Startup Therapy Podcast

Episode #41

Ryan Rutan: mm hmm. Welcome back to another episode of the startup therapy podcast. This is Ryan Rutan joined by Wil Schroder Ceo and founder of startups dot com? Will, we're digging into an interesting one today? We've got, we've got this situation that you and I have both faced and we certainly hear it from the thousands of founders that we talked to on an annual basis. I no longer love my startup like I used to and I don't know what to do about it. That's kind of true though.

Wil Schroter: Yeah, I mean, I think we have a few situations that we ultimately deal with and I think some of us have been there in different stages of our business. There's one stage where I've just been doing this too long, right? I mean, the startup was great. It's a cool startup, whatever I've just been doing it too long. Another version is this startup itself is actually just kind of boring and I mean, I can give some examples of where I've been through that myself, but you just, you know, it's kind of cool when it started, it was novel, it's not novel anymore. Another version is startups fine. Everything's good. I'm kind of tired of not making money anymore. It's kind of at a point where like, you know, the novelty of startup life just has caught up to the not novelty of regular life and um ready to bail. But I think no matter what the situation and there are many, it all comes back to what do I do about it? And I think it's worth digging into today?

Ryan Rutan: Absolutely, Absolutely. So what do you think the first, what are some of the early indicators? Right? Because I know that it's it's easy to diagnose once you're you're sort of fully there and you're like, I don't want to do this anymore. But what do you think the what are the early harbingers of doom that we're on that path?

Wil Schroter: It's like any relationship, I think, you know it when something is off or said differently, you wouldn't be having these thoughts if everything were on. I think you wake up in the morning in the moment, you wake up your first thoughts in the morning, aren't I can't wait to get into my startup? It's uh I gotta do my startup. I think that's what, with any relationship, you know, with your job, et cetera, the moment you feel that in your gut that something is just off, it's broken. It's kind of that simple and I've I've never seen a version that looks something different.

Ryan Rutan: No, I'd agree with that. Yeah, I would say that once you start to have that feeling, I'm just wondering, are there any other things that we could kind of pick up on early keys, other, other indicators. Um You know, I've often found that before I realized that I'm disinterested in something, my interest, just start to pick up somewhere else, just a bit different. Right.

Wil Schroter: Yeah, yeah, yeah. It used to be on sunday night, I run to my computer and try to plan for the week ahead because I was super excited about what I was going to do and now on sunday night have still forgotten that I run a startup or I just don't want to think about it anymore. You know what I mean? And I think what's challenging for all of us as as founders is this isn't just a job for us. This isn't just something where we're clocking in and getting paid for something. Usually we're not getting paid anything for us. It's so much more personal. It's we we always make the slightly tortured analogy of it's like creating your own child now, Ryan, you and I have Children. I'd like to believe that it's a very different experience, but it's something you've created. It's very much a part of you, it's yours and to lose interest in that metaphorical child, I think creates a deep sense of guilt and I think that's that's where these challenges start. I'm not allowed to lose interest in something that I created. And I that concerns me a lot.

Ryan Rutan: The child analogy is good here because you're not allowed to lose interest in them either. And you're certainly not allowed to talk about it, right, You're not allowed to feel that way and you're like, you know, I just really don't like this third one. Like he's just he's not as

Wil Schroter: cool as the other two. Well, it's probably true, but I think, I think that's part of it though, when I talked to founders and I can hear them implying that they're kind of bored. They don't mind saying they're burnt out, but it's hard to say my startup just isn't that cool anymore. It's hard to say that because it's yours. You're you're used to fighting for it, you're used to promoting it. You're used to saying telling everybody people you want to get on as investors or employees or trying to get the media's attention that this thing is great. It's hard to reverse course

Ryan Rutan: it is. And and there's a big difference between those two things to write. Like I we often one of the people that are that are expressing feelings of burnout and that's even sometimes used as a badge of honor, like, oh man, I'm so burnt out. E I'm working my tail off, I'm putting in long hours, I'm doing everything I can, I'm thinking about this constantly. I'm just out of energy, right? There's a huge difference between that and I have energy. I just don't want to spend it here anymore, right? It's not me, it's you that's much harder conversation to have

