In this episode of Startups For The Rest Of Us, Rob and Mike set their goals for 2019 as well check in and rate how they did for their 2018 goals.
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Rob: In this episode of Startups For The Rest Of Us, Mike and I talk about our goals for 2019. We also look back at our goals for 2018 and evaluate how well we did. This is Startups For The Rest Of Us Episode 423.
Welcome to Startups For The Rest Of Us, the podcast that helps developers, designers, and entrepreneurs be awesome at building, launching, and growing software products, whether you’ve built your first product or you’re just thinking about it. I’m Rob.
Mike: And I’m Mike.
Rob: And we’re to share our experiences to help you avoid the same mistakes we’ve made. What of this week, sir?
Mike: Well, it’s the middle of December so I’m just kind of working on MicroConf sponsorships and scholarships at the moment. I was just having various conversations with people about different options with things that are a little bit different for a sponsorship option for MicroConf. There’s a few different options that are on there that also include the scholarships.
Last year we kind of quietly and under the radar offered 14 scholarships to people for Starter Edition. I’m looking to expand that this year and talking to various people about it. I’ve already got some people who’ve committed funds and already actually put the money in and started sponsoring those. That’s good to see and we’ll just kind of see where things shake out at the end of it. I kind of have a mental goal in mind but I don’t want to shoot myself in the foot by sharing it.
Rob: Sure and if someone was interested in either sponsoring either the conferences or offering a scholarship ticket to Starter, how do they get in touch with you?
Mike: They can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org or I think email@example.com also works. Either one of those and if you’re interested in just sponsoring one individual scholarship option, there’s a link for that right on the sales page for the MicroConf Sales or you can go to microconf.com, click on the link to buy a ticket, and there’s an option there to just purchase an individual ticket. The terms of the sponsorships, there’s kind of a mechanism for purchasing more than just one or two tickets. I think it starts at four and goes up from there.
Rob: Yeah and I knew part of the scholarships. I mean, this is something you really spearheaded and you kind of came under the radar a couple of years ago, and then you really started pushing on this program last year. But it helps folks get to Starter who otherwise can’t afford to or they don’t have an expendable cash to get out there and it can really make a difference for someone. I know that we interviewed some folks with the kind of video interviews after the fact or during the conference to share with the person or company who would sponsor them. You and I looked through those and they were pretty meaningful and people were really impacted by the conference. I think it was a transformative experience for them. It’s nice to be able to offer something like that.
Mike: Yeah, definitely. What’s up with you this week?
Rob: Well, I’ve long had an LLC in California, obviously because that’s where I’ve been running my businesses and I just entered a process, I believe it’s going to get finalized this week, of transferring that LLC to Minnesota. There’s a bunch of reasons for doing this: (a) it’s cheaper to do business here, but (b) I had to have basically a kind of a PO Box or an accountant or whatever, you have to have an address in California that they could send stuff to. I don’t need to file tax returns in California anymore. Even just that, it’s like an extra tax return my accountant charges me several hundred bucks for.
It feels kind of a nice piece of closure for me and it’s also an opportunity to rename the thing because I can name it whatever I wanted. The name that I picked in 2007 does not resonate with me. I picked a name that was so broad and esoteric that I could put whatever I wanted under it. At first, it was like a consulting firm so it had the name ‘Group’ in it. It’s called The Numa Group. It was a consulting firm but then I just put a bunch of software products under it and put my part of MicroConf under it. I don’t particularly love the name anymore and the domain name I have for it is clunky. So I just kind of consolidate the thing. I renamed it to Start Small LLC.
Mike: Oh nice.
Rob: Yeah. It took me a while. I’m not good at naming stuff and I was like, “What is something that for me is timeless? That in 10 years, I’m going to think back and say that was a good call?” and it’s not just because it’s the title of my book, or part of the title but I just feel like it fits into so much. It tells my story in two words and it fits in with the MicroConf ethos. It just said so many things.
Anyway, that’s been kind of a fun, cathartic process of just moving everything here, like The Numa Group redirects to my robwalling.com site which I had redone. I’m just kind of getting rid of a bunch of cruft. The Numa Group site was a landing page that was outdated and I just kept saying, “Oh, I’m going to get back to that,” but why it even have a landing page? Why even have that anymore? The company is not important. Frankly, at this point, it’s kind of about robwalling.com and then about Tiny Seed. It’s my personal site and the business site and everything else in MicroConf, of course. Anyway, that’s kind of been the process.
Mike: Yeah, I can imagine that’s a real pain in the neck and it’s something you probably want to get taken cared of before December 31st because if you don’t, you’ll have a file taxes again in California the following year.
Rob: That’s exactly what I’m doing. The only other thing is I’ve been coming out of the woodwork a little more and doing some interviews and even wrote a Q&A piece for a software execute magazine. That will be out in a couple of months and I’ll probably mentioned that again when it comes out. Have you heard of Hacker Noon?
