In this episode of Startups For The Rest Of Us, Rob does a discussion show format with guest Derrick Reimer. They discuss multiple topics including the pros/cons of remote work, value vs. stress of Twitter, and more.
Items mentioned in this episode:
- The Art of Product Podcast
- Baremetrics Blog Post: “I almost sold Baremetrics for $5M”
- Baremetrics Blog Post: “5 things I learned failing to sell Baremetrics for $5M”
Rob: Welcome to this week’s episode of Startups for the Rest of Us, I’m your host, Rob Walling. This week, I’m trying out a new episode format. It is a discussion show, so it’s a conversation between myself, my old friend Derrick Reimer, and we talk about a number of topics. We talk about the value versus the stress of Twitter and social media in general, the pros and cons of remote work. We talk about Cal Newport’s new book Digital Minimalism, and then we wind up talking about Josh Pigford’s blog post in the Baremetrics blog that’s titled, I Almost Sold Baremetrics for $5 Million.
What I like about this episode format is it’s pretty casual and we’re covering topics that I think are relevant to many of us and a lot of us are thinking about. I originally thought of structuring this in some type of news, round-table, or show where we’re talking about topics of today. We do that with a couple things, I think the ability to introduce topics that aren’t necessarily news articles or news headlines also works, and the fact that Derrick and I know each other as well as we do really helps with just the rapport in the conversation, it’s not stiff or stilted. I hope you feel the same way about that.
If you don’t recall who Derrick Reimer is, he and I have known each other for years. We met back when I lived in Fresno. He was a young kid who was participating in a startup competition that I was the judge of. He won a couple years in a row. Then, he was thinking about starting to do some consulting work and I said, “Look, why don’t you come, write some code for HitTail?”
He wrote all the early code for Drip and later on, became retroactive co-founder of Drip. So, he and I have known each other. We’ve worked together. He’s been on the show several times talking about starting an app on the side called Codetree that he sold for $128,000 a few years back. Then, he moved to Minneapolis when we sold Drip. So, he and I now live six or seven minutes apart.
We see each other once a month or so and it’s always a good time to hang out and chat. So, I wanted to mix up the format just a little bit and do something that’s not an interview, not keeping up with Mike Taber, not just question and answer, but actually just bringing topics to the table that (I think) might be of interest to you. So let me know what you think.
You can tweet me @robwalling, you can email email@example.com, or you can post a comment on this episode, episode 482 and just say, “Yeah, I enjoyed the mix-up of the show format and the fresh ideas in a conversation.” Or you can say, “Got five minutes in, didn’t hold my attention, and I was out.”
That helps me think about and consider maybe we had one of these to the line up every couple months. It doesn’t always have to be Derrick. I could bring on different co-hosts and folks to weigh in, so we have different perspectives.
And with that, let’s dive into the show. Derrick Reimer, thank you for joining me on the show.
Derrick: Hey, thanks for having me again.
Rob: Yeah, I think this is going to be a fun one today, just talking through some interesting topics. I had a few in mind over the past couple weeks, some things have come up where I’m like, “You know, I really want to discuss these with someone,” and I don’t know who to bring on the show to do it. Then, you and I were having dinner last night and we got on some really good conversation topics, so I figured we could jump on the mic and record a few of these.
Derrick: Yeah, we both are a couple of old-fashioned, but we probably should have brought our mics, to be honest.
Rob: I know, I agree. One thing you kicked off with was just talking about something on a lot of our minds, social media in general but Twitter specifically, because that’s big in our circles and the value versus the stress of it.
Derrick: Yeah, for me, my personal journey with it has been the last remaining piece of social media that I really use these days. I’ve given up Facebook, technically, I have an Instagram account but I don’t really use it, and I’m not really hooked on checking those things. But Twitter is a tricky one and I think it is for a lot of people in the text space because it’s where a lot of our industry news is coming from, where a lot of the camaraderie among software developers and start up people is happening. There’s not really (to my knowledge) another platform like it.
There are niche communities in Slack and things like that, but Twitter is the public square for that. It’s been a struggle (I think) for the last few years. I’ve been saying things like, “Yeah, I’ve given up all social media,” but I can’t on Twitter because that’s where work stuff happens. I just become so aware that, for me (and I think it varies from person to person how they deal with it) it’s like Twitter is always the default. I hit a rough spot on something I’m working on and what’s my first inclination is to go check Twitter, go get a dopamine hit, and I’m over it at this point.
Rob: Do you still have it on your phone?
Derrick: I took it off my phone (which has been good) and I actually did another trick where I put all my apps in one folder, so now I just have like a blank desktop screen essentially on my phone. I keep email on there, for example, because I just want to be able to do email mobily, but I don’t want it to be something I compulsively check if I have a break during my day. That’s been a good way to deter that.
Rob: When you put them all in one folder, was it just to make them hard to find?
Derrick: Yeah. It’s like I had muscle memory built where I knew where to tap my thumb subconsciously to open email and now it adds friction to that.
Rob: Yeah, I do that. I’m compulsive with email and Slack, specifically the TinySeed Slack. I don’t do it with Twitter or Facebook and I’ve never really had that problem, but I definitely can see getting into that habit and I try to avoid it. I think the thing with Twitter is I check Twitter a couple times a week and (for me) that’s a pretty healthy balance.
I might post to it more often. A few months ago, I was posting every day and I fell off that wagon. I’d like to do that again, but checking it all the time is not healthy. That’s what you were saying last night. It doesn’t feel good because you’re going for the dopamine hit of someone replying to you, a conversation, likes, or retweets?
Derrick: Yeah. I don’t know if I’m feeling particularly just unsure about something I’m working on or just my business in general, all these existential mini crises we have all the time into building startups. That’s an easy place to turn where I’m going to share some piece of work that I’m doing and it’s going to have some marketing benefit. It’s going to increase awareness about what I’m doing and hope people will spread it around. Maybe someone new will discover my app.
I can justify that there’s some benefit to it, so then I’ll share something and it feels good to get people liking, engaging, and commenting, but it’s pretty hollow and it’s a veneer that’s providing a short-term benefit, but I don’t think it’s the healthiest way to engage with that. Then, when you don’t get the response that you were hoping for, then you feel bad. It’s like, “Why am I doing this in the first place?” This is not a solid way to go.
Rob: Yeah and the struggle is that it’s not just the social aspect. I know you got off Facebook years ago and I think it was easier to justify because there was no work component. There was no way Facebook was going to help you build or grow a company, whereas Twitter might (and I want to put it in italics and bold). We know folks who have personal brands on Twitter, social media empires. I don’t know of anyone who has built a SaaS app and the marketing was all Twitter.
I view Twitter as you can get a small audience and you can get those first few customers or you can get the first people who are going to give you good feedback. It’s part of just building that relationship with people, but realistically, once you have any type of product market fit and you’re actually trying to build a scalable marketing approach, Twitter is not it. If you’re looking at it purely as a utilitarian thing, there’s definitely times and places to do it and be on it, but with all the negatives, it does feel hard to justify to me.
