Founders Talk – Episode #67

Mastering the art of quitting

featuring Lynne Tye

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Lynne Tye is the founder of Key Values, a platform where developers find engineering teams that share their values. To be more precise, Lynne is a solo-founder. She’s also a team of one. Lynne’s path to becoming a founder was anything but typical. She had plans to follow in her parent’s and sister’s footsteps to go into academia, and got two years into pursuing her PhD in Neuroscience before she made one of the best choices in her life — she quit. Lynne has mastered the art of quitting, at the right time of course, and she’s used that art as her secret weapon in her quest to become a founder.

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Let’s talk about quitting, because quitting seems to be a secret tool of yours. And I don’t say that badly, because I’ve quit too, and I’ve learned the idea of focusing; when you focus, you have to quit things that take away your focus…

For sure.

So let’s open up with the importance of quitting.

I’m smiling as you mention that… I think quitting is, oddly, one of my favorite topics, and it’s so interesting that every time anyone brings it up, they always have to couple that with a “Not to be offensive/No offense/I’m not trying to insult you.” I think there’s just such a negative connotation with quitting, but I’m a proud quitter, I guess. I think quitting is something people should talk about more, especially in entrepreneurship. I think it’s weird that it’s not. I think I talked about this at one point, somewhere else, but just to say that in grad school - I was a grad student, I studied neuroscience for many years, and one of the things that was interesting was a lot of the most successful PIs, or investigators, professors, people who run the labs, researchers, they have a skill that it seems they’re very good at. Quitting. You do a project, you know when to stop and start a new one. It just seemed to be top of mind. But when it comes to the startup world, and founders, the only thing you hear is “Just don’t quit. The best way to succeed is just don’t quit.”

And it’s just so strange, because projects are very similar within the lab and with companies. All the parallels are there - you have to know when to quit something; you’re not gonna be successful if you spend 20 years going in a direction that’s a dead end. So I think knowing when to quit is super, super-important.

Right. If you’re in a cul-de-sac, get out.

Say that again?

If you’re in a cul-de-sac, get out.

Exactly, exactly.

Have you read Seth Godin’s book, The Dip?

I have not.

Okay, so since this is such a key ingredient to your story, which is why we began there, and you’re such an advocate for the right time to quit, I would say homework for you is to read, while you’re on this vacation that you may or may not be one - I’m not sure what you’re doing in Ithaca, but… Read the book.

Yeah. Done.

And if you’re listening to this, don’t pause the show and go read it, but pause the show and go buy it, and then come back to the show and read it later. But your homework as a listener is to read The Dip. My gosh.

Love it. Will do.

[00:04:04.00] Wisdom. One thing Seth Godin says in that book is if you’re in a cul de sac, get out, basically. Because if you’re in a cul-de-sac, like you said, if you’re going that direction and your business is in a cul-de-sac… Well what is a cul-de-sac? It’s a dead end.

Exactly. [unintelligible 00:04:18.22]

[unintelligible 00:04:19.08] keep going around there, and there’s no real long-term path… And Seth’s advice in that is basically what you’ve said before, which is why I thought you should read this if you haven’t yet - it’s that it’s about the right time to quit. You don’t start something and see it through to the end because you have to… “Winners never quit, and quitters never win” kind of mentality. But there’s this dip in between starting and finishing that is this lull. In the startup world you hear it as the trough of sorrow etc. This sort of long sloth, this long time period that’s very hard… But the winners are the difference between the people who can get through the dip, but is the dip worth getting through? That’s the long story short.

For sure.

So this is in the book. This isn’t an advertisement for his book, but I love that book. Anyways…

[laughs] If it was, then it’s perfect. I was gonna say that something that’s also interesting is just the difference between giving up and quitting…

And I know this is just semantics, but in my mind quitting is when you’ve – I mean, no one starts anything knowing that they’re gonna quit. Or maybe they do, and that’s fine, but most people don’t… And I think the difference is when you have this goal in mind there’s something that you want to get to, you want to accomplish, and quitting it is when you identify that you no longer want that goal, or in some cases of course it’s just knowing that that the path to getting to that goal is not optimal to you; it’s not gonna make you happy, it’s not the easiest, or there’s some other reason… But I think something that’s weird is that you get a lot more information as time goes on, but people don’t reevaluate with the new information that they have.

Giving up, on the other hand, is when you really still do want that end goal, and you just don’t have it in you, and I think that’s what most people mean when they say “Don’t quit.” They mean “Don’t give up. I know it’s hard, but you should push through if you’re still excited about it.” If everyone is telling you that it’s not gonna work, but you still wake up excited about doing it, don’t give up. Ignore the haters. That part I believe in, and I understand that.

Then the second part of that, I think quitting – let’s say your goal is to be happy, or to be successful, whatever those mean; those are very subjective endpoints… In order to get to that endpoint, which is very nebulous, you have to quit a bunch of stuff in the middle. I think people just are almost hyper-focused and they’re thinking “If I start this book, I have to finish it”, even though it’s boring and it’s taken you a year to get to page 13. You don’t need to finish it for the sake of finishing it. Definitely quit that book.

Right. Let’s talk about specifically how quitting has been key to you. Can you give us the example (or examples, if that’s the case) of maybe the moment you were quitting, and some of the ways you thought about “I should stop doing this to get here.” Were you evaluating and optimizing for your happiness? What were you doing?

I’ve quit a bunch before this dropping out of grad school, but that was the first major quitting experience that I had. In college I was studying brain and cognitive sciences, and then immediately after college I’m taking time off; I moved to San Francisco to go to UCSF and pursue a Ph.D. in neuroscience. This is an average between 5 and 10 years; it’s very wide.

I think the context here is helpful. My older sister and both my parents are also academic professors, so everyone in my family is a doctor, and they have a Ph.D, so for me it was obvious – there was never a question in my mind growing up that I wouldn’t get my Ph.D.

A year and a half in it got really hard. That was the time when my parents were like “Oh yeah, it’s hard. If it was easy, everyone would do it. Just push through. We were there, it was hard. Everyone thinks it’s hard.”

[00:08:10.29] Right. It’s true advice.

Yeah, which is true. For sure. So six months later I was really miserable and I could not pinpoint what it was… It was just mind-blowing to me. And I was also doing pretty well. I think I was the first in my class to pass my qualifying exam; I’d co-authored a paper, I was published already… Things were going really well. So I think it just didn’t cross my mind that the thing I was doing well at could have been the source of my misery, and I just thought it could have been anything else. Maybe I miss my friends, maybe I’m homesick… I was dating this guy from college at the time, and I was like “Maybe we should move in together. Maybe we should break up. Are we getting married?” I had no idea where [unintelligible 00:08:56.11]

[laughs] Questioning all the things.

All the things. All of them. I was like “Maybe I don’t like my neighborhood that I live in. I don’t know.” But then it was like “Oh, maybe I don’t like what I’m doing every day” and then there was the question of “Should I change my project? Should I change labs? Should I try to transfer to a different school?” Then eventually – this is actually super-cliché… I went to Burning Man. It was not my first, and it wasn’t that Burning Man that I had this epiphany. Actually, whenever I do have a life-changing revelation it’s always after. I was coming back from Burning Man, and I was sitting in this post-doc research talk, or something; it was like 8:30, it was super-early, I was eating this terrible bagel, that tasted so bad, and I just had literally an a-ha moment where I was like “I don’t like this, and I don’t have to do it.”

It was literally like a light switch where it was dark before, and I was confused, and then all of a sudden someone turned the lights on and I could see everything. It was very clear to me that I just didn’t wanna do this for the rest of my life… And then I ended up dropping out a week later. So it just happened really quickly once I had that moment of clarity.

But yeah, that was one of many different times that I quit something. I had a long string after. But I think for me at the time it was just really about being happy, and also I stopped looking forward to the outcome. The end goal just didn’t seem as exciting to me as it once did, and of course, at that point it’s like “What’s the point of working so hard and being miserable doing something that you’re not even excited about?” It’s like winning a race that you don’t even care about winning, which is something that I try to remind myself to this day. It actually still happens a lot, where I get a little confused about whether it’s my goals, or if it’s other people’s goals, and having to decouple that is an ongoing process for me.

Yeah, it’s interesting, your goals versus somebody else’s goals. For the listeners’ sake listening to this - because I wanna fast-forward just a tiny bit, to at least preface what you’re doing now, so that it gives a little bit of context…

Of course.

Because this show isn’t simply about Key Values, it’s really about you. But Key Values and you are so symbiotic right now, because you’re in the early stages of beginning this business for yourself… But this question of quitting, and this circumstance you’ve found yourself in and this very profound thought you’ve had that has seemed to have unlocked the key to your life, so to speak, has been pretty cool.

Yeah.

So just give us a quick preface of what you’re doing now. What is Key Values?

A hundred percent. So Key Values helps software engineers find teams that share their values, and it’s pretty on-brand with what I’m saying - it’s for people who either are currently at a job that they don’t love, they’re not excited, there’s dread every Sunday night thinking about the next day… Or anyone who’s looking for a job, trying to just optimized for a life that they’d be excited about, and finding the companies and the teams that would make them happy… And it’s usually because of value alignment. It’s not because it’s a company our grandparents have heard of. It’s nice to have the name recognition, but that’s definitely not a predictor for quality of life, or anything like that.

[00:12:11.29] So yeah, the way it works on Key Values is there’s a preset list of 45 values, and I ask companies that I work with to select the eight from that list that best describe their engineering culture. Then of course, the harder part is qualifying it. Not just talking the talk, but walking the walk and proving it… And I think it’s really just to help reorder the steps of the interview process and help job seekers or anyone who’s interested in joining a team learn about the actual people on that team, before they commit to even a phone call, but usually the exhausting interview process.

