Startup Therapy Podcast

Episode #3

Ryan Rutan: did you ever consider that thriving as a founder is as much about the things you don't do as the things you do that your happiness and success are less impacted by how well you play the game than simply not playing it at all. Today on the startup therapy podcast, we'll examine a list of things you can intentionally ignore as you strive towards startup. Success removing mental and emotional barriers that would otherwise impede your progress. This is Ryan Rutan from startups dot com as is customary, I'm here with my partner will Schroeder today, we're going to talk about an article that you wrote examining how getting distracted by what others were doing was slowing you down. How did you get there? And how did you realize that in looking for external validation you were leading yourself astray?

Wil Schroter: It's this common problem that I see among entrepreneurs, right? And if you can picture it, I was just talking to another another founder about this a moment ago, during lunch, we always run into this situation where it's like a founder dinner and in almost no time at all, the conversation starts going around the table about how everybody is doing with their startup? And it starts innocently enough, but it devolves into something that looks like have I heard of your company? How much money have you raised? Who have you raised it from what's headcount and why are you killing it? And people don't interrogate each other quite that deliberately. But it's not that far

Ryan Rutan: off the undertone, is there?

Wil Schroter: It is and what they're saying is how important is your startup compared to my startup and it's, it's all a bigger part of this startup game that, that, that I would call it, which is every founder trying to kind of find their own way and find their own validation by comparing themselves to other founders. And it's, it's a game where literally everyone loses it. It's, it's awful. And personally, I found myself over the years playing it in different capacities and at some point I realized how miserable it was making me and how miserable is making my friends and just decided fuck this, I'm getting out of this whole thing wholesale. Like this is insane. And once I did my focus got better, my happiness got better and my relationships got better. Right? And so a lot of this was

Ryan Rutan: that entire process. It's a really interesting phenomenon that this does occur when, when founders get together and that everybody starts to to kind of measure up and you know, they puff the chest out and and talk about metrics. What's interesting is that it seems to be driven as much by insecurity and really wanting to validate your own efforts as it does about tearing anybody else's down or really exploring what they're doing. It's really more about saying like, hey, I want to be valid in this whole conversation as well, right?

Wil Schroter: Right? And everybody's sitting there going, I have no good way to know whether what I'm doing is working because typically for the first 3 to 5 years were just running around in an abyss. You know, we're hoping that things we're doing are helpful. We're hoping that we're making progress, but it's not terribly measurable. What is measurable is when you read about someone else that just sold for a billion dollars or some crazy figure, right? That you can say, oh, I guess things worked out well,

Ryan Rutan: right, don't talk about choosing the wrong yardstick in terms of how you totally yourself. Right?

Wil Schroter: And what you don't read about is how their entire journey was nothing but self doubt and insecurity, right? There's this concept that everyone else is doing really well and they've got their ship together, but me, right day one

Ryan Rutan: kill it. Exactly!

Wil Schroter: Kill it.

Ryan Rutan: 7 20. Kill it and sell it right?

Wil Schroter: So tough. Right? And so what happens is everybody gets to this point where they're like, well, let me see what other people are doing. So maybe they're, they're reading techcrunch, for example, in the tech side of things, um, or maybe they're going through their social media and all you're going to see when you try to research how other people are doing is the greatest hits highlight reel, right? It's their best photo, it's their best announcement. It's their best of everything usually of which is fairly fake to begin with.

Ryan Rutan: It's a great point too because in terms of, you know, both you and I are fairly long in this game at this point. And in terms of your ability, even if people aren't coming and telling you what they're doing, which which used to be sort of how it works, right? Like you said, the founder dinners, you'd get together and people would start to share their vanity metrics. You don't even have to get together anymore. And that's even more dangerous because now you may miss out on some of the context, at least at the dinners at some point. Like there's some honesty comes out, we start to say like, you know, well yeah, here's what we're at now, but man, the last three months have been just pure hell. But to your point on facebook instagram, wherever else on social media, these places that are easy to share the winds, all of that gets lost, right? All that is whitewashed out of existence.

