Startup Therapy Podcast

Episode #83

Ryan Rutan: Welcome back to another episode of the startup therapy podcast. This is Ryan Rutan here as always with my friend founder of Startups dot com, Wil Schroder will, we're going to talk about a concept today and a word that gets bandied about quite a bit and you know, I think in a lot of circles has kind of lost a little bit of its value because it's been overused but we're going to dig into today is is really the path to passion, right? Not not just the concept of, of passion and you know, you pursue your passion and you know, follow your dreams, chase your passions you and I have talked about this a lot over the years and we're both fortunate that we're in a place now where I think we are both at that passion level of our careers, however it's a progression, right? And so why don't we start at the very, very beginning going back to it? And some of these things didn't actually lead, some of these paths were I don't want to call them false starts, but they certainly didn't end at passion, other things happen. But if you go back in time and think about, you know, what does it start with for you? Like what's that moment where something begins that could then turn into a passion.

Wil Schroter: Yeah, that's fair, I mean, I think early on I just didn't understand that there were different pieces to it. I just thought I'm excited and therefore it's passion right? And so what I'd come to learn later was that all of my excitement was generally wrapped around novels and you know, Ryan as you and I started many companies, we started to realize that it always starts with the

Ryan Rutan: right Yeah. If you're not interested, why would you pursue it?

Wil Schroter: You know, it's funny because there's a bit of a parallel in just new relationships of any type. You know, the relationship is new, it's novel, so therefore it seems exciting. But you realize that over time that that novelty wears off, right? And it becomes a relationship or a job or a startup like any other. And so some of them have that next level gear where you get more engaged in most of the time it doesn't. But I think what threw me if, if someone would have told me in my first company or held my eighth company, Hey, are you passionate? I think, Oh, absolutely. This is amazing. It's 1994 and we're building, you know, web pages at the dawn of the Internet. Like how could I not be passionate about this? But here's the thing, I didn't give a shit about building web pages. Like, I really look back, I wasn't passionate about it and I think that's what we can dissect today. The difference between what does that tractor beam of passion actually look like and where are we confusing that with novelty. But beyond that, I think there are some steps that go from novelty to perhaps what we could probably call purpose, which means this is why I'm doing it. I'm trying to get something done, usually not be

Ryan Rutan: broke

Wil Schroter: and if we're lucky, that kind of graduates to passion Erico, this is something I enjoy so much. I almost can't believe I'm getting paid. I'm hoping getting paid for actually, right? I'll toss this back to you. Wouldn't you consider this podcast like a reflection of passion? I mean, we don't really make any money on it.

Ryan Rutan: We certainly don't yeah, If you'd like to send checks, I can give you the address. Yeah, yeah, no, this is absolutely a passion project and I think that it's, it's a great illustration because even if you just look at the podcast itself in a capsule, right? And you say like from the time we started this, we weren't really sure what we were doing, it was novel, it was cool, it was something we wanted to do and we did have a purpose which was that we wanted to share these experiences. We realized we kept having all these one off conversations with people that ended up being, you know, day changing year, changing life changing discussions and we thought, you know, pity that these are happening as one offs, let's air this stuff out and share it. So there was definitely a purpose to it and we felt good about that, right? That was, it was a great motivator, but at this point and you know, we both talked about this like if we don't get on the mic at this point, there's almost a physical pain too. It's like we got to get back in, right? I was out for a couple of weeks this year, different times, and and wasn't able to record and I felt it, right, That's where you sort of, know you've crossed that line, and it's interesting cause that that gets kind of thrown into a very short time span. One of the other things that I think is really important across this entire thing, right? You've got beginning, as you said, with some basic level interest, some novelty of curiosity, as you explore, you realize there can be some purpose behind that, which then can eventually sort of transcend into passion. There's another concept that spans all of that for me, which is patience, right? We didn't have to be that patient with this one, but that's because a lot of what happens in the podcast is predicated on years of development of other novelties, other purposes, other passions that we're now able to share. So if you will, this is sort of the culmination of those other paths that lead to passion, including starting startups dot com.

