Startup Therapy Podcast

Episode #138


Ryan Rutan: Welcome back to another episode of the startup therapy podcast. This is Ryan. Rutan joined by my partner, my friend, the Ceo and founder of startups dot com, Wil Schroder. Well look, man, I'm tired, I'm burnt out. I've been running this thing forever. I feel like I need a hard reset or I'm gonna absolutely crash. What does the founder do in this case?

Wil Schroter: Are you trying to tell me something Ryan? I just answer the question, we'll get there. I mean, take a hard reset and I think, I think the, the challenge that we run into as founders is that we don't believe that we're allowed to even take time off and today, I don't want to talk about just taking time off today. I want to talk about a hard reset. Sabbatical. Sabbatical is not a word.

Ryan Rutan: Children listen to this show. Why are you using such foul language?

Wil Schroter: Right, right, 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. So here's what happened a few weeks ago, we're sitting in a founder group and and one of the founders was talking about having run their business for a really long time. It was like seven or eight years. And she said, look, I'm kind of at the point, I'm just fried. Right, another vacation is not going to change where I'm at now. Typically you and I have talked about this. Typically at this point, founders start looking for an exit, right? They're going to start to say, hey, you know, I think it's time to sell the business because I'm fried. I don't wanna do this anymore

Ryan Rutan: because the business is ready because they're done because because

Wil Schroter: they're because they're ready, right? And she says something interesting. She says, you know what? I love my business, right? Like I don't want to sell it. I don't want to get out of it. I just need to not do it for a while. And she said, what does that look like? Right. I mean specifically what does it look like? We looked around the room a lot of blank faces because no one ever talked about this before and I said, huh? You know what, let's dig into that. Let's talk about what a startup sabbatical would actually look like, what it would take to do it, how to pull it off. What, what the consequences could be, what to do about that and what it buys us. So I think let's dig into that. Let's talk about first off Ryan, as you think about it, what are some situations um that that you've been through or you can think of where it's, it's beyond vacation time, like it is, we need a whole other pill.

Ryan Rutan: Yeah, yeah, So I let me start with with ancient history and work forward, but and these weren't exactly sabbaticals, these came between exits, but I I did experience significant amounts of free time where I, my time wasn't spoken for and I could just kind of think about whatever I want to do whatever I wanted um which led to some interesting adventures. Um and I think that helped me from hitting a burnout point earlier in my career, which would have been easily achievable had I had I not done those things, but let's go more recently, so, you know, just a little over a year ago now my when my father had a stroke and I just needed to be there for him, I just had to be physically present. Um I was, I was sort of his 24 hour caregiver for a number of weeks until we figure out a better solution for that. And so I was for intensive purpose out, it wasn't a sabbatical certainly wasn't downtime. Um and left me feeling more burnt out at work, right? But it gave me the freedom to do that. So I think that's probably the closest thing that I've experienced that in, in my later career, um with the exception of, you know, some of the things that I've done over the past few, which is, you know, first leaving the office in the first place, um and kind of, you know, geographically separating myself from from the team. Um not a sabbatical, but definitely, and specifically for me, my personality, um you know, being a bit of an introvert who extroverts well, when I have to um not being in the office environment where there's all of that activity, all of that, I mean just noise to some degree and and distraction um had a big impact on, on my life now again, not a full sabbatical, not even close, but it was gave me some of that relief, I think it gave me some some sense of what that might feel like. Um but really, you know, the situation with my dad was the sort of the closest thing that I've experienced to that whereby I maintained my involvement and my observation of what was going on, but there were major stretches of time where my hands just weren't actively on anything. Um and you know, hindsight being what it is, nothing blew up, right, nothing completely broke, which was a good sign. Um you know, speaks to the organization that we've built and the support that we had um speaks highly of you and Elliot as, as partners, um and being able to help carry me through that, but um, you know, again, not a pleasant experience, but certainly a bit of a litmus test for what that might look like, You know, that lasted about a month.

