Startup Therapy Podcast

Episode #32

Ryan Rutan: yeah. Mm hmm. Yeah, as a founder, I've asked myself, can I ever be an employee again, What happens if I'm forced into reporting to someone else now that I've tasted the freedom of founder hood, maybe you have to on today's startup therapy, we'll discuss what happens when you have to stop being a boss And start having one. Welcome back to another episode of the startup therapy podcast. This is Ryan Rutan from startups dot com, joined as ever by Wil schroder ceo startups dot com. So there's a lot of discussion around the founder journey, right in this notion of becoming a founder entering this noble path of, of foundered. Um, one of the things we talk less about is what happens when a founder has to go back to being an employee and it's probably more common than we think. Well, how often you having this conversation with people often that's coming up when you're talking to the founders around this regression and I'm air quoting that this regression back into being an employee.

Wil Schroter: It comes up under two circumstances. Circumstance one, everything hit the fan and I have to go back to being an employee. Do you know anybody that's hiring? That's what's one part of it. And as I get calls twice a week that looks something like that. And I always tell the founder, I said this is part of the journey. It's not the most sexy part of the journey. It's not the party part we all signed up for, but it is part of the journey. The other side of it is when things actually go really well and the company gets sold and the founder and usually the team get sold with it and now, you know, there's technically maybe hopefully a good outcome, but at the same time the next day you've got an employee name badge. That's, it's a lot to get done

Ryan Rutan: with fairly, fairly different day at the office.

Wil Schroter: Yeah. Yeah. And, and it's particularly hard believe it or not hardest from what I've seen for the folks who have sold the company and again, it's hard for people to think about that because I don't understand they sold the company like, you know that they've got to be super pumped about that. It's hard when you've been doing so well and being rewarded for your efforts two, then one day, all of a sudden you show up in this office and your boss is calling on you to show up for a meeting, feels weird, you know, how did I get here?

Ryan Rutan: Yeah. And I just won the super bowl. Okay, now go run some laps like, wait,

Wil Schroter: yeah, it's bizarre. It's bizarre. And so, uh, so yeah, I think we should talk about what that catharsis looks like. We all think about it. Some of us have to have gone through what I've gone through it. Ryan, I think you've gone through it. Um, so let's talk about what it meant, how it felt, some of the upsides and some of the downsides because I think if you really have been through this process enough times in your life, you know, it's, it's a bit of a cycle founders going into employment and out of employment if you will, if you've been through enough times, you start to understand that it's probably a fairly temporary thing and you kind of do your tour of duty and you just kind of rest up until you're ready for your next startup. But if you've never done it before, it's just terrifying. It just feels like, oh my God, I can never go back to this and it's like you're going to be okay.

Ryan Rutan: Let's, let's talk about that for a second though. Let's talk about the, I can never go back to this because I know you and I have had this discussion before. Um, and we've talked about founders that we've talked to where we walk away from the conversation going, Yeah, actually, I'm not sure that they can go back to being an employee. It's safe to say we both know people that fit that mold, where it really may not be possible, right? Their personality, their experiences in life have led them to a point where it really isn't going to be possible.

Wil Schroter: You're talking about if the very DNA of the, of the founder makes them a very terrible employee. Yes. Oh yeah, dude, that was me, I was the worst employee. I didn't want to say that, I didn't want to. Yeah, nice roundabout for you. Yeah. Imagine if somebody was just not cut out to take answers from anybody. I um I more or less got fired from every job I had prior to starting a startup. And thankfully I was 19 when I started a startup, so I kept that tenure fairly short. But I was so young. I didn't I didn't understand what the common cause was. I just thought I was incompatible with jobs. I was incompatible with being told what to do uh you know, since I was a kid and you know, a lot of entrepreneurs are, I mean it's part of our D. N. A. But what threw me and Ryan, you work with me and I'm going to put words in your mouth. I'm hoping you're going to agree with him. It's it's you know that I don't like being told what to do, but it's not the same as not listening, right? And I think people confuse those two things. I think you can sit across from someone and listen intently in really way what they have to say and make your own decision, but the moment they say it's not your decision, that's very different.

Ryan Rutan: Yeah, completely changes everything. Yeah. It's funny because it's in a lot of cases just a psychological trigger but still has the same impact of now making you resistant to it make you not want to do it. Yeah.

