On the first 25 episodes of Powderkeg: Igniting Startups, we’ve been able to share dozens of best practices and actionable insights through interviews with leading tech entrepreneurs, investors, and thought leaders. We’ve also learned the personal stories of each guest and have witnessed some powerful moments of vulnerability and authenticity.
Some of our favorite segments on the show have come from these great spur-of-the-moment stories told by our guests. In this week’s special episode, we revisit six of the most engaging stories that provide crucial advice for founders and entrepreneurs. You’ll learn how to effectively tell your company’s story, start building an audience of followers, nail your pitch to investors, deal with rejection, and reframe your perception of adversity.
This episode features the most compelling snippets from six conversations, but we highly encourage you to listen to the full interviews for even more knowledge and practical advice from some of the brightest minds in tech. You can find links to the full interviews in the “Links and Resources” section below, as well as a selection of related Powderkeg episodes that touch on the same topics. We promise you won’t be disappointed.
In this episode featuring the Best of Powderkeg, you’ll learn:
- All great entrepreneurs are also great storytellers (KA)
- How to tell your story in a way that will interest others (CH)
- Why you need to build and audience and tips to help you get started (PS)
- Best practices for nailing your pitch to investors (KN)
- The importance of socializing ideas and dealing with rejection (JL)
- Why you should stop worrying and view challenges as opportunities (MY)
Please enjoy the snippets from our favorite segments since we launched Powderkeg podcast!
- Listen to it on iTunes.
- Stream by clicking here.
- Download as an MP3 by right-clicking here and choosing “save as.”
This episode of Powderkeg is brought to you by DeveloperTown. If you’re a business leader trying to turn a great idea into a product with traction, this is for you.
DeveloperTown works with clients ranging from entrepreneurs to Fortune 100 companies who want to build and launch an app or digital product. They’re able to take the process they use with early stage companies to help big companies move like a startup.
So if you have an idea for a web or mobile app, or need help identifying the great ideas within your company, go to developertown.com/powderkeg.
If you like this episode, please subscribe and leave us a review on iTunes. You can also follow us on Soundcloud or Stitcher. We have an incredible lineup of interviews we’ll be releasing every Tuesday here on the Powderkeg Podcast.
Quotes from This Episode of Powderkeg:
“Really good entrepreneurs are fundamentally really good storytellers.” — Kristian Andersen
“Rather than impressing with jargon, talking in ‘human’ is so important.” — Cooper Harris
“There’s a very big difference between thinking about business and being in business.” — Jeff Leventhal
Links and Resources Mentioned in this Episode:
Featured Powderkeg Episodes:
Related Powderkeg Episodes:
On building an audience:
On pitching to investors:
On dealing with rejection:
living well and overcoming adversity:
Companies and Organizations:
Venture Capital Firms:
Magazines and Publications:
Kristian Andersen (@kristianindy)
Cooper Harris (@CooperHarris)
Paul Singh (@paulsingh)
Kara Nortman (@karanortman)
Jeff Leventhal (jeffreyleventhal)
Max Yoder (@MaxYoder)
Scott Dorsey (@ScottDorsey)
Eric Tobias (@erictobiasIN)
What stood out most to you about this podcast?
For me, is from Max Yoder on why you should stop worrying and view challenges as opportunities.
You? Leave a comment below.
To subscribe to the podcast, please use the links below:
If you have a chance, please leave me an honest rating and review on iTunes by clicking here. It will help the show and its ranking in iTunes incredibly! Thank you so much!
