I thought my last interview was great, but he told me ways it could have been better

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After interviewing Nathaniel Pearlman, I got an email from him suggesting I could have done the interview better.

I often get emails like that from interviewees who want a do-over. I reassure them, explain that my policy is to publish everything, and we both move on. But Nathaniel had some really insightful feedback on how I could have done his interview better.

So I invited him to talk publicly about it.

Nathaniel Pearlman

Nathaniel Pearlman


Nathaniel Pearlman is the founder of NGP VAN Inc., a company that helps progressive campaigns and organizations leverage technology to meet their goals.

His other projects include Graphicacy and Lever Fund


Full Interview Transcript

Andrew: Hey there, freedom fighters. My name is Andrew Warner. I’m the founder of Mixergy and I’ve got something completely different today. I’ve never done this before. But joining me is a guest who told me after the interview with him a few days ago that I could have done a better job.

I’ll be open with you guys–I often get emails from guests or calls from them saying, “Hey, Andrew, can we do a redo? I think I can do a better job. Andrew, can we just delete the interview and not publish it?” I’ve had someone offer to pay me $1,000 not to publish the interview and that was like a starting offer. And usually what I do is I just talk it over. I reassure them and I publish the interview because my commitment is to publish everything so you see my flaws, my hiccups and frankly my guest as they are. Often, I think they’re better than they realize.

But Nathaniel, the interviewee from a few days ago, came back to me with some really thoughtful comments on how I could have done a better job as an interviewer. And he had a unique point of view. It came from the person who actually was interviewed, who knew what I missed, who knew the things I didn’t push on and where I wasn’t as clear as I could have been, in his opinion.

And I like to learn. I want to keep improving and being the best freaking interviewer that I can. I thought let’s talk to Nathaniel about it and let’s do it in public so that you, my audience, can see as I learn and can frankly learn about the process from one of my interviewees.

At the same time, I’m hoping that this conversation will allow you to see some of my thought process about how to do an interview. Really, after doing this for so many years, I have some really strongly held beliefs that I just don’t talk about and I think it’s important for you, my audience, to understand them.

So, here it is, first time ever, a recap of an interview and an understanding of what happened with Nathaniel Pearlman. He is the founder of NGP VAN. According to Wikipedia, it is a privately owned company specializing in helping progressive campaigns and organizations leverage technology to meet their goals.

In 2009, the company was the largest partisan provider of campaign compliance software used by most democratic members of Congress. The company’s services are utilized by clients such as the Obama 2012 presidential campaign, the British Liberal Democrats and Liberal Party of Canada.

I’ll explain why I read the Wikipedia entry in a moment. I’ll also later on tell you guys why this interview is sponsored by HostGator and Toptal. But first, Nathaniel, welcome.

Nathaniel: Glad to be here again.

Andrew: Yeah. The reason I read that intro–you smiled. You know why. Why? Why did I read it from Wikipedia?

Nathaniel: I think that–just let me give the backstory of what the interview was like at the beginning for me last time.

Andrew: Okay.

Nathaniel: So, it was on Friday. I had been at work. I had an employee who had received or had applied for a–a very key employee–who had applied for a very important job elsewhere across the country. I had like an hour and a half intense conversation with him, which was kind of emotionally exhausting. Then I drove up through traffic to do the interview with you at home and I couldn’t–I’m using my daughter’s Mac here to do the Skype and I’m not used to doing–I couldn’t get the freaking thing to work.

So, I was like at my wits end with the interview starting. Then we finally got connected and I was like not at ease. Then when you started the intro to me, you started off by saying something like, “I don’t really understand your company.” I was like, “Oh no.” Even though this guy had a guy interview me in the interim, he hasn’t done his homework.

Andrew: You mean my pre-interviewer.

Nathaniel: He doesn’t know what’s going on. I got a little bit worried at that point. I said it didn’t bother me, but it bothered me a little bit.

Andrew: I get it. Did you also feel like maybe I didn’t take the time to care about what your business does, that it was a caring issue too?

Nathaniel: No. I didn’t know you. I don’t know you particularly well. I didn’t know what was in your head. But you’ve done 1,000+ of these. I’ve done one of these. So, for me, it was a bigger deal than it was for you, obviously, if that makes sense.

Andrew: Yeah. And I always have to keep that in mind. So, I’ll tell you what my thought process was on that. First of all, the reason we were doing an interview on Friday was–it’s unusual for me to do interviews on Friday. I stacked my week with tons of interviews because I felt guilty that I took so many weeks off for a holiday. I thought, “We’re not going to have enough to publish.”

Meanwhile, I overdid it and I recorded tons of interviews. We were set for about a month and a half into the future with interviews here on the team. But by the time you and I talked, it’s true. I was more exhausted than I would be. Having said that, I also wanted to try, after being so formal with my intros for so many years, to be more conversational and bring people into the kind of conversation that I have with guests before we start.

Also, I never, before we start, say to a guest, “What the hell does your company do?” I usually have a much better handle on it. I couldn’t with yours, partially, as I said in the intro for the first interview, because I couldn’t play with it. I don’t know friends who have it. I saw an explanation of what it did on your site. I could have done a better job of really understanding it. It’s not so complex. We’re not talking about molecular biology, which I have no background in. I definitely should have done a better job. I didn’t fully understand it. There are reasons for it, but it’s not excuse.

My feeling was after reading so many articles on my guests where I know that the reporter didn’t understand what the company did but had an angle, like here is how New York companies are growing in the Bronx as opposed to Brooklyn is their angle, so they’re talking about one company to tell the story. They give one line about the company. It makes no sense to me and I know the reporter doesn’t understand what the company does either. That’s not the reporter’s concern and then they go onto to Bronx and they tell their story.

I feel like that’s so disingenuous that if I’m going to ask you to come here and be open, I have to be open about my flaws and have to be open about my understanding and lack of it. That’s what I was doing. I thought through that, we could understand a little bit more about what your company does. It was kind of a technique and a way of being open.

Nathaniel: I remember one time, it was about 2008, I think, or 2007, I was profiled in Portfolio Magazine or something. So, I met this reporter to talk about it. There was a photographer that took some nice pictures. The reporter had in his head that we were a voter file and data company. So, I explained to him that we weren’t and that we were a software as a service company and kind of what we did and then when I read the profile, I was like, “An awful lot of this is just completely made up. How did he come to this?” So, I know what you’re saying exactly.

Andrew: Now, the formal start to the interviews, I used to think was really important and then I second-guessed it because I thought maybe I’m being a little too formal, just like for a while I was wearing jackets and collared shirts. None of this, I was wearing much more buttoned-up clothes. Then I said that’s not me. I said, “Let’s just go to more casual clothes, the kind of stuff I would wear on the weekend.” That worked.