Wil Schroter: Yeah, that's a good point. I mean, from our standpoint, we're fortunate that startups dot com was based on a passion that we had, but we kind of grew into it. I think it would be worth Ryan for us to kind of like said, unpack a little bit how folks, when they're looking at where they want to point their energy and point years and years their life and all this risk etcetera. How they can look at this end goal, whether it starts as novelty, it kind of moves into purpose and ideally becomes passion, how they can start to, to uncover and and start to isolate where they

Ryan Rutan: are. Okay.

Wil Schroter: So for, for example, when we're starting, we all get novelty and we were like holy sh it, this is an idea no one's had before. And by way of that, I'm so pumped up about it. I'm telling all my friends, you know, trying to quit my job

Ryan Rutan: etcetera, it happens. This idea is so good. It

Wil Schroter: doesn't even fit on a single cocktail napkin. Right? And look, there's a great event out there that many of you have probably been to called startup weekend and in that startup weekend on Friday night, everyone pitches their crazy ideas. A bunch of teams form around those ideas and then by Sunday night they have some sort of presentation or prototype of the products. It's a great great platform and tens and tens of thousands of companies have been created in that 54 hour period. It's awesome. What's amazing is that by sunday night Everyone is wondering whether they're going to quit their job over this idea that they just had 54 hours ago and it's awesome to call my

Ryan Rutan: boss. It's, I gotta be there monday morning nine a.m. Right?

Wil Schroter: Well, except monday morning hits and then everybody sobers up, and we're like, well, it wasn't that good of an idea of just some silly mobile app or whatever. The point is, the novelty that we start with has so much energy attached to it, it has such a strong center of gravity, and we often confuse that novelty with passion, right? I am so excited about this thing, therefore I'm passionate about it. Those aren't the same things.

Ryan Rutan: I don't want to mince words here, but you said two things, one of which I agree with wholeheartedly and the other one, I'm going to modify a bit. You said it has so much energy, right? And that I agree with completely. The second part you said it has so much gravity, that part I'm going to disagree with a little bit, because this is why people fade away, right? I think of it more like potential energy, right? Like think of think of the novelty as the matchstick, right? You strike it, it immediately bursts instant energy, lots of energy, but relatively short lived if it doesn't find a purpose.

Wil Schroter: Right, okay, so what you're saying, that's actually it's really clever. Okay, I get that a lot. So just bear with that back. So you're saying it's it's got all this initial energy, but it's going to burn out. Kind of like that matchstick analogy is perfect

Ryan Rutan: very quickly, right? If the if the matchstick doesn't find a purpose, I e let's say something, I'm gonna carry this throughout, We're gonna build we're gonna build a campfire. Now, guys, we're gonna get an eagle scout badge for this, right? But so if you go from that point, right? So you strike that match, you you develop that initial high intensity, but short burn energy, if it doesn't find a purpose, something that you can then apply that to I. E. The Tinder. Now we've got something, you know, we've got a little bit more mass, we've got a little bit more gravity, there's there's more material there now we can get something a little bit bigger going, right? But even that has a very limited time span, right? If it's just something that continues to be purposeful, it's never really going to become passionate. That's where you got to start to pile on the logs and the rest of it, and then sustain that, right? That's really where we transcend into passion. Where if we're able to keep adding that material, we continue to be curious about something, we continue to want to find not just the initial purpose, but new purpose and extend that purpose. Now, we've made it over into passion, but yes, I absolutely agree that that first novelty. Piece high energy, high excitement