Wil Schroter: Yeah. And if somebody gave that the actual context that they say, here's a feed of everyone's biggest bullshit, right? You would take that pick up that it's actually kind of entertaining, right? It's not it's not considered that way. Your facebook feed or your instagram feed or anything else that you're taking social cues from is considered reality and it's not. And for a startup where the stakes are so high, the emotion is so high and everything that you would normally use to emotionally balance and ground yourself is totally not there, it's a tough game to play, right? For for the the startup part of the problem. And the founder of the part of the problem is that they have to be able to maintain focus, not worry about what other people are doing and still believe that they're making forward progress, but still not comparing themselves to anyone else. That's hard.

Ryan Rutan: It is, it's really, really difficult, right? Because you you want something to measure against, you need something to measure against the problem is in in in so many ways the way it's happening now, in particular, because of social media, not only are you only measuring against other people's best results, you're measuring against other people's results, it's never going to be a great measuring stick for you. And now you're only using part of it. So it's just it's a it's a horribly compounded problem.

Wil Schroter: And so where it starts to threw me off and I'll use myself, I won't even project onto anyone else where it threw me off is I found myself spending an inordinate amount of time at startup events at startup dinners at startup, you know, all kinds of cocktail parties and you name it right talking to lots of founders and in all fairness, I love talking to founders. So this wasn't exactly a hard thing for me to do and I'm sure I did it implicitly to others. So if you're listening, I apologize and I'm sure it was done to me when you talked to another people enough people in this space, we somehow just inherently make each other miserable and draw out our insecurities, right? I can't tell you about how great things are going with me, even if they are without making you feel shitty about the fact that, you know, you guys have run out of funding, right? Or you're running out of funding or selling. You can't share that with me without reminding me that I've been at this for 10 years and I haven't moved the business whatsoever. Right? Like, it's it's so it's not

Ryan Rutan: it's a byproduct of the fact that a lot of startup work is just a slaw. Great. So, at any given time, if you're together with 10 people, maybe one of those folks is at a point where they've got a really nice story to tell everybody else is just like, we're just slogging through the ship trying to be okay, right? So, it's sort of it's sort of a natural by product of our environment.

Wil Schroter: Yeah. And I think the cost of all of this aside from our emotions, which is brutal, is our focus, Right? I mean, it's so easy to get so incredibly distracted with what other people are doing. You know, you gotta have a little bit of an eye on your competition. But like, we've always said that your customer doesn't buy based on what your competition does your customer buys based on what you do, right? So, me worrying about what my competition does doesn't make my product better, right? All I can do is focus on making my product better. But the cost of this, the one form of capital is my focus, right at the moment, I click on the facebook the moment I start reading about articles about whatever some startup success, what have you? I'm not focusing on my own business, like that's directly taking away at a binary level from where I'm supposed to be investing my time.

Ryan Rutan: Yeah, exactly. In the article that you wrote, you, you ran through this this list of things that you said, I grew up when I shut down and then you ran through this this list of of things and you've, you've touched on a couple of them now. But do you feel like that's an exhaustive list over this? There's the top things that for you were getting in the way.

Wil Schroter: Well, yeah. And, and, and so like we're talking about, you know, I said, hey, I stopped paying attention to social media. I didn't really grow up with social media, right? I'm an old fart, right? And so, like, many social media hasn't been a big part of my identity. You know, I just came into it later on in life. Like most people. But when I checked social media, which I don't do that much and I don't miss it. To be honest. When I checked social media, it's so fucking distracting, right? Because everything on there is somebody else's story, somebody else's direction, somebody else's like shifted my focus and after a while I just zoom out and I'm like, what is this buying me? And the answer is nothing right?

Ryan Rutan: And well, imagine how much worse that problem is for somebody who did come up In the social media age. So think about founders who are 5, 10 years younger than we are, who are using this more as a north star or they're literally putting value in the feedback loops that they've developed into their, their creditor in their defense. They have a different relationship with it than we do and they probably get more from it and they certainly give more to it than than probably you or I do. But imagine how much worse that is for them because they actually put weight behind what they're seeing and hearing

Wil Schroter: in the,

Ryan Rutan: it's incredibly powerful in terms of, of, of changing their direction, changing their thoughts, how they feel about themselves, their businesses. And so I can only imagine how much worse this problem is for people who are of that age or of that mindset.

