Startup Therapy Podcast

Episode #46

Ryan Rutan: Welcome back to another episode of the startup therapy podcast. This is Ryan Rutan from startups dot com, joined by Wil schroder ceo of startups dot com, this is our first episode of the new Year and we thought we'd kick it off with something a little aspirational. We're gonna talk about what happens after we've made it. You know, we always dream about our startups making it big, like the big hits. But what happens when we actually do that? What happens when we achieve that will

Wil Schroter: well, having made it through this process on both ends of the spectrum and you know, you and I, we've had the opportunity now to run through the beginnings of the startup, where we had the idea and we're totally broke and life is just nothing but debt and then get on the other side of it, where we've had some success and we've had the opportunity to see do all those big risks that we're taking, all those big bets that we're making, if they pay off, do they really pay off? Does it have this step function change in life that we can say, okay, that was all worth it. Now that we're on the other side of it, man, this is, this is shangri la, everything is wonderful. And so I think let's talk about what actually happens because for the folks that are out there that are just heads down right now, putting everything on the table, risking everything, hoping that things will be something different on the other side, we often don't get to see what that is. We get to see the Mark Zuckerberg version, I'm a billionaire kind of thing. But for regular people who have reasonable outcomes. Does life change dramatically? Like how big is that Delta? And what does daily life look like on the other side of it? I think we should, we should talk about it.

Ryan Rutan: Let's unpack it because I think there's this, there's this expectation that, you know, we've got these bets and all we have to do is make the right bets and then when the bets pay off That we've won and everything will be exactly as we wanted it to be. What's funny is we don't often consider exactly what that means, like what will really happen? Like do I actually have a goal? Like I'm gonna sell this thing for $100 million? Great. And then what I'm going to have $100 million, you won't actually, but that's a different story.

Wil Schroter: Well the other part is people are saying, you know, I'm going to buy a house and I'll buy a car and like, cool, now you're sitting in your house, you're sitting in your car, what are you actually doing 16 hours a day,

Ryan Rutan: isn't that kind of, But you know,

Wil Schroter: how about this Ryan, why don't you start with before anything had gone well for you, what was your life like, you know, what was your baseline or in some cases, what was your, your lowest point, so to speak, so we can kind of understand what your world looked like.

Ryan Rutan: Well, luckily the lowest point, it wasn't ever horrible and don't get me wrong, there were definitely stressful parts. Um, I was never in a van down by the river or anything like that, right? I was never living out of a car and you hear these, these like extreme stories of founders struggle. Um, it also happened at a time when the expectation was that I was going to be poor. I was in college the first time I went through this and so like you're all poor and everybody around you is poor and so there's no shame in it. So it's a fantastic time to do this. But there was still a lot of stress, right? There's still like when, when you can't pay your bills, you spend a lot of time thinking about the fact that you can't pay your bills, right? It's just, it's always there, right? And some of these were pretty important, right? Some of these had to do with daily life. Some of these had to do with the education I was, I was trying to get through the formal channels, some of this had to do with the actual running of the company and so on and so forth and right. And then at some point you, you've got employees and, and now their livelihoods and their tuition and their rent checks are based on your ability to pay your bills, iii them. So yeah, none, none whatsoever, especially if most of them are your friends, right? No big deal. Um and honestly, again, like when you really look back and you kind of lean out and you say like what would have been the worst thing would have happened? The worst thing that would have happened is we have all ended up living in one apartment together and it would have been weird, but we were spending most of our days and nights together anyway, so it wouldn't have been that different. Right? So again, the baseline here is that there was stress but I wasn't that far from the ground anyway. So had I fallen all the way, It wouldn't have been a hugely catastrophic crash. Now At the time, you know, 19 19.5, 20 year old Ryan would not have believed that right? The world would have ended. Um and not just for me, everyone, it would have been cataclysmic event. It was, it was everything. And so, you know, at that point of what we're doing here is setting the stage it was pretty dimly lit, right? And, and there was, there was a lot of, a lot of uncertainty and just a ton of stress around all this stuff that was accumulating none of it. Good, right? It was, it was personal debt. It was business debt and not just financial debt, right? Emotional debt, Oh my God, energy levels were, you know, and again at the at the peak of of your your kind of, your physical energy level should be as high as ever. But I was exhausted all the time because I wasn't sleeping and even when I was, it was poor sleep, because I was flipping from side to side thinking about, who am I gonna pay? Who am I not going to pay tomorrow so that I can pay somebody else, Right? It was pretty stark at a lot of points.

