Startup Therapy Podcast

Episode #157


Ryan Rutan: Welcome back to the episode of the startup therapy podcast. This is Ryan Rutan from startups dot com and as is customary, I am joined by my friend, my partner, my brother in arms and startups, the founder and ceo of startups dot com, Wil Schroder will this one, this one might be a little heavy today. We want to talk about failure more specifically, how do we separate the reality of how we're perceived when we fail as founders versus what's going on in the attic, right? What's going on in our minds as we think through and start to build up the picture of how we think people are thinking about is how how close are we on this? Usually

Wil Schroter: it's weird because I think the more narcissistic we are and here's just a funny thing when our startup fails, we may be at the height of our narcissism and I don't mean that's because of why it failed. That might also be true. I mean we've never spent more time thinking about ourselves and how we're affected then the moment at which the startup takes a header and the whole world gets very small all of a sudden and it's all about us in our minds. It's all about us, right? Everyone's thinking about what we did. Everyone is thinking about the mistakes we made or what's going to happen next to us. Like it's all about us and yet yet it's sort of not and I think that's what we'll talk about in this episode where when we think we fail, the world has ended and the world hates us in T. L. D. R. World doesn't give a sh it world moved on like within three seconds of what we thought was going to happen. So let's let's get into that. 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.

Ryan Rutan: Sounds fair. Yeah, I mean and it's it's so tough right? When we go through these moments of failure where you know, and whether it's complete abject failure or just a failing on the part of the founder or the company through a given event, we just play it over and over and over and over in our heads. I mean we we are our own echo chamber and then in my case like I've always then designed a surrounding echo chamber which are the people who probably will care the most and then I just allow that to become the cadence for what I think everybody else in the world is thinking right, there might be three people who really were heavily impacted by the failure. And yet somehow in my mind, this becomes the entire

Wil Schroter: universe.

Ryan Rutan: Alright? And again, we talk about this a lot. It's not a conversation that's actually happening anywhere, right? This is just in our heads, right? We're not actually, you know, speaking with anybody, asking them how they feel. We're imagining it. And then in my case, I'm copy pasting that across the population of the planet.

Wil Schroter: That's the problem we're projecting. So first let's isolate all the people that are actually affected. So let's talk about employees. Obviously, you know, partners, co founders as part of that, let's talk about our customers, perhaps our investors. Let's talk about our family, let's talk about our friends, you know, let's talk about all the different pieces that were so concerned about. But let's start with the team because obviously those people are most connected to it. I don't want to overlook the impact of failure and what it has on the team, right? Of course, super important people are losing their jobs, etcetera, but people do lose their jobs. I'm not making light of this. I'm not, I'm just saying it does happen. And when we look at that, we think we've ruined everybody's lives. We've made people's lives more difficult for a moment. It's gonna suck. Our lives are gonna suck. But they'll move on, Right. They're not sitting around going, Oh my God, I can't believe this company failed, I am going to be unemployed for 60 years because of this failure

Ryan Rutan: like this

Wil Schroter: is just the last moment of my life. It's not realistic.

Ryan Rutan: No, no, they quickly shift into you know, I need to go and do something right, they will start to take action. Yeah, they there there may be a few thoughts that get that get shot your way, but the vast majority they're gonna be factoring in what is it that they need to do to make sure that they're okay alright. They're gonna they're going to become rightfully narcissistic in their own right and and start to focus on what they need to do, right. It has nothing to do with you at that point. You know, again maybe there's a moment or two of blame likely happened well before

Wil Schroter: the failure

Ryan Rutan: in most cases, you know and when I've talked to to folks that I failed in the past, it was like yeah we saw that coming and we were sort of prepared for it. So when the moment arrived, you know, we were already sort of in the life raft watching you flailing around in the water. Perfect.

Wil Schroter: But it's not, this is what will keep coming back to in our minds, we failed these people. We have a forever brand that says we have failed you and your life is ruined because of me. It's not really the way it goes in week one, it feels like that when people are packing up their ship, leaving the office or whatever that is in today's virtual environment, right? Like turning off their zoom for the last time you

Ryan Rutan: see people so and so has left the slack right at this point

Wil Schroter: again, not making light of it because it's some heavy ship. However, however, within that moment it feels like all the weight in the world and then it just isn't. And then a week goes by and people just stopped talking to you again. That doesn't feel awesome. But what I'm saying is because they're busy going like putting their lives back together and figuring their stuff out within a month, they found another job. And the only thing on their mind at that point isn't what you may or may not have done. It's okay. Where do I start my new job? And you know, where's my desk gonna be and what's my salary gonna be like? They're gone. Their their heads are in totally different places,

Ryan Rutan: completely checked out at this point.

