Ryan Rutan: Welcome back to another episode of the start up therapy podcast. This is Ryan Rotan joined as always by my friend, the founder and CEO of start ups dot com. Will Schroeder. Will we talk a lot about the importance of the founder in the start up at the early stages? The founder is the start up. There really isn't any difference because it's just an idea. And it's your idea as the founder, as we get further along in this start up, things happen, you know, maybe we may want to, to spend less time on it or no time on it. Lots of things happen, right? One of these questions that comes up and, and I think this becomes more apparent how important the founder is to the start up when we start to think about, can we replace the founder? Right. Have you ever tried to replace yourself?
Wil Schroter: Will daily for 30 years?
Ryan Rutan: I didn't think you were in on that conversation, man.
Wil Schroter: I don't even need to monitor that Slack Chat. I don't, I'd be all for it. It speaks for itself. I I tell you what I've been trying to backfill myself across different companies. For as long as I can remember and it never ever works. And here's the crazy thing and just a little spoiler alert nearly every time that I did it. I hired somebody that was clearly better than me. If I go back in time and say, oh, that person was inferior. Actually, you know what, I'll kick it off this. I'll give you the greatest example. You know, I mentioned this from time to time in the last company that I did subscribe dot com. My co-founder is Jamie Siminoff, who's the founder of, of Ring and has had an incredible career since then after we sold it, Jamie came back to me and he said, you know what? I will never do that again. And I was like, well, what he said, I will never work on someone else's idea again because it was my idea and I told him about it and I kind of recruited him to kind of come do it with me along with my friend Josh and I welded it together and he was like, I never want to be pitching and be passionate about someone else's child, right? And I mean, I got it. He didn't have to explain it to me at all. I was a little surprised to hear him say it, but I totally understood what he's saying is even as a founder, he can't replicate my passion, right? He has his own passion clearly, right? He's clearly qualified but it was my baby. Right? And he's trying to raise my baby and then it's, it's not the same thing, clearly qualified. Not as th so I think that's what we're gonna talk about today. We're gonna talk about everybody thinks, you know, founders that I'm gonna be able to backfill myself. I'm gonna be able to put someone else in my spot and on paper, it kind of makes sense in a lot of cases, like literally anybody more qualified. I'm so unqualified. If anyone says yes, we've just leveled up and I'm here to tell you and we can talk through it. Here's why it generally doesn't work and it's not for any of the reasons you think?
Ryan Rutan: Yeah, for sure. Because I, I think again, like, I think that a lot of the reasons we think, right, that the reasons founders think this is gonna happen is like, I'm worn out. I just need somebody with fresh legs to come in and I'm Underqualified. You know, I'm, I'm good from the, the zero to. Right. Yeah, exactly. You know, I don't have what it takes to. I've never scaled anything beyond this point before. You'd also never scaled anything to that point before, but we'll hold that aside for now. Uh, there's all of these kind of the, the common reasons that, that we hear for the why and, but I think, you know, to your point, let's dig in and talk about the, the why it doesn't work. We understand some of the motivations behind and we can dig into that more later. But let's talk about some of the, the why it doesn't
Wil Schroter: work, it doesn't work because we think we're backfilling the wrong thing. OK. So let's kind of put a fork in the road to start. Let's say that we've got a CEO or whatever the, you know, the leading title is and we've got a founder and often they're the same person just by virtue of circumstance, but it's not necessarily the same job or the same DNA. And I think two totally
Ryan Rutan: different things. I saw one like corporate raider in a suit and a tie and then somebody in a hoodie. So, like I, I saw two very different people but
Wil Schroter: OK, fair. It's um Jason freed from base camp 37 signals, uh brought this up in, in a post a while back and he said something to the effect of the CEO can never be this founder and the founder can never be the CEO. They're two totally different jobs. And of course, you know, he kind of stirred the pot a little bit and, and I said, I, I don't disagree. Now, of course, we're making broad generalizations, you know, as if no CEO could have founder tendencies or vice versa. Right. That's just silly. It's not a one size fits all we're saying more often than not the reason it's not the same job is because there are eccentricities to both of those roles that are unique. Now, here's what I think, I think when most founders say to themselves, I wanna replace myself. I wanna backfill myself. What they're actually saying is I want someone with more credentials, right? Or fresh legs or all the things we just discussed to do the day to day, shit that I have to do and hopefully better. Right? Because I, you know, I'm either unsure of myself or I'm tired, whatever, right? All those things are real. But what we fail to understand when we do that is there's a lot of other aspects to being a founder that aren't necessarily the CEO S job. And I think we should talk about those like you were men. Let's talk about the things that you aren't going to backfill. Almost no matter how hard you try. I'd say the first one is around passion, think of, right? I, I love to hear your feedback of this. Take Tim Cook of Apple and Steve jobs, you know, both extraordinary at their jobs. Right. Very much a founder and a CEO. Where do you see those deltas?