Welcome to Powderkeg igniting startups episode 26. And I have a very special episode that we created, especially for you today. It’s handcrafted. It’s curated, it’s artisanal. You might even say it’s a bespoke podcast episode, because that’s a very popular advertising word right now. But I mean it, we are pulling out some of the very best moments from our first 25 episodes of the show, plus a few new insights. I’m your host, Matt Hunckler. And I’m the founder and CEO of verge, which is a network of local communities with global reach for tech companies with traction. And these are not just any tech companies. These are tech companies that are growing in areas outside of Silicon Valley. But first, I want to give a massive shout out to our partners at powderkeg. This week’s episode, and actually the last 25 weeks of episodes of powderkeg have been brought to you by developer town. And if you don’t know developer town yet, you soon will because developer town helps enterprise companies move like a startup. They have leveraged years of experience working with startups, and they’re able to help companies better understand the viability of potential software solutions. You can find out more about these guys at developer town.com/powderkeg. But you can also find them on Twitter, Instagram, all the social media outlets at developer town. And I hope you give them a shout out because they’ve been amazing, amazing partners, I want to say thanks to them, because they let us experiment, play and test new approaches to powderkeg. As we’ve grown this podcast now to 1000s of downloads per month, since we’ve launched the thing, they’ve been with us since the beginning. And I can’t express enough what great partners they are. Please make sure you check them out at developer town.com/powderkeg. You won’t regret it. These guys are awesome. I mean New York City all week, this week to record a whole new set of interviews in person with some incredible guests. And I’ll be doing that throughout the rest of this week. And we’ll be releasing those in the next several weeks. So you want to make sure you’re subscribed to the powderkeg podcast. If you haven’t already, you can also find us at just our handy link powderkeg.co/itunes. Go to that link, you can find us subscribe, leave a review. I am in New York City this week, and I’m staying on a first floor walk up. So if you hear some street noise, just treat that as ambient mood sound effects, right. It’s all here to enhance your listening pleasure. But I really hope we’re capturing the authenticity in this podcast. I want to be real with you guys, and real with the journey as we’re growing this thing. And that’s one thing I’ve noticed throughout all of these episodes, authenticity is really what I want to talk to you about today. Because with every episode I’ve recorded in these first 25 episodes, we’ve always been able to find several vulnerable, authentic moments with our guests. They’re the very best parts. And what I realized is that these authentic moments happen when our guests are telling their personal stories, and usually their stories that they’re telling for the first time, or at least they’re telling it like it’s their first time. And what we heard in our very first guest on the show is that this is probably correlated to the fact that entrepreneurs, whether by nature or necessity, are just great storytellers. So here’s high alpha venture capitalists, my good friend and mentor, serial entrepreneur, Christian Anderson, who went in depth on our very first episode on the importance of storytelling in powderkeg. Episode One,
I think what I find interesting about entrepreneurship in kind of less visible locales, it’s a slightly different game. And I’ve always had a penchant for the underdog, I guess it might stem from my diminutive stature. That’s what my mom says. I’m not sure but growing up in Arkansas, which is a really, I mean, kind of unbalance pretty economically repressed and depressed state, right. So it’s, it comes in as a solid 49, typically on most meaningful measures of economic vitality. Yet, even in a state that, you know, it’s much maligned for being kind of behind the times. You’re looking at certain pockets of a place like that. It’s certainly not unique to Arkansas. How do you explain the rise of the largest retailer in the world? Right? How do you explain the rise of one of the largest transportation and logistics companies? Walmart JB Hunt, Tyson chicken. Yeah, you know, and Dillards department stores axiom, which was really kind of the original kind of big data company came out of Little Rock, and Adam really kind of the most unlikely places, they actually, you obviously see that around the world. That necessity is the mother of invention, right? And that success is not limited to zip code. But I think most people specifically kind of aspiring entrepreneurs and people who are still kind of trying to feel their way through kind of their ambition of personal ambition levels. Feel that they have to move they have to Go somewhere else, they have to locate to what has historically been thought of as a center of power in order to build a big, meaningful business. And the truth of the matter is, that’s not true. And I would argue that it’s never been true, I would say it’s less true today than ever. That technology has been such a great democratizer In terms of locale, but kind of observing this and being kind of an amateur student of economic development, specifically, outside of kind of tier one cities, it dawned on me that there are really, really big opportunities. I mean, in the finance world, they would call them, you know, arbitrage opportunities, right? And whether it be Indiana, or parts of Ohio, or Kentucky, or Oregon, I mean, pick your state, right? Not all of California is Northern California, right? There’s a lot of areas in the rest of that state that this is true for as well. I’m really wanted to help carry the torch and tell the story about the power of entrepreneurship, and how it can transform communities. And the economic development prospects of what kind of historically depressed economies
are a really good job of carrying the torch here in Indianapolis and one of the recent articles that you’re quoted and quoted you as saying, we used to feel like we had to apologize for being located in Indianapolis. And that’s not the case anymore. Yeah. Do you talk a little bit about that?
