Startup Therapy Podcast

Episode #35

Ryan Rutan: mm hmm. Yeah. As a founder, does it feel like every time you walk into a room you're being judged before a single word comes out of your mouth, do you feel like it's always an uphill battle to be taken seriously on today's startup therapy podcast, We'll look at why it takes so much work to be taken seriously and what we can do to thumb the scales in our favor. Welcome back to another episode of the startup therapy podcast. This is Ryan Rutan from startups dot com, joined as always, by Wil schroder ceo of startups dot com. Well, we might be kind of big deals now, but that wasn't always true, right? You remember when people didn't just immediately take us seriously because we said we were the founder of something. Do you remember those days?

Wil Schroter: Yeah, well, I mean for mine, you know, it's really kind of the same as yours. I started my first company when I was 19 years old, which was roughly 1993, And people don't think about this now, but Back in 1993, You know how many 19 year old founders, there were starting anything, a kid that started a paper route around

Ryan Rutan: that age. Yeah,

Wil Schroter: Best case, Right. In all fairness, A year prior, I was still in high school. Right? So, I mean even now that's young, so don't get me wrong, but back then it was unheard of. Mind you, we also didn't have the internet yet. So this was, this was long before, really, so many things that I really want to set the stage for this because it's important for folks to understand it's before the internet. So prior to that, if you were a 19 year old sensation, who would know unless you run CNN or in a newspaper, no one would ever find out. You had Bill Gates from the late seventies and early eighties, in steve jobs, Michael Dell, sort of, and I was like it, unless you were a a NFL star or you're making pop music, no one was looking at anybody At 19 years old doing anything credible. Yeah, there was no alignment between any type of celebrity

Ryan Rutan: and, and being a founder right there, those two things didn't have anything to do with each other. Nothing

Wil Schroter: at all in. There was zero credibility. I mean, at the time, If you were going to be a ceo of a company, you had gray hair or no hair, uh, you were in your twilight years, you were looking at 10 years to retirement and if you were a young gun, you were in your mid 40s. I mean, it was such a different time. So you've got to appreciate walking into a room trying to explain

Ryan Rutan: uphill both ways when you walked into that room.

Wil Schroter: So I go to walk into a room at first, nobody has, you know, I'm setting the meeting has no idea how old I am. So, so that's kind of off the table, they've never heard of my company of course, because it's brand new, but they've also never heard of the internet. They haven't even heard of my product yet. I'm walking in and I'm talking to clients about this is the future. This is a thing called the internet. I'm literally explaining to them what the internet is because I've never heard of it before. But they're not even listening Because they're looking at this kid who has pimples on his face and looks like he's 12 years old, Margaret. I swear to God that we

Ryan Rutan: said bring your Children to work day back in March. What is this kid doing here today?

Wil Schroter: Oh my God, it actually happens. So I'm presenting one of my first deals to triple A. I mean it's such a random client, right? But I was in the web page building business, I was looking for anybody that would listen to internet. Did they already own

Ryan Rutan: that dot com? Because I'm just thinking it's such an amazing dot com A. Dot com. Right? Do they already have that?

Wil Schroter: It was at a time where most people didn't own any dot com. So if you registered it, you know, you're you're probably good to go and it's such a weird time, but I walk in and it's the board of directors of triple A. For some reason, the marketing director who was like the CMO had brought me in because he was feeling really good that he was going to show the board that he knew about internet. I mean they used in such caveman terms, so I get up there, It's really one of my first Big presentations and I'm sitting there with my laptop, my $8 suit that was all wool in the middle of August. It was the only suit that I could afford a goodwill for $8. It's a three piece suit. I look like Jack and I'm doing my presentation explaining what the internet is And No one says a word. No one asks a question which is a really bad sign. And everyone is just staring at me like I have two heads and finally at the end it's crickets and I'm like, okay, any questions room is dead silent. Everyone just looks at each other in the CMO. The guy that brought us in is like son and you don't want to be addressed as son by the way, in any possible context, in a business meeting, but it may be appropriate. Yeah, he was like, son, do you know we have letterhead older than you. He didn't even hide it. Didn't even try to like hide the fact that he was like taking me not seriously whatsoever.

Ryan Rutan: Let's just put on the table.

