25: The One Question No One Asks Before Starting A Company
Speaker 1: We're back. Today on seeking wisdom, actually, this is all you, give us the intro.
Speaker 2: Today on seeking wisdom, we're going to talk about the one question that nobody ever asks you, when you're going to start a company. Are you ready for the struggle?
Speaker 1: Uh oh, watch out. First, before we get into this, we got to give a shout out to one of our loyal listeners, his name is Vig.
Speaker 2: Vigonesh.
Speaker 1: A young boy at Northeastern, he's engineer, he loves when we talk about hard work. We're going to do another episode today about hard work. This has been something we want to talk about a lot, we've talked about the grind, we've talked about the struggle. There's been a bunch of things, a bunch of books that we've been talking about and reading one of them was this Jason Lemkin book that we've talked about a bunch-
Speaker 2: From impossible to inevitable.
Speaker 1: Yeah. Great
Speaker 2: Get it.
Speaker 1: Get it. Tweet at us, we might send you a copy. Basically he talks about in this book, the one thing that people don't understand, and this could be starting a company, it could be joining an early stage company, is how long it actually takes.
Speaker 2: Yeah. There's this section in the book, I've been reading, rereading, this book and I started to Snapchat out a couple of pictures of a couple of my highlights in there. I also put them on Twitter, if you're not following me on Snapchat, get on it Dcancel. I was surprised and I showed it to Dave, how many people reacted to these quotes from this book, I didn't know people wanted to talk more about this, because we're known about talking about hard work.
Speaker 1: We talk about hard work-
Speaker 2: All the time. I didn't know that people wanted to talk about it, so here we are with talking about the struggle.
Speaker 1: I want to hear you and your career and what this means, because when we were kicking around, we're always kicking around ideas and we throw a bunch of ideas in Trello, and save them for future episodes. One of them, I'm going to put you on the spot, is you mentioned this to me, this idea of you talked about your career being the 10 year overnight success.
Speaker 2: I love the ten year. I think people always talk about the 10, 000 hour rule, which is from Malcolm Gladwell's book. I think that misses the point, I think in reality, it's 10 years, it's the 10 years of obscurity. The reason I think there's a difference is when people hear the 10, 000 hour rule, especially if they're overachievers, they think that they can just cram it in as short of time as possible, and they're just going to power through it. They're missing the point. It's a function of time, and going through that throughout 10 years. Anyone that's high performance and successful, whether they're an athlete, whatever realm they're in, they've put in the 10 years. Those are the 10 years, and no one talks about it's the 10 years that it's not sexy to talk about it. That's the stuff we'd like to talk about on seeking wisdom. It's the 10 years that Bill Gates spent locked in his office, slept in his office, and for 10 years, as he says, from, from 20 to 30 years of age, Bill Gates said he never took a day off, not even once. He slept in his office and he worked. In his thirties, he was an overnight success, but nobody wants to talk about the 10 dark years where he was in his office, sleeping in there and never took one day off.
Speaker 1: We talked about, we haven't on this episode yet, but a book that we've talked about a lot is Phil Knight, shoe dog.
Speaker 2: Yes, and he did the same thing.
Speaker 1: The whole book is basically, you know Nike now and you're like," oh my God, this lucky mother fucker, he built Nike." If the book is actually about the struggle from the mid sixties, all the way up to the eighties where Nike was floating money all the time. They were barely a company for 20 years.
Speaker 2: Sleeping in a warehouse and working on it, and he had a full- time other job while doing this full- time job of starting Nike. The point is, and to make it sound depressing, the point isn't to be like,"oh, you just need to work hard." All the people who, not haters, I won't call them haters, but I'm going to call them something nice.
Speaker 1: Okay.
Speaker 2: There are lots of people who take something like this, and then they say," oh, all you're saying is you just need to work hard. What about working smart?" Of course you need to work smart, no one is saying just bang your head and work dumb. That's so obvious, and such a dumb statement to say, but people take it to the extreme. I find it's those people that want to always argue about working smart versus working hard, are the ones that are doing neither.
Speaker 1: Yeah. It's funny because there's always the sexy examples are the overnight success stories. We just went down and you could list anybody. You talked about Bill Gates, we talked about Phil Knight, you mentioned Malcolm Gladwell's 10,000 hours thing. This actually came up, I was listening to Seth Godin on a podcast this weekend, a rival podcast of ours. He said, this is the same thing, everybody wants to look for the shortcut.
Speaker 2: Yes.
Speaker 1: Nobody wants to think about the Beatles playing in strip clubs, before they were real. He called it a long cut.
Speaker 2: I love that.
Speaker 1: He said," I'm always out there looking for the long cut." That is the path to build something of value.
