Startup Therapy Podcast

Episode #2

Ryan Rutan: If I were to ask you, "What is the single greatest cost in starting a company?"—what would you say? And not just the biggest, but the hardest to quantify. The hardest to justify. Is it staffing cost? Capital cost? Opportunity cost? I think it's actually emotional cost. And that's what we're going to discuss on today's episode of the Startup Therapy Podcast. Hey everybody, I'm Ryan Rutan from, here with my partner Wil Schroter to bring you another episode of the Startup Therapy Podcast. Wil, in your 25 years of entrepreneurship across 9 startup companies, several of those being venture funded, would it be fair to say that you've spent a mints worth of emotion?

Wil Schroter: I've probably spent 10 lifetimes worth of emotion. The time and capital was the easy part by comparison. I mean, the emotional cost is brutal, and when people talk about their scars from building a startup company—and everyone does—they don't talk about that one time they raised capital, or they don't talk about that one time that a customer canceled on them. You know, maybe that's part of the story. What they're really talking about is the emotional cost of what happened.

Ryan Rutan: Oh, absolutely. Particularly when you're talking about raising capital, right? Because when you hear stories about people going and raising capital, there's the elation when it's over. "We did it, and how exciting that was!" More common, it's about how many times they get punched in the face by the VCs or the angels or whoever it is that they're talking to. And what they're really saying again, it's the emotional bruising that they took away from that.

Wil Schroter: Yeah, and it's a very singular experience. If you're fortunate enough to have a partner, co-founder, or spouse in some cases, that's willing to help shoulder the emotional burden, that's great. That's fantastic. But you know what? It's kind of rare. This is a very lonely business when it comes right down to it.

Ryan Rutan: Absolutely, and sometimes, sadly, it's easier to be alone. Because the converse of having a partner, or a spouse, or a friend who you can share this with—and get support from— is that they actually provide the opposite. They continuously question you, they wonder about your motivations, they ask why you're doing this. And so that can actually have a deleterious effect instead of a support role. So as odd as it sounds, sometimes being alone is easier.

Wil Schroter: There's not really a typical support system. There's not a generally understood kind of high-five system for being a founder. Conversely, in almost every other path—let's say it's through academia when we were kids and we were growing up and we're getting good grades—everyone knew that was a high five. They knew if you got an A, you did your best, you're the best. You moved on to a job: if you got a good salary, if you got a good job, it was considered the best. When you start a company, there's no gradation, there's no way to find out whether you're the best. There is no way for your friends to tell the difference between "You are absolutely insane and this is a terrible idea" and "You're gonna be the next billionaire." There's nobody, there's nobody to calibrate. And so when your friends and loved ones are around you, it's really hard for them to understand if things are even going well. And because you don't get that kind of feedback, it's hard for you to understand that.

Ryan Rutan: Yeah. It's like somebody watching a sport that they've never played and they don't understand, right? Like, you know, first time soccer parents, all they can do is shout, "Kick it! Kick it!" They just don't have the context for what counts as a win. So the bar is set arbitrarily and unreasonably high. Like, "Hey look, you know, we had this great thing happened. We've dropped our customer acquisition cost to a really reasonable level." and your friend is like, "Okay, you're going to sell for a billion dollars now?" "No, not yet." "Call me back when that happens". And they're just like, "Okay, so you're not successful yet." Well, yes we are. Just not all the way yet.

Wil Schroter: It's really hard to bring that information home to your spouse, for example. You know, when I go home and I talk to my wife—who's been through the startup game with me for a very long time, so she actually gets it—but in the early days when I'd come back to her and I would say, "Hey, we just sold our first product" or "Hey, we just got our customer acquisition costs down," or some other startup nerdy thing that only founders would tell their wives, she got it. But at the same time I'm telling her "...and we're losing tons of money." So you finish up with that, it's kind of hard to get the high-five. Now again, going into this other universe: if I were a law student and I said, "Hey, I'm racking up tons and tons of debt. My classes are killing me, but I'm going to get a law degree and I'm gonna become a lawyer." Everyone would understand that. Every single person would be like, "Well, you know, you stick with it, we get it. Working hard, good grades, get the law degree - you're gonna win." We don't get that as founders.