Wil Schroter: But that was it. That was the only question, How do you respond to that? And and so I remember getting wheeled out of the room and thinking to myself like what the hell just happened. The only question I get asked is do I know that they have letterhead older than me. And so I remember leaving the room like a week later I get a call because no one had email yet. I get a call that says we'd love to work with you and I think it's because it took them a week to realize that I actually was the ceo of the company and not like his son that got brought in to give the presentation like it was, I couldn't have had less credibility. So bob

Ryan Rutan: how did charlie do you with that homework assignment he presented to us last week? Unreal

Wil Schroter: man full of disrespected and they wanted to work with me. So it wasn't like he was disrespecting me and he was trying to offend me, he was so blown away that this child was sitting in front of the board giving a presentation on anything and it was above their heads. Like they didn't understand how any of this stuff worked and what a weird time, right, It

Ryan Rutan: was a very strange time, right? We you and I both went through very, very similar machinations around that time and there were some some really strange and funny things that happened. I mean there was a lot of opportunity but there were so many hurdles, not least of which just being the fact that you know we were still fresh out of high school, it didn't help right here is this brand new technology that you don't understand presented to you by a relative child that will go a long way. And

Wil Schroter: there was, at that time there was no precedence for someone young having authority on anything unless you had gray hair, you didn't have authority yet. So again, we we sort of had this Bill gates archetype, we sort of had this steve jobs archetype, but it was still kind of like one of those, like, right now, if you saw a 12 year old that started facebook kind of thing, like, oh wow, okay, that's that's neat novel, but you don't take it that seriously. Like, it happens everywhere. Imagine all of a sudden every meeting, it's just loaded with 12 year olds,

Ryan Rutan: what just happened,

Wil Schroter: that's happened here, Right? And so it didn't stop there. Like people forget that it wasn't just going to clients or whoever your customers were and I was in a very face to face business, it was professional services. I had to sit in front of a client and pitch them directly. I couldn't, you know, hide behind the site and nobody had any idea what the site,

Ryan Rutan: were you really pitching them or were you doing t ball with them? I mean, at that age they

Wil Schroter: were pitching to me was like, thanks grandpa,

Ryan Rutan: I want to take just a moment to remind everyone listening that you can also participate in the discussion by heading over to our forums where we open up things for everybody to share their perspective and ask questions. You'll find these discussions in the community section of startups dot com. And yes, we love hearing from everyone via email, but we'd much rather move the discussion to our forums where we can bring the power of our entire community to bear. You can engage in discussions around all of our podcast and article topics or start your own will and I are both active participants and we'd love to see you there. Okay, back to the show.

Wil Schroter: But but here's the thing, man, it didn't stop there. It kept on when I was hiring people, you know, we started to grow really fast in all of a sudden I'm calling on people again, I feel so old even saying this, but like, we didn't really have email yet, so I would call on people and try to get ahold of them so I could do an interview, I would call them, I'd set the interview we'd meet and half the time they wouldn't even come up to me because they didn't think I was the person they would look at me incredulously. Finally, after like 15 minutes of like, like both of us walking awkwardly around like a Tinder date in the, in the lobby, like, are you will Schroeder? I got this asked so many times. Yeah, man, and like, oh yeah, like it was, it was this look of, not even like, question, but more of like, oh God, this is going to go horrible. Yeah, that was the worst immediate cascade of expectations

Ryan Rutan: right there, like, oh, this is not what I'm here for. Yeah. And and then you're you're fighting such an uphill battle, right? And I think that as we talk about this, this notion of being taken seriously, right? This isn't about our ego, right? This is about how that shapes the playing field That you have to play on, right? When all of a sudden the field slants at a 45° angle heading towards you, everything gets a lot harder, right? So when you're not being taken seriously sure it's a hit to your Ego, it can be hard to just keep going. But even if you choose to keep going despite despite this barrier it's infinitely harder because you're not being taken seriously, right? Because they all of a sudden have this set of expectations that goes along with whatever the reason we're talking specifically about age at this point, but there's a lot of other things and we'll dig into them as we go, that lead to people either taking you seriously not taking you seriously and they can all be a major major impediment to progress.