Wil Schroter: just tends to be short lived. I think the problem with purpose that we all run into, and I think this is probably a meteor part of this discussion is that at first we need it so badly. In other words, we just started the startup, it has to pay our bills, it serves a purpose. A startup for me, got me out of poverty, right? So that was a pretty strong purpose, right? I had an insane amount of purpose and but again I confused that with passion. I thought, okay, this thing has to make money, it's going to, you know, lift me from poverty, so to speak. And so that must mean I'm passionate about it. Again, I was still confusing that a bit what ends up happening is that we build this thing and we realized that it served a purpose. It paid our bills. It kind of created a lifestyle for us, but we don't necessarily, I feel passionate about it. For example, when I was running my first company and again a few after that, but my first company web design business at first it served this amazing purpose, which is I needed to make dough. But once it did that and it started growing and growing growing became this huge thing. I looked back and I said, I'm not really passionate about building web pages for big corporations, just not, I don't jump out of bed in the morning and say, oh my God, I can't wait till

Ryan Rutan: best buy, get corporate home

Wil Schroter: page, I just don't

Ryan Rutan: care, right?

Wil Schroter: And that's the difference. I think purpose lets you sleep at night, but passion gets you jumping out of bed in the morning. And I think that's the difference.

Ryan Rutan: I often have this discussion with founders around, are you pursuing this? Because this is something you're truly interested in or because you think it's a good opportunity? I'm air quoting opportunity there, right? Because a lot of people come across things where they feel like this would work, it will make money, therefore I will build it, then they will come, I will get the money and then shangri La appears and I passed the Gates rarely works out that way we know, but even starting off on that foot I think is a bad precedent because if you're just pursuing something that you weren't already interested in, you didn't really know anything about. I'll use an example of like amazon drop shipping, right? Are there passionate amazon drop shippers? Maybe? Probably they're probably some people who are like super into like, you know, finding cool product and then delivering it to a customer base. But the minute there are like all of these, you know, sign up for this bootcamp, you know, become an amazon drop shipper right? Millions overnight, gets makes 7000 week from home, those people aren't pursuing a likely passion, nor was it something that they were interested in, What they were interested in was make $7000 a week from home, right? That's what caught their attention. That's not a passion. It's, it might be a purpose, but it's an opportunistic purpose. And I think that's a really important distinction that even when we're at the stage of finding purpose, that that can bifurcate, because, like you said, you found purpose within the web design, development company, that purpose was make money, pay bills because of its opportunistic nature, right? You did it because you saw an opportunity, you know, dawn of internet, lots of companies are going to need this. But then as you get further into it, you realize like, I don't have a sustained interest in this. I am no longer curious or wanting to, like extend this purpose into something greater, right, sort of peaks that we now make web pages for people and we get paid pretty good money for it. Nothing much else happens.

Wil Schroter: Let me build on that, That's because and I think this is the part, nobody tells you it's it's not in the brochure, so to speak. Once a company has fulfilled its purpose, it's really hard to stay excited about it. Now, that doesn't mean everybody feels that way. It's not a given, right? But I think a lot of us, once we kind of get over that hump. Okay, now the company's established or that we found product market fit or we've got, you know, recurring revenue, whatever, whatever our milestone was, that the purpose fulfilled, there's a point soon thereafter we start scratching our heads saying, I'm just not that excited about this. That doesn't make any sense because it did exactly what I wanted it to, why aren't I passionate anymore? And it's because you weren't passionate per se. And again, I'm not trying to mince terms. I'm just trying to show some transitions here. You were intense about fulfilling that purpose. Yes,

Ryan Rutan: it was mission based,

Wil Schroter: but once it was done, it was mission based. Right? Once it was done, You realize that there wasn't anything about the product itself. When I was selling web pages, I was so excited to be in the middle of one of the greatest economic changes in history, right? It was amazing. I was learning so much. I was in my 20's. Everything I did was new. It was awesome. And I appreciate that time so much. What I didn't understand at the time was that during that time, the very product we were building web pages for huge companies wasn't a passion of mine, right? I could get into it. I enjoyed the work, but I wasn't like man, if eli lilly or Best Buy or BMW didn't pay me, I'd still be doing this like, no, I wouldn't have no interest in this whatsoever. And so again, contrast that to what we're doing now with startups, I'll speak for myself in this case, but like, this is all I want to do for the rest of my life, you know, if Ryan, if you and I can keep getting paid to do this for the next 40 years I'm down right because I'm so passionate about what we talked about.