And of course, I think it’s funny I didn’t notice at the time - I still build Key Values with software engineers in mind and for the job seeker, but I feel like my job is actually almost like a coach in some ways; I give a lot of pep talks to both companies and job seekers. I think it can be a pretty soul-sucking process, hiring and interviewing; on both sides, when you’re searching for a job.

Oh, yeah. My gosh, it’s the hardest thing. Aside from buying a house, getting married, having a kid - getting a job, I would say, is in line with the stress level of difficulty level. Would you agree with that?

I actually think all those other things are more fun. Getting married should be fun.

But I feel you… I got married in December, and we did not do the traditional – we didn’t have a wedding, we just went to the courthouse. It was because we were avoiding a lot of what people think is really fun, but would seem really stressful, not fun to us.

Yes. We had our wedding in Jamaica, my wife and I. We did a destination wedding.

Nice, nice.

We invited our closest friends, so we didn’t have to deal with the whole 300 people there, feeding everybody, throwing a big party when it should be around us and [unintelligible 00:13:58.08]

Yeah. Because it’s hard to not be about… For you.

Anyways, hopefully Jamaica was more fun than looking for a job. [laughter]

Okay, I’ll scratch that one off. I didn’t say it was about me, Lynne, I just said that just generally people tend to have some stress around the marriage process.

For sure. There’s a lot.

So definitely – my wife, if you’re listening to this, I love you. I was not stressed out about marrying you. Do not believe Lynne. She’s telling lies.

[laughs] I was just gonna quickly say that actually my husband and I - we actually decided to sign a prenup, and in the beginning that was stressful, but it ended up being such a good process. And that’s a huge digression, but I’m very pro-prenups now, which I did not start that way… But yes, there was some stress around that in the beginning, just because anytime there’s legal paperwork, there’s a lot to think about. And that’s the same thing as finding a job - you’re literally legally binding yourself, at least for some period of time, to a company.

That’s right.

So before you say your “I do”, I hope people really think long and hard about the person that they’re “marrying into.” I’m doing the air quotes here. But yeah, I think a lot of the people don’t consider what’s most important. I think if you wanted to compare it, it’s almost like you marry someone because they look good on paper. It’s actually how most people find a job; they’re like “It sounds good.” Without digging in at all, or thinking about what the day-to-day looks like. They think about the initial “It’d be so fun to announce that I’m gonna work at Google.” And I’m not knocking Google, but you know… It’s a very superficial reason to get married.

Right. It’s almost like getting married based simply on looks. Never hearing that person’s voice, never feeling their embrace, just simply looking at the person, which is kind of like a brand. If you just look at Google, what you think they are about, you think you wanna work there for the brand name, or whatever.

Yeah. And it’s one of those things – I think it’s two lessons that I’ve learned… One is never judge a company based on their website. It’s still tempting for me sometimes, when I’m rushing, to just get a sense of what a company does… But it’s just a horrible way to judge a company, and I know everyone does it.

[00:16:08.13] Yeah. I judge people every day by their websites.

It’s really, really interesting… And especially with early startups – I wouldn’t say it’s inversely-related or correlated, but there are definitely companies who focus way too much on making their marketing website look pretty and don’t spend trying to find product-market fit, or serving their customers, and it’s not like a business that’s gonna do necessarily well, and it’s definitely no indicator of whether the team likes each other, or jells… That’s one thing.

The second thing I was gonna say is it is very easy to tie the brand and the personality of a company (their product or their service) with the internal team. Sometimes those things are matched, but sometimes they’re very different. And this is – well, I don’t know if I’m trying to edit myself here, but I’ve had a couple of friends work at Snapchat, and they said the personality of Snapchat as a brand is very different from how it is internally… And I just thought that was really interesting; I definitely see it here and there with companies… And sometimes for the better. Sometimes a product seems very serious; security, or something maybe dry(ish), but internally there’s a team that – they have all these quirks, and they have all these interesting traditions that they do together, very colorful personality, and it’s not the same as their product’s brand.

What hear here is that you went to school for some really deep subject around the brain, you were pursuing a Ph.D, and what you’re doing now is something like – it’s like a 180. It’s not at all the brain sciences. However, I would say that you could probably employ a lot of what you learned in the sciences around the brain because of the emotional attachment between a person, their identity and their job. Not that that’s a healthy way of life, to completely identify yourself by your job, but a lot of people’s identities are really tied into their job, or what they do. If I said “Lynne, what do you do?”, you’re probably gonna tell me what you do to make money, generally… Not “Well, I like to backpack, and hike, and mountain-bike”, or whatever it might be. You don’t generally lead with your hobbies, you generally lead with the thing that you do 40 a week.

You saying that makes me wanna edit my questions when I meet people. I should ask them “What do you love to do?” That’s what I should ask. Because it can be work.

So as you mentioned, I’m in Ithaca now; I flew in with my mom last night, and it’s because I was born and raised here and we’re selling the house, long story short. It’s not really a vacation, it’s moving out a bunch of stuff… But we were talking about this yesterday, just how growing up, my parents genuinely loved what they did, so much… And I think I confused that with their occupation, rather than their relationship with their occupation. I wanted that too, and I thought therefore I should also do what they were doing.

I think it’s not good or bad to tie your identity with what you do. If you love what you do, then by all means. I think I’m very fortunate to do something where it’s really one and the same.

Well, the thing is the dichotomy between where you’re are now, based on what I know of your story, your parents, your sister - so there’s definitely some people that you love and trust, that you are being influenced by in positive ways, that were role models to you, and you pursued that direction, but now you’re somewhere completely different. It’s almost shocking. Not that you don’t deserve to be where you’re at, obviously, but it’s just so starkly different than brain science, or the cognitive sciences, or neurobiology, or anything like that. It’s in a whole different world.

[00:20:05.02] It’s so different. It’s so different. And just as what you were saying before - I actually think there’s very little that I can transfer from my scientific research days to now. I mean, I have really great motor control, I can really with precision replicate surgeries on mice… But that’s just not useful today; I don’t do any of that today.

Okay, so maybe I don’t know your sciences well enough to know… My assumption was that you were studying the brain, and maybe things around how our minds work, around empathy would be really strong for you.

I studied more of like motivation and reinforcement learning, at least in the last couple of years… Part of the reason why I studied that is because I always had this interest in it and fascination with it even when I was young. So I think that’s still true… But I wouldn’t say it’s because of science that – how do I say that…? I feel like if you’d cut out the science part, nothing would really have changed. You could still learn everything that I know now. My level of knowledge in terms of neuroscience - I’m basically a layperson at this point. It’s embarrassing sometimes when I meet up with people from my former life; I can’t even talk–

You can’t hang.

I cannot hang, for sure. I’m like “What is that again? Did I pronounce that word right?” I don’t know… But it’s a huge departure, and honestly, it’s been so many years I sometimes forget how hard it was. It’s true - everyone in my family, everyone that I loved, everyone that I respected was in that world, so leaving it was such a big deal. I think people talk about it now – they say it in a sentence, like “I dropped out”, but really being able to make that decision is huge. For me, I think the hardest part was just coming to terms with the fact that I was not who I always thought I was, and that’s a real existential crisis.

That is. Wow.

I really had no idea who I was. I was leaving everyone and everything that I knew behind. I didn’t have a network outside of Academia. I didn’t know who to ask for help. Literally, everyone that I knew and talked to for six years prior was in Academia. And of course, my family is very supportive now, but it was definitely really hard in the beginning; there was a lot of tears, and it was really hard for my parents to understand why. It’s actually interesting – what I really did was I took a leave of absence (I think it was called), and you’re allowed… I’m actually not even sure of the rules. I think you’re allowed to leave for a year and just come back at that point, and I think I did that just in case, but I had no intention of returning. I knew for sure.

Yeah. You had a plan B.

When I make a decision to quit, I know. I never look back, it’s for certain. But it’s weird, because even 2-3 years after I dropped out people still thought I might come back. My mind was so far from that. I was like “What?!” It was just weird that other people were almost living in the past to me, that’s what it felt like.

In some ways, me becoming a founder, which is so – I never would have guessed that… And it’s part of why I can say to people that you need to really think long and hard about who you are; you can reinvent yourself at any time, at any age. You don’t need the skills to be whoever you wanna be now; you can develop them, so long as that’s what you wanna do… And I don’t say that because it sounds nice to say it, because I did it… And I really can’t imagine what my life would be like if I hadn’t done it.

Let’s talk about the rough moments, so to speak. You had this existential crisis, this profound moment where you realized, eating this terrible bagel at this talk at 8:30 in the morning, I assume, not 8:30 at night… Was that 8:30 at night or 8:30 in the morning?

Yes, AM.

[00:23:54.11] Okay. Because I was like “Okay, bagels…” There you go. Otherwise it might be a salad or something, or cookies. So you have this profound thought that the life you’re living isn’t the life you really want, for the various reasons you mentioned. At what point did you – were you depressed for a while? Did you gain some confidence? When did you get this confidence to transform your life and become a software engineer, and do Key Values? What was that path for you?

Okay, enter long storytelling… [laughs] Oh man, it is really cliché… I think what happened was – as I mentioned, I was so miserable and I didn’t know why. I was really unhappy and I didn’t know what it was. I guess in some ways I was depressed; I think I’d seem cheerful at the time, because there were things that still made me excited and happy, I just didn’t know what was – something just wasn’t right. I had a recipe and I totally swapped out sugar for salt, and I was like “Clearly something is really wrong”, but I didn’t know what I did.