Ryan Rutan: Well, I, I think they manifest in a lot of different ways and I think there's this, let's just go one level up before we get into the delta between the CEO and the founder. Let's talk about because I think there's a, there's an underlying principle here that may be helpful and if we probably all heard this, I know it's something I repeat on, on a regular basis. Uh, we talk about a fair amount. I don't remember exactly who said it first. But the, the basics is start up is not a smaller version of a corporation. Right. And I think within that, when we start to understand some of the reasons why that's true and the, the reasons that those two things are very different, that a start up has to grow differently, has to behave differently, has to operate differently than a corporation does. And a large company does that we start to understand some of the differences between how A CEO does things and what their motivations are, why they do things and what the required skill sets are and, and why founders so different. And I think those things would be kind of clearly, clearly manifested in the difference that you were talking about, between, between cook and jobs. Yeah.
Wil Schroter: Well, I tell you what, I went through this long, long time ago, back in the days of your, when we were running the ad agency, the agency got up to at the time is maybe 200 people, enough people that like it was starting to show that I had no idea what I was doing. And so I was trying to find my replacement as the sea. And at the time, Ryan, I was probably 2425 not that old. And like I had no schooling experience. I only went to a couple of years of college. Like I had no business experience. All I learned, I learned on that job at that time. Just figured it out as I go. So I was under no pretense that I was the guy by any stretch. If anything, I was like, how quickly can we get a qualified person to do this? So I can stop terrifying myself. So we sit down, executive leadership comes to the conclusion. Let's go find a, a CEO to replace me. Cool. Awesome. We interview some people, we find the perfect person, right? Amazing pedigree, great disposition, you know, good engagement, all those things, check, check, check, right? Amazing. And so we hire him and that this is the best part. The reason we thought he would be such a great senior leader was because he was about to turn 38.
Ryan Rutan: Yeah. Yeah. When that qualifies as like a senior leadership and not that you can't be a senior leader by the time you're 38. But just, but basing it on that alone, I think is hysterical.
Wil Schroter: The reverence was hilarious because like, man, this guy's senior leadership, like we look back now and I think it's hilarious, right? But like I've heard he has gray hair, he did have gray hair. He had, you know, he had the frosted sides and I was like, oh, he's gotta be all figured out and I was so naive and there's no other way. There's the only term for it is naive. I was so naive that I literally thought that if you had been in business, air quotes in business for a long time and you had gray hair that you must be like a professional, like no idea what it has meant. You get
Ryan Rutan: one new gray hair with every properly executed decision, right?
Wil Schroter: So guy starts right and everything's going well for a second, but we're in the agency business and the CEO has to go on lots of pitches, right? And so we go on, um we go on this pitch and uh this is the first time he's leading the pitch and normally I led the pitch because among other things that I would just naturally do, I loved to pitch. I was just an extrovert. Like I, I, most importantly, I was really passionate about what we do, like freakishly like, you'd have to shut me up, right. This guy was not, he was hired gun. He came in there and gave the most boring presentation I've ever seen. Void of all passion of anything. He was, uh who's Ben, uh Bueller Bueller guy? Oh Jeez
Ryan Rutan: Ben not uh come on, we know this, we know this will, we're old enough that we should remember this, but we're old enough that we can't.
Wil Schroter: Some in the audience is like you idiots. It's, it's not even better anyway.