Wil Schroter: And at that point, did you feel like I'm right around the corner from fixing it? Did you feel like there's no way this is ever gonna work? Like, well, you know, what was your mental state between where you stood there and where you thought the other side of the goal line might be

Ryan Rutan: for better or for worse? I have almost always been an optimist. And so I did believe that it would work out, but I didn't always believe that there wouldn't be major disaster between me and it working out, right? And so, and I think that, you know, there was, there was sort of the optimist on one hand, and I was I was happily paddling towards that outcome. The other side of it was I was definitely running scared from, you know, the demons that were chasing me at that point, right, like needing to cover payroll, um needing to pay hosting for clients who were paying me for their hosting, but I had to use that money for payroll, so they're hosting might get shut up, that leads to very unhappy clients if you've never done that to someone, your website gets to know why we didn't pay for hosting. Yeah, we did. You know you did. You see, but like then when I got the money, I didn't I didn't I didn't like the old shell game, right? So there was definitely, we didn't paper, he didn't pay for hosting. You did. Yeah. So you know, it was one of those things where I think that and I think you kind of have to be, you know, a bit of an optimist, you have to believe it's going to work otherwise, why the hell do you keep doing it? Um Okay now there is a situation where like you're just running so scared from the failure because you don't know what that actually looks like or what will happen. We've done an entire episode on this right, highly kind of unwind what happens if everything goes wrong. But in the moment I never felt as compelled by the fear as I did by the desire to succeed. So I think that things were still just just to the rosy side of of the, of the spectrum.

Wil Schroter: Okay. And so at that point again, you're optimistic. Obviously none of us can predict the future, but you're broke and you're like, hey, if I make it bonus if I don't, I'll figure

Ryan Rutan: something.

Wil Schroter: And so I think along those lines for all of us were, were all the point where like, I think at some level, we know things might work out. But again, we don't know, we're kind of running into the abyss. Some of us though have have a downside that's significant, you know, because often we talk about startups that everybody is young and you know, there's not a lot of downside, but Ryan mentioned at our age now with, with, you know, full family, et cetera, making those same bets are being in that same place where we couldn't pay bills, you know, a lot of us in our lives when we happen to be doing our startups, there's a huge cost

Ryan Rutan: to this. Are you trying to incite a panic attack right now? Because honestly like that it's, that changes everything. Right? I mean, it totally changes everything now. I think that the obviously if if there is catastrophic failure at this point, right, the consequences of that are exponentially more impactful, right? If this is because now for me it's five humans, right? I'm responsible for myself and for others for other humans co responsible with my wife and it would be a major disaster. But I think that the flip side of that is that because of what we've accomplished and where the stage, of course that depends on what kind of, where you're at, You know, just being older doesn't necessarily mean that you're more secure in our case. You know, we have, we have built some security, we built some cushion. So the likelihood of that total failure, the distance between me and that total failure is greater at this point. Right? And knock on wood and thank the stars. That that's where we're at at this point. But absolutely, if you're, if you've just been, maybe things haven't worked out well for you and you're at the same, you know, life stage that we're in. It's a very different picture and I can imagine it being a lot harder to continue to be optimistic. And of course these are the things you have to consider as you go into this, right? There are no certainties in this startup life and, and so you do need to to think about those things. But again, let's let's let's come back around to, yeah, there's this chance for failure. There's this downside that we're worried whether we're running towards our goal or we're running away from failure. What happens when we actually cross the finish line, right? What happens when the bet pays off?

