Startup Therapy Podcast

Episode #58


Ryan Rutan: and we're back for another episode of the startup therapy podcast. As always, this is Ryan Rutan joined by Wil Schroder Ceo and founder of startups dot com will, we're going to talk about an inevitability. Not everything we talked about on this podcast is an inevitability I don't think, but today's is almost an inevitability I guess. Um, and that's that sometimes people leave, we hire them and then sometimes they move on and it's not always easy to deal with, right for the employee or for the founder, but it's something you and I have a lot of experience with simply by having been around long enough. And so let's, let's unpack some of this stuff. Well, I think that a big part of kind of what inspired this topic for us was this concept of the longer we've been around long, we've been working with folks, the more we realize that treating departing employees folks that are leaving if you've been around long enough, you realize a lot of those same folks are going to come back to you time and time and time again. If you're lucky now again, some of them you hope won't come back to you, but you would be shocked given however much time is in front of you, how many times the folks that that are leaving that you wouldn't even think twice about, maybe, you know, we weren't that close to them or they weren't that big part of the company, Whatever come back in some bizarre way they come back as a potential client. They come back as an investor sometimes believe it or not. Uh, they come back as the person who referred your best new hire. I mean they come back as co founders and the mistake I think we make is we don't give that proper credit at the time. In other words, a person may come into the organization and they may come in as an intern and they may leave, you know, to go do whatever they're going to go do and like they were an intern, who cares? Yeah, they are today. But you know that one internship moves to the next job moves to the next job and now they're the ceo of some other startup that you need to partner with, right? Like you can't predict these things. Only the only prediction you can make is that every person leaving the organization needs to be treated like somebody that you're gonna be working with in the future. And I think it's a bit of a lost art because to be honest, I don't see it very often. Yeah, it's interesting and I think that it comes from a lot of places, right? I think that, you know, you and I have done this enough that we have experience and we've seen both sides alright. We've seen how things, you know, can end poorly, how things can end well. And you end up facing both of those people again at some point, right. Whether it ended well, you're going to see them in the future. I think it's interesting and you know, it takes years to get to this point, but you know, we think about our startup teams, right? We think about the people that were working with those are often far, far, far outnumbered by the people that we used to work with. When we look back across the number of people that we've worked with over time, it's thousands at this point. And you know, that can either be an asset or a liability, right? Depending on how you've you've treated those people like you said, some of them you don't want to come back and then sometimes you don't think you want to come back and they come back and they completely surprised that people, you know, do change in rare circumstances. But yeah, I think that I think that earlier on this was a lot harder to deal with for me. I remember my, you know, my first business and when I was still in college and I had hired some friends or at least pretty close acquaintances. These are people we had definitely drank a lot of beer with and so forth. Right? So I remember one of them coming to me, we were probably eight or nine months into the adventure and you let me know he didn't want to work anymore. Um, he wasn't going somewhere else. He just didn't want to work anymore. And I remember I was took it so personally, like, like, you know, I had lost like one of the Beatles was quitting, right? And it felt awful. It felt awful and I took it so personally took it as an insult. I remember like sitting there trying not to let you know this, this shock and to some degree there was like a bit of rage, it was also 19. So there were a lot of things that I was raging at the time, but I remember, you know, the sense of, of rage and it's so funny because looking back at it, you know, and even two weeks later, He was a horrible employee, like, he was somebody that happened to be there and he wasn't like losing him changing the company for the worst of anything, it was for the better and it made cash flow a little healthier and the snack cabinet was 20% more full after that point, right? So, but at the time it was really, really hard to deal with because you don't have that perspective. I didn't know that I'd see him again, I didn't know that, you know, we'd still be playing on the same whiffle ball team in the tournament, you know, four weeks later I thought all that stuff had to go away, right? He was leaving, you know, the company and therefore, you know, he was leaving my life and he was going to be gone forever and you know, we had to be enemies now pretty dumb perspective, but that's What I was when I was 19, I was pretty dumb. And so I think that, you know, is that changes over time. I think this gets easier as you go through this process, you know, with with more frequency. Um