Ryan Rutan: It has been, it's not stiller. It's, it'll come to me,
Wil Schroter: it was exactly that level of delivery. And at first I was like, well, maybe this guy just not, like, have a lot of experience pitching. And then I thought about it. I looked at, you know, back in his career, he's pitched a ton, he just doesn't have any passion. He didn't give a shit about what we do. Right. He just doesn't. And so then fast forward a bit, we're in company meetings, you know, and we're sitting down with the company and we're a young, very quickly growing company. And so lots of new people, which means a lot of people to rally. A lot of people get fired up, right? You just got here, let's get you fired up, blah, blah. And so he gets up there and he starts presenting same thing Bueller like it was, it was so boring and I was like, what the hell is going on? And I learned lesson number one, you can't hire and or train passion, right? You could hope you can find somebody who's passionate. You can try. Yeah, but I I think we forget that we were naturally passionate, you know, the difference, right? And I'm curious how you think about this. It's the way we're passionate about our kids, but the nanny, not so much, not so much. Well,
Ryan Rutan: but you know, so this is interesting, right? Because you can also hire for passion, you can hire passionate people and we see this happening like, oh, they are passionate, they're passionate, they might be passionate about something. But there's a big difference between being passionate about, not just the the mission, not just the vision but passionate about everything that it's taken to get to that point until then, right, which includes the, the late nights, even just coming up with the idea, whatever struggles it was that led you to decide to want to start this versus anything else. And so I think that, you know, you can find passionate people, but the specificity of a founder's passion is 100% right? It's 100% it's natural and the passion comes from the business, right? It's not for the business, it's from the business, it's from the thing that you started. And so I think that's the, that's the huge challenge. You can find somebody who's passionate, you might even find somebody who's mission passionate or team passionate or whatever it is, product, passionate, audience passionate. It's still not going to have that same creation. Every aspect that comes from when you build something from the ground up, that's all of it, right? All of your passion is tied up and having done all those things, not just caring about them, but having been there and lived through it, you know, it's funny, it occurs to me there's a lot to be said for the fact that when we go to replace ourselves, that we have to change the title. You don't hire another founder, you don't hire a founder, you hire a CEO and then there's, there's something to that. Right. There's something really funny about that. The only way you can get the founder title is by starting the thing. Right. The only way you can get it. Right. The only way you can earn that title, it's pretty specific. Right. And you can't be hired for it. I mean, they're ok. There were some venture studios that were like, we're hiring founders for this idea. Those all worked out really well. I've heard exactly zero successes where they're like, we'll just match founders up with great ideas. Cool. But so I think there's, you know, it's an interesting question around, you know, the, this the adopted passion, right? The ho how can that work? And, and I guess in my experience sounds like in yours as well. I've not seen it happen, right? You don't want to hire a dispassionate person, right? Passionate person better than dispassionate human, but it's not gonna be the same thing. It's not a replacement,
Wil Schroter: right? And, and I think for us because we are naturally passionate about our idea, it doesn't occur to us to not be like, like somebody shows up and just doesn't have that passion again. I don't know if this analogy holds up, but I'm gonna use it back to kids, right? I'm really passionate about my kids. You're really passionate about your kids, but I'm not passionate, the same way about yours and you're not passionate the same way about mine. Right. We could both be serviceable, like, words of the kids and, like, like, look after them, but it's not the same thing. That's it. Right. Right. Right. Exactly. But so, so my point is like, from our standpoint when we're like, oh, we'll get someone else in, that's, that says, you know, fresh legs fired up, sort of, right? They'll be fired up about the mechanics of the business. But the true DNA or what makes the start up special, right? Makes the culture special. Like all those things that comes from the passion, we have the cool thing about our job, Brian, many cool things, but one of them is we get to work with people that no matter how crazy their idea. And I don't mean crazy in a bad way. I just, it's crazy. They are passionate about it. I meet zero dispassionate people in my line of work, right? I mean, a bunch of crazy people, I mean, crazy in a good way, right? But I do not meet dispassionate people. If you're dispassionate, you are not this business, right?
Ryan Rutan: Not for
Wil Schroter: long. So it's almost self selection like you're not in this business unless you were passionate and second you're passionate about your stuff. So you're specifically saying, you know, I want to run through a wall for an idea. Why? Because
Ryan Rutan: mine, because mine, right? It almost always starts with some level of passion too, right? It's not like you just had this idea and then became passionate about. There was generally some underlying passion that led to the idea, right? That is typically the Genesis story. And so I think that's why it's so hard because you can't just create that spark in someone, right? You can find somebody who has all of the right, you know, characteristics, you know, all the right qualifications, all the rest of that. But at that point, you're just buying a DeLorean because the passion is the fucking flux capacitor. And that's what's going to allow you to time travel, you're missing, it can look exactly the same, but you miss that one piece. That passion is the component and it's not just important, it's core, it's core to the entire thing.