Wil Schroter: I also, if I'm being honest, I expected it now, let me put it in two different contexts in one context, I didn't know to expect because I had been in the workforce for like 18 months. So I just, I wasn't old enough to really understand how the world works yet. But on the other hand, it happens so many times that after a while, like in those interviews etcetera, I would let them know on the phone ahead of time. By the way, I'm a little on the younger side. So if you, if you see someone with pimples, that's probably right. Yeah, I just like to kind of get it and get going. But here's, here's where it really manifested and kind of blew my mind a little bit. We'd uh we'd start hiring folks from out of state and so we'd fly people in um and we're an ad agency in the midwest. And so we bring people in from the coast. And the big thing about bringing somebody in from the coast to the midwest is there's already a little bit of a concern like why would I want to live in the midwest? What have you? Right,

Ryan Rutan: But even that's a reason for people to take you seriously or not. Right, ah This company is not even serious. Great geography brings the same challenge.

Wil Schroter: A great point. And so what would happen is the person we were interviewing would come in and then invariably we would fly out their spouse within a few days or something like that, depending on how the interview went or maybe on the next visit and by that point, the person we were interviewing had tried to explain to their spouse who I was, who I was beating. Like, honey, you have to understand, I'm gonna go work for a child. Go back to the 12 year old analogy in the Midwest, in the Midwest, right? It's like we're somehow going to get paid a ton of money and I don't know if this is even real, but you have to just come and see it for yourself. Like I was like a circus sideshow, so you know, we'd be at like this, this awkward dinner And you know, I'm trying to woo them on coming the Midwest and how whatever they're paying for in New York and get them 12 houses in the Midwest and the entire time I'm just getting looked at incredulously,

Ryan Rutan: Well it doesn't help when the waiter cards you when you order the wine.

Wil Schroter: That's also true. Like seriously? That was really, I couldn't rent a car and I think how embarrassing that is, I'm going on a road show, I was doing, I was on the road 240 days a year in 1997. I remember this specifically and I couldn't rent a car embarrassing is that

Ryan Rutan: we joked early on as I was building my agency. We joked about hiring an adult and it was literally just to have access to adult stuff. Like we were not even kidding, like it was things like it was things like renting cars, Buying alcohol, right? Like we're like if we hired an adult, we could have them do those things, right? Like a real grown up, like somebody over 21 because we were all 18 1920 years old at the time. And so we joked about like, let's hire an adult, his title will be like, Bob the adult, and that would be, it would be great.

Wil Schroter: Well, here's the great thing we did that we hired some adults because we wanted to make it look like, you know, we had real adults that actually ran this company and it was a huge issue at the time and I'll never forget how many times I walked into the room with the adults and they they addressed him if it was a guy as wil schroder, Oh, you must be will shrewder. Really. And what

Ryan Rutan: point do you just start Wizard of Oz in it and be like, yes, that's that's him. And I'll just be over here behind the curtains, telling him what to

Wil Schroter: say. He's the mandarin. I don't know, man, it wasn't a quick episode. It lasted for years and it took a long time for it to go away. But I'll say this, the change in the evolution in getting taken seriously, actually had no nothing to do with me getting older. It just my approach over time because it became such a consistent thing, just had to change dramatically. And I think that's a lot of what we'll talk about today is, you know, what did we have to do to actually start getting taken seriously because it's work, it's a lot of work and it's it's not an entitlement getting taken seriously. I wish it were an entitlement. It's not you have to work at it.

Ryan Rutan: Sure. Yeah. Well, it's the it's the one beauty of getting hit repeatedly with the same punch eventually. You do learn how to duck it, but let's let's let's dig into that a little bit. So, you know, and there's a few things that I want to talk about, so I think that we can talk about, you know, how did you handle that? How did you start to transition from being not taken seriously? What did you start to do to preempt that a little bit? And then I also want to talk about like, what should we be doing? Because I think there are some takeaways from when we aren't being treated seriously enough just because of your age, maybe that's not something to react too much to write. But if if you're if it's the way you're presenting your company or some factual thing, something that you have done or haven't done that's leading to that, I think there's a lot more of a take away their right, not that they're not all important because again, if that playing fields being tipped towards you and you're having to fight an uphill battle. Um You want to do everything you can to level that or, you know, tip it the other way to make it easier to go downhill. But I think first, let's let's talk about how did you transition out of that? So what did you start to do? Like how did you puff up your chest? How did you start around to make people take you more seriously?