Wil Schroter: and, you know, the example we gave, you know, I think we wrote a short article about this was I love Pizza. I absolutely absolutely, absolutely and my waistline suggests as much. However. However, it doesn't mean I like Pizza all the time for every meal at some point. I may just decide I want to try something else. You know, maybe I've just been doing this one thing for so long and it was cool for a while, but I want to go do something else that's not unreasonable. I'll give an example. I'll give you a few examples and Ryan, you're here for these over the past few years at startups dot com. We've acquired a bunch of venture funded companies, some great companies within that though, none of the founders are here and a lot of not a lot of people know that when we did each of the acquisitions, we did a total of six. None of the founders came on board with the acquisition and that was a very deliberate decision. What folks don't know is what that conversation looked like with those founders heading into these decisions and into these acquisitions rather here's kind of how it went. And Ryan remember you and I talked about this, Hey, I love what we've built out of insert company, but I kind of want to go do something else. And I feel like I'm kind of trapped in this a little bit And if we do this acquisition, obviously you're going to expect us to come on board with you and I don't know if I'm ready to do another 2-3 years of this. And Ryan, what was our answer to that? Let us stop you right there. This

Ryan Rutan: wasn't an invitation for you to come hang out with us. This was an invitation for you to sell us your company and you are excused at the point of sale. Yeah, yeah, it was the same every time. And you know, it was, it was funny because there was a sense of relief, right? In a lot of cases they were

Wil Schroter: like, and I think for the founders, what they may have forgotten about for a minute, we quickly reminded them is that they're selling to founders, particularly founders who really care a lot about other startup founders. And by way of that are part of the discussion was, look, of course you're bored, right? And that's kind of why we're sitting here. If you wanted to do nothing but this, you'd be doing it. We would be having this

Ryan Rutan: discussion

Wil Schroter: in our answer every time. Early in the conversation was please for the love of God, go do something else, go do something that you care about way more than this. And I think it let them off the hook. But it was the first time someone else had given them permission to be okay with letting it go.

Ryan Rutan: And I thought that was really amazing. It's amazing how often we come back to that word permission, right? It has to have appeared in probably 30% of our episodes because often in the startup, you're the only one who can give yourself permission and you don't feel comfortable doing that. So when you do find a scenario where a third party, particularly another founder gives you that opening and says it's okay to do that. The amount of relief and release that gives to that founder is astounding.

Wil Schroter: And I think it's okay to say I'm bored with my startup, it's okay to say this idea was cool, but I'm just not that into it anymore. The problem is we're usually not in a position where we can untether ourselves from it were essentially the captains that have to write this thing to the bottom of the ocean. Everyone else can quit. We can't. And I think that's where this feeling of guilt combined with this feeling of being trapped starts to fester and creates a really big problem that kind of manifests into a bit of helplessness. And that that really concerns me as well.

Ryan Rutan: Yeah, yeah. I mean at that point the founder is on this path towards total despair and you know, just even being on that road is awful. But then once you arrive at that point where you feel like I don't want to spend my energy on this and let's be honest, like once you've made that, once you've turned that corner and you no longer want to put your energy into it, you've done whatever you could to try to reignite your passion around it or not. But for whatever reason it's not there, it's so hard to push energy into something like that and then you couple that with feeling incredibly trapped so that you don't want to spend your energy, but you're not allowed to go spend it anywhere else. You just get this weird mix of being completely drained on one hand, completely pent up on the other and it's just a disaster for the founders and you and I have both gone through this and we both watched countless founders go through this. Um, and funnily enough, like the real answer is just don't do that. Don't feel guilty about it. Let yourself have, you know, give yourself the permission. We're giving you the permission. If you're listening now and you're going through this, you have our permission. It's okay to be bored. It's okay to say you're bored. It's okay to not want to do it? It's also okay to not do it now. There are some circumstances that you probably need to put into place. Some things that have to happen in order for it to be okay. You can't simply, like, you know, as you said, you're, you're the captain of the ship, you're driving the bus. You can't simply step off while it's still rolling. Not fair to everybody else involved. So let's talk about that. So what are the, what are your options? Like I want to? I want to jump out of the driver's seat? How much do I have to slow this thing down, What do I have to do to make a good transition for the company. The team investors, customers, everybody