and certainly, you know, the way I handle it now couldn't really be different and couldn't be more different. And in fact, you and I talked about this, but we get excited sometimes when we hear that people are going, not not, you know, there's always some like, oh man, you know, we didn't really want to lose them, but when we hear that people are going on to do, exciting interesting things, particularly in the startup space where we've fostered some desire to remain in that space and we've given them a taste of that and they're like, I want to go, you know, work for this other startup that, you know, sometimes it was a company we exposed them to. I'm never upset about that, right? It always feels good and we've had this happen Time and time again. A couple episodes back. We talked about the fact that in all of 2019 we didn't have any of our full time employees leave the company, so we want a full year without having to go through this. And then at the beginning of the year, a couple of people got, the you know there the resolutions were to try something new. We had a couple of jump out, but all of them on, you know, really, really great terms. And in fact, you know, we're only, you know, four months in three complete months. One of them has already come back and done some contracting for us again, missed us that much, that they wanted to get involved in what we're doing already. And the other one changes their mind. Yeah, that's right, I forgot about that. Yeah, that's right. One of them actually was like, yep, I'm out. Just kidding. Just kidding. You know, I think when somebody says they're about to leave, I have two questions, always that pop into my head. The first question and I don't know if this is good or bad is what did I do wrong? In other words, did the organization fail you in some way that, uh, that I could have done something different now. You tend to feel a little bit different about everybody. You know, everybody has their strengths and weaknesses and not everybody is a huge loss. I hate to say that, but it's kind of true. Uh, and, and sometimes just not a good fit. You know, there's, there's a whole bunch of reasons where sometimes, you know, partying isn't such sweet sorrow. However, regardless my first question really to myself is what did I do wrong, what caused that person to kind of update their linkedin resume and start looking to begin with, you know, where did we fall off? It's rare that you're firing on all cylinders and people are updating their resume at the same time. Right. And so look, I have something better around here by the way I'm leaving. Yeah, exactly. Right. And look better jobs come along all the time. The probability that this is somehow the perfect configuration of job at the perfect time forever for everyone is zero. Right. I mean the fact that we went a year With 200 people not moving, that almost doesn't make sense like statistically, but the reality is maybe it was the right fit for those folks for that year. But given some time as skills evolve as interests involved, people want to move lives change. They just want to get jobs, family moves so many, so many different things and so in my mind when folks are about to leave or you know, said, Hey, I am leaving. The first question is, you know, what could I have done better? And I got to tell you there's, there's been certain epics in our journey at startups dot com and certainly when companies before where I was like, no shit right. Like in other words, you were about, you know, you wanted to leave and you're citing a problem or something that wasn't going well and I was like, I can't believe you made it this long, right. But there's other cases where folks want to move on and anymore I would say as we've evolved and kind of eaten some of our own dog food, I think we've learned to become a better employer and I think that a lot of the folks that are leaving now are just finding better opportunities, which is great. I mean that's kind of what you're striving for, yep, I think it's an interesting indication when that's not happening, right? So if people aren't able to leave your organization and go on to do something better, that also speaks to the quality of the organization, right? In a negative way in this case, if people aren't moving on and when they do move on, if it's a lateral move or, you know, a step back, then that tells you something, right? It may tell you that, you know, what could just be, the market could be, the individual could also be, you know, that you're not growing people up. So I always feel really good when somebody goes on to take, like if they move from, you know, some sort of like a consultant role to a to a director role, um or you know, a senior adviser to a director, something along those lines, then you should feel really good about that. I always kind of pat myself on the back when I see somebody that has worked directly with me, um that I, I feel like I've had, you know, some inputs into their growth as a teammate, watching them level up and go somewhere else feels good, right? It doesn't always feel good to lose them, but at least, you know, it's not like they were like, well I'll do anything but this, I'm going to go be a manager at Mcdonald's just to avoid your face Ryan. Right? So yeah, that's a big part of it for me. You know, the second question that I ask and I always bring this up is they say, how can I help you? And, and what's odd is I don't think people ever expect that. I think they expect something like me trying to make them