Ryan Rutan: There's uncertainty of path, right? The outcomes are so amorphous and so uncertain that there isn't the sense that "if I just keep doing this, I certainly get something." The only thing that you certainly get if you keep it up is older. And that's not necessarily a win.

Wil Schroter: Absolutely. And I think this puts us in a tough spot. At work, we're alone, right? Chances are, unless we maybe have a co-founder, all the folks around us are relying on us to pay their check, right? So there's a lot of frustrating things that you really can't share openly, and frankly probably shouldn't, right? If I'm sitting there walking into the office and saying "My God, like I have no idea if I'm gonna be able to make payroll next month." You may feel that way. Probably not the best thing to share with everyone else.

Ryan Rutan: There's a lot of burdens that gets singularly shouldered in the founder space.

Wil Schroter: Exactly. But that's just one piece. This whole game, this whole journey of starting a company is just nothing but one impossible task after the next. And because of that—because you can't share how frustrating this is with the very people that you're around all day long—it becomes this painful, lonely existence. And that starts to really burn away at what I call emotional capital.

Ryan Rutan: It does. And you've got the fact that you're not sharing these emotional lows and and challenges with other people, and all these things that are dragging you down often leads people to form the opinion that you're just so emotionally stalwart that they can dump anything they want on you. So from the downward direction, you've got the people that you're responsible for see you as being incredibly strong and you know, being incredibly emotionally fit. And so they do share their problems with you and you are responsible for supporting them emotionally, while also supporting yourself emotionally without the same benefit. And it just can really tear you down over time. Sometimes it doesn't even take much time, it can happen really fast.

Wil Schroter: Yeah, and there are certain instances where you're really almost not allowed to be able to share how you're feeling, or what's going through your head, because you have a responsibility to actually pull people through. If you and I were to go to our kids and say, "Boy, I don't really know if I'm gonna be able to keep you safe, or what's going to happen to you in the future, or how things are going to go" - they'd be terrified!

Ryan Rutan: I use that technique to get them to do what I need them to do, if I'm honest.

Wil Schroter: And by all means, even if that's true, there is a time and a place to be able to share that. However, sticking with that analogy, if you talk to other parents, you can talk about that all day long. Similarly, what I always recommend is to have founders talk to other founders. There's nothing more cathartic than being in a room full of other founders, finally being able to pour your heart out to talk about what's actually bothering you, and have every other person in the room go, "Wow, I thought I was the only person that had that feeling." It's amazing.

Ryan Rutan: Yeah. Just the fact that you no longer feel completely isolated and alone—even without getting into and unpacking the issues—ust knowing that other people are going through the same thing helps a ton.

Wil Schroter: You know, we've done this for a long time. We've informally, wherever I've been, whether I've been in the midwest or on the West Coast etc., I would get a group of about 12-15 founders together. Incidentally, most that had never met each other before. And we'd always go into a place, typically my living room or something like that, where we would all sit around a table and have one conversation - meaning, kind of think of campfire style where everybody's talking about one thing,

Ryan Rutan: One conversation and 12 cocktails. I remember the first half of some of these meetings!

Wil Schroter: They always end the same. And so what happens though is we kind of always go through the same cadence, but it's always magical in its own right. We just ask folks, we say, okay, we're gonna sit here. All you gotta say is, "Here's what I'm working on and for what it's worth, here's what I could use help with." Invariably the first person that goes—doesn't matter if they've ever been to one before, doesn't matter how they know the other people in the room—will say some version of, "I'm pulling my hair out, trying to make [insert problem happen]. I'm drowning. I'm just at a point now where things are just so intense, I don't know what the hell else to do." And for the first time, they look around the room and every single person is nodding their head. And they're thinking, "I thought I was the only person that felt that way." And it's such a reflection of what a lonely journey this is.

Ryan Rutan: So I think that knowing that you're not alone in all of this is a huge benefit. But I think another challenge, and maybe the next challenge that founders face, is wondering, "Okay, when will all this end?"