Derrick: Yeah. You can definitely come into it with the strategy of like, “I know the best times a day to post where I’m going to maximize engagement,” I figured out some of those things for myself. Some of it, you can apply methodically. Other parts of it are a lot of the benefits that have come to me has been serendipitous and that’s where I have a little bit of fear that if I were to give this thing up, I don’t know what I’m giving up entirely. I don’t know what random encounters or interactions I might be missing out on and I think that’s for the fear that comes. This could be the thing that catapults my nascent start up into a different realm, if I were just there engaging in the community on Twitter. In reality, I’ve become pretty convinced that’s probably not a very good reason to accept all the negatives.
Rob: I keep doing it, yeah. You make a good point because it isn’t just finding customers, but what about that one relationship you build with the business development where someone says, “Let’s integrate. We’re a web host so let’s integrate.” You’re like a kid and you’re like. “Yeah, that could move the needle.” That’s what you’re saying, it’s like, “Do I want to miss out on those? What’s the potential?” and that’s where they get you. That’s where […], is it has all these negatives, and yet we still want to consider doing it.
Derrick: Yeah. If I think back, I’m frustrated by how many Twitter DMs have actually led to productive business meetings or chats and it’s like, “Why does that have to come to a Twitter DM?” because that’s just reinforcing that I struggle to actually get off of there, because people would have to find my email address or something.
Rob: Yeah, and it does seem like Twitter has declined pretty substantially in popularity. That’s been my sense and just the number of people on it. Obviously, the tech community, the Silicon Valley, plus MicroConf and just startups in general are on there. And the press. It does seem like there’s a lot of journalists, not just like TechCrunch but like Wall Street Journal, big-named journalists are on there and there’s certainly still some value. Remember Arab Spring, there is communication there, there is value to the world that that stuff is able to get out.
It really does seem like people have moved on to Instagram and what are the others? Snapchat, although I guess they’re on […] now. You mentioned TikTok last night and I was like, “Yeah, I’ve heard of that. No idea what it does.” I’m so old dude.
Derrick: Yeah, we’re getting old.
Rob: What are you going to do? If you listen like I was asked on stage, “Are you bullish or bearish on Twitter?” and I was like, “Bearish.” This was last year. I was on my 2016 or 2017 prediction. This is when Twitter was still going strong. There are going to be too many trolls. People are just going to move on, and the nature of social media is that it’s pretty rare for a platform to actually stick around for that long. People just move from one to the next.
I don’t love Twitter and struggle with a lot of stuff on it, although I am still on it. I think there are benefits, especially now with the MicroConf stuff, the podcast and all that. I’m not going to quit Twitter anytime soon, even though I do have some struggles with it. But I’m curious, you’re seriously thinking about getting off of it or quitting it basically. Is that right?
Derrick: Yeah. I’m getting dangerously close to that. For me, my big fear is how am I going to keep a similar type of connection to people in the industry who I’m not so close with? I’m texting or private messaging all the time. How am I going to maintain that? How am I going to still get up-to-the-minute news about stuff? I see a lot of things in the React community, for example. New things emerging or new releases of things and a lot of that I’m getting through Twitter right now.
It’s important for me to know about that because I’m building tooling in that ecosystem. I don’t always want to be the guy who’s a month behind late to the party knowing about stuff, but a lot of these you can think of it as, is that really so bad if you’re a few more days delayed in finding stuff out? Probably not. In that case, for me, I’m trying to look for what are some digests newsletters for example that are in the industry? I’m already a part of some of these.
The Changelog is one of them. They send a weekly summary of what’s happening in the open source world. There’s one for the Jamstack community, too, and I’m on that one. I get a lot of good info from that. These are probably good enough for the news part. For me it’s like, how am I going to keep connection to my “audience?”
The podcast is a good one side of a way to do that. Again, returning back to the fundamentals. My email list, my newsletter list, how can I invest there? The time I maybe would have spent on Twitter carve out some of that time to try to invest that in the email list. Those are some of the ways I’m thinking about it.
Rob: Those are good alternatives. I was going to propose that mailing list and a couple of those other things. The bottom line is, yes, you may miss out on some things, but take the time and invest in stuff. I would say, investment in stuff that is less ephemeral.
That’s what bothers me about social media. It’s just here today and gone tomorrow. It’s not a blog post. It’s not even a podcast episode people go back and listen to. It’s not a book that people will read for years.
With your email list, if you can invest in an email list and repost that on the blog, because email is a bit ephemeral even though it’s a pretty deep connection. That’s when I’ve been off because the entire time we were doing Drip, I was not on Twitter at all. It was the right choice. I didn’t quit it for life though, I came back. Obviously, I’m a little more active on it now, but I do hear what you’re saying. If you tried it for two weeks or 30 days, or something, my guess is you’re not going to want to go back.
Derrick: That’s a good segue, because I’ve been reading a book, Cal Newport’s latest book called Digital Minimalism, which is like Deep Work. A lot of people know about that one. It’s Deep Work principles applied to more of your personal life and how you interface with things like social media.
One of the things you he talks about in there and recommends doing is like a digital declutter. That’s a term he coined for. Basically, taking 30 days and eliminating the things that are causing you problems like social media, that are pulling at your brain and causing it to be distracted, and all the negative side effects that come with it.
Think of this as you’re eliminating all this stuff and then at the end of it, be really deliberate about what you add back in. Don’t think of this as just a temporary detox where you remove all and then at the end, I’ve reset and now I can go back to the way I was doing things.
I’m in the midst of one of those right now. I’m not deleting my Twitter account, but I’m not checking it. I started this off going on a trip where I had very little internet access. That forced me to step away from it and even coming back from that after five days, I already had much less desire to go check it. I do feel a certain amount of Zen just from that. That’s becoming a reinforcing thing already for me. The more time I spend off of it, the less drive I have to go and check it all the time. That’s been healthy, I think.
Rob: That’s cool. How long have you been doing that?
Derrick: Since really the turn of the New Year, so we’re about two weeks in. It’s been good.
Rob: It’s a trip when you change habits like that. How scary, you don’t know if it’s going to work, and then you get in a few days and suddenly you feel this clarity, and then trying to come back to it. I’ve done this with drinking alcohol, social media, or just anything. I enjoy it. There are pros and cons to each of those things. It’s like if I have an old fashion, I feel better. In the short-term, it’s a good thing. Much like checking Twitter. Then in the long-term, I question the value of doing that and going off of those things. Coming back, you just realize how much it impacts your day-to-day or just how it actually affects your life.
Rob: And you were saying last night because I haven’t read Digital Minimalism, but you piggy-backed on it and it got you thinking about remote work.