Wil Schroter: Actually, that's a good point because what I started to learn because I was watching every person that I would watch present in the room that seemed to have authority. I was scratching my head and I was trying to find out why it just why they had that air. You know, some people just when they present in the room, they just have that air. And, and I was trying to figure out what it was because some of the people that would have that, I didn't even know who they were in other words. I didn't, I didn't automatically attach a significant who they were

Ryan Rutan: no historical knowledge, this person.

Wil Schroter: Yeah, yeah. But I started to pick up on a few things and the woman that we hired to run business development for us at the time. Incidentally, that was our first adult and I think she was 32 at the time and we thought she was a million years old.

Ryan Rutan: She,

Wil Schroter: she told me something really interesting. She had taken a class on body language and at the time I didn't, I didn't really understand it and she said, when you present, you have enthusiasm, but your body language doesn't represent the rest of you and actually, okay, what are we talking about? And she said a few things she said, you don't make eye contact with people. You're you're often like kind of looking at the floor, looking at the ceiling because you're constructing information etcetera. And people who are confident make eye contact. Yeah, that's interesting. She said something, you know, I wouldn't think of, she said you often cross your arms, you know, that's a defensive posture. And I was like, well, I'm just comfortable that way. And she's like, it sends a message, it sends it. And by the way, if you if you look at books or any or or training videos or anything on on body language, it is so accurate. I mean, the stuff they talk about is incredibly accurate in both reading other people, which is important in this case, but also in how you present yourself. Yeah.

Ryan Rutan: And we all do this all the time, right? We size people up at parties, social events, networking events, whatever you are looking at body language before you even begin to talk to somebody you already picking up on those things, right? And it can kind of tell you like, and people will, they'll gravitate towards the person who's confidently presenting doesn't really matter what they're talking about, especially early on in the conversation, it's just forming, right? But you'll see this happen over and over and over again and it's the way you physically present yourself has a lot to do with commanding that authority.

Wil Schroter: What I thought was so interesting about that is how much was defined or intended before you said a word. And as you present, how much of that is such an incredible part of how people read you. Now, for me it was tough because they were seeing this child presenting the things I had going for me. I really knew what I was talking about and I think we should probably talk about that later about how you kind of stand within your box about what you're the best at and kind of, you know, own that. So that helped. But the other was over time I started to get more more and more deliberate intentional about my body language and I watched the room changed dramatically. Little things I squared myself up, squared my shoulders to who I was talking to and it's it's a not quite an aggressive stance, but it's again a very deliberate stance. And again, some people might listen to this stuff like, oh, that's not important. Watch people who command the room, they do all of these things. A lot of people do it unintentionally. Some people just have that. I didn't, I didn't have that confidence. The other was and you guys listen to my podcast. So you know this, I talk a million miles an hour. I'm from Connecticut. I'm an east coast guy. I talk really fast. Ryan, you've got a great deliberate pace when people commander, they don't talk what I'm saying you're slow. It's no big deal. But when people command a room they tend to talk in a very specific kind of measured pace. And that's what I picked up on. I noticed that folks that had the room that owned the authority in the room that had that credibility could talk at their own pace. It's almost as if by talking slower they could command everyone's attention and I just, it was so consistent when I watched it, it blew me away. I still haven't taken on any of that. But I was always so impressed that people that could

Ryan Rutan: you really like it. I don't do that, but I really enjoy it when other people do it for me. Yeah, there's there's a lot, there's a lot to that, right? And I think the other thing that's really, really important is that a lot of these things can be really uncomfortable to try and then once you do and you start to see a more positive reaction, right? Because they're both kind of self fulfilling prophecies right? If if you act and posture yourself in a way because you're nervous to talk to people, they're going to, they're not going to take you seriously right. Like I remember distinctly two different calculus professors, I was fortunate enough to get to take calculus twice. No, not because I failed at the first time. I had to take the business version once and then later for various reasons had to take the science version. They're the same thing. It's it's math, it's the same thing. They made me take it twice. I had two very different professors. The first one was this sort of mousy guy that would kind of crouch and and turn towards the board the entire time scrawl on the board and and was you know, barely spoke comprehensively. He was really hard. I basically learned from the book. I had no connection to this guy whatsoever. I remember him distinctly just because of the, you know, the the the appearance and then later I had a another teacher for the science version of calculus. It's the same thing And his english wasn't very good was it was it was from Japan and he had a really heavy accent. He talked faster than you do by magnitudes with a heavy accent and I was far more engaged with him because of his body presence, his posture, He was always like staring us down, waiting to see if we were as excited about calculus as he was. We