Wil Schroter: But the point of all this and really what we're talking about today's as the founders, our heads are not somewhere else. We don't just pick up and get another job the next day and not think about it, we dwell. And our dwelling comes from a massive, massive misperception of what the world is actually thinking our poor, totally in place projection of what everybody thinks and how everybody thinks destroys us for a long, long, long time and creates serious problems, serious problems around depression, anxiety, etcetera. That I don't think a lot of people from the outside truly appreciate what these founders are going through or know how to react to it. So what we'll do today is we'll pick it apart, we'll talk about, here's exactly what's going through your head and here's why it's mostly just all bullshit. Yeah.

Ryan Rutan: You hit on a couple of really important points there. One other people don't know what you're going through and it's all in your head and that's why they don't know what you're going through right now, if you were having these conversations a you wouldn't have the same level of guilt or fear or sadness around what's being said about you reality is nothing is being said about you, but because we keep all of this inside a the the rest of the world can't confirm for us that this is in fact not what's happening and they don't know to the extent that that we're suffering, right? And, you know, we use the example, first of of the team, which is the people closest to this, the people who will absolutely be most affected beyond the founder by the failure right now. Okay, you can make an argument that in some cases, catastrophic failures where people are really reliant on the platform or the service or whatever, that can have a huge impact on the clients as well, Right. And yes, that is true. But it's not usually the same as, as everybody having to pack up and go home or it doesn't usually result too domino effect failure. There are some examples of it. Sure, very, very few. And so if this is the closest circle to us and as you said, well within a week they've moved on their checked out as we work our way out in concentric circles. How long do you think it takes for everybody else to get over this? And yet you and I both have examples of founders that we will talk two years after the failure and there's still apologetic about it and we're like funk, I forgot you had that company, let alone that it failed. Like that is so far off anybody else's radar. If you stop talking about it. The last voice that is talking about it will finally be gone right. It's incumbent on us to move on. Right. And yet we have so much trouble doing it.

Wil Schroter: Let's talk about why no one cares actually where this comes from. In really a bit of an oratory on the current state of the world, why this is getting worse. And this might be the only time where it actually benefits us.

Ryan Rutan: The

Wil Schroter: world has gotten exponentially more narcissistic. Again, we can come up with a whole bunch of reasons why what I would point to is kind of one of the most obvious is just kind of the explosion of social media over the last couple of decades, which is specifically based and what am I doing right? Like everything is about myself, right me, I'm updating what am I doing at all times prior to that no one was sitting around taking photos of themselves all day. It just wasn't happening

Ryan Rutan: Every day. I sit down and write a letter to all 652 people I know and I mail it to them so

Wil Schroter: they know what

Ryan Rutan: I had for lunch today

Wil Schroter: and so listen and I'm not here to make a whole issue on social media. What I'm trying to say is our attention has gotten so inwardly focused and with that, with that our ability to process other people's events are momentary again, I'll go back to social media if I whip through instagram, facebook twitter, whatever, I'm going to see 900 updates of what's happening in people's lives And spend less than 1/2 processing them. Maybe if it's a baby that just got born, someone just got engaged or someone died, I might spend two seconds processing that information short of that. The biggest events you could possibly have in someone's lives, no one cares,

Ryan Rutan: no one cares. Yeah, I think you you've, you've hit two important points there. One that we've turned the attention inward and to the attention spans have decreased exponentially, the event horizon for something to matter is now so small, so short that even these major cataclysmic events you brought this up the other day, will you're talking about the fact that like look at the news now, what's still there? Right? If we don't still care about coronavirus, we're still in the middle of the pandemic as we record this episode, by the way. If that's not news anymore, what the hell? Right. If that isn't sticking in people's minds, right? Or a lot of the other social movements, right? There's a conflict in the Ukraine now and that is occupying some new space for how many more days? I don't know

Wil Schroter: until there's another news story

Ryan Rutan: until there's another news cycle, Right? And so if you think that somehow your startup failure matters at this scale, it just doesn't,