Rob: Dave, the guy emailed me from there and did a little-written interview with me. It was kinda fun. It took a lot of work. I forget how easy voice interviews are compared to written interviews. I know that you know this because of the Indie Hacker one you did last year or earlier this year and you’re like, “Yeah, I spent two days on it.” So much effort.
Mike: Yeah. It was way more effort to do those. I think people’s expectations are different as well if you’re talking versus if it’s written, it seems like it should be carefully crafted, say exactly what you mean, and not anything else. When people are listening to you, you have a lot more leeway, I think, because people understand that you’re talking off-the-cuff and it’s not heavily scripted thing when you’ve memorized ever question and every answer.
Rob: Yeah, that’s right, and it feels less prepared whereas writing, it feels like you need to rewrite it, reread it, edit it, and do all that, which is exactly what I did. It took me 2-3 hours to answer the questions. What was cool was some of the questions at Hacker Noon interview, ones that I’ve really never been asked, which is always fun to think through but it’s also time-consuming, and it’s peaked.
It’s kind of peaked productivity stuff. I had to do it in the morning. I couldn’t in the afternoon there. I would just been too tired to really hammer something out. Then I came back to revised it, updated it, and stuff. I feel like it turned into a really good interview. I haven’t done a written interview in probably five years just because of the time that it takes. I just turn them down. But I kind of wanted to do this one. We’ll be sure to link that up in the show notes.
This week, we are diving into our goals for 2019. But first, Mike, the walk of shame. We get to look back at our 2018 goals. Episode 372, just a short 50 or so, 51 episodes ago, it looks like. We talked about our 2018 goals. Why don’t you roll into your first one? Are we going to do a 1-5 scale of one we completely flubbed the goal and five is we completely nailed it?
Mike: Oh I figure we talking about 1-5 is like my goals versus your goals.
Rob: Oh, no. No, no. This is how well we carried them out.
Mike: Well, I’ve been quite honestly we could put one on pretty much every single one of mine. We could kind of shorten it. I’ll go through them but this last year was just absolutely atrocious.
Rob: Let’s do it. Let’s roll through all yours right now then.
Mike: Sure. You want me to go through all five of them then?
Rob: Oh yeah, the agony. Let’s read them in slow motion so everyone can watch a trainwreck.
Mike: The first one was actually a carry-over goal from the previous year, which was login at least 100 days of exercise the coming year, and I fell way, way short of that. I probably got to 25 or 30 and that was just about it. The second one was making Blue Tech profitable including my time, which has also not happened.
And then the other three, I think at least one or two of these, about two or three months in, maybe March or so we decided, “Hey, these just don’t even look realistic. We should just can these to begin with.” One of them was speaking at six plus conferences or events because the idea was that, at first I thought, “Okay, well this can be a way to market Blue Tech,” but at the same time, you really have to have the right audience for that kind of thing anyway, and it felt like more of a distraction than anything else. So, I ended up canning that one.
Then the other one, reading at least one business book every two weeks. That seem to me like it was also a distraction. It was like a consumption thing. I also cut back on podcast listening just because of the same thing. It will just take up mental overhead that I just didn’t want to have. Then the last one of that list was hiring someone to take over Blue Tech development, which kind of requires that Blue Tech become profitable. If that doesn’t happen then it’s hard to fund that. So yeah, I would say pretty much one on all of those.
Rob: What does that tell us? Is it were you doing other things that you would say were accomplishments that were outside of this? Was it a focus thing or was there a better priority that came up? Or do you think our goals are stupid? That’s another. Should we not set goals?
Mike: I think a lot of it had to do with lack of focus. By lack of focus, I don’t mean I’m working on one thing and then working on another. I mean literally lack of focus. Inability to focus. Because I wasn’t sleeping. I mean, I’ve been kind of suffering through this for the past several years, like I got on a CPAP machine a couple of months ago and that thing has been working fantastically. I’m actually sleeping now. But I went back and before this episode, I looked at the sleep blog that I’ve kept for this sleep therapist that I saw. I was up anywhere from 3-8 times a night and I was only getting anywhere from 4-6 hours of sleep. There were times when I would get 1½-2 hours of sleep a night so I felt fuzzy.
It’s hard to describe the difference that it may swing. I felt that way. Yesterday, for example, I woke up and I had a fantastic night of sleep. It’s a world of difference between being able to think straight and just kind of going through the motions and getting things done but not really able to focus on any one thing and feeling like you’re shifting back and forth but not making any real progress.
Rob: Yeah. It’s easy to get distracted and your thoughts are fleeting. In addition, I don’t know if this happens to everyone but when I only get a few hours sleep, I am actually super pessimistic and I tend to look like someone with depression. I don’t technically have it because it’s not over a long period of time. I will wake up and just be like, “Oh this is all just shit. None of this is going to work. Oh my gosh. Why am I even starting startups? I can’t do any of it.” That will be my inner self-talk and I’ll catch myself now and be like, “Dude, you’re really tired. You should just go to sleep.”
I know that’s not easy for you but that’s what my inner monologue will be on those days of like, “You’re going to be better off not working today.” But for you, it was happening everyday, right?
