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Using Atomic Habits to Get Through Burnout

Dec 7th — Every doctor is concerned about your vital signs, but a good doctor cares about your overall health. Your website deserves the same care, and Hey Check It is here to help - Hey Check It is a website performance monitoring and optimization tool - Goes beyond just core web vitals to give you a full picture on how to optimize your website to give your users an optimal, happy experience - Includes AI-generated SEO data, accessibility scanning and site speed checks with suggestions on how to optimize, spelling and grammar checking, custom sitemaps, and a number of various tools to help you Start a free trial today at heycheckit.com Michele Hansen Hey, Colleen, Colleen Schnettler good morning, Michelle. Michele Hansen 0:45 How are you? Colleen Schnettler 0:47 I'm doing great. How are you? Michele Hansen 0:49 I am I'm working working through stuff. Colleen Schnettler 0:52 Okay, can I start with the funny story? Sure. Our listeners. Okay. So if you listen to our podcast about Michelle's burnout, you might remember that I suggested some very dramatic things, like quit your job or move to a different country. So the next morning, Michelle texted me and told me she went for a walk. I made me laugh, because I was like, yes, you know, that's a good first step going for a walk. Michele Hansen 1:22 Yes, I actually, I did go for a walk that day, because it was sunny for once in Scandinavia in the wintertime. So you got to take advantage of that. So yeah, so I, I just want to start by saying I like I've gotten so much support from so many people and so many stories from people about their burnout, or their spouses burnout, or just feeling really, really supported and appreciating it. So much. How much other people have been sharing with me and how vulnerable they have been with me. It's been, it's been kind of amazing, I guess I didn't really know what to expect, going going into it, like recorded that episode. And I was kind of like, ah, like, I don't have any advice for people like is, right, is that going to be like useful for people. And it turns out, I guess, sort of just feeling seen, and knowing that other people go through it was helpful. And I think for me, like, just saying, like, sort of raising my hand and saying I have a problem, like, for me is often the first step in getting through it. Like, absolutely, um, so so that was really helpful for me. And just being open about it, and then all of the support from people. As has kind of given me like a little bit of motion on it. I mean, so many people reached out to me offering to, like, have a phone call or something about it. And, um, I haven't taken anyone, because, like, I don't have enough time. But I really appreciate it. And I'm just kind of like, I don't know, I'm like marinating and everyone's stories, like, like, I kind of feel like, I don't know if you ever do this, but like, you know, you get like a steak and then you put it in the fridge with salt on it, and for a couple of days, and then it gets really tender. And I feel like I'm just a piece of steak sitting in the fridge. And like every story and and sort of encouraging word people have sent to me as sort of, you know, their each one little piece of Maldon salt that's just kind of working its way in and tenderizing me and this is a little bit of a weird metaphor, but like people who take their seriously know what I'm talking about. Like, I'm just kind of, you know, I'm sort of like, yeah, I don't know, something marinating is like totally the wrong word for that. But you know, I'm just kind of absorbing, I guess all of that. Okay. Um, that's great. And yes, I have started to try to try to make some changes, but I think something that really helps crystallize for me, in hearing so many stories about burnout was like, there's kind of it feels like there's kind of like two different categories of burnout. There's like, work burnout, and then there's life burnouts. Okay. And work burnout is, you know, that's like your, your burnout from your work situation, right. And then life is like, you know, everything else going on, right? I have life burnout. It turns out and so that has been helpful for me in framing this because then it's kind of like a sort of, like, it feels like sort of like the first direction sign. You know, it's like, do I turn left? Do I turn right? Is it work burnout, is it life burnout, okay, now we know which way to go. Okay. And then that's like a, you know, sort of like another step to go down. like researching how people get through this. So I think that that was really key and helped me start, I think start even just like thinking about changes to make, because it's one, it's like everything possibly that you have going on that you might need to change. Like, that's a little bit overwhelming. But at least knowing which domain to think about is helpful, I think. Colleen Schnettler 5:27 So how do you know it's life burnout and not work burnout, what's the distinguishing characteristics? Michele Hansen 5:32 So I think it's that, you know, for me, like, like, I really enjoy work to the point where, like, you know, most of my life, I have found work easier than life, quite frankly, like, I tend to escape into work or school or, you know, whatever that is. And I think actually, the, the fact that I was like, one of my initial stressors couple weeks ago was like, I don't have enough time to work was not actually a sign that I was burning out from work, it was a sign that I was going into one of my oldest tried and true stress responses, which is trying to disappear into work. And then the fact that I didn't have enough time to do so was stressing me out. And that like that that outlet was not available. So it's not that I didn't have enough time to work. It's that like, I didn't have enough time to neglect the rest of my life and just disappear into work. Colleen Schnettler 6:40 Okay, I understand, I think, did we Michele Hansen 6:43 did we ever talk about like the four archetypes of like, stress and trauma responses, we were talking about that. Okay, so we're talking about that. So there's like four main categories of these. And it's just worth sort of noting and it's like, not any of them are better or worse than others. It's just intended to be descriptive, and like, help you understand how you respond to stressful situations. And so the first one is anger, which is, you know, respond with anger, whether that's verbally or physically, you know, with violence against yourself against other people, against objects, right. And so like, if something really stressful happens, and you really want to punch a pillow, or a punching bag, like anger might be one of your primary stress, or trauma responses, most people are a combination of a couple. The next one is flight, which is you are leaving the situation that can that that can be physically or it can also be sort of mentally, but that often takes the form of workaholism so disappearing into work. Hello, me raising hand. Um, that can be exercise, like, so I was a competitive gymnast growing up. So that's also in the flight response. You know, it can be physically moving places, like, you know, like, when, like, COVID got really bad, I decided to move country. So that is also a flight response. Like, hello, all the bells are going off here. Right? Um, so that's like the flight response. I think especially like, in our community, like, I come across a lot of people with the like, workaholic flight response. And the thing like, is like, though, the thing about flight responses is that like, they can often be sort of extreme versions of healthy behaviors, or like socially rewarded behaviors, which makes them really hard to identify. Because, of course, you should exercise a lot like, oh, like having a good career and being ambitious. Like, that's a good thing. Right? So, like it kind of, yep, but at least you know, everything is bad and extremes, right? You know, even you know, anger is healthy. But having too much of it and hurting other people is not working is you know, we all need to work but like doing it to the point where it's how you deal with life is not there's a freeze response, which is I sort of think of that as the like hiding under a blanket watching Netflix for 12 hours and just being unable to move kind of a response. Like this is a reaction I heard from actually quite a few friends after January 6, they were like I was just like frozen for days. Like, like you just use completely like withdraw. And so maybe that's like, you get home from work and you just play video games for eight hours and you can't do anything else like playing video games is healthy. Everybody loves watching Netflix, including me. Okay, I know that I seem like totally like Little Miss, like Type A overachiever, but I do watch Netflix. Thank you very much. I'm currently rewatching our way through Parks and Rec and it is such a delight. Okay. So there's the freeze response. And then there's also the fawn response, which is basically when things are really bad for you, you go into the mode of like trying to rescue or help other people. And also that you try to like appease other people. So it's very much like the people pleasing response. So fights, flights, freeze, and fawn. Those are these four main stress and trauma responses. And I think it's really helpful to understand those like four main categories, because when we're talking about burnout, like how you experience the burnout seems like, like those kind of those themes come through quite a bit. And also how you deal with burnout is very different. And so like, for me, like, as a sort of person who's sort of primarily in that flight response category, like, for me, trying to all of a sudden start exercising and like signing up for a 10k like, would not actually really be very healthy or productive for me, because that's just furthering myself in that stress response category. And, and like that would just lend itself to more extremism in that same type of thing, if that makes sense. And so that was really how I identified like, this is actually, this is not a work problem, but the existence of me being like, I don't have enough time to work and like feeling stressed about that. And like, wanting to work like this is a sign that I'm falling into one of my, my oldest stress reaction paths. Like that was those that was really helpful for me. Um, and then so kind of taking some time to think about things and made a couple of like, really small changes you had recommended to me atomic habits, like probably a bunch of times, and it's one of those books, I feel like everybody is like, oh my god, it's so amazing. And like, so then I didn't read it, because like, I felt like I'd read it because of everybody else had told me about it's kind of like, it's not the same way I feel about avatar. Like, I feel like everybody raved about avatar. And then I was like, I feel like I've seen this movie. Everybody's talking about it. Like, can we just please stop talking about this thing? Because like, all I've heard about is this is avatar. I don't know. Did you ever see Avatar? Do you know what I mean? Colleen Schnettler 12:08 I did I know exactly what you mean. I was not impressed. I didn't see it till later till everyone was talking about it. So I agree. By the time I saw it, I was like, Michele Hansen 12:17 so I kind of like had that. I was like, okay, everyone's been raving about atomic habits. Like, you know, I've read so many like blog posts to talk about it. And people do these homework essays. And I like felt like I had the gist of it. Um, but you recommended it. So I was like, Okay, fine. I'll get it. I think I bought it like a couple of months ago. And it was just sitting on my shelf collecting dust. And then we started like, getting kind of like tightening things up a little bit for like, getting ready to put Christmas stuff out. And I like saw it in my pile of books to be read, which, well, there's actually multiple of those piles in my house. But um, I was like, You know what, Colleen recommended that book to me. I should like, I should really read it. And I'm so glad I did. Like I am eating my previous words about No, I was so glad to read it. Kind of interesting, because I feel like you have said how you don't read self help books. But this is totally a self help book. It's like a self help book for people who don't read self help books. Colleen Schnettler 13:12 I know. And that's the only book I've ever recommended to you. It was so good. It's like a self help book. But it's like so practical. Like some of the things you're just like, oh, this is like a practical thing. Like the habit chaining is so obvious in retrospect, but like, had never occurred to me how I could, you know, change the habit chaining and the identity stuff I really enjoyed too. So I'm glad that I'm glad that you're Are you finished? Did you read? Oh, Michele Hansen 13:37 yeah. Yeah, I finished it today. I'm glad you enjoy me when I sink my teeth into a book. I finished it in like three days. Like, yeah, you just read it. I just Yeah, I just Yeah. So um, so one thing that I really enjoyed from it was this. And I'm going to see if I can find the exact phrasing here. He has his I think it's action versus motion. Colleen Schnettler 14:02 Yeah, I think I remember that. Yeah. And actually, Michele Hansen 14:04 I thought of you as I was reading that. So let me just find the exact. You're like, oh, I have done it. I'm Colleen Schnettler 14:10 like, so excited. Well, I read it. It's one of those books that I actually like, bought on Kindle and then bought the freaking book because I liked it so much. Michele Hansen 14:17 Oh my god. So I'm reading another book on burnout. It's called what is it called by yourself? The effing lilies, which is like, yeah, no, that's actually a title. And it's like so is this woman like talking about her her path through burnout and her like her burnout is very different. Like the beginning of the book, like starts with her, like, you know, waking up hungover after her 25th birthday and like, kind of, you know, she's smoking too much and going out too much and like drunk dialing her therapist and I'm like, Okay, we're in very different parts of our lives and like I had a two year old at that point in my life and was definitely not doing that. But I think her her ways of going through are actually really similar. Like her tactics like They both like both her and James clear want you to journal and I'm like, I don't journal. I know, your journal this morning pages thing. I'm like maybe like I bought my journal, I don't know. But anyway, it's actually been really good, but I was reading it on Kindle and I was like, I need the paper version of this book so I can like highlight it. So. Okay, so James clear on motion versus action from atomic habits. So, quote, I refer to this as the difference between being in motion and taking action. The two ideas sound similar, but they're not the same. When you're in motion, you're planning and strategizing, and learning. Those are all good things, but they don't produce a result. Action, on the other hand, is the type of behavior that will deliver an outcome. If I outlined 20 ideas for articles I want to write that's motion. If I actually sit down and write an article, that's action. So attendees, yeah, sometimes motion is useful, but it will never produce an outcome by itself. It doesn't matter how many times you talk to the personal trainer, that motion itself will never get you in shape. So I think like as I was thinking about this, and he has a really great story in here, too, about like photography students, and how there was this professor who said, Okay, this group, you have to take as many pictures as possible by the end of the semester, and your grade is based on how many pictures you take. And this other group is you only have to take one perfect picture and turn that in the end of the semester. And the group that produced the best work was the group that just produced a ton of pictures, because they just kept doing things like they were constantly in action of doing things. And as you know, as I say, as somebody who feels like they have been marinating for the past two weeks, and you know, covered in salt, Colleen Schnettler 16:50 salt. Michele Hansen 16:54 I'm, like, I actually, so I was like you don't I have to start doing this as I read this book, because I can't just like wait until I'm done to start doing and I think this is what I really liked about this book is it's like, do a really small thing, if, you know, we talked about how, like I have allowed my physical health to deteriorate with all this. And it's like, okay, it's not I want to start working out or I want to work or join a gym or whatever that is, it's like, you have to switch the identity, as you mentioned from I want to start doing this to I am someone who does this. And then how can you do really small things every day, that prove to yourself that you do that, so that you build that identity. So he's like, just do a two minute habit, every day of whatever that thing is. But then also do the thing that you really uniquely enjoy and is easy for you that isn't for other people. And so for me, that was like, Okay, it's not that, like I want to start working out again, it's like, so that identity should have to do has to be I am a fit person, I guess. Or like I am a person who works out every day. And then so like I you know, I did a handstand for like, two minutes earlier today. And like, that's something that's very easy and fun for me, but makes me feel like oh, yeah, I guess I did some sort of workout today, even if it was really short. Um, so I've like started on these little habits. And I feel like I'm probably still in burnout. But at least now I'm doing things. You know, like, it just sort of got me it was reading atomic habits really helped me kind of like, okay, what are like small things I can do. As he says that, they're not going to make me 100% better, they're not going to take me from burnout to not burn out or whatever the opposite of burnout is. But they're going to make me 1% better. So like doing a handstand that makes me 1% better. That really probably only applies to me, you know, and everybody else that's going to be something different. Um, I've also started like plugging in my phone after dinner, downstairs in the office and making it unavailable so that I can't end up like aimlessly like scrolling Twitter or Instagram or whatever, like later on at night and like staying up too late at night. Um, my phone is still accessible to me, but it's downstairs in the office and stays plugged in. Like because I don't need it as an alarm clock because we got one of those like, Sun lamps that like wakes you up with sunlight because you know, hashtag Scandinavian winter you don't have this problem in California. We don't have enough I Colleen Schnettler 19:37 don't wake up without an alarm. Because there's so much sunlight. That Michele Hansen 19:41 sounds just lovely. Um, yes, we get, you know, just a little sprinkling of sunlight if that a day. Sometimes it's just gray. So I also got better D vitamins. Apparently they're more effective if you take vitamin K too with them or something and not better medical advice. That's just what I read on the internet. So I started doing that, too. I'm just like, you know, lots of little things. Um, I also like I got permission from my, my Danish school to only go into the class once a week and do self study at home the other day of the week. Ooh, that sounds like a big one. Yeah, so like, I was really nervous to talk to the head, the head of the school. And that's also something that like, you know, for anyone else, listening who's going through burnout, like, you're probably not feeling burned out with Danish school being a contributor to it, if you are, though, seriously, reach out to me, because we probably want to comment. Um, but yeah, just like reducing that to like, one day a week. And I was, like, Look, I've proven that I'm a good student, like, it's so much easier for me to like, if this is a six hour or five, six hour class, like, I would rather do one hour, every night. And I have my eight year old correct my spelling and pronunciation, like what she loves, then, like, have to be here in a class all day, like it just for my schedule, like, then I have four days, one day of class, and, and decided that I'm going to book a massage for myself after I go to the class to nice, um, which is, I think something else from atomic habits is like, if you have to do something you don't enjoy, like, schedule in a reward afterwards, so you know, and it took me like, a lot of research to actually like, find like to get a massage, because when you're, I don't know, expat, or in a new place. Like, everything is just, you know, you don't have those go twos for anything. So I'm just trying to make and that's not like a huge difference, because I was like, What should I drop out of that? Like, you know, like, do I take all these things? And do I get rid of them, right, like, and you know, because some people are, like, I was burned out. And so I went to Bali for three months. And then like, that sounds like it really worked for you. And it was awesome. And sitting on a beach for three months. Sounds amazing. But like, I have a family, I have a life like I like I like that's just that's just not an option for me. Um, and so there were some people I was kind of, like, DMing, with who were kind of like, you know, here's how I worked through it. Like, I didn't quit my job, like I, you know, I didn't move I didn't, you know, change anything about my life. I just kind of got through it with the existing structure of my life, that was really helpful for me to hear that, like, you don't have to just kind of walk away from everything in your life in order to burnout because, like, especially like, I feel like you read like burnout stories from like, for lack of a better way of putting it like San Francisco types that's like, I, you know, sold my company quit my job, and like, you know, lived in a camper van for six months. And I'm like, That's awesome. That That sounds like that was amazing, and helped you. That's just not my life. Like, I just like, That also sounds like flight response to me, which as we have discussed, probably not something I should do more, I need to do like, a moderate, like moderate things like going for a walk and yeah, getting sunlight. And, you know, kind of pulling back on things where I can and also like, recognizing, like, when am I falling into patterns that are not good for me and and whether that's like big things like throwing myself way too much into work or like small things like being on my phone way too much. I haven't done the habit inventory that I read a long time ago, I haven't done that. It's like you have to like list out all of the habits that you do and whether they're a good habit, a neutral habit or a negative one. So like, for me, like a bad habit is like waking up in the morning and, you know, checking my email and Twitter and intercom and everything else for like 20 minutes before I get out of bed. That was a bad habit. Like, maybe for some people, it's neutral. But like for me, like that was kind of just like the note I started my day out on. And it's probably better for my mental health. If I start the day with like five minutes of like, cuddling with my dog, right, like, right, that's probably much better than seeing, you know, whatever is waiting for me in my inbox. And so it's like going through all of those, um, I had kind of like, that feels this feels like a slippery slope into journaling. So Colleen Schnettler 24:41 I mean, I cannot get I can't get so Michele Hansen 24:43 resistant to journaling. Colleen Schnettler 24:46 Like our job is in my nightstand. Like by my bed. I have like eight journals. They all have like three pages filled in. Because every year I'm like, Oh, this is the year I'm going to start journaling. Yeah, I've just accepted that about myself that it's just not my jam. I love Michele Hansen 25:02 buying journals. And I know they're like, especially like the rifle paper ones like I'm a little bit obsessed. Colleen Schnettler 25:09 Really nice but not Yeah, Michele Hansen 25:12 so I but of course I have bought more journals and I don't have any morning pages thing like if there's anybody listening who does morning pages, which is the thing it's like you're supposed to like write when you wake up in the morning, you're supposed to write three pages. Now James clear is like, you should just write a sentence or like just write like anything and mourning pages is like you get up write three pages. Is there anyone with kids? Who does that? And like, how do you fit it into your life, like, and some people like to wake up at 530. And that's what I turned on them. Like, again, that sounds lovely. But like, every hour of sleep, I can get like, I'm going to take it like I am not going to like get up at 530 and light a candle and do yoga and don't like I'm sorry, that is just not me. Colleen Schnettler 26:01 What is the benefit? What is the purported benefit of these morning pages? Michele Hansen 26:04 So the by the I think Lily's book talks a lot about, okay, um, which is that it's sort of like a space to completely let your mind empty out. And it's kind of, you know, you know, how I talked about, like, customer interviews are where you're just there to listen to them without any judgement, and whatever they want to say, you know, you know, sort of on the topic, you know, is welcome, and you're not, you're just not judging anything they say, and it's just about their experience, and you're kind of you're holding space for them. And their experience is basically like doing that for yourself. Oh, my God, I have to do this. I can't like preach that you should do that to other people. And then not even. And that self empathy is important than than not hold space for myself. Goddamnit Ah, Colleen Schnettler 26:56 let me know how it goes. I probably don't Michele Hansen 26:57 want to turn it. Well, I have to wait at least like a week or a week and a half for all these pretty new journals. I ordered to arrive. Right, right. Colleen Schnettler 27:06 Yeah, right. Yeah. Like, Michele Hansen 27:08 yeah, report, and then I'm going away for Christmas. So like, realistically? Oh, my goodness. Yeah. Colleen Schnettler 27:16 So Okay, but seriously, Michele Hansen 27:18 if you journal, and you're listening, and you have to somehow make this work in your life, like, I want to know, like details. Not that like I do it every day. Like when, like, how do you fit in? Yes, I need specifics and logistics and details. Okay, sorry. You're gonna say something galling. Colleen Schnettler 27:35 Okay, so let's go back to this and your burnout. So all of the stories, the majority of the stories I have heard are also those I couldn't work for six months after burnout. So do you feel with with the small steps that you're taking to try and kind of recover from burnout within the construct of your life? How are you feeling? It's been what, two weeks? I mean, Michele Hansen 27:57 yeah, I still feel like I'm just kind of, I still feel like I'm in it. I feel like I have a little bit of motion because of the book. Okay, but, um, I don't know, I still feel like there's a lot of stuff that is not working. And you know, like so like that founder summit thing, for example, like that, that wheel thing we talked about where it's like, you rate your life for, you know, career and spiritual and physical, social emotional, there was like some other category there of like, how your life is going and all those different areas. And it was like, if there's anything below, like a four, you really need to focus on that. So I gave myself you know, I think physical was pretty low. But then also social was pretty low. Like, my family is wonderful. And I love them. I don't have any friends here, though. And like, so I think I also gave that one a pretty low rating, but like, I'm in another country. It's COVID. II, Europe is like terrible with COVID right now, I don't know if you've heard like, so that one almost like I didn't even like, it really occurred to me that I could do something about that. Because it's like, at least like physical it's like, okay, I can like do handstands and like workout every day. But like, I can't, like, go out and somehow, like, have all of my best friends here. Like, right, like, that doesn't really happen. So I think that is part of it. Like not having like a, as much of a support system as I used to, like, you know, can't just roll up to your house and like, hang out, right, like so I think that, that that that's going to be a bigger challenge that I need to work through. I mean, I think the social part is a challenge for a lot of people right now and like not feeling supported, like even if you are in your community like I think just With the pandemic, like so many people are burned out for various reasons. And I think something I have been thinking through, like, why did it get to this point, and I think part of me, like didn't really feel entitled to burnout. You know, like, you're still, you know, knowing people in the medical field, like with everything they have dealt with over the past two years, like, there is serious burnout in the medical field right now. And I think seeing that, and and, you know, being very close to people in that field, who are burned out from that, like, I guess I just, I didn't feel entitled to it. Or like, you know, there's people who scaled companies to like, 1000s of employees and billions of dollars in revenue, and like, they get burned out. And it was like, This feels like something that is for other people. And part of it was like, Yes, I'm special. It's not gonna happen to me, but also part of that feeling was, Who am I to think that I get to say that I'm feeling this way? Right? Like, does that make sense? Like, is this a feeling I am entitled to is this like, like, have I earned this title of being burned out? Which is kind of a ridiculous thing to say, now that I've actually verbalized it. But yeah, I think that was contributing to it too, because I kept denying that it was going on, because I didn't feel like I deserved it. Interesting. And so I think kind of the last two weeks has been really important for me, and that not only accepting that I have burnout, but also accepting that Colleen Schnettler 31:32 it's Michele Hansen 31:35 it's something that I'm allowed to feel or allowed to describe myself as I guess, if that makes any sense. I think that's when it makes total sense. Sort of. Yeah. Yeah. Colleen Schnettler 31:46 It's like, and I think that's, you know, that goes to a lot of other things. But like, You were absolutely entitled, you have, you know, to feel to feel that and to have your own problems. It's kind of like when your kid breaks his arm. Are you supposed to say Oh, it's fine, because other kids have cancer? Right? Like it's, it's Yeah, cuz daddy upset because your kid broke his arm, like it's, it's, it's relative. Sure. And it helps you keep it in perspective. But again, it is still a very real and very pressing problem. Michele Hansen 32:14 I heard this very, in articulately if amusingly phrased once as someone else's suck does not make your suck, suck any less. Colleen Schnettler 32:25 That's terrible. But yes, exactly. Michele Hansen 32:28 Right. All problems are valid. Colleen Schnettler 32:31 And all problems are valid. Yeah, see, we can again, but yeah, absolutely real, and you're feeling it? And you're in it? Michele Hansen 32:39 Yeah. So I think that's the, I guess that's kind of how I'm feeling. I still, I still feel like a steak sitting in the fridge covered in salt. Just kind of kind of absorbing and tenderizing and whatnot. But I think atomic habits is like, it's helping me with it just just kind of giving I think the idea that I you know, I tend to do think everything like, you know, totally balls to the wall, right? Like the idea of doing something and doing it 1% better. Like I tend to do things like okay, how do I do this is like significantly better. And that was also part of that activity. We did it founder Summit, it wasn't trying to go from two to 10. In the next 90 days, it's tried to go to two to four. Right? Like, how do you get slightly marginally better? And I guess allowing myself to adjust my expectations down and say, and it just give me like ideas of okay, what can I What are little things I can do 1% Better that are, you know, are gonna are going to help me through this. Colleen Schnettler 33:56 Okay, yeah, great. Sounds like a good, a good way to approach it with everything you have going on. Yeah, I've Michele Hansen 34:03 gotten a ton of other book recommendations, but haven't gotten to any of them except this one. So I'm gonna, you know, I'm gonna keep reading. But again, you know, I think talking about that motion versus action, like, it's important that I don't just like sit here and read and write, don't be stressed out and still be burned out. Like, I need to do stuff and just do lots of stuff. And maybe some of its gonna work and maybe some of it isn't, but it's all, you know, action. It's all, you know, maybe helping, it's better than nothing. So and I think that applies a lot to like, business. I just feel like it's really similar to the situation you were in a year and a half ago, where you were just reading about starting a software company and reading and researching and talking to people but not doing a lot of action on doing Colleen Schnettler 34:56 it. That park that part have the book really spoke to me and I think I don't regret the path I took at all. Because even though when I finally when I launched something I kind of did it wrong, because I just launched it to launch it that motion or wait, that would be action. That was that was me moving from motion to action. And it was awesome. So I mean for me that I totally agree. And I love that, that distinction he makes between motion and action. Michele Hansen 35:24 Did you read atomic habits around that time that you made that mental shift? Colleen Schnettler 35:28 Maybe? I mean, I read it a couple years ago, so it might that that might have been part of it. Yeah, that might have been then. Interesting. Michele Hansen 35:41 Well, I think that will wrap us up for today. I will continue working on these these 1% habits and if anyone journals or also if you've used atomic habits to you know get through burnout or stress. Definitely would love to talk to you. Thanks for listening