Derrick: Yeah. A thing that he spends a fair amount of time talking about in the book is what does it mean to have relationships and have real connection with other human beings. This is heavily tied in with the era of social media there of text messaging. The fact that we rarely call each other anymore. We are always texting. There’s all these norms that were established in society and a lot of them were around lower fidelity means of communication.
He makes a good point. This is based on some research he pulls into his thesis. We’re wired after millennia of communicating with each other, talking to each other, being able to read non-verbals and verbals, the whole picture, and now we’re reducing our communication down to very binary things. If you think about what’s a reaction in Slack or a like on Twitter? It’s literally a binary piece of information. You compare that to all the richness that comes with someone reacting to something in person. You get to see their face, you get to see them smile, or see them look inquisitive. There’s just so much more you can get from it.
In the one sense, you can think of it as more efficient using these productivity tools like Slack, but on the other hand, how much communication are you missing out on and what does that do to our mental state? You make some pretty interesting points that there’s high rates of depression and mental health among college students in the generation that grew up with smartphones. That’s starting to become really evident. There’s been some research at universities about this and just a really sharp increase in a lot of these issues that weren’t a problem before.
You take all that, bundle that all up, and I start thinking about how are we architecting companies? How are we building teams? I feel like a struggle that you build a 100% remote company. How often do you really have that high fidelity communication with each other? That’s what got me thinking about that.
Rob: It’s tough. My personality is I want to go against the majority opinion. It’s like, “Hey, everyone’s raising venture capital.” “Cool. I’m going to go start one without venture capital,” and that’s going to be a bad thing that I talk about. Or, “Hey, all these Fortune 1000 companies or even venture capitalists want you to be located in one place.” “Cool. I’m going to go start a remote company.” That was what you do and it’s a natural thing that I want to do.
In addition, we have the Remote book by DHH and Jason Fried. It’s definitely a thing and we know tons of startups, especially more in the non-venture track space that we write in, that are remote. And there are advantages to it. You can hire people in cheaper locations. You can hire the best people around the world. Everyone doesn’t have to be local, all that stuff.
I see the value of that for sure, but I’ve always said that the situation we had with Drip where half of us were in one city, and I would have loved for all of us to be in one city. We just couldn’t find the talent in Fresno. Half of us were in one city and we were in the office 2-3 days a week. That was my dream setup and I wish every job that I worked and every company I run, because now with TinySeed, there’s three of us and then with MicroConf, there’s two of us, and we’re all remote.
While I don’t think we should all need to live in the same city—it wouldn’t be practical, because (again) we wanted to hire the best people, and Einar and I are co-founders, he’s in California and I’m in Minneapolis—I would love to see them once or twice a week in person, which is what we did back when we’re doing Drip. And that’s so healthy.
Derrick: Yeah it felt pretty ideal. The nice thing was we can write the rules for how this works. There was inherent flexibility, we weren’t always on the same days every week. If something in life happens and you need to be out of the office an extra day a week, no big deal. But to have that as the default, it felt really good, like hopping in front of a white board with […] getting to work through some tough problems. I was never able to reproduce the same benefits over digital means and maybe someone still needs to solve that. Maybe we’ll get there.
Rob: Yeah, that’s the question that’s like will VR solve that at some point? Can you imagine if VR was super, super high fidelity, you and I can look around, literally feel like we are in front of a whiteboard together, and to get social cues, to where it’s uncanny “Valley” type stuff, like you see these amazing video games or even a Pixar movie. Humans look human enough that you can pick up all the stuff. If you and I can be in a room and literally look like that, maybe that would do it.
It’s a bummer. Some of the things I enjoy the most are lunches and hanging out, but I don’t know if you need that. Maybe that’s the point where it’s solved because video chat isn’t enough. Zoom is not enough because you are not going to sit on a Zoom call for 2–4 hours and shoot the breeze and get those moments that you need.
Derrick: That’s the thing. A lot of the way we are thinking about building companies and the tools that we are building for them, it’s introverted Silicon Valley-type engineers who are helping architects how we socially interact with each other. There’s an inherent bias in that. The fact that we are all about using tools for productivity, an important part of building a healthy team is actually having a relationship that has nothing to do with direct productivity. That’s more of a long-ball type of thing. If we are going to build cohesion, we’re going to be able to go to lunch together.
A friend of mine shared this anecdote, coming back after a long break and catching up on work over the holidays. His wife was relaying this to him and she said, “How was work today?” He’s like, “It wasn’t a great day, but I got to see my friends.” It was powerful. That’s something that you don’t necessarily have if you just stay, show up, and be productive. If your day is not productive, then you feel like you had a good day. If you get to see your friends, you get to see the people you built relationships with, then perhaps you’ll feel a lot more well-balanced.
Rob: Yeah. In Slack, you get the emojis and you get some fun stuff shared on a random channel. That’s fun, but it’s definitely different and it’s hard. Think about with TinySeed, we are a remote accelerator, so this is an issue. We get together three or four times a year and those times are really cool when we’re together. There’s a lot of bonding that happens being in person. That’s something that we are going to be facing and trying to overcome for sure.
In a perfect world, again, I just like seeing people more often. I’m pretty introverted, too. To your point about Silicon Valley people building tools, introverted Silicon Valley people thinking that remote work is, I won’t say infallible but it is the ideal. I don’t think it is for most of the world. I don’t think it is especially for extroverts for people who want to be around other folks. The loneliness and isolation is absolutely being shown. They are doing research on it, there’s going to be a real swing here depending on personality type. There’s a lot here that is not as clear cut as just saying, “Here are the pros of remote work and therefore we should all do it,” because it’s nowhere near that clear-cut.
Derrick: I feel like I’m starting to look at a lot of these things that I previously saw as absolutes and I’m starting to see a lot more gray in them. There are benefits, but there’s also drawbacks and you have to weigh them against each other. One cool anecdote that was from Cal Newport’s book, he talks about the Amish and he talks about how a lot of people just assume that it’s this community of people that decided arbitrarily like, “This is the peak of technology and we shall not accept anymore technology.”
That’s what I thought for many years. It just feels very arbitrary, why are horse-drawn carriages better than cars? I don’t know. It’s just a form of technology. But he talks about if you actually learn about their culture, they always evaluate technology. They are very open to it, but they also evaluate the pros and cons against their value system.
Look at cars back in the early 1900s. They try to mount for a while and then they determine that people who are driving cars tended to leave the community, go to neighboring cities, and engage with people outside the community that led to a breakdown in relationships. They just decided like, “This is not coherent with our values, so we are not going to do it.” I think there’s something really powerful to being open to looking at pros and cons and weighing them against value systems and what you are trying to do.
Rob: Yeah and that’s the thing. There are so many fewer absolutes than we would like. They talk about how it’s a sign of intelligence being able to hold two conflicting ideas in your head at once. That’s what both of the things we just talked about are, Twitter and social media conflicting there has a lot of pros and cons.