I thought the same thing about the intros. I would never, in a conversation with a friend, introduce you in a very formal way. So, I said, “Let’s be as open as I would be.” The thing I’m learning is that the intro was not just for the audience, it’s for the guest, to say to the guest, “This is a serious conversation. I care enough to take it seriously enough to write a good intro. You now can take it just as seriously.” I’ll finish this one thought.

Nathaniel: Go ahead.

Andrew: I used to hide the mic and not have it on camera. What I realized was by putting the mic on camera, the guest felt like they were on a serious interview. Even if this was a dead mic, like David Letterman’s mic was pretty much dead on his desk. He used to have a boom mic over his head. That was the one that really picked up his audio. That told people this was a real interview. I’m a real broadcaster. So, the mic does that, but the intro does it just as much. By, I think, scrapping the intro, maybe I’m letting go of an important element of the interview for the guest.

Nathaniel: Here was my concern. My concern was why on earth is anyone going to want to watch an interview with me unless you say something as a lead-in that makes me seem somewhat interesting. So, I felt like it was missing that hook and so I was like, “What’s the point of my doing this,” to some extent.

Andrew: You’re 100 percent right. Casual or not casual, if there’s no hook, if there’s no reason for people to pay attention to see what you’ve done–you’re right. It’s not a matter of casual versus formal, as I was thinking about it. It’s, “Am I being clear to people why they should be listening to this?”

Nathaniel: Yeah.

Andrew: Okay. What else? Is there one other thing that stands out to you as the interview as having been missed as an opportunity?

Nathaniel: Well, the other thing that I noted as you were interviewing me was that I had this pre-interview by a guy who works for you that was very… I received the questions to in advance. There was sort of a sequence of questions and I answered them for him. So, I went into the interview with the expectations that you were going to ask those in that sequence.

Andrew: I see.

Nathaniel: And my answers to them were–I felt like you somewhat didn’t get correctly, maybe not through your employee didn’t quite get the right answers to them. So, some of the questions were like, “Huh?” I had to try to walk it back to where it seemed to make sense to me. None of this is a big deal, I’m saying, Andrew. You did a good job. But that’s how I was feeling.

Andrew: Okay. So, we can be clearer about expectations with the guest. I think for a while we were saying to the guest, “Andrew is not going to ask you these questions exactly. It’s just background for our understanding.” Maybe we should bring that back.

Nathaniel: It’s possible that he said that and I forgot it, but that’s how I came to the interview. I was very impressed by this. I was impressed by the professionalism of the way that you were able to schedule me and prepare me and send me something about the lighting. Honestly, I felt like I let you down in some ways or your audience down by not providing good lighting or I didn’t shave. I was rushing in there. I felt like I didn’t live up to my end of the bargain a little bit.

Andrew: So, you and I both looked at the transcript for the interview and read it. I at the time of the interview, I felt that this was a good interview with a lot of awkward spots that would make people feel uncomfortable, but I want them to feel uncomfortable, sit with the discomfort of being in a room almost with two human beings who sometimes aren’t dancing together perfectly. That’s the reality of the way some conversations go.

I also felt that the content was good, but after reading the transcript, I’m much more impressed with the content. I’d suggest that anyone who’s listening to this go back and listen to that interview. I think they’ll be really happy with it. They can read the transcript. They’ll be equally happy with it. I don’t’ want to be the kind of podcaster who says, “Before you listen to this, go do your homework and watch the other one.” I think this conversation will stand on its own.

But I also think that that was one of my best interviews in an unconventional way. I stand by it and if someone asks me what’s an example of your interview style, I’d love to give them your interview and show it to them as an example of how I’m different from other people and why that difference is important and what we got out.

Nathaniel: What was something in that interview that you were particularly proud of or thought was a good example of your style?

Andrew: Where I asked you–I sensed that you were feeling uncomfortable and I brought it up instead of pretending it wasn’t there or instead of laughing and being a little giggly and moving onto a lighter topic. I sensed it. I brought it up and gave you room to talk about it and to both of us feel it. I think that’s a very hard thing to do in the moment.

First of all, in a conversation to recognize there’s another human being there, second, to recognize their feelings and then third to in the moment just address it instead of going, “I wish I’d been this or I wish I’d talked about that.” I’ve had those regrets. They’re not a happy thing for me to live with.

Nathaniel: So, you surfaced some of the feelings you were having as you went along. I remember you said, “I feel like you might have insulted you with this intro. Is that true?” I’m like, “No. It’s okay.”

Andrew: Yeah. I kind of feel like that helps to bring it up. You tell me. My feeling is by bringing it up, I allow some of the tension to dissipate, but you tell me, does it bring more tension instead?

Nathaniel: No. I thought it was good. I also don’t like things that seem too polished. I like rough edges. I like awkwardness. If I’m listening to a podcast, I’m much more interested in that than someone unlike me who’s so used to being interviewed over and over that they sort of have a little spiel that they give to any question and you can’t break through that, like politicians are or whatever.

Andrew: Yeah. So, the thing that got me really curious to have this conversation is my question–you said, “Andrew, you missed something.” I said, “What did I miss?” You told me you asked me about what it felt like to reach $1 million. Do you remember that?

Nathaniel: You asked me, “Do you remember the day that you became a millionaire?” or something like that.

Andrew: Yeah. And you said yes. I said, “What was that day like?” And so, you followed up with an answer that after the interview was over, you said, “Andrew, I didn’t full answer it.” What did you think you missed in that answer?

Nathaniel: So, what I realized is when you said, “Do you remember what it is was like the day you became a millionaire?” I thought of the day that I received a check that I sold in the company. That was a big check and it certainly had emotion around it. But honestly, I was a millionaire before that because the company was worth a lot. But because it was a software company, I always felt like it could be worth $0 if it gets beaten in the market or it could be worth an increasing amount each year because it was growing.

So, there was no point in time, really, where I hit some particular number. I remember when the company grossed $1 million and we had 15 people working really hard and I have a huge amount of respect for that amount of money. That’s a lot of work by a lot of people to create that much value out there most of the time.

I went from someone who made nothing to someone who made $24,000 a year to someone who made more over time. It was kind of more like the frog in the slowly increasing water temperature. I got used to, over time, being more prosperous. There was no real moment when I went over some major thing, if that makes sense.

Andrew: Yeah. It does. I think the way you answered it was by talking about the day that the check actually came in. I followed up here. Let me get it. You said, “Yeah.” I said, “What was that day like?” You said, “Money can be very helpful and what’s really nice about having more than I imagined I ever would have is freedom and autonomy.

The ability to choose what do with my time, what I want to do on a daily basis is absolutely amazing.” And my follow-up, because I always want to get a little more specific, the more specific the better–so, my follow-up was, “Like what? What could you now?” meaning what could you do now after the check had been given to you that you couldn’t do before.

Your response was, “My days right now are diverse and full of only the things that I choose. I can hang out with my children more.” The reason, by the way, you and I are doing this interview earlier in the day is because you wanted to spend time with your kids. So, we did it before you were with them.