Wil Schroter: I think for a lot of folks myself included, there's this feeling that if all this hard work pays off, there's this shangri la the other side of this equation where I have all the things I want, I'm no longer encumbered by debt and just everything works great. And I've got to say, as a guy who's been through this entire spectrum of, of all of these feelings and emotions and expectations, it's mostly true. Okay. I just want to be clear in my case, I've gone from ridiculously poor. You know, my family grew up in poverty level, ridiculously poor with my case, very low expectations. Like I didn't think anything good was going to happen in my life. Like I thought my dad worked construction, I'd go work construction, I build houses and that was kind of it and I was cool with that. Like I, I never had an expectation early in my life that anything was going to be better than that. I never thought I'd go to college. I never thought, I mean again, my bar was pretty damn low, but at the same time growing up in my mind, the idea of making it just meant fundamental stability just meant like I would be able to eat every single night. It just meant that like my rent would get, I'd never considered owning a house like that. My rent would get paid that I would be able to eventually one day make all the car payments on a car. Like to me that was making it, if I map it all back. It wasn't about living big or anything like that, especially back then it was about safety. I just wanted to be able to wake up and feel safe and my entire life, my entire existence was solely pointed at getting to specifically that goal, but what, what I've learned since then, you know, I've been at this for a long time and and I would say I've spent nearly half my life in abject poverty in the other half of my life having done fairly well. And I gotta say most of my, my life, my day to day hasn't changed. That, that would have shocked me that this is the heart of what I want to talk about in this episode. Is that the day to day of how you spend your day kind of doesn't change how you feel during that day, Change is night and day. I mean back then every single night I went to bed in total terror. Now when I go to bed I go to bed thankful, right, I spend a lot of time trying to be highly cognizant of all the things in life that I'm very thankful for. I have concerns, I have fears, I have you, no worries and anxieties, but they're not survival and that changes everything. But what I thought was interesting having again, kind of gone through this whole spectrum is that when I was first getting started in my career, first getting started my business, everything is working against us, right? Just the way it goes right? Like I'm in $100,000 of personal debt at the time I'm 19 years old. So there's no way I'm going to ever pay this debt. This is, it's one of the things that's so much debt. It almost doesn't

Ryan Rutan: matter that dream of security and always paying the rent just right out the

Wil Schroter: Window. Yeah, I was like, I was like, it's never going to happen to begin with being $100,000 in debt doesn't make it any worse or better. But to be fair, it wasn't cavalier about it. I wasn't like $100,000, who cares? I was I was sweating bullets every waking moment, right? I mean there's, there's no way I overlooked it for a second because of that Ryan it consumed every waking moment of my death every decision I had every, there's this constant cloud of oh shit following me all the time, everywhere in, throughout my dreams and all the time. It's pervasive and when we talk about making it, what it would be like on the other end, we're like, just get rid of that cloud man. Like I just, I just want to be able to wake up in the morning and know that that cloud isn't there, I don't owe somebody something. I'm not indebted and I don't just mean financially to all these different things all the

Ryan Rutan: time. Yeah. When you say I haven't woken up to an alarm in years. You don't want that to mean because the repo man's outside every morning and he wakes me up banging around looking for my car, right? Not the way you want that.

Wil Schroter: And I think again at the time, this is before anything had gone, Well at the time, all I'm thinking is just get this monkey off my back. If the monkey's off my back then I'll have made it and everything like I said, will be shangri la and you know what again, spoiler alert. There is some truth to that. It's just, it didn't go quite the way I thought it would. And so, so here's what I thought would happen. I thought that like I make these bets company would do well I'd make a bunch of money and then all of a sudden I'd be living, I don't know how to describe it more like this just like magical rock star life where like everything I did all throughout the day, it would just be the coolest thing

Ryan Rutan: you could possibly do, you get you get thrown right into right into the middle of little orphan Annie, right? And all of a sudden you just everything that dance through your house while mopping. Yeah, it's just it's amazing.