That’s a terrible swap, by the way…

But then when I went to Burning Man, which I don’t know if you’ve been to Burning Man, or, but it was just like a week with people who were so genuinely happy. I was at this camp, and there were these two DJs that I became friends with, and they woke up every morning and made music together. They genuinely loved waking up. They wouldn’t be able to sleep sometimes, they were just so excited about what they were doing; they’d always wanna talk about it, they wanted to share what they were doing. Anytime someone asked them “So what do you do?”, they were like not even shy about it; they were excited that they have this chance to talk about what they love, and share what they love.

I think the juxtaposition from coming from a week of that, around all these people who were just genuinely excited to wake up - to me it sounded so nice, but it didn’t seem real… And I saw it with my own eyes, and then coming back, I dreaded – I was like “I hate being here. I have to pretend to be interested, I have to make small talk”, I have to pay attention to something I just literally couldn’t care about at all… And I just realized that I’d been pretending for so long, and it wasn’t making me happy.

Some people still say “You were so brave, you had all this courage” but I almost feel like it would have been harder for sure to [unintelligible 00:26:07.10] So to me it was the path of least resistance to just stop forcing myself to do something that made me so unhappy. And yeah, when I dropped out of grad school I had nothing lined up. Nothing. I had no idea what I wanted to do… And this of course, too – I’m Chinese, and my parents were like… There’s some saying; I’m gonna totally butcher it… There’s some proverb - oh my gosh, I’ve gotta look this up - where “You don’t give up your horse to walk, you transfer to another horse”, or to an oxen, or whatever.

I basically was getting off my horse and walking, and they were like “This is silly. You should have something planned up. Make a plan. You don’t need to drop out right now.” But I think for me also - and this carried on into the startup world and being an employee - I can’t work for someone or be on someone’s dime unless I’m there. I can’t coast or milk someone else’s budget. It just doesn’t feel ethically right, so I left as soon as I knew that my heart wasn’t in it, and that I wouldn’t be able to be a productive grad student.

But yeah, I had nothing lined up, and as a grad student I was making like 30k/year. Living in San Francisco, I had no money saved… And yeah, luckily I was able to be pretty scrappy; I sold a bunch of my belongings, and did odd jobs… I drove for Sidecar, which was at the time the competitor to Lyft; Uber X didn’t exist… My parents were so thrilled I was basically a cab driver… Just kidding, they were terrified.

[laughs]

Yeah… So I did that for a while, just to make ends meet. Then these DJs that I met - we kept in touch, and they were like “Hey, you’re good with people, you’re organized, you’re smart, you’re excited about this, too… Maybe you should come work with us.” They were not just DJs, but they also produced EDM concerts. They would book big arenas, book talent, DJs, the lighting, and then sell tickets. So I did that for a few months. I think I flew to Rhode Island, I’ve met Steve Aoki, and been to Big Sean concerts… Which was a really cool and fun time, but also at some point I was like “Yeah, I don’t know if I wanna just like party for a living…”

[00:28:16.15] The novelty wore off real quick. Not to knock that world; I think it’s a really interesting one, and I love that it’s so people-oriented, but… Yeah, it also couldn’t pay me a full salary yet, so there were some other reasons for that.

So I quit that, and then I traveled, did the typical soul-searching thing, and then before I learned to code, I actually joined a company called Homejoy. It was an on-demand cleaning company, and I joined fairly early; I wanna say it was like 10-15 people. Not everyone was even a full-time employee at that time… And the reason that I got in touch with Homejoy is after my three months of backpacking in South-East Asia I was just really poor, and one of my friends was like “Oh, do you wanna come over for lunch?”, and I was like “Yeah! Free food. Because I literally cannot afford to pay for lunch right now.”

So I went over, and they kind of like pitched me… They were totally trying to recruit and hire, but I was just naive and was like “Free food! Sweet! Can I take some of this home?”

Hah! That’s so awesome.

And it was friends from college that I knew of, and one thing led to the next, so I started working there. Homejoy was super-interesting. That was my first real job. I was a grad student doing lab work this whole time… I was like 25, my first real job, and it was not a typical first job. We went from whatever number employee I was, to 150. We grew into like 30 cities globally… Yeah, and then eventually my heart also wasn’t in it, and I – I’m always nervous to talk about this, because I really did love Homejoy, and I don’t think it was anyone’s fault per se. I think my vision for Homejoy just started to – there was like a bifurcation between what the CEO…

Yeah, it diverged. I’ve been there. I’ve been in a position where I’ve been early in a company, and it’s similar to what we said before about the identity… You sort of identify with the direction of it, and when the direction of it changes from the identity that you had sort of planted for it, and you don’t really have any control over this direction, so you start to be like “Well, this really isn’t the company I thought it was gonna be”, and you start to eventually divorce from it, emotionally and physically.

Yeah, exactly… Which I know this is definitely more taboo, but I actually think – obviously, no one gets married hoping to get divorced, but things change, and if you’re not happy, I don’t know… Oh my god, this is [unintelligible 00:30:38.17] if for some reason we don’t see eye to eye, we’re not happy together, then yeah, that’s a very possible outcome. Of course, we don’t want that to happen, and we work hard to avoid that, but of course, people are people; things change, you can’t predict the future.

And that’s the other thing about what I’d mentioned earlier - you get more data as time goes on, things reveal themselves, and if you diverge from what this company is doing, then yeah, it’s time to part ways, and again, it’s no one’s fault.

My vision for Homejoy in the beginning - and this is foreshadowing for Key Values - I thought it was more like match-making, where different people want different cleans. If you’re a young, single bachelor, you probably just want your surfaces wiped down and your laundry folded, or something… Whereas if you’re a new mom to twins, you need someone to make sure there’s non-toxic products, that everything is picked off the floor, because you’ve got little babies putting everything in their mouth… The level of clean is so different.

So in my mind, Homejoy was helping people find their best cleaner, and of course, in order to scale really big, to be the Uber for home-cleaning - the idea that the CEO and the leadership team had was that it doesn’t matter who shows up at your house, you get the exact same clean every single time… And that to me not only seemed impossible, but it just wasn’t what I – my heart was not in that mission… So yeah, I ended up leaving Homejoy… Which ended up probably being good, because nine months later the company folded, or ten months later, or something like that.

[00:32:13.23] But at Homejoy, the thing I did appreciate was that I – so I was an operations manager at Homejoy, and I was managing cleaners. Basically, anyone that got a clean in the Bay Area in the 18 months I was there, I feel like I’m personally responsible for how it went… Whether it went great, or it went kind of bad, in which case I’m sorry… But yeah, I was managing like 150 cleaners at that point also… And bugs would happen…

At one point – I think the best story, the one that I remember the most, was there was a bug, an issue with the cleaning professionals getting their tips, so my phone was blowing up, people were dropping into the office, being like “Where’s my money? Where’s my tips? You guys are stealing from us?” And I had all the city managers from other cities emailing me, being like “Hey, all my cleaners are blowing my phone up. Can you fix this?” And of course, you have to file a ticket… But I was like, “No, no, no. I can’t wait for this.” So I ran over to the engineers and I was like “Things are on fire. I’m not leaving here until someone fixes this.”

Wow. That’s the way to do a ticket right there. Show up. [laughter]

Well, it’s funny now, because as a developer, I would hate for someone to just show up and be like “Hey, hey! Whatever you’re doing - not important. I’m the most important thing. Do what I need you to do.” But that’s what I did.

And then yeah, someone just was like “Oh, I’ll do it.” And they in five minutes they were like “Oh, simple.” It was an issue with the logic, and they just fixed it, in one or two lines of code. And to me, I was like “Wow, this is straight up magic.” It just seemed so powerful. And I think that was the first time it really planted a seed in my mind that coding is wizardry, and I wanted to be able to wield that power, too… And it doesn’t matter how many one-on-one meetings I did, that had so much impact. Instantly, my phone started blowing up, and everyone was saying “Thank you”, and it was just over. So that planted a seed, so I really appreciate that exposure from Homejoy.

After I quit Homejoy I did a little bit more soul-searching, a bit more traveling, but then I decided that I wanted to learn how to code, so that’s kind of how that – that was a really long answer for how I started learning to code.

Then I did a bootcamp, quit that… [laughs] Learned a little on my own, freelanced for a couple of years, and then around March 2017 I sat down to look for full-time roles, and that’s when I realized that the job search was not fun… It was just so broken to me. It just made no sense that I wanna work for an early-stage startup, which I already know not many people want to do; it’s a very weird personality, to want to work at this risky, unknown entity, that could potentially blow up in any number of months… A good or a bad blow-up, I guess.

And at the same time, when you’re joining a startup - because I’d just done this with Homejoy - you’re really just there with the people; you’re hanging out with 5, 10, 15 people a lot, and you don’t know where you’re going. You’re in it for the ride, so you’d better like who you’re on that ride with. And once I started interviewing, or talking to different startups, I couldn’t get a sense of who the people were, until I did the cover letter applications, phone screen, 8-hour take-home test, which was wild… I’m like “I don’t even know if I wanna work here. I’m not gonna do an 8-hour take-home test.”

Right, yeah… The process asks you to invest so much into the process before you even qualify if it’s the place you wanna be.

[00:35:54.13] So much…! Yeah. Like, “I don’t even know if I’m excited about you yet. I’m not sure if I wanna prove… I’m not exactly standing in line to prove myself to you.” So yeah, I ended up building the resource that I wish existed, which is exactly Key Values. I have to say, it’s funny, when I first started Key Values, I definitely wanted – in my mind, I was like “This will replace technical recruiters”, because I just had such bad experiences with (let’s face it) really incompetent technical recruiters; people who were not technical, people who weren’t even employed by the company that I was trying to learn about… They didn’t even know anything about the team, or about – they just didn’t know anything; they had no answers for me.

There’s a lot of money in the game too, and that’s why those people are there, that are really unskilled with the businesses and/or the talent… Because there’s a lot of money involved.

Yeah.

There’s a lot of money to exchange hands if they can place the right people. And it’s playing a numbers game.