Wil Schroter: it doesn't. And remember that like everyone has the same amount of hard drive space or in this case RAM that they've always had. But right now there are so many things trying to fill that space, they just don't have the room to give a sh it about you now, Is that bad? Right? My of course it is right. It's a vortex of empathy. However, that's not my point. My point is in this particular case, were you the one time when you need people to actually not care, it's a good time to remind yourself that they actually don't care. We're not even the capacity to hold onto this information. So all the people I'm about to get stressed about. I'm about to get stressed about. You know what if the media picks up the story reports on it. Cool. It will be a link that gets posted in someone's social media for like a fraction of a second and they'll scroll right past it. Oh, what? Whoever went out of business? Goodbye. Right. That's it. That's all they care about. They're thinking, well what are my social circles there? That's all they're gonna be talking about is my failure. They don't care, right? You know what they care about their own failure. Your failure a moment, right? It's not until something affects them that they actually spend time and dwell on it in kind of bookmark it for the future right now at a time when we need the world to not care about us, most the world is working entirely in our favor. It's important to keep that in

Ryan Rutan: mind. It is correct. Yeah. And I think that you touched on something really important there, which is the failure matters to the extent that it impacted them. Right. And so yes, it matters to our team. To the extent that it impacted them. Are they going to to bemoan and bill labor and be sad about the fact the entire business failed. Maybe a tiny bit for a second. What they're really going to be worried about, concerned about and impacted by is how it actually changed their lives until it didn't anymore. Right? I had a job. I no longer have a job, I'm going to go look for a job. I got a job. It's gone, right. It's no longer relevant. That is the amount of time. And, and again, only that part of the impact mattered to them, Right? So we have to be very careful. And I think it's also a fallacy that it's sort of like, well, it's additive, right? I had a founder argue this once, which is like, yes, but this impacted, you know, 75 people, just a little bit, right? That's not, you know, you don't get to stack that up and say, well, I need to suffer on behalf of 75 people. That isn't how it actually works.

Wil Schroter: Also, they're going to spend exactly one second worrying about you.

Ryan Rutan: I

Wil Schroter: don't want to lose this point for a second because it's not incidental, all this pain and suffering that we're going through kind of the weight of the world if you will, where we're trying to absorb the failure in everybody else's impact. What we forget about for a second is the moment that our staff got the smallest hint that their lives might be impacted. They were calling recruiters and on linkedin in one second. You know what they weren't doing. They weren't coming into our office virtually or physically closing the door and saying, hey, I heard things aren't going well, are you gonna be okay? No one's saying that no one gives a shit about us, right. As much as we want to believe that everybody's going to go to the ends of it, try it, try going to the end of a startup and see how many friends you have, see how many people will come back. I've watched so many founders and those last minutes when the ship is kind of just about to go underwater, looking around, they go, everybody said they were going, you know, going all the way with this. They meant if it goes well, it goes well. If that ship starts cratering, they're gone there in the first life drive out of there. You are on your own. So all that time you're going to spend burning cycles thinking, oh, I can't believe how I failed them. You can. And I'm not saying we don't have a responsibility. We do, but don't mistake that for all of these people care about you in the same way you care about them. They're gone, right? You're on your own. 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. Yeah,

Ryan Rutan: For sure. The closest I have to a counter to that. And, and it actually just reinforces the point sold the company and the acquirer kept it around for about 10, 11 months and then it went out of business

Wil Schroter: and

Ryan Rutan: in the acquisition, some of this, some of the team stayed on and these were, these were like employees, 12347 or something like that. We went and and got a drink to kind of commemorate and, and you know, to, you know, it was our bereavement, right? We got together and did a wake for the business as it failed. We had exactly one shot and then we didn't talk about anymore. And we started laughing and bullshitting a bunch of other stuff. Right? So, and these people had all just lost their jobs because of this failure. Right? And that's exactly how long it took, right? One shot of relatively cheap whiskey at the bar, that was it. And then they moved on. So, again, as founders, we have to get past these things,

Wil Schroter: right? We do, we

Ryan Rutan: don't earn any interest on this stuff.

Wil Schroter: Be pragmatic about it,

Ryan Rutan: yep. Exactly.