Wil Schroter: Here's what it comes down to though in life. The most valuable things that exist are the things that you don't have because the moment you do, they're just not that valuable anymore. It's sad, but it's more true than people realize. And so when I didn't have a house, having a house was the most important thing to me and to be fair, having a house is important, but once you have it, you have it, it's your basic

Ryan Rutan: man, I just had a crazy conversation with, with a dear friend of mine who suffered a horrible, horrible accident while traveling internationally last year to the point where he was in the hospital for four or five months, couldn't walk, couldn't, didn't have the use of his limbs other than for like, super basic stuff like couldn't stand up, couldn't do anything. We started talking and I said, man, this must have been a really interesting exercise in gratitude as those things came back and he said, you know, I thought it would be too. And he's like, what's really funny is it? Like when I couldn't walk? The only thing I wanted the thing like, my entire happiness was going to be pinned on, was being able to walk again. He's like, the minute I could walk again, I took it for granted. He's like, you wouldn't think that would be treated and you would always think back to like, man, I couldn't walk. Now I can again, he's like, but then I want to be able to run and then I wanted to play basketball and I want to be able to do other things. And so it's really interesting that even with something that fundamental, right? So great. Do you need the nice car? No, you don't, But you want it, you're gonna get it, will that make you happy? No, that's somehow, you know, a bit more understandable. But the fact that even when you take it down to like human necessity levels, once we have something, we have it and it loses value right now, if it goes away again, maybe the value, at least the perceived value would come back again and you want it again. But once you got it, you got it.

Wil Schroter: So here, here's how I would encapsulate that not having things dead pain. These are things that occupy lots and lots and lots of time having things, the lack of debt, the lack of pain, etcetera doesn't occupy any time. So, so when I was dead broke, I spent all my time trying to be, not dead broke. But then at some point things worked out and I had some cash, but all of a sudden, all of that time that 16-18 hours a day that I spent doing nothing but trying to get un broke, I had free, which is awesome by the way. But here's the thing, we don't spend a lot of time talking about what we're actually going to do at that time. listen, I've spent the last 20 years doing something with that time. It's way more boring than you'd think I've talked to. Lots and lots of other founders and a lot of my friends are founders who've done really, really well and all of them say the same thing, they're like, we work out and play netflix, that's or you know, watch netflix like that's it. I don't care. I'm sure there's there's some Richard Branson having tea on the top of a balloon. You know, whatever I remember seeing this, this one episode of like Richard Branson's Extreme Adventures and he's on like some hot air balloon having, I'm sure I'm sure some rich guy doing that. But at the end of the day, most of your time is spent doing the same stupid, mundane ship that you're doing when you're broke. You're just doing it with

Ryan Rutan: less than what you're doing it with a slightly different reason, right? Like so you may have been doing the same things before as an escape now you're doing them as a way to fill time that you know, have free that you and you have nothing to escape from. Right. But the activities remain roughly the same. Which is not what you expect.

Wil Schroter: Anything that you get taken away from you. Again, it's a form of a debt or a pain. If we were to get invaded right now as a country in the United States, all I would be able to think about is our freedom, that would be the most important thing, but we're not being invaded and our freedom seems to be intact. So I just don't think about it, I don't spend any time. And so when we think about the other side of you know, again, having made it, I don't know that, that we spend as much time saying what I will do versus what I won't do. And so I think for a lot of us making it is the absence of pain versus the creation of this new world of amazing

Ryan Rutan: thing. Yeah, yeah. No, it's, it's not the things that you end up aggregating after the fact and you did some of that, right? We, we both did so talk about that for a second because I think it's an interesting contrast because I think that once you've been on both sides of this, you do have a realization for its being free from all those things that you didn't want to have to do. We talked about this in other context as well, right? Which is like part of, you know what we've built with startups dot com is not having to do things we don't want to do anymore, right? And we literally built the company on it. Like we don't want to work with jerks. We don't want to answer the boss is right? And so we've done that. And it's so again, it's, it's the thing that we don't have and we don't have to do that actually becomes one of the major benefits. But let's contrast that for a minute and you already touched on this once you have something it you've got it right. And then it kind of loses the value, right? So the, the post, you know, the post cash out spending spree the car, the house, the whatever contrast that for a second and at the time, because I'm actually having a hard time remembering exactly when I woke up to this at the time. Could you feel the lack of debt and the lack of stress and all those things? Or were you caught up in kind of the spending of the money and the, and the trying to feel out what is my new lifestyle actually looked like.