Wil Schroter: Right. So I would agree with that point. Your question when you said you know what if I can't go back to being an employee, we're not talking about physically being able to we're talking about from a an emotional character driven standpoint

Ryan Rutan: if

Wil Schroter: we're just not built to take orders from other people, it's not going to end well, right? And I've been through it on the positive to where we sold the company, I've been part of the acquisition and I was kept on board, I didn't mean to be a shitty employee but I was a shitty employ. There's no way around it. Alright,

Ryan Rutan: alright well it's it's the it's the analogy is really right, you're you're being asked to run laps after winning the super boy, you're you feel like you've achieved what you needed to achieve and now you're being put through this sometimes very arbitrary period of earn out or or turnkey or whatever it is or an aqua hire that isn't really, you know it's when we think about being acquired and we think about selling a company that's certainly not the top of our list like man I can't wait to sell the company and then spend two years hanging out with my now ex girlfriend and her new boyfriend a. K. A. My company and the new owners not as much fun right? Not nearly as much

Wil Schroter: fun. And I suppose to it would also matter a lot who you're reporting to now, I'll give you an example in the last company that I started a company called unsubscribe dot com. My co founder, Jamie Simonov, who, you know, I've talked to you right about before, after we sold that he started a company called ring the doorbell company and sold it to amazon for like over a billion dollars. And so now he reports to Jeff Bezos, I got to tell you if Jeff gave me a billion dollars and said you have to report to me, I'd be okay with

Ryan Rutan: it.

Wil Schroter: I could probably get past it. So and also, you know, Jamie now gets access to Jeff and he gets access to all these amazing resources. So sometimes going into a reporting structure that's fit for your capability, you know? Yes. You're a leader in your own right. But man, this is a much bigger play and you want to be part of that bigger play. I can see that

Ryan Rutan: that's a good point. Yeah. But I think that this is definitely, Yeah, I was gonna say like we can count those in the last decade on one hand. Well,

Wil Schroter: and there's other people that that by no means Are the types of people that like being told what to do. I mean, Steve jobs comes back to Apple after he'd been fired from Apple, right in the 90s, not exactly the kind of guy that likes being told what to do, but at the end of the day, he didn't run the company, I mean he ran as an employee but somebody wrote his paycheck and he answered to people. And so but it worked for him, right? Because in his case the play was big enough that being an employee was actually the best use of his capabilities because he had access to that infrastructure and do the things he wanted to do.

Ryan Rutan: Yeah that's right. Gave him, gave him the leverage he needed to achieve what he wanted to achieve.

Wil Schroter: I think another possibility as far as it's not a good fit is you get to a point where the product you're working on, the thing that you're doing, you're just kind of burnt out, right? So it's it's not even so much just a D. N. A fit. It's I just I've run for seven years let's say 10 years to get to the point where we could even sell this thing. I don't know that I'm willing to sign up and put up on a name badge and just keep doing this. I don't even know if it's about being an employee anymore. I just don't think I want to do this

Ryan Rutan: anymore. I just don't have the energy for it, right? Because it's being a founder for that 7 to 10 year period. It's not the same thing as being a player and we expect to keep working for most of our lives, most of us want to do that. But there's a big difference especially as you get to these really climactic points like selling a company where the stress level, the energy required, all of that stuff goes way up. And so the end of that race is very often it protracted sprint and you are exhausted at the end of it and the idea that there's more that comes after that right? Like I left it all on the field, I did everything I could, I put literally all of myself into this to get to this point and now I got to suck it up and do some more, right? So this is why we often see founders who are going through that turnkey period turnout period, whatever it is, um look like they're kind of going through the motions because they are and I've had some very, very honest conversations recently with a couple of founders that have sold their companies huge exits, but you know, they did well enough where the one of them said, you know, I don't ever have to work again, I want to, But I don't want to do what I have to do right now. And he's got an 18 month burnout and he's like literally dreading every day of it. And it's, it's for exactly that reason is like, I just, I gutted myself getting it to this point and I didn't save anything, I didn't say anything for the Afterlife. It's like I put it all out and now here I am with 18 months of, I don't give a ship that I have to spend my time on, right? And it's not a great spot to be