Wil Schroter: Yep. So let me tell you what happened. So we hire this guy. He comes in, he lasts not even six months and, and finally, it's kind of hard to explain. It's kind of like, hey, you're a good enough guy, you're certainly qualified, but, you know, you have to go do something else. We actually found another place from the company, so he's fine. We bring the next person again, an outsider and this guy was super gregarious, right? Think Jim Belushi. GRE Gregarious, right? Um Just like big personality, right? And we're like, man, this guy's got all kinds of fire exuding
Ryan Rutan: certain types of passion. Right.
Wil Schroter: Mistake number two. And I always joke with this, with my friends who, who are, uh, you know, divorced, single, whatever. And I say, do not go find the person, the next person that's just not what the last person was. Right. You know, uh, that person was grumpy all the time. Well, if this person's happy I'm better off. Right. Or you name it. Right. We all optimize for what the last person wasn't or the opposite of what they were. Right. You know, something that's really funny about everything we talk about here is that none of it is new. Everything you're dealing with right now has been done 1000 times before you, which means the answer already exists. You may just not know it, but that's ok. That's kind of what we're here to do. We talk about this stuff on the show, but we actually solve these problems all day long at groups dot start ups dot com. So if any of this sounds familiar, stop guessing about what to do, let us just give you the answers to the test and be done with it. Well,
Ryan Rutan: look, experiencing both ends of it. Hyperbole is how you find the high point in the curve, I suppose. But
Wil Schroter: theoretically, yes. Right. If you can avoid it. Well, so I did. So we made amateur mistake. Last guy didn't have any fire. So we hired the, the guy that had the most fire. Right. We forgot to check the other boxes. Right. Qualifications resume had all the stuff. Right. And certainly once again, infinitely more qualified than me. But that literally could have been anybody he comes in and he's guns blazing passion, future, everything else like that. And he's a douche. Yeah. No one liked him. It didn't occur to me that that would, like, it wasn't even going through my head. The last guy was fairly likable, I guess, but this guy, he offended people at a record rate, which blew my mind and, and, and here's one of the things I didn't think about Ryan, all the people that I had hired in, I had to have had some kind of chemistry with. Yep, in order for them to be working there. Right. Like we had to have a, had a dinner or a lunch or something where, like, you know, we talked about the future together and, and we vibe and I had to like them as well. Otherwise, you know, I probably wouldn't have hired him. My point is when we get a new person in, they don't have any of those requirements. No one has had to like them. Right. They just fast forward to the end of the line and it, it never occurred to me, but it sure occurred to, to our
Ryan Rutan: staff, to the entire team. Yeah, it's super tough because, you know, it, it, one, it requires in order to replace yourself Right. And, and to really get this right, you also have to know yourself really well. Right. You have to be extremely self aware which like we've talked about this before. Ok. Number one at, like in your early twenties, tough to do. But also as we are kind of building our start up and we're redefining our identity, it's really easy to get lost in all of that. Right? And to not really see, but we also just don't tend to think of, of things in those, in those terms, right? You didn't think about the fact that there had to have been some level of chemistry, some level of affinity with everyone that you decide to hire, right? It just is what it is. And I think that again, we in the same way as you were saying before, around going from, you know, dispassionate person to highly passionate person, we tend to look for what was missing. And so when we go to replace ourselves, we think, OK, I need somebody who's led a larger company has managed a bigger PNL has, has, has run larger teams, whatever it was that we saw that was missing, which generally isn't hard to do, right? We can, we normally know what our shortcomings are. The world is great at telling us about them. The world is not as good at picking up on that nuance and saying like, OK, well, how did you get it this far? How were you able to do what you did and how are we gonna replace that part? And I think so, some of it is just even that we don't realize that we need to right again. Not sure that it's possible to replace some of these things in, in any case. But if we're unaware that we need to, it's certainly not gonna
Wil Schroter: land. Well, and I tell you what ended up happening was I had my first experience of what I'd call a palace revolt staff. Those are fun. Like I kid you not. I think I sat across from no less than 40 people. One on one in the course of like a week that were like, get this guy out of here. I was like, what the hell just happened? I thought I did everything right.
Ryan Rutan: I still remember the first time I heard four words and I didn't know to fear them at the time, but I, I have since learned we called a meeting.