The same thing with remote work where you can get a little too gung ho in either direction. I think it’s situational and having the willingness to really think it through on a case-by-case basis, to see the realities of it, and know no matter which choice I make, neither is ideal. That’s the hard part is that neither one is ideal. They are going to come with pretty major cons and figuring out how to work around them as best as you can.
As our last topic before we wrap up today, did you read that article, Josh Pigford almost sold Biometrics for $5 million. That was the title, I almost sold Biometrics for $5 million. He published it about six weeks ago.
Derrick: Yeah, I did check it out. It’s a pretty interesting read just because you don’t generally see this level of transparency about something like almost selling your company. It was pretty fascinating to see someone outline their thought process and what was going on through that.
Rob: I know. Super gutsy to do it. I think that’s why because there can be backlash. If you sell it, obviously it goes public that you sold it, but if you don’t sell it and you talk about doing it, there’s danger there. You could have customers leave. You can have employees be upset. Kudos to him for sharing that and sharing his thought process because it sounded tough. A really tough process.
To start with, he kicked it off and he said there’s always a price. Some people get too hung up. A lot of people are, “I’m never selling my business. Why would I sell my business?” I just don’t know. I don’t think that’s the right choice for most people. If you could become independent wealthy, why would you not do this? I don’t hold it against people certainly if you are going to keep your company but don’t just say something out of principle or out of some belief that this is the right thing to do to never sell your company. Think this through.
Now it’s easy. Let’s say I was running a company. It’s doing $50 million a year and I’m pulling $5 million or $10 million a year right off the top, which is totally easy to do with SaaS because it’s so profitable. If you really enjoy what you are doing, then yeah selling your company for $250 million. How much is it actually going to change your lifestyle?
You can afford a jet or whatever, but if you don’t want that and you are doing what you’re doing, why would you do that? But most of us are not in that situation. If you’re running an app doing a million or $5 million a year, somewhere in there, you are not pulling that much money off typically. Typically at that stage, you are in danger of riding it over the top, the growth can die, we can have a recession, you can get killed by a competitor. There’s all these things that could happen and selling a company for a 3X, 4X, or 5X revenue multiple, which Josh was offered 3.75 revenue.
You are doing $2 million a year and you are going to sell your company for $7.5 million, that is absolutely life changing. If you are making $150,000 or $200,000 a year and suddenly you can sell it for that, life-changing in the real sense of the word. It will change your life. You will have options that you never knew you had at that point.
Derrick: A lot of this talk of like why I would want to sell the thing. I’m working on my best idea. I can’t help but think of the Basecamp guys and that was their narrative for a long time. I feel like nowadays there’s a lot more nuance coming from them, which is really refreshing. Jason Fried was at MicroConf, was it last year or the year before?
Rob: Yeah, last year in 2019.
Derrick: Yeah, talking from the stage and he has been one, much more quick to plan the fact that they early on took some money off the table enough, to where him and JJ were millionaires after a couple of years and felt like, “Okay, we’ve made a healthy amount of return of this business. Now we can write it for longer.” A lot of founders go in blind and say, “Why would I want everyone to sell my company,” and yet, what usually ends up happening is that you are not as financially rewarded upfront as you would be if you were taking your raw skill set and having a salary job.
You’re foregoing a lot of money you could be making. A lot of opportunity cost and you are messing that into your equity that you have in your company. If you do end up five years down the line, things are competitive, whatever market conditions, and now suddenly you can’t achieve profitability, you are unable to sell it when you really want to, and you find yourself not able to extract a return from all of the investment that you’ve put into it.
For Basecamp to say, “Why would we want to sell?” because you were able to take some money off the table early on. Then, he also compared now Basecamp to like, “As if I’ve won the lottery and I’m taking the payout over time as opposed to a lump sum.” That totally makes sense.
Rob: Yup. The odds of them going to a business or something is infinitesimal and they get to work. They love their jobs, they have built a great team, and they get to build whatever they want. They’re building Basecamp version three, already built that. Jason Fried was talking a couple of weeks ago on Twitter, like they’re launching two more things this year. They really are a kid in a candy store.
If I were them, I wouldn’t sell, either, but I wouldn’t tell other people. I know they don’t tell other people not to, that’s not something. But I do think that people hear that and then take it upon themselves to think, “Well, I respect Jason Fried and […], I want to be like them, so I’m not going to sell my company either.” I don’t think that’s smart. I think you should evaluate.
Again, if I were Jason Fried, I would not sell Basecamp either because that sounds amazingly fun, but if you’re not in that situation, where you’re tens of millions a year in net profit is what he said, up from the market […], if you’re not in that situation and maybe you don’t enjoy your job, maybe you’re in a really competitive space, and you think that you could flat line.” Once your growth flat lines, your sales multiple plummets. There’s a really good time to sell and if you ride it over the top, suddenly you’re selling for 1X revenue or less. If you’re doubling every year, you’re selling for 4X or 5X revenue, again, it can be a life-changing amount of money or not.
I’m not encouraging people to sell. I think you should do what you want to do, but just really think things through. Back to that whole article we were talking about where Josh basically says, “Hey, there’s always a price. I wasn’t really that open to it,” but he got an offer for $4.95 million and it was like, “Wow, that would change my life.” Then he talks about just how it was a dead end and the buyers had claimed they had the money, but in actual hell, they got him under LOI (letter of intent), they went out and tried to raise money from investors, it was pretty dang shady. It was not cool. That must have been very, very hard.
Derrick: I can only imagine if that had been the case with our Drip story, because I just know how much stress we were under, you especially because you are really bearing the brunt of it, how long the process was, the due diligence stuff, just even getting to LOI. I’m glad that it moves a bit faster, like things didn’t drag out a year, and then Josh discovered this.
I guess on that sense it’s good that it didn’t go on too long, but even for as long as it did, I can only imagine how much you build up all this anticipation. You start to think, “Well, this is looking like it’s going to happen, they seemed very serious about it. Everything I’m hearing from them seems good.” It’s really hard to shift your mind into the gear of like, “I’m about to have a life-changing exit,” and then for that to be torn away is really a mental struggle.
Rob: Yeah. He said, “We’d spent nearly $20,000 on legal fees, months of time gathering all the docs, and they just disappeared. It was crushing. I was and still am furious with them. They wasted an epic amount of our time and money and then crawled into a new hole when they realized they couldn’t do the deal.” Crushing is an understatement, I would have probably crawled into a hole for weeks because your momentum is gone.
It’s one of those really hard decisions to make, but once you make it, you get a sense of peace about it and then that’s all you want. I remember almost hanging on to it too much because you don’t know if the deal is going to go through until it’s all signed. A month before we were selling Drip, it was like, “I’m so ready to sell this company. But I can’t say that out loud, because then if it doesn’t happen, I’ll be crushed.” I definitely feel his pain.
Derrick: Yeah, it’s tough. I don’t know how you could combat that. You have to enter the process, you have to trust what people are telling you initially. You had counsel, you had advisors and stuff, so I wonder how can you avoid that from happening or can you?