Ryan Rutan: I realized then you and I had had similar histories around the same time in terms of starting very similar cos your skill too much different level than mine did. But I remember a point came which I realized that I had lost my curiosity and my passion for the business. My role had changed significantly. I went from being a one man show who agreed to go to website for pay without having any idea how to do that. And just running and grabbing a manual from I think what was micro center at the time on html and just going home and figuring it out right. I couldn't even consult the internet on how to build the internet at that point. How do you like that folks? There was no google and then over time that role transitioned into leading the company, which really meant keeping the salespeople, the developers and the designers From killing each other and by the time there was a team of like 15-20 people, I just became a manager. And I realized in a very specific moment again at Micro Center, I had to replace a server. And this was back in the days when you could still host a your own web server out of your college apartment and be considered legitimate. I had to go pick up some replacement parts and I walked right past the book section and it didn't even blink, didn't look over to see what was there. You know, it was java to out, you know, was there something cool to pick up And what was the next O'Reilly's that I could grab, went and grabbed the parts needed checked out, got in the car to drive back to the office slash apartment and it hit me. I was like, I didn't even look over there. I'm no longer curious and I'm no longer putting the same level of maybe pre passion into this, right? I was still putting a lot of energy into it. I was still putting a hell of a lot of time into it. Blood, sweat and tears, but I didn't have that same level of the match would burn out. Absolutely. At this point we're just cruising on Tinder not in the same way that people cruise on Tinder now. Very, very different. But that was that moment for me where I actually felt that I was like something has changed, right? And it was a good realization. I didn't know what to do with it at the time because I just sort of thought, okay, I guess that's just what this is right. Eventually. You know, you're what I had confused the passion became a job and I thought that was just sort of how it was supposed to be because again, nobody, nobody laid it out for me. there was no road map wasn't the brochure, no manual and it was a great and important realization. But again, at the time I didn't have the tools to understand exactly what that meant about the future of how I would start and grow and thrive within companies

Wil Schroter: will contrast that to a conversation we had around the start of this year, internally at startups dot com and we're coming up on year eight of the company and so we were doing planning for the years in the next few years, etcetera. And one of the things that I thought was really interesting about this conversation, which was so different than any other type of strategic conversation I've had in other companies in the past is that we weren't solely focused on growth. In other words, the metric because it's tied to purpose, the metric by which we judged ourselves and every other business was simply growth. If the business gets two X bigger, it's just a better business. Right? And and what was interesting is we look at this business being, this allows us to engage in our passion with, if you guys haven't figured out, which is we're crazy passionate about founders and startups, we get to do it all day long. And so for the first time in my career, I got to look at strategic planning without a worry about what the numbers were, this is going to sound bizarre and I don't entirely mean this the way people might think of this. I just didn't care. And I've got to tell you maybe one of the greatest feelings I've ever had in doing strategic planning for a company is I don't care how much it grows now. We're a decent sized company, but we're not, you know, google and were massive by by any stretch and you know, we have bills to pay like everybody else. So it's not like we're printing money and we just don't have to worry about finances or growth or anything else like that.

Ryan Rutan: It's

Wil Schroter: just not what's important to us. And we don't, we don't have to anymore. Now there's a purpose, there was a time where purpose was get to profitability so that we'd have unlimited runway so we could have a conversation like this, you know, right?

Ryan Rutan: We don't lead with

Wil Schroter: that. Right. Exactly remember that. Well, yeah, yeah. Our balance sheet look like a roller coaster.