Wil Schroter: I thought, yeah, I thought,
Ryan Rutan: I, I thought I was the one that called the meetings. Yeah. Not in this case, Ryan. Oh, man.
Wil Schroter: No, no, it's called an intervention. Yeah. So it is. So everybody comes to me and they're like, look, yeah, we get it. The guy, you know, he pitches well, actually he's fiery. He's, he's gonna close a lot of business for us, which matters in an ad agency. But it's kind of a dick. I mean, and and no one that worked there would have given you a different opinion. That wasn't like a, a one sided opinion and mind you, I wanted out because my idea was, hey, I did the hard part or, or what I perceive to be the hard part. I'm dead. Definitely not qualified for this next part.
Ryan Rutan: What part of makes this so tough, isn't it? Is that you want it so badly that you wanna make it work and especially now you're on round two. So you're like, please this time, let this be the one, let me get out of here, let me go do whatever else is I wanted to do and it just puts massive blinders on.
Wil Schroter: So, so I want to point out though there is often another side to this hiring to this backfill that I have seen. Uh and I was mindful of it myself, which is this idea whether you intend it to be or not that you also kind of sabotage the new person coming in right now again. Hear me out on this because you want everybody to remember that you are better. Right. Right. Yep. And there's a thing there and, and I kept thinking, is that what I'm doing? Like, am I sabotage? And I don't think I was, I don't think I was but hell if I know. Right.
Ryan Rutan: I said man, at 24 I would have been surprised if anybody had the maturity not to do at least some of that again, unintentionally, you're not trying to like sandbag, but like, again, you're so tied up in this, right? Our egos are tied up in all of this. And when we, the identity becomes the start up, you know, even as on our, on the way out, we still want to feel good about what we did while we were there. We want to still feel important, especially on the way out because we're like, this is it, this is my last impression. What, how am I gonna leave a
Wil Schroter: mark? Well, ok, so play that out. So 40 people come to me in the course of a week. And what are the essential saying? This guy's a jerk. We liked you so much better. Right? Awesome. Makes me feel great. It does nothing for me. It actually, it, it, it's taking me the polar opposite of direction. I'm trying to walk out the door, you're saying come back in the door, right? And once again I get pulled in. Right? And everyone's like, oh, you know, will, we're glad you're back in this. And I'm like, oh, I'm kind of back in this, but like, I kind of don't want to be here. I'm kind
Ryan Rutan: of back in, I'm definitely not glad. Yeah.
Wil Schroter: Well, and look to be fair. I didn't like that job. Once the company got to a certain size, a lot of people don't understand this. It's a different job. Right. You are a politician. You are a therapist, you know, you are a parent, you're not really the person that runs around and does the things that you used to do, which for me is creating and I don't think people get that and I got it quickly. I walked in one day, Ryan and I was like, you know what? I don't wanna be here. It's a great company. I'm well compensated. I own the company. All those things. Right. It's not that I don't like this job. I don't like the job of just, yeah, I'm, I'm in meetings about upcoming meetings. Like this sucks. None of what I wanna do at all. But there's a whole other archetype of folks that are great at that. They can't wait to schedule meetings for upcoming meetings. Right. They probably scheduled the meeting for the upcoming meeting and I'm like, they're called CEO S. Yeah. Yeah. And that's, that's what the job calls for now anyway, my point is on the one hand. Yes, it felt good. I can't lie that people wanted me to be there. On the other hand, it felt frustrating because I was like, how do I get out of this? So, we go back to the, well, again, ok, third time out we hire somebody internally and, and I would say overall it did end up working. Ok. She was awesome. She ended up, I think she's, she's still there. She, I mean, that was 20 years ago. Yeah, she's still there. Or she moved on to a sister company. Anyway, my point is what I saw the third time around we backfilled. Somebody is on paper. She worked, everybody liked her. She was great. Right. And, and again, and I felt very strongly about, about put her in the, in the role and I felt she deserved it. But what I noticed and I wouldn't have picked up on this because I was so distracted by all the other things. The last two times our incentives were not the same. She had financial incentives, right? But there's a different piece, there's a different piece to say, hey, let's do this, this tweak to our culture because it'll just make it a cooler culture or let's spend more time on this product even though we're not gonna make any money on it because it just a better product. Or Ryan, what you and I are doing right now. Let's make a podcast that makes us no money, right? And maybe acquires customers maybe doesn't, it does by the way. But like, like we didn't know that and we're years into it before that even manifests because it was supposed to be done because we had a message that we felt like we wanted to talk about regardless of whether it ever became viable for us that you can't hire for just that instinctive incentive of what should be just because it should be right. It