Wil Schroter: Mine was bizarre because, you know, as you know, the folks listening in 94, I started one of the first web design companies and we grew pretty quickly. We became a big company over the next few years. And about three years later the company kind of really hit its stride on a particularly big deal that we won, we won about a $250 million 97, I mean

Ryan Rutan: quite right.

Wil Schroter: Yeah, Yeah, it was, it was bizarre. And so I went from Rollerblading to work, not because I thought rollerblading was cool in the 90s. It is, it's still awesome, But because I didn't have a car to the end of the year driving a Lamborghini at 22, right? Like it couldn't have been more dichotomous right? Like in that period. So when I looked at it, I gotta say this, looking back, I didn't think it was going to last, that nobody ever understood at the time

Ryan Rutan: you're halfway through trading places and you know, you're going to have to trade back at

Wil Schroter: some point what it was, I felt like it felt like this weird social experiment that, that you know, mortimer was going to come in and and take it all back, right? Because like, I specifically remember buddy of mine flies in from out of town and all this crazy stuff is happening and remember tell them, I said, hey man, wouldn't it be awesome if we went to the Lamborghini dealership and went and bought a Lamborghini and he was like, you gotta be out of your mind, right? And this is also a time period where young people didn't do stuff like this. This was like mid 90s. Anyway, short version of the story, we go in, we end up sitting down with the dealer dealers like, yes, by all means you can buy this car because we happen to have a relationship with them, whatever. And the next thing I know I'm signing the documents like a $300,000 car and here's the funny thing and my buddies looking at me going like, are you kidding me like with this? And I said, honestly, it's all going to get taken away, there's no, there's

Ryan Rutan: no way it's going to gather my toys and play with them as much as I can,

Wil Schroter: I just assumed that I would just wake up, it would be over And so, you know, it's funny because when people hear these stories, they don't really understand the entire story, they just think, oh, you must have made a bunch of money and you always knew what was gonna happen. I was like, no, this is, this is not meant for me, this was some other guy's life. I just happened to be in it right now and you know, I'm going to wake up and it's all going to be over. So I was just like, hey, roll the dice to enjoy it while it lasts because I'll probably be working construction by the end of the year. And by the way, I was kind of okay with

Ryan Rutan: something though because a lot of, a lot of people talk about this, right? And, and it's, it's almost like, I don't know, rock climbing, right, you go up there, you go up the wall, you go up the wall to wall and like you want to get to that, that peak point, but then you get there and there's actually some fear at that point, like you look down and you see how far you've made it and then all of a sudden you feel like you have far more to lose. Um, and that can create a lot of fear in people, right? So oddly enough making it can create its own kind of debt in terms of the gap between where you were and where you are now, you know, I don't, it doesn't sound like you, you were suffering from that at that point, you're like, no, if I fall back down, I'm just, I'm just gonna go build houses and that's fine.

Wil Schroter: Well, because it happened so fast that it was all this kind of like if somebody wins the powerball lottery there, you'll say we're broke one minute and all of a sudden you have a bunch of money at first, you're just like, this isn't real, right? And so it takes you some time. Also, this is worth noting it was at a time when being young and wealthy was unheard of, That kind of happened with the whole Internet era, this was circa 97 at the time prior to that, you just didn't have 22 year olds driving Lamborghinis. And I think we talked about this unless you just had a hit album where you just got signed to an NFL, just idiots like me just, there wasn't a place for us. And so again, there is no precedent for me going, oh yeah, this happens all the time. Like now if it happens if somebody, you know, make some money or whatever, you're like, oh yeah, you know, there's 50 other cases, I can think of that I read about, you know, in

Ryan Rutan: technology, where it happened on the

Wil Schroter: day you were just waiting for

Ryan Rutan: an adult to show up and tell you it wasn't true. Oh

Wil Schroter: my God, I mean, seriously. And so anyway, well you were asking about the time period and what I was saying is for me, it happened so fast that I could see the contrast night

Ryan Rutan: and you can still

Wil Schroter: feel it. And so I probably still had ramen and also recovered. I did. I mean that was the funniest thing was around that same time. Like I still had all my college furniture. Yeah, I