Then you gave more specifics. You talked about how you had a nonprofit. You talked about how you’re coaching entrepreneurs. You talked about how you’re frugal and so you didn’t buy a jet or anything. But you are helping entrepreneurs in your entrepreneurial form.

I kind of like that. What I’m doing is–and anyone who’s listening to my interviews can catch me doing it in all interviews–I keep going for more specifics. People will say general things like, “I can do anything I want.” That’s a very nebulous concept that we can’t picture in our minds. But, “This morning I woke up and I got to spend three hours with my kids,” or, “Tonight I will spend seven hours with my kids taking them to the playground is super clear and it’s something people can identify with.” So, I keep wanting to get as close to that as possible. We didn’t get to the ideal picture, but I think we got fairly close to it.

Nathaniel: One of the interesting things though–I think you may have experienced something very similar, which is after you sell a business or you end one particular phase, especially if you have some money, you kind of lose an organizing principle, like the organizing principle is, “I have to go to work to get paid this salary or I have to continue running this enterprise that I’m part of and that is part of your identity or whatever.

So, there is, I think, a real challenge in that transition to find yourself again and to create a new you. I think that’s–did you find that after you left your first what sounds like a very successful business you had?

Andrew: I found I was so burned out that I didn’t care about having a job to go to every day. I was really happy that I didn’t, that I could get up every day and just go do what I felt like. But after I got out of that period where I just wanted to do whatever I felt like and got back into the real world with people, I found that I was being a real jerk to them. I couldn’t understand why.

I would be in conversations with people and try to convince them to try this new app and when they tried it, I’d basically say, “It’s kind of a stupid app. What you need to do is do this other thing instead?” I’d say, “Why am I being such a jerk? I’m putting them down for not doing what I’m suggesting and then I’m putting them down even more for doing it.”

I had to go inside myself and realize that when I had a company, I had a point of view that I needed to get the world to get behind. I would just keep standing up and talking about how email was big and talking about how greeting cards were important and talking about this whole thing we built and turning a profit. I had something to get people to rally around.

Once the company left, I still had the need to rally people around something, but I didn’t have anything for them to rally around. So, if they came to my point of view, I’d have to come to another point of view just so that I could prove to myself that I could get people to follow my opinion, to get to my point of view. That’s what made me a jerk. I didn’t stand for anything except my need to get people to follow what I stand for. That was something I never had before. It’s an indication that I had to re-figure out who I was.

Nathaniel: Has Mixergy provided that for you now? Does that provide you that forum to push something? Does it fall short in any way? Where are you on that?

Andrew: It does fall short. It provides me a forum to do it. I feel I fall short in that I don’t–now I’ve gone to the other extreme where I don’t to rally anyone around anything. I do internally, but I’m not doing it.

Nathaniel: Is Mixergy, to you, about promoting entrepreneurship? Is it about promoting yourself? Like what makes this the thing that you’re choosing to do with your life?

Andrew: When I was growing up, the things that really helped me were not the business books that we got in school. They were helpful, but not that exciting that I’d read them in my spare time and not as helpful as reading things like Audacity Magazine.

No one ever heard of Audacity Magazine, but it was put out by Steve Forbes as like one of the best things I think he’s done as a publisher. I think his other innovation was adding a restaurant review to Forbes Magazine, which is read by people all around the world, but he’s reviewing restaurants in Manhattan. So, it made no sense.

But Audacity Magazine was a deep, probing understanding of entrepreneurs who had lived and often died long before we were born. I bought every single issue long after they were out of print because it was so good. I wonder if I still have it in my basement. What they did was they gave me an understanding of the mentality of the entrepreneur in a way that I didn’t have to take notes, but I just absorbed it.

It covered people like Hetty Green. No one knows who Hetty Green was. But in the latter part of the 1800s, she was an entrepreneur who was the richest woman in America. She had a little money from her parents, but she invested really wisely and incredibly frugally and that’s what allowed her to save all that money.

She was so frugal that you’d see here in threadbare clothes. Threadbare is not a word I use on a regular basis. It stuck with me because I read it in relation to her. I thought, “They’re making fun of her in her day, but think about the frugality and how she’s saving money and getting to invest it in her bonds and clipping her coupons on a regular basis and reinvesting that money in the railroads.” I didn’t take notes on it, but the lessons of frugality stuck with me.

Just like in your interview, I didn’t take a note that said you fixed your customers RAM. I don’t do my dad’s RAM. If my dad calls me up and says, “I think I have a problem with my computer and I think it’s a RAM.” I say, “Go to the Apple Store. They’ll fix it for you.” He says, “I have no Apple Store near me.” I say, “Maybe next time I’ll buy you another iPad.” You went and you fixed their RAM.

Now, I didn’t take a note on that. I didn’t explicitly say to myself, “On the to-do list, go and check with your customers to see if there’s something other than what you serve them with that you can help out.” But I did take that lesson. I know now that when a customer has a problem with me, I don’t limit myself to, “This is what Mixergy is and if I didn’t give it to you, then it’s not my responsibility. I think about how can I be more like Nathaniel and say, “I’m going to go the extra mile and help you with whatever I have to the extent I can.” We’re obviously not made of infinite time and money. But to the extent I can–that’s what I want to communicate to the world.

By the way, I’m sorry. I’m looking down at the time and I should do a quick message for HostGator. HostGator is a company that cares so much about their customers that one of my customers had a problem with their site. I emailed HostGator. They emailed everyone at my company to make sure this customer was happy. That’s the kind of service that you want from a hosting company.

Now, Nathaniel, you asked me before we started in the margins of the transcript a question about my sponsors. Do you remember what it was?

Nathaniel: I asked you why do you talk about them live rather than editing in something that you’ve prepared? In some ways, it seems like it might interrupt the flow of the interview. In other ways, I can see why it’s beneficial to them. It becomes very much embedded in it, but go ahead.

Andrew: It’s partially that. It’s partially that I don’t know that we can get the volume levels to ever come across right. It always seems like a break in the conversation, even when the reader of the ad tries to make it sound just like his usual conversational voice. So, it feels like it’s forced in and I’m trying not to do that.

Nathaniel: Have you found that sponsors respond to that being part of it rather than being upfront or at the end or sort of some other placement along the side visually?

Andrew: I thought that they would want upfront. They don’t want upfront. I thought they would love upfront because it’s before anything else happens and people would want to listen to it. What I’ve found is when I offered it to sponsors, the sophisticated ones like HostGator just don’t want that.

What they want is somewhere in the middle, when you’re in the flow and you care about the program, that’s where you want to be, which is pretty surprising and interesting. The other thing that I like about it is I feel awkward just talking to the camera on my own. But if I’m here with you, when I talk I can see I’m getting boring because I look at your eyes–not you today right now–but I can see when a guest is saying, “This is not working.”

