Wil Schroter and I talk about my burnout

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I almost cancelled today’s interview with Wil Schroter because on the way to the office I was feeling all the weight of burnout.

So instead of talking about Startups.com, the company will built, I’m going to talk to him about this.

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Wil Schroter

Wil Schroter

Startups.com

Wil Schroter is the founder of Startups.com, which offers education, community, and tools to help startups launch faster.

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Full Interview Transcript

Andrew: I was going to cancel this, this whole interview this morning. Well, um, I, our elite, this whole part in don’t edit it out. Um, donate anything. Here’s the thing. Um, I’m fricking burned out. I’m burned out on everything except for doing the interview. And I’m worried that my burnout is going to ruin everything, including the interviews.

And so I, as I w raced to get into this, we work this morning on my bike. I realized I’m not even enjoying my bike ride. Well, I bought this bike specifically. I mean, Austin. I said, you know what, I just need a bike to get around so I could have fun. I got it specifically, so I could have fun getting places and I was not having fun.

Cause I was racing to get in here. I was sweating through the freaking shirt and pants. I’m so glad that I brought an extra set of clothes and thinking to myself, I just burned out. I’m completely wiped. All I want to do is do nothing. And I think this morning I realized that it’s causing issues for me because I’m burned out and I’m.

And I, I told Olivia this, my wife and she, she knows it and she knows that. She said, look, you should just take off time right now. Just don’t do anything for whatever a year or two years, whatever, you know, whatever you want to do. And I, I, for some reason did not tell anyone else. And I think by not saying it I’m going to cause problems for myself by taking on more from people who are expecting me to always take on more, because I like more activity, more things.

I’m the guy who doesn’t just want to take an Uber or a car into the office. I want the bike ride so that I have more, um, Anyway, we’ll Schroeder, founder of startups.com is here. Well, how does, how does that sit with you that this is, we didn’t know what I was going to do this interview about. I didn’t w I was going to talk to you about startups.com and the founder groups that you created, that I was a part of.

But how do you feel about just shifting and talking about this?

Wil: I actually have a million questions for,

Andrew: Oh, good.

Wil: want to, I want to open up with, I think we met in 2007, uh, Santa Monica. We were both live in Santa Monica at the time. And. And you and I have great conversations, you know, and you’re there for a long time. I’ve never sat down with you. And had you say, you know, well, I can’t believe how well everything’s going.

I’m just like I’m in such a Zen place in my life. Everything is firing on all cylinders. Um, this is, this is probably the worst, if you will. Right. But Andrew, I curate these like snapshots in my mind of all the different times where we’ve sat down. Like, I specifically remember sitting in your apartment in Santa Monica and, and you’re talking in a meeting for the first time.

I specifically remember sitting in a bar, um, right around the corner from that when you were telling them about the idea for mixer. And I specifically remember, like on two separate occasions three, now that I think about it, us in San Francisco, when we both lived there, um, you updating me and it’s always been this, this big weight, this cloud over your head, which is fine, by the way.

I’m just saying that like, and it shifts the nature of the cloud shifts, but the clouds never gone away for as long as I’ve known you.

Andrew: Really, I do feel that there’s something with Mixergy that was different from everything else where I, at least when I’m doing the work, there’s this lack of confidence that comes through. And I wonder if it’s because I set this whole thing up with the idea that I would be doing interviews to learn how to.

Screw up in business again and figure out the right thing. I wonder if it’s because even when the parts of it were fledgling and were doing great, like, I think the best example is when Mixergy premium was doing 40,000 a month within a few months of launching on a recurring basis, I felt like it was such a failure because, um, Because it was so public because my path was so public because the other entrepreneurs who I was interviewing were so public, that it was very easy to compare every little step to that.

Instead of saying, this is how big it’s going to be, or I believe in it to say it’s not as big as those things. And I wonder how much of Mixergy was, was colored by that. And maybe that’s what I think that’s what you’re picking up on, but I didn’t even know you were picking up on that.

Wil: well, here’s what I think it is. I don’t think there’s a version where the cloud ever goes away. And I think that’s the hardest thing to come to terms with. Right. Um, you and I are just neurotic dudes, right? Like we’ll always find something to be a problem. And it’s so funny. You should say this. I journal every day in specifically today at 47 years old, I finally hit a threshold specifically today, like hours ago where I was like, you know, I’m where I’m supposed to be.

I didn’t feel that way yesterday or for the past 30 years. I, I just felt it today. And so that cloud has been hanging over me as well. And I’m not saying it went away today, but today was like just a random day and I just woke up. And for whatever reason today was the day that I just had this kind of like breakthrough of gratitude.

And, and what’s interesting is because you and I are so immersed in the startup culture. It’s like, we’re a basketball player in every day. We’re running into LeBron James and, you know, early career, Michael Jordan. I’m like, man, I’m not that good, right? Like I’m not that talented. And it’s not that we’re not it’s that we’re surrounding ourselves with people that are often in front of us on their best day.

In the way that other people see like face Facebook or Instagram feeds and they see everybody’s like best of mix tape. We literally live people’s best of mix-tapes we’re in front of them at the height of their, their moments. No one goes on mixer G at the worst possible time. Right. Maybe they do, maybe you found them, but it’s not the first thing when things are going shitty, I’m like, Hey, I should call up Andrew and see if I can get out of this podcast.

Right. Um, so.

Andrew: had somebody who has now canceled on me three times. He’s a good friend because things are not going great. And he has to have a go great.