Wil Schroter: weren't. I love that

Ryan Rutan: we weren't but it gave more enthusiasm. I remember far more of what he what he said. I actually did that at the time. It was also because of my second time. But it makes a huge difference right? The way you present yourself right. Same information, still calculus but the way he approached it and he wasn't doing everything right but he was doing far more right than the other presenters. The other guy was just like

Wil Schroter: almost dead right. Like

Ryan Rutan: nobody even cared you like he was up there in the corner scrolling on the board and we're trying to figure out how we're gonna pass the test. The other guy was just like he was in your face, he made a lot of eye contact, hung on a lot of words. He talked fast but then he would let things hang. He would make you wait to see what was going to happen next. And all of those things draw people in and when you draw somebody when you capture their attention it immediately builds authority as well right? Because now you are in some way controlling these people and that's a big piece of authority.

Wil Schroter: You know who have seen this do incredibly well. Our politicians, they're so good at presenting, they're so good at capturing authority. They can go on to say just all of these ramblings. Like they don't even make any sense and they do and they do but they're so good at presenting it. They command this credibility and I don't want to to beat the body language up so much because I think we have plenty of that we can talk about but I don't want to overlook that one. So again if you're dealing with some of these challenges by all means take some inventory of your presentation and I'm bringing this up because before you say a word where credibility should come from, many of these decisions are made about you. So I I want to make sure that's that's that's clear

Ryan Rutan: and I don't want to beat this to death either, but I think that one of the reasons that body language is so important is it's also one of the easiest to change and you might say, well, no, I have all these habits. Yeah, but compared to becoming more of an expert on something or getting older, both of those things take a lot of time that you can change your body language if you make a deliberate effort towards that and again, you're going to start to get a different type of feedback, you're going to see different reactions that will start to build that confidence. So I think if you're gonna take any step towards being taken more seriously being more of an authority, body language is probably the easiest one to tackle.

Wil Schroter: Yeah, agreed. And from there, you know, so you come in the room, let's say you've established a little bit of presence, you know, you've you've kind of established that body language, etcetera and that's working for you, then the conversation starts and now you have to take it to the next level, which is stuff that does come out of your mouth actually has to make sense. That's just sound really credible. And I think this is what throws off, particularly founders earlier in their careers because there's so much you don't know. I think going into being a founder, we've talked about this 90% of what you need to know, you couldn't possibly know, you know, a lot about this one subject because you're going to build an app or a business or whatever it is that you're going to build around it awesome. But now you don't need to understand fundraising, which you don't, you need to understand customer acquisition, which you don't, you don't need to understand how software is Bill, which you don't, but now you're in situations with customers, investors, employees were getting asked these questions about things you don't know anything about, and you're having a hard time establishing yourself as something incredible in a world where there's so many things that you're not credible around.

Ryan Rutan: Yeah, that's exactly right. Well, and you can't try to pretend that you got credibility in all of those things, right? Because you don't, and it will be obvious trying to pretend will not work in that situation. You really just need to focus in on on what you're good at, even if that's hyper hyper focused, you know, and you and I listened to a lot of, a lot of pitches, a lot of founders talked about their businesses, for me, it's always better to hear them talking from a point of expertise. You know, there are things they don't know. That's okay. You know, when, when, when Jeff from, from Twilio was pitching his company, he was such an authority on how his ap I was going. He was going to boil telephoning down into, you know, five api calls, right? That's what he caught people's attention with. He was an expert in that. He didn't need to talk about startup finance. He didn't need to talk about how HR was going to be, you know, a powerhouse for their company as they grew, he focused on what he knew better than anybody else. And let that do the talking. He developed his authority from there. And it's funny, but then you kind of get authority by proxy in other places, right? Like people just don't question you. If you start strong, you start somewhere, you're an authority, you're less likely to be called into question elsewhere.