Mike: Yeah, even on the weekends, too. That was the worst part is, I was exhausted and I couldn’t get to sleep. When I did go to sleep, I didn’t realize also the time because I was trying all these different things to just get to sleep. Or I’ll move my bedtime back earlier and I’ll go to sleep, or try to go to bed at 10:00 or 10:30, turn off all electronics, don’t answer emails after 7:00 or 8:00 o’clock at night, just turn all that stuff off. It works to a slight degree but not enough and I couldn’t figure out why and it kept happening.
Of course, come to find out through the sleep study, like, “Oh, my body is waking me up multiple times a night because I stopped breathing.” You can’t change habits and fix that. It just doesn’t happen. It didn’t matter what I did. Nothing was working.
Rob: Yeah, and that’s tough and it’s frustrating. Obviously, five goal set and zero goals achieved. Health issues were a major impact on that. It’s interesting. Sherry talks about this, that a lot of mental health issues in general, like people with depression or ADHD or other stuff, one cause of those, not for everyone, but one cause is a lack of sleep. Once people stop being able to sleep full nights, their minds start doing weird things.
She also talks about there’s some research studies that talk about the quite a bit the angst of being a teenager, how you turn 13 and you get all angsty from 13 to 18 or whatever kind of the thing is in high school. A lot of that could very well be too just a lack of sleep. The kids at that age need about 10 or 11 hours and most kids do not get that much and they’re tired all the time and it leads to the sadness or whatever. I’m no expert on this, so I don’t want to talk, but Sherry has talked to me multiple times about this and especially with our kids, because a couple of our kids at different times, they have behavioral issues, they have focus issues, and one of the first things that we will get is sleep and exercise every time instead of trying to medicate or whatever.
I’m not anti-medication but it’s like the first two resorts every time Sherry is like, “How has he been sleeping?” and, “Is he getting out and getting 20 minutes of hustle, hard exercise?” Not a 20 minutes walk but 20 minutes of running around playing dodgeball a day. I think that it’s interesting and it can have a huge impact on your mood and your ability to focus, which then has a huge impact on your productivity.
Mike: Yeah. For me, it was that vicious cycle of not being able to sleep and then it also affects my ability to go to the gym. If I don’t go to the gym first thing in the morning, it’s just not going to happen because I get busy in other things getting in the way. Not being able to sleep has a direct impact on my willingness and ability to go to the gym. It just puts me in this vicious cycle where I don’t get to sleep, so I don’t go to the gym, so I don’t feel good in any way, shape, or form, and then I go to bed and I’m stressed out, exhausted, and tired. And then my mind is wandering even before I get to sleep so I can’t get to sleep. When I do sleep, my body just – I guess I’m assuming because it’s physical problems. I just got the sleep apnea that wakes me up.
All of it combined. It just doesn’t end and there is no way for me to kind of break the cycle until I found out what it really was. I knew I wasn’t sleeping but that was a symptom. It wasn’t the underlying problem.
Rob: And you have that machine for the past couple of months. Dude, how’s your progress? Has it been night and day? Not just how you feel because I know that you feel is night and day but are you making substantially more measurable progress since then?
Mike: Yes. I can point to different things that I’ve done in the past, like two months or so. In the past two months, I have probably made more progress than I have in the past 10 or 15. It is night and day but I’m cautiously optimistic about how things are going to turn out but obviously at this point, I feel it’s more about execution that anything else. But I still have to make sure that I crack down on those health issues and make sure that they don’t get in the way.
Now that I know what the problem is or problem was, then I can try to do things to address it. But before, I was trying all these different things because I didn’t know what was going to work or what wasn’t and how to get around it. I remember pushing off on the sleep study a while back for my doctor, and she’s like, “Have you ever thought about having this done?” and I was like, “Well, I have but I don’t really want to go through it and have nothing come out of it,” because last time I ended up going in, she recommended that I go for a blood work. She’s like, “Oh your platelet count’s low and let’s check this out.” I go and she referred me to this doctor, go through that, and then $400 worth of test later, the doctor tells me, “Well, you don’t have leukemia,” and I’m like, “I never thought I did. I don’t know why I’m here for that test.” It kind of pissed me off but what do you do? The doctor’s are really just trying to figure out what’s going on here and they do it by process of elimination.
Part of it’s maybe my own fault for not doing it sooner because she had recommended it in the past but at the same time, I didn’t really want to have that done just because I didn’t know how much it was going to cost. My insurance barely covered any of it. It cost me several thousand dollars for between the machine and the tests and everything else anyway.
Rob: In looking back on obviously these goals, you said five of them are ones. This is a weird question but is there something that you’d accomplished in 2018 that you feel good about, that if it had been a goal, it would be a five? Something of note? I don’t know how you even rank that. I’m just trying to dig in to figure out is there anything there?
Mike: Like was 2018 a complete loss or were things you actually proud of?