Ryan Rutan: is literally hardwired into us, right? As the founder, right, the incentives are hardwired into us and we do these things because they're what to do to build a good company based on the passion, the vision, the alignment with the values, all of those things that are again, are inherent to us because that's where it all came from. It all came from us in the first place, trying to find the a a coupler, right? That somehow then connects all of those incentives to a third party regardless of how good they are. As an operator, as a human, as a whatever is just really, really difficult, right? It's like there's a reason we don't do brain transplants, right? Too many damn connections. Well, yeah, we'll get there, get there too many connections, right. There's too many things that need to be recalibrated and, and connected to make that work. And I feel like that's, that's kind of the same situation here with even just within something as, as simple as it seems like the incentives. And again, like we're not talking about just comp we're talking about like the underlying motivations. Why do you get up and do the things you do? And that might actually be the case, right? Like for somebody coming in as a hired gun, right? Even if you know, they are passionate, they do care about commission, all that stuff. There's still like the incentive that attracted them was not the same one that attracted us to it in the first, first place. Right. It was much small. It was much different than when it grows from that point. You end up with something very different than someone who has to, again, like, pick up adopt and, and carry something
Wil Schroter: forward. It's also not fair to them because if they're basically being hired and judged, if you will evaluated based on a bunch of criteria that they kind of just don't get, again, I, I'll, I'll go back to that, that parent if I get brought in to take care of your kids. And I'm constantly compared to you who is their dad. That's not fair to me. Right. Maybe I'm, I'm, I'm doing a great job of, you know, being a ward of Children, but that's not the same as being the dad. Right. And again, and no lack of people have, have, you know, been through this and tried it. And so I look at it and I think to myself, had I gone back in time and had I evaluated that differently, what would I have done differently to try to make that actually work? Well, couple things I would have lost on anyway. The guy that was a douche wasn't gonna work wasn't gonna work, didn't, didn't matter what I did on that one. Right. The guy that wasn't passionate well, you know, he actually probably would have worked. If I'm being honest, he, he probably would have worked he was likable enough, he was competent enough, et cetera. Had, I had the foresight and this is actually what we're talking about. Had I had the foresight to say, look, I'm not gonna get everything. I'm gonna get some of his organizational excellence. I'm gonna get some of his relationship building, et cetera, you know, all these things. But here's like six or seven other soft categories that's called me that I can't evaluate that person on compare them to or maybe dude hire for like I actually can hire for these things. You know what I mean?
Ryan Rutan: Well, we've talked about that before in the past, which is that, you know, we, we may not be able to replace everything that we do in a single role and we may have to kind of hire separately for, for some of these things, the different attributes to the founder, right? You may not be able to replace it with a CEO, but maybe a CEO and a chief people officer in the case of the douche, right? Where you've got somebody else who's gonna talk to the people, right? That you got somebody who's just a, an excellent operator but is off with people. You can, you can hire around some of that stuff I also think and like this is probably an entire episode in itself, but there's a point at which some of those things I don't, I don't want to say become unimportant, but they become they become less important, right? As we move from kind of pure start up, phase, pure start up, phase into just, we just need to operate this company. I, I have, I have a friend here locally who's, who's been very honest about this. He loves to create, he loves to build, he's amazing at getting companies to a certain size and then he just gets bored as hell and wants nothing to do with them anymore. And he installs, he's, he's actually done this 345 times over. Now. He installs a CEO and it works now is the company the same after that. No, it's not the same and it's not gonna grow. It's like do, but, but it's just operational at that point. It is now a business. It provides great employment, it provides revenue, provides all the things, but it's very different. So I think there's also some calculus to be done there. Kind of to your point like the dispassionate dweeb might have worked out, right. I shouldn't call him a dweeb. That wasn't nice. The dispassionate guy didn't work out but maybe could have. Right. And maybe that would have been just fine. Now, I think part of what we do as founders and we're trying to go through this replacement calculus is we think about all the things that we've been through to get it to that point, which wouldn't have been necessary. Had that guy tried to start the company probably wouldn't have worked because without that passion, it never would have. Right. But we also don't need to expect him to do that. So I think there's also some need to be really clear on what aspects do we need to replace. Right. We know we can't replace everything. Founders are irreplaceable. So think about what actually has to get accounted for and solve for that. Yeah. And, and