Wil Schroter: in. I think. I think we probably both opened this part of it up the I don't want to be an employee ever again on what we consider the best case scenario. You just sold something, Right? So, so probably worthwhile to kind of to turn it to where most people are thinking. Probably if they fired up this episode, what they were thinking, which is, yeah, that's cool. Your buddy sold ring or whatever. That's that's not what I'm dealing with at all with the polar opposite of

Ryan Rutan: this. I just sold my wedding ring to Yeah, exactly. That's where I'm

Wil Schroter: at a very different place, right? So over the last couple of days, last night at dinner and then a couple of days ago on a phone call, I had two very old friends call me up for just to, to confer on some things. Both of them were in a position where they were later stage in life. Startups had failed. It happens. It's part of the process, but they were in a position where they were like, Dude, what do I do now? I mean, seriously, I'm in my 40s, 50s. I don't want to go back to wearing a name badge and having to go listen to some person. Guess, guess what? Maybe half your age as your manager, right? Not that there's anything wrong with that, but that's that's pretty striking difference between you were the man, the ceo five seconds ago and now, you know, someone's telling you how to do your job,

Ryan Rutan: Dude, TPS reports.

Wil Schroter: Yeah. And so when we when we talked about it, I wouldn't go through a bit of a progression in the discussion. I said, look first and foremost, chances are you're just gonna have to get a job like that. There's not really a lot of optionality here. Let's talk about Where and why. You just don't feel like you're ever gonna be able to take a W2 kind of position from somewhere, someone else again. And here's the challenge. It's not that any of us can't do it. I think part of it's an ego thing, you know, kind of how could it not be right? That job is a reflection of your failure.

Ryan Rutan: Yeah. Every time he feels to you at least.

Wil Schroter: Yeah. I mean no one else sees it that way. But but you sure do you know everything you pull in the parking lot, you're walking into somebody else's company talking to someone else's boss and you're like dude, man, where did I go wrong? How did I get here? Right. That's painful. I could

Ryan Rutan: see that. Okay, so yeah, so there's there's difficulty, right? We're gonna be walking into somebody else's company having just left, you know, our own under less than awesome circumstances. The worst circumstances, right? It's it's failed going down in flames were carrying this, this uh self imposed shame of this reflection of failure. But let's let's break that down into like walking through that door. Like what are all the things that are going to happen to a founder um, as they enter employment again, that really make this intolerable?

Wil Schroter: Well, I think the first thing is nine seconds ago, you had full autonomy. You have every decision. You know, I got to say, even when things were going horrible when the ship was just about to hit the bottom of the ocean, you were still the captain of it, at least, you know, you were in control of that fate. You were in control of the decisions. And again, even if perhaps you made bad ones, they were still your decisions

Ryan Rutan: are your decisions. And I think this is something that you, it's really hard to hear until you've been through it because a failing startup doesn't sound good no matter what. But there is a huge difference between being in the driver's seat, when something crashes and just being a passenger for me, knowing that it was my decisions that put us into that position will always feel better than I don't know. Maybe maybe I'm a bit of a hypocrite, but like I'm okay with me making wrong decisions. But when I see somebody else doing it, it gets under my skin. Like, hey, somebody's going to make the wrong decisions. Let it be me alright, Like, and that's a real thing.

Wil Schroter: Here's what's interesting what my friends were saying that the two gentlemen that I actually had conversations with last night and then the day before is they're not even thinking, hey, I could make more money or I can create less, less debt more. More likely. They're saying I don't want to be robbed of my autonomy. So again, the progressions one is ego. We're going to walk into a room that's a reflection of our failure and that's, that's a lot to swallow right. It's the equivalent of you just lost the game and you're walking back to the locker room while you hear the other team cheering on the field. It's just, it's a horrible feeling. And so a huge part of it is ego and we're trying to process that in our heads. The second part is that lack of autonomy and that's a little bit of ego. But that's real. It's very, very hard to have that autonomy taken from you. And depending on the organization, you go into that can get incredibly exacerbated, right? You can go to organization were eight levels down from executive management. You're

Ryan Rutan: looking at you nationwide insurance.