Yeah, we sit now we think of it as a competitive advantage, right. And, you know, it’s important to kind of separate the kind of rah rah cheerleading from fact, right? Because there is, there is a dynamic where you do have to kind of fake it till you make it a little bit, you have to do that as a person. My dad used to always say, you know, act as if, right, you know, dress for the job you want, right? And there is some of that that is true for for individual cities, states and even countries, right?
You’re an entrepreneur that that has done that well, that you can think of
probably all of them, you know what I mean? get really, really good entrepreneurs. And I’ll segue from your initial question. But really, really good entrepreneurs are fundamentally, really, really good storytellers. And it doesn’t mean that they’re telling stories that aren’t true. It means that they are telling the most interesting, most compelling, most articulate story possible. So is there an example of an entrepreneur who faked it till they made it really stands out? The question would be, give me an example of a really successful entrepreneur that did not do that. And that’s when I’d have to go do some homework. As a general rule, they’re phenomenal storytellers. And they’re having to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear, in most cases, right? They don’t have enough money. They didn’t necessarily go to the right school or have the right degree. They’re trying to sell a vision for a product that doesn’t exist yet to customers that they haven’t found yet. No, I think that is actually a critical and I’m making a very clear distinction between lying and being a good storyteller and being able to cast vision, and being able to get people to follow you why and I have zero tolerance for, but telling a good story. Being able to craft a vision and articulate that well and get potential customers or employees or investors excited, is an absolutely critical skill. And at the state level, if you look at a state like Indiana, you can literally start with nothing, right, you have to have some raw material, whether it be your brain, or deep pocket books, or as Peter Thiel talks about, you got to know a secret that very few other people know, we can have one or more of those things to really spin things up in Indiana, we were really blessed by having a you know, all the normal stuff, highly educated workforce, the good old fashion, not myth, but kind of fact of the Midwestern work ethic and a number of businesses that had created kind of micro clusters for us to take advantage of from an entrepreneurial perspective. And that’s why when today I say we used to have to kind of explain away why we were based in Indy. Today, we lead with that because in so many parts of the country now, this particular city is recognized as certainly as being a hotbed of marketing technology.
One of the things I love about Kristian, other than his amazing southern phrases like silk purse out of a sow’s ear, is that he’s so passionate about building high growth tech ecosystems outside of the valley. And he’s done so much to build the Indianapolis tech ecosystem. And Indianapolis, of course, is where we grew verge initially, before we spread out to all these other cities. And he and his company studio science, were so instrumental in helping us find our brand voice and tell our story. In fact, they even picked the name verge and powderkeg. And they helped shape how we connected with our community. And it’s really I think, helped grow what we do here, but I feel like I’ve become a better storyteller myself, as I’ve talked to all these incredible guests, and I got One of my biggest insights into storytelling, when I met with our guest, Cooper Harris, we, of course, met at her offices in Los Angeles, where she’s building her company quickly. And the cool thing about well, many of our guests, but Cooper in particular, as they come from diverse backgrounds, for instance, before Cooper started her first company, she was an actress in New York, working off Broadway, and even in soap operas. And then she chased the film industry out to LA, where she later fell in love with tech and coding, and what she’s doing now with klikly. But her background in theater, and her classic training in theater, gave her some awesome perspective on storytelling, which I’ve really taken to
heart, I think in terms of telling a story. You know, you learn beginning middle end, you learn about bookings, you learned about how to, you know, maybe accelerate your way through, highlight the important even sentences
accelerate your way through, talk to me about what that means. So if
you Okay, so there’s two answers to that. Okay. There’s accelerating your way through even just a sentence. Sure. And also accelerating your way through a story. So if you’re talking about maybe your pitch, yeah, you know, maybe you start off in a way that is very striking. To me. It’s very to the point. It’s not too fast. You don’t want to lose people, right. But as you go, you’re building momentum. Okay, maybe this is also how you raise money. Yeah, you’re building. Right? And, and the more momentum you build, it’s like, you’re snowballing, right? And then you’re creating this avalanche, where people are so hanging on to every word, they really, really want to hear where the stories is going, then boom, you hit the climax, and this is the solution. And then the story is done. You can resolve it.
Yeah. I mean, even as you were describing that, I could hear you doing that, speeding up your pace of speech, increasing the volume, increasing the pitch,
but if you listen to anybody who’s a good storyteller, they just do it naturally. And they may not even realize what they’re doing. But that’s absolutely what it is.