Rob: Yeah. I have no idea. I certainly did not and do not believe that I personally could. You would have to be someone of real fortitude to do it. I do like he links over to another article, where he says, “Five things I learned failing to sell my company,” and one of the things he says is avoid needing to sell. This is something a lot of people forget. If you need to sell, if you’re a desperate seller, you will have terms that are not as good.
Always having the abilities to, “Hey, we are growing, we are profitable. I don’t need to sell.” Those three sentiments will get you the best price, that plus getting a lot of different offers. That puts you in the driver’s seat. It’s the same thing with raising funding. Unfortunately, so many people go out to raise funding when they really, really need funding to do anything and nobody wants to fund those companies. They want to fund the companies that don’t need the funding as paradoxical as that sounds.
Derrick: Even on a small scale. When I sold Codetree, this is happening about around the same time that the Drip sale is going through. I was so focused on the Drip stuff that was going on and this was a side app that wasn’t really growing much, but was still just a nice side income for me. I decided it was time to not have to worry about that anymore, but even just having that, going into that with the mindset of like, “I want to sell this thing because it seems like the right time to do that, but I don’t have to,” it could just keep running on the side for a while and no big deal.
Even just going into the negotiation with that attitude. The seller then later on wrote a blog post about how they felt, like they were at a disadvantaged position because they could come in and say, “No, we really want $20,000 off.” My broker was like, “No, we don’t need to do that.” I’m like, “Cool, then tell them no.” Of course, I’m not going to do that, and then ultimately, I think, trying to keep that mindset of like, “If this doesn’t go through, no big deal. I don’t have to do this.” It helps.
Rob: Yeah, having your backs to the walls. Never good, whether you’re selling a car, selling a house. If you’re in a big hurry, you just get the worst deal. Kudos to Josh for that and for sharing. These are helpful things because (again) so many people don’t talk about it when deals fall through like this because it could have negative repercussions, but that’s something that I do love about our community, is that people are often willing to share experiences to help others avoid the mistakes they’ve made.
As we say in the intro, whether it’s to avoid the mistakes or just to understand, if I get into that situation, what will I do? What is this really like? That’s the other thing. If you have not heard of these stories, if you haven’t heard Josh, you haven’t heard you and I talk about selling Drip or any (I’ll say) real startup acquisition, then all you’ve heard is that on TechCrunch, that Instagram sold for $1 billion to Facebook over a weekend, when they had seven people and not much revenue. It’s like, “Well, that’s how startup acquisitions work.” It’s like, “No, they never do. Never.” This is like one in ten years does that.
The real startup acquisitions take a long time, they’re a grind, they’re typically for a revenue multiple or a net profit multiple if you’re running a different type of business or at a smaller revenue scale. There’s just a bunch of pretty common things that are realistic. If you don’t know that and you’ve only read the popular articles about the outliers, your sale is probably not going to be an outlier. So level-setting expectations with this post that Josh wrote is (I think) good.
Derrick: A helpful piece for the community archive for sure.
Rob: Yup, indeed. Thanks, man. Thanks for coming on the show.
Derrick: Yeah. It was a blast, thanks for having me.
Rob: If folks want to keep up with you, you release an episode every week, podcast episode at the Art of Product, you and your co-host Ben Orenstein. That’s a good bootstrap for podcasts over there. Then you are at @derrickreimer on Twitter. We’ll just send people there, but that is what it is.
Derrick: Yeah. Twitter and derrickreimer.com newsletter. Sign-up there.
Rob: That’s probably the one. That’s almost what we should recommend more, derrickreimer.com. I know you’ve blogged a bit over the years. I think all of us probably wish you blogged more.
Derrick: Yeah, it’s always the thing. It’s interesting to think about trying to do more, like higher frequency, less trying to spend 10 hours writing a piece, and think of it a little bit more like Twitter. That could be an interesting thing, too.
Rob: Sounds good, man.
Derrick: Cool. Thanks.
Rob: Thanks again to Derrick for coming on the show. He is working on his new startup. It’s called StaticKit, statickit.com. If you’re working on static sites stuff or interested in that whole ecosystem, he’s building some pretty interesting tools for static site builders.
If you have a question or even a topic for the show, a news item, just something that you think is interesting that you’d like, or a guest take on, you can email it firstname.lastname@example.org, you can attach it as an audio question, or leave us a voice mail at (888) 801-9690.
If you’re not already subscribed to the show (I’m actually surprised), head over to any podcatcher, search for “startups” and we should be in the top three or four. If you want transcripts of these episodes, head for startupsfortherestofus.com.
If you have not yet left us a five star review in your podcatcher, please do so. It would mean a lot to me and it helps the show rank higher, helps us get more listeners, helps me stay motivated to keep producing the show week after week.
We have a theme song, it’s an excerpt from the song called We’re Outta Control by MoOt. We use it under Creative Commons. Thanks for listening to this week’s episode. I’ll see you next time.
In this episode of Startups For the Rest Of Us, Mike and Rob discuss 9 must read books for founders. They compile a list of book s that are tactical, deal with mindset, and how to setup and work remotely.
Books mentioned in this episode:
- Saas Marketing Essentials
- E-Myth Revisted
- Work the System
- The Ultimate Sales Letter
- The Ultimate Sales Machine
- Zero to One
- A Guide to the Good Life
Rob [00:26]: In this episode of Startups For the Rest of Us, Mike and I look at nine must-read books for founders. This is Startups For the Rest of Us episode 228.
Welcome to Startups For the Rest of Us, the podcast that helps developers, designers, and entrepreneurs be awesome at launching software products. Whether you’ve built your first product, or you’re just thinking about it. I’m Rob.
Mike [00:27]: And I’m Mike.
Rob [00:31]: And we’re here to share our experiences to help you avoid the same mistakes we’ve made. What’s the word this week, sir?
Mike [00:48]: Well, we’ve got a nice email from Ryan van Schoor from agentivity.com and he says, “Hi, guys. We’re now a successful startup in our fourth year, and we contribute a lot of our success from listening to your podcast. Just wanted to say thanks and if you ever needed to ask us a few ‘how did that work for you’ questions just give us a shout. Best wishes, Ryan.”
Rob [01:20]: Awesome. Thanks for writing in, Ryan. Yeah, if you have a success story, if you’ve been able to launch product, quit your job, we always love to hear it. We do have a success stories page on our website where we will link out to you, get a little bit of SEO juice, and a little bit of recognition. If we’ve had some type of impact on you, whether it’s MicroComf, the podcast, or the Micropreneur Academy, or my book, and your forthcoming book. I know you’ve talked about it on the podcast, but if you haven’t signed up for Mike’s mailing list, go to singlefounderhandbook.com and Mike’s looking to get his book out here in the next couple weeks. Is that right?