Wil Schroter: Yeah or chase bank, you know, uh and and so you go into those organizations and you're like, I have no meaningful autonomy or direction in this company whatsoever. Yes, they, they let me take days off for work from home. That's not really what I got into this for, you know, I wanted to have to get

Ryan Rutan: to choose red or blue on Hawaiian shirt day.

Wil Schroter: Yeah, I mean that's that's painful, I think the other pieces and I think this is, this is very real for folks, it feels like a one way door the moment I break that seal, the moment I go into that that big faceless company, I can never come out right, I failed as an entrepreneur and I'm going to this thing and that is my, my final mark and I can never do it again and

Ryan Rutan: you know, it's funny, I have, I've recently talked to folks that I've got two different versions of why that feels that way. In one case it was, it was somebody who had kind of only ever been startup guy right, And had done three or 4 and none of them had worked out well enough, they all kind of like made it just far enough that he felt empowered to do the next one And then he had to enter into employment after the 4th one failed, he was a different stage in life, had kids at this point had to make some different decisions and so therefore like for him it's like he's always been outside this and now entering into it, so he has no idea what it takes to get out of employment and back into being a founder, Right? So that was scenario one the other one, a young lady who had, I worked in corporate for like 12, 14 years had saved her money, developed a lot of expertise, a great roll of decks started a company four years later company starts to fail and we're having the same conversation around like I'm gonna have to go get a job And for her it was a bit different. She knew what it took to escape employment right? In her first grand, took 12, 14 years before she felt comfortable. We talked about the fact that it's not the same this time around. She already has the background, already has the expertise, she has some, you know, other assets that she brings to the table, but that for her, she was like, I can't imagine. And she used the word escape velocity. She literally was like thinking of herself as a rocket, like how will I be able to achieve escape velocity from employment again. And so she felt this this heavy despair because of previously having made that escape and she was like, I don't know that I've got the energy to do that ever again. And so that's where she felt trapped. So it's interesting that we can arrive at that that same spot, that feeling of, once I go through this door, there's no coming back from a number of different angles, right? And I don't think one is any more or less painful than the

Wil Schroter: other. It's also totally untrue. It is, I think we

Ryan Rutan: talked about that. Nobody believed me.

Wil Schroter: Yeah, well, it's like anything else in life you have to go through. We all believe that whatever is happening now will project onto the future. The only guarantee is that it won't. And so, you know, when we think the startup is off and running, we think that's gonna work forever, just meaning when we think we're gonna be stuck in in the cubicle hells of of whatever company that that's going to happen forever. It probably won't now. We'll probably talk later about when it does last forever and kind of why that may be, but for the time being it's not a foregone conclusion, it's it's not a death sentence. Yeah, that's exactly it. I think for founders and those who have learned to identify themselves as founders, that have kind of taken the requisite pride that comes with being a founder and deservedly so, having that stripped from you, Right? I I um about 10 years ago, this was a while back. I remember hosting one of the founders dinners that we do Where we get about 10-20 founders in a room, usually at one of our houses and we just all talk shop. It's one conversation we've written about this before, but I asked him, I said, hey, you know, we'd love to see that the ex founder dinner and he said, my startup failed so regrettably, I can't come anymore. And I was like, dude, you're still a founder, you know, you didn't get a license revoked, Your

Ryan Rutan: experience didn't change, right?

Wil Schroter: Yeah. You may not

Ryan Rutan: have been shunned from the community, you just no longer have an active startup.

Wil Schroter: Yes. And and that was it. He couldn't believe it, I don't understand. And and, and again, it's up to him to determine whether he thinks he's still a founder. But my point is as a founder and somebody's been a career founder, you're always a founder, you may just switch your position from time to time and I think people need to wrap their heads around that.

Ryan Rutan: Yeah, it's not a country club, right? You don't have to continue to pay the dues like once a member, always a member, right? You still always have that experience.

Wil Schroter: And when I was talking to my friends the last couple of days and we were talking about their transition out of founder hood back into the job world. One of the things I said to them, I said, have you considered the upsides of getting back into the job world right now and they don't because right now they're still in failure mode. They're saying everything's horrible. I've been living through this car accident, just watching it slowly unfold and that's all I'm thinking about. So no, I'm not really thinking about what the upsides of of of a W two job might look like and I said, you know, there are actually a lot and, and Ryan, you and I are the last people to advocate, Hey, don't become a founder and take AW two job, but we're also not one dimensional idiots either. Like there are a ton of benefits, especially for the right time and place.

