In this episode, Rob speaks with Adii Pienaar, a multi-time founder with multiple exits under his belt. They discuss life probability and the importance of measuring your entrepreneurial success by the things that matter the most to you and your life.
The topics we cover
[4:36] What motivated Adii to write the book
[10:17] Life probability defined
[12:45] Work-life balance is not the solution
[29:21] Choosing to go back into the SaaS trenches
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If you have questions about starting or scaling a software business that you’d like for us to cover, please submit your question for an upcoming episode. We’d love to hear from you!
Rob: Welcome back to Startups for the Rest of Us. It’s me, your host, Rob Walling. Thanks for joining me this week. This is episode 533 of the podcast. Today, we’re talking about life profitability after two exits with Adii Pienaar. I’ll give his full bio in a minute.
He is a multi-time founder with multiple exits under his belt. He has written a book called Life Profitability: The New Measure of Entrepreneurial Success. He talked the talk and walked the walk. He’s been a MicroConf speaker, he’s a TinySeed mentor, and he has lots of experience and success under his belt.
Today we dig into more of the personal side, the life side of building a startup. A lot of what my wife, Sherry Walling, talks about on her podcast, ZenFounder, is the startup family, life, and the balance of those three things. In this book, Adii looks a lot at how to make it all work.
Before we dive into that, I wanted to remind you, in case you haven’t checked it out, the MicroConf Podcast. Every week, we either release an episode of MicroConf On Air, which is our video live stream show—we release that in audio format, or we do MicroConf Refresh Episodes where we go back to a previous MicroConf. We take the talk, pull the audio from it, and then I add an intro to it for context. We put that out on the feed, and we’ve had a lot of interest in this show.
If you haven’t checked it out, just go to any podcatcher, search for MicroConf. It should be your number one result. It’s nice, I subscribed to it myself. It’s a fun reminder, even the talks that I saw in person, which I guess technically is all of them because I’ve attended all the MicroConfs. Even those talks that I saw in person, it’s nice to be reminded and be refreshed on the topics and the ideas that are put forth.
It’s a low investment because it’s audio. Of course, you can always click through the show notes and watch the video if you do want to see the visuals. MicroConf Podcast, if you haven’t checked it out already. With that, let’s dive into my conversation with Adii Pienaar.
Joining me today is Adii Pienaar, the founder of WooThemes—later became WooCommerce and sold to Automattic, the parent company of WordPress—founder of Conversio, an ecommerce ESP that’s sold to Campaign Monitor in 2019. He’s a multi-time MicroConf speaker, TinySeed mentor, TinySeed investor, and he’s appeared on this show once before, episode 467, “A Life-Changing Exit” with Adii Pienaar of Conversio. Sir, thanks so much for joining me today.
Adii: Yeah, Rob. Thanks for having me again.
Rob: It’s an absolute pleasure to have you. You’ve written a book called Life Profitability: The New Measure of Entrepreneurial Success. If folks want to go check it out right now, it actually just dropped today, the day this episode goes live. It’s at adii.me/book. We will include that in the show notes. It should appear in any podcatcher that you’re using today. Coming out in Kindle and physical today, and then the audiobook is out in about six weeks. I have my preview PDF copyright here. Thank you for sending that over.
I’m really fascinated with this concept of life profitability, and I want to dive in today to help flush it out for Startups for the Rest of Us listeners. You’ve been to MicroConfs, you’ve listened to these podcasts, you hear the people that are in this community, and you know that there’s quite a bit of overlap with this idea of lifestyle or of work-life balance, which you addressed in the book. You say, hey, work-life balance is not the answer. We’ll get into that in a little bit. You’re a founder with multiple exits under your belt, so why sit down and write a book about this topic?
Adii: That’s a really good question, Rob. For me, there are multiple answers to it as well. If I were to give you the marketing pitch, part of it is I probably think that in 2021 going forward, we need an augmented version of capitalism. I’m not suggesting socialism or any other kind of model that we had. I’m not suggesting that capitalism itself is wrong, but I think that it’s not always perfect. With the notion of life profitability, I am trying to offer entrepreneurs an opportunity to augment that version of capitalism.