And you were trained for that. Yeah, exactly. That’s great. And so So you said one was how you actually go through it. But then the other was, maybe more in the way you structure it. Is that right?
Yeah. Okay. Yeah. So it’s, it’s how you structure things. And that idea of, you know, thinking about it from a storytelling perspective. And then also Oh, side note, just in terms of tech, tech is often very dry, boring, confusing, convoluted. Talk to me about the API. Yeah. Which by the way, I’m having to do it. Right, right. And maybe I can actually make it you’re
like, I’ve been waiting for you to ask me.
It’s so awesome. But, you know, to talk about an API, which by the way, quickly has it is awesome. But to do that, in a way that like palatable and like makes any sense to normal people is so hard. So rather than impressing with jargon, and the blah, blah, you know, I think just talking in human, so
important talk in human, it’s just such great advice. And I love that Cooper put it so plainly. But sometimes the things that are put the most plainly and simply are the hardest to execute. And so that’s kind of what I love about each of these episodes is you get not only some really great nuggets of wisdom, but usually it’s very simple and to the point and easy to remember, once you kind of uncovered that, through our guests story, a lot of our guests also offer a ton of tactical information. And we’ve implemented so many things. Each episode, we’re implementing a ton with the team here at verge, and on powder, keg growing our audience. And that’s one of the things I’ve loved the most about every guest is I’m asking questions here, you know, for myself just as much as I’m asking for our listeners like yourself. So on the tactics front, I really wanted to share with you one of my favorite answers to a question, and that comes from our serial entrepreneur and investor Paul Singh. Now, if you didn’t hear the Paulson episode, definitely go back and listen to it because he’s a former partner of the well known venture capital fund 500 startups. Now he’s traveled 10s of 1000s of miles all over North America, investing in tech companies outside of Silicon Valley. And so I asked him this question about how entrepreneurs that aren’t necessarily in Silicon Valley or New York City, about how they could get resources and some of his advice on getting those resources and building an audience. Were some of the best little nuggets in this little snippet. Here’s Paul saying, as someone outside of Silicon Valley that isn’t necessarily going to go into Starbucks and immediately find someone that’s interested in giving them feedback on their product idea, and willing to you know, talk for 2030 minutes about it. And oh, by the way, has some perspective on it. That’s actually helpful. What are the things that an individual can do that’s looking to start up outside the valley to kind of give themself the resources they need to grow and scale?
Let’s let’s say you’ve got somebody listening here that built a prototype of something publish it on Product Hunt, or get into a Reddit subreddit or something like that and publish it there. You know, if you got an extra 100 bucks, you know, buy a Facebook ad campaign and drive traffic towards a landing page and see what people do. You know, if you got a little bit more money, I don’t know, you know, join a co working space and pester the hell out of anybody else to work in there to kind of give you give you some feedback. Here’s the thing I remember back when I used to sell cars, like the way it works at car Max is like, if you’ve got nothing else going on, you stand by the door, that’s just how it goes. Like, you’re not going to meet somebody by like wandering around the parking lot, or hanging in the break room, or whatever, you just have to like, get you have to like put yourself out there. I don’t know, I feel like that’s what you still have to do. Now, even if you’re sitting in a cubicle right now listening to this, you know, doing your nine to five, like, let’s just be very clear that you could do the best work in the world. But nobody, if your boss doesn’t know about it, if like your friends don’t know about it, whatever. Don’t be surprised if you get passed over for the promotion, I think people have this like weird version to to talking about the things they’ve accomplished, or the things they’ve done, put yourself out there more often, like, exposure gives you leverage, there’s a lot of stuff that could go wrong, that’s out of my control, the public markets would crash. And then all of our investors, you know, that help invest in companies with us could choose to not invest in companies, or like there’s a million other things like that, that are completely out of my control, right. But the thing I think about every day is how do I get 150 new email addresses to sign up on my blog every single day. Because the bigger the audience, the the bigger the reach. And the bigger the reach, the bigger the insurance policy that I’ve got. This is the number one piece of advice that I would give to every person listening to this today, which is, no matter what you’re doing today, start building an audience. And it doesn’t have to be big. It just has to be like curated like. So if you’re listening to this right now Google something called 1000. True fans, yes. Right. And read that and internalize it. And as you think about your career, like, remember that being an entrepreneur doesn’t just mean you have to start something you have to like your career, you are going to be an entrepreneur for your career. That’s just how it goes. Whether you work at some big company or you choose to start your own thing, you you are always going to be entrepreneur, you have to think about the 1000 true fans, because that’s your insurance policy.