Wil Schroter: Let's come back to that part, right? Because why don't come back to the mechanics of it, of of, you know, what worked, what didn't work with the structure looks like etcetera. Cause I think there's a lot to impact there. Um But I think it's important to say no different than maternity leave, right? You're taking care of your dad was not the sabbatical we're talking about, right? No, no woman goes on maternity leave. It was like, man, that was refreshing, it's the last words that come out of somebody's mouth, right? Um And so I think part of what we're talking about is uh if you had taken the same time and you're on a beach somewhere or you're doing, so you're pursuing a passion of yours or doing anything else where you're kind of just putting hit points back, you know, kind of refreshing yourself. That's the one we're kind of talking about. But another factor of this, which I think is interesting is we all get to a point where burnt out on the business, right? It's just kind of natural, like anything else you do it long enough and just like you get fried, but when I get nervous is what if that starts to set us down a path where we're trying to separate ourselves from the business, right? Or put ourselves in the wrong position just because we're afraid to disconnect. Right? Yeah. Um, I think, I think that's a challenge to, and we see a lot of times, you know, with the founders we talked

Ryan Rutan: to. Yeah. And, you know, it's, it's interesting, like I think when we dig into like what ties us to those, some of it's just an emotional attachment to the business where, um, you know, there's a sort of weird codependency where we talked about this before where we don't know how to exist without it in that moment, Right? I think that's a big part of it. Um, you know, some of it's letting go of decision making. There's, there's a whole lot of little things that are going to feed into this. I can't take more than a week away from this or I can't take more than a long weekend away from this where I can't take more than a friday off. Right? We, we, we do these things to ourselves as founders. And I don't know that there's always a lot of validity, particularly at the stage that we're talking about, this is not, you know, four months into your business, right? We're not saying like, okay, cool, you just launched your first landing page time for a sabbatical, right? Maybe I don't know what your life looks like. I hope, I hope that didn't drain you that much. If it did, you might consider another career, uh, time will tell. Um, but we're talking about, you know, generally speaking businesses that have been around for a while, founders who have achieved some level of success. Um, hopefully, and, and you're in a position where the only thing that's really stopping you from being able to take that time away is probably you and maybe some, you know, subtle process tweaks and things like that, right? And we'll dig into that. Like you said, we'll come back to the mechanics. But I think that, you know, the strong distinction here between a sabbatical and, and the, and a vacation is the, is the duration, right? And it's really being able to go and unplug and to know that that's that time kind of stretches off before you. Um, but also tempered with somewhat of a sense that like you may not be completely detached either. I think the senses when we go on vacation, we're supposed to completely unplug right? We're supposed to just not think about the business at all, not touch anything, not respond to emails and not pick up our phone. Um, whereas I think with, with the sabbatical at least possibly and again, I don't wanna get too much of the mechanics now, but I think that you can maintain a thumb on the pulse of the business while not actively participating in the way that you normally do and, and create some healthy space for yourself. Um, and, and allow some things to happen that just can't happen the duration of a vacation, you know, I, I know you struggle with this to vacation for me. I would, I would honestly rather just like do two weeks of, of, you know, light work than I would a week of vacation because I never really feel like I actually disconnect and the period ends up being so short about the time. Like I feel like I'm decompressing it's time to go right back into the compression chamber and now, because I've taken an entire week off, I feel that pressure even more. So I think that, you know, when we start to think about what is a sabbatical and what are the conditions to really make it work um, outside of all the mechanics that allow you to be away from the business, but what will actually allow it to achieve the stated mission? Um, it's about not having those, those pressures reintroduced and, and really having time to truly decompress

Wil Schroter: when I think about it, when I fantasize about a sabbatical, I think about going and doing something else For like six months. I'm just making up for like six months where

Ryan Rutan: I have a project for you and there's a house that needs to be built, you know, maybe you focus on that for a while.