I think that’s part of that be the change you want to see in the world spiel to this. That’s what I hoped for to happen after the book. For me personally, I had much closer ties to the concept. You mentioned that I’ve been a successful entrepreneur in the past. What I know about that journey and what probably resonates with many of the Startups for the Rest of Us listeners here is the notion that it’s really, really hard. Building a business is really, really hard. It doesn’t matter how much you learn, it doesn’t matter how much capital you have, experience, all of those things were really hard.
I’ve mentioned this a few times before. In large parts, building my second business was harder than the first. I know that with more, it doesn’t necessarily become easier. In that personal journey, I almost lost all the things that really matter to me in the world. That notion played a big part in me. Essentially sitting down and realizing that, hey, if I don’t change something in my life, in my business, then nothing that matters is going to be left after all this business or entrepreneurial success.
Rob: It’s interesting you say that. I heard you spoke at MicroConf Europe. I think it was 2017 or 2018, and you were talking about your Conversio journey. This was your, basically, second win. You hadn’t sold it yet, but it was a company that was growing. Most of the talk was focused on how bad you felt, that you were burned out, and that you weren’t having fun.
I remember being surprised by that because I was thinking it’s your second time. We’re usually better equipped with money, with resources, with the mental capacity to know what’s gone on, we’re more resilient, and all this stuff. I’m curious, why do you think Conversio was harder for you than the WooCommerce, WooThemes day?
Adii: That’s one of the questions that anyone can ask me about the book and about Conversio that I have great clarity about. The context there is I can’t just add that. To a large extent, Conversio was much easier due to the success I had with WooThemes. Many of the tactical things were easier. The harder parts were what about me? It was the challenges and the issues I ultimately introduced into the greater equation of building this business and the life I was leading.
The way I now understand that—which is very much a hindsight thing—is in the following way, which is I left WooThemes with this notion that I was a one-hit-wonder. I really wanted to challenge myself again because challenges are what fires me. Money itself has never been a big motivator, challenges are. I wanted to challenge myself again and prove that I’m not a one-hit-wonder, and I can actually build another successful business.
Interestingly enough, at least what I now know is I was only trying to prove myself to myself, which is ironic on its own. It’s part of bringing that awareness and what I’ve had to learn. Hopefully, through Conversio, what effectively happened was two things overlaid. These things happened very soon after each other.
The first thing that happened was Conversio got to a point where we were successful. I think we were probably at about $1.5 million ARR, for example, and I thought to myself, hey, you’ve built another significant business at least. It wasn’t the size or scale of WooThemes or WooCommerce, but it was successful in its own right—just about break-even, growing nicely.
At that moment, the goal of being in this business of proving that I wasn’t a one-hit-wonder evaporated. Shortly after that, just a short couple of months after, we hit a rocky patch where we had to go through layoffs and business was not growing as well as we thought it was, loads of context there. In that hard moment, what I realized was I suddenly didn’t have that North Star, that meaning, that purpose in this business anymore because I’ve done that. That’s where that became a grind.
You’re referring to MicroConf (I believe it was) late 2018—if my memory serves me correct—when I gave that talk. That was me going through that almost rejigging process of reframing the context that I was in. Again, 2018 as a whole year—tactically within the business—was all about taking a screwdriver to every single screw and trying to eke out that 0.1-degree turn to make it a better business. It was a hard year, and that was the context for that talk. That’s why the overall […] that I was, this was so much harder than it was before.
Rob: For context, if folks haven’t followed you in the past or didn’t hear episode 467, when I listen to successful entrepreneurs talk about the world, a lot of them have a pretty unique viewpoint. I often think of Jason Fried as a founder/advocate. He’s always advocating for a cause, whether it’s privacy, bootstrappers, or whatever. I’ve heard someone call me a founder/teacher where I’m going to start companies, and I’m always going to be teaching what I’ve learned. I think of you as a founder/philosopher. Frankly, you’re a poet as well. You have a book of poetry folks can buy. What’s that called?
Adii: It’s called Motion.