Wil: And so, and so here’s what I’m saying is true in all the time that I’ve known you. There’s, there’s such an interesting dynamic to your personality. You are so incredibly naturally curious, but not with anyone more so than yourself. You’ve got just this amazing honesty. I think it comes through a, you interview a lot of people and I’m sure a lot of people see a reflection of you in the interviews, but I can say firsthand as your friend, um, you’ve got.

Credible self-introspection and while it’s so good and it’s so accurate, and it’s so deep, if you analyze yourself for any period of time, you’re not going to come away feeling better about yourself, because there’s always something you don’t have. Right. Um, and I think you wind up using your own tools about digging into things, to beat yourself up.

Andrew: I think, I think that I am better than the first time or the first business. All I did was I looked. So after the first business, I remember going to Europe and just disconnecting from everything. And this girl that I, that I’d flown out to Paris to be with me, we broke up.

there in Paris and I was there by myself and kind of bumming out.

And I said, but I’m going to appreciate how far I’ve come. I’m not going to take time to go back and look at all the journal entries from the greatest hits of my life. I freaked out because I realized that through it all, I wouldn’t use the word depression, but if I was, if I was a psychiatrist, I would find the right word to describe the sadness or the frustration or the not, not there of that whole experience.

And I said, I was on a great track. Things were good. I should be going back and looking at the happiest moments of my life and my journal. But instead I’m looking at deep pain and anger and sorrow and frustration. And I said to myself before Mixergy, whatever the Mixergy became, I said, I’m not going to get to that.

And I do think that I’m not where I was there, but maybe I’ve been kidding myself because, and not recognizing how I’m feeling today because of how much better it is than it was the first time around that. There is more to my life than work. I’m running. I’ve got a wife that I love. I’ve got kids, I’ve got friends that I really enjoy spending time with.

I can get carried away and really be happy for a long time. Maybe because of that. I’m also not realizing that there’s just something unhealthy going on in the background. So I think that, that I didn’t expect you to say that. I thought, well, we’re going to talk about was, and I, and I want you to keep going into it, but I want to say that what I thought I was going to.

Talk openly about here is that I also have a tendency to know. Enjoy anything, unless it’s all the way to, to not enjoy a three mile run, uh, to not, it just discussed me, as I said, that there’s like this disgusting taste in my mouth that it’s like, if we, at the end of this, appreciate a three mile run too.

I hate this whole conversation. Like that’s what it came up, but I have to go all out until I’m so exhausted at night that I, that I feel the, the inability to see. That maybe there’s also this tendency. And I knew going into to Mixergy that I would, whatever I’m doing, go so all out that I would exhaust myself and I thought I could catch it, but I definitely haven’t caught it.

I maybe I did it over the, over the years, but I definitely am at a place where it’s beyond where I can stop it. I’m just so burned out. I don’t want to do anything. And my plan was. Um, I told Olivia starting January, do nothing but interviews. I do enjoy having the conversations to have a place where I can talk to people openly about what I’m, what I’m thinking about like this, but do nothing else.

I don’t know what I always would do. Probably just play chess mindlessly all day, but I

Wil: if it doesn’t matter? What else you do? Like what if for, for the first time in your life, and by the way, I’m projecting here. Cause I’m thinking the same things. What if for the first time in your life, it doesn’t fucking matter what you do,

Andrew: I’ve had that happen to me before. And that was very liberating. I could just let it go. After Brad from Reed, I could say I’m never going to work again. Here’s how the finances will work out for that. Great. That’s it. And we’re not talking about, like, now that I see the levels of wealth that people have, I don’t want to compare it to that and say that that’s where I was, but you really don’t need that much in order to know.

To not need to work, especially if you’re not somebody who’s into anything, I’m not someone who is into anything that that’s tangible. Um, and so I said, yeah, that’s it. And I’m just going to go and enjoy life. And, and I had that. I’m not there now. I’m not, I’m definitely not at a place where I could say I won’t work again.

I’m at a place where I say, I need to put it out of my mind for a set amount of time and then come back and figure something.

Wil: I don’t think it’s about not working. I think that’s a broken part of the mechanic. Right. We’re, you know, we, we, we associate, um, dialing back and not worrying about things with, with work. Um, we just did an episode last week. This is very top of mind on the, on our start-up therapy podcast about, uh, what, what would a founder sabbatical look like?

Right. And I went

Andrew: Yeah, that’s what I want.

Wil: Okay, so great. It’s very top of mine. So I can tell you that, you know, kind of where that conversation developed. So it just, it just happened to be a thing when last few founder groups that I was in, um, you’ve, you’ve been one with me. So, you know, we get together eight, eight founders together, and we just talk very openly about how things are going on, because there’s a lot of trust.

People are very honest about how things are going and it just so happened in the last few groups. It kept coming up where the founders were saying. I don’t necessarily want to say quit what I’m doing. Like, you know, I don’t hate what I’m doing. I just need a break from it. Right. And so as I started to talk this stuff through, uh, with the different founders, I started to say, and I told Sarah, my wife, I was like, you know, I kind of need a sabbatical because really what I’m talking to them, I’m projecting how I’m feeling.

Andrew: So, what would your say, what would your sabbatical be? I can’t even think beyond, I want to get up every day and do nothing, but play chess.com that nothing, but I can’t even think about, I want to go for long runs or anything that I imagine I’m going to need that. That’s it. What would you say.

Wil: your, here’s what it is for me. Um, a sabbatical for me, isn’t lack of. It’s different work. Right. Um, and again, you know, you and I are in similar business in as much as we just get to sit and bullshit with founders all day. And it’s awesome. Um, but it’s not that it’s not like I don’t want to talk to founders it’s that?