Ryan Rutan: That's the thing, it's the time and place, right? That's the context under which it happens, can make it or break it in terms of the what the upsides are being employed. But as you said, there are a ton of them, right? Some of them are pretty obvious a regular paycheck, right? Depending on how badly, depending on how badly the startup was tanking and for how long uh you may have been going without pay for some time or or reduced pay or deferred comp or something else, right? Where that can put a real pinch on, on life. And so going back to the every two weeks or once a month paycheck is a pretty obvious benefit, right? The one you and I talked about a lot is just it takes the weight off the

Wil Schroter: shoulders. My gosh, you're

Ryan Rutan: no longer have to Yes, right, Because there's you're not just worried about yourself at this point, right? Like as you transition out of that startup company, you know, whether it was big or small, you probably had to let some employees go. People who had, you know, been there with you in the trenches, working shoulder to shoulder digging, trying to make this thing work, especially the ones that were there at the very end and you gotta worry about all of them to write, that doesn't just go away. It's like, oh well, startups over high five, see you guys, you carry all that with you too. And so being able to shed at least your own personal weight from responsibility about thinking about the success of the company you're now working for Any more than is required in your 9-5 is a huge benefit

Wil Schroter: and you've been carrying that weight for so long and it's gotten exponentially big at which point you're you're folding up the startup and getting into the the employee role. Yeah, getting that off your shoulders for a day, a week, a year, feels like the greatest thing in the world. Different buddy of mine, uh, sold his company did really well with it, but had a two year earn out that he had to sit in on just started it recently. And I was talking to him about it and he had a fairly large organization that he sold into a much bigger organization. And I said, how do you feel about it? And he said fantastic. He said, he said, now every single email that hits my inbox of some stupid problem in the company HR issue, some partner issues, some financial issue, you know what I do? I don't hit the reply button anymore, I hit the forward button, it's somebody else's problem

Ryan Rutan: now.

Wil Schroter: And he just said, even though things were going well, and I'm trying to use the contrast between the two, that this isn't always about failure, so to speak, even though things were going well. He needed that weight. He'd been doing the company if I recall for like nine years, you know, it's just a long run, a long time. And I don't think because we take on these responsibilities incrementally. I don't think we realize how much were shouldering, especially toward the end when every day. And let's face it every evening, it just grinds you to the bone. Yeah. Just showing up at an office, forget a second for a second that it's somebody else's company or reporting to somebody just showing up somewhere where you're safe for a minute, right where you just walk in and be like, I just got to be here for eight hours. I just got to do my job and leave and I don't have to care about anything. And chances

Ryan Rutan: Are puts you back into a circumstance of certainty. Yes, I have to be here from 9-5. I'm going to get paid this. They're going to take this much out of my check for taxes. I don't have to worry about that anymore either. Like my finances just became very simple, very static and you know, we talked about this a lot but startups are the embodiment of uncertainty. All right, all of it. Alright. And then even as you get near the end and you're sort of certain that it's going to end like that process and we did a whole podcast on that, right? Like how to wind down gracefully. There's a lot to it and that uncertainty that comes with all of that is exhausting. Alright. So going back as you said, you know, getting back into this world like, you know, it's a 9-5 and there's a starting to stop its finite. There's some real beauty in that when you haven't had it for like say nine years.

Wil Schroter: Yeah. Or all the conversations you finally just don't have to have anymore. You don't have to be constantly listening to investors ask you, where are we and where are you on the next funding round? You don't have to have your employees asking you, are we going to have enough money to make payroll next week? You don't have to listen to your spouse asking you, are we going to have enough money to pay for anything next week? Just for once. You're like, dude, just give me a minute and

Ryan Rutan: just yeah, I'm just going to lean on the water cooler and listen to people's golf handicaps. I don't even know what a golf handicap is, but I know that I know people talk

Wil Schroter: about, well, you know, Ryan, you and I have both played in sports where you have, you know, multiple lines, you played soccer, I played hockey where you have to, in my province, you have to come off the ice from time to time founders don't get a period where they get to come off the ice for a while, right? You just get pushed further and further and further and it just, it sometimes you score a goal and it pumps you up a little bit, but you're still worn down.