Rob: We have a copy. Sherry bought it and so I’ve read through it. You are very much into mindfulness, thinking about the self, being aware, and seeking happiness. You’re like a founder’s body with a philosopher’s mind, or maybe it’s a philosopher’s body with a founder’s mind. There’s some merging of these two in a way that, frankly, I don’t have.
A lot of founders, especially maybe more left-brained founders I would say like I am more of an engineer. I can dip my toe into philosophy, I can listen to it, but I can’t write it. I don’t come up with the concepts. That’s how I feel as I read through Life Profitability. There’s a merging of entrepreneurship and philosophy almost.
With that as an intro, can you just explain? The title of the book again is Life Profitability: The New Measure of Entrepreneurial Success. Can you just give folks an idea or an intro of what Life Profitability is because it’s a term that you coined?
Adii: Yeah. By the way, I totally own and I know you have a cooldown period on domains. Totally proud that I actually own lifeprofitability.com as well, which confirms that I’ve coined the term. Jokes aside, the idea of life profitability essentially comes from firstly, this notion of I don’t think we work to live, and neither do we live to work. You mentioned work-life balance earlier, I also don’t believe that can exist when work is always just part of life.
When viewed from that lens, the idea of life profitability is all around. If you’re an entrepreneur, you should build your business in a way that is profitable to your life. That’s where life profitability comes from. That profitability needs to be more than just literally the financial distributions—whether it’s salary or otherwise—that you get from your business. It truly needs to be ingrained in your whole life.
The book goes through what those various parts of life are. I essentially came down—for me at least and what we proposed in the book—is these concentric circles that start with you first, then your immediate family, your team, your community, and only thereafter that the business itself actually becomes almost the container for all these things.
Really looking at all of those kinds of things in detail and saying, how are the things that I’m doing on a daily basis, whether it’s for my business or just a provisional career, how are those things profitable for the things that I truly value in this world? The converse of that, which I think people often don’t recognize, is the cost of doing those things.
Henry Thoreau, the actual philosopher here, has a great quote. I’m totally going to butcher up. He essentially says the cost of anything we do is life. That is the thing that we ultimately give away. Whenever we make a decision to do something, the cost of that decision is life.
Through that lens, augmenting how you would calculate profitability in a business as well but really saying what are the costs of me doing business here, trying to reframe that, and figuring out, not necessarily change that altogether, but make those incremental changes to shift to greater life profitability.
Rob: I’d like to get into a specific example of a decision or decisions you made to move towards life profitability in your own journey. But first, I want to talk about work-life balance and why in your book, you point out that’s not the solution. What you’re talking about life profitability is different than work-life balance. Can you give folks an idea of how that works?
Adii: The simple version there, Rob, is if we propose this idea of work-life balance, we’re essentially saying that work and life are two opposite things that can balance each other out. They’re two nodes on the same spectrum, and for you to have balance, they have these two […] that interplay between those two things.
The reason I don’t think that works is you’re essentially taking two things and you’re saying that they’re completely independent of each other. I think what all people listening to this podcast know is that if you have a crappy day at work, that spills over into your home life, and vice versa, which means that these things are never totally separate.
If they were totally separate, totally independent, then yes, work-life balance is achievable. But because those things always overlap, there’s always some spilling over of things, I don’t think that’s the key there. Which is why with the book, I’m trying to change that perspective, which I said is all around work just being part of life. Life is the ultimate thing that we’re doing here on this planet and work is always just a component thereof versus this totally separate thing from the lives we’re living.
Rob: Got it. Can you give us an example of a choice you made that was basically moving towards this idea of life profitability in your own experience with Conversio?
Adii: I mentioned earlier that 2018, that tough tactical year we had in Conversio where we essentially had to move too fast to profitability pretty quickly and do so in a shoestring budget effectively after the layoffs.
I remember that towards the latter stages of that year, I was ultimately to do two things. One was to repay parts of the initial founder loan that I put into the business, and the other was to essentially declare a small profit-sharing bonus for the team.
Those two things matter for two separate reasons. The team is more obvious and easier to explain, which is all around building a business in a way that doesn’t just support or empower my life profitability as the founder/entrepreneur but also doing that at least in part for my team members. But that repayment of the loan, which seems very converse to this idea of building and reinvesting or investing in a business was crucially important to me because what it did was diversified some of my risk in the business. It reduced a lot of stress that I had.