feel bad about leaving or creating a lot of pushback etcetera. If anything, the first thing I do when it comes up is to say, look, I'm happy for you, I'm not dying to see you go, but your career is important to me, what can I do to help you from here? And what's interesting to me is again, a lot of people really don't expect to hear that. And I think the other part is they don't think I'm being sincere that it's that part, right? When I say that and so I tend to go out of my way to make sure that they understand that I'm absolutely sincere and the first thing that I say Is I've got a pretty big rolodex, right? I've got about 7000 people in my context. I've been around a while because you just said the word rolodex. Well, yeah, you know, it's all, uh, and, and what I tell folks is that, look, chances are wherever you're headed, whatever industry, whatever part of the country part of the world, I probably knows somebody. And I think I could probably help you out by making some introductions. We had one of our folks come to us and say, hey, I'm looking to make a move to another city and I don't have a job there yet, but I'm looking to move to that city. I don't necessarily want to leave this company, but I do want to move there and there's probably some opportunities there that I want to explore. I said, cool, tell me the jobs that you want and I will go email the Ceo is the founders of those companies assuming that I know them and give you a glowing recommendation. It's surprised folks to think that instead of kind of holding them back or trying to give them some sort of friction, I was kind of helping them move forward. Even though to be fair, there's a tremendous amount of cost and consternation with replacement, right? Like them leaving doesn't make my life easier. But but here's the whole point, here's where I'm headed. Ryan, you're talking about when you're 19 and you were having these discussions And I think often this podcast, we talk about where we are in our lives and how much the last 20-30 years have shaped us. I was the same way, you know, when I was 19 or you know in my twenties when I was losing folks, I didn't understand the what goes around comes around type principle and I wasn't a jerk to people necessarily. I don't think I was but I don't think I quite appreciated that there's a fairly good chance that will be teaming up sometime in the future. And lo and behold between coworkers and co founders. I've worked with hundreds of people that I've worked with before in different capacities. I also you know, Ryan you and I talked about this, this is a few months back, one of our ex employees had made a comment, he said something to the effect of you guys should take a look at the titles of all of the people that have worked for you. You know, since you opened there's a lot of people that are now founders and Ceos with some serious Net Worths. That was a fun exercise. Yeah, yeah, yeah. You know, so I went through And I looked at you know, a little over 25 years of hiring to the best that I could. And I kind of kept a list and it turned out that over 100 people That I had worked with over the past 25 plus years are all C level executives at some other company. Most of the founders and CeoS which I'm particularly proud of but all C level executives, but none of them were, you know what I mean? Obviously at the time none of them were. You think about the depth of that network and how powerful that is and you can either destroy that network by firebombing people out the door or develop that network by encouraging people to have a healthy and an ongoing relationship with you. 100%. Yeah, that was that was the piece that I was missing at 19. I was somebody that wanted to set the world on fire. I should have been a bit more careful about that because I was also lighting a lot of bridges on fire at the time, moved on beyond that fairly quickly. It wasn't a long-term behavior for me, but certainly the first few were good examples of how not to do it. And I think you you said it right, how we leave is how we're remembered, right? So these kind of the parting words, those last few moments together, the way you treat them, how you helped set them up for success in that next role, whether that's opening the Rolodex, you know, giving them some advice if you have information about the company or the locale or whatever it goes such a long way, right? And let's be honest, it costs us very little to do those things. But the cost of just turning somebody loose at the middle of the road approach or you know, at worst, you know, burning the bridge and giving them a bad exit. That has a real cost. It also multiplies because as, as you kind of hinted to earlier, when you part with someone and it's a shitty departure, they tell everyone about it. If it's a good departure, they may tell their spouse, hey, they were pretty cool to be at work and you kind of leave it at that. But if it's a bad departure, especially in this day and age of social media, like it does not go well and it amplifies in every single time they get an opportunity when they're with their coworkers at their next job or someone who says, hey, I'm thinking about going to work at startups dot com. What do you think? I mean, just the f bombs are going to come out and it's the worst thing you can possibly do. So if a good person will tell one more person that you should work, they're a bad person will tell 100 people that you should not work there. It's why Glassdoor exists right. There aren't that many good reviews