Mike [01:31]: Yes. I’m hopefully finalizing the editing probably tomorrow. And then after that I have to go back and forth with CreateSpace and get a printed copy of it to see how it looks and then after that it’s good to go I think.
Rob [02:32]: Very cool. I wanted to re-visit a question that had come through two or three episodes ago. The person who asked it originally asked : which magazines do we read? Because he likes to read physical paper in the morning. And I realized that I went off on a tangent and said “Oh, I don’t read any anymore, and I cancelled all my subscriptions.” But he did ask – assuming he’s listening to the podcast – what stuff he might have available to him? What magazines might there be? A couple came to mind actually. Ink Magazine and Entrepreneur Magazine, they’re reasonable periodicals. I’ve always liked the articles in there. Over time I realized it’s more Entre-porn than anything else. There’s not a ton of tactical stuff. However, if you really are reading this as a hobby – just like you’d read the morning paper just to keep your mind occupied while you’re having breakfast – it’s not a bad thing. There’s worse things you could read for sure. I also used to subscribe to Fast Company but it’s so design focused that it does a lot of fashion and other things that just aren’t that interesting to me. And then, for news I will read Time Magazine now and again. How about you, any other ideas come to mind?
Mike [02:44]: No. Like I said, I stopped looking at magazines in any way, shape, or form after my wife left the publishing industry. And at the time, really the only one I even looked at was hers because she brought it home and it was free.
Rob [03:05]: No, I get it. That’s the thing, you aren’t missing anything if you’re not reading these. But if you really do want a physical copy of something, I used to stack them up, get a monthâ€™s worth on my desk and then whenever I’d go on an airplane I would bring them and basically I had to leave them there or throw them away. And this was before you could have Kindles during takeoff and landing. When I don’t have electronics I want to keep myself occupied.
Mike [03:07]: What year were you born?
Rob [03:12]: Just within the last six months they’ve allowed Kindles.
Mike [03:12]: I’m kidding.
Rob [03:21]: Yeah, all right. I was like, “Dude. It’s not like it happened that long ago.” You sound like the old guy at the club saying that though. Anyways, what else? We have any other questions or comments?
Mike [05:14]: We have an email from Mike Buckbee who says, “Hey, Mike and Rob. I run Expedited SSL which is a Heroku add-on for rapidly installing SSL onto your Heroku site.” I think this ties back into a previous episode we did where we had talked about some of the different levels of products and moving up the ladder and somebody had commented how building on an existing platform was essentially step one-and-a-half. You could essentially tie into an existing application infrastructure and leverage the benefits that that platform gives you, and essentially helps establish a recurring revenue stream for you. And Mike goes out and he lays out a couple of the benefits and the downsides of having an app like this. The first on he says is “Being on Heroku pre-selects an audience that’s willing to spend money instead of man-hours to accomplish infrastructure goals. [Discovery?],” he said, “probably ninety percent of my customers come from the official add-ons directory, greatly simplifies MVP because billing user management, et cetera is all handled for you.” It also forced him to have a very narrow target for his prospects which is a huge differentiator for something like GoDaddy, which sells certifications to everybody under the sun. Now some of the downsides he said was things like cash flow, because there’s this gap between when people buy stuff and when he gets paid for it. And in his case he needs to buy credits from a certificate authority in order to be able to re-sell them to people he’s servicing. And then, in addition, they take thirty percent off the top. So for every fifteen dollar plan that he sells he only gets ten dollars of that. So depending on what his customer acquisition plan looks like, and the sales funnel, it can be a little bit limiting. It obviously impacts your flexibility in terms of negotiating for some of those credits. And then there’s also limited customization of landing pages for the sales funnel because, obviously, you’re tied to that platform. So whatever they offer you, in terms of the sales page for being able to offer those add-ons, is going to impact how you can present it to the customer. So there’s definitely benefits to this, but obviously there’s downsides to that approach as well.
Rob [05:42]: Yeah, thanks for writing in Mike. This ties back into the stair-step approach , where someone had written in and said, This might be step one-and-a-half, where it’s a small piece of software in someone else’s ecosystem with a single marketing channel, but it’s recurring. So it could be that branch between that WordPress plugin and a Joomla add-on or Magento add-on and a SaaS app. There’s that in between of still having a small thing that has recurring revenue. Love to hear about it. Thanks for writing in, Mike.
Mike [05:44]: So what are we talking about this week?
Rob [07:55]: Well, we’ve put together a list of our nine must-read books for founders. Obviously, this list would change over time. I don’t feel like this is a timeless list that’s going to be around forever, because tactics change. The idea for this episode came out of a question from Jeff Hines at touchpointdashboard.com. He say, “Hi, guys. I’ve been enjoying the podcast and I know sometimes you recommend books to read. I’m going to by Rob’s book Start Small, Stay Small, but is there a compiled list of books you suggest?”
The answer to that is no, we don’t have a compiled list. That list would change pretty frequently. But we did sit down and think through what are a handful of books that if someone was asking, How can I market my startup or my SaaS app or my software add-on, what books should I think about reading? So we have a mix of tactical. We have some about how to set up and work remotely, and then we have some about more of the mindset. So today, in all, we’re going to cover nine books.
To kick us off I’m going to start with the book Traction. It’s by Gabriel Weinberg and Justin Mares. What I really like about Traction is that in my idea notebook I have several pages of writing ‘what should my next book b?,’ because I always knew I was going to write a second one, and I had three ideas I liked the best, and one of them was almost identical to what Traction turned out to be. And that is a list of a bunch of different marketing approaches. I think there’s twenty-something chapters, and each chapter covers a single marketing approach that you could use to market your startup or software product. Each one is an interview, or a case study, with someone who does that really well. So, they talked to Noah Kagan about a certain topic. They talked to Andrew Chen, I think about paid acquisition. They talked to several others, and overall, the book is an awesome overview. It’s not super tactical in a sense that you can read it and go do that approach right away, but what I like is it’s a big list that I would build my marketing plan from. If I’m going to launch a new app, I can just go down the Traction list and say, â€œWhich of these could possible apply to my new app? And which do I want to prioritize at the top? And then individually go and research and dig in further somewhere else on the actual tactics that I want to attack.
Mike [09:49]: Yeah, and in the book they even go through and give you essentially a mechanism for trying to figure out which of those tactics you should start trying out first, and what is going to tell you whether or not it’s successful or not. So definitely take a look at that book. I would highly recommend it. We had Gabriel on the show previously when the book first launched, but it is very, very good.