Past Month

Software Social

Solving Your Spouse's Problem: A Conversation with Jordan O'Connor, Founder of Closet Tools

Nov 30th — Follow Jordan! https://twitter.com/jdnoc Every doctor is concerned about your vital signs, but a good doctor cares about your overall health. Your website deserves the same care, and Hey Check It is here to help - Hey Check It is a website performance monitoring and optimization tool - Goes beyond just core web vitals to give you a full picture on how to optimize your website to give your users an optimal, happy experience - Includes AI-generated SEO data, accessibility scanning and site speed checks with suggestions on how to optimize, spelling and grammar checking, custom sitemaps, and a number of various tools to help you Start a free trial today at heycheckit.com AUTOMATED TRANSCRIPT Colleen Schnettler 0:02 Every doctor is concerned about your vital signs. But a good doctor cares about your overall health. Your website deserves the same care. And Hey check it is here to help. Hey check it is a website performance monitoring and optimization tool. It goes beyond just core web vitals to give you a full picture on how to optimize your website to give your users a happy experience. It includes AI generated SEO data, accessibility scanning, and site speed checks, with suggestions on how to improve and a number of various other tools to help you start a free trial today at Hey, check it.com Welcome back to the software social podcast. I'm your host today, Colleen. Today I am super excited to have a special guest on the pod. Jordan O'Connor, the founder of closet tools is today's guest. Thanks for showing up today. Jordan, I appreciate it. Jordan O'Connor 0:56 Yeah, no problem. Thanks for having me. Colleen Schnettler 0:58 So I specifically wanted to ask you here because your Indie hackers interviews was one of my favorites. And I'm sure you hear that a lot. Do you hear that? A lot? Jordan O'Connor 1:07 I've heard it a few times. Colleen Schnettler 1:08 Yeah. Yeah. So for those who have not heard your Indie hackers interview, could you tell us a little bit about what closet tools is? Jordan O'Connor 1:17 Yeah, so closet tools, I started closet tools almost almost four years ago now. It's basically an automation. It's software automation for Poshmark. So Poshmark is a retail selling platform. So it started out as mostly just people selling used women's clothes, it was mostly women selling used clothes on there. And the way they built the platform is more like social media than it is like, you know, like, you know, like what you would think of ecommerce is like a storefront or something like that. And so the way to get exposure to your closet, your profile, you have to do things like sharing and liking and commenting and all these different social engagement signals. And that's how you get exposure. That's how you get followers. That's how you get, you know, eyeballs on your stuff, so that you can sell stuff. And so that takes a ton of time. And my particular customer, which would be like a reseller, they don't really have time to be on social media all day engaging and stuff like that, like they just want to sell clothes. Most of them sell on eBay, they sell, you know, on their own storefront. So they just want to sell stuff. And so that's what causes tools does, it does a lot of those engagement things for them, it'll share their items throughout the day, it'll automatically respond to different events that happen if somebody likes an item, it'll automatically send that person an offer with a discount stuff like that. So it kind of automates a little bit of the sales process for them. So yeah, Colleen Schnettler 2:46 so Poshmark is like eBay, but fancy, right, like higher high end. Jordan O'Connor 2:52 It's no, it's definitely it's definitely I would say it's not that eBay is high end, but Poshmark scales, low end to high end, you can you know, you can find, you know, you can find like really nice purses or whatever on there and stuff. Or you can buy, you know, a $5 You know, screenprint t shirt, like you can buy, you know, anything you want on there, most of the appeal is that most of the items on there are like used. So you're getting get a discount on some item that's lightly used that you would normally pay a lot more for. So that's kind of, you know, the the corner of the market that they tackled, there's also a lot of new items on there and things like that, too. So, but yeah, the thing that's weird about it. So like you have like a closet, it literally is like like Instagram, so you have your closet, and it has like all the images of like your items and stuff that you're selling. And each post has, you know, a common section, people can like it, they can share it themselves to their followers. And when you share to your followers, your item, they're basically when you share to your followers, that item shows up in their main feed. So like you can go into the app and you can like search specifically for like, hey, I want like Nike shoes, or whatever. And then I'll just come up with Nike shoes. But if you just kind of like go into the app, and you have like the main feed, just like any social media platform, whatever people are sharing is what's going to show up there. And so if you're not constantly sharing, then you're not going to show up in that main feed, and people aren't going to randomly stumble onto your profile. But you literally have to physically click like two buttons for every item you want to share. And a lot of my customers are actual, you know that this is their business and they have 2000 3000 4000 items. And it would take them an hour or two just to go through and click click, click, click click. So it and that could be time there's been doing other things like even literally just like packaging items to sell send out and stuff like that. So So yeah, it saves them a ton of time, and it ends up making them more money in the long run just because you know it's doing things for them. So it's pretty, it's a win win. It's pretty cool. Colleen Schnettler 4:48 So how did you get that idea? Were you selling stuff on? Poshmark? Jordan O'Connor 4:52 Yeah, so my wife started selling things on Poshmark at the time. We kind of need some extra income and she was like no One of her friends actually introduced her to Poshmark. And so she jumped on and she was starting to sell stuff. But then right away, I kind of was like, Whoa, you're spending a lot of time, you know, night sharing and doing a bunch of stuff on there. I was like, and it was right around the time I was kind of learning web development, things like that. I had already knew how to code and stuff. But I had never really done much web development. And I said, Hey, I think I can write like a little script that kind of like automates that for you. Like, you just press a button, and it just rifled through and shares all of your stuff. And so that's what I did. And so that's how I made the first, you know, like, kind of the first version. And for a while, I just, um, let her and her friends use it. And they thought it was awesome there was that it was really cool. And all it was was a bookmarklet. So like in, you know, browsers, you can just embed JavaScript code right in the bookmark, and you just click it and execute it. And it just like, yeah, you went through, it wasn't smart, or anything, had no GUI or anything like that. I just did it. And they thought it was great. And they were doing well with it. And then I blogged about it on my personal blog. And over the course of like, six months, I started getting like a hand few handful of emails from people saying, like, Hey, I found this, you know, this thing that you posted, like, how do I use it? Like, how do I get it working, because I want to use it. And even still, at that time, I had no intention of like selling it, or like making a business out of it or anything like that. So it was like, I was just trying to be helpful. I was like, Yeah, sure. This is how you use it, you just let you set it up. And so yeah, it wasn't, like I said, it was like six, between like six to 10 months before I was like, Oh, I can actually probably, you know, make a front end for this actually build some more features and make it a little smarter and actually sell less so. Colleen Schnettler 6:33 So was this your first business idea? Jordan O'Connor 6:37 Well, um, it was, it's my first like software business idea I had for a while before that, I was I knew I wanted to kind of break free of employment, I wanted to do my own thing. So I had already learned. I learned web development, I learn how to make websites, I learned SEO and I learned marketing, copywriting sales, I kind of like went down this like course track of just like, take a course learn a skill, do it for some people to practice it. And then I kind of like nail down all these things. Yeah, and the first product idea I had actually, it was related to my wife as well, she does art she does like water coloring and hand lettering, things like that. My idea was to make a black paper notebook. And at the time, none existed and none existed with any kind of like premium features. Any of the ones that exist over like, you know, construction paper or something like that was this like awful for artists. And, and that actually would have done really well. But I didn't really have the capital upfront to actually invest in, you know, a physical product. So I ran a Kickstarter, and I think I needed like 13k. And I got like, 11k I ran, I ran probably like, I don't know, I was like $1,500. In Facebook ads, I had a couple months where I was like doing Instagram stuff, and actually learned a ton from that. And I'm kind of glad it didn't work out. Because I feel like what I do now is a lot more. I don't know, it's just more the way I would like to do things. But I learned a ton from that. And that was kind of the first thing I didn't. So the closet tools, like the first thing that I made for my wife was kind of right on the heels of that. And so like it just kind of switched over from there. But yeah, I was trying a whole bunch of stuff even before that, what I was doing when I was doing take taking the courses and learning things as I was actually trying to make, like just do freelancing basically where like, I would learn SEO, and it's like, hey, I'll go out and like do SEO for people. But then it would always get this weird feeling where like, yeah, you know, like, especially with like SEO, like, if you compare some of the like the value that you can actually get out of it. It's like ridiculous. And I'm like, why would I do this for somebody else, I got to figure out how to do this for myself. And so that was I kind of kept doing that. And then I got to the point where I was like, Okay, I'm gonna actually do this, I'm gonna pull all my skills together and actually build something. So yeah. Colleen Schnettler 8:55 So I'm really curious about this. I didn't realize when you said freelancing, I just assumed you were doing it as a developer. So you like, took an SEO course. And you're like, hey, let's see if I learned something. And you freelanced as an SEO you who are an engineer, freelance as an SEO consultant. That's right. Yeah, I Jordan O'Connor 9:14 mean, I didn't. Yeah, I wasn't like, I was mostly just trying to get something to work. So like, I was just, you know, trying to do it. And also, I kind of just for some reason, I had this mindset of like, I need to practice this stuff. I need to actually get out there and do this stuff, if I really want to know it. So you know, I wasn't really like charging a lot or anything. Sometimes. Sometimes it was like, Hey, I just want to do this for you. And so, so yeah, it wasn't like I was trying to like establish myself as a freelancer, but it was more like, I want to try this. And if the freelance thing works, and it takes off, and this is good, then that's fine. If it doesn't, I'm going to learn these skills and I'm going to you know, use them later on kind of thing. So, but yeah, I was doing that for a while. And yeah, like I made a whole logistics trucking app. front end back end for a friend of mine, and he still uses it today for his trucking company. And so yeah, I did a whole, I did a whole bunch of stuff. Before I really got before I discovered that I wanted to make a product instead of like doing a service. And that was mostly just based on like personality, a lot of times, what would happen is I would start doing the work, and then they would have their opinions and their thoughts about how things should be. And I would be like, No, I'm kind of the expert. I think I know, I think I know what to do here. And they would, they would always contradict, and I just didn't really feel like messing with that. So I was like, the only way I'm gonna make money is if I if I can make a thing and sell it. And if people don't want it, then they don't have to pay for it. And then I don't have to deal with them, you know, in their opinions and stuff. So yeah, yeah. So that way, so I had to go on that journey too. So yeah, a lot a little a lot a little journeys. It was a Yeah, it was a couple years of just just doing stuff, just taking action, and then kind of landed on closet tools. Colleen Schnettler 10:59 I think that's so important. You said it was a couple years. Like I feel like we have this perception in the indie space. There's so much information. I you know, I launched my first product in February, and I feel this hard like, some guys like I made $100,000 In three months. And I'm like, What did you make? I love so I love that you I feel like a lot of your messaging from the podcast and your Twitter is you are like, hey, yeah, this thing was super successful really quickly. But I had five years of background that helped me build up the business to what it is. Jordan O'Connor 11:31 Yeah, yeah, I think I, I don't know. Yeah, I always, um, I always like to try to optimize for long term results. And a lot of those people are just, you know, really optimized on short term results, it is like this, like, oh, I made this much in one month. But then if you talk to them six months later, they haven't made anything more, it just, they had this little spike, they went up on Product Hunt or something, and, you know, whatever. And so like, to me that, you know, with a with a wife and kids, that's not really sustainable, like you can't just have a spike, and then like, kind of live off that for you know, the rest, you know, so I had to find something that was very stable and sustainable, and then actually grow over time. And I don't, I don't really know why I had that perspective, early on, I think it might may be just a personality thing. But I think optimizing for long term and actually developing great foundational skills, and then building on that organically over time, is so much better, long term, because then you build something that is just growing, you know, on its own. And you don't really have to do too much to it to make it you know, to force things to happen to you know, make it seem like you're making a ton of money or something like that. Colleen Schnettler 12:41 So the skills you were talking about, like you said, you spent a lot of time in SEO, and you learned how to do Facebook ads. So he said, so So were there any other like pivotal skills, you think that really helped you see this opportunity and capitalize on it. Jordan O'Connor 12:57 Trying to think of the different courses that I took, I think there was really it, it was web development, SEO, and then Facebook ads, Facebook ads was unique, because it taught a lot about sales without teaching sales. It was like it was it was like, you know, because you know, a lot of Facebook ads is mostly just like copywriting expertise, because you're trying to just get something really catchy. But most it was always this weird thing. For each space. It was always interesting, because like the web development course was like you're trying to teach web developers that want to get a job. So that was like the outcome of the course. But then like SEO, it was like, we're gonna teach you SEO, so you can start an SEO agency. And then like, the Facebook ads, it was like, oh, like you can use Facebook ads to sell someone else's product and get like, you know, affiliate revenue or something like that. So the outcome was always different than what I wanted. But I picked up the skills, you know, throughout that. And so because of that, I think I was able to glean a little bit of a different perspective on it. So like with the Facebook ads, I wasn't just trying to optimize my ROI, or I guess, what would you call it Roa? You know, ad spend. So, like, I wasn't trying to do that, I was trying to learn how to make really great, you know, copy and actually sell something to somebody that just saw it for the first time. And they're like, and when they see it, they're like, Oh, this is something I need. And same thing with SEO, I wasn't trying to build a big agency, I was trying to figure out the most optimal way to do SEO correctly so that I could just get organic traffic over time. And same for web development. I was just learning how to make websites, you know, for myself to make my own business not to you know, do it for other people. So yeah, so I mean, I think those are the foundational skills I think those three and then combined with writing over time over the course of the the whole well now it's been like, you know, five years ish, six years and I've been kind of doing that So I've been writing the entire time, I used to write a lot more personally back then. But it was more rambling, it was more like, this is what I think I want to do. And I'm learning this thing. And this is you know, so it's kind of documenting the journey, but also documenting some of my thoughts and emotions around what I was doing. But I think over time, I kind of honed and honed in on a good skill of writing. And I think writing effectively, is one of the best ways to save time in the future, especially when you make a product. You know, if you write really good documentation, if you're really good at communicating via text to your customers, if you're really good at copywriting and selling on your website, then you have to do less one on one sales and saves you time so that you can do other things. So I think writing is like huge. So I think those are kind of like my bundle of skills that I at least I do. And I advocate for other people have different personalities, some people really like going and doing one on one sales, I don't really like doing that. I've never asked a single person to use Clausa tools individually, you know, like they come to my website, they see whether or not they want to have, you know, want to use it. And you know, that's it. I don't have to talk to anybody or anything like that. So. So yeah, Colleen Schnettler 16:10 that's really interesting. You mentioned writing. So I was at founder summit last week in Mexico City. And we had a whole workshop on writing. So tell me, do you think the thing that I think I struggle with a lot is, it's like when you have such limited time, and you have children? So you understand? What what is the best way to use that time? So tell me, do you think your personal blog helped you become a better writer and communicator and was worth the time that you put into it? Jordan O'Connor 16:36 I do. I do. I think, um, I think it was a combination of that. And Twitter. For me. Twitter is interesting, because a Twitter is more where I used to kind of test writing, where it's like testing for feedback on writing. And especially in regards to like context and nuance because Twitter has absolutely zero context and nuance and most tweets. So if you can write in a way that has enough context and nuance where people get it and it clicks with them, then that's effective writing, because you can write very simple, clear small statements that actually contain enough information for people to like, get something out of it. And so I think that actually was really helpful for effective writing, but then having the blog to document the journey along the way, really helped me refine my thoughts, and then also keep my thoughts in line with like, Okay, this is a long term vision, this is what I'm actually doing. This is what I'm working on, here's how I'm actually progressing towards the goal. And so I think the personal writing, yeah, is more about like staying on track. And Twitter was more about writing effectively, and, you know, writing in a way that, you know, helps people understand, you know, what you're saying better with with a limited amount of text. So, but yeah, I think, yeah, I think writing is super crucial. And I think writing is, you know, just so foundational, even for any other form of content creation, you know, it most of the things can start with effective writing, if you have an effective, you know, piece of writing, you can make a movie out of it, you can make a video out of it, you can make an image out of it, you know, you can make a podcast out of it, you know, there's a lot of different things you can make out of text. Whereas the opposite isn't exactly true. Like if you, if you have a video, it might not end up being a great text piece, you know, like, it doesn't always go the opposite direction. Like even the transcript for this podcast isn't really ultimately that valuable, like you people still have to read through an hour long of text. Whereas if you have effective writing, like you can have just one idea, and you can make a whole hour long podcast episode on that one idea. So that's why I think I think writing is really, really foundational. I think it's, I think it's great. Colleen Schnettler 18:49 Yeah, that makes that makes sense. So, when you started closet tools, tell me what was going on in your life at the time. Jordan O'Connor 18:59 Um, quite a lot. So um, when I started closet tools, I actually was getting to the point so so if we backtrack a little bit, I, I went to RMIT college up here in New York, for electrical engineering. So I graduated as an electrical engineer, and I started working and I was making decent income was like 80k years, something like that. But right around the time I got hired on I got married, and then about and then we got and then we actually quickly had our first son, which was like, not really planned, but it wasn't like the biggest deal we were like, Yeah, we plan on having kids anyways or like whatever. But it kind of financially things kind of just kept eating away. And so like once I started to start paying student loans and then like I had a kid coming and there was just like all these expenses piling up and my income wasn't really like scaling to that like it was just fixed. So like more and more things are eating away my income and I have like no spare income to do anything with My wife, we had always planned on her staying home with the kids. And you know, like, now we're doing homeschooling and things like that. So that was always the plan. So I was like, I need to figure out something here to like, actually make more money. And so when I started closet tools, that was actually the last thing I was gonna try, it was either that or like, pick up a second job somewhere, like, do something to like, kind of just expand a little bit, so that I'm not in student loan debt for the next, you know, 45 years of my life or whatever. You know, like, that's, I just didn't want that at all. And so, so yeah, so that was like, kind of going on. So I had a little bit of a chip on my shoulder, I had some urgency to be like, Okay, I need to make something that works. And so I think that's partially why I went with closet tools, because I knew something was working. My wife really liked it, her friends really liked it, I was getting emails about it. So like, it was like this thing, where it's like, okay, I have all these signals that like, this thing is probably gonna, at least, you know, do something I can make, that my intention was to make $1,000 a month, I was like, hey, like, if this thing makes $1,000 a month, great, like, you know, help, you know, pay some bills, you know, and I can like, catch up on some stuff. And like, maybe, you know, it, put some, you know, put some money into savings and stuff like that. So, so yeah, it was a really, really a pretty desperate point in my life. But it was, it was, I was very stubborn, though. Because I really wanted something that I wanted, I didn't really want to, I didn't really want to get a second job. I didn't want to just like make money to make money. I wanted to do something on my own terms, where like, I had the freedom and flexibility to still spend time with my kids and my wife, you know, still come home in the evenings and have, you know, the time together with my family still do things outside of work and things like that. So it was like, I was very, it was a it was a pretty like urgent time. But I also was very picky and stubborn. So like, you know, you know, somebody might say, Hey, you could have just been less stubborn, and you wouldn't have had any of those issues. But like, if I was less stubborn, then I wouldn't have what I had now. So. So I don't know. So it was a little bit of a balance of that. And I think that's partially why it took a little bit longer to get to a point where something happened, that actually worked out really well, because I had to put all those pieces together to make something that worked for me personally. Colleen Schnettler 22:06 Yeah. So and that that makes sense. So when you were like, What was your day to day like? So you had a full time job? You're married? You have a baby? Like, how did you do that? Jordan O'Connor 22:19 Yeah, so I started right before my first son was born, I started getting up really early. At that time, it was actually really crazy. And I don't know, when I was younger than so like, I had some energy. Now I can't do this, but I was getting up, I was going to bed or like, you know, 1011 I was getting up to like for, like, you know, like, that's it. And so but what I would do is I would actually just work on side stuff, all morning until my day job. And so like, the earlier I could get up, the more I could spend time on that. And the reason why I did that there's a few reasons why I like getting up in the morning. I