Wil Schroter: Right and I think from my standpoint, you know, I've been through this a whole bunch of times, and so have you Ryan and so have some serial founders. But I think the problem most founders have is they've never done it before. They've never been through the process of starting up. So they don't know how long it takes. Right? So they're thinking, "Well I started up, it's been a year. Why aren't we rich yet?" And they don't really feel like that, but they want to see some sort of positive reinforcement. And there is none. If anything, for the first few years, it's small wins with giant losses. Right? It's, "Hey, we got that one customer to acquire, but we just lost $10,000 this month." At first you can withstand some of those but boy, as time goes on, it starts to wear on you.

Ryan Rutan: It does. And I think that, you know, the typical defense mechanism against that is to celebrate those small wins right? Like every little step along the way. And so you get these ebbs and flows. I don't want to paint the picture that it's just an emotional downhill from the minute you start the company until the end, whatever the end might be. But it is certainly a roller coaster. And I think that it's really important to be able to celebrate those little wins as you go because that tends to be what refills the the emotional bank a little bit along the way. And there isn't a single answer to how long is this going to take, right? It takes as long as it takes is the answer, which is a non-answer, but kind of as close as we can get.

Wil Schroter: Look, it takes 10 years to build a successful company. Can you do it in less? Hopefully. But if it takes you 10 years, that's not unreasonable. At the rate we're burning through emotional capital, staring at the ceiling at 3:00 AM every night wondering how the hell we got ourselves into this mess... To do that for 10 years—to do it for 10 days is brutal—to do it for 10 years, I don't think people really understand, particularly people have never done this before, what a hell of a slog that is. However, here's the flip side to it: when you actually settle in, when you actually calibrate to the fact that this takes a long time, it actually takes a little bit of weight off your shoulders. I know it has for me. Because once I started to learn that building something valuable is going to take a lot of time. Building something shitty can be done very quickly, right? You know, you can half ask a lot of things quickly. But to build something of quality, of sustenance, of true value takes a long time. And that's okay. But you have to know that going in. I don't hear enough founders talk about longevity. I don't hear enough founders talk about, "Hey, I want to build this thing, it's gonna be amazing. I'd love it to be done sooner. I'd love it to be successful sooner. But I do understand that it's gonna probably take me a decade to get this right." I've pretty much heard that never. And yet it's universally true.

Ryan Rutan: The pressure there is increased by your own expectations. It's increased by external expectations. For example, if you take on capital, that's a really hard conversation to have. You're like, "Oh yeah, guys, you know, I know you want to IPO within 5 years, but hey I was thinking like maybe we just take 10 years and ride this out and enjoy ourselves along the way." That's always met with fantastic feedback from your investors. And so I think you're right: to some degree, it's a matter of giving yourself permission. And it's something I talk about a lot, there's giving yourself permission or understanding that it's okay that these things kind of take as long as they do, and that most of this urgency is fairly self-created. And it actually has a negative impact, you know: it tends to be the more we hurry up and try to get things done, the more we half-ass in the short term, the more debt we're accumulating, both on the emotional side and just on the quality of what we're building. And that costs you more in the long run, right? And/or, you don't stick around for the long run. As you said, we need to have more conversations around longevity.

Wil Schroter: Absolutely. And I think the problem with burning all this emotional stamina quickly on the front end. I mean, let's talk about the first 6 months, 12 months, 18 months, 2 years: Dude, if you're burnt out by Year Two—which isn't unusual by the way—you have 8 years to go! Right? That's like hopping on the bench and you've got 10 reps to do, you do 2 like, "I'm all done here."

Ryan Rutan: That does sound like my workout routine as a matter of fact.

Wil Schroter: Yeah, mine too. But realistically, this is something where you have to be able to pace yourself, but you can only pace yourself if you know what the pace is.

Ryan Rutan: Well, that's what I was gonna ask. And I don't have a good answer for this for myself yet. I'm trying to go back through time and really reflect on how I've handled this. But I have admitted that things take longer. I'm not sure that that's changed how I spend my emotions. I think it's made me more aware of when I have depleted my emotional bank and that I need to give myself a little time to recover, rather than just continuing well past the point of burn and keep it going. Do you feel like it's the same for you? Do you feel like you've actually changed how much emotion you put into something, and how quickly you burn it? Or you just more aware that you're burnt and you need to do something about it?