Wil Schroter: I'll put it this way, I mean as it relates to social media, my business has never been improved based on how many likes I got in one of my posts, right? I mean there's, there's no version where, where I need

Ryan Rutan: to dig into analytics to make sure

Wil Schroter: that's not true,

Ryan Rutan: but I can do that and we'll provide an update later.

Wil Schroter: But, but if I were to compare the amount of distraction, it's cost me versus the amount of benefits, you know, it's not even remotely close and I don't wanna take too much on social because I don't have a beef with social. I just as it would relate to my business, it's incredibly distracting. We

Ryan Rutan: have a beef with distractions. Yeah,

Wil Schroter: that's fair. And that just happens to be a pretty common one. Startup news was my other, I used to be a startup news junkie. Like even back in the day, you know, I'd write for TechCrunch and in the various blogs back and when their inception and I was so geeked out about what was happening among other tech companies and who was raising what people were doing and after a while I thought, you know, man, if I had spent all this time that I'm reading other people's articles or you know, following other people on my own damn business. The article will be about me, right,

Ryan Rutan: right. You know, it's, it's something that's interesting. I don't want to spend a lot of time going back into history, but I think that there was a difference at the time, the period of time you're talking about, there also wasn't as much of this. And so a lot of the stories that we're reading, which are now very commonplace and they repeat startup after startup after startup. It was the first time we were seeing these, at least in media outlets, these might have been conversations that we've had before, but it was the first time that we were seeing them portrayed in the media that they were coming to life and social media. And so I think that they did have a different level of credence at that time, because it might have been the first time you've ever gotten to see behind the veil of another founder, another another company.

Wil Schroter: Right. Right. And and I also think that in this day and age, like, you know, more and more founders are actually coming forward and being more honest about what's actually happening, and and so I think there's a lot of value there, and I think the authenticity really goes for Miles, but at so many levels, the Founder us are competing with all of these other narratives, you know, one of those narratives would be what your friends are saying, right? And that's a tricky one, because, again, you have some group of friends and they're all, kind of growing or in some cases dying if you will, at different rates, right, in all their businesses, and you're catching up with them. And I see this, like, when we do the Founder Dinners, which are generally very positive, right? We don't we try to make sure we don't get into a lot of the sizing up of of each other, like, you get into, kind of a random cocktail party and it could go the other way where, where all these these friends get together and they're just super honest, like no matter how good the businesses going, I find that if the founder is super honest about what's in their mind, it changes the narrative completely. This is shot, you can't say publicly right? You know, there's a lot, you can't, you can't Elon musk and just say whatever's on your mind and put it on twitter, right. A lot of these things were, you know, hey, we raised a huge round of money, but by the way, like our our metrics don't hold up, like if we don't figure this out with this round of money, we're out of business, right? You never hear that part of the narrative. And so what I found with with with my friends and I think this has gone pretty well is we try to set a tone for not downplaying like our success, so to speak, but trying to analyze what's not working or if things are going well, how the hell did that even happen?

Ryan Rutan: Sure. Yeah, I think, yeah, there's a level of honesty that comes out there that says, you know, yes, we're doing great now at this cost right? Here's what it costs us to get where we are right and it's and it's not insignificant.

Wil Schroter: Uh and there's there's some entrepreneurs that I've met that are so brutally honest about it, that it's just this, this wave of like of, of a wonderful feeling that comes over you when you talk to them one in particular that, that I would have to mention, call out is a guy named Jason Nazar. Jason's l a. Based entrepreneur was one of my favorite entrepreneurs and a great friend and Jason's run a series for God, it's got to be a decade now in southern California called startups startups and centered. And Jason will sit across from an entrepreneur in a venue that, you know, anywhere between 100 to a few 100 people and just do a very honest interview. And what's great about Jason is if you meet him personally and ask him about his own business, he'll be just as honest, you know, even if the business, you know, he's in techcrunch or something that businesses is getting written up the first things out of Jason's mouth will be, dude, I haven't slept in a month, like I'm so stressed out. It's not even funny, I mean he's just, he's such an honest, authentic entrepreneur and what I love about that is I think he sets the tone for everybody that talks to him, right? It's, it's hard when Jason says he hasn't slept in a month and not in a cool chest pounding way like, dude, I just want to sleep. That's all I care about right now to then turn around and go, well, dude, I've been sleeping great, you know, I'm killing it right now. It's just I think there's a way to set the tone of the conversation to say kind of let's go open kimono. Like let's not lie. Let's let's talk about where things are really going and God, those are good conversations.