still do it actually, I get up at five every day. Yeah, there's actually a lot of reasons when you have kids. Nobody's awake. So nobody's like, you know, there's, there's not that like, you know, like, the family is like always distracting. And because they're always distracting, but there's no chance of a distraction, like people are sleeping, they're definitely sleeping, everybody always sleeps until like this time. So like, you know, there's no chance of distraction. So you can enter into work and get focused and understand that like, Okay, I have this block of time, that's, you know, undistracted. The other thing is, like, if you work in the evenings, typically you're pretty tired by the end of the day. And you're also just kind of, you're basically saving your worst amount of energy for this thing that you actually want to be doing. Whereas in the morning, you're pretty fresh, usually, I mean, as long as you just look good, you feel pretty good. You're pretty, you know, your heads, and you know, pretty, like, I'm pretty focused, you're not distracted by a bunch of things, you're not like responding to emails, or whatever your day job is and stuff. So like, to that morning time is pretty free to like, focus and do good work on whatever you want to do. And so that's what I did I for, you know, for the first couple years, I spent a couple months, you know, on each of those different kind of core skills that I learned web development, SEO, you know, Facebook ads, and things like that, you know, I would just take those first couple hours a day, whether it was like taking a course or it was doing the actual work for somebody to practice or doing the work for myself, or it was personal writing, you know, so like, it was like that. So really, I built most of everything in those couple hours every morning. And so that, that to me, like I was able to get a lot of work done in those couple hours a lot more than I was even able to get done like a day job. And so for me, that's kind of how I've modeled even causal is now like, I don't spend more than I don't know, maybe like three, probably four Max hours a day on it. You know, just because you don't really need that much time. In a day to be that productive, you know, the eight hour workday for you know, most jobs is mostly so that you have a window of time, if you want to reach out to like a customer or you want to, you know, be available for a customer to call you or like to reach out to a different company or stuff like that, like there's a window where you like you can do that. It's not actually like you need eight hours to get effective work done. I don't even think you can do Ultra focus work for eight hours, like maybe four hours max, before you're pretty burnt out. So So yeah, so that's, that's how I did it. So I say it all, you know, I used all of my creative energy in the morning to like, do that. And then I just kind of coasted at my day job. I mean, I basically, I got to the point where like, I did really well there. So I worked at Corning, and they make they make advanced optics, which one of the products you make is like a lithography stack. So it's like a stack of lenses that like Intel would use to image their processors. And it's pretty complicated. I didn't actually know anything about the optics, I wasn't an optical engineer, those guys are like nuts. So, but um, I was like in the testing department. So like, I would build systems that would test the quality of the optics. So I did like lasers, and I moved motors to like, move the lenses and stuff. So like, I got to the point where I had like really good autonomy in that position, because like I kind of had done all the things I needed to do at least one. So like most projects I was doing, I was reusing old things that I already did. So then they would still give me the same timeline on a project, they'd be like, hey, we need this piece of software and this like thing done in like a month. And I'd be like, cool, and it would only take me like a week. So then sometimes I did actually have time at work to you know, to do like causal stuff into like, you know, like, if something was broken, I could actually fix it right then. Yeah. And you know, as long as I was writing code, it looked like it was working. So like, nobody really questioned it. So. So yeah, it was, you know, I, but I came to my management at some point. And it was like, annual review. And they're like, oh, yeah, you're doing good. Like, is there? Like, you know, is there anything that you you know, like, do you want to, like, go big? Or like, what do you what do you want to do here, I'm like, I want to be like, really low key, like, I don't want to do you know, I don't want to be the super save the company, dude. You know, like, I just want to like show up, you know, you give me my work, I'll do my work. And then I'm gonna go home to my family. So I kind of had this like, this vibe of like, almost like a little bit untouchable, where like, you could send me stuff and like, I'll do great work. But you're not going to like make me stay over time and like, do all this bunch of crazy stuff. And like, I'm going to do things at my pace. I'm going to do it, you know, so it's like a little bit of a, so he was just kind of like that. And so yeah, so I don't and I don't know, I don't know if that's actually advice to like anybody else that wants to, you know, do their own thing if that's what they should do. I have no idea. But I know for me, like energy wise, I didn't have the energy to do all that in the morning, and then go to work and then be like, you know, crazy and do a bunch of crazy stuff. So I had to balance it a little bit. Colleen Schnettler 28:06 Yeah, I am a morning person. So you're speaking my language here. But I have not tried 4am That's pretty intense. Jordan O'Connor 28:13 Yeah, don't do for now. I do five at least Yeah. So yeah. So Colleen Schnettler 28:16 so when you were building the business, though, so you would do like four to eight and then drive. That's back in the olden days when we the drive to work. Work like eight to five? Jordan O'Connor 28:28 Yep, yeah, yeah, that's what I would do. And I did it day in day out. And so I did that for close to two years before. Well, I did that. I guess I did that for like a total of three years. So I did that for like a year. And then I kind of want to start a closet tools. I worked a job for almost, it was like a year and a half that I worked at job and did closet tools at the same time. Okay, so So yeah, so yeah, yeah, that's, that's just what I did. And looking back, it was really crazy. But it Yeah, it worked. You know, so yeah. Colleen Schnettler 29:04 Yeah, I love your point, too, about like your project, getting your best energy in the morning, as opposed to keeping your project till you know, seven to 10pm at night kind of deal. So, it sounds like with closet tools. There was a real poll from your customers. Like you knew you were onto something because people were cold. outreaching to you. Jordan O'Connor 29:24 Mm hmm. Yeah, so um, yeah, I don't know if you want me to just elaborate that. Yeah, Colleen Schnettler 29:30 go for it. So Jordan O'Connor 29:31 basically, what happened is, I you know, I started learning the SEO stuff. So I had already kind of, you know, SEO optimized my personal blog. So when I wrote about this, you know, this topic on my personal blog, I titled it like, you know, like Poshmark automation or something like that. And I just had some instructions on how to you know, how to run this script on your own browser. And so, you know, a lot of those Poshmark related keywords were pretty easy to rank for. And my site had a little bit of a already, so it was pretty simple. But so like, because I had tapped into SEO vein, I already had that, you know, like kind of that in to be able to get people to see what I was building. And then my personal website just has my email and stuff. So like they were able to just email me or whatever. And so, but from there when I actually started closet tools, I actually went on Reddit, I went to the Poshmark subreddit. And I said, Hey, I have this free script. You can you can try it and keep it you all you have to do is sign up on this email list. And you can use this thing. And then what I want from you is I want to get feedback as to what you want built around this thing, like what other features would you want? How would you use this? You know what, you know, what things do you want to see that can help you sell more stuff? And so that's what I did. And I got around like 200 signups in like a day or two. Wow, for that free script. Yeah. And so and that was kind of the the start of everything. And so then what I did was, it was like, I did that post got the 200 signups people tried out the script. And then like a week later, I sent out an email to that list saying, like, Hey, give me some feedback. What do you want to see, and then I got a bunch of emails. And then I spent the next like, four weeks building out some of those features. And then I spent like, the majority of that time just integrating stripe, because I had no idea how to do it at the time. So I had to figure all that out. And then and then and then I lost it like a month later. And I had 10 paying customers right out of the gate. So it was like 300. MRR, like the gate basically. So yeah, so So the initial start wasn't based on SEO was based on Reddit. But I also got banned from that subreddit because they don't like the self promotion and stuff. So it was like kind of this one shot thing where I was like, I'm going for it. I'm gonna sell this thing, and it worked. So then from there, from there, I started writing content. And you know, the SEO, traffic started to take off more. And that's how I've basically built it to where it is now. So Colleen Schnettler 32:06 yeah, and word of mouth to probably I mean, people love to the product. It sounds like Jordan O'Connor 32:10 Yeah, yeah, definitely. I mean, yeah. So I say SEO, SEO is the only thing I had control over that, you know, did that. But certainly, yeah, word of mouth, everybody. You know, a lot of my customers have another friend that used it, and they refer to it and stuff like that. And then later later on, probably about two years, and I created a referral program, which is interesting, because like the referral program itself hasn't been like a, like a smashing success. I think it's brought in, I don't know, I think it's like 15k over, you know, a year or two, but like, the whole gross I've made like, I don't know, like 900k. So like, it's not like this huge percentage. But it did bring in a lot of word of mouth. But then also what happened is it brought in a lot of backlinks, which reinforced a lot of my SEO because when people posted their affiliate link, it just linked back to the website. So it was kind of this like a little it was more about the SEO engine for me rather than it was like, you know, the referral program. So yeah, but it also gave a reason for people to you know, talk about it, because they could get, you know, a kickback or whatever. So, Colleen Schnettler 33:14 right. So it sounds like that was a win win, even if it wasn't a huge, like windfall. So let's talk about what your life looks like now that you know you are successful. Your business this is not that you weren't before. I'm just saying like Jordan O'Connor 33:29 even that I am now I don't know. Yeah, that's what it's all relative. I guess Colleen Schnettler 33:33 it's it is all relative. That is true. So when you're building the business, you had these super long days. What do you do now? What is your day look like now? Jordan O'Connor 33:42 Yeah. So now we have three kids. We have another one on the way actually, congratulations. Yeah, thanks. Yeah. So February, that'll be you know, I'll be it'll be, it'll be interesting to see how much work I get done. But, so actually, now, like, we have a pretty strict schedule, now, we just kind of came up with it, we've over the course of like, the last year or two, we've been trying to come up with a schedule that works for both of us. And most of it centers around, like, my wife wants to feel put together and like, you know, like she has the house under control and like the kids under control and like you know, like that is gonna run smoothly. And, and but then for me, like, you know, like coming fresh out of like, you know what I was doing before I was like, oh, like I need like that whole morning to just do my best work and then like, you know, free food so but that didn't really work out for her too well, because like she would get up with the kids and the whole day was basically a mess from the start because it's like you're you get up and kids are demanding a bunch of stuff and you're just like, I don't know what I'm doing like, and so now I take the kids as soon as they wake up so I get up at five and I work for I work I kind of I don't know I go back and forth and what I use my morning time for now. And I think if I ever built a future business, I would take them out in time and do that. But now I use, I work from five to seven, and my daughter wakes up at seven, she, we have her train with a light that turns green at seven. So we have that, yeah, she would get up, like, you know, super early if she if she could. So she gets up at seven. And then so I have kids from seven to 10, I take care of breakfast, getting them dressed, and then I just kind of keep things picked up so that the house is at least, you know, in put together a little bit, and then my wife gets up around like seven or eight. But then she has time to, like, take a shower and like get breakfast, she can read, she can write, you know, she has achieved as a journal, she does like the bullet journaling. So she plans out today, you know, so like she has time to, like get put together. And that mostly like for our marriage has like been really awesome. Because it's like, it's just it, she's, she feels good. She comes into the day, the kids are already fed, they're kind of in good shape. And she comes down and it's like, okay, it's go time, like, you know, like, let's, you know, then she does school with the kids. And she you know, she takes him out to programs and stuff like that. So like, she has her, you know, a schedule and stuff that she does with them. And then so then that's when I work is like 10, like around 10am I start working. And then I go off at like three, you know, three or four. And then we kind of just tag team for the rest of the evening. So yeah, so I've worked, I actually end up getting, you know, like seven hours of working every day, so but those first two hours are kind of like free time or like personal time. Like if I have a personal project I want to work on or something like that. I'll do it during that time. So yeah, Colleen Schnettler 36:41 that sounds wonderful. So what I'm trying to get out here, Jordan, this is the real question. Were the two to three years of the 12 to 15 hours a day worth it to live the life you're living now. Jordan O'Connor 36:57 Yeah. Oh, yeah. 100%. And I think the interesting thing is, I don't think I would have been able to do it now. It would, it would have been really hard. Right? Like, like, back then, you know, when I first started, we had no kids, but then like, we had one kid. But like, you know, even before they start walking and stuff, they're not really like that much work, you know, it's only when they become toddlers is when Okay, somebody's got to be hands on all the time with at least the kids. Yeah. So. So I had your head, that window of opportunity were like, Okay, I have, you know, I can do this, I can put on a lot of hours. Whereas now, I probably couldn't even put in that many hours without some serious strain on, you know, like the marriage and just like our health and things like that. But yeah, I mean, I think it was worth it, I think, um, you know, you kind of have, you know, those those choices in life, it's like, whether you're going to go for it, and you're going to do the thing, or you're just going to sit back and let life happen to you. And so I was like, Hey, I'm going to I'm going to go for it. I'm going to get control of you know, my finances and control over my time and control over my future. And so I did what I had to do to get there, you know, some people start in a different place, and it's easier for them. So people start in a way worse place, and it's a lot harder for them. So yeah, but yeah, I think I think ultimately, it was worth it for sure. Colleen Schnettler 38:15 So you kind of made a joke earlier, like 30 seconds ago, when I said you're objectively successful. So I have met a lot of people like who are, are making quite a lot of money with their side projects, not side projects with their businesses. And you know, I've talked to people who are making, you know, $50,000 a month who still feel like they need to push, push, push, because it's not good enough. Where do you fall in that spectrum? Jordan O'Connor 38:38 Um, I'm definitely not pushing, I'm not pushing very hard at all. Um, I think, I don't know, I think most of most of my focus right now is on minimizing everything else. So that I can maintain this lifestyle, basically forever, because like, right now, honestly, if anything changed, it would only be for the worse, like, this is kind of like almost as good as it gets. I have like, almost unlimited free time, I get to work on something I want to work on. You know, like my family is well provided for, like, we can kind of schedule our day, however we want it. So those are like, like, there's really no downside. So mostly for me, it's like, okay, like, how can we, you know, get rid of, you know, some of this lingering debt quicker? How can we pay off the house quicker? You know, how can we make sure that you know, like, we're investing and actually growing our wealth, you know, in the background, while we're, you know, in while I'm working so that in the future, you know, if you know, this whole thing blows up, I have, you know, some options and things like that. So, I think for me, that's more of my focus rather than like trying to like, you know, scale closet tools and maximize it and, you know, make a ton of money. You know, I think ultimately, you know, I, I could just go that route and do that. But I think when I have the you know, the three young kids we have a five year old a three year old and One year old. Oh, yeah. Yeah. So, yeah. So like when they're all young, you know, I want to be there with them. Yeah, I think once they get a little older, you know, they can get a little more autonomous, you know, they kind of can entertain themselves, you know, they have things they want to do. And they can go do that. But for now, like, they're super young, like, I don't, you know, I want to be there I want to be hands on. So I don't want to be like, you know, business dad that was never home, you know, like, off doing his thing. You know, I'd rather I'd rather have a balance of like, okay, like, yeah, I make a decent amount of money. But I also get to spend a lot of time with my kids. So like, why would I try to change that balance, you know, to, you know, for the worse, so. So yeah. Colleen Schnettler 40:37 Yeah, that makes that makes total sense. And that's awesome. You're able to do that. Right. I mean, that's, that's amazing. So, yeah, Jordan O'Connor 40:45 that's pretty fortunate. Colleen Schnettler 40:46 Another question I had for you, I either saw this on indie hackers or Twitter, but you had, it was something like never take other people's advice when you are trying to build a business. Do you remember that? Jordan O'Connor 40:57 Um, yeah, I can I can align with that. If I said that. I think you did. It definitely. Sounds like something I would have said. Yeah, I think um, yeah, advice is always so contextual. You know, like, even my advice right now. Like, like I was talking about, like, when, you know, I told my boss, like, Hey, I don't want to be the go to guy. Like, I don't know, if that's the right advice for somebody, maybe that's maybe they need to go hard. You know, maybe they're super lazy, and they need to go harder, or something like that. You know, for me, I was a good employee that wanted to take a little bit of a break, you know, so like, yeah, you know, but you know, so like, you know, people have different, you know, financial situations, they have different family situations that have different health situations, even have different personalities, like I was talking about earlier, where like, some people really want to do like one on one sales, and they really like talking to people and they really like, you know, like, being outgoing and stuff. Like, I don't really like that. So I have to build something totally different. That aligns with me. So like, I run a totally email based business, I don't actually do any calls with anybody. And if you want customer support, you email me like, that's it. Like, I don't have a phone number or anything like that. Yeah. So but for other people, like, you know, they want to be on the phone all day, they want to talk to people, you know, they want to do stuff like that. So, so yeah, I think a lot of a lot of business advice is very, very contextual. And I think until you actually dive in and figure out what works for you, then you're not really going to know what the best advice is, or what advice actually sticks. Because I think, even to a lot of advice, you know, people mean, well, and it does really work for them. But just because it works for them doesn't actually mean it's going to work for you, too. You know, and so like for me early on, like when, when I was taking those courses, you know, a lot of those people were pitching, you know, the the freelancing in the agency style stuff. And so like, I tried it, but like, it didn't work for me, like I was awful at it, like I was terrible at that part of stuff, like I had the great skills, but like dealing with people and like, you know, all that stuff. terrible at it. So like, I was like, I can't make this work, I have to do something different. And so that's how I, you know, got on the, and actually, it was interesting indie hackers launched. I'm trying to think it was about like, a few months before I launched closet tools. It was like, right around that time. So it's actually pretty fortunate because it was cool to, you know, see a group of people kind of doing the same thing that I was wanting to do. You gave me a little bit of confidence to kind of do that. So yeah. But anyways, yeah. So that I think that advice is is I think it most advice is, I don't know, it's mostly worthless. I do think it's interesting to hear people's stories. And as long as they give enough context, like I try to give a lot of context about like, my family, and like, what my financial situation was like, because like, that's the stuff that really matters. Because like, anyway, anybody could be like, oh, yeah, like, learn these skills, and then build a business and you'll make a ton of money. But like, you know, if you don't have the means to actually do that, then how are you? You know, how can you even, you know, attempt to do that? And so yeah, so I think if you can give them enough context, I think some advice can be helpful, or at least helpful enough to where they can be like, Oh, that doesn't even apply to me. You know, like, I you know, like, for me, I see a lot of advice from people that have like, no kids, and they don't like they're not married, they have no kids. And it's like, this doesn't even like you can't do that. Right. Like, I can't do that at all. So yeah, so I think that's important, for sure. Colleen Schnettler 44:18 So what's next for you? Jordan O'Connor 44:21 Um, I don't really know, I'm trying to figure it out. I think, um, I never saw clauses was as a long term thing, but it's sticking around a lot longer than I thought it was actually gonna stick around. So just kind of hanging out there. You know, I still actually I still build and continue to grow with it, you know, I still, you know, add features to it. And I still do marketing and things like that. But I don't know, I think I think I like I enjoy writing a lot. So I would like to do some sort of writing thing. I am writing a, an SEO sales book called rank to sell. So I'm working on that. Not that I think that that's going to be like my full time thing like Oh, I'm an author now. Because I think, you know, my code is pretty valuable, too. So, um, so yeah, I mean, some kind of hybrid of writing and code. In the future. I'm definitely on board with building more simple SAS products I have no, you know, I would like to do that, even in the same niche, you know, I can serve the same customer set with some different types of tools. And so, there's a lot of different platforms that these retailers sell on. So. So yeah, I mean, honestly, it's just kind of iterative stuff. It's not like anything like, oh, you know, I'm, you know, switching my whole life over to like something else. It's mostly like, hey, like, I'm here. How can I, you know, how can I invest a little more? How can I, you know, add a little more, you know, financial stability, a little more income, or, you know, another product or something, just something a little bit more iterative. And just kind of, like, keep the thing going, basically, it's kind of that's, that's mostly what it is. So, I've been thinking a lot lately about, like, some kind of business that I can get my kids involved in, but I haven't really come up with anything yet. I think it would be super cool to like, have them, you know, work on something with me, but I don't know. That's, that's honestly, that's kind of the dream for me is like, that would be cool. You know, but I don't know. I don't know what that is yet. Colleen Schnettler 46:09 Yeah, that would be cool. Wonderful. Well, Jordan, thank you so much for coming on today and sharing your story with us. And, you know, teaching us about some of the things that helped you grow closet tools. I really appreciate having you. Jordan O'Connor 46:26 Yeah, sure. Yeah. Thanks for having me. It was a lot of fun. Colleen Schnettler 46:29 And that will wrap up this week's episode of the software social podcast. Thank you so much for listening. You can find us on Twitter at software social pod