Wil Schroter: 1,000%. When I first started—and I've been at this now 25 years—when I first started I was 19 and I was full guns. I wanted everything done yesterday. I felt like all I need to do is spend more hours to get more output., and some of that wasn't the wrong approach for that moment of my life. Later on in my life as I had become a little bit more experienced and had been through this process numerous times, I started to realize I can't fire all of my bullets—you know, be it my emotions, my energy, my cash, everything—every single day, right? Like at some point, you can only hit turbo for so long, right? At some point, you have to be able to kind of settle down for a longer game. And I think for founders and friends of mine who are serial founders, they've done this a few more times. They're further along in their careers, they get it now. They're like, "Okay, listen, the steps can be hard. I'm going to want to be able to do it quickly. I can still get stuff done quickly without always burning all of my emotional energy to get there."

Ryan Rutan: Right. Well, let's talk about another issue that comes along hand-in-hand with this: as you start to realize this is a long game, and you're ready to play the long game, and you're ready to balance your emotional spending against that long time, there are other things that get depleted along the way, right? Just your energy levels, the amount of financial stamina you have to continue with this. And what happens when those things start to break down?

Wil Schroter: Right, I mean we're talking about the cost of going broke. Like what happens when I have no energy and I have no money, right? Because to your point, these things tend to go hand-in-hand. The difference is money tends to be a little bit more finite. We can kid ourselves into having a little bit more emotional stamina, but money is fairly binary: it's either there or it's not.

Ryan Rutan: One benefit is you can borrow money, you can't borrow emotion.

Wil Schroter: Agreed. And the cost of going broke actually follows a little bit of the same timeline as far as being unrealistic. Now, it doesn't change much by the way, but bear with me. Let's say that I were to say it's going to take you 7 years before your startup turns a profit. Going into it I had this weird crystal ball that I could just tell you it was going to be exactly 7 years. You would be able to look at your finances and say, "That's cool, I've got 18 months tops of runway, I'm never going to make it." But that's not how startups start. No one tells you that it's going to take 7 years for you to come around. In your mind, you build your first income statement, your first pro form, you make your first forecast and you say, "Man, we can get this thing profitable in 9 months!" It never happens, but spreadsheets are like people: if you torture them long enough, they'll tell you anything you want to hear. And so you can absolutely make that true on a spreadsheet. However, time and reality set in. And 18 months, 36 months and're just burning through all of your cash. And in the not too distant future, the startup is never as far along as you thought it would be, but you're far broker than you thought you would be. And that's brutal at so many levels.

Ryan Rutan: Yeah. And this is where you want to talk about, even if you did have a support structure in place, you did have a good partner in either life or in business, family and friends supporting you...At the point where your finances start to be on public display, because they're starting to fall apart, that support can turn around really quickly. And instead of people bolstering you through that, you get a lot of opinion that you should start changing your plans, you should do something different, you should dump this thing now. And it's brutal from an emotional standpoint for the Founder, because you have invested so much. It's not just the money, right? Again, that hidden costs—I think this is one of the biggest issues—is that the emotional cost is completely hidden from everybody else. They don't see it. But that cost is right there along with the time, the money, the energy that you've spent on this, and again, that's that burden you have to bear alone. So they're, you know, they're making these great logical, practical arguments and you're going, "But I have poured myself into this thing. And I've already admitted to myself this is going to take a long time." And yet it still makes that decision to keep going at that point, so absolutely, just agonizing.

Wil Schroter: Right, which is why you don't want to be in a position where you're going to run out of money. Now, nobody wants to run out of money, but when we talk to founders—particularly young founders—and we ask them, "How do you plan on keeping the lights on personally?" Not for the business, but for yourself personally, beyond whatever funding you may have raised or whatever savings you may have, etc. There's almost never an answer. Every now and again, and I love this, every now and again, I'll get an entrepreneur that says, "Yeah, you know, honestly I have a part time job, or I design websites on the side, or I do something else that's going to kind of keep things going while I continue to feed this business." And more often than not, that's the right answer. People think, "Well if I'm not fully dedicated to the startup, it's not gonna work." You're not wrong. But if you run out of money in the process, what does it matter?