Ryan Rutan: The progression was this follows, get to profitability by company, get back to profitability by another company. Get back to profitability by another company, right? Like it. We were literally looked like we were running a hurdles race where the hurdles kept getting a little higher with each hurdle.

Wil Schroter: Now, here's the interesting thing though. I think that defines why we are passionate about our business because we look at what we do in saying we're so excited about what we get to do. And I don't just mean this around helping startups, which is obviously a huge part of it, but I think it's also run the culture and the lifestyle that we've created for this company as well. I just genuinely like my coworkers, I like the lifestyle that this business has afforded for us. I like our customers, imagine that I just, I like everything that everyone that we have in our world because we worked very hard to curate that, but it's because I'm passionate about what we do and I think when we hit that point, purpose that the purpose of hey, this thing just needs to be profitable, etcetera has really burned off for us. It has given way to, we get to do this holy sh it, I can't believe it and I got to tell you, I have never come close to this feeling ever before and we work with an awful lot of other founders, it's not something that I see a lot. So I like the fact that this is this passion still does have meaning, you know, it is an arrival point that that I think people should optimize or try to

Ryan Rutan: get to, I think that, you know, going back to that concept of patients, meaning not just sitting and waiting with hands folded for something to happen, but allowing all of that to develop right, because I would, I don't think, I have to argue, but I would posit that passion that you have for founders, the passion that I have for founders and for starting and growing companies came from doing it over a long period of time. It's interesting because I think that sometimes you will see people who, who begin down a path based on a passion and what I mean, let's let's call it a theoretical passion, a future passion, a potential passion, right? Think about the kids who just say that they're going to be a doctor from the time they're eight years old and then actually become a doctor or even somebody who says I want to become a doctor and university and then goes on to do that right there looking forward. And in some cases maybe it is just, you know, objective and purposeful, they're like, well it makes good money used to and I want to do that or it has some prestige attached to it, but a lot of them are natural helpers, right? Or people who want to heal and help people. And so they have like some sort of a core passionate and then they project that out into the future And say, I will then arrive at this point of passion where now I have my lab coat, my stethoscope and I get to heal people and that's my passion. I'd argue a couple of things. one it's really hard to know whether once you actually arrive at that point that you will have that passion. And so you said something earlier, which was that we're lucky enough to have arrived at this point, and I think that's not an incidental statement. It's not can't be overlooked that it wasn't a certainty Because I don't think that, you know, 20 years ago, either you or I were sitting there thinking I'm gonna go build a couple of businesses are going to become passionate about founders and they're going to build a business all around them, right?

Wil Schroter: I agree. And look, I think when we talk about passion, I want to kind of expand the concept a little bit if you will, because if we're talking about this as a goal, I think it's important that we define it, but we also make sure the definition of it, so people can think about how to apply it and optimize for it is broad enough. I think one of the places where people mess up the kind of directionally pointing themselves, the organization sort of passion is that they try to be too specific about the passion, right? In other words, they say, well, I'm passionate about golf, so I need to be a professional golfer, right? And so that's my passion. That must be exactly what I have to do. And I think that's such a miss and I just think, you know, folks haven't had a chance to really expand on that a bit when we looked at startups dot com, we had no idea what the actual business was, we didn't know that we wanted to be a golfer, we just knew in our case that we loved golf. I'm using a really terrible example considering hate golf, but

Ryan Rutan: whatever I'm good at two parts of golf, I can drink the beer and I can drive the cart and the rest of it is lost on me.