Indie Hackers

Throwback: How to Build a Life You Love by Quitting Everything Else with Lynne Tye of Key Values

Nov 25th — (Throwback episode!) After spending years pursuing a career in science, Lynne Tye (@lynnetye) shocked her family and colleagues by dropping out of grad school. Thus began a months-long journey of discovery and experimentation that eventually saw her managing 150 people at a high-profile tech startup. But when Lynne realized the fast-paced startup lifestyle was not for her, she quit that, too, and began her search all over again. In this episode, Lynne shares the story behind how she took her career into her own hands, learned to code, and started a business doing what she loves. Transcript, speaker information, and more: https://www.indiehackers.com/podcast/086-lynne-tye-of-key-values

Software Social

So This Is Burnout

Nov 23rd — Every doctor is concerned about your vital signs, but a good doctor cares about your overall health. Your website deserves the same care, and Hey Check It is here to help - Hey Check It is a website performance monitoring and optimization tool - Goes beyond just core web vitals to give you a full picture on how to optimize your website to give your users an optimal, happy experience - Includes AI-generated SEO data, accessibility scanning and site speed checks with suggestions on how to optimize, spelling and grammar checking, custom sitemaps, and a number of various tools to help you Start a free trial today at heycheckit.com AUTOMATED TRANSCRIPT Colleen Schnettler 0:00 Good morning, Michelle. Hey, Colleen, it's early here in California. But I am here for you. Michele Hansen 0:42 It's late here in Denmark, it is dark. It is not even five. Unknown Speaker 0:47 My goodness. Colleen Schnettler 0:48 So I think this week, I would like to talk to something I talk about something a little more serious. And I want to talk about you. Because you have been going through some stuff. Michele Hansen 1:02 Yeah, I have. It kind of occurred to me this week that I I don't I don't know, I might be going through burnouts. Or at least I have, like, way too much stress. Like, like, I feel like I'm DDoSing myself. Colleen Schnettler 1:22 I love that line, by the way. So first of all, I guess your best friend and podcast host has been telling you this for like eight months. Michele Hansen 1:33 Like, we're like you're gonna burn out. I'm like, I'm fine. And then our friends of ours were like, you know, after like, I launched something like, you know, especially infoproduct people, they're like, I went through like a depression after that I really burned out like, and I was like, I hear you but like, I'm special. I'm not gonna that's not gonna happen to me. You know, all think we're special. We all think we're special. And we all are special. But there are also things that everyone goes through. Um, yeah, I have so much going on in my life right now. And, and I think this, I mean, I Okay, so you've known this for a long time. But like, I I think it really started to become apparent to me that like, given everything I'm doing I have really like down prioritized taking care of myself. That was something I got really thinking about at founder Summit. And it's not just like a work life balance problem or a, you know, need to like join a gym problem. Like, I think it's like, bigger than that. But I don't really know, like, how do you unburn out? How do you do though? Colleen Schnettler 2:43 Let's take a step back. When you say you haven't deprioritize taking care of yourself, what did you use to do that? You don't do like you have stopped doing over the past year. And like what led to that. I'm curious how you got to where you are. Michele Hansen 3:00 I mean, so I really don't first of all, like I really don't work out as much like and I used to be someone who was like super active, like, I used to run to work, bike to work, play tennis, do gymnastics, soccer on top of that, like super, super active and have really become less active. And I don't know if that's the pandemic or like moving countries and my habits like change, you know, you have to establish entirely new habits. As I was talking to people about it founder summit who are nomads, they were saying that they didn't realize until COVID and they were forced to stay in one place. how stressful it had been to like, move places every couple of months and have to like refigure it all over again. Like oh, like where's the grocery store that I like? And like, can I get the food I like and you know, where's the gym that I like? Where can I work? Like all those kinds of like basic everyday questions become sort of stressful. Like I definitely feel like that like I didn't go to the dentist for 18 months. Mostly because it's like so like hack I have a package I've been trying to mail for three months and I'm just so overwhelmed by the idea of like figuring out the Danish postal system that it's still sitting at my desk. So like basic everyday things become really overwhelming when you're abroad. Yeah, I think like one of my habits changed but then I think I just have so much going on also that like you know I think the great thing about working for yourself is like if you want to take an hour lunch break and read a book like you can do that but like I have been feeling like I don't even have time to eat I don't have time to make myself healthy food like the idea of just like even cooking a piece of salmon or whatever like seems overwhelming and so like I have really allowed my health to like totally slip because I just feel like I don't have time for it but I also don't have those like sort of habit triggers I guess that I used to have you know if I was in my environment I was in you know, do Two years ago, for sure. And I think with everything that I have going on, that's like become really acute. Colleen Schnettler 5:09 So and you would lump. I mean, that's your physical health. But also you said you don't read books for pleasure. I mean, I think that's what you just said. So that's not that's your whole, not just do it like I do. Okay. Yeah. I mean, have you also, like, what about your, your mental health are you also are you still not having time to do the things you used to love that brought you joy. Michele Hansen 5:33 So I differentiate that, and I think this is like I've been, you know, so I'm obviously not an expert in this, I'm just somebody who's going through differentiating between burnout and depression, where, like, I actually feel like my mental health is pretty good. Like I've done I've done a lot of work on my mental health the past couple of years. Um, and, you know, depression is like, when you try to, you know, you try to get the energy to do the things that you liked, and then you don't get any enjoyment out of it, it's like the dopamine just doesn't even fire. Or if it does, it only lasts for a second. So whereas you know, a non depressed person, maybe you can go for a walk, and, and then you or you see a friend, and it kind of brightens you for the rest of the day, and at least helps you get through it. You know, when I've gone through depression, it's like, that enjoyment you get from that, like, you get like 30 seconds of enjoyment out of it, and then it's just gone. And you even feel worse than you did before, because you were expecting to make you feel good. And then it didn't, and then it just like spirals. I'm not in that state right now. It's more just like this constant feeling of stress. And like, I don't have enough time for anything. And feeling exhausted by that constant stress. But it's also not anxiety, either. Because an idea I guess I'm not I don't really know how to explain this. But like it's, it's not like worrying. And it's not like a tension, or No, I don't, I don't know how to explain it. But yeah, it's kind of it's gotten me to Google X. It's like, I don't know what this feeling is. And then I kind of, you know, I mentioned it to some friends of ours. And they're like, that's, that's the burnout. We were telling you was going to happen. And I'm like, oh, and then I'm like, so like, what is like the plan to like, get out of this? Like, is there like, what does your schedule look like when you were getting out of burnout? They're like, yeah, that's kind of like, you're trying to, like, make a schedule of it. Like, right. And one of our friends was, like, I Googled, you know, how to be a type B personality when I was going through. Unknown Speaker 7:49 It's amazing. Michele Hansen 7:51 Um, yeah, but I think it's kind of it's kind of weird. I was like, I don't even talk about this on the podcast, because it's like, I don't have a solution here. You know, I almost feel like, you know, I should have some sort of solution to give people but I don't I'm just kind of stuck in the middle of it. And, and just sort of talking it out, because I also, I don't, I feel like if people heard met, people mentioned, like having burnout, but like, and I guess if people know of like a good podcast or blog posts on the experience of burnout and how someone got through it, I would really love to read that. Because I feel like we don't really talk about it enough. So I'm kind of, I guess, trying to talk about it as a way of giving visibility to this thing that it turns out, a lot of my entrepreneur friends have gone through. Colleen Schnettler 8:46 Yeah, well, I think it's, I mean, as much as you're comfortable, I think it's good that you're talking about it. I you know, the one of the things. One of my takeaways from founder summit was I actually talked to quite a few people who went through massive burnout. And it seems to be just something that happens to us in our field in modern day, a lot, probably because we can work anywhere at any time. So we could theoretically be working all the time. But also, I, again, I think it's I'm sure it's a very personal journey to get out of it. But I feel like you need to take like, a month off. Let's talk about that. Michele Hansen 9:26 Yeah, and I think that's really where I'm struggling because I feel like I can't and but I'm also sort of, you know, somebody who's drowning and like, people are saying, hey, stop flailing. And I'm like, no, no, no, no, no, that like, and that just makes me panic even more. But like, so where I, you know, the stuff I have going on, like, you know, so we have to co do and like, I want to stress that like, I still really enjoy working on geocode do and I think actually Mateus and I were talking about this last night, and he's like, you know, we've been running this for almost eight years. And he's like, I'm even still surprised that we still find it interesting, we still find it challenging, we still enjoy working on it we enjoy the customers we work with, we enjoy, you know, helping them and like, it's still a problem we're really, like, excited about solving. And, you know, it does not feel like a drag. And so like, so I have to do going on. Of course, there's this podcast and all of my book stuff and like, and that's a joy. But also, I've been putting pressure on myself to sell it when I don't really have to, like, you know, like that. Like, there's not like I purposely didn't pitch it to a publisher, I purposefully didn't want someone telling me, you need to sell this many books, and you need to go out on this book tour and like, do all these things like I wanted that, you know, that decision for myself of how much time I spent on it. But now I'm in this situation where I feel like I have to justify all the time I spent on it some spending all this time promoting it. So Colleen Schnettler 10:56 let's go back. So yeah, so my my business partners, you haven't even gotten through the whole list. But sure, yeah. Okay, so let's go back a little bit. So my business partner Sean has, in the past experienced incredible, massive burnout. And one of the things he said to you yesterday was, like, the number one symptom of burnout is thinking, you can't work less. Like, there's no way around it, I can't solve this problem, because I cannot work less. So I challenge that, first of all, okay, but I don't know if we're here to problem solve, or if we're just here to talk. So Michele Hansen 11:32 we're kind of a mix of both. But I mean, so I think so here, let me get through the full list of things. Colleen Schnettler 11:36 Okay, keep going. So just to go do, Michele Hansen 11:38 there is what I term my extracurriculars, which is the book like this podcast being on other podcasts, like, you know, the fun business stuff. Um, and then there's also I'm in Danish class all day, Monday and Friday. Right. And then also, I have a family and, you know, another stressors on top of that is, you know, I'm in a foreign country, and, you know, again, talking to people founder Summit, you know, talking to other people who moved abroad, during the pandemic, there was a universal Zero out of 10, do not recommend on that. And then also, you know, we're in a pandemic, so like, there's all sorts of reasons to be burned out. But then the reason why I feel like I can't do less is because like, just I mean, quite frankly, like, for immigration reasons, like I have to be in Danish class, and I have to be working full time. And so I'm squeezing in basically, a full work week, you know, on the edges on Monday and Friday, and then working as much as I can, to say, Wednesday, Thursday, plus, you know, like, replying, the email, you know, when I wake up in the morning, and you know, at night, you know, normal entrepreneur, lack of boundaries with email stuff. And so like, that's why I feel like I can't work less because like, my life necessitate necessitates that I'm in language school twice a week, which feels like a part time job. And then, like, just for legal immigration reasons, like I have to be working full time at the same time. So I feel kind of backed into a corner almost. And then so then, like, the last thing to let go, because obviously, I can't drop family off of that. I guess one benefit of being somewhere where I don't really have a lot of friends in daily life is it like social is, you know, there's, there's zero there. So there's really nothing to drop. But I'm like this, doing this podcast and the book and everything. Like, that's the easiest stuff to fall back on. But that's the thing I like, really enjoying. And so I guess I could sensibly work less and not do this, but like, I quite enjoy this. And like, I enjoy talking to people on their podcasts. And I enjoy doing stuff about my book, and I enjoy talking to you and doing this podcast. And so like, so the only thing I'm left with is, you know, the taking away the thing I enjoy the most and I, you know, like, I wish I could only be in Danish class one hour a week, but that's just not an option. And I think that's the thing. That's the biggest drag on myself. But also there's just the general I mean, stress of the pandemic, right, like, you know, you've probably heard that Europe, several European countries are locking down again, like so it's like, are we facing another lockdown, where I have to balance between working and feeling like a bad parent, because I'm like, you know, balancing homeschooling and working and everything. And so that's like, even stressing me out even more because it's like, Oh, my God, I have to get even more out of each day when I already feel like I'm getting trying to get so much out of each day. And I think just all of that is just kind of making me feel just sort of stressed and exhausted. Just like Colleen Schnettler 14:57 that's a lot. I mean, especially the foreign country. To me, we move to California. And it's so annoying slash stressful. Find a new doctors and dentists. And we're in the same country, they still speak English, Michele Hansen 15:08 they tend you're in like constant sunlight. Oh, that makes a Colleen Schnettler 15:12 huge difference. By the way, everyone should move to California, because I'm happy every day because the sun is shining every day. But no, that's a lot, Michelle. I mean, you end this has been so prolonged for you, right? Because it was the pandemic, and then you move to a foreign country. That was that was a lot to take on at once you left your friends you left, you know, the place where you were comfortable and you loved you left the language. You left the healthcare system, like everything that that was really American healthcare system you Michele Hansen 15:42 like it's, it's terrible, but at least at least they knew how it worked. Yeah, at least you know how to go to the doctor, I could go to the doctor and feel confident I could communicate with the brain. But I wasn't like going, like practicing, you know? How to say, you know, yes, sure. I floss my teeth. You know? Colleen Schnettler 16:03 The change over the past? Gosh, is it been two, three years now? How long has this pandemic been going on? The, the amount of stress you have taken on is tremendous. And I feel for you, because it's just it sounds really, really hard. Michele Hansen 16:29 And everybody who said they went through burnout, like they're like, the thing I did was, you know, I fired all my clients, and I didn't work for two months. Yeah, or I didn't work for a year, like I just lived on savings for a year. And I'm like, I don't feel I can do that. And like also, like people, like, you know, I traveled or whatever. And it's like, I have a family. So I can't just like do nothing all day. Like, even if I wanted to, like I have responsibilities like that, you know, do not change regardless of how I'm feeling. And then, like, legally, I have to be working. And so I feel I mean, I don't know, Colleen Schnettler 17:10 it sounds to me like you feel stuck, or trapped. Yeah. And the situation super Michele Hansen 17:14 stuck. And I don't know how to get unstuck. Colleen Schnettler 17:19 So it seems like the first step is decrease your stress level. Yes. I mean, here's the thing, you're in the middle of it. And so don't freak out. But let's just let's just think outside the box. Okay. So you're in the middle of this super, super high, intense, stressful situation. But I'm going to still say that a lot of it is of your own making. And yeah. And I understand that you don't want to give up the book promo, or you don't want to do our podcast less because these are things you really enjoy. But your health, you know, has to be your happiness. That should be number one. Michele Hansen 18:02 But like why do I take away the things that make me happy? Oh, I Colleen Schnettler 18:06 didn't say take them away. You aren't ready for Collins great ideas. Oh, God, what is Collins great ideas. Okay, so I'm just gonna throw these things out there not to scare you. Just to and I don't want you to problem solve or tell me why you can't do them. Just to show you that. Like, there are options even if they seem absolutely crazy. Okay, Michele Hansen 18:28 are you ready? Okay, okay, I will I will play along. Okay, just play along with Romani. Okay, Colleen Schnettler 18:33 you could move back to the United States. Now listen, one, okay, could sell geocoder do and take two years off and you don't work at all. You could hire someone to be you. And I know the onboarding of that you had you don't want it. You've told me a million times. I know you don't want to hire someone. But if you could get a system in place where you only work, you don't have to work on geocode do you'd still be working full time in the eyes of the Danish government? But you yourself wouldn't have to be managing the contracts and putting in the hours. There's like they don't you know as long as you're they think you're working ish. The full I have to Michele Hansen 19:12 be working. Hello. Danish government people listening. Colleen Schnettler 19:17 I wait. I mean, I would be working because you would be managing okay, you would be working. Because you would be managing a person who was doing the things for you? What if you just stopped doing what would happen? If you did nothing for God? Oh, except like legally required things like, like, you What if you just on your website, you go to your website today? You say we are not taking any more customers for six months. Shut it down. I mean, don't shut it down. But like, what if you were just like, No, no one else gets to come on six months. I mean, there's options. I know these sound crazy to you. Okay, no idea. Okay. I'm just trying to I'm just like trying to help you see that, like, roll their eyes. Unknown Speaker 19:57 You're like, I see it. See? Colleen Schnettler 20:03 You and I know you love promote. And so then of course, then there's the smaller things, but I don't think not like depending on your, your rate of promoting the book. Yeah, you could just totally stop again, it's a book, it's not going to go anywhere, totally stop for six months. Right? All this stuff will be here, once you are recovered, but your health and your happiness that is your life, this is your life. And Michelle, you have made it. And you, you're so stressed. And that makes me sad. Michele Hansen 20:36 You know, I remember I always remember hearing, you know, money doesn't buy happiness when I was a kid. And, you know, he always interpreted that to mean Oh, yeah, you can't just you know, I don't know, go buy yourself something and then feel happy. And they don't tell you how bitter it is, when you're in a situation that can't be solved by money. Colleen Schnettler 21:02 Yeah, that's intense, Michele Hansen 21:05 even when you could have it and, you know, I mean, money by as, you know, therapy and coaches and, you know, help with cleaning the house and or, you know, employees for that matter. You know, whatever else, but you know, money truly doesn't buy happiness. And that is a bitter pill to swallow. Colleen Schnettler 21:25 Yeah. Yeah. And there's a lot of other small things you can do, which may help but they might just be bandaids. And so I really think you need to take a good look at like you, you're so happy in in what you have built with your husband, the work your work environment, and what you are building with the book like, but it doesn't seem right now. And it's been this way for a while, right? This hasn't been a month, this hasn't been two months, it's been this way for a while where it doesn't seem like it's bringing you overall happiness to the extent maybe you thought it would, and it might just be have too much going on. But like, I'm worried about you. That's there. I said it. Michele Hansen 22:09 I think the fact that I have so much going on right now is like bringing these other issues to the fore like we have talked in the past about how I really struggled with work life balance, and like, if like, like I really love working on giuoco do and both of us like we're not selling the business, we we both really enjoy working on it and working on it together. Like, but if I could work 12 hour days on do co do and book stuff like I would do that and be totally happy to do that. Yes, I could blame this on Okay, the extra stress of spending 10 hours a week in language school is like, really adding a lot of stress to this. But I don't think that gets to the bottom, like, like, I don't think I'm being honest with myself. If I say that, that is the problem like that is just like the straw that's breaking the camel's back here. That's, like I struggle with work boundaries. I struggle with, you know, prioritizing myself, like, and giving myself a break and feeling like I deserve a break. Like I think this is this conversation here is like, I don't feel like I can take a break. I don't feel like I deserve a break. I don't feel like it's something that's available to me. Um, I definitely consider myself a recovering workaholic and somebody who wrapped up way too much of their self worth and self identity in work. Which is not as bad as it used to be but like, like, I feel like those things are the real issues and like you know, we kind of talked about how doing that exercise at like well that exercise at founder summit, but also like when it comes to like business like I'm like super competent, and like confident and and like I just make decisions and I feel very self assured and I find it easy to move forward. You tend to like doubt yourself and do a lot of research and feel stuck and like really struggle with that but like when it comes to taking care of yourself and your work life balance and your social life and your your health and everything like you are like so decisive and confident and just make decisions and implement things and do things. And I'm like totally the opposite. Like we're completely opposite. Unknown Speaker 24:38 Yep. On these two things, Michele Hansen 24:40 and you're like, you have to have better work life balance and I'm like, like, how, how do like what's like, I don't know what that means. Like, I think I need to read a book on how to relax like, you know, like, Where where is this guide? Where is this schedule of like, Unknown Speaker 24:59 I can Please be the episode of this. I need to read a book about how to relax. Please title the episode like, that's amazing. Michele Hansen 25:07 Seriously, like, I feel like if you ever got to a point where like you were like I'm too stressed out, like you would immediately cut back on working and feel no guilt or shame or reservations and like just make it work. Colleen Schnettler 25:21 Yeah, absolutely. I think maybe my I mean, I think my experience is a lot different from yours being a military spouse with three kids. If I can't, I have to take care. I mean, they're older now. But like when they were little, like if I wasn't healthy, mentally, physically, whatever, I could not care for all these little people. And so I think part of it is I learned that years ago, like, if I don't have my shit in order, this whole thing falls apart. Because Nick was gone all the time. My husband, you know, he travels a lot for a long, long, long period of time. So I have learned over the years how important it is to prioritize myself really. And it's my life. Right? Let's get back to that. Like, this is your life. Like, how do you want to live it? I mean, right. Not the way you're living it right now. Not with this incredibly burdening like anvil of stress on your shoulders. Michele Hansen 26:19 Yeah, I mean, I feel I like something you said to me at founder Summit, one of our I don't know if this was our debrief knife, when we we ordered guacamole at midnight, I did some self pampering so good. That like you're like, you know, I met all these people who are super successful, and their businesses are where I want to be. And they're, like, I'm happier than them. Like, they're all miserable. Like, Unknown Speaker 26:47 I'm a little embarrassed that you shared that on the podcast, but I did. So we can love you all, thank you for chatting with me. Because not all of your character. Michele Hansen 26:59 Not all of them were miserable. But like they had a lot of, you know, business problems. And it created a lot of like, personal problems, and you didn't want to have those problems, like the stress of managing employees and just, you know, all this other stuff like, but like, you know, you're saying how like your work life balance is really good. Your family life is really good. Like, you've talked about how you're hesitant to work more because you don't want to disrupt how good your personal and then like family life is. And like Yeah, I like I just, I don't even I don't even know how to wrap my head around that. So that's it my family life is bad, or I don't like them. Like I do. Like it's just I don't know, like, it's Unknown Speaker 27:48 a lot. You're like, well, I you know, Michele Hansen 27:51 what if there's nights when you know, Nick wanted to hang out, and then I'm working and I'm like, What is this world where like, the default is not like, one of your like, is that what you thought? Like I said, your laptop? Like what is that? Like, I was just like, that's like so normal for us that like, you know, one of us has some sort of work to do we have to do all the time. Like and we're better than we used to be but like Yeah, and like, I don't know, hanging out with your spouse. Like I just I don't I don't even know like I don't know. i Our marriage is so funny. Our marriage is very different. Um, I just really I don't know, I feel very stuck. And I feel like all these solutions everyone is giving me I'm still like, Well, that was work wouldn't work because this and this wouldn't work. Isn't that like, I'm still I don't know what yeah, that but I'm being very obstinate. I'm not being very, very compliance person to be helped. Colleen Schnettler 28:53 That's what I think that was Shawn's point about, like, when you say I cannot change anything, that's when you know, you need to change something. Michele Hansen 29:00 Yeah. Yeah. Colleen Schnettler 29:04 Yeah, yeah. And it's a whole mindset shift. So actually, I was talking to my other business parent, partner Aaron about this yesterday. And I said that same thing where I was like, I feel like I'm happier than most people. And he was like, Why do you think that is? And I had a couple I had many reasons, but like one of them to like, again, as, like we, as a military spouse, like our friends actually die. I mean, that's like, in real life, like people die. Close friends of ours have died. And I think, you know, when that happens, like my good friend down the street is a widow. She was widowed at 29 with two kids. That really gives you perspective. I mean, you know what I mean? Like, I think that really, really helps. I think I'm really good at keeping perspective because I live in this world that is so much more dangerous than everyone else's world. It's like what is really important. You get one life, you don't know how long it's going to be. How do you want to spend it? Michele Hansen 29:57 It sounds like you take that perspective. Not as you know that your problems don't matter because you're not dead, or that your spouse isn't dead, it's more, which I think is often how that comes across. But it's more so that being surrounded by death, or having it, surrounded by it, but yeah, that was a little. Having it, having it be this kind of looming part of the community kind of like having having it be a presence in the community in a way that it's really not in mind. Like, it forces you to reevaluate those things, and to not take your time for granted. Which, you know, I mean, like, I mean, and, and I don't know, and he's also sort of an ADHD person thing, where, like, we struggle with the concept of time, and like, there's these great talks about how like, ADHD is this disorder of how you perceive time, and like, Hmm, you know, we let things expand to the amount of time allotted, and then some and so we need, like, deadlines for this stuff, like, and so if I feel like there's no deadline on me feeling better, or prioritizing myself, or whatever it is, like I just, I will just fill that time with other things because, and it has been externally set deadline to like, if I make up my own deadline, like, I will blow through it, like, it just, it's like, it doesn't exist, because I know it's made up, like I like outsmart the deadline, like, to my own detriment. Um, you know, but that doesn't, that time doesn't last forever. And it sounds like you get reminders that, you know, none of us are guaranteed any amount of time. Colleen Schnettler 31:38 So, and to be fair, like, on the other side of that coin, I sometimes I'm not, I want to say convinced, but I am sometimes concerned that like all of my businesses will not be successful, because I'm not willing to sacrifice everything else in my life. And, you know, so there's two sides to that, right? Like, I might always have a SAS that makes $1,000 a month and just hang out here, because I'm not willing to work 8090 100 hours a week to make it happen. So you know, trade offs, but Michele Hansen 32:10 I also I don't feel like I'm sacrificing everything because I still do have like, like, family life is also something I'm not going to sacrifice because I think it's something that I did in the past. And now I don't you know, I mean, like today's like, kind of a totally packed day for me, schedule wise. And I was like, you know, tonight, I'm just gonna, like, put our daughter to bed and probably, like, fall asleep with her. Like, but you know, we had Colleen Schnettler 32:41 her, but it is 530 Your time right now already. So, you know, I have something after that. Right. And you're going to do another podcast as soon as we get off this podcast. So and I know a lot of that is timezone stuff. But Michele Hansen 32:53 which suck. I hate them. Yeah. Like not being able to do anything with customers until like 8am at the earliest, or at sorry, like 2pm if they're an early riser, usually 3pm Six, if it's California, like, yeah, that is Colleen Schnettler 33:11 rough. Okay, so let's go back. Let's circle back circle back to you. Because we got a little distracted. And how we get the circle back. I know we're running out of time to solve all your problems. So in 30 minutes, Unknown Speaker 33:30 I think we have five minutes left till your next podcast. Colleen Schnettler 33:35 But seriously, like, what what is your? I'm so happy. Okay, so when you brought this up yesterday with our group, I was so happy to see that, because it showed me that you were fine. You were finally seeing it. And so what is your plan? Michele Hansen 33:52 Dude, I don't have one. I we I'm stuck in the middle of this like, Colleen Schnettler 33:56 so you don't know. You're still young? No idea, I think. Yeah. Michele Hansen 34:00 I mean, I was like, trying this week. I was like, maybe I can like, you know, dude, you could do stuff like Tuesday, Wednesday, and then do extracurricular stuff Thursday, but then it kind of ended up meshing together. And I'm like, actually, I really need to, like, sequester myself and like, get several focused hours of work done on like, Monday afternoons, like, I don't know, that just sounds like more like planning and scheduling. And when it does sound like that sounds like you know, sort of optimizing within the current bounds rather than like actually stepping back and taking time to like, reflect and focus on myself, which is just I think that's the bigger thing is I don't know how to do that. Like, well, and I was like, should I hire a coach, but then I was like, I feel like I don't have time for more meetings. Like, you know, it's just like a coach. I Colleen Schnettler 34:51 hire a relaxing coach. How do I relax, coach? Yeah, I think you're right, like trying to over optimize your schedule is not the solution. You have to fundamentally changed the box, right? And I know Michele Hansen 35:02 the paradigm is wrong. And I'm just working within the current paradigm because I don't know anything else. I just got it. It's not working. Colleen Schnettler 35:11 Right? Like, I know those ideas I threw out, I know you're not going to sell the company or hire someone or move to the United States. But my point is like, you could I mean, there are other options that are available to me. So try to think outside the box because you have to change the box because the box is not working for you. Yeah. Michele Hansen 35:31 Yeah. Well, that's a lot for me to, Unknown Speaker 35:37 you're gonna think about it. You promise? Michele Hansen 35:39 I'm gonna think about it. I'm gonna buy some books about stuff. I don't know. I don't know. Unknown Speaker 35:52 Okay, I was giving myself Michele Hansen 35:53 homework not the solution, either. Unknown Speaker 35:55 That's not not the solution is read a book about how to relax, read a book about how to stop writing Michele Hansen 36:02 about relaxing, right? Like, it's not like, relaxing without meditating. Like, Colleen Schnettler 36:06 it's not the right word. You know, Michele Hansen 36:08 I already meditate anyway. Like, it's not like it's, yeah, it's I don't know, I don't know what it like, I don't know anybody listening. You've gone through burnout. You have some the, I feel like at this point, I less need like solutions from people. And I more need, like, hope thinking about it, if that makes sense. Like framing a problem. Right? Yeah. So anyway, if anyone's gone through this, like, let me know, and you want to, you know, DM with me or something about it, and, or you have a book that like really helped you when you went through it. I feel like burnout is I've gathered that's very different for everyone. And the solutions are very different from everyone. So think I'm intentionally not asking for solutions, because that needs to be something that I figure out, right? Otherwise, because I'm just gonna sit here. Yeah, no, it's gonna work. That's gonna work and then I'm not gonna do what the problem, right? I need to I don't know. I need to think different think outside the box. You did new box. Colleen Schnettler 37:13 You need a new box. Okay, well, I wish you luck. Keep me posted on how it goes. And I think with that, we will wrap up this week's episode of the software Show podcast. Please reach out to Michelle on Twitter. If you have any advice or you yourself have gone through burnout. I think those would be welcome conversations. And let us know what you thought of the show. We're at software slash pod till next week. Michele Hansen 37:40 This episode was also brought to you by tele tele is a browser based screen recorder. For videos that showcase your work and share your knowledge. You can capture your screen, camera and present slides. You can also customize your videos with backgrounds layouts and other video clips. Tella makes it easy to record updates for your teammates, launch videos for your followers and demos for your customers. Record your next product demo with tele visit tele.tv/software Social to get 30% off tele pro Michele Hansen This episode was also brought to you by Tella. Tella is a browser-based screen recorder for videos that showcase your work and share your knowledge. You can capture your screen, camera, and present slides. You can also customise your videos with backgrounds, layouts, and other video clips. Tella makes it easy to record updates for your team mates, launch videos for your followers, and demos for your customers. Record your next product demo with Tella. Visit tella.tv/ softwaresocial to get 30% off Tella Pro