Ryan Rutan: It also stops right at that point. It just ends. Yeah. I'm a huge fan of like a service proxy or some other way that you can actually be living in your business, but still surviving, right? So you can find ways to generate income that are still related to the thing that you want to build. If you want to build some sort of scalable product, awesome, launch a service component to that so you can be making money as you go until you get the product to where it needs to be. And that gives you essentially unlimited runway; related to that, and this was something I remember the first time I heard this, and I've heard it a few times typically from younger, first time founders and typically—well, always—folks who are seeking capital...I heard this phrase, "Our target burn rate." And I just remember like leaning back and thinking, "Did you just tell me that you have a goal in mind, that is how much money you're gonna be losing every month?" You might be thinking about this wrong, and I get the purpose for it and I'm being a little glib here, but it was such a foreign thought to me that I wouldn't be aiming to be solvent like the entire way. Now being realistic about it's great, but saying like, "Yeah, all we need to do is get a million dollars and then we can burn 200 a month for 5 months and then of course we'll be profitable at the end of that." Okay, awesome. Call me when you're done.

Wil Schroter: Well and we're talking about your longevity financially right? We're saying that, look, if you know it's going to take best case 3 to 5 years for the company to get some sort of footing whereby it could actually pay you, then you have to be able to deliberately make up that delta. It really doesn't matter how, right? It doesn't matter how you make up the delta: whether you're moving back in with your parents, or whether you're getting a bartending job, or you know, whether you're designing websites, whatever. Right? What matters is that you've got a deliberate path to keep the lights on. And you know, no shame in the game, right? Like whatever you have to do to keep the lights on, do it. And be proud of it.

Ryan Rutan: If you can have an unlimited runway, that's exactly what you should be aiming for. It will completely change your emotional state. It will change your ability to keep things going, and it will change your decision-making. Because when that pressure starts to come—when you can see the end of the runway coming—you only have one choice, and that's to pull up as hard as you can. And the reality is that rarely ends well.

Wil Schroter: Right, exactly. Where this starts to culminate—and I think that this is worth getting into—is you're now burning all of your emotional capital. You're now burning all of your actual capital. And everything around you starts to get more and more intense: your relationships at home, your relationships with your coworkers, everyone. Right? Because there's almost no version when you get into a startup where you're not just in a giant ball of freakish anxiety, right? It's not happy good times, you know, it's not high-fives all around, right? And there's no version where being in that cauldron of stress isn't going to severely impact all of your other relationships. And I think that's where things start to really come to a head.

Ryan Rutan: Yeah, it's sort of like the last category of spending, right? And not always—there are plenty of ways to ruin relationships before you get to the dire straits that we're talking about now.—but certainly if you still have good relationships at this point, you will start to lean on them. You will start to do things that are counter to health within those relationships.

Wil Schroter: Right, exactly. And you see this in so many different capacities. Like you see this manifest in so many different ways. It's you're not there for your kid's soccer game, right? That's brutal. I mean, you're working insane hours, and I'm not suggesting that startup founders have a monopoly on working insane hours and missing soccer games. But for you, this is your reason why you are, and you can feel it, you know that you're not there. Your kid can feel it, they know you're not there. Your spouse can feel it, they know that you're not there. And when that starts to build up—and that's just one of 50 things—this starts to really drain you at a very deep, personal level in a way a business breaking down doesn't have the same effect. There's no version where a marriage counselor says, "You know what would be great for this marriage? One of you should start a startup and turn into this entire exploding ball of emotion", right? Like no one would ever say that. This is a terrible idea when it comes to building relationships.

Ryan Rutan: Absolutely. And I think that you raised an interesting point in that you said, you know, startup companies don't have a monopoly on these types of issues, but I think that there is a difference and I don't think that it's subtle. And that's to say that, you know, if you're a corporate raider—you're working within some corporate structure—when you're making the decision to go be at the kid's soccer game, or putting in those two or three extra hours of work, you're really talking about a truly personal choice. It will only cost you. As the employee, not being there might cost you your bonus, it might cost you your next promotion, might cost you some capital with the people that you work with. But that's it, right? And you can make that trade. As a startup founder, when you make these decisions to be somewhere else, and to take time away from the startup, you can potentially be costing a lot more, right? The people who count on you: your clients, your customers, your employees, your partners. And so I think that when you start, if you're the type of person who considers kind of the holistic picture—and most startup founders tend to do that—there's a lot more gravity to that decision. It's the same decision at the end of the day: be here or be there. But I think that the amount of emotional drain that one faces is significantly higher as a startup founder.