You heard Paul, if you haven’t started an email list for your audience or potential audience, you’re missing a massive, massive opportunity. Our verge and powderkeg email list has sparked some of our biggest opportunities as we’ve grown. And without it, I don’t think we’d be in eight cities, we wouldn’t have partnerships with Forbes, and Inc, magazine and Huffington Post and other tech blogs. And we wouldn’t have the kind of feedback that we get every day from verge members and powderkeg listeners, like yourself. Now, of course, if you’re not getting those emails, you can get them at verge hq.com, or powderkeg.com. But it’s a great way to start and grow new relationships. And I’d love to hear from you if you’re on that list. But maybe you haven’t hit reply, just hit reply. And let’s start a conversation. And that relationship building thing. That’s something we’ve heard as a recurring theme on this show, because business really is all about relationships. And one of our guests who really gets this was Kara Norman, who’s a venture partner at upfront ventures, but also a serial entrepreneur herself. She shared all about her experience as an investor in tech starting as early as the 90s. But also her experience as a founder of her own company seedling. But I most appreciated her advice as an investor speaking to founders who are pitching their startup. And of course, pitching is the ultimate entrepreneurial skill. And it doesn’t mean you have to be pitching for millions of dollars of investment capital. This can be pitching for your first customer, or your next big customer, it can be pitching to a really great hire, or even a technical co founder, and Kara captured this. So so well, in her advice to all entrepreneurs, and really anyone who is pitching and selling their ideas,
pitching is interesting, because it’s often your very first time you meet an entrepreneur. And often if they’re in the middle of a fundraising, you don’t have very long to get to know and which is one of the reasons I love. I always tell people, if it’s an a fantastic team, I’d much prefer to get to know them during early you know, even if it’s a seed round or precede round if they’re a great team, because we can get to know each other over six months or a year and I can get to know if what they’re saying in the meeting, and what they’re doing outside the meeting how those two things relate like that you’re gonna get a million things wrong in the early days of a company. So it’s less about what exactly happened and it’s much more about who they are, what they thought they were going to do, what they ended up doing and why they ended up doing it. It also just helps you understand that you you’re building a long term relationship again, who you’re stuck with. I mean, one thing I think entrepreneurs don’t think enough about is your, when you take an investor like us where we have a board seat, you’re stuck with that investor, usually for seven to 10 years. And so they shouldn’t want to diligence you as much as you want to diligence them, would you actually enjoy working with them sort of thing? So, and then in terms of the pitches, you know, I think a lot of things like really understanding what the business is about as quickly as possible. So what’s, what’s the problem or the new opportunity you’re creating? How are you doing it? And then not trying to get all information in the first meeting, but being responsive to that first meeting and understanding? I always say, and this is something I learned when I was an entrepreneur, I would study for pitches, like pitches, the way I would study for a test in college, I kept, you know, a Google Doc and I had all my data points around the different ways I thought about market and, you know, this, I mean, just every meeting I’d come out of, and if there was a question, I felt like I didn’t do as well as I’d like to do, or I needed to research some more, I do do it, and I’d write it up. And so I’d study for it. And then the hardest thing to do is to not want to share all that information is too low. So I always tell entrepreneurs, if you walk out of a first meeting, and you’ve shared 50%, of what you wanted to share. That’s, that’s, that’s, that’s good. Yeah, like 100%, not good. 50% good. And then a lot of it is just like not overselling what you don’t know, and being comfortable showing where your vulnerabilities are. A lot of what I try to figure out, if I’m really excited about a company is sort of like what makes this person tick, which they’re dynamic with their co founder, if they have one, you know, because the personnel stuff is the stuff that ultimately ends up kind of being the biggest determining factor. And whether a company does does really well or doesn’t not always the case, but it’s definitely an important one.