Wil Schroter: Yeah, that'll probably happen. Um, and that's, that's I think about it in those terms, right? I think about it, like, you know, Ryan, as you mentioned, I'm building a new house and um and we're building from scratch and I'm very involved and architect of the house, you know, and designed the house. Um and I want to go build it, right? And so to me a sabbatical because in this dumb fantasy, I'm somehow working harder than I would at work, but literally getting up every day, um going to the job site and getting covered in sawdust all day. Like that is my fantasy. Just be able to do nothing but build all day, but by the way, not forever. All right. My dad was a carpenter, right? And I saw what doing it every day. It was like, it wasn't awesome, he was back.

Ryan Rutan: Yeah, it didn't seem like a

Wil Schroter: sabbatical to him at all. And so at some point, you know, you're back sore, you cut up, you know, you're exhausted. Um but here's the thing, I've been sitting in front of a monitor for the last 30 years and it's just been kind of my, my career in my life, right? All day, all night, all the time. And for me, I just want a way to shift out of this life for a minute. It's been a great life and I love it and that's that's the thing. But I want to be able to shift out of it, go pursue something else for long enough that it felt like it was a different chapter in my life, right? I I think Ryan, I think the difference, they're kind of like that, that big about face is a big part of this because it allows us to invest in something else. And I think that's the important part. It's enough time to invest in something that you can forget about what was stressing you out. Does that make sense?

Ryan Rutan: It does entirely. And I think it's a, it's a major distinction here because the notion is on, you know, kind of the traditional, let's go lay on the beach for a week vacation. The ideas that go from doing a lot of something that you really care about, right, We really care about our business, We love it, but you go from doing a lot of something to doing nothing right. And, and for me that's never really worked because I have an active brain and like I want to be doing something, I don't want to be doing nothing. So I have a hard time with doing nothing even though I know that may be physically and mentally, that is the best course of action for that very short period of time that I have to do this in. Um, so as we think about what happens over that longer frame, it's, it's about having something else that's meaningful to do that you really care about, that will act as a positive distraction from the business because the biggest challenge I always have is that if there isn't something more interesting to do, I'm going to revert to the business, right? I could be the most beautiful scenery in the world staring. It was it wasn't till um a couple of weeks ago, right, staring out at world class beaches and eating world class food. And in the moments in between, you know, you know, wonderful conversation with my wife or if she wasn't around, I was thinking about the business like how do you not? Because it is the most interesting thing in our lives. And so I think that's a big part of it is that there needs to be something else there to replace. I think the idea of just like, well I'm just going to take time off. What the hell does that actually look like? Other than that? I think it's

Wil Schroter: dangerous. It's dangerous. Big time because to your point, what we're talking about is taking a sabbatical in order to replace our attention with something else. Now that that that change and attention could be something that's just a lot of fun, right? You know, maybe we're in fishing or golfing or whatever we're into, maybe we're really, you know, spending time with our newborn and that's what we want to do for the next year, right? Um you know, there's all all different flavors and everybody's got their own in my mind again, this would be projecting personally it's kind of a mini retirement, right? I want to do what I would otherwise be doing in retirement for a short period of time. It actually benefits me knowing that I don't have to do this forever, right? Because I could picture getting like three months into this and be like, dude, I'm bored out of my mind right? Like,

Ryan Rutan: and at that point you still have the option to go back, right? Whereas you know, once you're fully retired, Um then you end up doing the Cliche retired guy thing, which is like, you know, well now I'm going to start something new, right? I'll go back to the drawing board right at 55, 60, whatever and I'm like, okay, I'm gonna I'm gonna go make something else now, I'm gonna build something new simply because I'm bored right right now.