I just want to wake up in the morning and have something else to focus. Right. Um, and I don’t want to quit my job. Like I don’t want to like sell startups.com because I want to focus on something else. And I think that’s a lot of where this comes from, right? Like, you know, injury, you need to stop doing mixer.

Andrew: can you continue the Ken startups.com. Which is, I guess we should describe what it is. It’s a collection of companies whose, uh, offerings, all service startups, everything from Zirtual, which I love the, uh, virtual assistant service to startups.com the site where there, where there’s content geared towards entrepreneurs, but can that continue and use not be involved in it day to day for a year?

Wil: But I see that’s where I think the narrative breaks. The idea is that this, this, this is where I think people don’t think about a sabbatical the right way, nor did I, by the way, until I dug into it, I initially thought it was, I sit down with my. Uh, and I say, guys, uh, I’m going to go to Budapest apparently, uh, for six to nine months.

And I’m going to go lay on and grassy, Nolan and meditate all day. And I’m going to have no phone service. And apparently in this scenario, I also leave my wife and kids behind, and I become Tom Hanks in Castaway, right. Where I’m just totally gone from society. I don’t know why that was like my scenario, but the reality is for the stuff that I want to do.

Right. You know, my version of sabbatical and I can get it. I can get online an hour a day and check in with everybody and make sure everything’s good. And, and if, if stuff goes crazy and I need to be online for a couple of days and do stuff, so be it right. I don’t think it’s an all or nothing.

Andrew: I think I need an all or nothing. I think, I think what happens to me is I get too sucked in for a little thing. I can’t be, I can’t be impartially. And so a little thing would suck me back. Yeah. I think people’s expectations would be. I think that I get excited in the planning stage and then start to see the possibilities and it get sucked in.

And I also find that if I could wake up in the morning and say, here’s what I want to do. And then have the possibility of someone interrupting that I couldn’t fully rest into, into doing nothing. I think it needs to be an all or nothing.

Wil: Well, I’ll mention this though. Imagine if your insistence that it’s all or nothing essentially prevents you from ever doing it

Andrew: Well,

Wil: here. Here’s the other part. Hold on. Here’s the other part? Why don’t you try a balloon, a sabbatical. That’s what I’d like to. Right. Treble and a sabbatical for a month.

Andrew: So here’s what I did. I did this year. I said, um, maybe was it this year? Or maybe it was after the kids went back to school. Once we, uh, at, during Colvin, when the kids went back to school, I suddenly had time and I said, well, I don’t have my office now. And I’ve cut back a lot, so I could take care of them at school.

And I’m surprised now that we can send them back to school full time. Great. I’m just going to try a different project every month. And commit to not continuing the project beyond the first month.

There’s something satisfying about seeing a new thing that I wouldn’t have considered finished. And then I got sucked into more and more and more, and it’s really hard for me to not get sucked in.

And I think part of it is that I, I didn’t realize until this morning that declaring that I am burned out is helpful for people to understand. Don’t try to get someone in who can’t, you wouldn’t ask somebody who’s. Who’s leg is broken to run a relay race with you. Right?

But you’d have to know that their leg was broken to say that they can’t do it and that you should just let them rest.

And so I think that it’s saying that is helpful, by the way, my plan was once I had that realization, I said, oh great. I didn’t even think of, I should have said something. I said, I I’m just going to come in and record a podcast episode where I just say that, and then I’ll tweet it and then I’ll be able to, you know, move on and then have people know.

But. I’m glad that we’re doing this instead, because I don’t think they’re saying it once is enough to get it through to people.

Wil: Well, so what I started to think through was. What I have to do in order to actualize it. Cause I’m in the same boat you are. And my guess is most founders are right. You know, we’re, we’re in deliberately at the center of our own universe here with our businesses, et cetera. And so, uh, the idea of being able to pull out of it, uh, just sounds heretical.

Um, but, but here’s what I came across as I was kind of digging into this and, and TLDR, I plan on doing this. Um, the first was, if I tried to make it an all or nothing proposition, while that sounds great, I learned for myself that it would prevent me from ever doing it because there will never be a series of events that ever line up, um, for me to do that short of selling the business, which is the polar opposite of what I want to do.

Right. Um, that’s, that’s the wrong tool for this job? Um, so I said, okay, the first thing I’ll do is I’ll try all blown up and he gave you a little bit of a character, Andrew. Uh, as you probably recall, uh, I’m a very avid carpenter. I love to build stuff. Um, and as you also recall, I’m in the process of building a new house and I want to be.

All in. I designed this house from the ground up. Um, I have been doing nothing but working on it for a year, as far as the designs and everything else like that, I’ve basically architected the entire house and, uh, I want to go build it. I won’t be covered in sawdust all day. And I just want to think about building this masterpiece.

I just, this is, this is my creation. I want to build the whole thing. Um, However, a couple of caveats. What if a month into it? I don’t know, three weeks into it. I’m like, you know what? This sounded cool. But now that I’m into it, like in week three, it shows is not that fun anymore. It was fun. Cause I couldn’t do it.

But now that I’m doing it all day, like it actually kind of breaks the model a bit. Well, I don’t want to put myself in a situation with, with this sabbatical that it’s so unidirectional. That I can’t also hit the eject button if I’m not feeling it in. What if, what if I only need three weeks? Like maybe I thought, right, maybe I thought six months and I obviously made that number up, but what if three weeks into it, I get 50% of my hip points back.