Indie Bites

Nailing your marketing as a founder - Peter Suhm, Reform

Nov 18th — Peter Suhm is the co-founder of Reform , a tool that lets you easily create simple, brandable forms. Peter is also part of the Tiny Seed 1st batch, where he was working on a product called branch Branch . After that didn't work out, he went through a period of testing and validating ideas. One of those ideas was a investor update tool, where Peter discovered how convoluted creating a form with existing tools was. Using Twitter and a very early stage MVP, he validated the idea for Reform and got to work building. Since then he's had #1 Product of the Week on Product Hunt and is now working through the challenges of building features and growing revenue. You might have also heard Peter on the Out of Beta podcast , which he co-hosts with Matt Wensing. ➡️ Get the uncut, 30 minute conversation with Peter on the Indie Bites membership here . What we covered in this episode: Coming up with the idea for Reform Validating the idea for Reform Why build a product in such a competitive market Where form builders keep messing up Getting to #1 Product Hunt of the week When is the right time to launch on PH Marketing and growth tests for Reform going forward Continuing to try things that don't scale Where should founders start with marketing? Peter's approach to product development The feedback loop of Twitter The upsides of raising Tiny Seed money Recommendations Book: Traction by Gabriel Weinberg Podcast: Tropical MBA Indie Hacker: Derrick Reimer Follow Peter Twitter Personal Site Follow Me Twitter Indie Bites Twitter Personal Website Buy A Wallet 2 Hour Podcast Course Sponsor - Fathom Analytics For the longest time, website analytics software was seriously bad. It was hard to understand, time-consuming to use, and worse, it exploited visitor data for big tech to profit. I've spent countless hours in Google Analytics dashboards trying to figure even out the most basic metrics. This is exactly why I signed up for Fathom as soon as I heard Paul Jarvis and Jack Ellis were building it. Fathom is simple website analytics that doesn't suck. It's easy to use and respectful of privacy laws, with no cookies following your users around the web. They're also a bootstrapped, sustainable business so I love supporting them. Yes, it might feel strange paying for analytics at first, but once you realise the real cost of free Google Analytics and realising how easy to use Fathom is, you won't go back. You can install the lightweight code on as many websites as you want and quickly see the performance of all your sites. Link → https://usefathom.com/bites

Indie Hackers

Brains: Talking Money with Anthony Pompliano and Sam Parr

Nov 17th — How do you make a ton of money on the internet, and how do you manage it once you've got it? In this crossover episode from the Brains podcast, we have a fun discussion about money with Anthony Pompliano (@APompliano) who's a Bitcoin 9-figure millionaire and Sam Parr (@theSamParr) who sold his startup The Hustle for a reported $27 million. Whether you enjoy this crossover episode or not, tweet me and let me know! I'm @csallen on Twitter. You can subscribe to Brains in your favorite podcast player or via our website: https://www.brainspodcast.com

Software Social

Using Jobs to Be Done to Build a Whiteboard That Does Math: A Conversation with Matt Wensing, Founder of Summit