Ryan Rutan: Yeah, you're still gassed.

Wil Schroter: And I talked to my friends and I said, guys, you need some time off the ice. You just dude, just get a breather for a little bit, right? It's the healthiest thing that could happen right now now for some folks and I think we should touch on this for some folks. It's not even just a breather. It's the wherever you go assuming you land a place that could be positive for you. There might be a lot of things you wish you knew that this place could teach you. I've got some friends, I have a friend, a different circumstance, different friends that went to amazon after a startup did okay, but not great, but he needed to find another gig and he said, look, the reason I wanted to go to some place like Amazon, I wanted to fill in all those knowledge gaps that I didn't know I had being a founder, you know, and we talked about this, right, We talked about you become a founder and

Ryan Rutan: a lot to be said for that,

Wil Schroter: right? Yeah, especially if you're, if you're in the right company to learn it.

Ryan Rutan: Yeah, let's let's say you started your company and like at that point like you were, you were a marketing guy, right? And that's what you knew. But then all of a sudden as a founder, you gotta be finance guy, HR guy, sales

Wil Schroter: guy, the whole damn

Ryan Rutan: thing, right?

Wil Schroter: Everything, right?

Ryan Rutan: Chief cook and bottle washer. And so you know, now you have the opportunity to do one of two things, right? Like you may say, like I just want to go back into marketing guy role for a while and hone skills or pick up new things, learn from somebody who has some answers instead of having to be the one who constantly generates the answers or you may say like, hey, I'm going to pay a little more attention now in some of these conversations, like when I'm sitting down with Dave from finance or you know, Janine from HR whatever we've got, you know, I have this opportunity to pick up and learn some things that may be useful as I achieve to, to borrow from my friend, escape velocity and reenter the founder space, right? You can pick up skills, uh personal hit points. All these things is just rest a little bit, but there's a lot of good that can come out of being in that environment where you're no longer responsible for everything. You have the freedom to learn again, you have the freedom to rest. I won't have any of that as a founder,

Wil Schroter: you also have resources that you can tap into. I remember when our first company grew became a big company. I specifically remember always battling with the finance department because we had you know our work in process, we called it which are receivables, we're still trying to collect on and every month I had to sit down with the finance team and they would bitch at me about where we stood with collections for ex client and how I had to go and get that money back. They were saying the right thing, it was just super annoying and at the time it was like the child being me and this battling with the parent, right mom and dad don't tell me how to do things right, but now that I look back and I'm also the CFO of our company, I wish I could like go back in time and have soaked up every single thing they were telling me because at the time I was just I was a founder was running stuff but I was doing so many other things I didn't I didn't appreciate how badly I should I should learn what they were telling me. This would be an opportunity again. If I was going back into a big company, I would soak up as much as I possibly could from all of the veteran people from all of the different departments and try to arm myself as fast as possible with all the stuff that I knew last go around that I was missing. It would be such a sweet opportunity.

Ryan Rutan: Yeah, sure, Yep, filling the gaps. Yeah boy, if only we could go back and relive with that. 2020, Huh?

Wil Schroter: Well, and think about it, if you're also early in your career, right early is relative to different folks, but let's say you're in your 20's And you're 25 and your startup failed and you go to work for another company, usually that's not as big of an issue because you're like, well I was probably going to work for another company anyway, but at that point you've had this really, really cool glimpse into all the things you didn't know and it's almost like getting sent back to school to figure them all out again. And so you can start to say again man, I didn't know anything about customer acquisition. I'm going to start spending time with those marketing guys, even though I'm a developer, you know, you can start to really use that as a way to, to pull from. Yeah,

Ryan Rutan: it's a there's there's nothing quite like the crucible of being a founder to purify what you do and don't know right, get down to that real quick.