Our second book on the list is Remote, and Remote comes from the guys over at Basecamp, formerly 37Signals. Remote talks about what it takes to run a remote team, for the most part. But I think that there’s a lot of this book that can actually apply to people who are running their own businesses. So, for example, there is an entire section on how to deal with the fact that you are a remote worker. So it’s not just for the people who are running the team, it’s also about what the people in the team should do, what they should expect, and how they should interact with one another, because if you’re running a business by yourself then you probably have contractors working for you around the world or in different time zones. The book addresses a lot of the issues with that. One of the other things this book goes into, which I’d highly recommend for people, is dealing with the excuses of why remote work won’t work for you. It goes through them and basically addresses them one by one about all the different excuses that somebody could come up with and say “Well, I don’t want to run a remote office,” or “I can’t run a remote business,” because of X, Y, or Z. It just lists them out and digs right into them and says this is why that line of thinking is wrong. So for example, losing culture. I need an answer from people now about whatever question you might have, or if I can’t see somebody how do I know that they’re working. The reality for a lot of those things is it almost doesn’t matter. It’s more about the people that you hire. If you can’t see somebody, how do you know they’re working? Well, even if you can see them, how do you know they’re not sitting there playing solitaire or some online game all day long? You can pretty easily alt tab into a different screen when somebody comes to walk by your desk. So there’s all these excuses and they basically walk through and debunk those.
Rob [11:27]: I think Remote is a good book for you if you’ve never worked remotely before, you’ve never worked on a distributed team, or you’re trying to basically pitch that case to someone in order to work remote. When I read it I didn’t get very much out of it, but it’s because I’ve worked from home for ten years, and I worked on remote teams for twelve or fourteen years. So I did like the way they thought through it, and I liked some of the stuff they referenced, but I didn’t take a ton of actual ways that I think will change the way I do business. But with that said, obviously, if you haven’t had that, if you don’t have that experience and you are trying to figure out if you want to build a remote team, or have everyone on site, I think it’s a good book to read.
The third book on our list is SaaS Marketing Essentials and it’s by Ryan Battles. What I like about this book is its laser focus. Obviously, if you’re not going to launch a SaaS app, then this may be one you want to skip. But I like the way Ryan dives into niche validation, he talks about some really tactical things on marketing, on building the app, on what it takes to support it and get it launched, and the whole process of getting it out into the world. It gives you a realistic expectation of what to expect, and gives a ton of resources that you can follow and learn more about. In my opinion, this is the most tactical and comprehensive book out there today on launching a SaaS app. Because a lot of the stuff that you read, if you do subscribe to blogs – let’s say SaaStr Jason Lemkin, he has really good posts – but a lot of it is aimed at the five to one hundred million dollar SaaS apps. It’s not aimed at bootstrappers. And while Ryan’s stuff can be applicable to both, it really is more focused on launching a product on your own with no funding.
Mike [13:13]: The next book on our list is Work the System. Work the System, it’s more of an advanced version of the book The E-Myth Revisited, whereas the E-Myth Revisited basically addresses – or at least brings to light the problems of – being an entrepreneur, and that the main problem that it brings to mind is that when you start out a business you start it for a number of reasons, probably because you looked at what somebody else was doing and said “Well, I can do that,” Or you didn’t like how things were being run, so you created your own business. Typically is starts out as a freelancing business and as you start promoting your business you start doing more and more of the work yourself. So eventually, what you find is that the business can’t run without you. Obviously, that’s a poor way to run a business, and the E-Myth Revisited essentially brings that to light, versus Work the System which essentially assumes that you know that that’s what the problem is. It talks a lot more in-depth about the systems, and documentation, and all the different considerations you need to take into account in order to build a business that is going to run without you. So in Work the System, they really drill down deep into those different things, tell you what you need to do, how you need to think through some of the different problems and the different processes and how to create, essentially, an operating document for your business that other people can follow.
I actually modeled a lot of the stuff that I did in my business around this concept because it’s so much easier to just have a document that people can go to if they have questions, or if they need information about how to do something. I’ve actually gone in there myself, where somebody else has written documentation and I’m like “Oh my God, this is an emergency. This had got to be done and it’s got to be done right now. How do I do this?” Instead of muddling my way through it, I was able to go to the documentation that somebody else – who I’d hired to do a different job – they did the documentation, they updated it, and I was able to follow it, which was awesome.
Rob [14:39]: Our next book is The Ultimate Sales Letter by Dan Kennedy. There are a lot of books out there about copywriting and there are some decent books about copywriting on the web specifically. But what I like about The Ultimate Sales Letter is it’s based in this history of direct email marketing and almost all of what’s in here applies also on the web. I think Dan Kennedy’s a mixed bag. We were talking before the show that some people love him, some people hate him. He really is a polarizing figure. And I’ve taken from Dan Kennedy the things that I like about his approach. I do think that he takes things too far sometimes, and I don’t necessarily agree with some of his stronger sales tactics – just not my style. With that said, he’s very smart, and he’s a very good copywriter and a talent marketer. What I like about The Ultimate Sales Letter is it gives you a really solid formula of how to think about the purchase process in a buyer’s mind. He talks about it in terms of a long form sales letter, but it can be broken down into a sequence of emails. It can be broken down into a sequence of web pages on a SaaS marketing website. It works in many different forms, and if you can pull the theory out of this, and not get caught up in, Oh, this is a stapled piece of paper being mailed to someone, the copywriting fundamentals that he talks about in here are really quite valuable.
Mike [15:49]: The next book is The Ultimate Sales Machine by Chet Holmes. Chet, in this book, goes through essentially what is a high-touched marketing engine for getting sales for your products. There’s a lot of different, I’d say, techniques in here that are more about gaining attention and standing out from the crowd. For example, one of them is to send people a mailer that is going to stand out from all the other things. Instead of just sending a postcard, you might send them a box, and that box might have some smaller things in it. It might just have some papers in it, but the fact is it’s a box. Or if you send somebody something in overnight mail, that’s going to rise to the front of somebody’s pile because they’re looking at it saying “I just got this thing that was overnight mail. It must be important.” There’s a lot of different techniques and strategies in here that he goes through, and talks essentially about the entire process of getting the attention you need from the people who are going to be involved in that high-touched sales process. It’s also about trying to optimize that sales process, putting the right people in place, and then make sure that your focusing on educating the people in that process in your organization, the skills that they need in order to do the jobs that they need to do to facilitate that process.
Rob [18:29]: This is one of the few books that I listened to on audio, then I purchased a physical copy of it. And it’s one of maybe twenty or twenty-five books that I still own a physical copy of, because it was so valuable to me when I read it. I’ve never actually implemented his process in full. His process is definitely for higher-priced items. It’s more of an enterprise sales thing, because he goes into spending a lot of time and a lot of money chasing after your dream one hundred customers. However, there’s so much else in this about the mindset of sales, the mindset of marketing that you can take away. He starts it off with time management secrets of billionaires – is the first chapter. Instituting higher standards and regular training is the second one. How to run effective meetings. Even if you’re not working in an office, all of this stuff is valuable. And he’s such a smart guy and he applies his systematic thinking to all of these topics. It’s one that I have listened to multiple times and I still reference back to the physical paper copy I have in front of me.