Wil Schroter: involved. Well, I think the first step before you're getting into the actual, how do I dismantle my, you know, either the organ or my relationship with it? I think the first thing we have to do is to figure out whether we are and whether this is a trend or a blip as far as our relationship to the company and I bring that up as a prelude to this because I think these things are often hard to tell the difference from when you're in it, when I wake up in the morning and I say, I don't want to go to this startup. There might be a few reasons I feel that way. One of them could be, I'm tired of the anxiety that comes with being broke. That's fair. I mean, why wouldn't you be another one? Could be, I've just been working too hard. I've been, I've been killing myself doing 80 hours a week or whatever your version of killing yourself is and I'm just drained. The energy bar is gone. And then there's another part which is, I actually just don't like the business that we're in or I've done enough of it to put that in perspective and in case you're thinking, boy, how could I ever do that, Jeff Bezos created the most transformative e commerce platform and probably one of the greatest companies in our lifetimes and he still got bored and launched rockets. Elon musk built one of the most transformative electric car companies and he got bored and also launching rockets. Yeah. Like there's an odd

Ryan Rutan: theme here

Wil Schroter: apparently. Apparently you're one step away from launching rockets. But my point is look man, the most successful, most accomplished people in the world. Still, we're bored enough with what they were doing on a primary basis to go do something else. It's natural. Again, most people are thinking well if things aren't going well, so on board, not necessarily, sometimes what you're doing just isn't what you're supposed to be doing and that's okay and that's okay. But I think we have to be able to step back and say before I make any rash decisions before I say, hey, I need to make a hard life change. We need to figure out which problem we're actually addressing.

Ryan Rutan: Sure, Sure. Because as you said, a lot of things can lead to this and it's not necessarily just boredom, right? You may just not want to do this for any number of reasons that I can think of A handful of others like team toxicity right? If you just gotta, you gotta toxic team member or even a pervasively toxic culture. Um, that's a big one. Um, and we talked about this separately on, on another episode entirely and that's, that can be a big issue and that can lead to disinterest or not wanting to be in the startup or not wanting to be around it. Another one is that the organization grows in a way that you no longer represent the same thing to the organization that you used to write your, you may have, you know, it may have grown to the point where now operations is far more important than vision and that's not your thing. Right? And so just what is required of you changes over time and therefore your interest may right. If all of a sudden it becomes like, you know, the, the key to success is great financial planning from this point forward. It's just a finance function. We got to figure out how to make the most of our money as we move forward and that's going to be it, that's not your thing, that's not your thing. You may not want to do that. So to your point, I think it's, it's really important to, to lean back a little bit and think about what are the factors that are driving you away. And I think in a lot of cases it's going to be more than one, it's going to be some confluence of events and, and, and factors that are pushing you back away from it. Um, and sometimes those irreparable, sometimes they're not. Um, but absolutely agree with you that if we're going to talk about options for bowing out or making major major fundamental changes to our involvement in the business. We need to make really sure that we've, we've done a thorough analysis as to why and what the likelihood is that this is something permanent versus you know, a blip in the radar. Something cyclical that we can kind of work around.