I also liked in the beginning when I was learning how to do ads for HostGator, I was awkward about it or I thought I was doing good but I wasn’t. I could come back at the end of the sponsorship message and say, “How did I do?” And they’d tell me, “I think you were too much around facts, not enough on story. Can you get case studies?”

And then the final thing is that I liked when I say to my guest, “My sponsor is HostGator. If you had nothing but a HostGator, just a web hosting account and you had to build a business. What would you start off building?” The answers to that have been so interesting. In fact, if I put you on the spot now, can you think of something on the spot? Not everyone can.

Nathaniel: You mean what business what I build on a web hosting facility?

Andrew: Yeah. You had nothing going for you except your knowledge and you have a hosting package from HostGator and you don’t have to worry about paying for it because it’s about $5-$10 and I would pay for it. What would you build if you have to start over for it?

Nathaniel: I have this sort of dream of a self-tracking website where all of the information about me that resides on Facebook, on LinkedIn, in my Gmail, in financial tracking programs, it’s all in one place with one dashboard and not really just for me, but then obviously as a product for other people to be able to kind of visually organize your life in one place. I like that idea. If someone wants to work with me on building that that’s in your audience, have them reach out because it’s something I’d like to do. I’d use HostGator for that.

Andrew: And if you want to build your idea on HostGator, just go to HostGator.com/Mixergy. They’ll give you a really sweet 30 percent discount and they’ll make it easy for you to host your site. And if you need any tech support, like your website is down, they’re not going to tell you to file a ticket and expect a respond in two or three days. They respond, at least in my experience, within 90 seconds. They’re there. Their phone number is easy to find because they care about you as a customer. Go to HostGator.com/Mixergy.

I do love that idea. Before I get in a conversation with someone, I always search my inbox to see, “What did I say to them?” But I don’t search my inbox and Evernote and my address book and like five other things that I’m not thinking of and I’d love to just be able to do that all in one place.

So, where else did you feel like that first interview could have been better or that I missed an opportunity?

Nathaniel: You have the transcript there. What else?

Andrew: Here’s what I pulled out. I wanted to see if anything stood out for you. I’ll come back to that in a second. I asked you a question about self-management because you told that to our producer and you said, “I think one of the questions that he,” your producer, meaning,” Asked me was something like, ‘What was your biggest challenge?’

I think I said that it’s often the biggest challenge for anyone in leadership position, it’s managing of yourself.” My response to that was, “It’s not like you had some sort of self-management and mood issues.” And here’s what you were thinking according to your notes in the margin of this transcript. You said, “I find that many entrepreneurs have self-management issues. I wouldn’t exclude myself.”

But the way you put it to me, I pushed back because of it and I think it’s an important topic and I could see that. What I was doing was I was kind of giving you an out, which was to say, “It’s not like you have some sort of self-management issues or mood issues.” And then now for you to go back and say, “Here are my self-management issues,” it almost makes you feel frail and this person I was trying to distance you from. Does that sound right?

Nathaniel: Well, I think self-management is a huge topic. I almost put that in with a HostGator idea. If I go to Entrepreneur Forum and I listened to different business owners talk about the last month that they had in their business, I can see that if they had their act together better, whether it was in their personal life, in their business life, that they would be better business people.

I’m certainly guilty of that problem too. I think we all can raise our game in terms of how do we use our time, how do we prioritize what we do, what tools do we use to do that, how do we get up for the business of running a business. I’ve read many accounts of entrepreneurs at very high levels, the people that are famous throughout the country. I know that they will all talk about that.

Andrew: So, what about you? Where is a time where you feel like you didn’t manage yourself as well as you’d like?

Nathaniel: Well, here’s an example. I don’t know if this is a great example. But right after we merged my company with another company of a similar size, I had to speak at a retreat to the new employees, the other half of the company, as it were. I think I was feeling a lot of mixed feelings about the whole thing.

I thought it was a great idea to merge the companies, but I was like, “Who am I now?” We put another person as CEO. How much should I be outspoken? So, I think I just retreated and sort of was small in that moment. There are various times like that where I wasn’t my best self. I wish if I could go back that I would be stronger in that moment or I’d prepare for that moment so that I could be.

Andrew: How would you prepare for those moments so that you would be stronger?

Nathaniel: Well, I think part of it is just like any way that you psych yourself up. I think it’s being on top of your fitness, being on top of what you’re eating, being on top of your relationships at home. It’s running your life in a way that you can be strong. It’s doing the reading that you should be doing. I guess that’s a little bit vague. But I guess it’s being organized enough so that you can be effective.

Andrew: But does that allow you still when you’re speaking to a group of people, the fact that you’ve eaten well, the fact that you’ve done your exercise, etc., does that allow you to really be strong in the moment?

Nathaniel: I think it helps. But I think this varies by person. Some people can more or less wing it and come off confident and together and I’m not a person like that, I don’t think. I have to either be feeling psyched or I have to really work hard to convey the most positive version of myself.

Andrew: Did you say psych yourself up?

Nathaniel: Yeah.

Andrew: How do you psych yourself up?

Nathaniel: How do I psych myself up? How do you psych yourself up?

Andrew: You noticed it before the interview started. I went into my running backpack and I pulled out a set of beads that I put on my wrist. I didn’t do anything except for wear them because it’s just a reminder today of something that I did before. There were interviews where I can see myself psyching myself out in the interviews, where I’d ask a bad question and I’d fold.

You sometimes see Jeb Bush in debates where people push back and he kind of just folds within himself instead of coming back with the response or owning the next question. I would do that too. As the leader of this interview, it would make the interview really stale.

So, what I started doing before interviews where I thought I’d be nervous is I’d do this and I’d just go, “I’m a pro,” and move a bead, “I’m a pro,” and move a bead because I really do believe at this point I’m enough of a professional that I know how to respond to anything. Like if I’m awkward, I know my response–acknowledge the awkwardness and talk about awkwardness as an issue because now it’s important to me to talk about. If you’re boring, I know what I could do. I could talk about myself or I could push you a little bit.

I’ve got enough as a pro. I just need to remember that and not allow my head to get filled with, “This guy has done so many interviews. This guy might not like me. The audience is going to go away. What if they end up liking Tim Ferriss’ podcast better than mine because I’ve bored them with this podcast and they have so many other options and what if they go…?”

So, this is what I used to do before interviews, “I’m a pro. I’m a pro,” just fill my head with that feeling, with that truth. I might do it in interviews, but just having it here, especially for a conversation where I was a little nervous just reminded me, “Oh yeah, I’m a pro. This is like your little reminder. Go in there.”

Nathaniel: One thing I’ve noticed is that I’m in a basketball game and I have a free throw, how my head is affects my shooting percentage incredibly dramatically. And if I sit there and think, “Hey, I won my sixth grade free throw shooting contest. I can do this,” then I’m much more likely to make it then if I’m like, “Oh my god. On the last three trips down the court, the guy went around me or I put the jump shot off the back of the rim.” That mindset seems to really affect your fingers and your coordination and so on.