I think what subsequently happens is an entrepreneur and a founder that’s not stressed, that’s not anxious in their life is ultimately a better entrepreneur and leader within a team as well. That’s just one of those things that comes to mind, Rob. The reason why that example came to mind was all around how it served two separate groups of people—myself, the team. Almost did that in an almost inception-like, meta-like exponential manner as well by helping me be a better, calmer, more peaceful, or more grounded entrepreneur and leader to the team afterward.
Rob: What you’ve described is a decision that a lot of lifestyle entrepreneurs make. I use that term as a positive. I know Silicon Valley venture capitalists say you just have a lifestyle business, it’s unfundable by us. I—of course, being involved with MicroConf, Startups For the Rest of Us for a decade or more—think lifestyle businesses are amazing.
One of the great pieces of that type of business is you’re in control, you make the decisions, and you can pull up profits when you want. You can really drive the business in a way that fits you, but that helps benefit the team and your customers. You can make the “right decision in your opinion” because if you truly haven’t raised investment or have really just raised a small round from people who are willing to go with you on a journey, you have immense control. You can make the decisions that you feel right about and you feel good about.
Is there a difference between the traditional bootstrapped lifestyle business path and what you’re talking about with life profitability?
Adii: No, there is very much alignment there, Rob. The context here is that I am mostly a bootstrapped founder as well. WooThemes is completely bootstrapped, Conversio raised a single round before moving to profitability. To a large extent, this whole idea of being an entrepreneur stems from one’s desire for freedom. Freedom in whatever way you articulate that freedom. Whether it’s the freedom to work in a way you want, work with whom you want, or work in what you want. It stems from that freedom.
There is that self-expression in that, which essentially says you can build the life you want which is where the term lifestyle business comes into play. I’ll build a business to have the lifestyle that I want instead of being in a corporate gig where I can’t control those things.
The only thing that I’m almost trying to emphasize with life profitability is to truly understand what the things are you really want, what the things are you really value, and to not define those things by traditional measures of success.
It’s actually expanding what that success looks like for you and replacing it with this idea of life profitability. The key part for me here is really doubling down on that original starting point, which was all around I’m starting this business because I have a vision of my future that I want to achieve. Which means that my version of what success looks like for me will always be very, very unique.
Compared to other entrepreneurs, there will be many similarities especially if all of us are bootstrapped, for example. But I for example don’t think that the source of capital is the biggest differentiating factor there. I really think that our unique personalities probably change that equation significantly more than the source of capital does.
Rob: Yes. I have had this conversation so many times where we can say bootstrapped and mainly bootstrapped versus venture-funded. You’re right, you can be a bootstrap founder, run yourself into the ground, and work 90-hour weeks. I’ve seen folks raise $20 million, $30 million of venture capital, and work 8-hour days—it happens—and be happy with their business.
Eventually, they have to perform and everything has to go well. But you’re right, the source of capital is really not how we should be defining these things. Unfortunately, we have fallen into a kind of dichotomy there. What I like about what you said about life profits versus lifestyle business is really figuring out what you as an individual value most.
I’ll tell you a short story. As we’re building Drip early days, I wanted it to make $40,000, $50,000, $60,000 a month. I wanted it to be this amazing lifestyle business that threw off a bunch of cash. Pretty soon, we found we were in the midst of a huge shift in email marketing where there were the MailChimps and AWebers. They were less expensive, no automation, no tagging, and then there were these really expensive solutions.
We could fit right there in the middle and be a nice, usable version that had all the automation. We dove headlong into that. It threw us into a really competitive space, and it was harder than I thought it would be. It was a lot harder than I thought it would be, actually. I hadn’t grown a business that grew that fast before, needing to hire, and just the rat race you can get into.