Right. And I realized part of what I just needed was the open-ended notion that this trip could last as long as it needed. ’cause like when I say it’s a 10 day vacation and I’m no I’m coming back. I never really release. So what I’m saying is I don’t necessarily know that I need six months or whatever, arbitrary time we put on it.

I know I need to start how long it runs as a whole separate.

Andrew: I get that, that just The freedom to be able to go. Is also real. It’s also helpful. I think, um, I think for me, it’s going to need to be all or almost all or nothing. I might be making a mistake by saying I’ll still do interviews, but I, I enjoy the conversations. Um, and then everything else I don’t want to do, I don’t want to, I don’t want to guide a single other thing.

And then if I think about it, I think I don’t even want to take on any sponsors and just even like allow a lot of the revenue to go down because I don’t want to be obligated to anyone. I don’t want to say that I have to do this because I’ve committed to giving them a certain number of whatevers. I just want to give up on the revenue.

And frankly, I should also say this interview is sponsored by HostGator hostgator.com/mixergy. And I should say something. They, um, it’s, it’s actually now to be honest with you costing me money to do these episodes anyway, because I, I decided that I’m not going to take on more sponsors. I’m literally, I set up an autoresponder to turn away all sponsors, um, and HostGator is getting way more ads than they paid for.

But I, I like working with them who knows, uh, Who knows what the echoes, uh, but I’ve intentionally decided I don’t want any more revenue, which is another thing that came in. Why am I doing this? If I’m tired today and I don’t get it. And then the thing that sucks is I love the conversations. I hate that I would be so worn out that I couldn’t enjoy the conversations.

I loved. I talked to the guy from swagger, uh, just before this conversation, Andrew Gaz, Decky who you set me up in the, in the founder group meeting. That was such a good founder group meeting. Great guys. The only problem that I have with that is things were so personal at times that before saying anything about Andrew has Decky the founder of micro.

I have to ask myself, is this something you told me in private or not? Is this something that he’s okay. And he’s okay with frankly, everything, he there, couple of things that he did that he felt cheapish about admitting to us. And I wish he would have just admitted openly without feeling sheepish that I think we couldn’t talk publicly about, but anyway, um, but that’s the only issue, like, can I talk about the things that he told me in private?

Because he did say it in private, but I, I love. They love how those groups went. I don’t even know where I’m going with this. Um,

Wil: Oh,

Andrew: know. Oh,

so I love doing the interviews and I hate that anything would take away from that, that I would be so worn out that I couldn’t enjoy the conversation. And when I was talking to the founder from swag up, just before this, this conversation, Andrew goes, Decky introduced me.

That’s where the connection was. I love how, what the guy does is he creates these swag packages that he sends out to startups, employees, and then to their customers. And so on. And as we were talking about his API that we got to even just like brainstorm even the idea of, well, you know, what everyone’s buying NFTs and there’s nothing physical.

Could I just use your platform to create something where anyone who has an NFT would come and validate it? And we. Create their shirt or their, whatever, their skateboard, if they validated that they really owned it. Um, and I could, I could, it was a great conversation. I love that. I hate that anything else would, would not make me enthused about coming into a space to have that kind of conversation.

Wil: Why can’t you see. Why can’t. Why can’t you say as of tomorrow, as of today that since waiting till tomorrow, um, um, I’m going to just take the rest of the year off that’s three months.

Andrew: Uh, Olivia said that too. So I want to just do that now to the issue. We’re not saying the rest of the year. I’m I’m seriously all in. Indefinitely

Wil: Yeah, yeah.

Andrew: yes, I hear what you’re saying. Um, because I’ve got the book coming out, stop asking questions. I’m really excited about it. And, um, um, uh, I’m upset that any of my burnout could hurt that could hurt

Wil: always going to be a book. I know, you know,

Andrew: Well, I think if I, if I say it out loud now, And people know if you sign up for anything with me, you’re signing up for something. To, to partner up at when something, with someone who’s telling you they’re burned out. And if you decide that you’re going to go into the delusion of this is only a small thing, it’s only once a week and look at the big payoff, you’re making a mistake.

You’re absolutely making a mistake because I’m not going to want to follow through. And so, I’m going to follow through out of obligation and you’re going to get a really crappy thing. so talking here I think is gonna help. I think letting Olivia, um, holding me accountable is going to help. I think that, uh, it’s gotta be done.

End of the year happens. We’re done. And then January I do once a week, I record interviews maybe even from the house and have them go wherever, just like this conversation is. And we’ll see what happens. I think

Wil: And so, so are you working with Andy at Holloway?

Andrew: Uh, Josh.

Wil: Josh. Okay. Got it. Um, and so, uh, any sparks who do you know, Andy.

Andrew: Uh, no, that you’re talking about the company that’s producing a special version of my book.

Wil: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Um, and I, my understanding he’s the co-founder of hallway. Um, he also Columbus guy, by the way, that’s how I know him. Um, and, uh, anyway, he, like, I’m just using it as an example. He would understand. Cause I know Andy well, so incredibly well what you’re going through. W w what, and I’m not pointing to just, you, I’m kind of going to expand this to a lot of people.

I think we create in our minds, myself, inclusive. What we think people are gonna react in. They just don’t. Or it’s never what we think it is. And we, we, we forget that they have empathy as well in that their lives aren’t revolving around ours in many cases. Um, and so, you know, you’ll do what you’ll do, but if you were to say, guys, I need to push this back three months or, you know, whatever the time period is.