Ryan Rutan: Well, I think by, by being open and honest about, you know, his own situation, he's he's and this is becoming a refrain for me. But he's giving them permission to do the same thing right? By leading by example, he's saying like, look, it's ok to do this, right? It's okay to be honest about this. And you know, honestly amongst founders, this is where the respect comes from, right? We all know what it actually looks like. So if you want to come in and pretend that this is just a walk in the park where you accidentally happen to pick a great valuation and then you plucked, you know, great customer acquisition and then a beautiful exit on this little stroll through the park. We know

Wil Schroter: that you're lying,

Ryan Rutan: right? We know that's not how it went. And so I think that the respect and props don't come from the vanity metrics. They come from what you went through to earn them. So it's pretty funny that in a lot of cases this is probably more geared towards the younger founders said of the first time founders that they end up putting on this facade because it actually covers up a lot of where the true respect will come from.

Wil Schroter: Absolutely. And and and along those lines, we build on that part a little bit what happens. And I've fallen victim this as well, is your in this cocktail party and you get introduced to other founders and you immediately go into your pitch, right? You say, you know, uh, you know, I work at this company called startups dot com. We help entrepreneurs build businesses so on and so forth, and you you're pitching your growth, you're pitching your vanity metrics, you're pitching all of these things, right? And it feels like it's the right thing to do. It's the modern day equivalent of handing over your business card. However, what if you just didn't have that conversation, right? And that's what I started doing. I'm such a startup guy that, like, it was so inherent like this is my ESPN, I get to talk about sports all day and in my case, startups coming nerd, but instead of talking about startups or business, if you will, in my conversations with other founders, I asked them how they were doing and immediately they typically go into how their business, you know, I don't really care about them. How are you doing? How do you feel like, you know what's your stress level 1 to 10 right now, and the moment we changed the conversation together, it became a very different conversation, frankly, better conversation. Sure,

Ryan Rutan: well, look at the at the risk of of losing focus, which is part of what we're really trying to talk about here. Let's let's let's regroup and and kind of get back on track here. We talked about how there were all these different things that were kind of dragging us off path. Right. These all these different distractions. Where did you find it most important? So if you were to gain back some of this time that you were previously losing doing things like paying attention to social media or getting caught up in what your competition was doing, where did you reallocate that focus? Where did that energy go instead of to these things that just weren't producing any kind of results?

Wil Schroter: You know what's funny, It didn't go toward work. Like I I'm sure some of it did right? But what I found was there was a certain amount of energy that I could put into work, right? I mean just sheer output hours. But where I think a lot of that energy was going was toward health and happiness. For example, if I had taken the hour of the day that I had burned in going through social media, self validating through through startup news etcetera and done literally anything else. But let's you know, let's let's use something like barely useful like workout maybe like take a walk nowadays, spend, spend time with my kids. I would have been orders of magnitude happier like for for as much as the activity I was going into was making me more unhappy, literally anything I could have done would have made me far more happy

Ryan Rutan: totally makes sense. And it maps exactly to sort of my own. I'm just gonna put like general media consumption both. You know, the mass media, social media just kind of listening to other stories and so forth. It never happens when I'm super motivated, pumped up full of energy ready to take on the world. It happens when I'm in the opposite state of mind, right? It happens when I'm kind of worn out. I'm tired, I know that I don't have the mental cycles to put into something really important on the work front. So I'm like, let me go wipe my brain clean with facebook, unfortunately not how it works, Right? That's, I think that's the intention. It's sort of like, I'm not going to think. So let me just go stare at this drivel and and see what happens. So that yeah, that totally makes sense though.