Wil Schroter: You know, there's there's another part of it too and I think this is really important when we became founders, we weren't necessarily ceo s before that, and not every founders of Ceo we kind of, you know, sometimes co founders, we fit into different roles, but forget about that for a second. It's rare that when we became a founder, we were the head of another company before that chances are, you know, we were way down the totem pole in some cases, you know, if you're a super young founders, like I was 19, right, um you have no leadership capability whatsoever, you're making it all up. Well, guess what chances are the person who is the ceo of the company you're going to now did not start that way Alright, They've come up through the ranks, they've had to build diplomacy skills, they've had to build leadership skills, communication skills, organizational skills, shit you didn't have and while you may not have appreciated it when you're younger before now that you have, you've actually sort of done their job before you listen to everything they have to say, because you're starting to realize that the way they approach things, those those corporate communications that went out there, like, wow, you know, that kind of sounds cheesy, why is he talking like that? Well now you've been in a room and understood why you can or can't say certain things at a gross level and so you start to really kind of, you know, rebuild all of your character stats and start to say, okay man, like when I go to do this again, I'm going to have taken all of this knowledge and make sure I'm properly prepared because I actually know what the tour of duty looks like this time,

Ryan Rutan: right? I now know that I can't shotgun a beer when we raise our billion dollar, um, has a publicly traded company,

Wil Schroter: right? Not when Andrew mason of Groupon. So yeah. And so the other thing though is it just gives us some time to do, chill the hell out, reflect, regain and I and regain this financially of course, but just Spiritually emotionally. However you'd put it maybe hit the gym again, right, lose the £30, gather your resources, Oh man,

Ryan Rutan: all of them, right, your health, your well being, your finances, your skills, your knowledge, your network, all of your relationship time now to do

Wil Schroter: the, right?

Ryan Rutan: That's a, that's an interesting one actually. And so I had lost connection with a dear friend of mine for a number of years and I realized it was because we were both heads down building startup companies. And you know, while you could say, well we were both going through the same things at the same time, it would have been a great friendship to keep going. Yes, hindsight tells me that, but it wasn't until he shut his down and went back to being an employee that he reached back out to me was like, hey man, what's going on? I was like, hey, hey, we can talk again, right? We have time now. We have, we have the energy. But yeah, relationships is a big one and it's a frequent cost to being a founder. That relationships have to go by the wayside at least for periods of time

Wil Schroter: and we've probably pulled so much out of all of those buckets, you know, between our spouses, our family, our friends, etcetera. Just a year of being able to go to barbecues or just go on a vacation or just dumb stuff that like we all just for like just overlooked for all this time just to remind all the people in our lives that there was a reason they liked us to begin with because the last couple of years weren't so awesome. All super important in all kinds of this rebuilding period. However, I think, I think most folks understand that. I think they'd really understand it when they get that little bit of a break, so to speak and remember going to work as a W2 employee is going to be a break compared to probably what you just went through, whether things were good or bad by the way. But I think what people are really saying is then the fear of all of this is what if I never go back, what if I never go back to being a founder again and their folks want to hear, well you can kind of go back to being a founder anytime and that's true, but you know, a lot of people don't, a lot of people go through the

Ryan Rutan: cycle

Wil Schroter: and they're like, you know what I got to be honest, like, I don't hate working 35 hours getting paid actual real wages and not making negative money every year. A lot of that, that I meant,

Ryan Rutan: you know what's funny though, I'm digging through the mental database now and I know a lot of people who haven't gone back to being a founder, but I can't think of a single one, regardless of how bad the crash and burn was, who walked away from it and told me, man, I'm never doing that again, I'm never doing that again, right. There was always this sense that they might right, and I think that there's something really interesting about the psychopathy being a founder, that that's the attitude because, you know, you and I both know some folks who have had very, very messy endings to the startup companies and yet I cannot think of, I'm scratching through the database here, and I can't think of a single one who came out, it was like, man, that was so bad, I will

Wil Schroter: never do that again, they might kill their spouse that here's what I think happens, but I think that the folks that do this, that kind of like go from founder back to an employee and then kind of just stay employee for a while, you sort of don't hear from again and I don't mean that in a negative way, like you'd cut off ties with them. I think it's just because by the time that happens a few things are often the culprit, so to speak, if you can call it that Number one first and foremost, of course is family, I'm 32 years old, I just got pregnant, I'm having my first kid, the startup thing was cool, but now I'm focusing on my family for a minute and you know, being pregnant stuff and I'm just going to focus on raising this kid and my priorities just shifted right. Whereas before I wanted to build this one thing right now, I'm just kind of focused on this. My wife went through that, right, Like prior to us having a child, she was in startup world now she wasn't in startup world the way I was to be a miss class characterization of it, she she worked at startups, but she didn't really care that much about startups to be fair, but she never wanted to stop working the moment she got pregnant and the kids came into the picture, she changed her tune completely and that's just you know, one version of it saying like if you're a woman being pregnant is you're a dude, you now have two kids that you're you're helping support and the idea of risking it all and wondering whether your kids are going to be able to go to school and get fed and have to pay your mortgage. Like why would I do that? You know, just your life,