Andrew: It does. If I were to tell that to somebody to think about how in the third grade, they really got a jump shot in or how they were really good athletes in the fourth grade, they’d think of I was giving them some kind of Pollyanna response was the third grade and fourth grade don’t really matter anymore.

But obviously it’s working for you and that kind of thing works for me too. Do you ever use that in business, where you reflect back on a past success that might seem a little small to most people but is significant enough to you to psych yourself up for a presentation or for a tough decision?”

Nathaniel: Sometimes if I think too much about the thing in front of me, I psych myself out. I’ve seen that when my daughter went to the citywide spelling bee and she completely psyched herself out because she was worried about it and misspelled a word she knew. I think preparation is–ask me the question again. I think I lost the handle on it.

Andrew: Do you ever do that in business? You reflect on a past success to psych yourself up for a current activity.

Nathaniel: Yes. I definitely review sometimes in my mind my accomplishments, my resume, my happy home life, things like that in order to feel better about myself in a moment and feel stronger. I definitely do that.

Andrew: Do you happen to remember a specific time when you did it?

Nathaniel: When the company celebrated its tenth anniversary, we had a party at the National Press Club. Several hundred people there, we hired a singer. It was a big deal for me at the time. Yet, I had to give a speech in front of all these people and I don’t like doing that.

Right beforehand, I was like, “Yes, I can do this. I deserve some credit for building the company to this point.” People are going to want to hear from me. It’s okay I did an adequate job. My wife, by the way, spoke also and just like did ten times as well as me. She’s just way better at this kind of thing and she hadn’t built the company.

Andrew: So, you psyched yourself up at the time just to be able to do that.

Nathaniel: Just to be able to do that and do an adequate job it took that for me. Of course, it had been a complicated day, but I had reasons for complexity of emotions.

Andrew: What were the reasons?

Nathaniel: I had a medical exam earlier in the day that had looked like I had a heart problem and then I had been cleared of it. So, the day was full of stuff.

Andrew: It’s interesting to see that you as a guy who built a $30 million company, 200 employees still have to wrestle and deal with this. I think it just shows how important the inner game of entrepreneurship and of humanness is.

Nathaniel: I think that’s part of what I actually want to convey to people. When I talk to friends who are in an early stage on companies, a lot of the ones that are honest with me are expressing a lot of self-doubt and are hampered by that self-doubt. I want to say to them, “I have as much self-doubt as you do right now all along the way,” but courage is action in the presence of fear. Sometimes you just have to plow forward through that self-doubt and keep doing things. I think that’s an important thing for people to hear.

By the way, Andrew, I don’t want to take credit for building the company to the exact size and number of employees that you said. I sold it substantially before it reached the size that it did.

Andrew: How big did it get?

Nathaniel: It was somewhere between 5 million and 10 million when I left, when I was like 100 percent owner.

Andrew: Okay. Fair point. It’s still really impressive and it’s really impressive to see that because I think people get the sense that when you’re an entrepreneur just starting out, you of course are going to have all kinds of doubt and when you’re an entrepreneur who’s had a little bit of success, even $1 million of sales, which is more than a little, at that point, you have no right to feel any fear. That’s when you can finally feel like you can do anything. It’s interesting to see that it’s not true.

I want to get to a couple of other things that you told me before. One of them is about shyness as an entrepreneur and the other frankly just escaped me and it’s even more important than shyness. Oh, fake it until you make it–let’s talk about fake it until you make it. You said that in the margin of the Google Doc of your transcript. What do you think about fake it until you make it at that early time?

Nathaniel: I had said something like I don’t think you can bullshit your way into having a business. I think that the accurate thing is I would prefer people didn’t. I think it’s a better strategy.

Andrew: Okay.

Nathaniel: I think it’s a more honorable, authentic way is to actually tell people where you are, warts and all and be truthful, while, of course, putting your best foot forward, right? But I have certainly seen many entrepreneurs who have a huge element of puffery of pretending to be bigger than they are, which seems to be advantageous to them. Like Donald Trump, I think, might be an example of that. I read his book “Art of the Deal.” You can see how in the early days, he’s doing a lot of pretending to be bigger than he is and maybe he still is in some ways.

Andrew: So, you’re saying it works, but it’s not necessary.

Nathaniel: I’m saying for most people, a better route is on honestly, forthrightness, presenting yourself in the best way that makes sense with real information, not like pretending to be something you’re not. On the other hand, you start out with your company and you named it something that made it seem more like a law firm or something and that’s not exactly faking it until you make it, but it is something in artful presentation that might make it seem bigger or more important than it was, at least at the very beginning. What’s your take on this?

Andrew: I kind of did it in a way that I know that if I called my company Bradford & Reed, I’d get more calls picked up than if I said, “Hey, I’ve got Something.com.” But one of the things that I would do with that is that as soon as I got the person on the phone and we talked, I would let them in on the secrets and now we’re in it together and they could appreciate the kind of hustle and they could appreciate how open I was with them and they may think I’m not that open with other people, but I just shared this secret with them.

So, I would say, “Hey, really, this is just a company I made up for this reason. I just wanted to get to talk to you because here’s what I’m doing.”

Nathaniel: One of my earliest clients was a compliance company called Evans & Katz. If you looked behind the curtain, it was actually Diane Evans and her cats. But she just added in another partner in that way. I thought that was pretty clever.

Andrew: All right. I’ll do a second sponsorship message. This one is for a company called Toptal. This is one that I have a hard time apparently pronouncing right. Top as in top of the mountain, tal as in talented.

I had an email from a guest–let me see… I’ll go to my inbox. Damien emails me from the audience because he heard me give out my email address in a Toptal commercial. It’s Andrew@Mixergy.com for anyone who wants it. He said, “Andrew, I’ve got a question about what I can do with Toptal and I want to know if this can be done. What do you think?” I said, “I actually don’t know.”

So, I emailed him back and cc’d Graham over at Toptal. I said, “They’ll take care of you. They can respond.” Within minutes, literally minutes–not half an hour, not an hour–within minutes, Toptal responded right back and said, “Here’s what I think,” and he gave him the response that they needed. And the guy over at Toptal said, “Here are all the different ways you can contact me including my calendar and here’s my phone number. We can just talk through what you’re building and how you can build it and whether Toptal can help you do it with their network of developers.”

The reason I’m bringing this up is so that you who are listening know that if you need a developer or you think you might need a developer, you don’t have to wonder. You don’t have to ask your friends. You don’t have to ask me. You can just call up Toptal and say, “Here’s what I’m working on. Here’s what I think we need. Here’s the developer that I think we’re going through. What do you guys think? You guys work with developers at Toptal.” They have the top three percent developers out there. “What do you guys think at Toptal? What should we do?”

And if you want to work with them and you go to Toptal.com/Mixergy or just drop my name, they will give you free developer time when you join up and pay and–in fact, let me go there, Toptal.com/Mixergy. That’s where it is. The offer is still up–80 free Toptal developer hours when you pay for 80 and that’s, of course, in addition to their two-week trial period, no risk. If you’re not 100 percent happy, you will not be billed and Toptal will pay the developer.