Wil Schroter: Right? And what was interesting for me is, I didn't understand that. I thought for a long time in my career that I was supposed to have a good answer, a good, incredible answer for every occasion. So no matter what a client would ask me, no matter what employee would ask me, I needed to have an answer. And, and honestly, I think I did a decent job in most cases of kind of dancing around and getting enough out there, but it was the wrong answer, the right answer would have been, I don't know. I distinctly remember the moment I saw someone do this and like my head exploded. I was in a presentation and we were presenting with another agency that we're going to partner with in the, the other gentleman that was presenting their business development person was really polished. He had done a ton of international work. He really knew his stuff. But when the client asked him a direct question about how they're going to be able to expand beyond europe, he said, I don't know yet. And that was it. He didn't offer a longer explanation. Anything else like that. And they just like shook their head and you're allowed to say that I didn't know that. I was like, I would have gone on for 10 minutes tap dancing around an answer and losing credibility the entire time and not realizing it versus just saying, I don't know. Later on, when I would start to raise capital and this is inevitable. Uh, an investor will ask me a question where I just don't know the answer and often learned this later. They knew I didn't know the answer they were asking me just to see how I would respond to it. For example, How much revenue you're are you going to do in year 4? I don't

Ryan Rutan: know

Wil Schroter: I have projections that, that, that give us a projection, but let's face it until you're four, I won't know and with the confidence of delivering that answer, the conversation changed to something dramatically different. And so what I learned was admitting, here's what I do know, here's what I don't know in being very specific about it added so much credibility because people knew when I was willing to

Ryan Rutan: not knowing something and being caught unawares by something. I remember more than one occasion where I was caught with a question, I didn't know the answer, but it wasn't that it was something I hadn't thought about. And so my response was, I don't know, I'm really curious about that too. And I have several things that we're going to explore that you can talk about how you're thinking about that question, right? Which then gives them some insight in how you approach solving that problem. If it's a problem, how you go about getting that answer, whatever. But I think there's a huge difference and I think we should treat that differently. We should feel differently about that. If you just get caught by something you should know and you're completely off guard. Yeah, fix that. But if it's a question where it's it's a curiosity question or it's a you know, it's a forward looking question, you can't possibly have the real answer to express your curiosity around it. Show them how you would approach getting to that answer. And I think that goes a long, long way in building credibility and authority,

Wil Schroter: Oh yeah. And I I mean, I'm sure people would assume this, but I'm by no means saying just stop with that. I don't know, I leave the room. It's not that simple, But right. But what's interesting is the power of being very specific about what you do and don't know. Uh for example, uh you know, we've talked about this before. I've started nine Internet companies over 25 years. I understand the startup space really well. But if you say to me, I'm opening up a commercial real estate business, how do you think I'll be able to grow this? I don't know. I've never grown a commercial real estate business. How would I possibly know that what you do startup stuff doesn't matter. It doesn't work by proxy. I don't, I don't inherit knowledge just because that you're starting a company. But here's what I do know. I understand how the formation would work. I understand how most types of customer acquisition work. I understand how sales processes work. Here's what I do know and we can use some of that domain knowledge to apply. But I'm okay with, with summarily saying that business, I'm not an expert. Let's maybe jump away from what I don't know because that's kind of easy one and talk about how to double down on what you do know so that you can establish credibility When we were in the heyday of the Internet in the Circuit 1994 95. One of the things that I think I did well without realizing it at the time was I did a good job of establishing that I knew this internet thing

Ryan Rutan: and of course it's easy to forget, right? Because we're we're in that phase where we're trying to learn everything, we're trying to be everything. But knowledge is relative right to your point. Knowledge is relative. If if you already know more than everybody else about something in the room, that should be your focus point, right?

Wil Schroter: And in establishing that, and you're not always going to be the most educated, the most informed, the most experienced etcetera person in the room. But you have to establish where you stand in what you are particularly smart at, relative to this opportunity, relative to what you're talking to an employee about or whoever you're trying to recruit. Um you need to be able to establish that there is some reason why you're in the room. There is some reason why that person is talking to you because you're really good at something and that needs to be established early on. And I I think I was able to do that and it worked really well for me and I think really helped my career and I didn't realize it at the time. But Ryan, when I walked in the room and I said I understand the internet, I've been building some of the first sites on the internet, here's how the entire thing works and let me walk you through it. People were willing to overlook everything else that it was fairly clear that I didn't know because I was doing in in thinking about one thing very specifically, and I established that credibility early on,