Exactly.

It’s a bad variation of sales.

It is exactly sales, I would say, but instead of – I mean, they’re selling people.

People sales.

Which sounds really bad, yeah. [laughs] But then, I have to say, now I’ve really one-eightied in that sense, too; I really respect technical recruiters, and the reason why there’s so many bad ones is because it’s an entry-level job, and it’s because the job is really hard. So if you’re really competent and really good at it, you get frustrated. I think a lot of the best recruiters that I’ve met, they get frustrated and they move into people ops, or they just transition to another role because they realize how… I mean, it is true; basically, technical recruiters are given an impossible task, with little to no budget, and have every day someone being like “Okay, what’s taking so long? Why do we not have three female engineers here already? What’s going on?” There’s just no empathy for people, on either side, for recruiters… So I really actually have the utmost respect for technical recruiters now.

And the other side is now I also understand things from the employer’s perspective. It would be really expensive to have all of your engineers meet every applicant before you know that this applicant can do the thing… So it makes sense why there’s this upfront vetting, especially with technical roles. But at the same time, it doesn’t have to be miserable for everyone. I think Key Values is really one of many solutions to help pull that apart.

All the things that someone wants to say in an interview, especially in that initial call - you don’t need to repeat yourself every single time. In the spirit of engineering, which loves efficiency and automation, you really don’t need to have a one-on-one spiel that you give to ten different people every day… So put it down in writing, let’s have other people – let’s make sure that this is really quality content, that reflects who you are, and then give people the chance to learn about you before you even ask them to jump on the phone, or do an 8-hour take-home task.

Break

[00:38:48.03]

Let’s talk about goal-setting, because sometimes goal-setting can be motivation, and a trap. Sometimes you get to a place that you set a goal too, and sometimes you get there easier than you wanted to, or desire to, or you thought you could, and then you’re consumed by it. One thing in particular for us here at Changelog is we have this news feed, and I don’t know if you know anything about news feeds, but they require feeding… Meaning that you have to keep putting things into the bucket.

So when Jerod and I first launched – we’ve had this newsletter for a while, and we just did that once a week; so our news feed turns into the newsletter at the end of the week, but we’ve gotta put things in all week long, because we have this news feed. So Jerod, with his great wisdom, said “I feel like we’re building ourselves into a prison, meaning that we have to show up every single data, find and log news, or scale and add more people… But until that day, we have to be responsible for it.”

Long-windedly, I’m explaining what was once a goal for us, that has been difficult to have attained and gotten there, because it required so much of you. Can you share maybe how goals have been influential in your recent past?

Yeah, that was a really good example actually, of how that shapes. I’ve come to that fork in the road all the time with Key Values. It’s like “I want this, but do I really want to do what it takes to that goal?” But yeah, goal-setting – I think about motivation and goal-setting so much. I wonder if everyone else thinks about it half as much as I do… But in some ways, I think part of my “success” was just setting really reasonable goals.

In the very beginning, I just wanted to come up with a side-project that I didn’t have after a week. That was literally the goal. Then after that it was like “Oh, I wanna actually finish it, build something and be able to (at least in my heart) call it mostly done.” Then after that it was like showing people it. Not being afraid to get feedback. Then the next goal was launching it. That was probably the biggest of the goals before that.

Then I launched it, and I ended the trough of sorrow, and I was like “Oh, okay…” It’s cute, because everyone thinks the hardest part is launching a product, and then you’re like “I’m done. I did it. Now everyone’s just gonna stand in line, knocking on the door, saying ‘Take my money, take my money.” But yeah, it’s so not like that.

No. Not at all.

So then my next goal, of course, was – there’s little goals, like “I wanna have this many company profiles, I wanna place someone successfully…” That was really exciting, and then it was “I wanna get one paying customer.” Then after that it was like “I wanna have 10 paying customers. I wanna be able to close this size of a deal, make this much money per month or quarter”, and then… Yeah, it’s actually timely, because I’m just kind of – I’m still kind of figuring out what my goal is now. I feel kind of lost, I guess.

In the last 2-3 months I’ve had many existential crises, which I just don’t know – well, okay, let me back up into how I got here. My goal at one point was to do 300k/year in revenue. And I am happy, but it took me a lot less time than I thought it would. Things have been going really well. After Q4 of last year, which is what made me worthy enough to be on any type of podcast, and it’s been great to get recognition from folks - Q1 was even better. I did like 50k more than I did in Q4. Then at that point, I think that’s what really triggered my existential crisis, of just like “Well, now what?”

I almost wish I was fully motivated by money, because it would be really simple. It’s like, you do something; does it make the number go up? Keep doing it. Does it make it go down? Stop doing it. Very simple.

Right. Very scientific.

Yeah, but I’m not that motivated. Up to a certain point, money is just not my primary motivator.

So what’s the problem?

So then it was just like “What’s my new goal?” I don’t know. Of course, my underlying goal is like “Be happy.”

[00:44:01.08] So it sounds like you hit your financial goals; you had some certain amount of deals, or a certain kind of placement, a certain financial goal… What if your goal was more focused on not so much just your happiness, but that of the people that you serve? …rather than a monetary goal. When you exchange value, money exchanges hands, in most cases. And if it doesn’t, then it’s not usually a good relationship on the long-term; maybe in the short-term. So if you exchange value between you and somebody else, or vice-versa, there’s likely in a capitalistic world an exchange of money.

I mean, I’ve always wanted to help people. That makes me happy, for sure. But I don’t know how – and this is what’s really interesting… I hear all these other founders talk, I see them tweet, I listen to their podcast, I talk to them in person, and a lot of people have this – they want to make the world a better place, or [unintelligible 00:44:56.12] They really wanna have the greatest impact, they wanna leave a legacy… And I’m just not genuinely motivated by some of those things. I don’t know if this is super – people say it’s optimistic-nihilist, or something, but… If I really wanted to change the world, I probably wouldn’t have started Key Values; there’s probably a lot bigger problems. Honestly, most startups in tech - you’re not really changing lives by selling ads, or getting people to use your [unintelligible 00:45:32.06]

Hey, come on, don’t knock my business… I’m kidding.

[laughs]

It’s more than that, of course.

I mean, you’re touching them. You’re touching them. But if you really wanna change the world – I mean it’s a subjective evaluation of what is really worthy of that, so it true, I can’t knock that. But I think for me - I think I’m just not 1) an activist. I’m not in the business of wanting to convince people and convert them into my belief system. So a lot of people are like “Oh, why don’t you do outbound sales?” I definitely could, but for business reasons I have a lot of inbound sales, so I’m busy with that… But I also feel like there’s a lot of people who just don’t get it. They’re not picking up what I’m putting down, and it doesn’t excite me to try to convince them to think something else. I’d rather just stand on the mountain, shout what my truth is, and then for the people who hear that and resonate, to come find me and then we can work together. But I’m not really trying to convince someone to believe what I believe, or think the way I think.

So I think in some ways that might change… I don’t know if that changes the amount of impact that you can have. But yeah, these are all really good questions; I’m wrestling with them myself now.

Well, it’s good you’re wrestling with them though. That’s a positive thing, because 1) you’re self aware. One of the biggest downfalls of most people is they’re not self-aware enough to understand how to evaluate themselves, so that they can improve. And that’s a good start.

For sure, for sure.

So this state you’re in is a good thing.

It’s weird, because I know that, but emotionally, even physically going through it feels so uncomfortable… But I know logically that this is good. I’m doing exactly what I preach - you should think long and hard about what you wanna do…

Does Key Values have a mission?

It’s so funny, I talked about this a lot actually very recently… I think it started as almost something more selfish. It was to serve me in a way; I wanted a business that would support my lifestyle and let me share my stories, and also be able to encourage people to take leaps of faith and do what they really wanna do, and I still feel that way. And of course, I want to help people build their own dreams, too.

A lot of my founder friends that are hiring - they have this strong belief, and they want people to help them build it, and I want them to help connect… But ultimately, what I want for myself is what I want for everyone in this world - just do you, find out who that is, find your people, whether that’s at a company, or family, or friends, or whatever that is; I really just want people to identify what it is that they really care about, and then find people that help them fan that fire, whatever it is…

[00:48:06.16] And I’m not gonna judge whether that – sometimes I talk to software engineers and they’re like “Oh, I actually think I wanna leave tech”, and I’m like “Okay, yeah, let’s talk about that.” Thankfully – I mean, I think you actually asked about this in a side conversation, but with Key Values I don’t charge by placement, and very deliberately so. I don’t wanna be motivated to just get people hired. So I’m happy to talk to people when they wanna do career changes, or especially if their goal is not to just get hired at a company. I think there’s something bigger than Key Values and software engineers and startups that I care about, but it’s a nice (and smart, let’s be honest), focused way to build a business first.

I don’t know, maybe Key Values will expand to something more, but I generally think that success for a business is being focused and niched. I’m not sure what my next goal is, but part of me also wants to be good at celebrating and enjoying. I don’t need to be stressed that I’m not having a really ambitious business goal… Which I up until very recently felt self-conscious admitting, because I live in San Francisco, and there’s a lot of people who are very, very ambitious, and I sometimes feel nervous that I’m not ambitious enough… Because I don’t want to build an empire, take over the world, and build a ten billion dollar company.

So it comes back to finding out what you want though, right?

Exactly, yeah.

Just to understand a little bit closer, because I think I know your story and your circumstance, but maybe the listeners don’t yet… Key Values is just one person, right? It’s just you

Yes, yes. Oh yeah, we never made that clear.

So that means that you’re taking out the trash, you’re fixing the bugs, you’re designing the interface, you’re implementing the interface, you are doing the sales, you’re doing customer service, you’re doing bookkeeping…

Literally all of it.