Rob: Kind of, yeah. I mean, I just kind of digging into it because this sucks and there’s gonna be someone listening to this who thinks, “Oh, Mike should’ve sucked it up, accomplish stuff anyway, and push forward,” and then there are the majority of people I’m guessing are going to be like, “Wow, that totally sucks. I hope that never happens to me. I hope I never feel that way.” And then there are going to be people who like, “I’ve been through that.”
Whether it’s sleep issue, whether it’s your neck and back hurting so much that you can only work two hours a day, which has happened to me, whether some people get vertigo really bad so they get super dizzy, some people get depression, they get ADHD, there are all these debilitating things. They can be physical, they can be mental, they can be whatever, but it happens to a good chunk of us. Maybe not for a whole year in us since you’re saying on and off for a couple of years but I just think there’s a lot to think about with that. In terms of staying healthy, I think it’s probably the big takeaway, perhaps.
Mike: Yeah. The two things that I can point to is, the first one is the accomplishment, the scholarship program that I got, going last year at MicroConf. I think that, that was a good start and this year’s trying to take it to the next level. We’ll see how that goes but it was more about experimenting and trying to figure out what’s going to work, what’s not, and help work with the sponsors, figure out what works for them as well. I think that we did well with that.
Rob: I would agree with that and you basically spearheaded that and put in a bunch of time. That was something that was a little mini startup within MicroConf and I’m glad you called that out because that was something you did that was really cool. I think something else you may not call this up but you kind of crushed it on sponsorships this year with both the conferences so I would call that as a win for you. It’s weird to put a goal in there of like, “I want to increase sponsorships by X, Y, and Z,” because it’s more relevant to us, it’s an internal thing, and I don’t know that it’s that interesting to folks outside, but it is something you put time into and had success with.
Mike: Yeah but even the sponsorships themselves, they help us make Starter Edition possible because we, too, subsidize Starter Edition out from Growth Edition to some extent, and we have to because it costs the same to run both of the conferences. The stuff that we do there has a direct impact on Started Edition, which has a direct impact on people who are getting started with entrepreneurship and softwares. I think that all ties together is like a general kind of goal or direction that we both kind of always as long as this podcast has been going. But yeah, it’s a good thing to call those out. But I don’t know as I would probably have put those in exclusively as goals.
The only other thing I would say is, and I wouldn’t even call this a goal again, but I’ve started getting out with a group of friends here once a week and actually having some social contact outside of my office. It’s weird to say that because I don’t have an office that I go to. I don’t have employees or people that I meet with on a regular basis. I barely have any contractors at this point. It’s really just me, working on most stuff.
Like my social contacts, outside of my house is extremely limited. One of the things that I was trying to do is figure out in terms of the mood and you kind of talked about, if you don’t get sleep, you kind of feel depressed and why am I working on this and things aren’t working and you’re very pessimistic. I felt like that for a very long time because I wasn’t getting sleep. One of the things I tried to do was say, “Okay, well what can I do to fight this?” and one of them was getting out and be more social with people. So I kind of established that, Dungeons and Dragons group, then meeting with them on a weekly basis. Honestly, it was quite helpful but even now after getting sleep, it’s even more helpful because it’s not just me looking forward to it every week but everybody else is as well.
Rob: That makes sense. So some good things did come out of 2018 is what you’re saying.
Mike: Yeah, some, but I don’t know. I’m hoping 2019 will be substantially better.
Rob: Yeah. Sounds like a rough year. Looking at my 2018 goals, looks like I had three of them. One was to be in fewer meetings under 10 hours a week. You and I laughed, chuckled about this a few months back because the reason I was into so much meetings is because I was at fast-growing startup that was growing from, I don’t know, it was 20 or 30 people and it went up to 60-70 by the time I was leaving and that just requires a bunch of meetings to keep everybody apprised of what’s going on and all that. I was running a big team and non-senior leadership and there’s just a lot of stuff required with that.
When I left Drip in April, basically my meetings went to zero. We did this in November or December of last year so I didn’t have knowledge I was going to be leaving in April but I did achieve this in a way that I probably didn’t expect. I think the way I wanted to achieve it or would have thought about in November-December was to stay at the job but just change it so I was in fewer meetings but it turns out that leaving the job also did the trick. Frankly, my life’s been better for it, being in fewer meetings, that is.
Mike: Yeah. Add in six plus months of zero meetings a week, it tends to bring that average put down pretty far.
Rob: Yeah, I know. I am so much more chill and just content taking time off like this is something I’ve never done and it’s worth it.
My next goal was three days of exercise each week and so fewer meetings, but I give myself a five, a few days of exercise, I’m going to give myself a four. I basically crushed this goal from January until it got cold. I crushed it during last winter and then all through summer I was out doing stuff, I was riding my bike. Everything was built into my day and I was doing it.