Wil Schroter: Yeah. Because Ryan, I think that sometimes we'll be running this thing for so long that will forget that normal rational people get breaks in what they do. Normal rational people have a vacation that they actually stopped doing what they're going to do. They stop hurting themselves long enough to repair themselves. We're in a business where that's often a second thought or not a thought at all. And so if I'm running for six years, seven years and I'm like, I'm just bored of this business, you probably are. And, and that's again probably rational. But if we dig a layer deeper, we may also say when's the last time you took a two week solid vacation and you're probably say never right. Or or it was tied to a family function or something like that. Or you know, somebody, your brother got married or something silly like that. In other words, you didn't just be able to take a vacation where it's just full recharge And I see that 100 and I bring that up only because it could be a blend of these things or one thing could be masking the other and I'll give you a couple of personal examples that I've had where I've had the benefit now of retrospection to be able to say, what was it this or that When I was running blue diesel, the ad agency, you know, we were growing quite a bit, we've become a pretty big agency. We had probably about 600 people at the time. And I remember walking into work, it was the beginning of august. I remember plain as day, I remember walking to work and we've just constructed these two huge 100,000 square foot building, a monument to our success or whatever. And I remember thinking I don't want to walk in the door. I I don't I don't want to do my job anymore and that's a bit of a problem. You know, when when you're running the company And I couldn't understand why I was really confused and I was young, I was probably 26 maybe. And what I realized in retrospect and what I realized now is I just didn't want to be doing that job. I didn't dislike the company, I didn't dislike the people, I didn't necessarily dislike the business. I just didn't want to be the manager of a company. I wanted to be doing something more interesting and I was I was about to go into 12 hours of meetings about upcoming meetings and that just sucked. Now unfortunately, I would say I didn't handle it well and I'm just kind of break this out because it will serve. Maybe it's a little bit of a structure for how we talk about this. I didn't handle it well because I couldn't decouple. I just don't want to be doing this job with, I don't want to be doing this company anymore. If I had a little bit more wisdom or if I had better mentorship at the time, my guess is I could have said, I need to find another role in the company to get restarted and, and if I'm really being honest with myself, I need a freaking vacation. I needed sabbatical. I need way more than a vacation, probably six months off at that point where I just did a hard reset and said, let me just see where I still fit in the organization. I mean I, I needed a much different approach, but that's not the approach I took. The approach I took was, I don't like this, I don't want to be here. How do I get out? And, and, and, and again, I'm bringing this up because I was addressing some of the wrong symptoms

Ryan Rutan: and it's, it's not uncommon, right? This is one of the scenarios that I brought up earlier, which is that now your relationship to the company has changed. But in your case, I, I know for a fact that the way it changed was over time. It wasn't as if there was some cataclysmic event and now I'm in a different role that I don't like it. It's a bit of the boiled, it's the boiled frog syndrome, right? It's, it's, it's changing slowly over time. It doesn't, you don't feel it, it creeps up on you and then all of a sudden you realize you don't want to be doing what you're doing. And I think this is part of why I don't think it was lack of, of wisdom. I mean of course now that you've been through it, you can look back on it, but at the time it would have been hard for you to see because you hadn't intentionally changed your role to that. And I think that puts founders in this position where we feel like because I'm now doing something entirely different without any intention of my own to have arrived at this point. It makes you feel like you don't have the power to change it to something else. It's sort of like do I just ride it out and wait until it changes into something better because it changed into something bad. Maybe if I wait long enough and then this is where you end up in that, that being kind of controlled by the guilt being, you know, feeling a bit powerless and and that's a horrible situation. Um and the other piece, which is absolutely true for most founders is the one that you brought up about not taking a break, not giving ourselves any rest, not allowing a recharge, you know, when I called tom brady on a monday morning and I say, hey tom, what'd you do yesterday. And he's like, I won the Super Bowl and then I asked him, what are you doing today? You know what tom brady never tells me I'm playing in the Super Bowl. You just don't do that right. We're the only people in the world that put ourselves through this over and over and over and everything to take a break and go to Disneyland and I don't know why, but that's, it's, it's average, right? That's par for the course what we all do.

Wil Schroter: Yeah, it's nuts. And when I think back again, I'm thinking through progressions having done nine different companies. I'm thinking about how the different companies ended. The next company I'm running is a company called Swat Police dot com. It was a lot of people to get in and out of car leases. And after a few years, I mean, this thing grew so fast after a few years. This is circuit 2001, um, we're doing about a billion dollars in Carly's transfers, which sounds like a lot, but car leases are worth a lot. So doing billions doesn't really mean much, but it was still a good healthy business. And I woke up one day and I said, I don't give a shit about doing Carly's transfers and I can't get excited about it. I just can't right. Like it was, I'm so glad we created this thing that helped a ton of people. There's a cool service, great business, you know, good, healthy business, whatever. I just don't care about the product and I'm not sure how I could. I'm a very passionate creative person. I don't know how I was going to jump out of bed saying, I cannot wait to transfer somebody's carly's today, right? I just couldn't get there. And at that moment I'm like, I'm out and did I feel guilty. I did because one minute I'm sitting there pitching the business talking about how it's the future of something and I'm trying to get other people to get excited about that vision. And the next minute I'm abandoning the vision that I helped create. And that made me feel incredibly guilty. It made me feel like I can't leave because I've locked myself into something and I think this is where the self imposed jail starts to become very real. And I think in founders often forget we can quit. I mean, we can quit in different ways, but we can quit and I quit. I don't mean give up. I mean quit as in stop doing ship we don't want to do. Yeah,