All the things, right? I’m just listing all the things that I do, and I’m thinking like “Gosh, man… It’s a lot of stuff to do.”

But I like it.

Yeah, of course, you do, and I think the question comes because you have this kind of influence around yourself in San Francisco, is that you should now either take money or scale, right?

Yes…

So Lynne can’t do all the things… She can, but she shouldn’t have to long-term. But I would say don’t feel pressured into – I like to leverage smart money, rather than just simply money. How can this money not only give me enough capital to do something I wanna do with it, but then also enable putting the right kind of people in place, and the right kind of things in place to achieve the mission. And I asked you a question earlier about your mission… If you don’t have a clear enough mission - not so much just for the company, but for yourself in the company - I think that’s a great place to start… Because once we here at Changelog realized – about early 2006 we sat down in a room for two days, sat down with a guy named Jake Stutzman. He runs a great branding company called Elevate… And we sat in this room for two days straight, eight hours a day, no cell phones, no computers, just whiteboards and riffing on where we’re trying to go.

We learned about branding, we learned about our story, and Jerod and I became very clear that we were on the same page… And we learned that our mission was to enrich the lives of developers. That means that no matter what we’re doing, the thing that we figure out is like “Does this help us to enrich the lives of software developers? Yes or no? If it’s yes, then let’s figure out how we should do it, and when, if we should. And if it’s no, then we have our answer.”

So we had our primary litmus test of what we should do, and something to weigh against. If you don’t have that now, then the reason you’re in this crisis might be because of that.

[00:51:51.12] I think that’s totally right. I think I don’t know what my personal goals are; I don’t think I know exactly what the business goals are, and I feel the pressure, the same way that I felt in grad school - people projecting their hopes and wants onto me… And I just wanna be very careful that I’m not doing things because – I just need to be careful that it’s not obligation, or I feel like that’s what I’m supposed to do because smart people are telling me to do it, versus I really want that.

I think this is actually a really good, interesting part, because I work with lots of different startups and I see them at different – I grow up with some of them. Some of the companies that I onboarded two years ago - I’ve seen them go from two people to like 50 employees, and it’s so cool…

Yes, I love that too.

Their missions change too, and I think a lot of times when you hear about Airbnb or Stripe, and you hear about their mission - those are… I don’t wanna say they’re not genuine; they’re real, I think they’re authentic, but they are usually written, or they refined those after they got to a certain stage, and they continue to edit those. But when they started out, it’s usually something like – I think most people start out thinking “I just want a business that I can pay the bills. I wanna work on this full-time.” And there’s nothing wrong with that… But maybe this is the inflection point for me to think about what that new mission is, now that I’ve reached… But I think it’ll happen again and again, and I think that’s totally normal.

Well, let me give you ourselves as an example, because this is what we struggle with, or have struggled with - we’re in a media business, and at some point typical media businesses tend to have offices, or some sort of collocated space in a large city like New York, or San Francisco, or Chicago. There’s well-known places that media brands - and I don’t really consider us media per se; we just happen to be in this media space, because we produce podcasts… But our business name has the word “media” in it, Changelog Media, so clearly we think we’re a media business of some sort.

So the thrust for us is if we’re gonna be long-term successful - well, when will we have an office in XYZ city, or whatever it might be? Or this collocated space with 17 audio editors and 16 producers producing 50 podcasts. But is that our goal? No. I think that the market can sometimes push you if you have competition, so at some point you may have to make choices you may or might not wanna make, because competition comes in and squishes you out, because they have a different motivation. But for us, it’s like “No, I don’t think so.”

I live in a rural area of Texas called Tomball, just outside of Houston. I like a small town life, and so for me and for Jerod - he lives in Omaha, Nebraska - we have families, we have certain lifestyle designs we wanna live by, and so we map out what we do in our business based on how we wanna live our lives, what makes us be better men for our family, better fathers, better husbands, better brothers, better sisters, whatever it might be; we’re not sisters of course, but you know.

I love that. That makes me so happy to hear it, and it’s very refreshing to hear that actually… We mentioned in little side conversations, but in San Francisco that’s not – most people don’t go to San Francisco for that. And it’s a really expensive place to go for that, if that’s what you want.

Maybe you should leave.

Well, so that’s part of my – I’m very seriously considering… My husband is a startup founder, his company is in SF, but maybe not in five years, so what city would we wanna live in? That has been a huge part of my mind share the last few weeks. It’s a conversation I’ve had with literally every family member and friend, just like what cities could we live in… I’ve been thinking about this, very top of mind.

Coming back to revenue too, it sounds like your revenue is at the goal that you wanted to reach for the year, which as you said, was 300k. So you’re sort of past that already (to that or past that) within six months’ time, right?

Well, actually I am pretty close, yeah.

So if that was your goal for the year, I would say “Sure, it’s great to make more, but when is enough enough?”

Exactly.

Not so much that you stop growing it, but when can you be okay with where you’re at, and not feel like you have to push the pedal down and simply grow revenue for revenue’s sake. I think a 20% increase in revenue per year is a good click to grow at. Around here, our mantra is “Slow and steady wins the race.” And if we’re moving too fast, or there’s something coming by that we feel like is pushing us faster than we want to, in a new place, or a new thing, or a new idea, or a new shiny object, we say “Slow down and check yourself”, and then take action on that checking… Because too often are we feeling forced, pressured or influenced into something that does not match our mission. So having clarity around your mission is key to being able to slow down and check yourself.

I love hearing you say all that, and I’m smiling. I hear people say this, but they don’t necessarily do it. I talk to friends and they’re like “That’s what I wish I did, but I don’t feel that way. I have investors, I have a board, I have people who are breathing down my neck and I really just don’t wanna disappoint them”, and I’m like “It doesn’t quite sound like you’re following your own advice.”

But I understand that situation, too. It’s just not for everyone. But it’s just so funny to me - I had this epiphany a few weeks ago, and I actually… I have a newsletter, and it’s usually introducing teams, and all these really unique, interesting facts about them, and how one may wanna work there… But in the heat of my existential crisis [unintelligible 00:57:11.13] I was basically just blasting my personal diary to thousands of people…

But I realized I’m doing that, and people reached out to me, which is so great, to just bond with people on this very real, raw, shared experience of just like “I don’t know what the point of my life is, what is the purpose, what drives us…” But I realize it’s comically on-brand with Key Values. I have to figure out the same exercise with everyone else; it’s an ongoing process, and you have to figure out what your values are first, before you can find a place, or people, or a team to help you build along that. If you don’t know what you’re looking for yourself first, you’re leaving it to chance that you just randomly happen to find a group of people that are on the same page with you and are trying to go the same place you’re trying to go, and you wanna do it together in a way that makes sense to you.

So you really have to do the hard work, and it’s just hilarious, because it’s advice I give to people, and I’m like “Oh… I’m not looking for a job per se, but I’m in the same exact boat, of needing to figure that out.” And you can call it a mission, for sure.

Yeah. I think a mission is – it sounds kind of cliché to say “Oh, you don’t have a mission statement, Lynne? What’s wrong with you?” That’s not at all what I’m trying to say, because I think it’s cliché, but it’s also somewhat grounding to have.

Yeah.

Because a mission - I think of it less like a destination you’re trying to go to, and more like a trajectory. Where you are aiming at.

For sure. I think it’s important to have a mission, for sure. I’m definitely with you on that. What’s also funny, I think it’s related to just your sense of identity, instead of as a person your identity, of your brand, which everyone has… It’s a company, which is also this other entity that needs an identity, that everyone can rally behind and be on the same page about.

Sorry, there’s a cat that just tickled my leg… [laughs]

The cat got you. [laughs]

But yeah, I think it’s really important to have a mission. I’m still in the process of ironing out… It’s different semantics, but yes, I’m trying to figure out what I want.

Well, for a while there you’re just in this mode of like “Can I actually do it?”

Exactly.

And then you get there and you’re like “Holy crap, I can do it. Now what the heck am I doing?”

And then I did it, and then it’s like “Well, now what?” At first it was survival mode…

You’re in a great place.

I know, and that’s what I was saying before - I feel bad complaining about a great thing. I’m so happy that I’m here.

Let me pause you there, because the reason why we do this show is because we need to hear this kind of journey. We need to have a place where other future entrepreneurs or those who are getting influenced by your story, my story, this conversation - it’s important; it seems like insignificant details that will a year from now not be present in your life, but to someone else - they’re approaching that, they’re in the middle of that, they are past that, whatever it might be for you… And it’s good to share these details, because it’s about the journey.

[01:00:05.05] Yeah. And you know what’s funny - I actually do this a lot because I’m a solo team member, and my audience are software engineers… And I really think it’s so much more similar than people realize. “Well, you have your own business. You don’t have a boss, so you don’t know what it’s like.” It’s like, yes and no, but it’s really similar to a lot of software engineers I talk to - they learned how to code, they graduated from school, they landed this job, they have a salary goal, they’re like “I wanna make 150k/year.” Then they hit that goal, and they’re like “I wanna lead a project”, and then they do. And then they’re like “I wanna be a manager”, and then they’re managers.

And then I talk to these hiring managers, sometimes because they’re customers, but sometimes because they’re like “Hey, we were a customer, but I’m actually thinking about leaving this company that I helped put this profile together, because I don’t know what I wanna do next…”, and it’s the same thing. You have a goal, you’re like “Can I do it?”, you do it, your prove it to yourself, and then naturally, it’s not like a – and this is something that people also tell me, they’re “You shouldn’t always be like ‘More, more, more”, but it is. Everyone wants something to look forward to, and you have to live somewhat in the future, not just in the present and in the past. So I think it’s very natural to want something new to push yourself towards, or to aspire to. So it’s not just founders that go through this. It should be everyone. But I guess you’re right, not everyone asks this type of questions.