Wil Schroter: I think for a lot of people we're looking at going, hey, I wanna replace myself. You can't, you can't, you could replace some of the job that you do, but you can't replace yourself. And I think the mistake is saying, oh, I'll hire somebody. They'll come in every day, they'll put in all the work, they'll do everything for me and they'll just send me checks, right? And, and on paper. That makes sense and look if you have a business and I think you touched this, if you have a business that doesn't need the founder Gene anymore. And there are plenty of them, right? For some reason, Wayne Hea comes to mind now for those that aren't familiar. He's a legend, but a lot of people don't know who he is anymore because he hasn't been around for a long time. Wayne Heisinger started three public companies back in the day. Starting one was nearly impossible. Dude started three. He started waste management, which is a massive massive company. He started Blockbuster, which is not a massive company anymore. But was, but it was
Ryan Rutan: sure was he started
Wil Schroter: Carmax, right? Incredible. Like this, this, this guy's, you know, track record is incredible. And I always think about that, like his role specifically and I think to myself, ok, in the early days of waste management, which I think was his first company. In the early days of waste management, he was out there like flipping trash cans and like, you know, get the deal done. Like that's got the founder energy. But at some point, it becomes a logistics business. At some point, it becomes just a, a very streamlined business, an operational business, right? Doesn't need Wayne anymore. But you then switch gears to Blockbuster in its heyday at the dawn of the video market, dude, you need every bit of a Wayne heize and that's how you become Blockbuster, right? You switch gears again in, in, in the modern day equivalent. We we now have Elon Musk who plays that same kind of formative role where he gets into something. He claims founder for a lot of companies. He didn't actually find
Ryan Rutan: that there is that does always bother me a little bit. Yeah. Yeah.
Wil Schroter: Yeah. Yeah. But he gets in there and he provides that spark that bravado, you know that everything we just talked about. And then the reason I think he's still ceo of all these companies ego notwithstanding is because you can't find another him, he just backfilled himself on Twitter right now, who the hell knows what, what's gonna happen on Twitter. Right. And whether that backfill is any good,
Ryan Rutan: why the hell that happened in the first place, any of it, a
Wil Schroter: whole other thing. But whoever fills his shoes and I would argue, I'm gonna go further back just because it's Twitter. They've had many CEO S where they've tried to make them the person and none of them are Jack Dorsey. Right. Jack Dorsey was a unique individual and yes, the other people had great credentials and they, they had Dick Costolo was a great guy. Um The last guy I can't remember his name was a great guy. Like, they don't have lack of talent. They just weren't the founder. And so I think when you swap those roles out, you have to say, look, if Elon takes off, this ain't Tesla anymore,
Ryan Rutan: right? Sorry. Yeah. No, not the same company. Apple
Wil Schroter: is not Apple, right? It's a revenue printing machine, right? It's a money printing machine, right? Tim Cook is a phenomenal operator. Probably one of the best, right? But it ain't Apple anymore. When is the last time they came out with a new
Ryan Rutan: product, a new product. That's the thing we're on version like with 15 of the iphone, right? That nothing got to 15 when Jobs is around because there was always something new to make, right? That's just the way it went. But, you know, it's interesting too. It is. I I want to go back to the Wayne hea thing. So it is such a valid and important thing that he was able to replace himself and kind of realizing that point because his unique value to the world wasn't in operating a massive company like waste management. It was in creating one and then in creating Blockbuster, in creating Carmax. Right. I never would have been able to get, I get out of a really crappy lease I had on a BMW at one point in my life without Carmax, I needed them or swap lease dot com.
Wil Schroter: Yeah.
Ryan Rutan: Yeah. So I think, you know, it is, it is important to be honest about these things too as founders to understand, like, you know, here's the part that I'm really good at and is the part that I love and, you know, if you, if you find yourself in that position where you don't love it, be honest about why. Right. It's hard. Well, everything's hard. Right? Yeah. Don't if that scares you don't start. So if that not it, right, if there's some other reasons, it's like, I know that my specific skill set, my passions lie in a particular aspect of this whole thing. Stay focused around that. Right. Wayne, he gave your way to the next one, the next one or the next one. And I think that you, you know, we find far more magic when founders are doing the things that they're supposed to rather than the things that we think we should.
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