on Glassdoor, but find a company that's shitty and there are endless reviews. I mean, everybody that ever has worked there has written that has written on the wall. Yeah. And I think it's, it's worth noting it doesn't matter how much you have in the bank with somebody. The entire relationship from that point forward often gets colored by those last few interactions. So you could have 34 solid years of working together with somebody, you might have a 20 minute bad meeting, when you find out that they're leaving and that then becomes the relationship from that point forward for a lot of reasons, right? It's, it's an important point. And, and it's a, you know, kind of a critical tipping point in the relationship. It also means you're not going to be around them as much from that point forward. Maybe not at all. And so you don't have a chance to repair that, right? Whereas you may have had, you know, ups and downs in the relationship prior to that. But if you send them out the door on a sour note, they have no incentive to come back and repair that. At least not at that point. And the longer those things go, it just tends to fester. So I think that making sure that you invest the appropriate amount of time and care into giving them a good send off. It's super, super important. Well, you know, who else reads that signal? Are all the people that still work here. Right? And so let me give you a couple of different scenarios of where I think founders really make a huge mistake on this one. The first and probably most obvious is if we, if the person leaves and then we just start talking horribly about them or talking down about their performance or hey, you know, good riddance, et cetera, How do you think every person in the organization is going to take that, right? It's the thing where if you're saying terrible things about other people, it means you're going to say terrible things about me. It's such a low rent move that. And I think, I think, look, we're all subject to it because we're all emotional beings, etcetera. But it sends such a horrible signal to all of the people that work with you currently that you're not mature and emotionally kind of kept enough in order to deal with that situation a pro move, by the way, even if you don't feel this way, I don't like advocating being, you know, disingenuous. But this is one of those times where ultimately you need to be the bigger person, yep. And it falls in the category if you have nothing good to say, just don't say anything at all. Right. Oh yes. Always a valuable lesson. I really learned that one a couple of days ago. Yes, you did. And so I think that for the founders, for the executive team etcetera, I think we have to, to send a message both externally meaning out to folks that leave and say, hey, this is a good shop to work with and they treated me well when I left as well as internally whereby we're showing folks that people leaving whether, you know, we wanted them to or not get a certain level of respect. And I think over the last eight plus years, Ryan, I think we've gotten a lot better at it. Not that we were terrible, but I think we've, you know, I'm actually kind of proud of how we've developed it in in really listening to ourselves in this case. Yeah, I think we've, we've seen some interesting manifestations to, by having, you know, by being open with the rest of the staff about how we handle this, because the other thing that can happen is whether it's a good send off for bad send off a lot of times in, especially in larger companies, they're just kind of a behind closed doors process. Right? And sometimes that's dictated by HR we don't have hard processes around this. And so I think we've done a good job of saying, you know, like here's where they're going. You know, we're excited for them. We usually give them a send off email, maybe something in slack. But then there's often a bunch of little side conversations where people will chime in and say, hey, you know, I know somebody over there, Maybe I could introduce them. Yes, absolutely, please do that. Or we're telling, you know what doors we helped open for this person and that's created this, this sort of happy send off culture, but beyond that. And when we talked about this a few weeks ago as well, we've actually had people come to us and tell us before they found their next job that they're thinking about starting to look, they feel that comfortable with it. It's a, by product of the environment. It's the fact that they know we're not going to try to scare them into staying, which is just like when you back up and look at the logic of that, the dumbest thing you could possibly do right. But we don't do that. We do the opposite. We encourage people to, you know, to, to chase down things that are important to them to look for opportunities that matter to them to do the best they can on the job there and then look for the one that they ultimately want to do next and that's great and will support that. And we've seen that manifest by having people come to us and say, hey, you know, I'm on the search and I'm on the hunt now and I wanted you to be aware right. It takes a great deal of maturity on the part of the employee to do that. But it also takes the right type of organization to even have a door to be even cracked open for that to happen from the founder from the employer side. Yeah, I agree. You know, it was interesting, my last job before I started as a founder and Ceo, I was a receptionist, 240 attorneys for a huge law firm called jones day. Reavis