Segments of your book I actually want to read an excerpt from it right here that really captures what I was feeling as we were growing Drip and as I started feeling a little bit out of control. You say, “Life Profits. In a nutshell, realizing life profits means more lived abundance for every person the business touches. This is the vision, the mission, the strategy, and its outcome. A richer, more colorful life that is so much wider and deeper than a business will look different to every entrepreneur since it’s based on what you value. Making more space for your life when you are used to feeling obligated,” it’s a big word there—obligated—because I felt that every day.
“Making more space for your life when you are used to feeling obligated to give your business your all might feel scary and daunting, but you’re not going to make a drastic change to the way things are right now. It’s important not to do a 180-degree turn here, but instead, begin growing life profits by shifting the way you do things in incremental bits. Within business, there are rules and ethics that must be upheld, but you can play the game in a changed way by differently orienting yourself to it.”
That’s a big gamble and it could be risky. But if you know what you value and you know the road you don’t want to go down, it’s almost a road to unhappiness if you let yourself get pulled. This comes back to what you said earlier, which is don’t value your success by the standard metrics, by what everyone else thinks is a success.
Adii: Exactly right. What the irony of all of that as well, many of us—I definitely have my days where I still feel like an impostor. That impostor syndrome, where it stems from is entrepreneurs archetype lends itself to that because we’re always comparing ourselves to other entrepreneurs and saying, okay, so my business is actually doing okay. Okay, I’m not an impostor.
In saying that, you’re an impostor in your own life because you’re probably neglecting those other life costs that are coming at the price of being this impostor but at least matching up to these other entrepreneurs. That’s the hardest part to figure out for every entrepreneur here is who you really are and what that means for your business. Hence, why I do not propose that anyone makes a 180-degree turn here.
If you’ve got an existing business, dream, or goal, don’t read the book and shift completely here, but really start incrementally thinking about how you can shift that. For anyone reading the book, I purposely went into writing the book. I didn’t want to write here’s 10 steps to life profitability because I don’t believe that those 10 steps actually exist. All of us are so unique, and part of this journey is for us to figure this out ourselves.
The book includes many ideas from my own experience, suggestions, et cetera, for you to help illuminate what those things could be, but I honestly don’t believe that there’s a single blueprint. I also don’t believe, by the way, that there’s a single blueprint for being successful in business, but every year, 100 million copies or whatever of business books sell, proposing that they’ve got the answer for you. Life profitability I don’t think is that because it’s super personalized and unique to every single individual that wants to grow down their path.
Rob: Something that I’ve mentally struggled with over the past few years—obviously, I sold the Drip and moved on—is the Drip years, some of them are great, and then there were times that were just really tough, much like you and pretty much all the founders we know who have done these larger companies and had exits. There are some times that are very, very difficult and the journey is challenging. But for me, it was absolutely worth it. I don’t regret making the decisions that we made to enter the really competitive space, to go after a faster-growing market, to grow the business and to hire. All that, I have no regrets. It turned out great.
What I regret was that my mindset was not right. My mental game—like I often say, more than half of being an entrepreneur is managing your own psychology. I did a poor job of that at times, that’s what I regret. That’s where your book comes in. It’s a level set, it’s a looking internally, it’s saying what is truly important to you, how to pull that out. You actually have worksheets and exercises in the back almost like an appendix that’s basically here are the steps to try to pull these things out of you so that you do know what’s important and that you’re grounded as you do this journey.
The journey is going to be hard no matter what unless you get really, really lucky. There’s just going to be trying times, there’s going to be things like lawsuits, all your servers get hacked, or Russian spammers get in your systems and send things out. Things are going to happen, it’s going to be stressful. At a certain point, you’re going to say, well, I guess we had a good run. This whole thing’s about to collapse, and it’s going to be very, very stressful.
Maybe you almost ran out of cash. I’ve almost done that, you’ve almost done that. All this stuff is going to happen. The difference I see in founders who keep their wits about them, it’s not that bad things don’t happen. It’s that they have that inner groundedness of really knowing what they’re about, knowing where they’re headed with their business and the confidence that this is just the way it goes.
That’s where I feel like your book comes in. It’s a way to find that groundedness for yourself. As you go about this journey, you almost have that armor to these events that are going to happen to you.