Wil Schroter: Yeah, absolutely. And it's so binary, right? I can either be at the soccer game or I can be at work. I sort of can't do both. And again, parents face this all the time. This isn't unique to founders. But to your point, you know that the moment you leave the office and now you're at the soccer game, all the shit that's not happening back at the office may make it so you may not have an office to come back to. Every day the founder is wrestling with this balance. And I always think about it in terms of having a certain amount in the bank with each of your relationships. Be it for myself, my friends, my wife, you know, my family, etc. And I feel like the startup, by definition, because it's so all consumptive, just drains those balances as fast as possible. It almost feels exponentially so. And every time I talk to other founders who have been through other careers before—so maybe they were previously attorneys or maybe they worked in banking or they worked in some other field—they said, "Man, that was tough. Like there's no question that was a tough industry. But this is a whole other thing." And I think, Ryan, part of what you were saying, we're talking about, you know, taking away from the business? You created this from scratch. This doesn't feel like a job. This feels like something that's a part of you that's at risk, right?

Ryan Rutan: We often analogize this to parenting and having children and there's a reason for that. I mean, you and I are both parents, and so it's an easy analogy for us to draw on. But there's a ton of parallels to this in terms of the type of commitment that you make. And we talked about making a commitment for 10 years with the startup company; you got at least 18 years with a kid, right? But it's the same kind of thing, right? And I think that there's some big parallels here.

Wil Schroter: And I think if there were ever a crash course, if there were ever a Startups 101 that could be delivered to potential founders, and someone to the best of their ability could say, "Look, here's a handful of things that going into this, you're gonna pretty much have to give up. You're gonna have to come to terms with, right? Any money you have saved? Kiss it goodbye. You're never gonna see it again. All of those trips you wanted to go on? Cancel. Not gonna happen." And kind of go down the line. And as part of that little pep talk, if you can call it that, it would be, "In all of those times you said you would be there, you won't be there." Now I'm not advocating that. I'm not saying that's a good thing, or that you shouldn't try to do your best to get around it. I'm saying, boy, I've talked to thousands of founders for decades. I've yet to see a lot of people get around this issue. I'd love to, but I've yet to see it.

Ryan Rutan: Yeah, I think, and you're, you're absolutely right. And in the same way that we said, you need to be realistic about things like, hey, when are we gonna be profitable or how long is this going to take or you know, when will all this end? We need to be really realistic about the true cost of this issue and how pervasive it is and and how many other places it touches on. And I think that you brought up an interesting point a minute ago when you were talking about the fact that it starts to feel exponential and you know, as we've gone through this discussion today, we've taken it fairly sequentially right? We're starting with being alone. And then, and then talking about, you know, what kind of make peace with that. Then you have to make peace with the fact that this could last a long time. And then there's the, you know, the long race that we run drains a lot of other resources at the same time. And then we sort of said like the last of those being, this cost relationships. I think at that point because you're really compounding a number of issues. It truly has gotten exponential. And I think that, you know, the further you get into this, the more grounded and stable you really have to be as a founder not to let this go off the rails because it happens so much faster. The further you get into it, I think it's a little counterintuitive. You might think that like early on when I don't really know, you know which direction to go with this rocket ship would be a lot easier to go off the rails. I think the truth is that, you know, once you really have to find a clear path, it's actually harder to stay on that path. And because of these exponential building costs.

Wil Schroter: Yeah. And I think we tend to rationalize that if we can just make it past this one milestone, if we can just get launched, if we can just get the next version of the product out. If we can just get our marketing work, we can just hire this one person, then we'll be on Easy Street and the problem with that mentality and it's a survival instinct we needed to keep itself stain. The problem is when we start to relay that to the people around us and we make basically promises we can't keep, Hey, you know, I know I'm working crazy hours now, but when we just get this one thing out, things will slow down. You tell that to your wife, right? You tell you to your wife, your kids to your husband, what have you. And, and they believe it because as far as they're concerned, that's what you told them. And then time and time again, no matter what you do, no matter what you say, these issues keep on cropping up. And I think what we're talking about is setting expectations with yourself to say, hey, this is a long kind of grueling process and then setting expectations with the people around you so that they have a better buffer, a better platform to be able to understand what you're going through. But I also understand, hey, you're gonna miss some events. Hey, you know, you're not always gonna be in the best of spirits, but they understand why.