Wil Schroter: So my point here is from our standpoint when we say that I'm passionate about one thing and so I have to do exactly that one version of it. It's not true. What we need to be able to do is say I want to work toward this sphere toward this theme, toward this passion And for us it was, I want to sit around and talk to founders all day to be honest. There's 9000 products that could get us there, we could be anything from an angel investor to a mentor consultant to can go on forever to what we built, but what was important and I think this is what I think will help folks that are listening, kind of anchor where they're headed, find a theme that you're passionate about, right? So you mentioned being a doctor, I love to help people, I love to heal people. That's a theme, there are hundreds of ways to get there. Exactly. So I think people get too hung up on the passion being a singular job, I have to be a professional golfer, otherwise I can't be in golf, not true, you could be selling golf clubs, you can own a golf course, you can be teaching golf. I mean there's a million ways to get there. And so I think when we talk to founders and we try to kind of coach them through this process, because everyone says, well, I don't know what I'll be passionate about, that could be my job, there's no way you'll know, there's no way it kind of has to happen over time. All you need to do is say, here is my theme. My theme is I love helping people. My theme is I want to talk to founders all day. My theme is I want to be on a golf course in some way, shape or form, care how I get there right and start to, to build around that. And so for us, since we set that theme around helping founders, the first product we came up with was a product that, you know, in our stable called fungible dot com, which helps people get funded, but we knew going into that as we started to develop, that that wasn't going to be the only thing that was just a mechanism had purpose to help us get toward our passion.

Ryan Rutan: It was also a bit opportunistic, right? Because of the passage of the jobs act at the time. We looked at that and we said like this is something people are going to be paying attention to and to your point, we didn't want to start and stop there, we sort of knew that would be the most visible flag to plant

Wil Schroter: circa 2012 also

Ryan Rutan: true. Yeah, that was the one that was most likely to get us attention. And then almost immediately, in fact, I think before we even launched fungible and I've got the pdf to prove it, we had a roadmap that went both directions forward and backward or I guess upper funnel and lower funnel where we were going earlier stage and later stage with, you know, funding being somewhere in the latter stages, good point and said like this is what else we can build. And I think that's what continues to be amazing and fun about this. Unlike the web development business, which we both realized at some point it can get bigger, but it doesn't get a whole lot different technologies change. You keep up with the joneses in terms of making sure the bells and whistles and security do what all they need to do. But I think one of the things that continues to be amazingly fun and drive passion within this is that we've yet to run into a corner or a ceiling yet where it's like, oh well we can't go any further that direction. In fact, the opposite has been true. Where we've had to be selective and throttle ourselves in the sense of slowing down, not physically beating ourselves and tricking ourselves out and that's, that's really what's driven it for us. I think the fact that there is this continued upside and I don't mean that financially, I mean in the opportunity to keep manifesting the purpose into the passion, which is just incredible. Yeah, it feels awesome,

Wil Schroter: right? I think what's helped us, this is what I'd love for folks to take away from this is we did a good job defining that theme early on, right? Where we wanted to spend our time and more specifically where we wanted to spend our lives. I know from my standpoint when we were developing all of this, I was at a point where I pursued so many novelties, I pursued so many startups because there were a new idea. Uh you know, one of the last startups I did was called Unsubscribe dot com doesn't even exist anymore, which is just tells you something, but but it was helping you get off of your email back in the time when that wasn't that possible if you get an idea how old that is. And I gotta tell you It was a cool novel idea. 800 million active email accounts at the time, it was a massive market. It was a big annoying problem for everybody, right? And we went after it and we solved some of it. Maybe who knows, it doesn't matter the point is I was never passionate about it, no matter how good that company got.

Ryan Rutan: Exactly,

Wil Schroter: I just wasn't going to jump out of bed in the morning, like, oh my God, I can't wait to find more spam emails. Don't subscribe from, you know, like I just don't

Ryan Rutan: care. Nobody is going to run up to you in the street and hug you and say thank you for eliminating those two emails from inbox this morning. I couldn't have done it without you. I'm not going to happen.