So, if you have an issue, call them up, go to their website or email them or email me and I’d be happy to forward it over. But I want you to know, you don’t have to just think about it in isolation. You don’t have to think about it with someone like me who’s had experience with a few dozen developers. You can talk to Toptal. They have tons of developers that they’ve worked with. They can help answer your questions about your developer needs.

Frankly, if it doesn’t work out with Toptal, if you don’t want to hire them, not a big loss for them, not a big loss for you. If you’re happy, I’m happy and they better be happy and I think they will be. So, call them up if you have any questions about which developers you should be bringing in. I’m grateful to Toptal for sponsoring.

What about the shyness? You’ve actually brought that up a couple of times in our private conversations. Why is shyness important to talk about in the interview?

Nathaniel: I don’t know. I don’t know if it is important to talk about it anymore. But I do think, like I said, I think, in our first conversation–personality is an important part of being a business person and taking advantage of your strengths and weaknesses is pretty crucial. I have a personality characteristic I would call not exactly shyness but also sort of a resistant personality, which is like if you ask me to do something, I’m almost less likely to do it than if you don’t. I don’t like being told what to do. I think it’s common for entrepreneurs.

It makes people like me maybe not the best employees, but I think if you can make the most use of your personality quirks and say, “All right, maybe I don’t like to be told what to do. I better find a role in society where I can tell other people what to do, rather than being told.” If you’re an owner or somebody and it’s your clients telling you to do it, maybe that feels better to you than some supervisor that you don’t think much of.

Andrew: Here’s why shyness is important to me to talk about. There’s this entrepreneur, Shane Mac. I went out with him once for a drink. He walks into a bar. There’s one beautiful girl in the bar. She must be like 20 years old. She’s not in the mood to talk to anyone. He just walks in and goes, “Hey, high-five,” and she high-fives him right away and they start a conversation.

He’s like that everywhere. He’s interested in people and they just are fascinated by him and they invite him out on their jets and they invite him out for dinner at their homes. I remember one guy, Robert Stephens, the guy who created Geek Squad just befriended him. They became close buddies. They would play racquetball together. Now they’re partners in this new business idea. That’s the kind of relationships he builds everywhere, from entrepreneurship to bars.

Sometimes it feels like that is the only way to be a success as a CEO because that’s how you get people to work with you, through charisma. That’s how you get people to want to partner with you. That’s how you get with you to believe in you and invest in you. The guy raised over $4 million. He had nothing, really. He had an idea that he ended up scrapping and going with something different. Do you ever feel that, that that’s the only way or does a shy person compete with that?

Nathaniel: I think I have definitely a fair amount of shyness, but I also have a willingness to work through that or to be almost impertinent with somebody. Like one on one, I will ask people questions that would not seem shy at all. I’ve created bonds throughout my life. I’m still friends with lots of people I went to first grade with or college with or grad school with or employees of mine. I think that’s because I do take a genuine interest in people and I form relationships that are true friendships. I try to. And I think that serves you.

That’s like another way to do this. I don’t think it always has to be like you’re the most fun person in the world or the most extroverted. I think you have to work with your own style. I think if you talk to longtime employees of mine that we have a mutual loyalty to each other, that we’ve built that over the years, they probably wouldn’t think of me–like shyness might not be the first thing that they think about when they think about me.

Andrew: So, what do you to build real relationships with people, real friendships?

Nathaniel: I think you have real conversations, like we’re having right now. Like you use your curiosity about them. You talk about shared interests. You do shared activities. I played on soccer teams with employees. I went to events. We used to do things after work. They did that with each other. I think you had some of that experience too.

Andrew: I didn’t, actually, not the soccer stuff. I thought if somebody saw me with my legs just exposed, my hair, thin legs in a soccer match and losing in soccer because I wasn’t the best–I was horrible–then they would lose respect for me in the office and they would see me as some chump that they beat in the real playing field of sports, not this like namby-pamby dorkiness of business, where I have to overcompensate for my lack of sports prowess by being great. So, I didn’t do anything social like that with them. Do you think that’s a mistake?

Nathaniel: I do. It depends on you, of course. But I think showing the real you is a way of being closer to people. It’s a long-term better strategy. It’s like dating. If you just present in some kind of peacock way and the person that you’re dating at the very beginning doesn’t get to know the actual you, there’s very little prospect for the kind of bonding that you would want long-term with somebody that you admired and wanted to be with.

I think that’s the same way with a friendship or a relationship with an employee. You want to be you. You want to be you. You want them to know you’re that way.

Andrew: I don’t want to spend too much time on just the shyness and the fear, but I’ve got one other question because you wrote this down. You said, “What carried me forward through the company was taking care of my employees, to be honest.” And then in the margin, you wrote, “Part of what carried me forward is also fear.” You didn’t bring that up in the interview because I didn’t give you a chance to. “Fear of failing. Part of it was success on the ground. Part of it was relationships with employees and clients. Part of it was competition and pride.”

So, I used to be driven by fear and then I thought that’s not enough of a driver. So, I stopped encouraging inner fear that I was going to fail, be the driver, and started encouraging my need for success and greatness to be my driver. I can’t help but notice that it is a driver for other people. It has been valid for me. It has been valid for you. How has it been valid for you? How has it been helpful to be afraid?

Nathaniel: For me, motivation is helpful wherever you can find it. I found motivation across the spectrum of emotions, I think. I found it and tried to celebrate successes when things went well. I found it when things distressed me too and I’m like, “I don’t want any more of this feeling. What can I do about it?”

So, there are plenty of examples where something would happen, an employee would leave and I’m like, “Oh no, the team is going to unravel,” and I’d be like, “I have to take action now, otherwise I’m going to be on the street homeless and my wife is going to leave me. Everything is going to unravel.”

Andrew: And you would use that as a motivator?

Nathaniel: I did.

Andrew: I do too. I feel like if I don’t do a good job over here, then somehow now that I have a son, I’m going to let my son down. It will be discovered not now, but ten years from now and I better work hard so I don’t fail and then have to have the sun see my embarrassment ten years from now.

Nathaniel: But what’s also very interesting, I think, is that there are tons of times where I didn’t do the things that I probably should have done even though I was searching for these motivations. I think that goes to the self-management.

A lot of times I would choose to do a lesser task because it was easy to do then like sit down and think about the hard problem or write the piece that I should be writing or something like that. And usually it would take me a lot of effort to find the energy to do the hard stuff and how to make that routine to tackle challenges rather than to evade them.

Andrew: How formal are you in that process?

Nathaniel: The truth is that I am varyingly formal. Sometimes I start every day with a list of what I want to accomplish and every year with a list of goals. In fact, I’ve done that for the last decade. But I don’t always stay on the wagon with that or sometimes a week or two or a month will go by and I’ll sort of have done things, but I haven’t been attentive to what I knew I ought to be attentive or what I thought should be my priority.