Our next book is more of a high level thought provoking book rather than a tactical one. It’s called Zero to One and it’s written by Peter Thiel. To be honest I didn’t think I was going to like this book. I listened to it because a lot of people recommended it, and I heard folks talking about it. And I have now listened to it twice. Again, it’s almost like he’s so smart that everything he talks about is not trivial,and it’s not obvious. I think that’s a big thing. When I’m listening to a book and I hear a lot of obvious advice, obvious time management advice, obvious ways of thinking about starting companies, it just gets boring, because I’ve either heard it before or I’ve thought it myself. Very, very little in this book is stuff that I’ve heard about or thought about before. It’s incredibly thought-provoking. He does talk a lot more about starting billion dollar companies. The idea is that most companies started go from one to, which means their incremental improvement. So all the business that our bootstrappers are starting, in general, in our community, are one two businesses and they are improving upon an existing idea. He talks in the book about going from zero to one, meaning starting from nothing and building a SpaceX or a Tesla, completely revolutionizing an industry. But as a bootstrapper don’t let that scare you away because while he does spend a chapter or two on that, the rest of the stuff he talks about is just how to have an open mind, how to think about things intelligently. He talks about how to focus more on marketing. He doesn’t go into tactics, in particular, but I loved when he starts talking about how engineers don’t know how to market their stuff. It’s a lot of what we see in dealing with developers who tend to build first and then think it’s going to market themselves. Overall, when someone this smart sits down and thinks about writing a book, anything he talks about is going to be eye-opening, and I think you need to check it out if you haven’t read it.
Mike [20:24]: The next book on our list is a little bit different from previous ones. It’s called A Guide to the Good Life. Rob you had mentioned this book, I think, on last week’s episode. But essentially, the Guide to the Good Life is about how to prioritize your life and the goals that you have in life and how to view them differently than you might otherwise be doing now. It really delves into, what’s called stoicism. Stoicism is a philosophical point of view where you look at things and you try to purge negative emotions. Let’s say that you’re trying to become an author. You’re going to have to submit your book over and over and over again to publishers – assuming that you’re going the traditional publisher route. And you’re probably going to be rejected time after time after time again. The way the stoics would view that is that instead of viewing each one of those things as a rejection, you view it as something that was essentially a milestone that you had to overcome. I think that I’ve heard Steli Efti talk about this on a couple of his sales presentations before, where, let’s say you’re doing sales calls for example. Instead of looking at it and saying “Well, I want to call somebody,” and you work up the energy and you call and they say no, or they get off the phone with you very quickly, instead of looking at that as a failure, look at that as a check box that says, I made one call. But your goal is not to make a sales call and land a deal, it’s to make the call. So by changing your perspective and what your goals are, you’re essentially helping to purge a lot of the negative energy from your life and allow you to do things that you might not otherwise be able to do, mainly because most people have psychological barriers that they simply can’t overcome. I thought that the book was really well put together, and there’s a lot of really good techniques in there that are extremely helpful. And in some ways you can look at that stuff and say you’re lying to yourself. But at the same time if those tricks are working for you, and they’re allowing you to reach what your ultimate goals are, then who’s to say that using those methods is wrong.
Rob [22:04]: Yeah, that’s the thing. I think when people hear stoicism they might roll their eyes, or think this is really touchy feely. I really like the framework that it gives. And of course, as with any book, it’s like you don’t have to believe or buy into everything that’s said, but there’s a lot in this book that I took away. I have several pages of notes actually, which is a sign that something was impactful to me. Some of the things I really enjoyed were, they talk about meditation, and they talk about dealing with difficult people, and how to avoid whiny and melancholy people. They call them [seep sorrows?]. This is two thousand year old, three thousand year old stuff. So it’s really interesting that people don’t change. We see them in our lives today, and you saw them two thousand years ago. He also talks about negative people kind of like trolls, essentially, or haters – as you put in the outline last week. He talks about gossiping. But it’s not just obvious stuff. As I say all that you probably think, â€œOh, well he says don’t gossip, and stay away from those people.â€ But they give an entire framework of why that works, and then actual techniques and tactics of how to think about all this so it makes sense. So I’m a big fan of this. I actually heard some people talking about stoicism, I think it was Tim Ferris interviewed the author of The Obstacle is the Way. I listened to that book and I was not particularly impressed with it. So I was like I’m not going to get into this stoic stuff. Then I hung out with Travis Jamison from Supremacy SEO, he’s in the tropical NBA crowd, and he said that this was the book to read if I wanted to get an entry level into it. So I read it, I was blown away, I took a bunch of notes. I re-read it and I’ve been trying to implement pieces of it certainly over the past six months, since I originally listened.
Mike [22:51]: I think the other thing that I really liked about it was that it focused on living in today. A lot of us have smartphones, so what we’ll be doing is we’ll constantly be out with our families and checking your phone. It talks about being able to live your life today, like if God forbid something happen to one of your kids tomorrow, would you feel bad about the five minutes that you were spending on your phone as opposed to paying attention to your kids. It really puts things into perspective about what you should be paying attention to and how you can focus on the here and now, because it may not be there tomorrow. Or how are you going to feel if you weren’t paying attention and you’re going to have all of these regrets. You’re still going to feel bad no matter what if something were to happen to one of your kids, but you’re not going to feel as bad about all that wasted time that you weren’t present even though you were there.
Rob [24:06:] I want to wrap up the list with number nine, it’s called Essentialism. I mentioned this book a few episodes back as well, but what I like about this one is it’s also a mindset book. If you find yourself taking on too many things, if you find yourself saying yes to things and then getting to a meeting and wondering why you’re there, or if you find yourself overloaded with stuff that isn’t moving yourself or your business forward, this book is amazing. It reinforced a ton of stuff, of hard decisions that I’ve made over the past five to seven years of saying no to a lot of invitations, of saying no often. Basically making no my default answer. And that’s not always easy to do, and it doesn’t always feel good, but this book basically backs all that up and it solidified it and it gives a lot of reasons why, and it gives examples. It really goes into the ramifications of not saying no and of accepting everything, and then the ramifications of saying no and how it can change the way you work, change your productivity, and change your focus. So this – kind of like A Guide to the Good Life – might be one of the most important books on this list. Even though it’s not a tactical thing about marketing, it’s a five or a ten-Xer because it gets within your mindset, and it can make mental shifts within you, and that’s where enormous productivity gains can often happen.
Mike [24:41]: So just to recap, our nine books are Traction, Remote, SaaS Marketing Essentials, Work the System and the E-Myth Revisited – by default association -Ultimate Sales Letter, The Ultimate Sales Machine, Zero to One, A Guide to the Good Life, and Essentialism. And if you have a question for us you can call it into our voicemail number at 1-888-801-9690 or email it to us at email@example.com. Our theme music is an excerpt from We’re Out of Control by Moot used under creative commons. Subscribe to us on iTunes by searching for startups and visit startupsfortherestofus.com for a full transcript of each episode. Thanks for listening and we’ll see you next time.