Ryan Rutan: but we did an entire episode on that, right. It was, it was one of the keys to our happiness in running startups dot com was that we stopped doing things we didn't want to do anymore. Um we also did an entire, an entire podcast on feeling like a founder fraud. Um, and we didn't talk about this scenario in particular, but this one that you just described where, you know, you're, you walk into a meeting, you got to get everybody hyped up and feeling great about, you know, this is the future of how leases will get transferred. There's all the stuff we're doing and then you walk out of that meeting going, yeah, but I don't want to do any of that ship right. Talk about a trigger for feeling like a founder fraud. You're, you're literally two faced at that point, right? And it does not feel good at all.

Wil Schroter: Yeah. And, and I think that at some point we have to be honest with where we actually stand with these feelings and which which situation or which combination of feelings we're actually trying to address. And again, I can't help but bring up over and over. It's usually a combination of these. It's not just one, it's not just, hey, the startup is boring. It's also, and I'm, I'm burnt out and I'm tired of losing money and I'm tired of working with these people and I'm tired of working with these clients and you know, like, and we need to do something about it. So I think it's safe to say, let's talk about what to do about it.

Ryan Rutan: Yeah. What are our options?

Wil Schroter: Well, let's start with this. You have options. We always think that were painted into a corner. Hey, I started this thing. I have no options. That's bullshit. You have options. It's how willing are you to put those options into practice. And so often the first option is to figure out who else could be doing your job. And here's where people screw this up. They say I'm going to leave the company. I need to find a person to do my job if you can. Wonderful. I tried it. I see I succeeded never to be clear. I've tried so many times. I've never succeeded at it. I've tried it probably among four different companies. I've tried it. Um, I mean just I can go on and on and on, it's not easy to do. This isn't like, hey, I'm just swapping out somebody on the customer service team. This is, I'm trying to swap D. N. A responsibility vision, all of these things that aren't, that don't just show up in your linkedin profile.

Ryan Rutan: Right. Right. Right.

Wil Schroter: So the first thing I always tell folks is if you're thinking about how to eject from this thing, it's not about replacing you per se. Ultimately it will be. It's about how does the rest of the team fill in. And I think when you take a broader approach like that, it starts to become a lot more palatable. And by the way, that's if you have a team, if you're one person running the thing, it's fairly binary. It's either you or it's not.

Ryan Rutan: It's also a lot easier to make the decision to shut it down or to bow out. If there's just you write, a lot of the guilt comes from letting the team down, letting the investors down, letting the customers down. Right? If it's, if you're early on and, and it's just you, um, you know, maybe you get some revenue, maybe you don't, it's, it's a far lower pressure situation.

Wil Schroter: Not everybody else is gonna want to sign up for your vision or your version of where the company stands or your version of this, your, your version of that. What I've seen a lot of folks do myself included is they're trying to get a carbon copy of themselves, the DNA, the passion, the way I would play it, etcetera. And they're just looking for a multiplicity version of themselves where they plug that person and they go do something else and it sort of works out

Ryan Rutan: kind of like that actually works out exactly like that, right? Like it doesn't go the third replacements now got pizza in his wallet and he's, he'll, he'll only answer questions if you feed him coke, right? Such a good movie.