isn't poke a lot of people don't know this actually. I was sued by them once. I think you're quite familiar. They are one of the largest firms. But anyway, you know, I was in, I was in college, it was just a job I was doing. I remember learning html on my laptop while I was answering phones. But here's what was really interesting the last day of my employment, there was there less than a year, the managing partner, a gentleman that I hardly knew, came up to my desk reception desk and said, hey, well I understand. It's your last day. I don't even know he knew who I was. He said, do you mind if I take you to lunch? I'm like, amazing. Right. And we sat down and he was just this incredibly kind and thoughtful guy and he said to me, he said, look, you know, we're really happy to have had to hear you did a great job and if you ever need anything in the future, we'll always be there for you. And I was like, well, it's funny, you should say that I said, I'm thinking about starting an internet company. I could really use some help. And however you form a company Back then, this was circa 93 94. You couldn't go online to do anything because the Internet sort of didn't exist yet. Uh, so after I explained to him what the internet was, helped me understand how to form an LLC from that point forward. His firm helped me nonstop two or three different acquisitions or you know where I had sold companies through numerous deals, A lot of really big deals and all through that time, all I could ever remember was how well that guy treated me the day that I left. You know what I mean? I mean it's it's amazing to think of how significant that relationship became And it was all because that guy took an hour out of his schedule to take the receptionist to lunch for no other good reason. It was just such a cool move. It is because there was no way that he knew that you were going to come back as a client and pay him, you know, 10 times the salary they had ever paid you out. Um that's not why he did it right. He did it because he was on the other side of this curve where where we are now, where we understand that there is zero upside in treating people poorly. I mean it's just a general rule, right? Like just there's no no upside to that whatsoever. Regardless of the situation, in this particular situation where you have somebody leaving, you know, you're either sending forward an ambassador into the world or a detractor and it is in most cases your choice, which one of those you're going to create. Well let's go to the tractor route, right? What if he had been kind of just an a hole to me when I left, Right? He sent me the letter about breaking my lease in college because Yeah, well, I mean, really been like, you know, had he been a total jerk to me for no, for whatever reason, right? Think of how many lost opportunities that there would be now, there's no way he would have known that the company he formed, You know, helped go on to become a $700 million dollar company, I mean, like there's no way to get a guest, but isn't that sort of the point here? It is sort of the point where you don't know which of those seeds will turn into something beautiful or something horrible by the way, and I think that when it comes culturally or, but even, you know, personally when it comes to kind of, breaking relationships, if you will, particularly one of their employer relationships, I've just come to look at them very differently and I always try to communicate this kind of in the exit interview or whatever you call it, and I say, look, this isn't the end of us working together, this is the end of us working on this right now, There's gonna be plenty of opportunities to work together in the future, I don't know what they are. All I know is, and that might almost 30 years as a ceo It constantly comes up, I constantly, you know, run into people that I worked on a project on 20 years ago that we're now working together on something else, and I'm really proud of that. And so now I really actively try to cultivate that long ongoing relationship and I'm so much happier for it. Yeah, the beauty is it's gotten easier to do. Not not that that's any justification either way for doing it or not doing it, but it is just so much easier to stay in touch with people than it used to be. I mean, you used the word Rolex a couple of times, that's literally what it used to be, right? Nothing didn't update itself, right? Somebody's phone number changed. You have to somehow hunt them down, right? But we now have uh an unprecedented ability to maintain contact with people. Uh and there really is no excuse for not doing it again. The upside, you know, is unclear in terms you don't know what people are going to go on to do, but like you said, you know, we get to plant the seed either way right. Whether whether that that grows into weeds or grows into something great depends on, you know, kind of how we, how we plant that in the first place. So there's really no reason why you don't want to do the absolute best by people all the time, but in particular when they're on their way out, because that maybe that is that becomes the lasting memory, like we said earlier, and so, you want to concrete, you know the good of the relationship and again not because you're you're expecting some future R. O. I. On it, but because it's the right thing to do right? And it costs very little and maintaining those relationships, you can have a huge benefit. You and I both you know, reach into the Rolodex time and time again and find people who