Then it was probably around October, just a couple of months ago, that it got cold. We started homeschooling one of our kids and Tiny Seed started picking up. But what I let go was exercise and it’s what I always do and it’s always my lowest priority. So I did it for maybe 9 or 10 months of the year and there were weeks where I had five days of exercise. Way more than I even need in my opinion. Healthy by nature just by genetics or whatever. Even getting in three days of 20 or 30 minutes pop is enough. Mostly achieved, and I think it’s something that I want to certainly get back on the wagon here and the next few weeks as winter continues to bare down on us.
My last goal for 2018 and this one’s interesting. Let me read this whole thing. To ship something in 2018. Not sure what it’s going to be, yet. But I’ve been laying low for 18 months, 2017 was supposed to be a rest year and it was a hard year. First part of 2018 is going to continue to be rest but I need to start shipping, either consistent blog posts, a book, a new podcast, a course, software, something, and what is that something like?
Mike: I assume that that would be Tiny Seed.
Rob: It is and in 2017 November, I had no idea that that’s what I’d be doing. It’s interesting that it’s like knowing yourself. I figured I was going to need to do something and then I actually frankly started working on a book after I left Drip in April. I did write maybe 12,000-13,000 words, which is about a quarter of a book, 20%-25% of worth from a book. I did do that and then I eventually just slowed down on it and lost some interest and decided I just didn’t want to force it. There’s also that that’s in play and could feasibly come out sometime.
That’s what I had and I don’t know with me if goals are self-fulfilling prophecies or I make goals that I secretly, way in the back of my subconscious, know that I will achieve or something. This one strikes me as weird, honestly, because I remember the mindset I had at the time and I genuinely had no idea what I was going to do. I just know that I needed to put something out into the world and that something obviously has become Tiny Seed.
Mike: I think that generally, your goals tend to be, I wouldn’t necessarily call them self-fulfilling prophecies but more along the lines of you have this inkling in your head and in your subconscious that you know what direction you want to go or need to go but you’re not quite sure how you’re going to get there, and during our goals episode you put something down that has kind of surfaced but you’re not always certain of the specifics. But by the end of the year, something has solidified or something has come about.
For example, your fewer meetings. You probably weren’t thinking, “Oh, I’m going to leave Leadpages,” but at the end of the day, that was one of the ways that that came about. Maybe that partly influenced your decision because you wanted to have fewer meetings. And then the same thing with shipping something. That kind of goes back to leaving Leadpages as well but Tiny Seed kind of came out of that. You knew in the back of your mind, “I want to do something, not sure what that looks like.” I think your goals on a yearly basis tend to reflect that.
Rob: Yeah. That’s good insight. I also feel like I’m pretty methodical and I kind of know when it’s push year and maybe a rest year. I don’t know. I haven’t had many rest years per se but I don’t know. As we started Drip, I knew 2013 the goal had to be launch it and grow it to X, and then 2014, 2015, and 2016 at the beginning of them, I did make revenue goals for the end of the year.
This is an interesting conversation, actually, because some people don’t like goals, or they don’t believe in them, or they say they’re not worthwhile, or they say that they don’t fit them, they’re like, “Oh, how can you possibly plan 12 months out?” Maybe that’s a personality thing but I have had set goals for myself frankly since back in high school with Running Track.
I had goals to hit certain times at certain by certain meets or to make the state meet or whatever, and that to me was a motivator to strive to do that. I had goals to write certain amounts of things and then when I started blogging and started becoming a professional, I had a goal to make this much money by the time I was this old. I don’t know. I’ve been a goal to reverse it so maybe these goals fit my personality and am not something that everyone necessarily needs.
What I find is interesting is my wife, Sherry’s personality is quite a bit different than mine. But when she goes on a retreat, she also sets at least some, I don’t know if she calls them goals, but there’s things that she’s striving to do and she looks ahead a year and says, what are some things that I want to get done? Now I would call those goals but maybe you could call them a mind map. You could call them something different but it still is something and it may not have an exact time frame, it may not be, I want to make exactly this much money from this thing but it’s like I know that I need to kind of do this.
That’s how we do these episodes. I think we should probably call that out. Do you feel the same way? Are you a goal-driven person and does having goals, you think it helps you? Or do you think it’s a waste of time, I guess, to have these?
Mike: I’m definitely driven by goals but I feel like the further out those goals are, it’s harder for me to really conceptualize the entire path getting there, and unless I sit down and kind of do all the planning work of saying, “This is what it’s gonna take to get here. This is what’s it’s going to take to get here.” Unless I kind of do that whole process, I’m probably less likely to reach the end goal because I don’t necessarily have a map to follow. Part of having that map to follow it’s fun for me to build that but once I figure out the answer to a particular problem, I am not always the best at following through and actually implementing it.
That’s more of a personality thing than anything else but I can definitely buckle down and get things done, but it depends on kind of what is and what my interest level is. If there is a goal that I put down and I know exactly how to get there, if the hardest part is figuring out how to get there, then I probably weight less likely to actually do it.
Rob: Yeah. That makes sense and I think, to be honest, there were times when, I think back seven, eight, nine years ago for me, it was really hard to look ahead a year because I just didn’t know. These were years where I decided to write a book and wrote it in three months. There was no inclination that I was going to write a book that year. I just decided this is a new thing and I’m going to move on to it. We decided to launch MicroConf into that pretty quick and launched a podcast.
