conduit to something else, right? It's a conduit to providing value to people providing value to ourselves as the founders, right? Just like money is a conduit, right? Making money doesn't matter unless you have something important, you want to spend it on, right? Having more money matters even less unless you have something else you need to spend it on. Right? And it's the same thing here. If you get caught up just in the success metrics, that only point to the success of the business, is it really a success right? In these types of businesses where the founders are inextricable from the business itself, right? If the founder doesn't feel successful, they don't feel happy if they don't feel transformed in the way they wanted to at the end, you have accomplished nothing other than aging, right? Which you can do in a lot of easier ways than being a founder. Um, and, and, and, and much slower pace as well.

Wil Schroter: Here's a bunch of filters that people use that actually aren't good filters. For example, I want to make money. Dude, you just described every business ever. Right? That is not a filter, right? It's also called a

Ryan Rutan: job, right? Like that's

Wil Schroter: the fastest way to make money to get a job. Make money useless filter, right? I want to work for myself. You just described all of entrepreneurship. That is not a filter, right? That's the point. Like, you know, I want something that has recurring revenues a million businesses that have recurring revenue, right? You're not getting anywhere.

Ryan Rutan: The compass needle is still just spinning 360°, there is no north star in any of that, right? It can't make you say because all you have to do is simply apply a couple of simple questions to any of those and you'll realize it doesn't get you to a binary yes or a no, right? That's what to me, that's what a true North star does is anytime I compare the thought, the idea the product, the even just the path towards the product, the higher whatever it is when I compare that to the North star, it should be as binary as possible and it should be an easy filter. It should help me say yes or no with very, very few questions asked, right? It keeps us pointed in that right direction. So the time spent the time invested in defining that will save you so much bloody time down the road because you won't be be laboring the questions by asking and using the wrong metrics. Like you just said, you're, you're asking the wrong questions, you're applying the wrong frameworks to these things. Um, and you won't even know that right? And you'll spend a lot of time going through analysis that turns out, doesn't fucking matter, right? That feels good to know that I just spent a whole bunch of time, you know, figuring something out that didn't need figuring right,

Wil Schroter: no thanks. Also, the more specific your goals are right, the easier it is to map things to them for sure, people say, well I want to have a huge exit by the way. This is we we joke about this all the time. You you do not need a huge exit to change your life dramatically, right? And so when people say I need a huge exit, we always push back and we say, well specifically what do you need it? You know to achieve what I want to buy a nice house. I want to have savings, I want to have F. U. Money. I want to whatever that is geometrically less money than you think it is. In which case, like if you had a $3 million business throwing off a million dollars a year, you would be hard pressed to find things that you cannot buy, right? It buys you almost everything right in this life. Um Are there like, you know private jets and islands that don't come with that? Sure. Guess what you work a little bit harder I guess once you get to that milestone to go get those as well, not knocking it right? But If you were to say, well damn dude, all I really need is a $3 million $1 million dollars a year. Do you know what? There's like, like uh landscaping companies that do that, lots of service based

Ryan Rutan: businesses doing this.

Wil Schroter: Yes. Yes, yes. For that matter, you don't even have to be novel, right? You can start buying up franchises and do that. Like if that's what you're actually trying to achieve and you're smart enough to know this is the specific goal. I'm trying to get to down to the penny. If your goals are just financial, you're overthinking the big idea. You know, I would be great for most founders. You don't need a big idea. You need an idea to work on it for the rest of your life and you'll get what you want. But again, we over complicate this stuff because we don't tie it to goals and if we don't have goals, we say dumb sh it like I need to have an I. P. O. Right? Right. Why? Right. And again, how is that going to do if those are your needs, if you need a $40 million house in Bel Air and you need a fleet of jets and yeah, you actually do need an I. P. O. Like that. Um I'm going to guess 99.99% of people listening to this podcast don't need that outcome. Um by the way, I know a bunch of people who have done it, they didn't need it either.

Ryan Rutan: They didn't now they've got it and now they're like, you know what, I didn't need it. Not any happy. In fact we have we have cases of people that we know personally who have done this and are less happy

Wil Schroter: posts. Yeah. And we've done whole episodes just on that alone, But, but what we're saying is do not go into this without the North Star. If you haven't defined the North Star, you are wasting your time. Take it from me, Ryan, you've gone through the same thing. We've worked with founders doing the same thing.