Adii: That’s definitely my hope here, Rob. I’m definitely a pro-entrepreneur. I do not want to discourage anyone from being an entrepreneur. I really just want to help them figure out what entrepreneurship means for them.
Two things that stood out in what you said there. The first is yes, we’re grounded when we understand our meaning and when we can pursue our meaning. In those hard times, when we know what our meaning is, our purpose here, it’s a lot easier to never get those hard times. The best way I ever understood that was Dr. Dina Glouberman, she wrote a book. The book is called The Joy of Burnout. She defines burnout as the thing that happens when meaning drains out of the structures that you’ve invested a lot in.
That’s what sometimes happens in business is this thing that we invest so much in and then suddenly we lose meaning. When we lose that meaning, that’s when it becomes harder than it probably needs to be. That speaks your point of that mindset—managing your psychology as an entrepreneur. That’s the first part of it.
The second part that I will just leave with listeners here is that when I have a bad day as an entrepreneur or a bad week where I struggle with my mindset, with the mental or emotional part of being an entrepreneur, what happens after that? Where am I taking that energy elsewhere in my life and probably affecting other things? Whether it’s the people I love most around me. Maybe more irritated or impatient than I normally am with them, or short. Or am I neglecting my sleep, my health in other ways, exercise, or connection with friends? Whatever the case is.
We’re not aware of those things. Even a few words would navigate your personal experience. There are probably others around us or other things, those life costs that accumulate as well if we don’t manage to essentially build a business, run a business, be an entrepreneur in a way that is life profitable.
Rob: You’ve been through two challenging journeys, WooThemes-WooCommerce and Conversio. Something that I told my wife, Sherry, as Drip was—I don’t even remember if it was winding up. It was when we’d hit really hard times. I told her, I’m never doing this again. I’m not starting another SaaS app. This is less fun than I want it to be now. In retrospect, it wasn’t that it was less fun. It was that I didn’t have my mindset together to really play it out the way I should have.
All that said, I moved on from Drip, took six months off, and then started TinySeed. There was a lot of thinking that goes into that. Interested in sharing that with the listeners here, but what I want to hear from you is you did go and start another SaaS app. It’s called Cogsy. The H1 is “Never run out of stock for your best-selling products ever again,” and it’s aimed at ecommerce merchants. You’ve obviously had experience and success in the ecommerce space, both with WooCommerce and with Conversio.
I’d love to hear your thought process post-Conversio as you’re thinking, okay, here I am. I’ve had exits. You can work on whatever you want to work on. You could not start anything. You told me offline you could become a coach, you could become an author/speaker, you could be a full-time investor. You can do what you want. What was that process like for you to say who am I, what do I really value, and I really want to get back in the trenches?
Adii: Firstly, my wife Jeanne has always known that I will probably be doing this again and again. She and I were sitting earlier having a glass of wine and she told me she knows that Cogsy is not the last one. That knowledge is part of our everyday life, which I am an entrepreneur and I will do these things.
I told Mark and Magnus, my co-founders in Woo the other day as well. They chuckled at the fact that I’m doing this again and they pretty much said the same thing which is I’m crazy. When they said that, my answer was very simple—I love the work. It doesn’t matter how hard it is sometimes. I went to great detail earlier in our conversation explaining how tough Conversio was at stages, and how a big part of that hardship essentially created this book as well.
For me, it really came down to knowing bare parts of myself. The most prominent part of why I decided to work on Cogsy was around I like the starting phases of things, and I like holding a team. I really miss a team. I miss post-acquisition after leaving Campaign Monitor. The thing I missed most is my team. Those things are important parts of why I want to do this.
Again, the other part of this is I hope that there is a part of this future with Cogsy that challenges my own life profitability but also allows me to continuously evolve. Because I haven’t totally figured it out. Even as the author of the book, the guy that came up with this term, I haven’t figured it out.
For me, Cogsy is that playground or blank canvass where I can take everything I’ve learned, everything that I understand about myself, just reapply that in a new way, and ultimately continue my evolution and my journey.