Those years, I think, if I had goals that I wrote down, probably completely went off the rails. But I was okay with that. There was a lot of stuff in flux in terms of my professional career and I was trying to figure stuff out and it’s not like I nailed these goals to my door and I could only do them when I etched them in cement and I could not veer from them. I veered from them because it was a better decision at the time.
What I find with goals I set now like we’re going to talk about in these episodes, these are a way for me to focus because I think most of us are presented with way more opportunities than we could possibly pursue and way more “good” ideas than we could ever implement, some of them good, some not. Having goals is at least some bumpers to keep me in a lane so that I don’t look around at every email I get offering for me to do this thing or this opportunity or whatever, and say, “Oh, of course that sounds like fun. I should do that.” But I come back to these goals and say, “Yeah, these are things that I really wanted to do and they made sense when I really thought about them,” and unless something amazing comes along that just blows my mind, I’m going to kind of stay on this track for this year and see things through.
I think that not having goals can lead to a shorter term perspective because again, shiny object syndrome. Opportunities come up so frequently that can be just derail you and you can get to the end of the year and be like, “What did I do the last 12 months?”
Mike: Yeah. It’s giving yourself permission to say no to things. There’s that idea that unless it’s a “Hell, yes,” it should be a no. But you’re right. There’s just so many things that we could do. It’s more about what do you want to do if you had all the time and resources in the world? But you only have so much time see in your lifetime to do anything.
It’s hard to figure out for each individual, I think. If you’ve got this unlimited list of options, what is it that you want to achieve? What are you going to be proud of? Eventually, you’re going to be gone and what do you have left behind?
Rob: Yeah. It’s an interesting thing to think about. It’s like a legacy. If you look at legacy and say, “All right. Mike, in 20 years, you and I will be in our 60s. We could still work, we’re still going to do stuff. But are our best days of accomplishment behind us?” This is a rhetorical question. We don’t have time to answer it here but do you have goals? Or a goal of when you look back, when you’re in your 60s or 70s, would you want to think, “Yeah, I did that.”
I think each of us should if we don’t. And how are we going to get there if we haven’t set some goals along the way? Do we just kind of wander our way and make it and in the end we’re like, “Hey, I’m glad all of that worked out.” Or does it have to be a deliberate decision every week, month, year to kind of make progress towards something bigger?
Mike: Yeah, but I don’t think you’ve always know what that’s going to be 20 years in advance. I mean, it’s hard to know what’s going to work and what’s not as you’re moving forward, and some things you’re going to do and be very proud of them. But in the grand scheme of things, they may be meaningless to, I will say, the greater world but to you, they meant something.
I think looking back, you’re going to want to have those things that meant something to you and yes, it would be really nice to have legacy where other people recognize the accomplishments that you’ve had. But at the end of the day, did you live the life that you’ve wanted to live?
Rob: That’s almost a great way to end this episode except for we haven’t covered our 2019 goals yet.
Mike: Damn you.
Rob: I know. I’m glad we talked to that through because I think the whole goals conversation is kind of been on my mind recently or every year or so, it just comes on my radar of why do we set these and what does all these mean? Maybe a separate episode we talk about legacy but for now, shall we dive into 2019 goals? Looks like you have two of them with multiple sub-parts. It’s like a tax. You’re like you’re an IRS document. One part D is, yeah. You let this roll into it.
Mike: All right. The two goals that I have for 2019, the first one is really just get my health back on track. With goals you really want to have some sort of definition around exactly what that goal means, so for me it means basically four different things. One of them is exercising, the second one is getting a regular sleep schedule going, and then the third one is losing some weight because I’ve put on probably about 25-30 pounds or so in the past couple of years, and it’s more because just lack of sleep and everything else is going into it.
Then the fourth one is regular in-person social contact, which I’ve got partially down at this point, I think, but think I probably need to expand that a little bit. Exercise a certain number of times a week. I wanted to get to it at least twice a week, and then the normal sleep schedule, I really need to be getting at least 6½-7 hours of sleep every night. Previously it was only maybe 4-5 on average, I think. Then obviously losing weight. I’d say 15 pounds to kind of start with for this coming year. Then regular in-person social contract. It’s kind of a nebulous thing, but I’ve got at least one scheduled night a week with people. Maybe I’ll go to two, but I’m not sure about that.
Rob: Yeah, that one’s tough because I don’t know that you want to commit yourself to two nights a week. It doesn’t necessarily always makes sense.
Mike: No, but I do notice that when I go to my gaming group and I come back, I tend to get a really good night of sleep that night every single time.
Rob: Interesting. Is it because you drink a lot?
Mike: I plead the fifth. It’s when I host, I don’t have to drive anywhere so that’s certainly helpful.
Rob: Less drinking disturbs your sleep, right?
Mike: Yeah, it does.
Rob: It helps you fall asleep but it doesn’t actually give you a good night sleep.