Wil Schroter: So the second thing I would say is that we're first so concerned that everyone cares again, they don't the people that were directly affected. Yes, they care for a minute and they move on. Everyone else that wasn't just moved on. Your investors were really upset about it at dinner that night and then never thought about it again. That was the end of it. Right. It's just, they've all moved on. You're the only person that has

Ryan Rutan: talked about that because this is, this is important, right? So why do they only care for that moment? Right? Because they've got 20 other investments, maybe 100 depending on who you're talking about. They have other ship going on. Right. Again, to that point of the people who were most impacted that inner circle. They get over quickly when we get out to like the investors, the partners, the other, you know, the other people who were relying on us for some type of an outcome that's now not going to arrive. It's just more and more diminished. The further we get from that core population, the less and less the total impact was, and the less and less the duration of the pain, if any that they felt. Um, in the case of investors, like we talked about this before, another podcast episodes and they expect this to happen right. This is how most of their bets end. That is the nature of what they do. Ergo it isn't going to be something that they sit around and like beat themselves up over right now. Maybe if it was the, you know, your, your rich uncle who wrote that one startup check. Maybe he's you know, he'll be salty for the next two thanksgivings. Cool.

Wil Schroter: I think the other thing that we assume though is not only do people care, but it is commemorated forever. Whatever I'm about to do. The failure that I'm about to have is frozen in the carbonite of startup lore forever, Right? And I will always be haunted by this moment. So let's talk a little bit about how no one actually remembers. And I'll start by saying there's a caveat, if you go out like Theranos, if you

Ryan Rutan: go out like we

Wil Schroter: work, if you go out like Enron, Yes, people, I mean, you know how much work you have to put in to go out like that. Like, I mean like as much as I don't condone the actions they took because they were all kind of quasi criminal in many ways. The amount of work it took to get to that failure, you know, is beyond anything I've ever done. You

Ryan Rutan: Have to, you have to try really, really hard. You have to I mean, that's its cataclysmic, right? These are ones. And when we think about this, what's the success rate of startups, right? You can pin anywhere between two and 10%, right? Depending on on whose stats you're looking at, right? Which means that most of them fail. And yet we can pull at most a handful of these big memorable failures out of the tens of thousands of companies that exist Out of the millions of companies that failed that no longer exist. And yet this is the inventory that we have.

Wil Schroter: They all have the same narrative which is brash. Founder in many founders of brash, right? But brash Founder goes out has a ridiculous growth rate, right? Just something that was so supernatural that it lands you on magazine covers, which creates that kind of assumption that you're going to do these massive things. There's always the word billions attached to whatever numbers that they're talking about and you're always young and all the all these things. And so this expectation that this thing is going to be massive. Then all of a sudden the house of cards comes down and we look on the inside and we realized it was all a lie. Right? Everything was bullshit, Chaims are there's a 99.9999, chance. You're not one of those companies. And I tell you what if you're adam neumann of we worker Elizabeth Holmes of Theranos right now, listening to this, I applaud the greatness of your failure along the way you went about it or the quasi criminal way. You did It also, thank you for listening. But my point is we think that our failure back to our nurses, our failure is going to have that level of weight in remembrance. This is once again things work in our favor. Ryan, the startup world has such a freakishly short memory. Okay, so I don't have a good memory. Right? As you can, you can, you can admit,

Ryan Rutan: I'm surprised you remember that? Well,

Wil Schroter: I have a hilariously bad memory, but I have a goddamn Wikipedia. Like remembrance of startup lore of startup companies. And when people talk about, oh my God, I can't believe this person is doing that well, like you know what? You know, it didn't go as well as you thought. I think we talked about another episode Elon musk and we're talking about kind of failure and I said, you know, a lot of people kind of forget that Elon musk was sitting in bankruptcy court borrowing money from his friends so he could pay his bills every month, pleading to not get crushed by the judge in L. A. Courts. He wasn't always the richest man alive, but people forget this stuff at the time. If you're Elon musk, you're thinking this is all. People will remember. It is not, it's not at all what people remember because our memories aren't that good. And in the startup world there's so much failure, we can't even store it all

Ryan Rutan: and we're happy to replace it with what's next. Right? And and that's that's sort of the point here, which is had Ellen not gone and done anything else. Right then. What would have happened then? That is the narrative that we'd remember. Right, That would be what's stamped on.

Wil Schroter: But I'll give you an example years ago. Like seven years ago. There's a company called virtual

Ryan Rutan: story

Wil Schroter: That had one of the most epic overnight shutdowns of all time. And at the time it was all over the press, right? Like 400 people have been like overnight, there was adventure darling and etc. And all of a sudden it was just gone. I barely remember that story and we bought the freaking

Ryan Rutan: we

Wil Schroter: were the first person on the other side. If you sat me down now and interviewed me and said, tell me all the details of what actually happened. I kind of remember a few of the highlights and that's our company. That's how bad people's memories are.