Wil Schroter: But I also want to talk about what I would want to accomplish that of that, right? Um For me again, I'm using my own experience and I'm curious about yours for me. Um Like I've been at this 30 years, I'd like to go for another 30. I really love what I do. This is my dream job, right? The fact that you and I just get to sit here and bullshit all day and this is our job is awesome, right? I don't want to do this. Um But I might want a break from it from time to time. I'm sure you would. Um And so I want to be able to to kind of reset, get a fresh head, right? I wanna be able to come back to the business. Like the first day we started this thing, right? With that level of intensity, with that level of perspective, right? Because right now 10 years in and I could have said this at any point in my career, I'm not as fresh as I was before, how could I be right? Like the first legit day I'm gonna take off this year is on friday because I'm coming out of surgery, that's my day off, right? And, and I know it's silly, right? It's it's not a good look, man. Um, when you think about taking that time off, whatever that sabbatical looks like for you, what does it buy you? What do you hope to get out of it?

Ryan Rutan: Yeah, I mean, so there's a number of things um, and I think that some of them do map back to the business, right? Some of it is like, I want to regain the energy and and the vigor that I had that, that maybe I feel like I've lost because I've just been doing the same thing for so long that, you know, it's, it's turned from a sprint into a jog into a walk. I want to go back to sprinting at this thing at times. Um and and things come along that do that that don't require sabbatical, right, interesting, new client, great new project, you know, fun new product, like with founders group, right, That reinvigorated all of us. It gave us something new and fun to focus on and a bunch of new and incredible people to work with. Um, so that had, that had that impact. But there's a difference there, right? There's a difference. It's kind of like using coffee to prop up your energy versus getting a good night's sleep,

Wil Schroter: but you

Ryan Rutan: can do it, you can do it. But there's a diminishing return, right? There's a diminishing return and you're constantly than having to, to re dose to do that and you don't necessarily have the same control over that. Whereas, you know, getting that good rest and actually coming back truly refreshed is important. But there are absolutely things that have nothing to do directly with the business that I would also assume I want to accomplish. And I haven't, I haven't given this that much thought. Uh, I've been really wanting to do more around the meditation practice. It's one of those things that I've dabbled with and, and I've had periods where it was going really well. It's just never stuck in the way I wanted it to. Um, and so really just carving out like major time to do that, maybe going to a 10 day silent retreat somewhere right, which I just feel like if I wasn't, if I was knowing that I was going for 10 days of silence and then immediately coming back to work, that wouldn't work. It just wouldn't have the same impact. I know that I'm going to go from this state of like very, very low compression to immediate, like diamond level re compression. Um Jiu Jitsu, right? I would love I would love to spend some serious time on this while. I still have the physical shape and wherewithal to do it right? My my my years are numbered in this sport. I can't keep doing it forever, but I would love to level up a couple of times. I would love to do some traveling and, and uh you know, with with, you know, going to other gyms and, and you know, working with other experts would be a lot of fun. Um there are some fun adventures that I want to do with my kids, but again, if you're if you're still, you know, attached by the umbilical cord to the business, you don't get to sink into those things in the same way. I liked your analogy that, you know, I want to do some of the things I would do in retirement now. Um and I think that's an important kind of distinction and way of looking at it, which is to say like I want to be able to do this for a week or two, I want to do this for an extended period of time. I want to really be able to to sink in and soak up some of these things and for me it wouldn't be a singular experience. Um it would be a blend of, of a number of things that I think would thoroughly, physically, mentally emotionally distract me from the business, but not just with the the objective of that distraction. I would do these things for the value that they bring in their own right.

Wil Schroter: I get that. I get that. I appreciate Well, let's talk about how to pull it off. Let's talk about how we actually get it done because maybe by the end of this podcast, you and I can both quit for a while because I was gonna ask you really should be warned

Ryan Rutan: the staff, should I send a slack message, an email or something like that? By the way, at the top of the hour will and I will no longer be working here for an undetermined period of time into the future

Wil Schroter: or Elliott's had just exploded. I

Ryan Rutan: don't know man, he hasn't been responding on slack for like an hour and a half. He may already be gone, he may already be on sabbatical. He's got a head start.