Nov 16th — Every doctor is concerned about your vital signs, but a good doctor cares about your overall health. Your website deserves the same care, and Hey Check It is here to help - Hey Check It is a website performance monitoring and optimization tool - Goes beyond just core web vitals to give you a full picture on how to optimize your website to give your users an optimal, happy experience - Includes AI-generated SEO data, accessibility scanning and site speed checks with suggestions on how to optimize, spelling and grammar checking, custom sitemaps, and a number of various tools to help you Start a free trial today at heycheckit.com AUTOMATED TRANSCRIPT Michele Hansen 0:00 Hey, welcome back to software social, I am super excited to have a guest with me this week. It is Matt wensing, who is founder of Summit, which is a tool for financial modeling. Previously, he was founder of risk pulse, which was acquired in 2019, which was an enterprise SAS. I'm also the co host of out of beta. Matt, welcome. Thanks, Michelle. Matt Wensing 0:31 I'm really excited to be here, too. I'm a listener. And I just love it. So this is fun. Michele Hansen 0:37 So I have been wanting to talk to you for a really long time. And there is one tweet that you sent out in particular, that made me really want to talk to you. So in January, you tweeted out some notes you had taken from customer research that you did for Summit. And you were working with what the jobs to be done world calls the forces diagram, which is basically this diagram we use to show the different pushes and pulls and anxieties and habits people have around the tools they use, and why they might be looking for something new, but also why they might stay with what they're doing right now. And I am so curious to hear kind of like how this came about, and how you have been using customer research as you explore summits. So can you kind of like take us back in time to when you first started researching Summit? Matt Wensing 1:52 Yeah, absolutely. So it's funny that there's actually an overlap here between even knowing what jobs be done enforces progress is and that initial research. So I attend the business of software conference each year in the States, so there's one in Europe and the States, but every October, in Boston, folks get together, at least pretty COVID and cross fingers soon. And Bob molesta is a regular speaker there as well, who is not sure the godfather of the forces of progress framework in a lot of ways. And I just remember being this is probably Oh, man, time's flying, right. So let's just say five years ago, I wanted to say three and like now, it's not three, it's probably five years ago, I listened to him interview, an audience member, kind of a mock customer interview, live about purchasing a car. And the way that they were able to take a dialogue and really parse it into a framework that you could then take away from that, and then keep doing that with more and more conversation. It just was like, Okay, this is definitely a tool that I need to add to my tool belt like this is, this is amazing. What's interesting is then fast forward into Summit, like by that time in the history of my previous company, I was doing sales, enterprise sales, mostly it wasn't doing a lot of customer research, at least in terms of the early sort of genesis of the product. So I don't know that I got to use it a lot. Back then it was mostly just listening to like we did do enterprise deals where there were custom features involved. But really, I got to use it fresh, you know, when you're second time founder, a lot of times you're like, Oh, I'm gonna do this the right way, this time around and actually use more tools and framework things I've learned. And forces progress is one of those. So I wanted to build this tool to do financial modeling. But that is such an ambiguous target that I knew I needed to figure out the value proposition. What does that really mean? What do people want? So funny enough, I gave a talk at business a software as a lightning talk in 2019. And I kind of use that as a launching point. I didn't frame it as, hey, I'm selling a product. I didn't even have a product. I had a little prototype, basically. But I use that talk to share. Really, the problem, socialize the problem space, if you will talk about, hey, this is this is a challenge, isn't it? Like this is a pain. Here's a little tool I made to kind of deal with that pain. And I really tried to draw some business lessons out of it. But really, at that same time, I started to have conversations with potential customers and prospects. And as they talked to me, I started cataloger file their feedback into these different kind of buckets, right, kind of the tool that I had learned previously and yeah, I just kind of did that every you know a few months would kind of refresh my understanding of what they were saying and built up this. This list organized list of feedback which I guess I'll put a bow on it and say it really think helped me understand the product strategy, like what did the product strategy need to be, for me to go into this space that was otherwise very nebulous? Like, how do I have opinion? Like what should my opinions be about the tool and what it needs to do? Right? Michele Hansen 5:19 Mm hmm. It's really it's really interesting that you use basically that talk as sort of a, I guess, sort of, in a way, sort of what Patrick McKenzie would call a friend catcher, to attract people to you to talk about the problem. But then because you had that experience with the forces of progress and with seeing Bob Maestas speak who, by the way, his his book, demand side sales actually has real customer interviews in it that are all broken down by the forces. And it's like, it's so good, like it should be on everybody's shelf. And then, but you you were able to process that. And I think that's so important, because sometimes there can can feel like there's this gap between for people who are new to research of how do I go from talking to people to actually designing value? And how do I figure out okay, I've talked to these people, I know what these problems are, I know what I'm interested in. But then what is the product? And it sounds like you were able to bridge that? So I'm curious if you can kind of dive into when you went from this point of understanding the problem space socializing the problem space, you kind of had a prototype, but like, how did the prototype sort of snowball with that? And how did you figure out where it was valuable? Matt Wensing 6:48 Yeah, so to put a timeline on this, this was, what you're describing now is essentially the journey from late 20, October 2019, through probably April, May of this year, so you know, almost almost two years, essentially. And during that time, I've released multiple versions of the products, really knowing that this was not going to be it. Now I'm a developer, a full stack developer who can build full, I can build applications top to bottom, not as strong as they used to be on the front end, but like it works. And what I was essentially trying to do was understand, okay, so there are few risks of the business. And funnily enough, Patrick McKenzie was one of the first people I pinged about this idea, because was his work at stripe Atlas and stripe. And just in general, I knew that he would have interesting opinion. And his thoughts were okay, financial modeling is interesting. But it sounds like it could be transactional, like, somebody has a need, they do it. And then they're gone. And I knew I wanted to build a SAS. And so that was like, Okay, that's a great point. Because a lot of times, the use cases that would come up when I talked to people were, oh, yeah, I have this investor meeting, or Oh, yeah, I have this fundraiser. Oh, yeah, I need to figure this thing out. And it sounded like it had a pretty finite shelf life of utility. People come they use it, then they go away. I was like, okay, that's not a great recurring revenue business, you know, because it sounds like something you could just sell for $50 one time, and then people don't ever need to keep paying you anything. So I recognize that pretty early on that engagement was a key risk to the business being a sustaining recurring revenue model. And engagement is tricky, because as much as you want to do, you know, mock ups and kind of smoke tests and things that are not you don't want to over invest in engineering, it's very hard to de risk engagements with a paper mock up or a screenshot or a prototype, like, how do you know that they're gonna come back to it unless they actually get to use something. So I basically spent those 18 to 24 months, releasing, what I knew were really technically debt laden, let's put it that way versions of the product, where all I cared was that the front end was communicating what I wanted it to like, this is what this is, this is what this does for you. If you click this button, this happens, and it works, how it works less important. So I built a lot of basically throw away versions of the product, which was expensive, but I felt like it was the key to knowing would people actually come back and reuse it? And I guess let's pause there. That was my approach. And that was why I took that approach to de risking or, or getting more valuable feedback from people than just like, a conversation or interview right? And then I think I paired that with, do you use Excel to use sheets, you know, how do you do this today? But I learned, I just want to point out, I learned from both the usage of the early versions and the customer conversations. Michele Hansen 10:12 I love how you underscored there, how the customers intrinsic behavior and their intrinsic needs, drive usage of the product, like there's only so many sort of engagement hacks that you can do to make someone come back to a product. But like, if they only need to raise money every 18 months, then there's nothing that you can do that will make them come back daily or weekly, because their fundamental underlying need for the product is infrequent. And I'm reminded of the pain and frequency framework from Dez trainer, which, you know, he said, you know, that that most, you know, painful and frequent is sort of the best quadrant to be in, because people have an underlying need for something and they're annoyed by it. But infrequent and painful, can be kind of a danger zone, it can be a space for good products, you know, I think, you know, I sort of think of like buying a house and getting a mortgage is very expensive. And it's so complicated. And it's, you know, expensive to get it wrong, but it's very infrequent. But other things that are infrequent and painful, you know, can maybe not be a great business, which it sounds like you had some indications that the underlying need for this, what you were originally thinking would not be frequent and and therefore people would not have a subscription. And so rather than staying with that, and going down the path, and then a year from now being like oh my god, I have this churn problem. How do I keep people to stay around? You pivoted towards something that was more frequent. Matt Wensing 11:58 Yeah, that's exactly right. So I often use the metaphor for the first version as like, because I didn't know what else to build. So I just bought, I just built, I built the version that I knew people would use at least that first time, right? Because then I knew it was gonna fail. I felt like it was gonna fail. But I was like, okay, but I have to figure out the bridge from here to there. Like, I have to take a step. And so I'm going to give them at least gonna give them that initial thing and then just see, will they tell me like, you know, what else would be great is if, you know, like, what else could I learn by doing this? And so I built kind of that coin operated version, I call it like a vending machine for a financial forecast. Because my original thought was, yeah, people need a forecast. That was the value proposition, how fast can I get them a forecast that that works. And people use that. But then again, it was the churn problem, it was the going away, it was the it was hard to build, you know, that raving fan base, that you need to get something off the ground? Because it just wasn't sustainable. So I realized that to build a SAS in this space, I was going to have to figure out what did they do regularly? You know, like, Okay, if you only close your books once a month, or even your maybe you don't even do that, because you have a bookkeeper or accountant that does that for you. If you only raise money every 18 months, like what is it that you do? That's close to this that is more frequent? And that's really how I got drawn into more of the modeling space meaning like, Okay, but what, tell me about what you do regularly, and if you look at what these founders made, if I would just have them, show me what you made, show me what you made, I basically got into this thing of like, you are spending time somewhere. Where is that? What are you doing, right? And they would show me, the spreadsheets that they were making, that were very ephemeral, like they were very, they were throwaway products, if you will, they would make this like, I gotta figure out if I can afford this higher. And so they would just come into a G sheet G sheets, not new, right? Create a little spreadsheet and then use it for like a day, and then go away. But then it's like, well, how many of these do you have? Say, Oh, well, I mean, I probably do that, you know, once a once every other week, once a week, twice a month, like sometimes multiple times. And I'm like, wait a minute. So you don't build like a giant, you know, official forecast all the time. But you are using spreadsheets a lot. And you are doing things with money in spreadsheets a lot. Like Tell me about that. And that started to inform our strategy of Wait a minute, you know, there's really two customers here are two potential users. There's the CFO, if you will, or the analyst who builds those. That's the founder, even if it's a founder that's a hat they were where they do it like every once in a while I have to get serious about finance and do this proper thing. And then there's the non CFO founder, I just need something to solve my question or answer my question, person persona, who actually kind of does this work that they don't show to anyone else? They're really embarrassed. They know it's not, you know, they know it's not. Right, like with a capital R, right. But they're doing it a lot. Like they're doing this to make all the little decisions about pricing and metrics and goals. And how much can I afford to pay this person, like, I'm like, wait a minute. Turns out, you're actually doing a lot of modeling, you just don't talk about it. And you don't, you don't show it to anybody because you're embarrassed, right? It's this like dirty little secret almost that you have that you build these things and make decisions. Because of course, you use numbers, nobody doesn't use numbers, but like, you just don't call this some financial model. So that was a key insight, realizing that there were these two personas that were actually living within the same person. And they had compartmentalize those very cleanly, but I was much more interested suddenly in the other person, right. Michele Hansen 16:13 That's so interesting. Like, you know that what you just showed there is, I think it's such a key, a key point and activity based design, which is the idea that we're designing for activities that people do and not for a specific person. And so in my book, for example, I talk about, you know, everything is a process, and everything is an activity. And the activity of you know, for example, one person might both have a Carraig pod coffee machine, and have a French press. But they use the Carib pod coffee machine when they're trying to get the kids to school in the morning, and they're rushed, and they're doing a million other things. And they use the French press on the weekend when they have a friend over to chat. And to them. Those are two very different activities that they're doing. But they're being done by the same person. And so if you design for the person, that wouldn't make sense to you that they would own both, and would try to pigeonhole them into one. But really, they're a person who's doing many different activities with many different goals. And so you have this one activity where I need to create financial models for official purposes, to share them with other people, maybe for compliance reasons, maybe for sort of me in my official capacity reasons where other people are reviewing this. And then there's also this activity of, I need to make a decision that involves numbers. And it's basically this sort of like there's the official activity. And then there's the back of the envelopes activity, which is where this kind of I've heard people describe summit as like a whiteboard that does math. Yes. And that is also where that activity comes in. And that's more so replacing those those millions of spreadsheets and which other really fascinating about this is that so often is the core thing and jobs to be done. So often the competitors to a product is not actually another piece of software or another product product. It's somebody doing it. It's them making a spreadsheet. It's something in Google Docs, it's like them doing it by hand like that is as much a competitor as another piece of software. It's like, there's so many pieces. Yes, this is great. Matt Wensing 18:37 Oh, yeah. And that's why, you know, I try to explain, like, this is such a journey, because you, we joke within the company, like, gosh, we did you know, we were so dumb a week ago, like how we thought we were so smart, but we knew nothing. And when I started this journey, you know, you just so in the dark, and then you take these steps and you realize, wait a minute, wait a minute. And so it is kind of a weird thing that you have this perennial sort of optimism as a founder that there's something here and you can you want to figure out that if you're wrong, you're wrong, but at the same time, people are not telling you. You know, and this is the thing I think so key like this is a skill to develop is people are not what people don't say is as important as what they do say and like learning to find out that wait a minute, we were we were standing in this room, if you will, in your mind talking about financial modeling. And here I am thinking that this is where the gold is, you know, this is trying to get all my answers. And you're telling me next door you've got like 12 spreadsheets with numbers and money in them and you're you didn't tell me about like, how did I How was I so close but yet like you didn't you know, like if I had just if I had given up them right. I would have missed the room that actually had all the gold in it right? But it was literally connected but in their mind at what it was a different room. It's like oh, you're asking Give me about this. But, you know, you're not asking about that. And so that's what's so kind of vexing for like, in hindsight, I just laugh because stumbling across the actual value is is something that you, you partly luck part skill and getting people to. And really I'll cut my rambling short by saying I think observation is more powerful in those cases than just question and answer because the real key for me was when I said, Show me, show me what you have today. And they had to, you know, at that point, they couldn't say, like, Why have nothing. But they did have to say, Oh, well, let me open up the store over here and show you what I have today, because I haven't been through a fundraiser, and I haven't, whatever, but I've got something. And it's only when I said, Show me that I got to see like, wait a minute, there's this whole other room here, that is exactly where I want to be. So we pivoted our strategy towards that other space. And it's been very fruitful. Michele Hansen 21:12 And there's two really important skills for entrepreneurs there, that you just sort of, underscored without really stating them outright, that I want to, I want to hone in on for a second. The first one was basically thinking about how much of an idiot you were a week ago, and thinking about that, and not being embarrassed about it, but kind of being like, delighted that you have learned something, and that you have added to your understanding of customers. And, and kind of being able to like, not laugh at yourself, but almost sort of look at it with like this, this sort of it's almost a pride in a way of being like, man, I was such an idiot six months ago, like, and it's kind of delightful to have those moments of realizing how much you didn't know, but to be delighted by that, and not be embarrassed by that. And kind of as a company being able to say, like, Yeah, we had no idea we're doing. And now we six months from now, we're also gonna say we, you know, we don't know what we're doing. Right? Like, but you know, we are aware of that. And then also the curiosity, the combination of that approach to learning and being excited by learning and looking for surprises, and then allowing yourself to be curious when you talk to the customers, and not just accepting what they're saying at face value. But saying, Well, can you? What's what's in this closet over here, like, and just, but like, you can only get to that point if you have really built trust with them. Because as you said earlier, they were embarrassed by doing this back of the envelope math, they were embarrassed by their legions of spreadsheets of whether they can hire people because it wasn't real official forecasts done by a BI team, like maybe they they're so small, they don't even have a BI team. Right? Like, exactly. So. And so they don't want to show this anyway. But when you did the interviews, they trusted you enough, which tells me that the way you ran the interviews was when you ran them really well, because they were willing to let you in and poke into what you thought was a little closet. But it turned out they were like pulling out a books and a book. And then the whole bookcase like turns around. And it's like their secret lair full of spreadsheets. Matt Wensing 23:36 Exactly, exactly. Was that they had made like yesterday, and then this one from today and that one from a week ago. And I'm like, wait a minute, you're not just doing this, like once every you're doing this, like, this is enough, guys, this is enough, you know? And like, what if you actually enjoy doing this? Like, oh, wow, you know, and so then it was like the opportunity to switch that negative emotion to a positive one and say, let's change embarrassment to fun and joy and just, let's embrace the informality of it by letting you do it this way. But we're going to level you up like we're going to make it better and faster and take out the tedium. So that's where I went back into my forces of progress. And I said, Okay, for this non CFO founder, what are their thoughts? And you know, they say stuff like, I'm embarrassed by my spreadsheet. I'm not very good at this, Michele Hansen 24:29 right. Also, their spreadsheet, like they love playing in the spreadsheet. They Matt Wensing 24:33 do love to play exactly. So they like the act of playing with it, right? It's almost like a child who's like, I love to finger paint and create things. But then it's like the kid who's embarrassed to show his parents or teacher whomever like well, you know, this is just for me. And so it was a very, like private activity. And so I was like, wait a minute, so this is an opportunity to say, Don't worry, we've got your back. Like, we'll make sure the math is right. We'll run the team will do the tedious parts for you. We'll make it look really well designed without you having to do the work of making it look professional. And we'll even help you use smarter, you know, building blocks to do this work. So you might not, you still might not use it to do that fundraiser, get that for an evaluation or whatever, like, you're still gonna have to create a spreadsheet, perhaps, for all those little decisions. Like, that's where summit wants to start, like, we want to be your tool for that, right? And I think over time, we can grow into the, oh, hey, you're really, you're really skilled at Excel? Are you really good at G sheets, and you have total, you are like, really confident and proud of your work? We'll get to you, but like this, then give us that shape of adoption that that's okay. Like, there's enough people. And in fact, there's more people. It's a bigger market of people who are a little bit embarrassed, a little shy and a little inexperienced, frankly, with this stuff than the other one. And oh, gosh, guess what team? Like, the feature requirements are completely different. Like, instead of having to build the enterprise, incredible version, that's going to win people away who are like veterans, right? We get to start with, like, the people who need the simplest things, you know, like that was the other exciting part is that, wow, you're just doing addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, basically, right? Like, okay, great. You know, I don't have to like, cuz I will say, you know, I don't want to leave this part out, like there was a pivotal moment in those 18 months where I was, hadn't decided yet that this is where we were going to go. And I found myself torn, trying to build more and more sophisticated tools and analysis for that really confident diehard user. And they were so demanding, and so exacting, and I was just barely getting, like, I'd say a b plus, with them. And it was causing me to almost have to go, Okay, this is going to end up being a consulting business, if I'm not careful, because I'm going to end up having to do a lot of bespoke work a lot of custom work for them, I'm going to end up, you know, having to get into the models that mean, I have to become a data scientist, like it was just so intense, that I realized, okay, this is not the business I want to build either like, this is just a bad fit from a, you know, I want a high margin, self serve SAS business. And I might come back to y'all. But this is not where I'm going to start. I can't I can't start here, because there's only one of me. At that point, there was one of me so. So I made the decision, then, okay, we're going all in on the other side. And that also allowed us to say, wait a minute, you know, all these opinions, we were baking into the product, all these best practices, all these things, we kind of need to like, lower that not come across as so proper and formal and the right way to do things, you know, you can only do things the right way, right? We actually need to be more invited, it changed our whole brand, right? We went through a rebrand where we said, instead of being serious and professional and discipline looking like Wall Street kind of style branding, you know, traditional financial branding, we actually said, what if we were playful and inviting and inclusive, and, you know, just warm and friendly with our branding, that would actually resonate more with these people who treat this stuff as their playground, right, like you said, and so it didn't just affect your product strategy, you know, really changed our whole positioning and brand identity, once we realized that this was the this was the side of the person we wanted to go after. Right? Michele Hansen 28:48 Hmm. It's so interesting that there were multiple inflection points there. Were you really stopped to think like, is this the business we should build? Whether that's from a product perspective? Or from a, you know, like a business perspective? Like, is this the business I want to be in? And when those points came? In sounds like you were quite reflective about them. And, you know, you know what, when you're at that point where you realized, you know, that, you know, that people were not doing the modeling, you initially thought they were on the frequency that you hoped they would be. You could have been threatened by that discovery. And you could have decided to, you know, give up or dig your heels in on it. And you didn't, and I think that it's such an important mental shift that needs to happen in order to really do customer research well, is to be open to what you're going to hear and to follow it wherever it's going to take you. And so you initially thought You were building a serious financial modeling tool for, you know, say startups, CFOs, and founders that is polished and professional, and they can give it to their boards or whatever. Yep. And, and then it turns out, you're actually making this fun private playground for them to make decisions in, in a way that helps them do it faster, and maybe doesn't use all of the skills they have about, you know, you know, decision support systems they learned in business school, but instead, it's somewhere that's like, safe. And yeah, for them. That's a very different business than you thought you were building. And you allowed yourself to be, you know, sort of led by the customer, still applying your own, you know, analysis on top of that, still asking yourself, you know, of all of these different directions that customers leading me in, or I could allow them to lead me in, you know, are those businesses I want to be in? Are those products I want to build? Is that is that the future I want for myself and for this company? And you allow that answer to be No, right? You didn't just force yourself into it. But you said, No, and we're going to do something else. Because there's something else that's interesting here, like there's still something here. Yeah. And maybe that's not it, but there's something else, but allowing yourself to sort of just just sort of to go with it, but still be steering it at the same time. And I don't I don't know if I'm quite conceptualizing that very well. Matt Wensing 31:40 No, yeah, it describes, you know, basically describes, I would say, December of 2020, in January 2021, where we just realized that I realized that this was not the right segments, this is not the right value prop for the right, you know, hats that people were wearing. And we were able to charge more money, but it wasn't going to grow the way I wanted to. So we rebuilt the darn thing, again, for hopefully the last time in April, May and June of this year, and then release the beta version in July. And it's really exciting. Now we've had three months of growth, we've had three months of consecutive growth, which had never happened before. Right. So revenue up each month, and retention. So we've actually had negative net negative retention each month, which has never happened before, either. So it turns out these people love it, it's doing what they want to the prices, right? And there's a lot of them. So I'm like, This is great. You know, you know, we have that we have a business and I will come it's funny, full circle, we now have some of our users who are founders, saying, hey, one of them, it blew my mind, he shared a screenshot of a zoom call with his board, where he did show summit on the call, which he never would have done with the G sheet that he created. Right. But because it looks like rigor, it looks rigorous. It's actually doing justice to his thoughts. Like he's a super smart person. But I think the problem before was like a mismatch between, you know, the tools that he had to express his logic and his thinking and his, his conceptual gifts, right, like, very, very talented, but like, you put them in front of a spreadsheet, and he would, you know, that just wasn't his native tongue. Right. It wasn't where he wanted wasn't the right tool for him to express those thoughts. Now that he and they have that they are starting to share them more on tweets, and with board meetings and like, which is great for us. But I think it's a testament to the fact that they're proud of their work now. Right. And that's really exciting for us. So yeah, it's it's a journey. Michele Hansen 34:01 It sounds like it has been, I mean, an incredible journey so far. I'm I'm super excited to see where this takes you. i You know, I've had a little bit of experience with with you know, with working with analysts myself, because I used to work in sort of the the financial space and I definitely knew a lot of people who love their spreadsheets and, you know, like genuinely reveled in making discounted cash flows and excel and very proud of your macros. Yeah, thing. And, yeah, yeah. Like, just like, and I mean, I feel like I have a little bit of that where I like, you know, genuinely enjoy, like playing in a spreadsheet. Yeah. And it's been so cool to see everything that you're sharing about different kinds of things that you could do with it, but also people doing it for their own personal budgeting and like, you know, founders, like founder financial situations are always so like weird and different and like, figuring out whether, you know, can I? Can I do this? Can I send my kid to this school? Can I, you know, can I buy a house, you know, all of those sorts of different things. Um, really, really exciting stuff. And, and, you know, I noticed you tweeted recently that you feel like you're getting to that, that point where it's really, it's really starting to take off and have that. You know, you know, you feel like you have found the product, you have discovered the products, which is the hardest part, and that you're getting those rabid fans. And actually, I told you this already, but I was at a wedding a couple of weeks ago. And these table I was sitting at like the, you know, there are two guys who work in finance sitting across the table from me. And like one of them was like telling them like about summit and how awesome it was and how he had to get access to it and all this like stuff you've built with it, you know, and I was on the other side of this huge table, and I wasn't really part of that conversation. But I was like, What are they talking about what they think I think, you know, wow, like, Oh, my God, like the internet in real life happening at this table at wedding. Matt Wensing 36:12 Founders delight right there. Yeah, yeah. Michele Hansen 36:16 But I think there's, I think we're gonna be hearing a lot more of people using summit and stuff so you can do with it. It has been an absolute delight talking to you today. Thank you so much for giving us some insights into your customer research and product discovery process. I really appreciate. Matt Wensing 36:38 You're welcome. Thanks for having me, Michelle. Michele Hansen This episode was also brought to you by Tella. Tella is a browser-based screen recorder for videos that showcase your work and share your knowledge. You can capture your screen, camera, and present slides. You can also customise your videos with backgrounds, layouts, and other video clips. Tella makes it easy to record updates for your team mates, launch videos for your followers, and demos for your customers. Record your next product demo with Tella. Visit tella.tv/ softwaresocial to get 30% off Tella Pro

Indie Bites

From lifelong bootstrapper to raising calm funding - Brian Casel, ZipMessage

Nov 13th — Brian Casel is a veteran of the bootstrapping game, having left his full-time job back in 2008. You might have heard him on the Boostrapped Web podcast where he shares his journey starting and building software products. Over the years Brian has pretty much done it all, built software businesses, courses, productized services and even sold some along the way. Most recently, Brian has been working on ZipMessage , a new way to communicate asynchronously. ➡️ Get the uncut, 60 minute recording with Brian on the Indie Feast membership here. What we covered in this episode: Where did the idea of ZipMessage come from? How Brian validated ZipMessage Brian's unconventional approach to validation Why Brian raised funding from Calm Company Fund How can people go from freelancer to productized service The importance of building processes in productized services Why Brian didn't follow his passion for music Recommendations Book: Shoe Dog by Phil Knight Podcast: Smartless Indie Hacker: James McKinven <em>(errm...)</em> Follow Brian Twitter Personal Site Follow Me Twitter Indie Bites Twitter Personal Website Buy A Wallet 2 Hour Podcast Course Sponsor - Fathom Analytics For the longest time, website analytics software was seriously bad. It was hard to understand, time-consuming to use, and worse, it exploited visitor data for big tech to profit. I've spent countless hours in Google Analytics dashboards trying to figure even out the most basic metrics. This is exactly why I signed up for Fathom as soon as I heard Paul Jarvis and Jack Ellis were building it. Fathom is simple website analytics that doesn't suck. It's easy to use and respectful of privacy laws, with no cookies following your users around the web. They're also a bootstrapped, sustainable business so I love supporting them. Yes, it might feel strange paying for analytics at first, but once you realise the real cost of free Google Analytics and realising how easy to use Fathom is, you won't go back. You can install the lightweight code on as many websites as you want and quickly see the performance of all your sites. Link → https://usefathom.com/bites