Ryan Rutan: Yeah. And I think the understanding why is really important and not just the why. Oh, because you're doing this thing, it's, it's the why you're doing that thing. And I think that some people find themselves in trouble and I know I have in the past when it wasn't clear to people around me truly why I wasn't going to be there. I don't mean I'm going to be not going to be there because I'm going to be doing this other work. It's why would I be doing that work? And I think that's something that's hard for people to understand when they're not in it is that we're doing that work most times because we want to be, it's it is a conscious trade. It doesn't always seem fair. It may not always be healthy, but I think very rarely and this is a this is an interesting, you know, I think this is where the corporate life and the and the startup life really break from each other. There's been a few times where I've been truly compelled to do something in the course of a startup that somewhere deep down I didn't want to be doing right, It may not have always happened the way I wanted to. I may not have wanted to do it when I was doing it right. For example, if it's at the same time as a soccer game, I'd probably rather be at the soccer game, but I still wanted to be doing that thing and I think that's a huge difference between what you see in a lot of jobs and I know there are people out there who absolutely love their jobs, but I don't think it's the same level of attachment. I don't think that they could say that they always feel the same way about making these trades and that was something important that I wasn't communicating to people are like, yeah, but you know, this is costing you are missing out on this? You're missing out on that. And I'm saying, yeah, but for me, do you know how enjoyable going into my business and solving a problem that I've been working on for weeks or months or years is that's so crucial to who I am as a person. It's in the same way that like, you want to be there when your kid takes their first steps and you want to have been part of that process, The same thing happens with each little step the company takes too. And it's just really hard for people to understand that. And I've tried to find ways to communicate more clearly and I think, you know, the closer the relationship, the easier it is, it's easy for me to explain to my wife. Now, look, this is how me doing this particular thing is going to make me feel.

Wil Schroter: And so for me it's an okay trade, that's great. And I'll tell you what, if I would leave folks with one thing, it would be, don't go this alone because the real emotional pain that folks are feeling comes from doing this alone, you know, and by alone in this case, I'm not just talking about co founder spouse, etc. I'm talking about other founders, I've seen in every case when I sit down with founders And we just talked about the emotional side of it, which incidentally is like 90% of the discussions that I have is the emotional side, not necessarily the business side, Everyone feels so much better about it, you've got to have an outlet to be able to get this stuff off your shoulders by sitting across from someone that actually does the same thing. And so kind of finding a little bit of a support group in that is life changing, and I've watched it over and over and over, and it sort of is the answer to helping cope with some of this.

Ryan Rutan: Totally agree. And so I would say like if you're sitting somewhere, standing somewhere running doing whatever you're doing right now, you're listening to to this discussion. I would say that there were some great takeaways in this discussion, but if I was going to hand people one thing from today's discussion, it's not the value of the discussion that we just had, and I'm just echoing what you said. Well, it's to find that support structure and go have this discussion yourself. I think that the real value in this type of discussion is in repeating it over and over and over again with the founders that, you know, with your support group, whoever they might be and hashing this out for yourself, right? I don't think that you can take enough away from hearing other people talk about this to just go, okay, cool, I feel better back to it, you've got to get this stuff off your chest and you have to have these discussions

Wil Schroter: yourself,

Ryan Rutan: Well, we've reached the end of this segment of the Startup Therapy Podcast, but in the meantime, if you love what we're doing, head over to iTunes and subscribe and comment. If you want to connect with us directly, we're super easy to reach. Just email us at therapy@startups,com. Wil and I take time to respond to every email that comes in, so please don't be hesitant, don't be shy. Ask away. Let us know how we're doing. We love the feedback. We live on the feedback. What we shared today is a tiny fraction of the help that you can get from Whether you need to learn how a startup gets built, where to find a mentor, how to raise capital, how can I find new customers—really anything that your startup company need— you can get access to thousands of resources on exactly those topics on With that, let's all get back to building something amazing. This is Ryan Rutan with my partner Wil Schroter and the entire community saying goodbye for now, friends.

Copyright © 2024 LLC. All rights reserved.