Wil Schroter: He caught wind of it early, smart guy. Um, so, so what is it, uh, what is it gonna take for us to pull this off? Right. You know, what are the mechanics of actually making this happen? And I think it starts off with actually, I would say this, tell me what you think about this. I think it starts off with being crystal clear that this has to happen, right? We can get into all the mechanics of making it happen. But the biggest impediments you for sure until we get on the other side of this. You know, mentally as a founder of the company and say, you know what like this isn't an option. Like sometimes vacations feel like options, they can get put off etcetera. But like I said, I'm going into surgery in two days and in an option like I know that has to happen right? I need to have the same certainty in my mind going into this that I have about that surgery. Like it has to happen. It is gonna, it's a cause and effect of my health and there's no way around it because I think if we're half baked when we approach this, it's going to get treated as such. And more importantly, it's gonna wind up getting withered down to basically just another version of vacation, which is worse because then all we're doing is prolonging the problem and we've kicked the can and it doesn't really help. You know what I mean?

Ryan Rutan: No, it doesn't, it doesn't. Yeah, kicking the can is exactly what you're doing. You're just delaying the inevitable at that point. You're, you're buying yourself a temporary reprieve from a sentencing at that

Wil Schroter: point. 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, right? So okay, so mechanically, let's let's walk through what this thing has to be here. Here's what comes to mind for me first is I've got to admit, like I said that this is an absolute requirement. I have to present it to myself, my family, you know, whoever else that needs to be kind of in my corner to make sure I see this through my partners if I have any. Um and to be able to say this has to happen right. The second thing is I've got to convince myself that this thing can run without me for some period of time, not an easy discussion. And I gotta tell you man, in my experience, it didn't work right? I this thing where is is a bad example, but I'll throw it out there anyway, um I'm in columbus, I'm running all these companies, I decided that I'm gonna start a couple of them in Los Angeles so that I moved out to Los Angeles, leaving a couple of companies running here in columbus and you know, I was gone for like five years. This was not a sabbatical. I was like, I'm just out

Ryan Rutan: right. That goes from running to running wild

Wil Schroter: about year two and so, so it didn't go well, right. Things deteriorated actually took a few years actually. If I look back on it now that now that I say it out loud, that actually went way better than I would have expected to go in current terms, right, lasted for years. Right, right, right, right. Um, but the company is more or less ran with, you know, separate management that we installed all good people and I wasn't trying to come back. I was trying to go do other stuff. Right. And uh, but given enough time, right, Things started to get a little problematic. And you know, eventually I came back to what was essentially a bit of a ship show and uh, and that was my fault. You know, I just left and I said, hey, you know, I'll come back when I come back and no surprise when I eventually came back, things weren't what they would have otherwise been, but had I been more deliberate, hadn't been more intentional and said I'm going to be gone for exactly six months. You know, it could be a year, time period doesn't matter. But the expectations matter. Yeah, I think

Ryan Rutan: setting the time period matters, I agree that the time period itself is arbitrary, but yeah, the expectation matters a lot because it allows you to put some rails around it, right? Not just in terms of the time that you be back, but what should happen within that time frame? And if it's completely amorphous, then it's like, well, what should we do while you're gone? Not fail right? Like that's not a clear enough directive. Um, grow. Okay, cool. By how much and by win. Right? So I think that putting a timeframe on it would be extremely

Wil Schroter: helpful. So, so let's, let's give it six months, you know, six months is a fairly long time to be away from the start up. I think we would all agree with that. You know, it doesn't matter if it's a year, doesn't matter whatever. Let's just use six months because it's long enough that if she was going to break, it was probably gonna break within that time period. First option we've got is we essentially take all of the things that we do to the extent that we can and promote up other people in the organization. Right? Um, for me, I've got, um, our CFO as well. I'm a copywriter actually have a lot of jobs. Um, I do a little bit of marketing. I do stuff like this show. I write our content for the newsletters. I'm not trying to say I do so many things. Well, I'm pointing out is there would be a lot of things that I would have to find someone to handle, but they could, yeah,