Ryan Rutan: right. And it was also something that at the time you were leveraging the fact that in all likelihood they would have very little knowledge or at least be doubtful of their knowledge on that topic,

Wil Schroter: which is powerful,

Ryan Rutan: right, huge tools. So when you do know that you can leverage that, right? So if you're digging into some myopic thing, um that can feel wrong, I can feel bad to be too focused or too nerdy about this one thing. And yet that is your, your beachhead for authority, right? That's where it begins, doesn't have to end there. But if you don't have something that you can be the most credible person in the room on, um then maybe you don't deserve to be treated with like you're a credible authority, right? If you're not, then then you won't be. So this, this also isn't about faking it, right? It's about leveraging what you're really good at leveraging that strength into a position of authority.

Wil Schroter: Absolutely. And in establishing an early on. And I think that if you walk into a room, if you set your body language, if you set your authority, you can then begin uh answering questions or having a discussion from a position of authority and get taken seriously. The converse to that, which I see happen all the time, particularly in startup founders because they don't know how to do this yet. They walk in. Their body language is sloppy. They're, they're often presentable and, and fun to talk to. Uh, but they don't feel like they have authority. They are

Ryan Rutan: losing confidence.

Wil Schroter: Yeah, absolutely. They do a horrible job of establishing their credibility. They'll maybe mention one thing that they've worked on or maybe a school that they've gone to. That's it. Look man, if you were a chef and you're starting a, an app that helps food food prep, et cetera, you don't just want to mention that you've been a chef before. That's like none of the backstory. You want to say you've been a chef for nine years, you've played it 2500 meals for folks. You've been able to serve this major company and this major company in this major company in a corporate setting. That's different than saying I've been a chef for nine years, right? You have to, you have to give it character, you have to give a backstory

Ryan Rutan: backstory in detail, right? Goes a long, long way, right? It takes people to that place. They can see your authority at that point. You're illustrating your authority to them. Um, not requiring them to jump by proxy. Oh, he's been a chef for nine years. It could have been a horrible chef for nine years. right?

Wil Schroter: Tell

Ryan Rutan: me more about what happened in that period

Wil Schroter: And there's nothing wrong with being able to kind of like pump yourself up a little bit. There's a difference between, between being arrogant and cocky and just being matter of fact, right? You know, I've 2500 meals is a fact, Right? It's not in my case. I've started nine companies, it's a fact. I've done it for 25 years. It's a fact, right? Those are just things that I've done, whether or not you choose to lend credibility to them is up to you. But if I say, look, I run a company where I've got 1.2 million startups and we helped 20,000 startups a month. And my one area of expertise is, and startups kind of hard to ignore that, right? You might be able to say, hey, I still don't believe you. Fair enough. But those are facts. So I mean if we look at this Ryan in kind of a summary, I think it's important to look at everything we just covered. I think personally it starts with understanding that credibility is not an entitlement and I know that's tough for a lot of folks to, to digest because we're in a world where credibility and being taken seriously feels like it's, it's something that you should be given. And I gotta tell you in my experience with my own experience and with that of others. I have yet to see a single situation where someone was just given the credibility despite their ability to kind of command it.

Ryan Rutan: Absolutely. It's something you have to establish, right, You have to be willing to step in and and develop that credibility and and be able to present your back story in a way that um you know, adds to the credibility builds on that, right? And it's it's how you present yourself, um that leads to that.

Wil Schroter: And when you present yourself, you walk in the room, you're very clear about who you are, what you're great at and why your opinion matters, why, what you have to say what everything you're about to present, whether it's to investors, whether it's to customers, whether it's two employees, whether it's to anyone that this is what you're an expert in, you're confident in your expertise, this is why you're presenting, this is why you're doing what you're doing and other people should listen based on that credibility.

Ryan Rutan: 100%. And and the flip side of that coin is also be very clear on what you don't know, be very honest about that, be very clear on what you don't do, right? What your experiences aren't yet. Um and the things that you're still trying to figure out, and I think that that that honesty goes a long way, as you said in establishing that credibility, right? You're not trying to be everything. Here's what I am really good at here. So I'm not really good at. And we'll move forward from that point. 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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