Wil Schroter: Such a good movie. But here's the thing. I think the first step is just being very honest that I need to get out of this. I think that's the hardest part of all this is that we don't want to make that admission that this thing is broken for us for whatever reason and the reasons can all be valid, but just saying, look, I need to make a hard cut. Most founders, I know that probably should be making the hard cut. Just refused to do it somewhere between pride and guilt and opportunity and all of these things. They just get deadlocked in it. And I was too, I tried on numerous occasions to find someone else to run a company for me and it never worked. I found great people, they're good friends of mine, it just never, ever, ever worked where I made the mistake is I kept trying to replace myself with one person. So bringing back to this, yep, what I would have done in retrospect is I would have tried to figure out first how to level up all the people that are part of the organization To give them 20-30% more responsibility. Yes, basically to spread the load, yep. And this is where I think it gets interesting and I think in another episode, we might have talked about this about basically how to replace myself or someone else should be doing this and it's all the same things apply. But I think the first thing to do is start to not jump out right away, just say, hey, it's a hard cut, I'm out of here. It's to start to say, let me try to push as much responsibility onto the folks of other, other parts of the organization, ideally reward them accordingly and try to get 2030, 50% of the burden off of my shoulders and see how that feels. Maybe that's where I'm stuck heaven forbid I try to replace myself or shut down the organization only to come to find later that actually the issue is I just need a less workload. Imagine that.

Ryan Rutan: Yeah. And we talked about a lot of these things in that other episode as well, you know, different, different ways that you can, you can kind of load balance and logical people to take on additional responsibility. And you know, it's funny, we don't think about it this way, but as the company grows, you know, we start off as being responsible for everything and, and so there is, there's some degree of kind of planned atrophy here, where you have to, as the company grows as a founder, you're consistently handing pieces of that responsibility off. What's interesting is that there's probably a way to, to map that to some of these issues we're having like founder boredom or, or burn out depending on what we hand off. Right? Sometimes we hand things off. Opportunistically based on who's on the team that can take it on rather than I'd like to get rid of this because I don't want to do it and sometimes you end up doing is giving away all the good tasks, things you enjoy doing and you're stuck with the ship that's left over, right? So being a little more careful about how we go through this atrophy. Um could could actually be highly beneficial to keeping us out of the situation. Um but if you're already there understand that this is kind of a natural part of founder growth is that you have to start to shed some of the responsibility, you can't hold onto everything. Um and certainly if you're, if you're actually trying to extricate yourself from the business, you're going to have to do that, you're going to have to divide those tasks out, give them to people across the organization. Um kind of opportunistically or you know based on their skill sets. Um and you may have to bring in some additional resources to cover it. But to your point trying to do that with a with a one shot, one kill bring in, you know, you're one person replacement, extremely, extremely difficult unless you're Mark Zuckerberg and data from next generation happens to be available.

Wil Schroter: That's true. Every time I see him, that's exactly what I see

Ryan Rutan: now, still one of my favorite memes.

Wil Schroter: Oh God, so perfect. But here's what I think, I think when I start to get burnt out and again, this, this episode isn't about burnt out and say I lost interest, I don't want to do this startup regardless. We often still have a stake in the startup. So we have some skin in the game. So we have to be very mindful about how we start to separate ourselves. It is possible in some cases to do less of the work if possible we can, you know, shoulder you know, move that over to some other folks. It may be the case too that it's not that I want to go do another startup. Like I kind of like what I'm doing here or I like, I like the fact that I like the team, I like some other parts. I'm just again a little bit fried on this concept. If I was still at Swat Police and I was feeling the same way over, I was still at Blue Diesel and I was feeling the same way. What I would have done is I would have tried to find some other way To spend 50% of my time right gone done a hobby. I have done anything else to try to just get my head out of this thing for a while. So I could recharge a little bit when I was at blue diesel with 600 people. I mean there's plenty of other people to do my job. I'm long since gone home and gone over there 20 years. They've got like 20,000 people there or something like that. Now, trust me, there's plenty of other people there that could do my job a hell of a lot better and have and so in my mind, all I really needed was an opportunity to go do anything else. And I think assigning some of the workload is one way to do that. Another way of course is to bring in someone wholesale. Because I want to point out in a lot of cases, this isn't just about you personally, Hey, I've lost interest them out. It's about how do I make sure the organization is okay while I go do something else. And in that case when we're looking for someone else to fill in for us, it's possible to say that this is basically a temporary role that we'd like to make permanent. It doesn't have to be, I have to find somebody to absolutely take over all duties right away. They take over the presidency. I write a nice letter and I'm gone. It doesn't have to be that it can be done incrementally and I think it should in order for the organization to kind of absorb the change. I also think on the flip side, if I'm the person trying to kind of step my way out, I need to make some deliberate decisions about where my time is about to go. So for example, uh, at startups dot com and I'm the ceo of startups. If I were to say, hey, I'm looking to kind of make my way out and I said, Hey Ryan would, would you mind taking over as Ceo? I think it would make sense for us to say, here's a timeline where I'm going to start to hand off more and more duties, but at the same time, I should say, if not to you then at least to myself, here's what I'm going to go, do. You know, here's my plan for doing other ships and I think that's incredibly important.