Ryan Rutan: made my money so fast. I still have cheap beer in the fridge that I'll never drink, but it's just there. But

Wil Schroter: here's what I thought was interesting. So I get up the next day, so to speak and I'm like, okay, shouldn't my life be dramatically different and it's just not nothing about it was dramatically different. I was still hanging out the same friends doing the same things like, and here's the other thing I thought was really interesting. Okay. All the things that I found myself doing that occupied my entire day that I enjoyed the most really cost nothing at all. You know, I love to play hockey with my friends, right? Cost nothing at all. I love to watch netflix cost nothing at all. I mean, like I realized that my life was pretty much the same. It was just the absence of this pain that was pretty much it. And that never occurred to me. And again, once the novelty of new things wears off, you're kind of back to doing the same stuff and you know, it's interesting Ryan, now that I think about it, you and I have also kind of ran a bit of our own social experiments with seeing what

Ryan Rutan: happens. We kind of,

Wil Schroter: yeah, we kind of changed things, you know, actually, probably a lot of people listening don't know this, but you know, Ryan and I are recording from two very different locations right now. I'm in columbus Ohio Ryan, you're in Guatemala and you and I both went on kind of our own epic adventures to test what it would be like if we changed our environment completely just to see what that would

Ryan Rutan: feel. We literally and figuratively went opposite directions. So I went from, you know, being in the US, right and and we, we weren't living in a major city, We had moved from columbus to ST pete at that point and it had a very, very comfortable lifestyle, very, very comfortable, very, quite, quite satisfied with what we had. But we had visited Guatemala few years before and fell in love with the beauty of the country. And then there was this allure about the lifestyle that you could have there because it's, it's you know, economically it's a very, very different country and particularly if you know, you're earning dollars and you're down here spending the local currency Gonzalez, there's a lot of a lot of padding there and there's a lot of things you can just do here that you can't do in the US. And so we said like, let's try that out. Let's go see what happens if we elevate ourselves to a lifestyle that wouldn't be possible here. Right? And and here are the things that we were looking for. At this point, we had at the point we decided we had two kids and we had one on the way. And and so we need to be a little bit of time. So about a year between making the decision and then actually doing it. We moved down here when our Our third was about six months old. And here's what we're trying to achieve. We knew that down here, we would be able to have household staff and we would be able to access help. That we couldn't access in the U. S. Without a markedly different costs differently. We would have had to either change our lifestyle or get this help right. And so it meant a big trade off. And so we said, well, if we come down here, we can keep a similar lifestyle and we can also get that help. And really this goes back to exactly. We've been talking about this this whole time, which is it gave us freedom. It was about things we would no longer have to do. And it sounds trivial, but since we've gotten down here and we're a year plus into this adventure. Now I haven't changed a light bulb, I haven't mowed my grass, right? I haven't done these little things that don't take a ton of time, but they do eat away at the clock, right? And with three kids and a fairly serious jiu jitsu practice and a, you know, a burgeoning soccer career. Now, I'm really enjoying the fact that I don't have to make trade offs like, oh, should I just not mow the grass? Oh, should I just not, you know, take care of that paperwork. Oh, should I do this? I have time to do all the things I want to do.