Andrew: What do you think of that? Is that an okay thin? Is it helpful? Is it harmful?

Nathaniel: I think there’s a balance there. How do you forgive yourself for being an imperfect human being and how do you be a productive member of society. At the same time, how do you try to get the most out of yourself. To me, that’s a constant battle. It’s a constant struggle.

It’s also a constant positive challenge. I don’t like it when my day is too scripted. I like it when I can add lib and something comes up that’s an opportunity and I can go with that, forgetting that I had some other goal. To me, that’s a great freedom. So, I don’t think I always want to be sort of this do A1 first-type of person. I want to be some kind of mix.

Andrew: What do you think of how this conversation is going?

Nathaniel: I think to me it’s interesting. I hope it’s interesting to other people. What do you think?

Andrew: I think it is. I keep going back in my head also to the promise that we made to the audience, that I made at the top of the interview, which was an understanding of where I fell short in the interview and where I could improve and an explanation of my philosophy as an interviewer. It seems like–is there any other thing that stands out to you at that first interview here I could have done a better job where you as an interviewee had an experience that was unexpectedly bad or uncomfortable or anything that made you after the interview want to reach out to me?

Nathaniel: Well, one of the things that made me want to reach out to you after the interview–and we discussed this offline–at the time, your website, the page of interviews, I thought was atrocious. It was just a list. I had no way as somewhat of a newcomer to Mixergy to figure out who I wanted to listen to get to know you better, to get to a better sense of you.

I assumed out of 1,000 interviews that there are 30 that are way better. How do I find them? So, I wanted to talk to you about ways you can make visual that. I have a company, Graphicacy, that specializes in telling stories from data and I think your interviews are data. So, we talked about that a little bit. That was one part of it. Maybe that’s not the most satisfying answer I see in your eyes.

Andrew: No. That’s a good one. So, I’ve actually talked this over with readers via email, which is too one on one. I’d love to open this up for everyone else to see it. I’ve had a frustration with the way that we sort Mixergy for years and I’ve had people ask for tags, which we added. But it’s such a challenge for me to figure out this interview–how do I tag this interview?

Would this interview be appropriate to someone to listen to if they were into politics, into companies that served politicians? Not really. Would this interview be appropriate to someone who wanted to get to know Mixergy? Probably. Would it be helpful to somebody that wanted to know about fear? Well, fear is like one question out of a whole interview. So, do I categorize it as that or do I not? Do I look for just one big tag to give it? Do I give it others?

It’s just that we, in an hour long conversation, talk about so many different things that I had to tag all those things because if you’re expecting them, you’re only going to catch in like 10 percent of the interview.

Nathaniel: Yeah. I sort of think that one of the things we talked about was like can you combine some kind of rating system so that maybe your rating of the interview, your staff’s rating of the interview, on maybe different dimensions, your audience, what do they think? How can they vote it up and down? There’s a lot of ways that people have evolved to discover the needle in the haystack or whatever that is the goal that you have.

Andrew: Yeah. You gave me the idea that maybe we should be thinking more like Netflix, where they have their collection of genres that they’re famous for and just let people browse through those genres.

Nathaniel: This could be like entrepreneurial psychology. It’s in that genre. But it’s also in the genre of like… I don’t know. Pick another topic area that we’ve covered.

Andrew: This would be interesting to anyone.

Nathaniel: Mixergy and Andrew Warner and his interviewing style and maybe you’ve covered that in a few places.

Andrew: Yeah. We have a tag called “about Mixergy,” anything that’s self-reflective is in there.

Nathaniel: Why did you name it Mixergy?

Andrew: Oh yeah. We should talk about your company name too. I wasn’t really into politics in that period where I was taking time off, but I was into still reading the Wall Street Journal and The New York Times and this guy Howard Dean kept coming up. I wanted to build some kind of movement after my previous company.

I saw this guy was doing it. He’s a governor from a little state who wasn’t well known who suddenly had all these people who were leaving their homes and going to meetups and just supporting him there. They were reading something called a blog that was brand new at the time that he was putting out. They were donating online, which people at the time weren’t doing. It was all in support of this one guy. The big thing that I saw that he did was he did events. So, I said, “I should start by doing events too.”

And as I looked for names, I really like to not have a generic name so that you could Google me and find me. I thought, “I’ll take two words and smash them together and I’ll make one that’s uniquely mine.” I should have it then at every site, though for some reason, I don’t have it now on Snapchat. If someone out there has Mixergy, the name on Snapchat, please, give it back.

Nathaniel: How does Mixergy relate to interviewing entrepreneurs and doing courses about entrepreneurship?

Andrew: So, what I started doing was those events. I kind of called them mixers. I thought if I’m going to make my own name for it, let’s say it’s mixers with some energy and synergy. So, let’s combine those two words. We came up with Mixergy.

Nathaniel: I got it.

Andrew: I started doing those events. Those events did well, but they weren’t communicating any message. They were just about getting people together. I finally had to say what’s the message. I closed that part of the business down and started doing interviews with entrepreneurs where I would learn more about business for myself and let the audience follow along. As I did it, I found I was enjoying it as much as Audacity Magazine. I said, “This is great. I’ve got to do more of this.”

Nathaniel: Cool. I like it.

Andrew: Let’s see… Is Audacity Magazine available online? What about you? You said in the margins of the transcript that we should talk about the quality of names and about your company name.

Nathaniel: Well, I was actually thinking about names recently because I was pulled into another entrepreneurial venture as an advisor recently and they’re trying to name it. I kind of feel two ways about this. I do think that there are bad names and names you probably should avoid. But I also think that you shouldn’t get too hung up on naming your business because what the name means will take on meaning over time, like depending on how you execute your business, people will have a feel for it and that name will kind of absorb that feel.

So, I named my business because after making lists of clever names, I couldn’t settle on one with myself. I just left it as National Geographical and Political Software, which happened to match my initials, which I didn’t admit in the first interview. But that was not a particularly good name. When we added VAN on, NGP VAN has got to be one of the least wieldy names out there. But at this point, even though you don’t know about it and most people don’t know about it, it’s on the resume of lots of people in the field and there’s a lot of value there that you don’t want to–

Andrew: Why not change it when you guys merged?

Nathaniel: We put them together, I think because both VAN was like a near monopoly in what it did and very successful and so were we. It made no sense. Of course, we had discussions, but it made no sense to come up with a new name, at least in our valuation. I suspect someday that the business will be renamed, but we had a discussion about it last summer and I tried to weigh in pretty hard in opposition to that.

Andrew: That makes sense. It’s been in the news lately. It’s been covered a lot. It is well-known.

Nathaniel: It’s more well-known for one odd bug that happened over the last couple weeks than it probably was before. It’s funny how…

Andrew: What do you think of that? This was a bug that let the Bernie Sanders’ campaign get Hilary Clinton’s data and as a result, get him penalized by the DNC.