Wil Schroter: Well there's this concept that instead of me spending more time on my business, I can spend more time making myself happy and I, I just don't see entrepreneurs giving themselves permission to do that. And so when I have a conversation with my friends again are typically founders and we start talking about how they're feeling versus how they're doing, right? You know, like how are you feeling about the business? And number one, nobody ever asked them that, right? And so it's kind of this permission to speak freely, and they start saying, well dude, I'm I'm so stressed, right? I mean it's always, I'm so stressed, I never talked to anybody that's like, oh, to be honest, you know, things are going so great, and you know, I've never spent so much time with my kids, I can't believe how much money I'm making and you know,

Ryan Rutan: my gray hair is disappearing

Wil Schroter: and yeah, yeah, and my marriage is getting so much better, right? I mean, like, literally none of that right polar opposite of everything, but essentially in talking to in folks, in, in, in in communicating folks, it's given them permission to say, man, like, I'm actually not doing that well, right? And start that conversation and you start to have enough of those conversations and you're scratching your head going, man, like I'm not doing that well either, like maybe we should all be fixing some things and and I think bringing everybody into that same conversation around dude, let's not run ourselves into the ground anymore, let's not like, you know, size each other up all the time. Let's talk a little bit more how to, like maybe who would have guessed make each other happy, er, right? I mean it's it sounds insane, right?

Ryan Rutan: Yeah, that has a it's a huge, huge impact once you do that, right, because then, you know, instead of spending your time wearing yourself out instead of comparing yourself to the very best 1% of things that are happening in people's lives, you can just be realistic about it. You start to feel better about what's going on in your own situation. And I would have to assume that that alone has a huge impact on your ability to kind of maintain your focus and feel good about what you're doing right, even if it's not like, oh, I'm not doing as bad as I thought, or this isn't as difficult as I thought, it might just be, this is as difficult as I thought, but it's not because of anything that I'm doing. It's this just by nature is a difficult thing and everybody else that's going through it is going through the same difficult thing, so that can let me get focused back on it. It's not some character flaw or inherent thing I'm doing wrong. It just is what it is.

Wil Schroter: I agree and and I think that at which point we're all waiting for this big magical thing to happen, which is always kind of the undertone of this, I'm building this startup so that I will succeed with it and then great things will happen. One of the things that I thought was really fascinating, having been through this process a number of times and sold some businesses, but more importantly, having had the relationships with folks who have done exponentially better than I have, even when they get to that goal line, where they succeed at whatever they were trying to do, it doesn't get nearly as better as they thought it would, right? So there's this idea that I'm gonna kill myself now, but I'm gonna take this risk, I'm gonna get this huge payoff and then everything's gonna work rate thereafter. And I can tell you if I were to do a chart of all the people that I know before, during and after the startup game and talk about who's the happiest, It's the people before they start, that are the happiest. The people at the end are freaking miserable, right one because they've had to go through the entire grinder two because once it's all over and they've sold the company or had some sort of exit or had their version of success, they've spent so much time not making themselves happy, that they have no idea how to make themselves happy. Most of my cashed out exited founder friends are miserable, miserable because they've gotten in this mentality that no matter what I do, it can't be good enough. Yeah, What a shady place to end up

Ryan Rutan: it is. Well, and you know, I would argue, don't argue, I would, I would agree with what you're saying and I would add to that, that they were in that mindset all along, it wasn't a destination that they arrived at, right the entire way that they thought about their business, the entire way that they thought about how they were building their business. It goes back to this, this concept, you rabbits, you're constantly measuring against something external and extrinsic, instead of measuring intrinsically, what am I putting into this and what am I getting out from this? Not at the end, but all the way throughout. And so I think that it's it's a very dangerous path and it's one that you have to correct fairly early on, otherwise you're sort of manifesting that you're gonna end up at that position at the end. I'm not sure how if you have sort of been unhappy and and, you know, measuring yourself against other people's yardsticks the entire time. Somehow, at the end, you're like, oh, you know what? That was wrong, let me just do it differently. I'm not sure if you feel like you can flip that switch right at the end.