Wil Schroter: You became twice as rich by having half the

Ryan Rutan: cost exactly that, right? And and you know, so that was your yes, that was it. I didn't I didn't have to change anything else other than my physical location. And all of a sudden our lifestyle changed to something that wasn't even conceivable, right? It's like, you know, if you you you you live in a nice part of town, but let's say you drive past like Mansion Row and you go like, well I'm really happy with what I have, like that's that's out of reach and it will probably continue to stay out of reach in an instant, all of that was within reach for us, right? I had the lifestyle we just we moved and and you know, it's this is gonna sound maybe a little bougie, but we had we had four staff in our house, right? We had two housekeepers and nanny and a gardener handyman, and I can't tell you how much that changes things, right? Ii and it was funny because it's amazing, well here's the thing, like I was doing the mental calculations before we came down about what it would change in our lives, and I realized that here was my expectation from my wife who was handling the family side of the business, That things would change significantly, because I could see all the tasks that would come off of her plate and the amount of time that she would gain back. And I assume that like 90% of her day would change, And I assume that maybe 10% of my day would change, right, because I'm still going to be, you know, in the business, working on startups dot com, doing our thing. And so I thought like, you know, maybe 10% of my day will change and that might not have been inaccurate. Here's the thing, I didn't anticipate how much having that 10% back would change my life, it was staggering, right? And it definitely did change. I bought a ton of time and flexibility and not just time, but not having to worry about those things, it wasn't just that they went away, they went away in a way that is so pleasing that everything is just kind of always the way I want it, right? And it might sound selfish, but like this has then in turn allowed me to turn around and do a lot of really good and interesting things both for myself and other people because now I'm not spending my time on these tasks, right? We've talked about this in terms of like things like virtual assistance, right? And and we, we see this day in day out with virtual and how impactful it is to take some of those time wasting day killing menial tasks off the table and what that buys you back, right? That the delta and the cost or what it costs you to pay someone else to do those things and the time and your capability that unlocks by not doing them is staggering. Absolutely staggering. Right.

Wil Schroter: And so part of what we're talking about is hey on the other side of making it, I get less debt. But there's another part of making it where you can say I can, I can free up more time And you're saying that there was a balance of pool of time that having more cash in this case. You engineered it by just having a lower cost. This

Ryan Rutan: bought you exactly.

Wil Schroter: That's really interesting. You know, we, my family and I actually did the opposite. We went to a place that was 10 x more expensive and it was interesting a few years back. Our family. We moved to Beverly hills, right? And it was a weird chain of events that got us there. We had been living in southern California before in santa Monica. Then we moved to san Francisco and then we were looking for a house just happened to be in Beverly Hills that we found and moved in and it's crazy expensive, right? It's like what you're talking about but again going the opposite direction where we thought we were doing okay. Then we moved there and we were like the poorest people, they're by far and it was such an amazing perspective because at that point all of the people that you're living next to, no one got there by accident, right? Or maybe they did it was a fluke. But but everyone that's living in one of those houses has a story of how they got into that house, right? And so like so given again, this is where it is. Our neighbors were like Calvin Harris and Jessica alba. And like all these people who got there through some bizarre chain of events literally

Ryan Rutan: minutes before you're literally living in the in like a neighborhood or the land of statistical aberrations, right? These are the extreme outliers, right? It's not like they just like nose to the grindstone worked hard, saved all my money, you know double contributed by 401 K. And bought a $30,000 mansion in the hills, right? Didn't happen ever,

Wil Schroter: nobody here was VP of anything right? Like everybody was the, you know the ceo or the founder or whatever is something. Okay. So anyway, and and people have an idea of Beverly hills and this kind of, you know what it is and whatever and here here's what I would say. So we did it for a few years and here's our takeaway and my wife felt exactly the same way. I was like, this is supposed to be the top of the food chain and this is like the best of everything. Honestly, at the end of the day, I just want to eat pizza, watch netflix and go back to building something in my

Ryan Rutan: workshop movies on netflix for sure. But was the pizza better at least?

Wil Schroter: Yeah, the only difference is my neighbors were actually making, but like, I'll be honest

Ryan Rutan: with you, like

Wil Schroter: to be the best of everything. Yeah. Right. Right. It was the best of everything sort of. It wasn't it wasn't a big freaking deal, man. Like my life ain't that complicated, right? If I'm going out to dinner for example, right? And I have a $30 meal or a $300 meal. I can't tell the difference. Like just tell the difference

Ryan Rutan: Is yeah, I was talking about this with somebody in terms of wine the other night and I said like, you know, I do appreciate the difference with a $3 bottle of wine and a $12 bottle of wine, but we go from the 12 to the 40 and 42, the 200. Uh, you've, you've beat my palate at that point. I can't, I can't tell you the difference.