Wil Schroter: Yeah, right. And so what I realized and that was company number eight for me, what I realized was that I kept going on this cycle, I'd come up with a novel idea, I'd chase after it. Something would happen. Maybe good, maybe bad. It would maybe serve a purpose, which it was easy to kind of attached to it. Hey, this thing doesn't make money now let's have it make money. But then it will always die, no matter what I was doing, no matter how successful it was, it would always die. And I would always start to have my eye on the next thing. And at some point I was, you know, this is, I'm trying to run the numbers here. I was probably 16 years into it. I start to think to myself, why does this keep happening, why do I keep starting these things? And even when they're successful, I keep wanting to walk away. And I realized after a lot of thought that I had never really aligned anything with something I was truly long term passion about and here's what sealed it for me. Ryan, I finally came up with a mechanism where I said two things, number one, what would I want to do on saturday?

Ryan Rutan: It sure as heck wasn't unsubscribing

Wil Schroter: people from emails, right? We're trading car leases or building web pages, that's not what I want to on saturday. Right, right.

Ryan Rutan: But the

Wil Schroter: second thing, which is I think what really solidified it for me was if I never could make money on it, what would I want to do for the rest of my life?

Ryan Rutan: Yep, This is the question I ask people all the time. Like what would you be doing if you could just do whatever you wanted to do right now make money or otherwise, like how would you be spending your time if you had free time, what would you spend it on? Right. And that often leads to you said it before and remember exactly but the zone right, that may not tell you exactly what you need to go be, but like it at least tells you which direction to start throwing the darts right? That narrows the opportunity from anything and everything to this is at least where my general interests lie. That's not to say that those always turn into passion because the inverse of the converse can certainly be true? Where was a hobby or a passion? And I've seen this happen, somebody will take something that they really, really enjoy doing then they commercialize it and it takes the fun out of it. I had a friend who much like you was an amazing woodworker, right? Yeah, he wasn't an entrepreneur by nature at that point. He had never tried and he was making these like, you know more like home accessory pieces, he wasn't doing large projects, he was building things and started to to sell some of them online and they were beautiful, I mean gorgeous, gorgeous things he was making and people were snapping them up left and right and I reached out and I was like, man, you seem to be doing really well with this and he's like, you know what's funny? Like I used to I just couldn't wait until I had like that sunday afternoon for free or at a three day weekend and I would just be in my workshop doing it and just loving it. He's like now that I'm getting paid for it and their expectations and timelines, he's like, I've started to hate woodworking. I was like, man, not good, so it can, right? So just because you're passionate about something does not necessarily mean this is what you should follow from a career past standpoint. So just word of caution, think about how that changes things.

Wil Schroter: It can go the other way

Ryan Rutan: too and and how it manifests, you know, it was funny to me I think it was. Andre Agassi was the one who said he I actually hate tennis, He's like, I just happened to be really good at it, that's

Wil Schroter: amazing.

Ryan Rutan: Yeah, I'm pretty sure that was him. You can get somebody can fact check me on that, but I'm fairly certain it was him. That's not the exact quote, but it was something along those lines.

Wil Schroter: Well, you know, it's funny you should say that because I actually looked at the opposite. So, as you mentioned, a few years back, I took up carpentry, got really into it and I just finished an eight month project of building this huge outdoor kitchen and toward the end of it, I couldn't wait for it to be over, right? And all I could think to myself is while this was a lot of fun and it was, you know, novel in its own right. I do not want this to be my job, mad respect for who, who does this for a living. Because all I could think about at the end is my back hurts my shoulder. I've been thinking a lot of stuff. I probably shouldn't have. And I'm not passionate about this, I enjoy it, but I don't want to make this my job.