Speaker 2: Yeah. I think it's inspiring. I think people hear this and they hear about struggle and working hard and all this kind of stuff. They're kind of, it seems sad or it seems depressing or whatever, and I actually think it's inspiring for a number of reasons. It's inspiring because if you focus on the long cut you are doing what most people will not do. Therefore, there's very little competition in the long cut. There's a path, so it's basically saying to you that you can do this too. It's accessible, you just need to do one thing that most people are not willing to do. In my mind, it almost demystifies how to get to this end goal, because there's a clearer path than they just had some skill or they just got lucky or they just, whatever. No, they were willing to do this long cut, put in the time. I think the other reason people get it wrong is that a lot of people are doing things for work, to support themselves, that they hate or they don't like, and they live for the weekends and they don't actually like their job and they're not learning and progressing at the thing that they do most of the time. So then they take that, and then when you talk about working hard, all they can imagine is doing something that they hate, just more of that. Versus people who are trying to fulfill their personal goal, and they're just doing that in a work context, but it's not about the business goal, they're trying to fulfill and grow as a person. They're just doing that in a business context. For them, when you see those people, they don't see it as work, they don't see it as being obsessed. They see it as they're fulfilling their goal and it's just not about working more.
Speaker 1: Yeah. I think that's a good point. If you think about it as this is going to take 10 years, it puts everything in perspective. A) you got to love it, and you should want to do it for that long. If this is something that you love, why do you want to do it for six months and then be out. But also, it puts it in perspective for when things are going shitty and it's harder. It's like, okay, we're in this for the long haul anyway. So it doesn't matter today wasn't the best day, or we're not making as much progress in this moment because we don't have a six month, a year, it's not going to be over within a year. It's a longer journey than you want to admit that it is.
Speaker 2: Exactly. It's a long season. Many times, people, companies win via attrition, meaning that they win because everyone else gives up. That's just like a marathon, you can have great sprinters get great mid distance runners, but most people will fold. It's really those endurance athletes that make it through that.
Speaker 1: All right. What do we give people as a takeaway to this other than it's about hard work.
Speaker 2: Yeah.
Speaker 1: It's about the struggle
Speaker 2: I think you should pick up Jason's book, Jason Aaron Ross wrote that book. It's a good book, he puts it in perspective. I thought that chapter really was kind of on the level of the hard thing, about hard things, which is one of my favorite books by Ben Horowitz. I think it gives you a perspective, that despite what economy you're in and what context you're in, that this thing is really hard. It's not for everyone, and that's not a positive or negative thing, it's just for certain people that want to prove themselves. It's just like getting into some competitive sport might not be for everyone. You need to self- select into this thing, and I just liked the way that he phrased it. I think it's a good book to read.
Speaker 1: The question he asks, he talks to people that might be VPs at a certain company, and then they come to him and they're like," I want to start a company, I'm ready to lead this big company and start mine." He says, the first question I ask them is," are you prepared to give a full 24 month commitment to hit initial traction?" Not 12 months, not 18 months, 24 months.
Speaker 2: That's a great take away.
Speaker 1: Two years, he said, six months, isn't enough, 12, isn't enough. It's going to take you nine to 12 just to get the product right, and then another six to 12 months to figure out how to get real revenue.
Speaker 2: Exactly. That's a great takeaway. If you're thinking about starting something at some point, I'd say use Jason's litmus test, are you really ready for 24 months? I think another thing that he said in there was, when you make a decision, and this might be to join an existing new company, a startup company is, are you there to learn or are you there to earn? Most of the times you're going to be there to learn, and unless you're one of the founders or one of the few people on the executive team that you're really put yourself into, or you hit the one in a million, Facebook or Googles in the world early, are you really there to earn? I think it's an important thing because people get confused about that; go into something most of the time thinking that you're there to learn and anything else is gravy. Anything else is awesome, but really I'm just here to learn.
Speaker 1: Yeah. I love it. All right, let's do this. It's been a good month, and so I'm feeling kind of generous, the book is called From Impossible to Inevitable and, let's do this, if you tweet at us, at drift, screenshot your little podcast app of how you're listening to us, once you hear this and it's at the end of the podcast, so you had to make it all the way to get here. First of all, send us a screenshot at drift, and we're going to send copies of this book to the first two people that do it. Hurry up, get those tweets in and we'll send you the book. If not, go buy it anyway. It's worth it, and don't forget about the struggle.
Speaker 2: Let's go up a notch. Let's triple that, the first six people... I always got to got one up. Let's triple that, the first six people to tweet at us, we're going to send them a copy of that book or audio book, whatever you like.
Speaker 1: Yeah, we'll send you whatever format you want. If you're a Kindle person, we'll get it to you on the Kindle. If you want, if you want a hard copy, we can get you that too. There you go. That's why I keep a DC around so he can always keep upping my numbers. It is a similar pattern for what I did. This is a little inside baseball. Whenever you set a goal, if you hit the goal, it's like, okay, great, now we got a triple the goal. That's how he worked playbook. So whenever I say two, he says six, and that's how we got to six books.
Speaker 2: Woo.
Speaker 1: All right. I'll talk to you later.