Ryan Rutan: the good news is we have the someone's right and I think that most organizations where you're considering something like this in in seriousness, um, would have that, I don't, I don't, again, like I don't think, you know, if you're, you're the good, the really extreme case, you're, you're the, you're the solo founder with no team. Um, I don't think you're thinking about a sabbatical at this point. If you are, that's, that's called quitting, not sabbatical,

Wil Schroter: but here's what's kind of interesting. I love the idea of not trying to say who's the one person that can take over everything, but how can a handful of people, you know, whatever my resources are, take over pieces of it and look, look, worst case, Maybe I'll only be able to hand off 75 In the last 25% I have to be able to handle in some capacity and maybe if you take it down to 25%, not that much, not that much. Maybe feel just

Ryan Rutan: like a sabbatical, right? Yeah, day a week or a couple hours every morning, whatever it is, right, It's going to give you that, that additional space that you need.

Wil Schroter: Right. Right. And so I love the idea though of saying, okay, everyone's gonna take on a little bit more because what that also does this is kind of like unintended consequence. What if what if those folks that I gave a little bit more to take it on because it's only a, you know, a percentage jump in what they're doing and they're just fine with it and then I'm sitting there going, what the hell? Why don't I do this like five years ago, wait until now? And I think it gets interesting because I think if if positioned right, um and our intentions are right, it gives everybody else the opportunity to level up areas where you're maybe getting in the way a little bit, you know, from them being able to explore those opportunities for

Ryan Rutan: sure. You know, it's funny, we never think of ourselves in this way, but we do this all the time. I mean in most startup organizations, you're gonna have periods where their staff shakeups right, where somebody leaves. Um or we have to let somebody go whatever it is when you're, when you're relatively small, especially early on a startup, you're gonna do this a lot where all of a sudden those duties have to get re absorbed by the hive, right? That's just how it goes until you can bring somebody back in. If you bring somebody back in to replace those functions, we just never put ourself in that same position and say what if I did that to me, right, And particularly what if I do that to me temporarily, but to your point um doing it temporarily may lead to more more permanence and not necessarily that you don't return to the business, but you certainly may find that you don't return to those things. If somebody else could handle those things and they're doing just fine with it or in some cases maybe better than you were doing good, that's a great outcome. Now, figure out what the best use of your time within the business is going to be because now all of that ship is handled by someone else, that's a great outcome.

Wil Schroter: I think it also gives you the opportunity to create some incentives around your sabbatical, not for you, but for everyone else. Right. So in other words, if you had somebody that was the VP of something, right? And you say, hey, you know, this will give you the opportunity to become either, you know, senior VP or let's say, you know, sea level of that same role because you'll be able to take on some of these responsibilities without being fully tossed into it. Well, that gets interesting. Um, if you, if on the other hand, you say, hey, you know what, I'm actually gonna create some financial incentives, right? Assuming everything kind of stays on pace. This is what it's worth to me to uh, to to maintain that, that's that structure. Right? Right. I don't see any downside to that or assuming it works right. Um, I think there there's an opportunity here. So what I'm gonna call, test the void, what is the void when I step back and how can I test that theory, right? That maybe there is enough here to fill it in, here's what I would say. What if we find out, what if I find out, what if you find out That's 75% of your job, it doesn't absolutely require just you, he doesn't just have to be Ryan or will someone else can do it, right? That's a lot of opportunity. That alone is worth taking it for both sides, for the people taking on the work and for the person off. Yeah,

Ryan Rutan: I think it's interesting. Um, you know, as you, as you start to look at that and the other thing to consider here is that I, I think that when we think about this in terms most of us have not done this, right? So we haven't done a sabbatical. So I think we, we align it more with a vacation than it should be. And here's, here's the