Um, there’s probably a part of you that says go batshit and I can’t do that. And I made all these commitments and, and that, that may be true. So I’m not going to assume anything. What if, what if you have

Andrew: don’t try to change it. Well, no, it’s already, people have already bought it. I don’t think we need to re I don’t think we need to do this. The only thing I need to do is make sure I don’t. I think, I think starting January is fine. Can push back on me if you need to. But I think, I don’t think we need to change it.

I think starting in January is fine. Closing this out is going to let me be. It’s going to allow me to have a free mind as I’m doing this knowing there’s no other obligation. Every other door has been closed. There’s no commitment to how many interviews I do. If I need to take some time off. Great. If I could do an interview.

Great. My plan is to still continue the bait, the cadence of the interviews, and be Okay. with missing a few. I think that’s okay. But push back.

Wil: Okay. So the commitment isn’t necessarily that it’s going to be today, maybe the commitment today, because I think committing to anything tomorrow is as good as not committing to all. I wouldn’t be surprised if he thought otherwise, but maybe the commitment is today that I’m not going to make any other commitments in any capacity whatsoever, and I’m going to post it on Twitter and I’m going to add it to my auto reply.

I’m going to put it all over mixer G and my motto for the next three months is going to be leave me the F alone, uh, com J. And it’s like one of those things, when people commit publicly that they’re gonna lose weight, they basically know publicly shame themselves into the outcome. Maybe if.

Andrew: what it needs to be. I think, I think if I could tell people and I didn’t realize the significance of it, I think if.

I tell people, this is what it is, This is what I’m going through and what I need. I think they’d all be supportive. I just didn’t think that I would need to talk about it.

I tend to. Think and assume that that’s enough, but if I don’t talk about it, I think people are going to pull me into things. I think if I don’t talk about it, there’s a very good chance that I’ll say yes to some stupid little thing, thinking it’s good. It’s going to be this year. And then it’s going to end up spilling into next year.

And I can’t have anything spill into next year. I just need a little bit of time to do nothing. And I don’t know what I’m going to do at that time.

Wil: you know, when we’re recording today. It’s mid-October so we’ve got, you know, call it 10 weeks between the end of the year. That’s actually a really good lead time and nothing’s going to happen during the holidays.

Andrew: Yeah.

Wil: Um, so this might be the perfect time to make that commitment. I’d be curious how you would manifest some of that.

And I’m talking about like the public tweets, the mixer G um, th th this, this episode is sponsored by Andrew going on a sabbatical. um, no, but, but, uh, let, let’s assume you did that today, right. And I believe that you will, let’s fast forward to Janet. What happens? You wake up gen one and you are officially off the hook. Now what

Andrew: I don’t have any, any projects that would take up my time, which is, which

Wil: the opposite, then let’s do the opposite. What would like, what would you wake up and not do that? You’d be excited about like that that’s draining you right now. Cause I think that the stuff you don’t have to do is.

Andrew: um, I don’t really think that there is the only things that now are taking up a lot of time is.

I’m doing a lot of interviews where people interview me and I do enjoy the hell out of. But I’d have to say no to that so that I have time. Um, so I wouldn’t, I wouldn’t have people interview me. I wouldn’t contribute right now.

It’s just like a lot of contributing to the book launch in this format and that format. And, um, I don’t want to give any feedback on anything. I, um, that’s basically, it that’s basically.

Wil: Well, okay. So I don’t think you’re giving it enough credit. You were telling me on the ride over here that you’re stressed out, that you’re sweating, that you should have been enjoying this sweet bike ride and you didn’t don’t you want that to go away? Whatever’s making you

Andrew: Oh,

I see what you mean. Um, yeah. You know what it would be, um, you know, what did it, is it. Because I had all these other obligations. I didn’t schedule, I kept, I didn’t schedule enough interviews for Mixergy and because I didn’t schedule enough interviews for Mixergy, I think we just skipped one, which we don’t, we don’t skip an episode.

So we skipped one and then I booked extra interviews today. And I didn’t have time to prepare for them. And I like to spend time preparing for them. Um, thankfully Michael, from swag up had a big issue last week. I prepared like crazy for him for last week. And then, um, and so I didn’t have to for that. And I said, wait a minute, now I’ve got to do that preparation.

And this preparation, I left literally no time in between to do anything. So it was, it was that it’s like the everything else then taking away from the stuff that I love to do, which is. Have these conversations, um, and that was disappointing. And then there’s pressure to have the conversations. Cause I, I can’t just come in and settle in.

I have to come in and, you know, prep for more people than I need to. Yeah.

Wil: so when I picture, uh, Right. The first thing that I picture, the, the, what I’m relieving of, not what I’m getting to. Cause I think people get way too hung up on what I’m getting to. Like, you know, I’m going to run a marathon on every continent you, um, and th they come with these audacious like kind of goals.

And I think. If you have them cool. But chances are, that’s probably not. What’s missing, you know, know you probably weren’t saying what’s really missing is that I’m not running on every continent. It’s, you’re trying to achieve something, you know, to break free from something. And that just happened to be a mechanism for them.

Andrew: But

Wil: I want to go build

Andrew: I think if I’m just sitting around, it’s going to feel pretty worthless

Wil: Oh yeah. I’m not suggesting.

Andrew: it needs to be, it needs to be something that I do. And then what could that thing be? I don’t know.

Wil: I here’s what I think it has to be in. And I don’t really have an opinion here. This is media. Is your friend just giving you some food for thought? Um, I think you need to create something and not a business, not a

Andrew: say, yeah, not a business. You’re right. And I, and when we talk about that, I had this idea that I thought, but no, it can’t be that. Um, and I think it needs to be something that I create or accomplish and just focus like a maniac on that one thing. And that becomes pleasurable.