Rob: From my end, leaving Drip in 2018, and I took six months off. I was looking around for something to keep me busy. I was hacking PHP on the weekends and tying into crypto APIs just to fool around with stuff. I had a great time doing it, but I almost went down this path of basically walking away from everything—from the podcast, MicroConf, and whatever else. All the brands, all the assets, the world of startups and entrepreneurship.
I thought just a brief moment, what if? Mental exercise, thought experiment, what would it look like for me to just exist in a completely different space? I looked around and I realized, I don’t want to build stuff from scratch because it just takes too long. I have the means, I’m going to acquire something.
I actually got in a conversation with the owner of the second-largest website for tabletop games. I was saying, hey, I think I want to buy this site, talk to me about revenue. We started talking about his numbers and what it looks like to run the thing.
Getting into the tip of a gaming space would be fun because it’s a hobby. I do it with my kids and I really enjoy it, but what I realized within even weeks of thinking about this avenue is that I would be leaving behind a huge piece of myself. Almost something that I’d taken for granted because I’ve done it for so long.
I’ve been thinking about it for 20 or 30 years. I’ve always been enamored with entrepreneurship. I’ve been writing about it for 15. I’ve been podcasting about it for 10. This is the thread of my life, this is the through-line. I realized I value freedom, purpose, and relationships. You hear me talk about that a lot. I would have left behind a huge part of my purpose and a part of my legacy if I were to do that—and a part of freedom, purpose, and relationships. I love having relationships with founders. They’re just super interesting people. I find them fascinating.
It was a thought that for a moment like, oh, but I could just start over, and wouldn’t it be easy? But I had to dive into myself. I had to be mindful, I had to know myself, know who I really was to say this—Startups for the Rest of Us, MicroConf, this community, this ecosystem, it was the moment that I doubled down on it and said, I’m going to be doing this for the rest of my life.
It’s one of those things in my life that I don’t think will ever go away now that I’ve had the moment to reassess and think. For me, what is life profitability right now? It’s not abandoning everything I put into the world so far, not that it wouldn’t live on or whatever. I think there are such a big point and such a big part to asking yourself, what is it that I really want? You wanted to do another SaaS app, and that’s the path for a lot of founders.
You see Ruben Gomez is on his second, you see David Cancel has done five of them. That’s a path for some, and others go more of the teaching route or the author route. As you said, you can be a keynote speaker, some people become investors, some people gather folks and build communities. Figuring that out about yourself is the point of everything we’re talking about here.
Adii: Exactly, Rob. In anyone’s next steps here—in my next steps, there’s only going to be a single common denominator, and that’s going to be me. I mean, businesses can change, ideas can change, people get divorced, families change, people move countries. All these things can change, but there’s going to be a single person on that journey that’s going to be the only present and that’s going to be yourself. That’s why it’s important to really know who you are because that’s how you can constantly adjust to the next steps you’re taking.
For me, maybe Cogsy is my last SaaS app or last software business that I build myself. Maybe, there’s going to be a new chapter in the future. The idea of life probability acknowledges that whereas life naturally evolves. That’s the way the universe has always worked, and the key is just to stay in that mindfulness. Stay aware of when those energies change, when the things you want change, when the definition of your life profit changes, and then readjusting the next steps that you take from there.
Rob: If you folks want to check out the book, they can head to adii.me/book. It is $0.99 this week on Kindle and you have physical copies as well. As I said earlier, it will be out in audio in about six weeks.
If folks want to keep up with what you’re up to, you’re Adii on Twitter. It’s a great four-letter Twitter handle there. As we were chatting, when you said lifeprofitability.com, I just typed it into the browser just for kicks. You have a podcast. I didn’t know you had a podcast. We can plug it here, Life Profitability podcast. Is this the first podcast that you’ve hosted?
Adii: Yes, it is.
Rob: How are you enjoying it?
Adii: I have my good days and I have bad days, Rob.
Rob: Very cool. Folks, that’s where to find Adii. Thanks so much for coming to the show, sir.
Adii: Thanks for having me, Rob.
Rob: Thanks again to Adii for coming back on the show. It’s always a pleasure talking with Adii. I’ve known him for many years and I have a lot of respect for what he’s built. Thank you for joining me once again this week. I look forward to coming at you in your earbuds again next Tuesday morning.