Ryan Rutan: The decision metrics changes completely at that point.

Wil Schroter: I think that's a big one I think because when we're fairly young and we're unencumbered, so to speak, you know, without having other responsibilities that aren't ourselves, we can make these decisions. But once our encumbrances change and all of a sudden we have other people to answer to people we love very much and are there to protect. I think we just look at it go, you know what the glitz and glamour of startup life kind of isn't there the way it was when I was younger and I was more of a cowboy right now that you know, now that I'm on the other side of things, I'm kind of like I'm good with where I'm at and I think that happens a lot. The other one that I see a fair amount, all of this is a little more opaque because I don't see it very directly is debt. You know, I don't, we don't talk about this a lot but and we all rack up a lot of crushing crippling personal debt. People complain about student loans and that's a real complaint. But man, you wanna, you wanna exacerbate that tried doing a startup and and adding those non paid

Ryan Rutan: bills financing

Wil Schroter: options. Oh God right? Uh there's no good version, There's no refinancing the debt because it's all shitty debt, like credit card debt, etcetera. And then you get into other stuff like unpaid I. R. S. Bills for some folks. You get, you get into tough stuff like mortgage is going south, you know, in, in, oh my gosh, it stacks up and it's it's

Ryan Rutan: it's that can put in an uncross herbal chasm between you and start

Wil Schroter: a plan. And and I think also, let's say that you've gotten yourself out of it and a lot of folks eventually do, you're kind of like, ah not really looking to sign myself up for that potential outcome. Again, it took me five years to get out of that hell if I'm going to risk getting back into that again. So,

Ryan Rutan: so we should probably podcast just on that at some point then, because I'm still, I'm like, since I made that comment earlier, I've still been kinda like, in the back of my mind going through that. I still can't think of anybody regardless of the impact. That was like, who said at least that I'm never going back. I want to dig into that at some point. I want to get like, I want to I want to turn that that that deep psychological leaf over and figure out like, why is it that we're not just outright saying, all right. Like, I know some people say I have recently started training jiu jitsu. And, and I know a couple of people who had started got injured really early on and then never went back to it. And I've got some bumps and bruises, nothing quite as severe as what they had. But I'm not seeing that same thing manifested. I've seen people get horribly injured by their startups and they're either going right back in and doing another one or there at least not saying I'm not going to. And I find that fascinating

Wil Schroter: part of the reason people can finally say that either I'm going back or I'm not going back because for almost all of us, this is the first time we've seen both sides of the equation. We've seen what founder life is like. We've seen what employee life is like and we can finally make a decision. You know, if if all we've ever done is it would be a founder, which is rare, but it's actually the case that was close to my experience. That's all you've known. If all you've known as being an employee, then then you kind of, you romanticize what being a founder is like. So here's what I would say. I would say that if nothing else going back to being an employee, going back to building a startup gives us the optionality if we're going to be an employee for a while, we have the optionality of becoming a founder, even if it's something we never want to do again.

Ryan Rutan: That's a wrap for this episode of the startup therapy podcast. This is Ryan Rutan on behalf of my partner Wil Schroder and all the startups dot com family thanking you for joining us and we hope you'll continue to join us. Be sure to subscribe rate and comment on itunes or wherever you love to listen to startup therapy. You can find all of our episodes at startups dot com slash podcast. If you're looking for more amazing resources to launch or grow your startup, be sure to head to startups dot com and check out startups unlimited. It's everything we have to offer from our online university to our amazing community of experts and founders and even all the tools we've built like biz plan, fungible and launch rock. It's everything a founder needs visit startups dot com slash begin that startups dot com slash B E G I N. You'll thank me later.

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