Wil Schroter: point in

Ryan Rutan: terms of like stepping into the void, you're also assuming that you have to step immediately into it with a vacation, you have to do that. You go from being on to being off just like that with the sabbatical, you could take, if you're taking six months, take a month to ramp it down and make sure it works. And if it doesn't stop, like there's nothing stopping you from stopping this at any point, There's nothing stopping you from returning at any point now, Hopefully you, if you don't simply come back um you know, for the wrong reasons, right? You don't pop back in simply because you you can't handle it or you don't have the trust or you know, without some real signals that like there's actually stuff going off the rails here. You need to come back and fix it. By the way, maybe fixing it takes a week and then you go back to the sabbatical, right? It's that that that can happen too. But I think the idea that this is a binary switch that we flip and suddenly I go from, you know, leading the company to being on sabbatical and being irrelevant, probably not the right way to look at it.

Wil Schroter: I think it's interesting, you should say that because a big part of this is what we're ideally setting up in my mind would be in case of emergency break glass situation, right? And so uh look, we're going to create enough friction if you will, so that if some things get like become minor problems, um by all means we take the hit deal with them, you know, client leaves or we have some service interruption, it's gonna suck. But you know, it's probably gonna suck anyway. Um if I were there, I'd solve it 20% better. Okay. Um but if something major happens, right? Like we got a class action lawsuit level against us, I probably wouldn't need a phone call on that one, right? Probably want to know about that, right? Um or if if a major person leaves the company, right? Um Right there are in case of emergency,

Ryan Rutan: one of the people you left in charge of some of your duties,

Wil Schroter: right? Like that would be

Ryan Rutan: something kind of important.

Wil Schroter: Like

Ryan Rutan: otherwise it becomes a telephone game, right? I passed this to you and now you're leaving. So you passed it to them like this ends poorly.

Wil Schroter: And here's a great point. I think you talked about this once before you said um we do go on vacation, right? Let's say you don't check in. Let's say you take like 567 days. This is unfathomable in my mind. But I hope to hell other people are doing it and you come back and you've got a ton of email, you've got a ton of slack messages or whatever your team system is. You know, whatever your messaging system, whatever you got, right, there's a stack of it. Here's how I go through it. I go through the slack messages. I just scroll to the bottom and I see are people using swear words at the bottom. If so I probably need to scroll up and read the rest of what has happened. And if everybody's high fiving doesn't really matter, I don't need to be there. Right? I go through my emails and I look for anything that has like an exclamation point uh in the subject line of somebody I know, right? And I just sort I just jumped to the ones that don't seem to be the most pertinent, right? And and what I equate that to is wait a minute. I just took what was the equivalent of like an hour, hour and a half maybe to just get to the point Of what would have otherwise consumed 60 hours, right. Some of you look at it goes, man, what a waste of 60 hours.

Ryan Rutan: I think we have talked about this before and it was really around time management which is the topic today, but it's related and these are the things that lead to burnout um, is having bad time management. So there are a lot of things that we do in our day that if you just don't do them, there aren't really any consequences. And I think that's really what we're talking about here is what are the consequences you not being there? Are, are they as severe as you think? Highly unlikely? No, but of course that depends, like like you said that things can come out of the blue, right class action lawsuits, somebody leaving the company massive new client, right? It doesn't have to be something bad could be something really good, but that requires some steerage front on your part. Right? So there are a lot of conceivable situations that could come up that could change that. Um, but presumably with a good team in place, right? You not being there isn't going to have dire consequence, Right? So differently, if you are that critical to the business, you probably haven't built the team in the way you should have built the business in the way that you should have,

Wil Schroter: but actually maybe that's a step towards that, right? Exactly. Maybe maybe the business can't sustain without me, I'm just so critical to it, but maybe this first sabbatical now, I'm suggesting there's more than one, wait a second, wait, hold up, crazy dog