Yeah. I hate to cram this last piece into 15 minutes, but if we could do 15 minutes, that’d be fine with me.

Yeah, let’s do it. Let’s do it.

I’d love to go deeper, and I feel like it might, but I at least wanna give it 15 minutes.

Yeah.

I wanna talk about charging, when to charge, how to charge, your sales process…

I love this topic.

Who buys from you, how does it work, what’s the relationship like etc. Find the best path into any of that and we’ll just open it up.

Yeah. Feel free to pepper it; just jump in and ask me questions as I go. First of all, when I started Key Values, it was free, and this was very deliberate. It goes against a lot of the advice you see here from people that say “Charge early.” I think there’s pros and cons for all these reasons. But for me, I decided to not charge until later, because as Key Values is a two-sided marketplace, it’s important for me to be able to provide value to software engineers. If you show up to the site and there’s only one company on there, you’re like… “Great! I’m very underwhelmed.” So then you leave, and there’s nothing there.

So I think for me the goal was to get as many companies on, so that it could start providing value as soon as possible to software engineers. Of course, doing sales takes time, and there’s some friction there, especially for founders who’ve never done sales. That was me. Until I figured out the sales process…

First time in sales?

Yeah, I was very beginner. I was winging it… It was hilarious to think back on. But even if you’re an expert salesperson, it takes time. The sales cycle takes time. The paperwork, negotiating… It takes time.

Can you pause for a second and share when you started to first make money, just so we can have a timeframe of reference?

Yeah, so I started Key Values in end of March 2017. I did not start charging until January the next year. So it was almost a year before I started charging.

So you’re about a year and a half into charging.

I had to do some math there.

Yeah, right. All of 2018, and now we’re in July of 2019, so that’s a year and a half.

Yeah. 2018 to me was like the year of learning to do sales. When I’m old and wrinkly, I’ll be like “In 2018 I learned to do sales…”

“2018, that first sales call… Oh, my god…” Yeah, okay. Go back into it. I just wanted to have a frame of reference. I personally didn’t know either when you started to generate revenue and when you started to charge.

No, no, for sure. And I sometimes forget, because so much happens in a week in this land… So I started charging, and in the beginning – I wasn’t even sure if I should start charging. I knew I was providing value. So I’ve helped companies place engineers. Engineers were hiring people that discovered them on Key Values, applied through Key Values, before I started charging. I was during YC at the time, and obviously, everyone was outraged; they were like “You’re clearly providing value. You need to be charging!” I was like “Yeah…” Real talk, I was nervous to do sales. I was like “I don’t know, I’ve never done it.”

[01:04:11.08] It also seemed like a huge distraction from my primary goal, which was to drive traffic to the site from software engineers. I was thinking content marketing, SEO, getting more companies on the site, obviously because it makes it a better product, it makes it a better experience… So for me, I was like “Oh, god… Jumping on the phone and doing sales seems like just not fun.”

Torture.

Yeah. So I was definitely avoiding it, to some degree. But then also, just from a strategic standpoint, I still wasn’t sure if that was the right move, and I still to this day think I could have – I don’t know if what I ended up doing was the right thing, I don’t know if I should have started charging sooner, or even a bit later.

If I had spent all of 2018, instead of focusing on sales, focusing on improving the product, growing traffic, building my audience - then if I started charging now, it would be way easier to sell, because it’s such an easier pitch. So maybe that would have been smarter; I wouldn’t have made money until later, but making money would be easier and maybe I could charge a lot more. Who knows.

I’m really bad at giving advice about when to charge, because I think it’s partially dependent on your business, and what it is, how much, how difficult, whatever… Like, are you providing value already? But there’s also something that’s just like straight up your circumstance. Most people are like “If I don’t start making money the next three months, I have to get a job, so that’s why I’m doing sales now.” And I think that’s great. I think that’s a great motivator. It’s good to have some fire under your butt.

I would agree with that, except for to be in a sales position and have a position of desperation is not a good position to be in as somebody who’s leading that sales front, because you would often propose a deal or take a deal that isn’t actually in your best financial interest, even if it is moving the needle.

But what if literally the company dies? You have to get a job.

Well, obviously, there’s circumstances… But I think if you have a chance to map out the scenario… So if there’s someone out there listening to this and they’re in the middle of like “Man, when should I charge?” As soon as possible. I would say as soon as it makes sense to continue to move the needle, provide value, and I would say establish partnerships. Rather than just simply sales, treat them like partnerships. When this relationship takes off, it’s because we both have a planned trajectory of where we can take one another; my value, your value etc.

It’s so tricky and interesting, because when I first started doing sales, I reached out to the seven companies that were already on Key Values that I thought would say yes… They were really happy, they placed people, they had all this positive feedback all the time, they were huge champions of Key Values… And all of them said no. I was like “Oh…” In my mind, I was like “Okay, it’s not the right time to start doing sales.”

Was it because they were getting it for free though?

Yes, but that’s what I didn’t know at the time. I was just like “Oh, if the people who are happiest with Key Values aren’t that excited to pay…” What I didn’t realize - the founder of Nylas, I actually met up with her… Christine Spang, she told me this; she was like “Heads up, it’ll be so hard to convert free customers into paying. Just FYI.”

Oh, yeah.

And I heard it, I had it filed away, but I did not understand it until after I experienced it and got burned a bunch of times. I don’t know, sometimes I’ve gotta learn the hard way, I guess. But yeah, for sure, it was partially because of that. But also, I just was so bad… I had no intuition about sales, and I legitimately picked the seven companies that were probably the hardest to sell; I just didn’t know how to qualify them at the time. They were not funded, had no money, didn’t have the resources to pay, or they were super well-funded and they didn’t need Key Values; they had a bunch of other channels that they were getting leads in.

[01:08:00.16] There was one company that I knew that they had just had layoffs… [laughs] But they still loved Key Values, and I was like “Oh, isn’t that enough?” But obviously, it’s not. They’re not gonna pay, because they’re not hiring anymore.

So there were all these things that I just didn’t know. But I agree, there’s so many reasons why people should start doing sales earlier, if no other than to just talk to your customers, because otherwise you don’t know what you’re building for.

Before I started talking to customers, I thought I had – so after I got seven no’s in a row, I was like “Okay, well, I guess my prop isn’t good. Maybe I need to turn Key Values into an ATS, or maybe I need to have a forum, or build a community…” I just had all these ideas for product and strategy, and by pure luck I just decided to reach out a couple more times and got some yeses. But if I hadn’t done that, I literally would have just gone in this direction, building something that people don’t even – I mean, maybe people would have wanted it, but clearly Key Values as a product has not changed at all in two years, and people pay for it.

So I think it’s something really important just to talk to your users and customers, or potential customers, just to know who you’re building for. And there’s no shortcut.

No. You said something before though about not knowing if it was the right thing to do, and you kind of talked about your process - you needed to have a more sophisticated sales process, whatever might be to get more inbound sales… And I would say there’s two lessons that I’ve learned, that we implement every single day, is iteration. The iMac that’s sitting in front me right now did not begin as a Retina display, super-flat, super-small iMac. It began as this gigantic TV-looking thing that was colored, and it evolved over the years.

[laughs] Right.

So that’s my one simple example of iteration. It didn’t begin where it’s at today. And the same with your sales process. Be a fan of iteration.

Yeah…!

And the other thing that has been crucial for me on sales and customer development is this mentality of a velvet rope. This of yourself as this exclusive place, and because you’re solo, you only have so much time, and you only wanna give that time to people or things that really add value to the direction, the mission you’re trying to go towards.

So if you treat your door like a velvet rope and only let in who truly belong, that fit the mold, the fabric that you’re trying to create, then you get to focus all of your time on the best potential people for your future business.

Totally.

So having and understanding what that velvet rope is means that – but it takes a little while to get to that, too.

Sure.

So if you’re early in your sales process, you don’t know. You really don’t know. But what you have to be doing is be getting to a position where you do understand what that velvet rope is for you, and what kind of clientele should come past it.

A thousand percent. I was just gonna say that I think a lot of people want a shortcut, but you have to have a large sample size of data to be able to start drawing patterns of who is a good customer, what is a good partnership… And it’s actually so analogous to Key Values. If you only have worked at two companies, both were bad, both bad management, super-toxic, you’re like “Well, I guess all jobs suck. Being an employee is just bad. It’s just an accepted thing in the world, that everyone knows.” But that’s kind of the same thing. If you have two customers that are really hard to work with, super-demanding, paying late, unhappy, then you just don’t know better. You need to give yourself the chance to be exposed and have a large sample size, so that you can start to know who to optimize for.

It’s the exact same thing with Key Values - you have to do some research to get more exposure, so that you can start knowing for yourself what makes a good partnership, what makes a good customer, what is the velvet rope treatment that you want to provide and who do you wanna provide it for. So… A hundred percent.

But yeah, for anyone who’s starting out, you literally just have to start doing it. Just start emailing a lot of people.

[01:12:03.02] Meet them for coffee. Show them your product, watch them use it, get their feedback. And the other part, of course, which becomes trickier as you start to get more and more feedback and talk to more and more people - how to filter who to listen to and who not to listen to… Because it’s noisy.

But just collecting data first I think is the goal.

Yeah. I would say “When is it a good time to sell?” Today. Today is the best day to begin selling.

Yeah. I think after this podcast, just open up your inbox and send five emails.

That’s right. If you’re listening to this right now and you’re on the fence about two or three prospects, well - go and qualify them, and turn them into opportunities, and present them your opportunity and whatever you’re doing, today.

Just write the email. Personalize it. Take ten minutes per email.

Yeah, it’s been paramount for our business. Our business is built on relationships. All of our revenue is generated from theoretical ad sales. But for us, it’s really about helping brands share their story with the developer community, and we try really hard to keep our sponsors relevant, and in fact we say no a lot.