Ryan Rutan: Remember brushing my teeth but not shaving. I remember eating dinner but not sleeping. Yeah, I don't remember a lot from that time. There was a lot of action.

Wil Schroter: Yeah. But you remember like any other life remember like you remember moments of it, right,

Ryan Rutan: flashes.

Wil Schroter: Ptsd reliving it.

Ryan Rutan: No.

Wil Schroter: So what I'm saying is that in our minds everyone's going to remember exactly this Same thing of the failures that I've had of companies that I've started that have failed when I talked to people about them now. It needs like 10 plus years ago. one either. They don't even remember the company anymore. Like again, Do you remember the job you're all your friends had 10 years ago. Why would you like, that doesn't make any sense. No one cares anymore. And it's kind of like this. It's a soundbite. It's oh you did that one company. Yeah whatever happened to that company,

Ryan Rutan: that's it's exactly the question. But

Wil Schroter: No one knows no one cares right Marion Donovan, the founder of Virtual at the time was getting you know, threats and everything like that. She was in the worst possible place. And remember talking to her at the time and I said I know this sounds like ship now and it is but it's all going to go away and at the time you have never thought that selling the dumbest advice in the world doesn't

Ryan Rutan: feel like it

Wil Schroter: doesn't feel like it.

Ryan Rutan: No. Yeah. When you're taking that level of artillery fire, the idea that it's somehow going to cease and everything will just go back to normal doesn't feel possible. It really doesn't think that's part of the trap.

Wil Schroter: If marines on a podcast right now, someone will ask about it because it's a part of her story now, it's equip right now, it's an interesting story.

Ryan Rutan: Hang onto that for a second. So yes, if she's on a podcast and somebody's doing investigative journalism into her history as a founder that will come up because it's part of that, you know where it will not come

Wil Schroter: up the

Ryan Rutan: next you know job that she wants to take the next person she meets at a at a friend's dinner any of that ship the rest of your life. I. E how you spend 99% of your life, not on podcasts not talking to people who are digging into everything you've done in the past P. I. Style. You're not going to face that, right? And

Wil Schroter: again like that

Ryan Rutan: in the grand scheme. Things that was relatively recent history and yet it might as well have been from the Byzantine period because it's forgotten, right? Nobody's paying attention to it anymore.

Wil Schroter: Especially in our business, in the startup business where there are so many stories to bury it

Ryan Rutan: constantly. Everything is moving fast. This is the nature of what we do.

Wil Schroter: If you think about something really awful in your local town, wherever you live and something really awful awful happened to somebody. There was an accident, somebody got killed, something like that. That happened 10 years ago. I think of how you remember it at the moment. It was the most awful thing ever. And now you're struggling to even remember the details. That's how people remember stuff. If you remember it. All right. If it were you if you were the person affected of course you remember. And even that memory fades. But again, this episode is about what everybody else thinks and remember people just don't have the capacity to remember this stuff. So over some period of time and it's definitely not 10 years, even in a year from now, people barely remember care and that's important because at the time we think again that this is frozen forever and will always be this massive tombstone of our career and it's just bullsh, it just doesn't work that way. You

Ryan Rutan: know, like yeah, forever. Any time I walk into a startup event now I have to put on the dunce cap and sit in the corner because everybody remembers what I did wrong. Yeah,

Wil Schroter: nobody

Ryan Rutan: cares. So

Wil Schroter: let's switch it. Let's talk about everyone cares about it, right? No, they don't, Everyone's gonna remember. No, they don't. So what do I actually do? You know, we're very action oriented folks. What do I actually do once this moment happened? How do I basically rewrite the history? And the answer is you start by changing the future. You change the future, you focus on what you're going to do next and you go all out on it. Two reasons reason, number one is you're going to have more energy than you've ever had in your life. Not good energy by the way, like sad, awful crying in the fetal position, depressive energy. And that needs to go somewhere that doesn't involve you being sad in the field position, crying, you have to have a place to put this energy and it actually, here's the thing, it doesn't even matter what it is like, oh well I don't have another startup idea or I'll never get funded again. Doesn't matter,

Ryan Rutan: doesn't matter. The only thing you have to do is anything that's not dwelling on very recent failure. Anything else is exponentially better than that. Even if it's not good.