Wil Schroter: Okay, stick with this because this is the heart of the experiment that I was running. And kind of the point that I want to make here when we don't have stuff, We get to this place where like, just having that one thing feels like everything. But once you get that thing, the additional, like the next 10% of life, like, let's say like, you get to the point where it's 90% and you're looking at the next 10% or maybe the next 9% in the last 1%. To be honest, for a lot of folks and I'm going to include myself. It's great that you can do it, but it ain't worth killing yourself for, right? I mean, seriously? Like, if there was nothing about it, I can tell you firsthand and we tried everything we could to try to enjoy the fruits of it. It just wasn't that big of a deal, right? And I'm not downplaying it, right? If there were some parts that were spectacular and awesome, you know, I'd say as much, but like, there were a few highlights, but not a big deal, but here's what's interesting. We met tons of people of course against our kids were in school. Many of the other parents whenever uh, while we were there, they all felt the same way it was just a bunch of people doing the same stuff everybody else was doing just with a much more expensive price to you know, higher mortgage payments and again, there's some outliers, there's some people doing, you know what you consider this kind of high end boogie ship, but to be honest, like it wasn't worth it. If I could have hit the reset button and gone back and said, okay, you know younger, will we talk about this all the time? Go back to the marty McFly time machine and say, here's what all of this will buy you. Here's what's worth worrying about, here's what's, you know what, it only matters because you don't have, here's how I'd summarized that Ryan, I'd say getting out of debt is 90% of everything that matters. You know, being free of debt. Now people often say, well that must mean I have so much money that I never need to work again. That's the dumbest thing I've ever heard. Like look if yes, if you get that much money, wonderful. It doesn't freaking matter what matters, is getting out of debt and debt is that isn't just about how much you owe your credit card company, it's the debt of what you have to do every day, you know, kind of how you can spend your day, what you get to care about Ryan, what you're talking about the debt of time,

Ryan Rutan: just even the date of decision making, right? When when you're in a position where you can't even make the decisions right? Where your decisions are now forced by your circumstances, it's hugely limiting in so many ways and it's really frustrating, right? That goes away.

Wil Schroter: Yeah man, look, getting out of debt Is 90% of what we're all working toward. You know, this feeling of being safe, this this feeling of being able to have optionality The other 10%, which I think we were overly focused on which I call the Luxuries things you can buy by all means. I hope everyone listening get some of those things, you know, and gets to enjoy them, you know, you only live once and I hope you get that opportunity, but I gotta tell you, and I'm not alone in this position, It's 10% of the happiness if you will like, you know, thinking I'll have that car, I'll have the house, it's okay. But once you have it, it's not going to really change a whole hell of a lot. You're probably gonna be doing most of the same things, you're already

Ryan Rutan: doing its which is your your your exponentially increasing your spending and you're incrementally increasing the quality, your enjoyment, right? It's it's it's the wine analogy, it's the car analogy when you don't have a car at all when you're on rollerblades and you go to any car, That's 80-90% of the improvement of car when you go from the $8,000 beater to the $250,300,000. Sports car. Yeah, it's very, very different car still gets you from point A to point B and it's, you're not going to feel the same happiness gain. It doesn't change your life as much as going from, I'm walking to, I'm driving right. Same thing with a bottle of wine or anything else that you just start paying more for things within with a diminishing return on the value of what you're paying

Wil Schroter: A great. And there's a part where we talked about and actually one of our first episodes, we were talking about the value of your 1st $250,000 versus, the next you know, etc in and that the risk in trying to think, you need so much money, you know, in life to kind of make it or spend or whatever else like that. You know what we're focused on here is, you know, what happens after I made it well, making it again, is that freedom of debt. Everything else beyond that where you're like, hey, I want the cars, the houses, etcetera. It's nice, but it doesn't have nearly the payback of just getting out of debt, which honestly is on a pie chart basis is usually the smallest part of the pie chart. If, if I were to reset again, if I were to go back in time, here's what I would tell younger me. I would say All that matters right now is you get out of the $100,000. If you can figure out how to get $100,000 put together to get yourself out of this hole You'll be 90% of the way there. The rest of it where you're thinking like houses cars, et cetera, all gravy at that time. You know, anything you can do at that point is great, but it will never, ever, ever have anywhere near the upside of just getting out of the hole.

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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