That’s awesome.

We’re fortunate that we can, because –

It’s great that you’re in the position to say no.

We don’t sell from a position of desperation if we don’t have to. We try our best to not be desperate.

Of course, of course.

That affords us the ability to be confident.

Yeah, yeah. And that also takes time. It’s similar to me and Key Values, it’s similar to me when I was freelancing… In the beginning, I was like “I will take any gig, I don’t care what it is.” The goal was to just become a professional, to be able to actually make money off of this. And I think that’s okay, but the whole point, again, is editing, reevaluating, and setting your goals, and increasing your standards, and that just comes with time… But for sure, no one hopes to be in a desperate position for anything, whether it’s getting a job, or doing sales, or whatever.

Well, I’ll give an example… If ever I sit down with a new opportunity for us and I feel even remotely like I’m in – I never wanna come off as desperate. In most cases, we’re never really in that position, but there’s times I really wanna work with them, or I see beyond… Because when I take all the tests that show my strengths, I’m a visionary, I’m self-assured, things like that; I have good self-assurance, I’m a futurist, I can really see further into the future… Not telepathically, but I can start to visually see where we both can be in a partnership, further and easier than they can…

What a good skill.

…and sometimes, that’s a position of desperation. It’s like “I really wanna work with you. I can provide value to you. This will be a great relationship. Come on, please! Can we?”

No, that’s not desperation. That’s enthusiasm. That’s totally different.

It’s a different angle of desperation, that’s for sure, yeah.

Well, you’re not desperate, because if you don’t, your business – it’s not survival mode, right?

True, true.

But I feel that way, too. There are companies where I love the people, I love – so I selfishly want to share their story, because it’s so incredible, it’s so unique… It’s something. So I feel that way too, but I, for my own narrative, don’t call it desperation. [laughs] I don’t know if I would call myself a visionary, but I think I also have a good sense about good people, and… Yeah, I don’t think that’s desperate; I think that is phenomenal, and maybe you should keep doing that.

Yeah. So since sales is so crucial to learn as a founder, to be good at, how did you learn about it, and how do you be good at it? You personally.

[01:15:49.27] Oh, man… So for me it was literally trial and error. The first thing I did… It was exactly what everyone should do after this podcast, if they’re not doing it already - [unintelligible 01:16:00.02] a couple of people that have expressed interest, or are already using your product… Cold emails, just reach out. I know you will spend an hour probably drafting that first email, overthinking every single word, and that’s fine. I think there’s literally no other way to start; just start. It’s not pretty in the beginning. It’ll continue to be ugly for a while.

[laughs] Wise words.

But then I did a couple of calls, and I did the same thing I did when I was freelancing. People were like “Well, how about this…?” They would propose something, and I would back-pedal. In my mind, at the start of the call I’d be like “I’m gonna ask for $3,000/year”, and then they would be like “Why don’t we keep doing a free trial for six more months?”, and I would just cave, because… I don’t know. I was just scared. It takes confidence to do sales, just like it takes confidence to negotiate for a job, your salary and comp… So I think there’s a little bit of trial and error with that.

And then the big thing that really was a game-changer was I randomly met this guy - his name is Danny, and he actually was introduced to me by another friend, who just wanted us to talk about burnout, because I was burned out from grad school, and then I was really burned out after working at Homejoy… And I’ve just kind of like been someone people talk to, I guess, when they think about burnout. So she was like “You should talk to Lynne. It was really therapeutic for me to talk to her when I had burnout.”

So I met him for coffee, and at the very end - we had an hour, and in the last five minutes he was like “So what are you doing today?” I was like “Oh, I’m gonna try to do some sales”, and he was like “Oh, I did sales for 15 years. Do you have any questions?” I was like “Yeah. I’m grappling right now with whether or not I should have a pricing page…” Everyone I talked to was like “You should make it self-serve. Plus, it works for you, it’s better etc.” I explained what Key Values was in a minute, and he very confidently was like “Oh yeah, you should not have a pricing page.”

The confidence he had in saying it was so – for weeks and weeks I just kept getting all this advice and I wasn’t sure, and he was so confident that I was like “Oh, my god… Why?” And he rattled off a couple of reasons, and then the time was up. So I was like “Can I pay you to talk to you and go through your emails?” He’d just left his job, so he was like “Sure.” So that’s kind of how this started, where I had a sales coach. But his rationale for not having a pricing page was 1) I don’t know what to price people at, so it could be “dangerous” to set a price if that’s under what I could get; so I’m leaving money on the table. 2) He was like “Your product is so nuanced that people won’t understand it right away, so if you say too high of a number, people will be like “I’m not paying for this” and just leave.

So his advice was anytime someone submitted to be with Key Values - and this is exactly what I do today - I immediately schedule a call with them, and then I just have to understand what their pain points are first… Because Key Values also has a number of use cases. It depends on the type of company, the size, the stage, their current strategy… It’s just nuanced, so I have to listen first about what pain points they have.

He was laughing at my emails, because basically at that point anytime someone reached out to me, I would send them the exact same email, regardless of whether it was a founder, CTO, a recruiter, an agency… I just had the same spiel, and he was like “This is silly.”

A catch-all, yeah.

Yeah, he was like “You’re selling these value points to someone who doesn’t have those pain points. It’s a mismatch.” But you don’t wanna write a novel, like “Are you this person? Read this paragraph.” You should just have a call.

I started closing so many more deals by doing sales, and I was like “Oh, my god… This is the secret that I did not know.” So I probably struggled for 4-5 months doing that email thing, and then I met his in July of last year - so it’s been almost a year - and then the rest of the year I started doing sales calls and refining that… And by Q4, that’s when I feel like I started really getting it, and that’s when things picked up. I felt more confident, I raised prices… And I wouldn’t cave. Someone was like “Hey, could you give us a $1,000 discount?”, I would just be like “No.”

[01:20:05.21] That’s good.

I’d feel confident saying no to business, and stuff. But yeah, it was a lot of awkward calls. There were so many sales calls where at the end I would just sit and cover my face, and just be like “Ugh, that did not just happen today.” I said something stupid, or I back-pedaled too much… I don’t know, you just mess up sometimes, and it’s fine.

Yeah. Let’s talk about – you started to sell in 2018, so what was the revenue your first year out? Rough range…

12 months out it was probably like 10k… I actually don’t know. It was probably like $10,000 in the first 12 months.

Okay, so let’s say 10k for 2018, and then we’re in 2019…

Oh no, 2019 was really good. I thought you meant 12 months from when I started. 2018 I did over 100k. And most of that was Q4.

So you’ve more than doubled your year one revenue.

Oh yeah, yeah.

That’s good, that’s phenomenal.

I’m thinking right now, yeah.

That’s amazing.

Yeah. And I think it’s just a question of like – I started getting really addicted to watching that number grow, and I was competing with myself, competing with myself… But at some point I was like… Same thing like for grad school - “Is this a race that I want to win?”

How many hours a week do you work?

Well, during my recent/current many existential crises I’ve been working anywhere between 25 and 40 hours a week. Very reasonable. Q4 and Q1 I was definitely a solid 60 hours a week, probably… Maybe 70. I don’t know. Sometimes I don’t know if it’s work or not. [unintelligible 01:21:40.01] boundary a lot.

Well, I think I could dive deeper, deeper into more advice, but I don’t think that this show is simply just about me…

No, I wanna hear it… I mean, you could definitely share it with me offline, too.

Well, I’ll share a piece with you here… When you’re working 60 hours a week, you’re sort of leaving crumbs on the table for the other people that matter in your life. Your mother, your dad, your sister, your husband, friends, whatever. I try to optimize for “How can I give people quality parts of me, versus the crumbs?” If I kill it every single day in my business - which is great for business, but leaves everyone else that matters in my life with crumbs, that’s not happiness for me. But for me, it’s a little different than anyone else, because not everyone feels that way. Not everybody has enough people in their life they really care about, you know?

I feel that way. Oh, true…

So I would say optimize your life for those kinds of things, if you can… And build sales goals around that kind of stuff, and milestones, and whatever scaling is to you based on how happy Lynne is, and giving the people in her life not crumbs.

A thousand percent. I like the way that you think about it with the crumbs, because you can’t do – I mean, we all have a very finite number of hours in the week, and then a number of those that are waking hours…

I’m in San Francisco, I run into founders all the time, and talk to founders all the time, and I actually think that even if you don’t have people you love, don’t forget to prioritize your personal life. I know people who just don’t go on any dates for like five years, because they’re so heads down… And obviously, I’m not saying that everyone has to find one partner and marry them, and do that; there’s no rules, but I think a lot of people do want those things, and they just push them aside. They say “I’ll do it later.” And I definitely think that it’s good to nurture all of the sides of you… And maybe that’s even just like learning another language, or a hobby, or if you have fitness goals… Don’t wait. You don’t have to be 35 and rich to start caring about your health.

[01:23:54.21] So I definitely agree with that. I could not agree more. That is totally my ethos. The other thing that’s interesting, since we started this conversation about quitting - if I’m not happy, I will quit. I have no doubt I will quit. So I think for me – and this was interesting, actually, especially going through YC. So I went through YC - I didn’t even mention that - and I felt like everyone was optimizing for all these things, and for me, because I had runway, I had money saved, and I knew that worst-case scenario I could just go back to living my scrappy grad school, 30k/year lifestyle, that the thing I was most worried about and had to protect was my happiness, because if I wasn’t optimizing for both present and future happiness, then I would quit. And that would be the demise of Key Values, not that I ran out of money, or something like that.