Ryan Rutan: cereal sabbaticals. Now this is getting heretical,

Wil Schroter: Maybe the first trial sabbatical is a month, right? And the idea is that, you know, I'm gonna give everybody kind of, uh, their actions and kind of what they're responsible for and I'll, and I'll be back in a month, we're gonna give the shot, right? If it works, we'll have bigger conversations, but it also doesn't need to be a one time event, total Cold Turkey event. Right? And so to your point, unless I'm going on an island like tom Hanks, right? Uh, we have castaway style, you know where I can't be found. Um, if ship goes wrong, you dial me back in, right, If something goes that bad, you call me back and it reminds me of like parents have a babysitter and if the kids get violently ill like the five hours you're trying to have time with your spouse. Yeah, guess what? You get back in the car, you go back home, right? Wasn't the way you planned the night? But that's the way it plays out? I think we're so terrified that the one moment might happen that we don't get the night out at all. Yeah, I think that's great, blows up.

Ryan Rutan: It does, it doesn't again, like this is some of this is just an emotional psychological attachment to the company. Um, some of its ego and just thinking that were that important that we can't possibly be replaced, like all of these things exist and they're not easy to unwind. But I think if you start to look at the value of this again, if you're at the point where you're considering this, um consider the consequences of not doing it as well, right? And that's what we're not talking about right now, but the consequences of not doing this, you know, you and I have seen, you know, some bad outcomes from this, we've seen some rash decisions, we've seen a lot of things happen, you know, to some degree, think of this as halftime, right? Think of this as a way to to be able to come back and play the game the rest of the way, right, regroup, re strategize, reenergize and and come back at it again, um because otherwise you may have to make other decisions that that are significantly more drastic now, they may come with a potential exit attached. But is it the one that you want is the one that you needed, what are you gonna go and do next? Right? Like if you don't have a plan for that, then is selling the company just because you can even the right move and, and that's that's a that's a whole another episode right to unpack that decision. But I think that we need to be very, very cognizant of what the cost of not doing something like this is, um, so differently, like burnouts reel and it has major impacts on the business, on your health, um, on on the morale of the team and the health of the team. And, and so these things cannot simply just keep being stuffed down and stuff down and stuff down until you get to the point of breakage because then you lose the optionality at that point, if you wait until you absolutely have to take, like you're forced into sabbatical, I'm not going to go as well, right, You won't have time to ramp down the minute your doctor is the one telling you, you've got to take time off and move to a different climate. Um, you've already gone too far,

Wil Schroter: so been there. Yeah,

Ryan Rutan: exactly. Quite literally, it's an interesting notion. Um, and I think that, um, hopefully this becomes, you know, an interesting conversation around this. Um, I guarantee that I'm going to bring this up in my next founders group and, and see kind of what, what people's mindsets are around this, Most of my groups are fairly early stage. And so I think this will be kind of a more of an in the future kind of thing. But it'd be interesting to plant the seed and, and also to kind of here at the earlier stage, you know, before they're really feeling that any, any signs of burnout. And then some of them are feelings of burnout, but they're probably not in a position where they can take a sabbatical. Um, they'll be curious to see what the pushback is at the earlier stages. I know that I know what you're pushback and mind is likely to be. Um, but as you're kind of projecting that into the future and saying like, well, what would this look like in three years if I wanted to do this? And how might they make different decisions about the business and the team that they bring on and and how they, you know, do they go more matrix organizations so that they could do something like this? I mean, could you start to actually plan for this and build for it at a significantly earlier stage before you're even ready willing or capable of doing this.

Wil Schroter: I agree. And I think there's, if we look at the pros and cons here, if you, as we're playing it out, the pros to be able to kind of reset ourselves to be able to come back and build our business even bigger if that's what we choose or enjoy our business again Or like you said, get the fresh legs in the business are so incredibly big and the cons say, look, look, there might be a case where I actually get called back in. There might be a case where, you know, this thing runs off the rails a little bit and I got to dive back in frankly, if that's the worst that could happen, but the best that could happen is we get a whole new lease on life for our business, for ourselves, for our families and we get to restart everything that we're doing. Isn't that worth risking everything for just a moment to see? 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 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 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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