Nathaniel: Right.

Andrew: What do you think of that? I was thinking, “I should bring that up to Nathaniel in private just to acknowledge I see it.” But it doesn’t really help me have a broader, deeper understanding of his business. So, that’s why I left it out. In the interviews, the second interview is where I knew about it. The first one I don’t think that was public. I thought I’m not going to bring it up because it’s news and news doesn’t really help us have a deeper longer-term understanding. What do you think?

Nathaniel: Well, it wasn’t a charged thing for me. What was interesting about it–I’m really outside of the company now and I’m not dealing with the repercussions of it, the people that are running the company, including Stu, the CEO are handling it and handling it well, I think.

But what happened to me was a lot of some number of Bernie supporters Googled me or they Googled NGP VAN and Hilary to look for a conspiracy. They found that I was the CTO in 2008 and I’m not involved in the campaign this time around. They saw that I was the founder of this and they said, “There’s a conspiracy there.” It wasn’t just me. It was other connections because in the democratic political technology world, we’re all connected.

The idea that we conspired to create a bug in our software that would make us look bad in order to sabotage one campaign that was one of our good clients to advantage another is nonsense. But I started getting a lot of like tweets and Facebook attacks, personal like, “Bleep you, Pearlman. You’ve been caught. You’ll be screwed when Bernie gets in the Whitehouse,” or something like that.

Andrew: I never even thought of that. But I guess that’s the thing. I don’t think people in the political space at all. I’m thinking of a deep understanding. They’re thinking of it as more of a competition. I’m glad I’m not in politics.

Nathaniel: We’re all in politics, whether you want to be…

Andrew: I’m glad I’m not in that kind of politics. So, is there anything I’ve left out of this conversation that we should be including?

Nathaniel: I think we’ve had a good conversation. I’m happy where it sits. Is there anything else you want to bring up?

Andrew: Yeah. Two things–one is I feel like my nose is running and I don’t know what to do about it on camera. I’ve had this long stuffy, runny nose forever. I actually now am I on CrowdMed.

Nathaniel: I would recommend a sleeve or a tissue.

Andrew: I have a tissue right here. I’m not doing it on-camera. I’ll do it off-camera. I’m going to try CrowdMed. Hopefully CrowdMed will have a solution my doctors couldn’t. Do you know the site?

Nathaniel: I’ve never heard of it.

Andrew: CrowdMed–it’s like the crowd gets to see my problem and diagnose it. I just figured I’d bring that up.

Nathaniel: I’ll diagnose it for you. You have a cold.

Andrew: No, it’s constantly, ever since I was 16.

Nathaniel: It’s something different.

Andrew: Something’s going on. As long as I was being revealing and open, I thought I’d reveal that about myself. Here’s the last thing that I’d like to say. So, we had a conversation after this where you, like other interviewees, have offered to help me think through my business. One of the things you did was you helped me think through how we could organize the data on the site.

You were just incredibly insightful in that conversation about what we should do with the data. You asked me interesting questions about my business and you had good questions about and ideas for where I could take the business. I’ve never been good at just getting on a call with someone and instantly giving them that kind of analysis that you did. How do you do that?

Nathaniel: I think the reason that I had some good ideas, perhaps, was that I like your business. I’m interested in your business. I wouldn’t mind owning your business or having created it myself. So, I think there’s this element of like–I’ve run a business for a number of years, more than one. I have experience from other arenas to apply to it and so I think about it. It’s always easier to give advice than to take it.

So, I think I can look at a lot of businesses and see moves that they can make to do better. I can bring some of the things that I know from Graphicacy or the things I know from running a technology business or some of the experience I had doing interviews myself to it. But I don’t think there’s a magic secret. I think applied intelligence is kind of what you want to bring to this. So, do you have a board of advisors? Do you go out to talk to other people about how to do better? Those things, if you’re listening, mechanisms like that can really advantage you.

Andrew: I wondered if it was partially because obviously because you ran your own company, so you would even give me big suggestions and say, “I understand as a business owner you have lots of different things that are pulling at you, but you can’t do it all, so the expense of this could be too much.”

So, it was grounded in reality. I wondered also if beyond you running a business what helped you do that was you were part of Forum, where you guys, as entrepreneurs, you were all helping each other with your businesses on a monthly basis and that was something like what you did with me on the phone.

Nathaniel: I think it definitely was practice for that. Not just me practicing, but other people practicing on me.

Andrew: I see. Yeah.

Nathaniel: So, for more than a decade, I’ve been listening to people give me advice, giving people advice, watching them give each other advice. So, I’m steeped in that right now. I’ve seen people pivot their businesses dramatically, change them never overnight, but like make significant change over a period of time because they set out to do it, maybe because they got good advice, maybe because they came to ideas on their own.

One of the things about running a business well is continuing to push. You don’t do well if you rest of your laurels and don’t try things and try to move it forward. Businesses just stagnate if they’re not pushed. That’s one thing I would encourage people to be doing all the time, learning, pushing, growing.

Andrew: Well, this is a good place to leave it. If people want to follow up with you, where should they go? What’s a website that you want to send them to or Twitter handle or anything?

Nathaniel: I said at the end of the last interview, NGP@Timeplots.com, my smallest enterprise is where I’ll read email easily. Buy one of my posters.

Andrew: That’s one right over your shoulder right now, right?

Nathaniel: Yeah. There’s a history of the presidency, a little bit of it there. I’m happy to talk to anybody about their business and maybe they can help me with mine.

Andrew: Thanks. And I’m curious to see what other people think of this conversation. It was new for me, but it’s the kind of thing I always wanted to do, to show how I’m learning in public. I’m glad we got this opportunity. I’d like to do more of it and I’d like your feedback, not just, “Hey, this is a good thing. You should do more of it.” But if anyone out there has deeper insight about it, like what you liked about it, what elements were helpful and which ones we can change in the future, I’d love that.

Nathaniel: I can just tell you as an interviewee, I greatly enjoyed this one a lot more so than the first one.

Andrew: Why?

Nathaniel: I don’t know. Partially I think I know you a little bit better, so I’m a little more comfortable. Also, I just think there was an even higher level of realness that we got to together. I appreciate that.

Andrew: Cool. All right. I urge you guys all if you haven’t to go check out that previous interview. And my two sponsors are, if you want a developer go to Toptal.com/Mixergy. You get that great offer. And if you need a new website or you don’t like your current host of your current website, go to HostGator.com/Mixergy. And please, rate this podcast and tell your friends to subscribe. I’m trying to grow the podcast and I’d love for you and your friends to be a part of that.

Thank you all for being here. Nathaniel, thank you for doing this.

Nathaniel: Thanks, Andrew.

Andrew: Thanks. Bye, everyone.

Who should we feature on Mixergy? Let us know who you think would make a great interviewee.