are important to our business, important to other people's businesses and nothing really feels better than that right then. Knowing that you've cultivated a relationship with two different people, let's say, and you can now bring them together in some meaningful connection. It feels fantastic, right? But you can't do that if you're constantly burning bridges, you know, whether they're employees or not. I also think that If you look at, you know the the staff that we have now, we've got about 200 people. If you think about how many people that they know, you know, if you think of this almost like in the social network capacity we were thinking that every person that that works for you at this time or has worked for you before is another note in your social network. Now imagine you take your personal social network on facebook or instagram or whatever else like that and you have dozens of people there that you had just an absolute complete knockdown drag out relationship with but they're still in your social network, right? People tend to forget that like in life you can't just unfriend people like they are hard coded in your social network whether you like it or not. Yeah, you can unfriend them. But the rest of the people you're connected with who are also connected aren't going to necessarily right. And that's yeah, it's not that you know the exit interview of the final days erases all of the horrible behavior that may have existed before then. I'm not saying that it does, but Ryan you mentioned this earlier but how you wind things up is so much how you're remembered that if you're not great at it, you have such a lasting impact on the rest of your social network. In other words, every person that walks out the door and they feel horribly you've just destroyed that entire note and all of the other people that that was going to come into contact with and nowadays this isn't just word of mouth what they might say to each other. These are literally the connections you need on linkedin to go connect with somebody like an investor or a customer or someone you're trying to hire. I realized so heavily on the quality of my network and literally everything that I do at this point right before before being like before social network etcetera. Like if things didn't go well with somebody, they would leave, maybe they'd talk to six other people in a meeting or on the phone and that was kind of the end of it man. Now you do things the wrong way. Somebody drops a medium post that goes viral right? The cost of that exit is astronomical. As we're recording this, we are of course going through the coronavirus lockdown. This is April of 2020 right now. And I'm watching all of these companies who unfortunately are having to go through layoffs in one of them company called Bird. The scooter company Laid off 200 people in what was essentially almost like a pre recorded zoom call And people went nuts. Now look losing 400 people. People are gonna get pretty salty but how they did it was the story. And so now you have all of these people that you know, we're going to get laid off either way. But that's not how they feel. They piste off about how they were treated. So now they're talking to the press now they're talking to everybody around town now they're trying to poison the well as much as possible because they're pissed. Yeah, it's not just people outside that can can relate to that too because then people immediately put themselves in that situation and say how would I feel if I was in that? And it's not hard to be empathetic in that situation because people can't go Yeah, that does suck. I would want to be treated that way and that can have really, really serious ramifications at the brand level okay. I'm not sure that's going to, you know, people will still jump on those things drunk and cruise up and down high street, I'm sure, but you know, it can have a major impact on the brand. The other thing that I think is interesting in this day and age is that in the past, some of this information exchange was a bit accidental, right? You would sort of have to know that somebody knew someone. There wasn't a way to do discovery on that at large. Now there is right between facebook instagram, twitter linkedin. It's not hard to figure out who, you know, that knows these people. So if you're investigating a potential employer, a potential employee, it is not hard to find out who, you know, that knows them. And whereas in the past, sometimes, you know, you hear these kind of one off stories, you know, this person was treated poorly on the way out. Okay, that's one thing, right? Maybe it's a one off, but if you can kind of scraped together two or three of these. Now, you've got some data points, you can start drawing lines and you know, again, the lines could go either way. If you find two or three people who had really great experiences that allows you to draw some stronger than was possible conclusions in the past, right? We just, we couldn't do this. We have the ability to know who, you know now and that's, that's a ton of power that can be wielded for good or for bad, depending on how you treated him. I agree. I also think it's important to recognize that that moment where they're leaving, let's say the moment that they sit down with you and say that, hey, I'm going to be leaving, it's not like it just occurred to them five minutes ago and they popped by to say it, They've rehearsed it nine billion times. They've run through the scenario right? There are so emotional in many cases vulnerable. This