Ryan Rutan: Yeah, yeah, we, we see it all the time,

Wil Schroter: 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 flip it right? Because this is, this is another part that I really enjoy. A lot of founders sometimes don't know exactly what they want to achieve. It's kind of hard to sometimes pin these things down, but everyone knows what they want to avoid, right? So, so let's talk about that actually kind of more important, what do, what do we want to avoid? Right? Like what are some of the big things that you can recall us talking about in the early days.

Ryan Rutan: Oh man, we talked about, you know, not wanting to be beholden to anybody. So you know, capital raising and things like that was off the table. Um, you know, we didn't want to work with jerks. Uh, and we still don't, and we still refused to, um, you know, we didn't, not easy to do by the way. It's not, it's not, it turns out there's no shortage of supply. Yeah, Sometimes they are, sometimes they are, but you know, it was, it was things like that, you know, they were and they were pretty obvious, right? And again, like they were good in terms of helping to define the north star because they were specific, right? Because they gave us clear guidance on, on things like the no jerks roll right? Like should we hire this person, Their performance is fantastic. Like look at what they all they accomplished. They walk in for the first interview and their jerk right off the bat and it's like, this doesn't usually go the other way. People don't walk in and like, let me test what will happen if I act like a jerk on the first day and then I'll go back to my, my, my sugar sweet cell for the rest of my career with this company. Um, and so we're like, you know what kind of doesn't matter. Yeah, you'd probably really be great at this role. Um, and we'd probably really regret having you here every day afterwards. And so those kind of things make it really, really easy. Right? That's the thing about not wanting to, people holding anybody else. Pretty simple. Right? The minute you take on capitol, we've said it before, you're hiring your boss, the investors are now your boss, right? We didn't want that. We want to avoid that. And and we have and we don't regret that at all. So those are, those are the kind of the big ones. Um tons of other little things that we said we didn't want to have to do. Um you know, we didn't wanna have to work from an office every day of the week. Right? So we stopped doing that

Wil Schroter: a long time,

Ryan Rutan: Long time. Yeah. Right. Well, yeah, this is well we were, we were wearing bell bottoms in the, in the, in the 80s between the two periods where they were cool.

Wil Schroter: Um Well, you know Ryan, uh what I love about the, what do you want to avoid is it actually starts to create a very concrete north star, right? Because for example, I hated working with clients. Right? And just I love customers. I hate clients. Right? The difference being customers or something that paid us $100 and if they hate us, love us whatever they can go in our business. Kind of goes on the same clients are the people who know if they leave and take their business with him, you're screwed. Right? So you pretty much work for them at the agency. My first agency, we had a client that will, that will not be named um That held basically half of our payroll right? Hundreds of millions of dollars. Um And they knew very well. It's kind of way they hired us, if I'm being honest, uh, that if they pulled right um that that our whole agency would implode overnight and they use that to great effect every single day for years upon years upon years marionette, right? And got to tell you hated every minute of it. And and that was a very concrete Northstar not gonna do that again wright. Worked with, worked with actually some great investors. Um and so I'm not gonna sit here and say that I had a terrible um experience with investors because I really didn't even when things didn't work out, I got to say, you know, that's a pretty solid investors. However, however, despite that, and this isn't their fault by the way that this one's on me, but it was definitely part of the North Star. I never wanted to work with investors again. Not because anything that they did wrong, but because I didn't like waking up in the morning or going to bed at night saying, I wonder what they think my business should do, or even better when they would call me and say as much, here's what your business should do, here's what you should be doing right now. And I was like, you know, I never got that call or had that conversation hung up the phone man, I feel great. I'm so glad you told me what to do right. Never, never made me feel good. And, and Ryan, one of the um, the mechanisms I use when I think through this is I always picture being at dinner with my wife and telling her about my day and I think about when I was talking about stuff that frustrated me. What was it? And if it was thematic, if I kept bringing up the same thing and thematically all the time I said, hmm what if I could live a life where I don't have to talk about that because I took it out of my plan right? And so clients right where I would have said, oh my God, you know our big client um, you drug us through the mud again. I have to be in all these meetings, this is killing me etcetera. And I'm like, huh, If I just say I'll never work with clients again, I'll never have that conversation again. And here and here is the unlock. I'll kind of leave it at this. The unlock is the way to be happier. Stop doing ship that doesn't make you happy complicated through that one more time. Well yeah, you'd never think it right? Yeah,