Wil: The injured. It’s all I’ve been doing. You know, I got

Andrew: do you mean? How do you do it?

Wil: I mean, I, I’m a creative, I’m a builder. That’s what I do. Um, and. About a year or so ago. Um, I just got it in my head that, uh, you know, my carpentry had gotten to a place where I was building bigger and bigger projects. I was starting to do significant stuff and I got it in my head.

I was like, what if I could build an entire house? Right. Which I can’t, by the way, just wanna make it clear. I’m not that good. Um, and I’ve certainly never done it, but then I got into I’d contacted an arch. Because I had this concept in my head for, for what I had for this house that I’d been building in my head for years.

And I went to an architect and I showed him what the idea was. And he came back to me with a horrible representation of my idea. I mean, it wasn’t even remotely close. Right. Um, you know, I showed him a Ferrari and he came back with like a unicycle

Andrew: Okay.

Wil: close. So, but here’s where the journey started. And I was like, you know what, I’m having such a hard time expressing this.

What if I got into a 3d program and I just started to like sketch it, just like even boxes to represent the geometry and the scope of what I’m trying to do. Cause he’s so far off and I can’t communicate it well, that led to me learning, um, three. Like an infinite detail and through your modeling, um, led to me learning architecture in infinite detail, architecture led to me learning what’s called 3d visualization, which is you not only create the model of what you’re trying to build, but then you give it textures and detail to the point where now I can, I’ve spent really the better part of this year, living inside of my house.

Like everything in my house is designed down to where the pencil holder is on my son’s desk. Infinite detail, right? Like photo quality. And the reason I bring that up is because it has been an absolute departure from my day to day today, I get up at 5:00 AM. I get up at 5:00 AM, whether I want to or not, it’s not because I’m super hard charging.

I immediately go to my workshop and I get covered in sawdust. And it’s probably the best part of my day right

Andrew: okay. What are you doing in there? What are you making?

Wil: Right now I’m building a, the new workshop, all the benches and stuff for the new house. Um, but here’s, here’s, here’s how this manifested though. So I get really into this design, right? The house gets way bigger and more intricate than that I should have possibly given it credit for.

And I actually got myself into trouble by being able to design it in 3d. Cause really easy to add shit in 3d. It’s a lot harder to build and pay for it, but that’s your inner there. And I realized that what I’ve been missing. I wanted to create Andrew in the way you, me and lots of other founders create, you know, the things that we do.

I just wanted to be able to create something that had no consequence. Here’s where this fucks with me. When I build startups.com, it has consequence if I don’t get it right, people lose their jobs. I lose personal wealth. All these negative things happen. If this house doesn’t get built, who fucking cares.

Right. The tape, like I already live in a house. Right. Um, I love being able to put so much of myself into something with zero consequence. That’s what I’d been missing for longest time. I wasn’t working less. I was working very different. It’s been the most rewarding thing about.

Andrew: I like that too. I think, I don’t know if we had this conversation here on your PO. No, it was on your podcast. We’re talking about conversations and I told you about.

how some topics that have nothing to do with work are so. Good to bring into a conversation. And you said it’s because it has no consequence.

And I think you’re absolutely right. That people can, can just disarm in the conversation because there’s no way to judge them based on what they’re saying. There’s no way to get them to feel less than, or more than, or, or imposter syndrome because of what they said. Um, why do you feel like you’re you’re here?

Why do you, what do you think got you to this place?

Wil: Are you asking me existentially?

Andrew: No. I mean, I think I’ve been wondering what, what happened. to me that got me to the place of burnout. And if I had to think about it, it’s I thought that I was taking enough space away from work. And I really was when I would go places I would disconnect, but I think what was happening was. I ended up turning my like off time sometimes into a little bit of on-time again.

And that became a problem. I think, um, there’s this thing about being in being an entrepreneur where you’re constantly have to try the next thing and believe completely that it’s going to work and forget about anytime that things didn’t work out to just be. Be able to focus on what you’re trying to get to do.

And I think that at some point I had this like flood of, oh yeah. But I tried this and I tried that and I tried all these other things and that didn’t work. And I just w the weight of all that was just too much. And I thought, I, I think I’m tired of, of ignoring it. I just want it. And I’m not, I’m not depressed by.

But I’m tired of ignoring all the things that didn’t work. I’m tired of trying. I’m tired of all that it’s that it’s not so much even the, the time, if I have to think about it, it’s another thing with this full eternal belief and that’s it.

Wil: I think what happened. Uh, for me, and I’ve just noticed this, I just stumbled upon this over the past year or two. Um, I’m enjoying more and more things that don’t have a consequence to them. Right. Because I don’t know about you, but I’m so competitive in my day to day. Um, and by the way, no one asks me.

Right. No, one’s challenging mean, you know, that there’s, there’s no, um, evil eighties character. That’s goating me on right. To, to, to be more competitive. I just am. And honestly, it’s, it’s not always healthy. It’s probably more often not healthy over the past year. A couple things happen. Um, a buddy of mine, funniest thing, uh, another founder, uh, in my town, uh, built, uh, a hockey rink in his bag.

Right. Uh, wildly sized, like his whole backyard is now a hockey rink. Um, most of the sugar and of his wife and all his neighbors and he and I used to be on a hockey team together. And, uh, it’s five minutes away and me and a bunch of other founders that just happens to be who goes, we all play hockey every Wednesday now.