Wil Schroter: No. And and that's what I'm saying. I think the folks that are that are on the end of the journey who have cashed out have gotten so conditioned to compare themselves night and day to everyone else. Now, they've got a couple of bucks in the bank and now they're just comparing themselves to everybody else with more money, right? I mean, it just, it just, it breeds a really horrible mental state and I'll say this, you know, having lived in san Francisco for a number of years, you've got some of the most competitive folks, particularly in the tech industry out there and also easily the most unhappy people I've ever met in my life, consistently not bad people, really, really kind and smart and ambitious people, but the level of unhappiness there is just extraordinary and I took me a while to wrap my head around it and it's because the level of competition of everybody having to kind of defend their territory everywhere they go all the time and and it was so pervasive everywhere I go, every single dinner, every single meeting, it was such a competition all the time, that ship gets old, right, that's painful to be able to sit through every day if that's where you live all the time and I'm not knocking SAn Francisco, but what I'm pointing out is that even at scale among some of the most ambitious, successful smart people, it's a huge problem,

Ryan Rutan: it's probably more of a problem there than it is anywhere else. You've got more of those stories, you get more of these people coming together. It's a, it's a very tightly woven narrative made out of the same threads

Wil Schroter: And you know, who's, who doesn't have that problem, some random startup guy in the Midwest, right, you know, some guy that, that's that's running $1 million dollar a year, car wash business. I just can't believe how much money he's making and that he doesn't have a boss, right, he's the happiest guy in the world, he's not thinking about funding rounds, he's not thinking about an exit strategy, He just can't believe that this business actually worked, which in all fairness is exactly what we should all be doing,

Ryan Rutan: that's exactly what we should all be doing okay. So it's pretty well established at this point that measuring yourself against others and and feeding into this very distracting external narrative is is not good for us. So how do we get out of it? What practically can we start to do to really ignore this stuff?

Wil Schroter: I think it comes at a lot of levels and for me, the first thing I did, and I just remember waking up one day going like I feel really anxious today and I feel anxious all the time, but this day was particularly bad and I started to think to myself, why am I anxious? Right? And I'm going to write down all the things that are, are making me anxious. And it was funny because I specifically remember sitting there writing this down thinking these are all things I can just stop doing right? Like one of them was I keep finding myself comparing what I'm doing to what other people are doing, even when those businesses have nothing to do with my business, right? The other was I thought, okay, a lot of this has to do with the interactions I'm having with people again because I talked to a lot of founders and so I thought what if I just stopped talking about startups with other founders? They're smart people and I enjoy spending time with them. But heaven forbid what if I talked about football or what if I talked about like how they were doing differently or what their kids are up to or what have you. And so what I found is that the first step toward kind of opting out is just taking an inventory of the things that you're doing that are getting you down this road to begin with and just change them. I wouldn't say stop doing them because you know, there's no version. We're going to stop using social media for many folks consume it differently. You know, follow different threads. For example, on, on my news reader, which used to be all tech news all the time. I changed the entire thing now all it is his video game news because I'm a total video game nerd. And now instead of this stress moment where I would fire up, you know, a bunch of news feeds and hear about all these companies doing better than me or better than my friends or this or that, which, which as an entrepreneur and a guy who cares about founders I like, but it just gets old. After a while now I read about video games the entire time and, and, and that's me changing my, my news reading behavior. So I stopped creating a negative behavior.

Ryan Rutan: Mine wasn't quite that intentional. But I had a similar thing happened. I joined a, a group facebook group for fishermen. And luckily enough, these guys were killing it in terms of their ability to make sure they showed up in my feed. And so it went from being like lots of depressing updates from high school classmates I barely remember and a bunch of stuff from the startup space that I could then measure myself against and wonder if I was, you know, sufficient to mostly being about fishing, which it turns out it was just nice and cathartic and, and didn't make me feel like, you know, of course I could measure my fish, but you know, everybody's lying about the size of the fish anyway, so it doesn't really matter.

Wil Schroter: Yeah. And, and, and I think in all the interactions we have with folks personally. And again, a lot of mine are from, from other founders. I started started the conversation differently the moment we said, hey, how you been or hey, my name is will Schroeder market startups dot com. I'd immediately moved to any other subject that wasn't about startups. And I gotta tell you from the other side of the table. It was so relieving, in other words, the folks that I was talking to at the end of every one of those dinners or drinks or lunches or whatever I had, they always say the same thing, which is, I gotta be honest. Like, I haven't talked about any of this stuff for as long as I can remember. And I'm like, dude, these are just like basic how how is life going questions, You know, they were so used to going through the whole startup resume that it was just a relief to not talk about that anymore. Sure,

Ryan Rutan: they're they're they're standing there in the batter's box expecting the 100 mile an hour fastball, they've got to try to find a way to deflect and hit back at you, and instead you're just like, hey, how's life? How do you have kids? Right? How are your kids? And like, holy sh it, Yes, let me talk about that, please anything. But