Ryan Rutan: yeah spend time doing the things that you do enjoy and the things that you know make you unhappy, just stop doing them right? Like this is, this is, this is, and you know, I think that it's, it's interesting, but these are really like the, the two rails that point us right at that North Star, right? What do I want to achieve on on one side, What do I want to avoid on the other? And, and then you just follow that off into the distance and that becomes that, that vanishing point, perspective point. Um, and it becomes really clear what falls inside and what falls outside those lines. Um, and anything that falls outside them just needs to be excluded. Um, kind of summarily, right? You shouldn't have flexibility on this and this is, this is what we start to see happen. Um, I've certainly seen people start off with with, with this intent in mind with a good North star and then things come along opportunistically and they decided to jump on those because it meant more cash or being able to hire some more people um, or whatever it was that in the moment felt good but fell outside those guidelines and led to at least short term pain, if not long term tragedy for the business. And that's why once you've defined this thing is not that things can't change, but there are fundamentals that really, you know, where, where we see and like the example I used earlier about hiring, right? Like hiring a jerk like, you know, we just really need to push some sales volume? Let's just, let's just bite the bullet. Let's take, let's take this person on. Um, even though we know they're not a good cultural fit, let's get the performance right? And then, and then we'll fix it later and it never happens. And then the sales organization grows out of control. Culture goes bad and you continuously pay for it, right? That becomes the thing you're talking about at dinner, which you had promised yourself years before you would not do right? And so once you do set these things in stone, try to keep them there, right? Try not to try not to bend, try not to let your values have, um, enough flexibility that it hurts you

Wil Schroter: well. So I think that the last one that really, really stood out to me and it didn't occur to me Ryan until I think really after we started startups dot com is how do I want to feel right and not to be too new agey here, right? Maybe it is. But it turned out it was actually kind of the most important one. Didn't realize it at the time. But I think because we aligned on, on the other two that this one started to really become obvious to us not give an example. You and I get an opportunity to help founders all day long and like, like I said earlier, I love helping people, I actually really, really enjoy it And I can't tell, I can't tell if it's selfish, Like, hey, if I'm helping you, but it makes me feel good. Like am I really just doing it? Because it makes me feel good? And does that make me a bad person? Be honest? I don't care either way I'm helping you. It makes me feel good. It's all around, right? And so I started to kind of dig into this more and more and I started to think about, um, how do these things make me feel for example, right? Um, when I'm helping people, makes me feel good, right? When I have a lot of people that I have to administrate and deal with minutia and bullshit, right? Doesn't make me feel good, right? As it happens, I, I don't even know the account. I have a handful of direct reports, right? And everybody else handles everything else because I really suck at it and it doesn't make me feel good. And those two things go hand in hand. And so there's no reason where we can start to say when I come home at the end of the day or when I look back on my career, how do I want to feel, do I want to feel like I helped people do? I want to feel like, you know, I didn't get wound up in a bunch of stuff I hated. And what if if I could be in a job and more specifically create a job because we're not just in a job. If I could create a job that made me feel awesome every day, what would it look like? Why don't I just focus on that? Maybe it doesn't matter if I have the Uber for

Ryan Rutan: whatever, right?

Wil Schroter: Maybe it depends if I can find something where everything checks the boxes or gets close enough to it isn't like kind of that the idea, you know what I mean?

Ryan Rutan: You would hope so right? But again, I think um

Wil Schroter: you know, it's funny,

Ryan Rutan: I I'd like to get your take on this, but this feels like more of a recent problem. This feels like a problem post romanticizing the startup versus the entrepreneur,