Yeah. Well, I’ll tell the listeners now, the YC story you told pretty well with Courtland, the podcast you did with him on Indie Hackers - I think that was a great show… And I think if you listen to this and you like what you heard from Lynne here, you’ll hear a different side, because Lynne is really good friends with Courtland, and he was able to pull a lot of interesting things out of her story that I wasn’t able to, simply because of their relationship…

Yeah, because he was there…

But you shared quite a bit around the quitting process really with Y Combinator… And that’s interesting, because that was a position of quitting for you, too.

In a lot of ways, yeah. I really do quit a lot.

That’s okay though. If you can be strong in your quitting… Obviously, you wanna quit in healthy ways, right?

Of course, of course.

And that’s what The Dip really is about - how do you know when it’s a healthy time to quit? Because quitting just isn’t [unintelligible 01:25:31.18] Sometimes you have to go through the hard stuff to truly appreciate… You know, you can’t have the sweet without the bitter, and vice-versa. Sometimes you have to sacrifice a little bit to get the good stuff.

Yeah. And I say it, and I imagine the audience is similar to me, people who want to work hard and probably almost love working hard for the sake of working hard, which can be dangerous… But of course, if you just quit everything – yeah, I’m not talking about that. And I’m also not talking about table flipping, and being dramatic…

“I’m outta here!” Burning bridges… My gosh, yes.

Exactly.

Especially in my industry - my gosh, do not burn bridges. If you’re listening to this – Lynne, if you feel the same way, then just say “Yeah, yeah!”, because… Do not burn bridges.

Do not.

People are not identified by their company. They won’t be in the same place two years from now…

Oh no, not at all.

Relationships you forge at this one company - they may move somewhere else and be able to take the same value you’ve already put into that relationship into a brand new position… And either way, just be a good human. Don’t burn bridges.

Yeah, exactly. It’s not good for business to burn bridges, but also just - yeah, being a real person. It’s not really fun to have a long blacklist, or people that you’re on their blacklist.

That’s right. Let’s close out with some advice from you.

Uuh…

Given what we shared here today… I know it’s hard to ask that over-arching “give advice” question, but… I’ll give you some guard rails.

Yes, yes. You go first.

In your Forbes interview, which is so awesome - you did an interview with Forbes - you mentioned three crucial questions to ask… And I think this somewhat dovetails with something I talked to Saron Yitbarek on this show recently as well, which was “What are you optimizing for?” This was this crucial question she asked herself. There were three questions you asked, that you ended this interview with. The first one was “What is the outcome I’m aiming for? What energizes me on a day-to-day basis?” and “What is keeping me from starting?”

I’m not really sure what the positioning is of that, but that to me seemed like really three crucial questions to ask yourself. [unintelligible 01:27:42.19] is “What am I aiming for, Lynne? What energizes me day-to-day?”

Literally, so true…

That kind of thing, so…

[01:27:52.23] Yeah. Aside from those pieces of advice, which is really in a way to say that my advice is not to listen to all advice. [laughter] I think you have to learn how to filter through advice and know what’s good or not, and I think – I’m guilty of this, which is why I say this… It’s that we all sort of wish that someone could just prescribe us the exact steps to *insert goal*, and… If only it were that simple.

That’s right.

It’s not. And I think the problem with getting advice – and honestly, what I was doing at YC, I think part of what was so stressful for me was I was getting too much advice… And it was all good advice, just not for me. It was good advice for someone else, but it wasn’t necessarily for me. And I think the problem honestly in tech in general is it’s very passive. Like, someone’s listening to this podcast and they’re like “Oh, this person said this. It must be true for me.” But what we don’t know about whoever is listening is we don’t know your circumstances, we don’t know your goals, we don’t know what your strengths are.

So you have to make sure that you know how to filter through advice and see if that’s good for you, given your personality, your goals, your skillset, all of that. And no one can do that but you. So I think those three questions in that Forbes interview are a way to do that.

One of those things was actually literally written because of YC. I think I went through YC open minded to fundraise, and then I realized that it wasn’t for me… But what I didn’t do was communicate to everyone giving me advice that I no longer wanted to be a VC-backed, billion-dollar unicorn. That just wasn’t my goal anymore, and people kept giving me advice that just didn’t fit because that wasn’t my goal anymore. Their advice was good, but just for somebody else, for a different trajectory.

So I think that was my fault, because I kept getting advice that didn’t make sense. What is that phrase – fit a square into a circle…?

Put a round peg into a square hole.

There you go, thank you.

Or a square peg into a round hole. I did it backwards. Square peg, round hole.

That one, yeah. I grew up with Chinese parents, I don’t know. They didn’t say all this. [laughter]

It sounds like your advice then is to not take all advice, and…

Yeah.

What was the last piece there…? Take advice that better fits you. Be aware. Because like you said, you can get advice that’s great advice, but it just does not make sense for what you’re trying to do.

Yeah, or the stage that you’re in. Maybe it’ll be the right advice a year from now. But I think 1) you should be able to filter and have a rubric for evaluating advice, but also, you can be proactive and when you ask for help be more specific. People still ask me “How do I be successful? How do I find a job I love? How do I launch a product?” Those are very vague. There’s asterisks for all of them.

Right. Give some context.

Yeah, provide context for yourself, and also when you ask for advice, so people know how to give you good advice, that’s tailored to you.

Well, Lynne, thank you for sharing your journey. I know that being a founder is difficult, especially when you’re a solo founder, as you are right now. You feel a lot of pressure, because you do have to do all the things… And if you don’t do the things, they don’t get done, so you feel this constant pressure.

Right.

And I appreciate you being able to come on this show and just share that… Because that to me is what this show is about. If you’re listening to this for the first time, this show – there’s not a cookie-cutter way we do every single show; every story is a little different… But the goal I try to do is just share the journey. What are the struggles, what are the pains, what are the ups, what are the downs…? What’s this journey you’re on as a founder, and how can you share your experiences in particular? And everybody’s experiences are different. We’ll have some shows on how they raised X amount of dollars, some shows where we’re talking about the sales process etc.

Yeah. You know what’s so funny? Sorry, not to make this episode even longer, but I just realized I do the exact same thing. You do that with your podcast guests, but I do that with each company. Every company has their own origin story, their own goals, their own industry… It’s funny, because I do that in creating Key Values profiles. I’m a chameleon to them. But yeah, we have similar jobs. I just realized. [laughs]

[01:32:01.09] Yeah. I wish we had more time to go so much deeper… If this was a Joe Rogan show, for example, it’d be a three-hour-long show. It’s not so we – and again, I’ve had an outline here, but by no means did we even scratch the surface on all the things I wanna talk about. I think that’s good though…

I’m a talker.

We talked about the things that need to be shared… Because you’re in a certain position right now, and all the details - we don’t need to go through everything, for example. But I love to learn more about some of the background of Key Values, and the systems you have, and stuff like that.

Did you just ask me to be your friend on your podcast? Because the answer is yes, let’s be friends! [laughter]

I did, I did. Yes, I wanna be friends, for sure.

I’m excited.

That’s my goal with most things. As we’re tailing out here, I’ll share what this show is… I started this show in 2010, because I love to dig into – so actually, I had to pause it; it’s a whole different story, which doesn’t really end the podcast very well, but in order to build Changelog Media the way it is today, I had to focus… And the way I had to focus was I had to pull a Lynne, I had to quit some things.

[laughs]

I had to stop doing this show and a couple other podcasts I was doing, and focus on building out what has now become Changelog.com. And if it hadn’t been for that quitting and that focus, which is this show, which started in 2010 - and I think this might be… What episode actually is this? I don’t know, maybe this is 50-something, or whatever. 65 or so.

Yeah. Who cares? [unintelligible 01:33:42.21]

It doesn’t matter. The point is since starting in 2010, that’s not a lot of shows. That’s nine years.

Right, right.

The point in me telling you this is that this show is a growth hack for us.

Totally.

We use this show to meet the right people, to develop good relationships with lots of good people. One, I often to give and get amazing advice; not that my advice is always amazing, but I get to get a lot of amazing advice.

Yes, you do have good advice.

So in that regard, this show is about sharing that journey, but at the same time, selfishly, it’s a growth hack for us, because in a lot of cases it helps us map out future people we should have either financially-related business relationships, or just in general, be better friends and citizens to… And every person we’ve talked to from this show has been in some way, shape or form, some sort of partner, or business relationship. That is selfishly part of the goal.

[01:34:45.11] I love that you just said that, because I’m not as shy to share that publicly, because I think that’s my definition of a lifestyle business, or really just being happy. First of all, it’s not selfish, because you’re not taking – you making friendships and setting up good partnerships isn’t preventing someone else from making friendships and building good relationships and partnerships… So it’s not selfish. I have to edit myself too, when I say these things… But yeah, I call them twofers. If you can have fun, make money, develop skills, build your network all in one, why not? And that’s the same thing with everything. Anything that you spend a lot of hours doing… Honestly, we are really not on Earth very long, so make the most of your time here.

I feel that way about jobs - you can make friends, learn skills, learn a new industry, get paid doing it… Why not try to do it all? If we’re calling it selfish, then I think everyone should be way more selfish, and they just need permission to do that. I feel that way with Key Values - I make so many friends and meet so many cool people because of this, and that’s the funnest part of my job, 1000%. The people I meet, and talk to, and get to hang out with sometimes.

Yeah. I like calling them twofers. That’s a good way. That’s a good way to end it, too. Lynne, thank you so much for all your advice, sharing your journey…

Thank you so much for having me. It was fun.

…and not being shy about it, too. I love that. That makes me excited, because sharing the not-so-pretty parts of someone’s story is difficult, but very rewarding for those listening.

But it’s the best part. Anyways, I guess we can talk after the show. [laughs] But thanks again, this was awesome!

Bye, everybody!

Changelog

Our transcripts are open source on GitHub. Improvements are welcome. 💚

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