Mike: That’s true. Those are kind of the four subheadings under that first goal.
Rob: That makes sense. Let me do my first one. My first one, not surprisingly, is three days of exercise per week. It’s basically a continuation of something that I started a couple years ago, although I believe you started a whole exercise goal first, probably 3-4 years ago and eventually I was, “All right, I need to get on this.” It’s never something I’ve needed to do but I know it’s something I should do in all honesty, especially as I get older.
It’s kind of a boring goal, but it’s something that I need to have on my list or else I have no desire to do it and I will not make the time. Unless it’s written down and I know that I’m going to have to come back here and talk about it, it’s an interesting accountability thing. It’s not that I’d be terribly devastated if I came back and say, “Oh, I got a one.” I know it’s good for me, like eating my vegetables and I know that I will at least made some type of public commitment to it. For me, it’s helpful to say this as a goal.
My second goal is for Einar and I to build it into essentially the de facto brand when bootstrap has look for early-stage funding. This one is going to be tough to measure and this is where the 1-5 will help us out because I think by the end of 2019 frankly, that’s only 12 months away and it’s not a lot of time to do this.
I’m guessing this is this is a multi-year process. What I’m saying here is, I want to raise all the fund, kind of close the funding and have a batch that goes live. We get companies, they’re having success, and it’s just executing on the Tiny Seed vision. I don’t know exactly what to put to measure at the end of 12 months, but I have a feeling in my head of what I want it to be and I want it to feel successful. I want it to feel like it’s well-regarded and I want it to do right by both the founders and the investors who were involved with it. I want it to make a difference.
I feel like if we had said at the beginning of starting MicroConf, that the end of next year or the year after, we want it to be a prominent player in the conference space, which was not a foregone conclusion when we launched it by any stretch. That did happen. It didn’t probably happen in the first year. It took us a couple of years to get there but we knew it when we saw it. Once it happened, it was like, “Oh yeah. MicroConf is a thing now.”
That’s how I want. I want Tiny Seed to be a thing. That’s my long way of saying 2019 for me is definitely the year of Tiny Seed.
Mike: Yeah. I think for this one, I agree that for the way you kind of phrased it here is for it to be the de facto brand when bootstrappers are looking for early-stage funding. That is in and of itself as kind of a multi-year goal, but I think you could probably narrow that down a little bit to say you’ve got the first batch of people going through, however big that batch happen to be. Maybe you put goals around it, maybe you don’t, but at the end of the year, I think that you want to see that whoever has gone through that batch, has a reasonable looking chances for success based on where they started.
The exact definition of that is not going to be determinable right now, but you’re going to kind of know it when you see it six, eight, ten months afterwards. Maybe they’re at that point by the end of the year, maybe they’re not. It depends on kind of when you start that batch and get them started through the process, because if you start in January, then obviously you’ve got a lot more time than if you started in next October.
Rob: Yup. I made a note there, first batch of founders are in the batch and they have a good chance of success. I mean, in the back of my head, I really want this stuff to start moving in Q1, which is January, February, March, so we’ll see how close we can align to that, but it should give us a good chunk of the year to get people moving.
Mike: My second goal I have here on the list is specifically related to Blue Tech. First one is just getting my health back on track and then the second one is to establish some sort of traction for it or move on to something else. Maybe that sounds like a major shift, but at the same time I feel like with the focus starting to coming back to me and clarity and getting sleep, things need to move in a good direction or it’s just going to be meandering. If it’s still meandering at the end of next year, then chances are good that either I’m not committed to it or there’s something else going on.
Quite frankly, I just don’t want to be in a position where I’m making excuses at the end of next year. It’s got to move or not. If not, then fine. I don’t want that to happen but at the same time, as I said, I just don’t want to be in this position next year where I have to justify kind of what happened.
Rob: Yeah, I think that makes a lot of sense. I think it will be a tough decision. A lot of work easier to try to push it forward and then evaluate that.
Mike: Yeah. I don’t know exactly what the target is for that. I’m kind of fuzzy on what it means. Is it a revenue target? Is it customer base if I get to X-1 customers I plan to get to X? Do I kill things? I don’t think that’s really applicable. Did things shift substantially now that I feel like I’m able to focus or am I still in that position? Do I still feel like I’m not able to focus on it? If that’s the case then made it’s a motivation issue and maybe I’m just not really interested in it. But we’ll see.
Rob: Yeah. I feel like in my head it would be finding product-market fit. Having a product with that really is easy to grow because turn is so low and when people start using it, they stay and that you’re able to add enough customers that, like you said, it becomes profitable including your time, or it’s very close to that. It’s on a trajectory to hit that within a short amount of time, I guess. That’s all still amorphous but that’s what I think in my head it probably looks like.
Mike: Yeah, but that’s what I said, establish some sort of traction with it like the MU site trajectory and I think that’s exactly the same thing. Does it to appear to be on the right path, and you may not know exactly what that is right now but afterwards, you kind of know whether there’s a good difference between where it’s sat now versus where it is at that time.