So cool to hear care’s perspective as an investor, turned entrepreneur, and then back to investor again, I really enjoyed connecting with her in LA and hope we can bring her back to the show, she just had so much to share. And if you want to go check out that episode, it’s just powderkeg, Episode 10, I highly recommend it, even if you listen to it the first time around, it’s a good one to go back to and listen to, you know, she talks a lot about pitching. And one of the things that was going to come with any pitch is a lot of rejection. And most of our entrepreneurs on the show, we ended up talking about rejection at one point or another. But one of my favorites was our guest, Jeff Leventhal, who’s had like five tech exits with his company, many he’s sold the company or IPO. And he’s now an investor as well. But he had some really cool perspective to share on his own experiences in handling rejection, which, you know, sometimes you’ve just got to take that rejection, take the feedback, and go and iterate on your product. Other times, you got to learn how to kind of handle that rejection, socialize your idea and sort of sift through what is actually good feedback. And what’s just sort of some haters out there. So to talk a little bit about that whole process. Here’s Jeff Leventhal.
And I’ll share a story with you about the mental side of it, like people are going to tell you your product, things that you know, two little stories. One is, I hired this executive from Hewlett Packard once, and he’s amazing. I said to him, I go, and this is, you know, we were first getting started, you know, it’s like his first week work. And I said, you know, three quarters of your Rolodex aren’t gonna call you anymore. He’s like, What are you talking about? I’m like, Well, you know, your, your Packard, when you call people, they take the call, they call you back, they’re interested, you know, you’re a big company, and go, nobody knows who we are. When you call them, you know, you’re gonna see that 25% of those people actually like you, right, and the rest of them are there for you the Packard, that was hard for him to really comprehend. But in high school, I used to write poems and songs and things like that I would share with people and people were like, Oh, that song is terrible, right? Like, that sounds terrible. Right? So one day, I took the song The lyrics of a Paul McCartney song, and I wrote him down, like, what do you think of this song? Now as Tara wanna was gonna, nobody’s gonna, nobody’s gonna like that song. Right? And that taught me to stop really listening to feedback, and really follow my own. Because I’m, like, I said to myself, all the songs I’m writing be bad. Yeah, I got all these things I’m putting together not make sense to people, right? But people are very happy to be negative on you. So it sounds like Alright, I’m gonna take this, I’m gonna take these good lyrics, I’m gonna present it to the same friends. And they’re like, that’s terrible. I’m like, okay, I’m good. Now. Now I get
it. That’s interesting. Because on one end, you’ve got sort of the Don’t believe everything you hear, because people just want to criticize things. Yeah. Innately? Yeah. But then on the other side, your guiding light in the early days is what are customers saying about this product? Yeah. What is your feedback? How do you differentiate between all this, this person is just a hater versus this person is just trying to help make the product better?
Well, look, I think if you’re at a customer meeting, they took the meeting for a reason. Yeah. Either they took it because, you know, you’ve got a friend that they respect and that person respects you and you know, they want to hear what you have to say about something that’s important to them. They’re sitting in a seat where they you know, you know, one, they’ll lay out with their strategic initiatives on what they want to do. And just understanding that is really important. So you So even if you don’t walk away with great product feedback, you, you’re going to walk away with good industry feedback, you’re going to walk away with perspective on how somebody in your ecosystem perceives this industry, what’s important, what’s not. But you’re walking away from a meeting with somebody who’s got a point of view in a business that you want to be in. And so that alone will start to give you a vibe, it’s a very big difference from thinking about business and being in business. And it’s like, I’m gonna build a great payment system. That’s really great. That sounds awesome to me with a bank, right? And then let’s come up with a 1000 reasons why you’re not going to build a great payment system yet. But it’s important to get that perspective. I’m not saying don’t do it. For those 1000 reasons. I’m saying it’s really important, though, to get that perspective.
When Jeff and I connected for this interview, we were sitting in a conference room of a co working space in Manhattan. And I think everyone in that co working space could feel Jeff’s energy and passion for entrepreneurship. And what I loved is that he not only shared the highs of entrepreneurship, but he shared a lot of the lows and how he handles a lot of those lows mentally. And this psychological aspect of entrepreneurship and innovation is something we came back to time and time again, with every single episode. One of the most candid interviews where we got into a lot of this psychology was actually our interview with Max Yoder, and that was powderkeg, Episode 19. And one of the things he said in that episode was, there’s so many things in the world that look like magic, when in reality, it’s really just a process. But go back and listen to that. And I actually want to play a clip for you here. From my conversation with Max. In this clip, I talk a little bit with Max about how he reframes challenges into opportunities.