Ryan Rutan: It is and and it's actually one of the steps that we see people miss all the time and then they get out of boredom and they just go into like freefall and and you and I both cites some examples. We will not, but we both cite some examples where we watched people go like, damn near batshit crazy because now they're out, which is what they wanted and they don't know what to do with themselves. They start doing really strange things like they just, they go off the rails, right? They, they lost their grounding factor in the universe and now they're just swinging around.

Wil Schroter: I don't know what to do when I talk to folks. And I say, look, I understand what you're running from. What I want to ask is what are you running

Ryan Rutan: to? More

Wil Schroter: often than not, folks don't have an answer for that. You know, by the way, again, we're drawing some parallels here. This often happens in relationships you want out of the bad relationship, but you don't really know what you want in the next relationship. And so you wind up kind of this in, in this, this amorphous region in between where you're not in a relationship, you know, you're not you're away from the bad relationship, but you're not in a good new relationship either. And that's a whole other set of challenges. And I think the same applies here. I think people are saying I'm so busy trying to get out of this. I don't know what I want to get to. And I think that's dangerous because if you don't have some other way to fill that time or fill that interest or feel that energy, it's you're going to exacerbate the problem now, you're not doing the thing that you started and you're not doing ship with your time. Otherwise it's it's your thought. The guilt of

Ryan Rutan: wanting to leave was bad. The guilt of leaving and not doing something better with your time. Far far worse.

Wil Schroter: You know, I mentioned to you yesterday in slack how I had no lack of friends who have gone on to sell their companies and have just driven themselves damn near insane because they don't know what else to do with their time now, this this discussion isn't about that, this isn't I've lost interest in my startup. And Jeff Bezos just bought it right. It's not a discussion. We'll maybe have a different episode on that one. What we're saying is I don't want to do this thing that's frustrating me, but I don't know where I want to put my time. So my only advice here and I think Ryan, will you and I are trying to convey here is you have to have a place that you're going to, not just a place you're going from. I think it's really, really important and I think you need to be very deliberate about how you express that again to yourself and to the team.

Ryan Rutan: Absolutely, yeah, I mean in this, in this situation, the worst thing you can do is to do nothing alright. Um, and I by that, I mean by taking no action while you're still in the startup. Um, if you do decide to leave or step back or reduce your time and you do nothing with that newly found time, just as dangerous for everyone involved.

Wil Schroter: I think what, what drives this is we don't have a good sense for what we're trying to move towards personally and by the way that thing you're trying to move toward doesn't necessarily have to be work, it could be personal, it could be, I just want time to go do something like Ryan, you're enjoying jujitsu and soccer, I'm enjoying building stuff and carpentry. Uh, those are things we really enjoy doing that have nothing to do with our jobs and actually, I think that's, that's why it works. I think that for a lot of folks they stew on this and they say, I hate what I'm doing, I hate what I'm doing, I hate what I'm doing, but they don't get to a point where they're saying if I don't do something about this, bad things are going to happen. They just say if I don't do something about this, I'm going to continue to be bored and angry or whatever it is. And I don't, I think that's the least important thing you should be concerned about in the short term. If you're not engaged on a plan to fix this, the organization is going to take a header. I've never seen a prosperous organization that involves the founders of the leadership checking out. I mean, seriously, I've seen companies, not at the startup stage, I've seen companies certainly that are well and mature and the founders long distance checked out and and he or she earned it at that point, as far as I'm concerned. But I mean in the very formative stages when you're still fighting for your supper, it's not the time to check out with all these startups, no matter what happens, it's okay for our feelings about these startups that change, That's fine. It happens. What matters is what we actually do about it.

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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