Wil Schroter: It doesn't matter if if a lot of people go take a job next. Fine. Cool. Put all your energy into that job. Put all your energy into anything else. The second thing that that does aside from diverting your energy is it gives you some other story to tell. It gives you a new narrative and I'll give you an example when we failed at afford it dot com we raised some money, try to raise more money. Couldn't business goes out of business. Who cares? Like honestly at the time it was the most important thing that happened to me looking back no one really gave a ship right like and this isn't me underselling it. But I will say I cared if you could do a level of 1 to 10 At the time how much ICared 10 being captured every waking moment of my life. I was at a 50. Right? What to say that it mattered to me right. Would be an understatement. Everything we're talking about is exactly what I went through. I thought everyone would care. I thought everyone would remember. I can't even remember what happened. I just know that had happened but I barely remember what happened. However, what I didn't do well immediately is I just sat and stewed, right? What happened was when I got together with my friends or really anybody, nobody wanted to talk to me, Nobody wanted to ask me, How are things going? Nobody wanted to go to lunch with me because they knew eventually we're going to talk about how are things going? And nobody wants to be in my depressive soup. And so I got stuck, I got stuck because I didn't create a next, I didn't create a new narrative, so I forced myself and everybody else to be mired to be held back in this old narrative that I really needed to get past and by the way, so did everybody else

Ryan Rutan: hold there for a second. So back up if you can to that point in time where nobody wanted to go to lunch with you, nobody wanted to talk to you because they knew that this conversation is going to come up to what extent do you think that slowed the process of your ability to being able to move on? And, you know, you and I spend a lot of time talking to founders, you do a fantastic job of this where you'll reach out when you know, the ship has hit the fan, you will reach out to founders, right? We all try to do this, but it's it's so, so important. And I think founder founder is very different than, you know, former colleagues or friends or whatever, because they won't have that same context. But if you go back in time to that point where you didn't have anybody to talk to, nobody reached out and gave you that, how are you doing in all of this moment?

Wil Schroter: How much do

Ryan Rutan: you think that stifled or deepened the sort of the depression that the struggle that you're going through the time?

Wil Schroter: I mean, it's so much worse and that's why I reach out to people when I hear a startup or startups failed, something's come off the rails. I always try to hunt down the founder, by the way, A lot of times, I don't even know the founder, right? So this is me just coming out of nowhere and I always reach out. I would say kind of the same couple of things. This isn't like a rote response that just happens to be usually what's appropriate. The first is I remind them that they're not alone, that there's many of us that have gone through. The second thing is I reminded them I've done the same thing, whatever you think my career was, or wasn't

Ryan Rutan: most of us, most of us go through this,

Wil Schroter: right. And the third thing I say is there is always always a way forward. Let's talk about that. That last part is what kind of catches people the most is it doesn't occur to them while they're so kind of mired in in the guilt and the shame, the humiliation, all these things that I felt that come with with this moment in life that there's something on the other side of it, this is a bad example, but it reminds me of when a kid has a break up in high school for the first time, they've never had a breakup before. And in their minds, this heartache and this pain, well, just project for the rest of their life. And they said as much my whole life is over.

Ryan Rutan: It was it was my shot. I blew it, yep, yep, yep, done.

Wil Schroter: Yeah. And they don't realize at the time that that's just a moment in time. And of course, the parent comes in and tries to tell them that and they mean, well, but it totally goes over their head because they don't give a sh it because at the time they're like, sure, whatever, I feel horrible and I don't see light at the end of this tunnel now, imagine you're that kid and no one came to you, No one told you right, even planted that idea in your head or what's worse? You start to think that this really is the end, right? Whole career is over right in in in darker thoughts in that it's at that time when folks need us the most, it's at that time when some idiot stranger you've never heard of from startups dot com sends you a text message or, you know, DMC or whatever it says, listen, you're gonna be okay, right, let's sit down and talk about it. And to be fair, more often than not, founders will sit down and they'll talk to me about it, right? And we'll walk through it. I think