is one of the most emotional moments of their life. They are entrusting you for that brief moment to just be cool, right? If you can take it a step further and be the most empathetic person you've ever been at that moment, Take away for a second. That this isn't just about you. It's not like, oh ship they're leaving that, you know, now I have to worry about what I'm going to do about it and just step back for a second and think, man, this person is having one of the most emotional kind of turning points in their lives and and think about it this way. Most people don't have that many of these moments, right? I know, and that's this is why this is why this concrete the relationship. This is why this can either, you know, be something they carry forward and remember and refer to happily or something they go and complain to everybody about because this is a, this is a heightened moment, right there there at a heightened state of awareness. There's probably adrenaline flowing, maybe endorphins if they're super happy about where they're going. And so these memories are going to stick and last right there, there's a reason that we remember things, you know, when I'm around, you know, really happy moments in our lives and reasons we remember things in moments of crisis or tragedy. Um, and that's because of the biochemical state we're in at the moment, right? And so remember that your point is spot on. They've been rehearsing this, this is a big build up for them and it's different for them, right? They're leaving you as the job, right? That's their leaving an entirety, right? Like they're gone. The company is still there were still here, right? And we still have, you know, 199 other employees. So for us, the moment doesn't have that same level of criticality, but we have to remember for them that it does to your point for them, it's the biggest thing that's going to happen in that day for damn sure, maybe in a several months or even several year period. And so we should treat it with the respect that it deserves and how we respond as founders executives, etcetera is the first thing that they're going to report back to everyone and again, this isn't just about because it's, it's at the end of the, it's the right thing to do. But beyond that, I don't think folks in a hiring capacity understand sometimes the level of, of responsibility. We have to be the right kind of person at the right moment, correct. And so for example, most of the time when folks are leaving and we sit down, I always joke, no one has a meeting with me unless they're quitting. It's a person that I'm not like, you know, direct reporting to or whatever. I'm like these meetings and by the way, we don't have that many meetings, like in person meetings were also almost the remote. But if someone who I've never had a phone call with, so to speak needs to get me on the phone, usually only one reason. And so I always kind of try to keep it lighthearted and say, look, I get it right. Nobody takes me to lunch. Unless I take other people lunch. Nobody takes me to lunch unless it's my, my last supper. But, but what I try to do and I think I've become better at it is kind of diffuse the situation a bit, make it easier for them to kind of get it off their chest. And also immediately say, I'm good, I've got your back, right? Because at that moment their emotions are running as about as high as they could possibly run. Most folks are, are in some version of almost tears, which is by the way natural. It's kind of hard not to be, uh, you know, a lot of folks are embarrassed that they're crying. I'm like, you're having the most emotional, difficult decisions of your life. Like if you're not crying, there's something wrong with you, Yeah, you're not crying, then I will. Yeah, yeah, yeah. And I say, look, I know this is stuff I'm here to try to make this as easy for you as possible, which by the way, is the last thing that they expected to hear in a moment like this and I'm proud of that response. But I also say that wasn't always my response, not that I was a jerk before, but I don't, I just didn't appreciate how important that moment was and now I treat it with kid gloves. Yeah, I think it's important to remind ourselves that in that moment, the things that we don't need to be thinking about are the contingency plan. You know, what a secession look like, how we fill this person's role in the next two weeks or months or whatever that timeframe is because of course, as the founder, it's our job to start planning for that. We have to be aware what holes is going to create the team, what risk is exposed us to or opportunity sometimes an opportunity to, you know, bring fresh set of eyes into the, into the, into the mix, but I think we have to put all that aside at the moment and just remember that that moment is truly about them for them and ignore the impulse is to start analyzing what this means to us as the company. That's that's what the next day is for. Or at least, you know, once they've left the room, I agree. And I think that's that's something that I've learned over time. And I think that in the times that that I did it initially kind of when I was making this transition, really just maturing. And I started to realize when I was having those discussions and come to think that I probably had 1000 of them in my career. At first I was like, not how dare you. I mean, certainly that's just not the kind of person I am. But I was kind of like, oh no, you know what's going to happen to me kind of thing. And and they were