Wil Schroter: right? Where

Ryan Rutan: all of a sudden we saw these astronomical outcomes and that became the bar, right? That became rather than the high water mark, right? That all of a sudden it was like I've I've I've got to beat zuruck or like I suck right? Like this is I'm no good at this, right? We've either got to, you know, go big or go home. We've gotta, we've gotta I. P. O. Or or it doesn't count. Um And again it just goes back to like you're using the wrong yardstick to measure this thing. Um But you know, it feels like more of a recent problem to me because I remember at the, at the time, you know, I was starting my first business roughly around the same time you were starting yours, these weren't discussions right. There wasn't any kind of third party expectation that I was trying to live up to. Like I had like the new york stock exchange, like that was the only other companies that had any objective measures on right. Nobody was talking about fundraising at that point. Like not where I was not where I was in the world, not the people that I was surrounding myself with. Um and so this feels like more of a of a modern challenge um that we that we get these these metrics wrong and then we start to measure ourselves in ways that are not only not productive for the founder for the business, but can actually be quite harmful because they lead us to making, you know, decisions that are counter to our own desired outcomes. Um or what we what would be our desired outcomes if we'd spent enough time to actually think about what those things were.

Wil Schroter: Well, if we knew what we wanted the desired outcomes to be like again, how we wanted to feel or what we wanted to avoid or you know what we specifically we would love to do all day, then we could start to actually like, like the idea would start to find itself. I know that sounds silly, but that's actually how it happened. So for example, one of my my things is I was trying to like, you know, I D eight on this a bit was um, I want to do whatever this, whatever I do next, I want it to be, whatever I would otherwise do on a saturday, right? The idea being that like, I'd be doing this even in my free time, even if it wasn't paying right now, that sounds awesome, right? And I would argue that probably doesn't apply to most people, so I'm not going to be one of those silly people that says, oh, you should, you know, do what makes you happy and everything will follow, okay, maybe. Um, but for this one, this is actually what helped me, this is actually what got me to where I needed to be, and I was like, well, what would I want to do on, on saturday? I was like, well, I love to go to dinner with people, I'm a super outgoing person. It turns out most of the people I would always find myself going to dinner with that were interesting were founders because founders always have so much going on and they have big ideas and they're fun to talk to. Um, and they're very committed and uh, and I was like, well, that's cool, like, okay, so I guess my idea is going to dinner with founders, that's silly as it is, right? But I started to build on that more and that's actually where a founder group product came from, right? I was like, just doing that naturally. Actually were dinners. I was having all these dinners with founders and I was like, well, damn, how do I get paid for this? And I'll give him credit. It took 20 years to turn into a product, but you got there. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Mark Naeger, the ceo of startup weekend, ex ceo startup weekend, uh, worked with me for like a year and a half to kind of develop this to figure out, you know what this is going to be. Um, and in that, in this case it became founder groups, one of the products that we built, but it was simply like, hey, this is actually what I want to be doing all day. So how do I, how do I get paid for it? Or how do I let what I'm trying to get accomplished. Um, guide me to where I want to go, right? And it was awesome about that. Is it for the first time in my life with startups dot com with founder groups or anything else we've done. Didn't feel tortured, didn't think I was trying too hard.

Ryan Rutan: No, felt very natural like this is what we were supposed to be doing.

Wil Schroter: Yeah. And I was like, okay, I don't know exactly what the business is going to be yet, but, but I know exactly what it needs to achieve and I know exactly, you know all the metrics around it. So let me start something right for us, if you were called, you know, that was fungible for us fungible dot com or fundraising platform, and it was like, okay, that's not exactly you know what we think it is, but it will start the wheels turning. And I think that people write help founders. It started with that,

Ryan Rutan: right? It started with the idea that we wanted to get started, check some of the boxes, helped them with things that they truly didn't understand that we did right? And and that got us moving, that got us moving west, right? And and that was enough.

Wil Schroter: It was. And so what I would say is for folks that are trying to bang their head against the wall with it, the next new big idea, right? Looking for the big idea is a massive waste of time, right? Especially if your big idea, It takes you a direction you're not even trying to go, actually makes your life way more miserable as it did for me for like 20 years. What I would say is the focus should be, what am I trying to achieve? What is this mechanism going to try to achieve for me? And once we start to really identify that and really lock that down, we'll find that some of the past were considering we're actually the wrong paths, they weren't going to achieve any of those things and that we did ourselves a huge favor by avoiding spending five or 10 or in my case 20 years of our life pursuing paths that went nowhere. So when we're starting out, when we're first looking at how to build this next great company, let's start with what we're trying to achieve. Let's point that toward the North Star and let the rest of everything follow along behind it. 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 having more of these conversations

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