Ryan Rutan: it's one of the best things about being a founder is that when you do have other founders in your life, if you don't seek them out, they will attach themselves to you is that we do have that environment, it does exist. It doesn't just automatically happen. It's not like getting a job and you automatically have colleagues going to school and just having a cohort of friends just based on proximity. You have to build it, you have to find you have to seek it out. It's a big part of what we're trying to provide through startups dot com, but when you have that, it's such a open honest and giving space that it completely changes things, right? Like, I think that being a founder on your own is one of the absolute hardest and most miserable things to do. Being a founder who's well, support is one of the most awesome fucking things to do, right? That's why we keep doing this. And so yeah, you have to you have to cultivate that, you have to have people around you that have that context that can walk into that room and explain to you that yes, this happens to nearly everybody yeah, it sucks and I know how bad it sucks because I've already done it, right, We've been there and it's such a powerful thing to have that level of empathy and you know, just for a minute or two, some commiseration and then that energy and support and help to just get up, pick up and move on and change the narrative to your point. If we don't work hard or work at all in some cases, to change the story, that is how it will end, right? We don't want to leave it at that, we don't want to leave it sitting in this point of failure, we just got to get up dust off and keep moving. And then from that point forward, nobody else will remember the shitty story of what happened to you a year ago, three months ago, a week ago. The minute you start telling them a newer, more exciting, future focused narrative, right? It's that simple.

Wil Schroter: Well, let me build on that, there's two steps to that. The first step is not telling a better narrative, right? And I think that's where we get a little bit where we say, hey, I started what was we work? So whatever my next thing I do has to be, it has to be immediately as as bright and successful as we work. Appeared to be not the case. Step one is to fucking anything else other than

Ryan Rutan: what you're doing right

Wil Schroter: now. I don't care what it

Ryan Rutan: is. Just

Wil Schroter: do anything else. Step one of the narrative is just had something to talk about that isn't what you just what you're doing. If Adam neumann, right and his next job is bagging groceries doesn't matter. So long as it's not a narrative about what he was doing before,

Ryan Rutan: they both have the opportunity for the bottom to fall out.

Wil Schroter: That's so bad.

Ryan Rutan: I had to put it in.

Wil Schroter: Well done. The second one is the time it's going to take to build your comeback career is going to take years. It doesn't matter what brilliant brainstorm you have. I think we all get in the same mentality, which is the only way to be the comeback kid is that I've got to double down and do something bigger and better the next time to show everybody that I can do it to prove and validate and all these things

Ryan Rutan: right. By

Wil Schroter: all means there will be a time and a place for that and I wish you well, however right now isn't the time or the place right now is just a time to reset. Give yourself a minute and here's why, because remember we've done episodes, this is a long time ago, we did an episode on. The worst idea you'll ever have is the next idea after your last idea. So you just sold your company and you're like, hey, I've got this great idea for the next thing. Almost intuitively it will be the worst idea you've ever worked on every now and again it works. But that's just totally

Ryan Rutan: generally doesn't

Wil Schroter: this is exactly that moment we're going to struggle so hard because we want to beat the last idea that we're not going to take the natural amount of time it takes to find and develop good ideas. Which is why I say step one is just to do literally anything else. So you can change the narrative in Step two is okay then when you feel the time is right, then go look for next thing but not all it was. You know what I mean?

Ryan Rutan: Yeah, for sure. I think that that that step one is important right is to do anything else. And if we go back to the intention here, right? So why are we going, why are we moving on? Why are we trying to change the narrative? We want to erase this big bad thing that happened. What we forget is that the eraser required to do that isn't nearly as big as we think right? It isn't a complicated process. We think we have to come up with I failed that we work then should I better have coworking spots on the moon next so that nobody will remember that I failed here on earth. No, like all you have to do is be doing anything else that people can reference so that they don't only have that as the reference point. They will gladly forgive that failure and move right the funk along without any help. As long as you give them at least that right? All you have to do is be doing anything else and all of that is erased, right? They will not be dwelling on the same ship, your dwelling on simply because you give them anything else to think about, all you have to do, right? I think it's really, really important because the intent is good, right? Move forward, create, change, erase this thing that happened right? At least get past it. And I mean you're not erase it, but at least move beyond it. I think that the effort required to move beyond is so much smaller than everybody believes it to be in the moment. To your point. Like you think you have to this massive, amazing thing to cover up what just happened. You don't right lift the rug, sweep it under, move on. It's done, nobody cares.

Wil Schroter: Alright, so that was fun, but let's actually keep this conversation going. You've heard what we think about this, but you know, Ryan and I would really like to hear what you think and we're online, 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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