Indie Hackers

#234 – Money, Kids, and Choosing Your Market with Justin Jackson of Transistor.fm

Nov 10th — Today I'm talking to Justin Jackson (@mijustin). He's someone who started out in entrepreneurship by opening a brick and mortar snowboarding shop. I want to find out how he made the unlikely leap into SaaS and how having four kids at a young age changed both his journey and how he thinks about money, legacy, and the future. Follow Justin on Twitter: https://twitter.com/mijustin Get your podcast hosted on Transistor: https://transistor.fm/

Software Social

Founder Summit Takeaways

Nov 9th — Follow the speakers we mentioned! David Sherry: https://twitter.com/_brandswell Itamar Marani: https://twitter.com/itamarmarani Colleen Schnettler 0:00 Every doctor is concerned about your vital signs, but a good doctor cares about your overall health. Your website deserves the same care, and Hey Check It is here to help - Hey Check It is a website performance monitoring and optimization tool - Goes beyond just core web vitals to give you a full picture on how to optimize your website to give your users an optimal, happy experience - Includes AI-generated SEO data, accessibility scanning and site speed checks with suggestions on how to optimize, spelling and grammar checking, custom sitemaps, and a number of various tools to help you Start a free trial today at heycheckit.com AUTOMATED TRANSCRIPT Michele Hansen 0:35 Hey, Colleen. Colleen Schnettler 0:37 Good morning, Michelle. Michele Hansen 0:39 It's so nice to see your face again, after seeing it in person. Last off at founder Summit. Colleen Schnettler 0:45 I know that was such a wonderful trip. And just amazing that we got to spend that time together. Michele Hansen 0:51 I keep thinking about how awesome it was like, I feel like they've set the bar really, really high for conferences in general as but especially post COVID. Colleen Schnettler 1:04 Yeah, I also think I will be impressed if they can replicate that experience next year, because everyone I know now wants to go. And I think part of what made that conference so special was that there were it was capped at 150 people. And I'm sure they're gonna get a flood of applicants to go next year. So I don't know what they're going to do how they're going to handle that. Michele Hansen 1:28 Yeah, actually, so Tyler tweet that he was like, oh, like, what if we did this in other cities? Oh, like to a year? Yeah. And I was like, Oh, that would be really cool. Yeah, good. Maybe we should talk about like, what made it so awesome. And like, kind of what are like, what are takeaways from it? Colleen Schnettler 1:44 Oh, yeah, girl, I have so many takeaways, all the takeaways. Okay. What were what? What would you lead with? What made it so special for you? Besides me? Of course. It's too easy. Michele Hansen 2:01 You know, so I mean, yeah, this is really hard thing to like, summarize. So I think it was, I mean, it was just so nice being in the same place with other people who are doing the same thing. You know, I think we've talked about how, you know, we initially connected one of the reasons was like, You're the only person I knew in my regular everyday life, who also did this, like weird internet business thing. And there's just like, aren't that many people in this world doing that. So it's just like, so nice to be around other people who are doing this. And you're not only not only do you feel normal, but like, it's such a good environment for like, throwing around ideas. And like, there was at one point when we were talking about, like, multiples for SaaS companies like making a couple $1,000 a month at one point, like on a on the bus to do the hot air balloon ride over to t Wuhan like, and I hope I'm pronouncing that right. I'm practicing so much. And we're like, you know what, we should just like, ask the bus, like this bus full of people would know the answer to this question and have a perspective on this. And like, and so that was really, really awesome. And I feel like there's so many people who introduce themselves. And then and then we like, you know, I'm so and so Oh, and I'm so and so on Twitter, and I'm like, oh my god, like, I've been tweeting with you for the past, you know, like, couple of years, and I finally meeting you in person. And. And so that was really awesome. And I mean, just getting so many ideas going about things. And also, you know, we had talked on our meta episode about how I want to talk more about negotiation, because that's something I do a lot of, and sales, but don't really talk about. And then a speaker was sick on the second day, and Tyler was like, Hey, can anybody give a talk this afternoon? And like, fill the spot and I was like, Yep, alright, I can do negotiation, talk and workshop. And, and, you know, just kind of kind of jumped at it. And it was, it was super fun. And I think I think the big thing I'm really thinking about that, you know, that activity did was like the, the, the, like the wheel where you had to, like rate different areas over your life from like, one to 10 like how they're going. So there was I think it was like occupational fulfillments like one to 10 which is work, right work. Yep. spiritual, emotional, environmental. Physical. Did I already say social? I don't think so. Social. Yeah, there was like five or six different things. Yeah, that's Colleen Schnettler 4:49 six. Um, Michele Hansen 4:52 and I think we both had really interesting results from that. Like they're very different like ours were like, Oh, yes, opposite one. And yeah, and really thinking about how like, you know, I like I gave like physical health like a one on that, right. And the goal of this activity was, you know, you give each area a score of one to 10. And then you set a goal of getting up to spots in the next 90 days. So not going from one to 10, which is often how I two things, just like totally like, balls to the wall focusing on something. But going, you know, from like, one to three, and so it's like, how can you have a plan to go from one to three or three to five? Or, or what have you in the next 90 days. And I remember you saying, when I was writing the book, you were like, Dude, you're like, moving so fast, like you're gonna run headfirst into a wall. And I did, and I haven't talked about that too much, but kind of like privately, I've talked to some people who definitely had this had a similar feeling after launching things. Yeah. Um, and yeah, just really, really thinking. I mean, like, literally even like today, like I got hiccups. 30 seconds before we got on recording, and I was doing literally everything I could to get them to go away, rather than being like, hey, maybe let's record another day instead, right? Like I make work happen no matter what. Even if it's at the the sacrifice of my physical health. And so I think that's something you know, I really need to focus on and I think, something Natalie from wild bit said on stage was like, you know, if the founder isn't happy, if the founder isn't healthy, then the company can't flourish. And so I think that's, that's, I mean, that's something I really, really need to work on. And it's like, kind of like work related, but it's like, it's not, but it also like it is in every sense of the word. So I think that's kind of been a thing I'm thinking about, but I don't I still don't really know exactly where I go with that. Colleen Schnettler 7:07 Like actionable steps. That's what you're still trying to figure out. Because if you want a warning, pretty bad, so Michele Hansen 7:12 yeah, it is. Yeah. I mean, I did order atomic habits, which is like one of those books that like I've never read before, never read a tie. No, it's like one of those books. I feel like that. And like Ray Dalio, his book, or like, books that everybody around me read and like, told me about, and I read about, so I felt like I read them. But I didn't, you know, like, I just didn't feel like I needed to, because it just everybody read it. And I'm like, No, I should probably like, sit down and think about like, not doing a whole scale turnaround, which is like, normally how I approach anything, and it's like, just just just way over the top. Yeah, um, but how, you know, how can I make small changes so that I don't get exhausted and like, move on to something else? And then then, which then exhaust me and then move on to something else? Like, it's, I see a pattern here. So, um, yeah, and I think I also thought, you know, a lot of people, even if they were in different groups really struggling with the idea of like, work life balance, and how do you, you know, how do you make it so that work doesn't become too much of your identity? And how, when when you really love what you do, like, it's really hard to pull yourself away from it, too, Colleen Schnettler 8:28 right? Yeah. Michele Hansen 8:32 I don't know. So I don't really have like, I'm just kind of all that's just still really marinating in my head. But it really, really got me going. And I think I really, really needed that push to like, um, I don't know, like, I guess like, prioritize my myself a bit. Colleen Schnettler 8:52 Sounds great. I mean, it sounds like that. It's funny sometimes to how you you've probably heard that from me or your spouse or your other friends. But there was something about the environment where everyone was sharing and being open and vulnerable in that big group that I felt really helped some of those points hit home because you saw so many people in the same situation you were in. Michele Hansen 9:13 Mm hm. And I mean, you're so like, you were totally opposite because oh, I have like a 10 for occupational like I feel like you know, for me, like this is exactly where I want to be like, last week I spoken in Mexico City twice. This week I spoke in Copenhagen I'm you know, like, like, this is just sort of in like the business is good. Like everything is really good there. But like you for occupational like I think you had like a 10 or a nine for physical health. But then you are much lower on occupational and that was the group that you were in. Colleen Schnettler 9:49 Absolutely. Yep. I think something you mentioned to me, which I think is true and was kind of cemented meeting so many founders is like I'm pretty good at taking care of myself socially. mentally, physically, I prioritize that. And so yeah, all that stuff was good for me. But yeah, my occupational score was lower. So my goal is to get that score, what do you say to two or three in the next 90 days? Michele Hansen 10:17 I'm just curious, what did you give yourself for occupational, Colleen Schnettler 10:20 I honestly don't remember probably like a seven. I love what I do. So I don't think I mean, I think if I was still working a full time job that I didn't enjoy, it would have been much lower. I love what I do with occupational in terms of like my job. So it was still a high score. But I think I what I really took away from the conferences is I was challenged in a way I haven't been challenged in a long time. And by that, I have a lot going on as to you as everyone. And I'm doing really, really well one of the executive coaches there who I was talking with, she described it as an avalanche of abundance, which is like a great problem to have, right? Like, I'm not gonna complain about it. It's an amazing problem to have. And I have all the things and I'm very happy. But I think I haven't really pushed it all on the business stuff. I've just kind of been resting, but I'm not tired. I'm ready to push. Does that make any sense? I guess what I'm trying to say is, I could be trying a lot harder. That's it. That's what I'm trying to say. Yeah, I think so I think that I'm not really trying. And I'm telling myself, I'm trying, but I'm not. So I'm going to start trying. Michele Hansen 11:40 So what is trying look like to you. There's a couple of really specific things. I Colleen Schnettler 11:45 think there's a lot of personal stuff wrapped up in here too. Like something I took away was like identity. For example, I have this, this interesting. You and Rosie talked about identity on the podcast. Mine's a little different in that my children get out of school 230 In the afternoon, I thought I was going to try you know, I'll pick them up at 230 will come home and they'll do their homework. And I'll continue to work. And that that set up like from a very practical perspective, like what can I practically do in the next 90 days, that setup is not working because I hate stopping work at 2pm in the afternoon. Like that's just, you know, you're in the middle of something, I pick them up, and they need to be supervised, like they can't just be free. We don't have a backyard here. So they need to be supervised wherever they are. We live in California, so I want them to be outside. So it wasn't that I was picking them up and having super quality time with them. It was I was picking them up. We were going to the playground and I was just hanging out of the playground. Mm hmm. Like, very practically speaking. So practically speaking, that doesn't have to be me, that can be another person doing that. And so I can get more of a deep work in my work day. And so I hired after school childcare, I found a nanny. She's lovely. She's already started on Monday, and this week has been really great. Michele Hansen 13:04 Oh my god. Amazing. Yeah, Colleen Schnettler 13:06 it's like, it's amazing. And the thing is, I you know, I was really worried about upsetting the balance of my happy family life, children marriage with working more. But that's a fake fear. Because, first of all, if if something starts to get gnarly, and I start to upset the balance, I can always change what I'm doing. And second of all, the kids are at the age, as I said, where they just want to play in the playground. They're not we're not like having some amazing bonding experience after school, or give them a snack, we go to the playground. Michele Hansen 13:38 Does anyone have amazing bonding experiences after school? Like our like, our daughter gets home and she's just so tired. Like that, even like playing a board game is like, Yeah, but Colleen Schnettler 13:49 just want to do they? I mean, my kids just want to play with their friends, right? Yeah, I want to do their thing. So. So the two very actionable things, I feel like I'm ready to push again, I think when I was learning to code, building up my kind of reputation as a Rails developer, you and I talked a little bit about this offline. Like, I worked all the time, and it was hard. And then I rested for like four years, like I just it was it was worth it that year to however it was probably two years of like, really intense work was worth it to have the four or five years of just getting paid a lot of money and doing good work, but like mostly being chill. And I feel like I'm ready to push again, is what I'm trying to say with all these words. And to do that, I see that as working. You know, I'm at my desk seven early, like I get here early. So working a long day, and then I'm picking two nights a week to work and I'm going to set those up with my spouse beforehand. So there's no there's no bitterness, or upsetness. Or I'm like, Oh, I got to work tonight. Oh, I got to work tonight. And he wants to hang out. So we've set aside two nights a week I'm going to work and we're going to do this for a month or two and see, see if I can move the needle on things. Just kind of like test it out. Yeah, right. Right. I mean, it's my life. I can Do whatever I want. So I'm going to try it out. I'm going to try I think I've been scared to try. That's the truth. I've been scared to try. Why have I been scared to try? I'm not quite sure. But it doesn't matter. That's what I've, so I'm going to change that up. And commit to working more. That's my goal. Michele Hansen 15:19 Feel like one of the talks that you I think you may be said was the best one that I actually missed? was one on fear. Colleen Schnettler 15:29 Right? Love this one. Do that a little bit? Yes, I'd love to. Okay, so this is a tomorrow's talk. Yeah, he is an executive coach. And he talked about so and I don't like personal development, like, I don't read self help books. Like I kind of roll my eyes at that whole area of study. So I just we're Michele Hansen 15:53 so opposite. Like, I have like piles of like, books on on your, you're talking to the person with piles of books on like, empathy and boundaries. And like, all these kinds of Colleen Schnettler 16:08 read that I read your book, because I love you. But generally speaking, that's not my jam. So, so I went into this talk with low expectations, not that I thought he would be, you know, not a good speaker, but just like, Okay, I'm not gonna get anything out of this. And, you know, he talked about fear, which everyone talks about, but I thought he was gonna get up there and say, Oh, you have a fear of failure. Yeah, everyone has a fear of failure. We get it. That is not what he said. He got up there. And he talked about three fears. The first core fear being uncertainty. And as founders that's applicable to us, because we become control freaks. And we won't hire. Oh, I'm giving you eyeballs. Michele Hansen 16:49 I see. I see those eyeballs. I, I, hey, you know, whatever. What are the breakthroughs I had, I'm just just saying this in David's workshop on we should really use people's last names because they're so good. Yes. Um, but now if you like, you know, us know them. So anyway, so, um, David's workshop on, like, personal mission statements, but you also don't believe. And I was like, I've had a personal mission statement for 15 years, but also apparently never told anyone. But like doing that exercise with him, where I crystallize the thought that I am building a business, not an organization. And at this point in my life, I don't have the mental energy to run an organization. I love running a business, but dealing with like, people, politics and all that, like I mean, a lot of the stuff that like Rosie talked about, about hiring and people management, like I just I mean, with just managing, like the people in my own house is kind of the level of management that I'm like capable of. Anyway, yes. Not hiring. So that was the fear of uncertainty. Colleen Schnettler 18:03 Well, I mean, there were other things in that, but just generally, with what we do. There's so much uncertainty, and that is also a core fear. So that's something you really have to learn to manage. And I think what you just said about David, David, David's workshop is really good. Because you, you realize that for yourself. And you've kind of always known that, but I don't know if you verbalized it or crystallize it before, in that knowing Michele Hansen 18:26 that way. That workshop was awesome. Like, yeah, Colleen Schnettler 18:29 I loved David's to David sherry. Yeah, everyone. Yes. I love Dave. Oh, Michele Hansen 18:34 good. Yeah, it was basically like, people who are familiar with jobs to be done or who Google things about jobs to be done. The there's like the forces diagram working through the different like, pushes and pulls and anxieties and fears that someone has that keeps them in, in a situation from switching products. We basically applied that to like, our professional lives. And our companies. And it was yeah, Colleen Schnettler 19:01 it was it was really good. Like I was also Pooh poohing the mission statement thing, but it was, Michele Hansen 19:06 it was really, it totally called you out. In front Colleen Schnettler 19:10 of everyone. Thanks. It's fine. We were like a group of friends. By that point. It didn't feel awkward. It was yeah, it was so intimate. Okay, it was so intimate. Yeah. Okay, so the second fear. So this is Itamar. His second fear was worthlessness, which is a second core fear which I think we can all kind of imposter syndrome. And I'm not good enough. And I think we can all identify with that on some level. And the third core fear was abandonment, which is what will people think if I fail, and then he talked a little bit about the ways that we we try to deal with these fears without actually dealing with them, which is obviously a big one is numbing agents and vices, whether that's Twitter or buying things or alcohol or whatever, procrastination And he also talked about the motivation fallacy where if you don't actually handle these fears, you'll like so many of us have gotten in this spurt will actually basically just describe this, but it's like, I'm gonna get it before I am every day. And that's cyclical, like you can't do that forever. So you can do pushes, but eventually that motivation is going to wane. Unless you handle, you know, the, the root of some of these fears. So the solution of this is to minimize your fear and internal resistance. And a lot of people don't do this, because they're unaware that they even have those fears. And that's kind of where I was coming from. Like, he said, these things. I was like, oh, yeah, that that all makes total sense. But I was kind of unaware that those were going on subconsciously. Michele Hansen 20:42 Are there any of those fears that you feel like you really identify with as it relates to this whole? Colleen Schnettler 20:50 I think I mean, I think for me, part of the reason I haven't really wanted to push is like I said, like, I'm very blessed in my, my life is really good right now. So I don't want to do anything that upsets the balance of the happiness that I feel right now. But I think a lot of that too, might be abandonment, and it's not abandonment in this great big, like, I don't care what the internet people think of me. But you know, of my family. Like if I'm going to work more, how is that? What, what are what's going to happen with my relationship with my husband and my children? And those are the most important things. So I think that might have been a core fear for me. Yeah. Oh, man, all of them. Michelle, like and I don't even think I would have been like, I don't have any fears. I'm fine. Before this talk. Uncertainty. That's a big one, too. Because, as you know, as independent as entrepreneurs, we are constantly uncertainty. I mean, it's constant uncertainty, right? Every day, like, what should I do? I don't know what to do. Is this gonna work? Is this gonna work? I have no idea. I have no one to ask. So that's a stressful thing. Like it's not a bad thing. But it is. It's kind of a constant stress. Like, I don't know if this is gonna work. Yeah. So yeah, I took away from it. And I was I was feeling it. I was digging it. It sounds Michele Hansen 22:03 like it was an awesome talk. And I feel like I joined everyone else who wished that they had been at founder summit and having a little bit of FOMO, about missing that. But at the same time, it was like right after my, basically spur of the moment negotiations workshop that I had, like, maybe 20 minutes to plan out in my head during lunch. And I had so much adrenaline after that, that I got through the next talk, which was a great panel on sales for founders. But I like I had so much adrenaline I couldn't sit still. And I was like, I just like I have I have to go like walk like I need to like walk back to the hotel. And I ended up like walking back with some other some other people. And it was like a half hour walk. And I just like really needed that because I was like, jumping out of my skin with energy. Colleen Schnettler 22:57 Yeah, well, you did a great job. I loved your negotiation talk. I learned a lot out of that, too. I don't know if I told you that. Oh, yeah. So it was interesting, because you set us up to do the sample negotiation. It's one thing to talk about negotiation, I think it's another thing to do it. So what's give a quick read, I'll give a quick recap, you basically set us up where we were the person who lived under the person who was a piano player, and the piano player wanted to play his piano every night at 10pm. And we had little children, and we wanted him not to play his piano every night at 10pm. And so I'm talking to the person I'm paired up with. And he's talking about playing his piano. And I immediately just got so angry, and like, I'm not really an angry person. And I like in my head, like, I can see I can see my my mental energy, like rolling my eyes, like, oh my god, he was pretending to be like, 20 right? He was not actually 20 But um, you know, just mentally rolling my eyes like, oh my god, millennials. Give me a break. Stop playing your piano. You're such a anyway. Yeah. So that was really enlightening for me. Because I think I pride myself on like, being very good at having self awareness about my emotions and controlling my emotions. And like, I could not I almost rolled my eyes at him. So Michele Hansen 24:15 yeah, the the, the sort of setup was it was actually that that activity, we did it in my Danish class. And I was like, this is a great negotiation. Like, it wasn't the purpose of it. But it was, you know, you have one person who's a music student who can, because of their schedule, they can only practice at 10 o'clock at night. But per the apartment building rules, they don't have to be quiet until 11. And then you were the parent whose children are getting woken up. And then you you all had to like talk through it. It was it was really fun. And I think after that I had a couple people be like, oh, like, is this your next book? And like, I'm Colleen Schnettler 24:53 like, no, because I'm taking care of my personal health. Not ready to write another book, but okay, that was not Michele Hansen 24:59 the end. answer I gave you like, maybe should have been, why not? No. I mean, like, I started working with teaching people about customer interviews and customer research, like, four years ago, like, because like my friends and I ran a job speed on meetup in DC. And I started talking to other founders about it and stuff like that. So I like before I ever sat down to write, I not only had, you know, years of like, personal experience with it, and personal learning and learning from other people and whatnot, but also years of, of, of learning how to teach other people about it, and what are the common hiccups with it? hiccups? And you know, what, like, like, what resonates with people like all that kind of stuff? Well, before I ever sat down to write, versus like, I don't think I'm nearly the same level of, of expertise in negotiating. Like, I have a lot of practice in it. I've taken classes on it. Like, I guess that was, I don't know, I guess, like 334 years ago now. But like, that was the first time I have ever attempted to teach anyone else about negotiating. Colleen Schnettler 26:19 And what great, did a great job, Michele Hansen 26:21 thank you. Um, but I think I think I need to like a lot, a lot more time before I even get the point of of like thinking about whether that's a book or whatnot, though I am like, I did talk to other people there, who are also interested in like enterprise sales and negotiating and stuff like that. And so we actually will have some people on in the coming months, who will, we'll kind of like, talk more about that stuff. Because I think that's a big part of kind of going from, you know, the sort of stage you're in which I feel like is sort of like the under 10k a month, Mr. Phase, going 10 to 20 is really like for me, it was a lot about learning how to do sales, and definitely going from like, 20 to 50. Like you. I don't think I would have gotten to that point. Had I not had a better understanding of sales and negotiating. Yeah. So, so, yeah, I'm gonna I'm going to talk more about that. But But no, like, no book yet. I still haven't even hit your like, 20 podcast goal for promoting deploy empathy, like you're doing? Well, Colleen Schnettler 27:35 I think you have been on quite a lot. 10 or so. Okay. 12 I Michele Hansen 27:40 think I just recorded another one. The other day, I think, yeah, I just did one yesterday. And then I have two scheduled. Nice, I need to like have a spreadsheet and keep track. Colleen Schnettler 27:57 Yeah, Michele Hansen 27:59 um, you could do that. I could. Yeah. That would make sense. It's getting weirdly hard to track how many books I've sold, because like amazon online will only show me 90 days at a time. So I can't just go and like see all that's weird sold. Like I maybe again, if somebody like knows about this, like, let me know. But I'm in like the KDP reports dashboard. And then the reports beta and like, I sneak looks like I might need to like do it manually? Or at least like by month. And then. Yeah, so I don't I don't know. I'm also starting to give some more like, like, sort of private workshops with the book, like, I'm going to be speaking to an MBA class tomorrow online. And a friend asked me if like, I would speak to their marketing team, like do like a workshop. So we'll kind of see how that goes. I don't think I want to go too much in that direction. Like I don't want to be like, you know, selling like a day long workshop thing. Like we've talked about how I really don't want to do consulting, Colleen Schnettler 29:05 right? You have mentioned that a few times. Michele Hansen 29:10 But like maybe doing a workshop and you know, then they buy like 50 copies of the book. You know, I guess I'm cool with that. Colleen Schnettler 29:15 Yeah, seems like a good use of your time. If you enjoy it. Michele Hansen 29:19 Yeah, but I think I you know, I think for me, the big thing is like what does balance even mean? I mean, I I don't know. Colleen Schnettler 29:29 Yeah, I understand the question. But I think it's James clear has this really interesting thing about the how balance isn't a real before burners theory, the downside of work life balance. Have you seen this? Michele Hansen 29:44 Oh, that sounds familiar that like you have one burner going and then you can't have Okay, Colleen Schnettler 29:49 ready? Here it goes. four burners like your stove. The first burner represents your family, the second burners, your friends, the third burners, your health, and the fourth burner is your work. The four burners theory says that in order to be successful, you have to cut off one of your burners. And in order to be really successful, you have to cut off to anyway, here's a whole article about it. It's an interesting, interesting idea. But the idea is there isn't a real thing such as balance, there are times where you shift your focus. Like, for example, you this would be a good time for you to shift your focus from work, because you've been working so much for 610 years, to maybe health or whatever it would be right. And maybe it's time for me to shift my focus back to work. But the idea is, it's like, you really can't have balance. It's a lie. You can just have, you know, areas that are shifting and priorities. I can't have everything on five. Right, right, exactly. You can't have everything on five. Yeah. It's kind of interesting. And it kind of makes us all of us who are so hard trying to find balance a little bit better, because you're like, oh, okay, this sounds about right. This seems reasonable. Michele Hansen 30:56 Yeah, I guess. I mean, he's the habits guy, right. Like he's the habits guy. Yeah. So I guess I need to finally read that book. So yeah, so So that's our 90 day plan. Right? So you're gonna Yeah, you've got my herd nanny now. I mean, always, you've got your plan in action. Colleen Schnettler 31:17 I'm an act and I'm gonna Michele Hansen 31:19 continue marinating. Oh, my God, it sounds like you. You were like, I'm gonna read more about this and think more. Like, I was like, I'm gonna do this now. Already done. I did it before I talked to you. Yeah, happening? Colleen Schnettler 31:38 I know, right? It's good, though, right? Because we both have, it's good, I guess. Yeah, I'm already in action. I've already posted more content. And I am making a video tutorial page. And I'm doing all kinds of things. And oh, the only thing I really got out of it, Michelle was a real focus, thinking more long term. So I think one of the things is we met a lot of people who have been running their businesses. I mean, I know you're kind of in this group. But I've been running their businesses for many, many years. And there were many people I met who aren't really trying to have some big exit, like they want to build a sustainable business that they can work on for as long as they want. And so that really helped me focus in terms of like thinking about where I want to spend my time and my energy and what I want my long term outlook from, like, for my career to look like? So I found that to be really beneficial. Michele Hansen 32:33 Was there any, like insights that you feel like are? Yeah, I think his point, Colleen Schnettler 32:39 what I found is, so I told you, I'm going to I'm really gonna push on simple file upvote, simple file upload for the next three months, simple file up vote, that sounds interesting. For the next couple months to kind of see what I can do with that if I really work at it. But I think long term, I am more interested in pursuing the opportunity, like really leaning into what to the Hammerstone team. Because when I think of the long term business I want to build, I can't think of anything better than doing really technically challenging work with my friends. Like I love as we've talked about when I joined Hammerstone, like I love having co workers or co founders. And that's really where I want to go. Right now I'm doing okay, splitting my time. But that's not sustainable in the long term. So I'm not sure what that looks like in a year. But it looks like my focus being more on Hammerstone. I think Michele Hansen 33:29 something else we talked about was, you know, the fact that you like you guys are funded for a year. And like the fact that you are funded for a year made you feel like you can take a year to get some stuff done, and how you can get more than that done in a year, too. Colleen Schnettler 33:51 So Jimmy from banal got up there talking about this was a founder summit about how to sell something that doesn't exist. Now his product is very specific, and it was very targeted was, you know, targeted to a very specific group of people. But I am not doing so I don't have the rails component for this query builder that I'm building with Hammerstone. But I also haven't really been doing anything to get the word out about it. And so yeah, we're funded for a year and I feel like the work is filling the time allotted. And the work doesn't necessarily need to fill the time allotted. I think I could be a little more efficient and a little more focused. Not that I'm not focused just there's more I could be doing on the Hammerstone side that I'm not and so it really kind of opened my eyes to like there's a lot of other opportunities here. You could get a content machine going now even if you can't sell it for six months, I could be writing articles about all this really interesting sequel stuff I'm doing whatever it may be point being like there's there's things I can put in place earlier. You know, as as I build this component, Michele Hansen 34:52 you know, hearing you talk about like it being time to push it almost. I feel like you're conceptualizing it as like this, like, switch, you can flick, like that, like, Okay, now like now you're gonna push like, do you feel like that is? How it's gonna work? So I Colleen Schnettler 35:15 don't know, but a little bit like, let's go back to simple file. I've been a little bit mopey about it, what should I do? What should I do on Monday? Like, I know exactly what to do, right? It's like, I haven't been really trusting my own intuition here. I've been asking for permission or advice. And these are all good things. Advice is good. But why am I asking people for? Like, I want someone to say that's a good idea. Colleen, you should do that. No, I don't need it. It's my business. I get to do whatever the hell I want with it. So, you know, people like you shouldn't do this. You shouldn't. Um, I Okay. I appreciate everyone's advice, and I solicit it. But also, I think I you know, I just really, it's a very small product still, like, I'm just going to go with my gut. And I'm just going to do what I think is best. And I haven't really been doing that, because I have been so careful about overworking myself, I guess. Michele Hansen 36:06 And so I feel like that that I mean, that comes back to that like fear that we talked about, like waiting for somebody else. To say that your plan of action. Your idea is your decision. Good was a good one. Yes. subjective opinion, to massage your fear. That yes, it was totally and is that like, you know, uncertainty about the about the decision or all these other things? I don't know. Colleen Schnettler 36:36 Yeah, no, totally. I think for me, I'm really worried about making a decision that is going to be a waste of time. That's what it's about. Because my time feels so So, so limited. So I'm like, should I write this article? Is this article worth writing? Like, if it's gonna take me three hours to write it? Is that going to be worth it? Right, I just wrote the freakin article on the airplane home for Mexico. Oh, while I was stuck in DFW for 12 hours and then and then flew to a different city and then bus to my city that I actually live in the graveyard. Michele Hansen 37:03 Both took both of us 14 hours to get home yet I went across like, two continents. Oh my goodness. But also it was a bazillion times worth it to travel 14 hours to and from to be there. Colleen Schnettler 37:18 And I think something else. Speaking of founders comp, being amazing. The quality of everything was just so much better than your typical tech conference. Oh Michele Hansen 37:26 my god. Yeah, Colleen Schnettler 37:27 everything was better. Michele Hansen 37:28 The food was amazing. The venue like I loved how I mean, you were saying how like a lot of conferences, you're just in the hotel. And we were like, out and about in the city like everything all over the city. And it was such a cool city too. And I feel like we really got to experience like culture and and just in a way that yeah, you're you're not just like stuck in a hotel ballroom for three days. Colleen Schnettler 37:51 Like, okay, so this is not a dig because I love rails comp. But I remember it was the last rails comp I went to before COVID. They're like, Oh, it's in Minneapolis. Minneapolis is a great city, blah, blah, blah, literally, you stay in the hotel, and then you walk through the breezeway to the ballroom, you never go outside, ever. And point being like yeah, of course, you can go outside but, but all of the activities are like you you never leave it you don't ever have to leave the hotel. And so I loved how founders comp really made an effort to get local venues, support, you know, local businesses, and actually see Mexico City loved it. Michele Hansen 38:29 I I really, really hope they have it in Mexico City next year. Like dude, Colleen Schnettler 38:33 I hope we get to again get in because there's going to be freaking every one is going to want to go it's going to add the fight to the death and who gets to go. Geez. Michele Hansen 38:45 Well, I think I think that about wraps up our recap, though. I feel like we're gonna be talking about this. And like, Oh, yes. So many learning summit for a long time. Yeah, so many learning, and also having people come on the show who we met at founder Summit, and no, and no three founders Summit, too. Because there's also the the online community, which you should totally be in a mastermind group, by the way. Colleen Schnettler 39:13 Yeah, I'm thinking about that. Like, I, I think that's probably a valuable thing. I'll probably do that. And I Michele Hansen 39:18 think that would help with you're like, Should I do this? And then people are like, yeah, and you're like, Yeah, okay. Colleen Schnettler 39:26 I feel like a lot of this is just trusting your gut, which I'm usually pretty good at. But like, with the business since it's all new, like I just haven't really just been doing what I think is best. Like I said, I've been asking permission just to random people, which is kind of weird, because I don't want to make a huge misstep. But the truth is, all of these things, none of them are going to be huge missteps and they can all be changed if it's a bad decision. So so that's really this week. I've been crushing some life, but by work work, is what I mean by that. Like, I've just been like, I've been I've just been like really crushing it and it feels great. So Michele Hansen 39:58 it's awesome. Awesome well so next week I interviewed Matt wensing was super fun so then we will chat again in two weeks Colleen Schnettler 40:12 sounds great talk to you then