Right. It’s maybe the most fun I’ve had in a decade. Why? Because I don’t care if we win. Right. I just want to be out there. There’s no consequence to it. I’ve played in hockey leagues for years. Guess what? I hated it. Why did I hate it? Because winning doesn’t bring me much pleasure and I fucking hate losing right in the consequence.

Um, while it created challenge in this case turned out, it took the fun out of it, right? Maybe what you enjoy or the interviews maybe what’s burning you out is the consequence of running Mixergy, the business, right?

Andrew: It’s definitely that part that I want to take time away from, I think about, so my friend Shane Mac,

Wil: I know shit.

Andrew: you know,

Wil: You introduced me to.

Andrew: oh, I didn’t realize I did. So I remember when he was a part of a company called CADASIL and the vision was the photo. They were going to replace it. With a photo first experience and he had this great line.

It was something like the photo photos of the new review, which made total sense. I don’t want to read somebody’s review on Yelp. I want to see photos of the experience to get a sense of what it’s going to be like for me And he had this realization that he can pull those photos off of Instagram and then start to aggregate them based on, uh, lat, longe, uh, information.

So he knows where people are based on the information that’s embedded in their photos. Great. I think didn’t, but he, he was such a good believer in it that people started coalescing around it. And then when that didn’t work out, his next thing was he was going to do chat experiences for businesses. And he was such a big believer.

He raised a ton of money for a com for the company was renamed assessed and his vision for it. Didn’t materialize the way that he ended. The next thing is, I can’t say what the next business is. He has the same level of enthusiasm and belief, and of course the world needs to be that way. I, he was being so aggressive with someone on Twitter about his point of view that I said, stop and just hear what the other person’s saying instead of arguing back and take it in as feedback.

But that’s how blue, how much he believed in this new thing that he’s working. And that’s what, that’s the way we all have to be to some degree because we, we, why go into it and invest your time, your money and everything else, if you don’t believe to that degree. But if you believe in things that are significant enough, mostly they’re not going to pan out and you have to then not be let down by all that and be able to go and take the next step.

And that is the part that is exhausting. The, that is the part that is exhausting. This next new thing. Um, And so that is exhausting. There’s, there’s this, uh, Paul Graham essay where he talks about something like when you create something, see, there’s too much pressure from other people to see how successful it’s going to be in frankly on you.

And it’s just sometimes fun to say, this is. Say that there’s a fun little side project, or this is just a random experiment so that you do take all the pressure away instead of taking the other approach, which is to say I’m evangelizing the future because I believe so much in it. And I think that, um, because I’m such an intense person, everything had to.

be all or nothing evangelizing instead of I’m doing this play thing, I think it might be something.

And if it’s not it’s okay. Um,

I don’t know if I’m the type of person who could say that, but that’s the part, that’s the part that exhausts me. It’s not the consequences. It’s the it’s it’s the standing up again. And again and again, after being knocked down and believing that this time you’re going to fly,

Wil: That’s why I’m

Andrew: you did it before one time.

Wil: Look, that’s why I’m saying you need a minute to do things without consequence. You got to go find your hockey, you gotta go find your carpentry. Right. And by the way, it’s also okay. If you don’t find it, maybe just you screwing around and trying things is what you need. Right. I think starting another business is the worst thing you can do.

I think. Creating a goal slash target slash consequence of here’s. What I have to do or accomplish on my sabbatical is just as good as not taking it. Um, because the whole point is to take those, those, those rules and parameters off the table, not add new ones, just so you can feel shitty about it at the end, for some other reason.

Um, and in case you, weren’t sure of it, brother, you’ve earned it. You’ve been at this, you both of us have for a long time. Right. We both run this marathon for a long time. We’ve earned this, this, this sabbatical, this break a hundred times over the only mistake we can make is not taking it.

Andrew: I’ve watched Olivia get to take these types of sabbaticals and I could see how. How helpful it is. She also is full of anxiety about it. Like how long does it last? Maybe I don’t want to go back to work after this, but ultimately there was a break and I could see the value of it. So I’m going to do it.

I’m taking a break. I’m not, uh, I’m not going to take on new projects. This is my full on declaration, no new projects. Um, and I will see, hopefully I’ll still be engaged in chess. I’d like something that’s a little bit more than chess to be into something that. That I could look back on. Um, but that’s, that’s about where I am.

And I think we talked about this at one of our, uh, founder group sessions. You were picking up that I was feeling some of this, and I remember you saying let’s just talk apart from the group. And I remember I took a walk with you on the phone, a block away from Valencia street for, I don’t know, half hour an hour.

We were just talking this through. And this was months ago, and I still found myself back in doing more. And you, you were so open about here’s what could happen. Here’s what happened to me? Why aren’t you taking this seriously? And so, um, I think because I still had some energy in me, it’s very much like that cool hand Luke episode, where he just gets punched and he goes down and gets punched and he goes down and he gets punched and he goes down and we’re all in such admiration.

Don’t stay down, but maybe just staying down for a little bit is a good idea.

Wil: Yeah, but, um, I injure, I kind of sense this resignation in you though. Like I still get the sense that there’s some part of you that just doesn’t believe that you’re supposed to be doing this in as much as you seem to

Andrew: no, no, no, no, no, no, no. There, no, no. I, I, if I could tell you what I don’t believe it’s I definitely believe I deserve it. I believe I could take it. I think.

Olivia is going to beat me over the head or I don’t know what if I don’t, if I don’t do this, um, it’s more like, um, if, if I had to say where my reservations are it’s will I end up doing this or will I suddenly.