Rob: Yeah. My last two goals. Again, my first one is three days of exercise a week, second one was about Tiny Seed, and my third one is do not panic when the stock market crashes. This is one of our predictions that we have every year. There’s going to be this correction or whatever.
Mike: Did you panic last week or the week before when the stock market dropped like 1000 points in a week?
Rob: Nah. I didn’t at all. No.
Rob: Maybe this is an easy one. I mean, I kind of pay attention to it but I’m also so diversified and I don’t have so much in stocks that it matters. I don’t know. Maybe I’m just not going to panic. Maybe this is not a big one for me. But I’ve just been thinking about it. In 2008 when it all went down, I sold stock after it had gone down and it’s a complete rookie mistake that everyone makes. The reason that the mainstream investor, the reason that their returns don’t match a simple index fund is because people do that and they panic.
I’m in a way different mental position and a way different financial position this time. My hope is that no matter how bad it gets, I’m just kind of like, “Yeah, whatever. I don’t need to sell stock this point, to do anything and that that I’m able to just ride this out.” That’s how you’re going to do it. So I’m at the bottom is certainly not going to do it for you.
My last goal for 2019 is one that I want to do, I hope to do, but it will be the first to go if all of my focus is required to do what we need with Tiny Seed. This fourth goal is to either write or rewrite a book. By write I mean finish and publish, get something live. I continue to get feedback in a positive way.
There was a Hacker News thread when we announced Tiny Seed in October that went pretty bad. It was on the homepage for a day or something and it was crazy. Got a bunch of good conversation and comments around that. Part of that was like, “Hey, this is from the guy who wrote Start Small, Stay Small,” and someone like “Oh that would be great if we rewrote that,” something like that. That single heat, if he updated it for a second edition. That comment got upvoted 26 times or something and most comments get a couple upvotes. Then I chimed in like, “No, this is actually good feedback for me.” I know I hear this now and again but it is something that sold enough copies and that the mental or the high-level things in it are still applicable but kind of the tactics and a lot of the boots on the ground stuff has changed since 2010, in the last eight years.
It makes me really think about going back to that manuscript. I do have a different take, and I do have so much better examples, and I do have entire topics that I talk about now that are just not in a box. That would it be a lot less work to rewrite or not even rewrite. It’s like update, a second edition, basically, and expanded.
I think I would like to get that done and the nice part is it’s not a side thing or it’s like, “Oh, I need to steal time away from Tiny Seed.” It could be in service of that because a launch of another book and getting that into the hands of a bunch of new entrepreneurs or even founders who have read the old one, it continues to promote the idea of bootstrapping. It continues to push behind my brand and my brand is obviously attached to the Tiny Seed brand. I think it could be in service of my other goal, which is to grow Tiny Seed in prominence and respect.
Mike: There’s ways to cheat here a little bit was for me to take your old conference talks and have them transcribed and then put those in the book.
Rob: That’s a great idea. Obviously, it wouldn’t be just transcriptions. I would want to clean it up and stuff. There’s still some content in the Micropreneur Academy that I think never saw the light of day outside of the academy that I think could be modified and updated. Not like nuts and bolts, here’s how, and what to click in the Facebook interface but there’s still some kind of philosophical and high-level stuff that’s in there that I wrote. I can see that being a tractor that I didn’t put in the first one because either it wasn’t relevant or just cause I didn’t.
That’s the thing is to your point, there’s been so much content that we’ve kicked out on the podcast conference talks or through other means. Even that when I started writing the Drip book, the book I’m sort of writing this year, where I was kind of writing the story of Drip but then I started realizing there were these takeaways and there were mistakes and there were things I did right. Those are kind of essay right now and I could pull pieces of those into it. I think you and I get together every week and we talk for 30-40 minutes. We generate a lot of content that could be pulled from.
Mike: Yeah, for sure. I think we are about out of time for the goal episode. It went quite a bit longer than I had expected but good things, good takeaways for you?
Rob: Yeah, I think so. It was a good discussion and can kind of going to get these solidified. We’ll see. We should check-in in three or four months and see where we are.
Mike: Cool. Well, I think that wraps us up. If you have a question for us, you can call into our voicemail number 1-888-801-9690 or you can email it to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Our theme music is an excerpt from We’re Outta Control by MoOt, used under creative commons. Subscribe to us on iTunes by searching for startups and visit startupsfortherestofus.com for a full transcript to each episode. Thanks for listening, we’ll see you next time.
Mike, you need a cofounder.
Mike, I think you could think about 2018 a bit differently. You actually had a MAJOR win, which was finding out that you have sleep apnea.
Without that discovery, 2019 would have been the same or even worse than 2018. But now you know what the problem is, you can do something about it. And as you both discussed, lack of sleep messes up absolutely everything.
So rather than feeling crappy about not meeting any of your 2018 goals, maybe you could reframe 2018 as a ‘transition’ year or a turning point.
Best of luck for 2019, hope it’s everything you want it to be 🙂