Ryan Rutan: Let me carry something out of that because there's there's another important point here that project and using that project specifically as a great analog because it turned out beautifully, but if you think about that project and a business kind of in parallel in the beginning, you have all the energy and you're doing like the base stuff right? Like you're putting in the studs and you know, you were roughing in right? You got all the energy all the time. It's when you get towards the end of the project, which we can, we can analogize to the later stages of a business when you start to lose that energy start to lose that passion, those final touches right on your project or what either making because nobody can see the roughed in parts anymore. You probably did a fantastic job. You have full energy everything. And I know this because I talked to you a lot on the phone and had a lot of photo and video evidence of the work you were doing. You were being insanely meticulous while cutting untreated pine two by four, right? Like everywhere ever gonna see right? When you then lose that energy towards the end and luckily you know, you didn't do that, you started to and you realized it. But luckily the project wrapped while you still have enough energy to do it. You know, with the same level. Meticulousness that you began with that doesn't always happen in business. We see this a lot where a business hits that point. Maybe an inflection point or gets somewhere, there's some interesting things that could happen and the founders are just to burn out or lack passion and energy to do much with it and it's at that moment when you need it the most right, those early days of building feel really important until we realized that pretty much all we were doing at those stages were making mistakes. It's that finish work that actually really matters. And this is where passion absolutely rules the game because that's what will keep you at that same level of energy, that same level of attention to the important details and knowing what's not an important detail. But I think it's a great analog.

Wil Schroter: The reason at startups dot com, we're gonna be heading into a decade of this soon. The reason it's not getting old for me and I can't even speak for everybody is because the theme doesn't get old. I just want to help founders. I kind of don't care how we do it. I don't care if it's using fungible, I don't care if it's a new product we launched around founder groups. I just don't care now what I love about that is it gives us the agency to change what the businesses so that it stays on course with exactly what we want our theme to be. Now, not everyone has that luxury, but I would say more so not everyone has the theme, they don't have that center of gravity to keep holding on to when we were building the agency, let's say in the early days, Ryan, let's say you and I were building it together and we were both creatives and all we cared about is just the most beautiful creative product Over time. We might say, yeah, you know, we started out doing web pages because at the time that was like this amazing area around creativity. But after a while we started to realize, you know, the products themselves were something we were more interested in. So we started to move into software and then we started to realize that those products gave way to physical products, you know, that we were shipping by way of our mobile app or something and we really got into the design of that. And so we just chased creativity. That was our theme. We use different mechanisms of the business to get there. But that center of gravity was always creativity and that's what keeps us happy by way of that. That's what kept us passionate.

Ryan Rutan: Yeah, the theme is really important, right? And there are a lot of themes you can look at in in kind of normal life, that illustrates really well, the theme of college football, right? You may never get tired of watching college football, right? But if you had to watch the, I don't know, 2000 and six Ohio State michigan football game over and over and over again. It's no longer just a theme, right, then it just becomes repetitive and that's not fun. Now that was the last time they actually posted a halfway decent score against this and it was an interesting game, 14 years ago.

Wil Schroter: That's a really long time ago. How long ago was that?

Ryan Rutan: 14 years ago? It was, that was the 42-39 game, that's the last one I remember being interesting,

Wil Schroter: wow, it's been a very long time if you guys haven't guessed for both. Ohio statements

Ryan Rutan: just a little bit, just turning the screws there, just a touch. We do want you guys to get better. We'd like to see really strong matchup. Yeah, so it's, it's like that, right? Like I can, I know people can watch endless college football, but if you just wanted them to endlessly watch the same game over and over again, it loses its luster

Wil Schroter: really quick. It does. But here's the thing, man, I think that center of gravity, you know, whether it's creativity, loving startups, loving golf or what have you. I think it's crazy underrated. I think that on the one hand, everybody talks about it, like you said at the top of the episode, I think everyone says, oh, you have to find your passion and fulfill your passion and it, it sounds awesome. It's just largely undefined, right? I mean, I don't think people understand how to get there again. They're too literal. They say I have to become a golfer or they're too purposeful just by saying, hey, I need to make money and if somehow golf ties into it even better and I think the key there is to just zoom out just enough to say, look, I want to pick a theme that no matter what the product or purposes, it keeps coming back to that theme. And if it keeps landing on that theme, then I will be forever happy.

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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