Wil Schroter: and I also think, you know, kind of how we're calibrating our own process progress, if we're thinking, my only progress is going to come from whether or not I do better than someone else you've already lost. There's no way to win that game. There's no way to to win by beating other people, right? I mean, you know, unless you're tom brady playing football right? Like,

Ryan Rutan: and that's you say it perfectly in the article, you say, you know, you know what the prize you get for doing that is misery, right? So when you win the game by measuring yourself against other people and and trying to beat other people and defining your success based on what you think they think your success should look like the prize is misery. It's you nailed it,

Wil Schroter: and there's no way to win at any possible level, no matter how much money you make, no matter how successful you are, there's always, always, always somebody else that you're comparing yourself to. And it's it's a behavior that you start to get in when you first start, it's a behavior that only gets worse as you become more successful as you start to to build a bigger reach. And all the people that you're talking to. Most of my friends, like I said that have made, it's called 789 figure wealth are far less happy now by all means, like I'd rather be unhappy with some money than unhappy with no money, but at the same time, the point is, they have so much cash, they had so much

Ryan Rutan: success, but they have

Wil Schroter: never figured out how to calibrate themselves to say, holy sh it, like I killed it in this whole thing, I'm just gonna enjoy the hell out of it for the rest of my life. All they're thinking about is, well, if I made that much, I have to be able to make that much more, it's you never ever, ever win that game.

Ryan Rutan: Well, there's another interesting phenomenon that happens there and it's that, you know, being unhappy without money is one thing being unhappy with money, there's some sense that, like, but I should feel happy, I've done this, I should be happy. So not only are they beating themselves up for not achieving whatever the next milestone is they're beating themselves up for not feeling happy about what they have already achieved because they didn't set themselves up to be happy at that point, Right? So it's it's quite literally a game you can't win

Wil Schroter: and for what it's worth, the only way to to get out of it is just literally to stop playing.

Ryan Rutan: Right, okay. And so that's that's where I wanted to go next. I want to take it home. So, so you stop doing it? What happened?

Wil Schroter: You know, it's funny, I hope nobody googles this. But I actually have like a couple of pictures of me from like six years ago when I was kind of in the thick of it in pictures of me now and in the thick of it was a great way to put that. And I showed those pictures. So some friends a while back and so it's a picture when I was about 37 in the picture, it was about 43 and they're like, you look like two different people. In fact right now, I think you said the same thing. Yeah,

Ryan Rutan: it's like who is that? Is that the alternate world will?

Wil Schroter: Well, it would be funny, it's just so funny to see physically like how much of a toll that was taking, like me at 37 or 38. I looked like what I what I assume I look like at 58, right? Yeah. I mean it was just you

Ryan Rutan: look at, you can see there there are there are some archival footage from that same period in time where you can find you myself Elliott in the same room and we look like hell. So you can you can pretty much you can you can pretty much understand where we were in terms of our ability to process this stress and and how we were handling at that time, we were not doing a stellar job if our bodies are any indication bags under our eyes and the rest of it.

Wil Schroter: Yeah. And so the benefit, the outcome of kind of just not adding yet another vector of stress to my life. You know, there's it's hard enough, you know, we were all starting families at the time. We're building a business from scratch at the time. We're doing all of these things, adding a whole other thing which is I somehow have to compete with everybody else for by the way, no reason whatsoever was just absurd. And so just shedding all of that stress was was life changing. And I got the pictures to prove it. Well, that's gonna do it for this episode of the startup therapy podcast. But in the

Ryan Rutan: meantime, if you love what we're doing, head over to itunes and subscribe and comment. If you want to contact us directly, we're not hard to reach email us at therapy at startups dot com will and I respond to every email that comes in. Please don't be shy. What we learned today is a tiny fraction of the help that you can get from startups dot com. Whether you need to learn how a startup gets built to find a mentor or raise capital to find new customers, or if you just need to connect with founders who are dealing with the same ship you are, you'll find it on startups dot com with all that said, let's get back to building our startups. This is Ryan Rutan for my partner, Wil Schroder and the entire startups dot com community saying goodbye for now Friends.

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