always gracious enough to respond because of course they had been thinking about that. But as I replayed those conversations, you know, when I went home and I thought about it, I'm like, you know what? That's not that's not really what that conversation should have been about. The other thing that I've learned and that's served me incredibly well, is I just asked a simple question, how are you feeling? And I say that it's a little bit disarming, but but I say it in a very meaningful authentic way I asked that because you're about to go through some of the craziest stuff of your life. You're going through it right this second. Are you okay now? What's odd about that question is that it's again, it's not really what people are expecting in a lot of cases, you know, I might not even be that personally close to that person, so that might sound a little bit like me kind of advancing kind of quickly, but I also want to kind of just put on the table that your emotions and how you feel about this matter. Like it's actually a pretty important part of the conversation. And I find that that when that comes out, it's essentially me saying you have permission to just tell me what's really going on, like what you really care about right now and the floodgates open, you know, and I'm I'm proud of that. I like to know that there's at least enough trust or insistence that that kind of conversation can be had. It's an important one too because the other thing that we forget is that they, you know, they've made the decision right there going to move forward with it and presumably there are benefits to it and they feel good about it mostly. But in a lot of cases there's also some trepidation around that and they're concerned that they're going into a new environment, new people, you know, unknown social mix, unknown role because the reality is you never really know what the job is gonna be like until you start doing it or the job description gives you just the briefest taste of what that might be like. But the thing that we forget about is that they may not have someone else they can really talk to about that and you think, well they've got their, you know, their their social network, they've got their spouse, well, yes and no, because the typical move there is right that you want to you want to sell everybody else on the idea I'm changing jobs and here's why, right? It's a great opportunity. It's this, it's that. And so if they do have any second thoughts or misgivings, they often can't share this with the same people because then it calls the decision into question. They're not comfortable doing that right. They may not feel comfortable telling their spouse how concerned they really are about the move. They're excited about it on one hand, but then there are these other these other factors that may be concerning. They may not get another opportunity to do that. So the fact that you're doing that for people, maybe one of the few opportunities they have, I hope that's not true, but there are certainly people that I've gone through this process with who told me very much that same thing, like yeah, you know, it's awesome, we got to chat about that because I really don't have anybody else. I can talk about that right now. I'm just trying to keep, you know, my husband's super excited about this move. Um and you know, all that means for him and I can't really bring up any of the negativity because I feel like that will completely erode our energy in this entire process. So I think it's it's both a very humane thing to do and it may be the only opportunity they get. I agree. I think, I mean it's super powerful man. I mean, again, it's setting the right tone. Bring the conversation to a human level, which again, uh I don't believe these breakups are all business, you know, Yes, it's theoretically a career move, but there's way more that goes into it than just people's, you know, career ambitions and I think that, you know, it's it's important for that to be acknowledged. I think the other interesting part of that discussion is to set the tone of what does our future look like. Okay, now now people tend to think I just left the company, the company's gone. It's a way we never talk again. I think about it quite a bit differently. I think about what can we do together in the future. Maybe not immediately, but give some examples. Look, if you're leaving a couple of things that no one, I would say the same thing. My Rolodex is your Rolodex. Whoever you need to be connected with whoever you need to get an introduction with whatever I'm always there, right and call me on it and I'll absolutely do it. I can always guaranteed to be successful, but I guarantee I'll always cry. The second thing is as you think of other things that you want to work on, remember, we're a startup company that helps people build startups. And if you're thinking about doing your own gig, I want to be the first call that you make right when you think about going and doing your own thing, my job in life is to build more founders and if I can be part of that journey with you like it's the greatest thing ever and your mileage or your situation will vary, but I think it sends a powerful message when you say, look, you've got me in your corner for life, you choose how you want to use me. And I don't think that enough people out there are thinking that far ahead or preserving a relationship in that kind of meaningful way. 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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