Scott Dorsey has done a really good thing for me of just making me look at every challenge as an opportunity instead of a threat. And it sounds very trite, it sounds very like, oh, yeah, that’s a self help book waiting to happen. And it’s probably already been written super betters actually pretty much all about that. But it’s real. You get to frame the problem, how you want to find a problem, you know, somebody I read a quote that said, The problem isn’t the problem. It’s your, it’s your perception of the problem, or it’s your attitude about the problem, that’s the problem, challenges are going to come at you, every time they come at Scott, he just does this and he smiles and he tackles it. And that’s way better than looking at as a threat where you kind of want to recede back into your cage or cave, and just go to bed. Because you’re like, I don’t want to deal with that. You waste a lot of time worrying in that mindset that you don’t have that energy that you’ve already wasted on the worry to put into actually solving the problem. You come at it from a challenge mindset, you’re like, I didn’t waste my time worrying. I’m just going to get after it. The easiest way for this to go away is I work on it. You know, and I don’t hide from it. And I know how simple and maybe even lame that sounds if you’ve not tried it, but it took me a long time and then all sudden you just start to default Yeah, into that mindset. And life gets a lot richer. When that happens. Well, I
have to compliment you, Max, because I’ve known you for a long time through your entrepreneurial journey, or journeys, counting the first venture that you’re at Virgin and grew to a certain point, but this journey that you’ve gone a lot further on with lessonly I feel like I can tell that you worry a whole lot less. Yeah. And you’re just You seem like you’re in flow a lot more than you were in the early days. That was hard for me. Yeah, I’m a big worrier when you talk to me about when you’re shifting, because on one end, you’ve got worry. On the other end, you’ve got icy challenges as opportunity. Talk to me about that middle part where you’re like, are recognizing that you’re worrying and that it’s not helpful. Yeah. How would you snap yourself out of that?
Yeah, I mean, I am trying to meditate, because it helps a lot. But normally, it’s really just about talking about the problem or writing the problem down for me, just getting it documented, and realizing that it’s not as threatening as it feels like it is. But I just
when you say talking about it, are you talking into a recorder by yourself? Or you’re talking to people? Yeah, people on your team?
Yeah, people on the team. And you know, I don’t like to burden people on the team with like, my deep, dark worries, because they’ve got a lot on their shoulders already. And it doesn’t seem fair to them. But then sometimes I realize how much they appreciate it when, you know, it’s me being vulnerable, and I expect them to be vulnerable, I gotta be vulnerable back at them. So there’s a certain balance of like, Hey, I believe in this place, but it doesn’t mean I don’t worry about it. And it’s my job to worry about because I worry about that I work on the problem. So Eric Tobias, who is a co founder of lessonly helped me reframe. I said, Eric, I’m really worried about the team growing when we were eight people. And he said, I’m glad you’re worried about it, because you worry about it means you’re gonna work on it. If you weren’t worried about it, I worried you won’t be working on it. But if you’re gonna work on it, you’re gonna figure it out, you know, like, you can put enough will into it that you’re gonna get there. And I liked that reframing of worry. So my mind default default story. But the more you practice around saying I recognize that I’m wearing right now and I recognize that there’s not a whole lot of value to it. And I recognize that if there is value to it, I’m only going to uncover it by just working, you know, that’s how I absolve my my worry is I work and it helps. Now I have to stop working sometimes too. And I make music when I do that, and I spend time with my my fiance and those are all really great balancing moments for me, but I just really stopped boring when I start working.
I love connecting with Max because we’ve known each other for years, but he has learned so much in these last few years. building his company lessonly, which is just killing it growing like crazy. And in Indianapolis, Indiana, of all places, it’s really cool to go back and listen to that episode. If you do listen, towards the end there, I apologize in advance for my guitar playing Max and I actually got together because his software is a learning platform, a learning and teaching platform, I should say. He actually brought his ukulele with him to the studio. I had my guitar on me. So we played a little bit of his own original music on that little easter egg if you listened through on that episode, which was powderkeg, Episode 19. But that really wraps it up for our little experiment here of doing this curated podcast episode. There are many, many more episodes that we didn’t cover, and we had some amazing guests. So I hope you dive back into powderkeg episodes one through 25. Of course, you can find all of that firstname.lastname@example.org where you can go through all of the powderkeg archives. Subscribe obviously to the podcast, subscribe to the email list. I hope you find some inspiration and ideas to apply to your own startups, your own business and your own high growth ideas. Max it’s a nice little symbol