You know what I should be picking up the kids a little early. They could get let out at two 30 instead of three 30. And why I know they keep asking to stay for afterschool til five. Well, they’re not really learning it after school. They’re playing. Why don’t I just pick them up? I’ll offer to help out here.

Hopefully I helped out there. Then I start to do chores, which I don’t give a rat’s acid out chores. Just like I’d start taking those on which don’t need to get done. They’ll get done anyway. Um, And so there I’m a little concerned about that. Like Olivia had this car, she wanted to buy, we were hunting for this car and I could see that there’s a part of me that enjoyed that project.

And it’s not like a full-on project and I would want to take that type of thing, whatever the next little thing is. And I worry that, that, that my head’s going to go to things that are not meaningful, but have to get.

Wil: Sure. Uh, and that’s the nature of our, you check it off the list kind of mentality. And here’s kind of the paradox. It’s it’s whenever people say, Hey, I want to grow a company so big that I can sell it and sit on a beach. And it’s like, dude, If you were capable enough and driven enough to build a company that you were going to sell and never have to work again, you’re not the kind of person that wants to sit on a beach.

That’s

Andrew: You know what I have to say? It did help me to realize that it as a kid, I used to think that the only vacation is sit on a beach.

and even as an adult, I thought That’s it. And I never wanted to go on vacation because I don’t want to just, I I’ll do that for a little bit, but not really. No, not even for, not even for a day.

It has to be some activity. Um, All right. I should, um, I should get ready because believe it or not, I’ve got one more interview. We’re going to clear out the backlog of interviews, which I hate it. I ha I hate that. I can’t just take longer. Um, I’ve always enjoyed the extra, the extra half hour after an interview should have been done.

It sucks that I, that, that I can’t get into that. Alright. You got, if people like this, this is essentially what’s up therapy. your podcast is, um, I don’t know why you pick that. I, the only reason I could think that you would pick that as a topic, is it can’t be great for your business except like, is it good for your business?

Wil: It’s transformed our business. It turns out it’s going to shock you. That entrepreneurs are tired of hearing about how great everything is, and they want to hear about how things are actually going with people. They want some honest. And that’s what we provide. We say, okay, like this week we’re talking to, or today we were talking about, you know, the bullshit around hustle porn and how everyone’s Gary V and everybody’s crushing it.

I’m like, dude, I’ve never been more depressed people in my life. He’s crushing it. Everyone’s a, a. You know, anxiety, disaster, like that’s, what’s actually happening and people want not that people want to be depressed about it, but they want to be validated to hear that that’s actually what’s happening.

And so that was what led to us building the founder group product, you know, so founders could get together like you and I and guest Decky and talk about what’s actually going on in her head is more powerful than another bullshit lunch where everybody’s chest pounding by hungry.

Andrew: Yeah, I think the founder group is a great idea. And the, the thing that you do that is helpful is you put intense amount of time into putting the groups together. I think a lot of people I’ve had groups in over the past where. Uh, one person we’ll put the group together and then they have to keep it going and then it doesn’t go on because that person isn’t in it or one other person is in, and then it takes away all the steam.

How do you bring another person in when one person that you respect who’s a friend gets out of it? Well, the fact that there’s an organization behind it means that, well, it’s not on a. It’s just the organization, startups.com can bring another founder into the group that they’ve made sure fits in with where everyone else in the group is.

And if that person leaves, it’s not on us, it’s not our friend rejecting us. It’s that person has a problem or startups.com failed, but It’s not us. And now start with.com has to fix it either way. All right. How do people, I got to join the group because you and I were in the group. How does someone go and join the group?

If they want to just go check it out themselves, I’m

Wil: pretty easy. Just go to groups that startups.com groups.startups.com and, uh, hop on. We’ve got a simple application. And what we do is we start to, you know, uh, we take you through an onboarding and we figure out who your best. You know, like beeps at your scale, your industry, your location in the world, um, and get you going.

But I mean, it’s become a huge part of our business and I got to tell you, it all stemmed from just having conversations like these.

Andrew: I remember, uh, Michael Colella, the founder of ad beat told me he was in a S in a startup group that was organized by someone else. And I said, is it helpful? It goes, yeah, it really is helpful to talk to other entrepreneurs, but he says, A lot of them are like plumbers, like Palmer to doing really well.

And they have a business, So they’re in the group, but they can’t relate to my online experience at all And so this group just formed them based on revenue and plumbers can make a can make bank. Um, but they don’t understand his online ad buying system and they can’t give them feedback about how to, how to deal with it.

So I like that you’re doing it based on a lot of crisis.

Wil: Funny side note, we found that no matter where people were in the, um, the stage of journey, like I, my next founder group is tonight. Uh, it’s an in-person one incidentally, and it’s got seven or eight founders in it and I call it the founder group with hundred million dollar problems. Personally made a hundred million dollars.

They’ve raised a hundred million dollars or they’re worth a hundred million dollars, um, in most of them, well, in excess to that, uh, in fact, some of them are in the, in the, in the billion dollar range, but guess what, when you’re at that level, you have no one to talk to no one dealing with what you’re dealing with.

Right? You are so closed in alone and everything is just at the beginning when you’re just starting off and you get your, uh, you know, ball of emotions, it’s the whole journey. So it’s been interesting to watch it. Watch.

Andrew: All right. It’s groups.startups.com. And of course there’s startup therapy. The podcast that’s in the podcast app. You’re listening to me on and I want to thank my sponsor HostGator. If you need a website hosted, go to hostgator.com/mixergy.

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

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