Indie Bites

Leaving a $500k job to build a portfolio of small bets - Daniel Vassallo

Nov 8th — In 2019 Daniel Vassallo left his $500k salaried job at Amazon to go indie . In the 2 years since he left Daniel has placed many small bets, something he's become known for. In particular Daniel has seen success from his Info Products and building his audience on Twitter , which has grown from 0 to 91k. He wrote a short book on the good parts of AWS , which has made $126,000, then following the Twitter growth, wrote a book called Everyone Can Build a Twitter Audience , which has made $244,000. He shares all of his revenue reports in his Profit and Loss community , which in itself has made over $30k in the past year. In total, and in just over 2 years, Daniel has made $570k in revenue and $306k in profit since leaving his job at Amazon. But he's gained something he didn't have while working for someone else, freedom. ➡️ Get the uncut, 80 minute recording with Daniel on the Indie Feast membership here. What we covered in this episode: Leaving a $500k job at Amazon to go Indie The trap of judging your life based on financial value Why the initial focusing on one product didn't work out for Daniel Where the small bets mindset originated How to deal with context switching with small bets Dealing with an uncertain income Why info products work well for a small bets strategy How book publishers work and how we can apply their methods The importance of the "small" in small bets How you can build a twitter audience like Daniel Why Daniel started making wooden cutting boards How he made $2,600 from one tweet Recommendations Book: Anti Fragile by Nassim Taleb Podcast: Indie Hackers Indie Hacker: Peter Askew More on Daniel Twitter On the IH pod His most popular articles Follow Me Twitter Indie Bites Twitter Personal Website Buy A Wallet 2 Hour Podcast Course Sponsor - Fathom Analytics For the longest time, website analytics software was seriously bad. It was hard to understand, time-consuming to use, and worse, it exploited visitor data for big tech to profit. I've spent countless hours in Google Analytics dashboards trying to figure even out the most basic metrics. This is exactly why I signed up for Fathom as soon as I heard Paul Jarvis and Jack Ellis were building it. Fathom is simple website analytics that doesn't suck. It's easy to use and respectful of privacy laws, with no cookies following your users around the web. They're also a bootstrapped, sustainable business so I love supporting them. Yes, it might feel strange paying for analytics at first, but once you realise the real cost of free Google Analytics and realising how easy to use Fathom is, you won't go back. You can install the lightweight code on as many websites as you want and quickly see the performance of all your sites. Link → https://usefathom.com/bites

Earlier

Indie Hackers

Hard-Learned Lessons from Decades of Entrepreneurship with Spencer Fry of Podia

Nov 3rd — Today I'm talking to Spencer Fry (@spencerfry), the founder of Podia. His business is super relevant right now because it is basically a one-stop shop to support creators and entrepreneurs. In this episode we discuss the importance of planning, how to iterate on a plan and how to stay persistent. Follow Spencer on Twitter: https://twitter.com/spencerfry Check out Podia: https://www.podia.com/ Ready Spencer's blog: http://www.spencerfry.com/

Software Social

A Conversation with Kevin Sahin, Co-Founder of ScrapingBee

Nov 2nd — Follow Kevin! https://twitter.com/SahinKevin Check out ScrapingBee: https://www.scrapingbee.com/ AUTOMATED TRANSCRIPT Colleen Schnettler 0:00 This episode of Software Social is sponsored by Hey Check It. Does your website performance keep you up at night? The creators behind Hey Check It started it for this very reason—peace of mind about their sites and the sites they manage. Hey Check It is a website performance monitoring and suggestion tool focused on SEO, accessibility, uptime, site speed and content. It includes AI-generated SEO, data, spelling and grammar checking, custom sitemaps, and a number of other tools. If you're managing multiple websites, check their agency plans with public facing dashboards to meet your clients' needs. Start a free trial today at HeyCheckIt.com Michele Hansen 0:39 Hey, welcome back to Software Social. We're doing another interview this week. I am so excited to have Kevin Sahin with me. He is co-founder of ScrapingBee. Kevin, welcome to software social. Kevin Sahin 0:57 Well, thank you, Michele, I'm excited to be here. Michele Hansen 1:01 So this kind of came about because I was on Twitter, as I often am. And I noticed, I think it was actually someone tweeted about MicroConf Europe, which I had been really wanting to go to, but conflicted with a friend's wedding. So we couldn't go. So I was just sort of following and watching everything unfold on Twitter and tweeted about how peer your co founder was, was giving a talk. And he mentioned how scraping DEA offered free API credits to customers who are willing to jump on a 15 minute call with them. And you guys ask them questions like, what else have you tried, and my interest immediately perked up. And really wanted to talk to you about those calls you had and what you learned from them, and what that added for the business. But before we jump into that, perhaps you should say for a moment, just what scraping be. Is and, and whatnot. And? Kevin Sahin 2:09 Sure. So um, so basically scraping the is an API for web scraping. When you are extracting data from the web, you often have the two same problems, which are, there are more and more websites that are using JavaScript frameworks like Vue js, react, etc. And so you have to render the page inside a web browser. And this is kind of, it's a pain to manage, especially at scale. Because you have to, you know, there are lots of DevOps skills that you need. You need big servers, you need lots of things. And it's really handy to have, you know, a headless browser accessible with a simple API call. The other thing that you have to do when you scrape the web at scale, is to manage proxies. So you can you probably need proxies for many different reasons. For example, let's say that you are extracting data from ecommerce website. Well, most ecommerce websites are internationalized, meaning that if you access the website from an IP address in Europe, you will have the prices in euro if you access the IP address or the website from an IP address in the US you will have prices in dollars. So you need some kind of proxy management system. The other thing is IP rate limit. Some websites are limiting the number of pages you can access per day from a single IP address if you need to access more pages, you need more IP addresses etc, etc. And so we bundled this inside a single API which is scraping Michele Hansen 4:04 so I love how you're solving that because we have felt that pain personally. So I've kind of talked a little bit in the past about how my husband dies first project that was what so the one well, not at first, but the one right before geocoder that basically funded Juco was this mobile app called what's open nearby where you could open it up and see grocery stores convenience stores and coffee shops that were open near you. And how we ran that in the back end was we had a ton of scrapers running of like grocery store, you know Starbucks, whatever like their websites, scraping the hours off of them and we like just all the time there's issues you know, the parsers breaking or you get blocked or actually the the sort of recent side project we did Keren, which allowed people to get an alert when a grocery pick slot opened up on a on a grocery stores website because of COVID and everything that was also powered by scrapers basically and the back end. And so I have I have personally felt the pain of, you know, the impacts when when when, you know, scraping goes wrong or you know it can get frustrating at times. Kevin Sahin 5:29 Yeah, that's I mean, there are the, the story behind scraping is that we, we personally experienced some of those frustrations, because p&amp;i like before launching scraping beam, we started our career in two different startups that were heavily relying on web scraping. In the business, I was working on a startup in France, which is kind of a mix between mint.com in the US and plaid.com. So for those who don't know, it's a bank account aggregation software's sublet, that comm is an API that allows third party to access your bank account. And means that comm is a bank account aggregation, personal finance management app. And so at this startup, I was really exposed to all of these issues. And Param, he was working for a real estate startup, a real estate data startup in France. And so there will relying on scraping lots of real estate portals. So we both, you know, experienced lots of these issues regarding how to handle headless browsers, how to handle proxies, how to, you know, handle blocks, etc, etc. So that was something we, we knew a little about, Michele Hansen 7:16 I love how you started with a pain that you had. But also as, as you've run the business, you're also actively reaching out to your customers to understand what they were trying to do, what problems they were having, and how they were solving those problems. So I wonder if you can kind of take us back to when you like, how did those emails come about where you were reaching out to people like, like, what what kind of prompted that? Kevin Sahin 7:47 Yeah. So that we quickly realized that we really knew when I say that we knew a little about it, it's not an a few million. Because we really knew a little about the different web scraping use cases each time. I mean, from the beginning, when we launched the API we like from day one, I'd say, we realized that some users, we're scraping, have had some use cases that we never imagined. So we quickly realized that we had to get them on the phone and knew more about about it, understand their businesses, what kind of data they they needed, what frequency for what we use case, etc, etc. But the problem that we had is that at the beginning, so we had we had the banner on the dashboard, covering that, if they had any question, they could schedule a call with me. But nobody was scheduling any call. So maybe, maybe the banner was wasn't, I mean, the copy wasn't great, maybe. The CTA wasn't clear, I don't know. But the fact is, nobody was getting any call with me. And we also had an email sequence where we, we had a few links to my county. But it wasn't working. I mean, sometimes we had a trial scheduling a call, but it was not very, not a lot. And and then we we had this idea of offering more 10x more free API calls. Then the trial offered. And then instantly, we started to get a lot of calls. So many that I had to, you know, delete some availability in my week, because I was just doing calls every day all day. And, and it was great because we will learn so much we, I mean, we will learn so many different use cases that we never thought about. For example, I don't know, we, we, we had so many diverse people. So for example, university researchers that were scraping the web for all kinds of research projects. We had government agencies that were scraping the web, to automate automatically detect security frauds. That's all those kinds of use cases we could never invented them, we like, I don't see any other way we could have learned all of this, then, you know, calling our customers and, and developing a relationship with them. And by the way, this, I mean, there are many benefits to these calls. It's not just about, you know, discovering their needs, but it's also building relationships, especially when you are one month old startup. Because, you know, it's really hard to sell your product, especially with enterprise customers, you know, government agencies, universities, etc, etc. When you say, yeah, we were launched a month ago, there's a bit of a trust issue. And developing the relationship, a relationship with them, really helped. Like, in the seven months, after our launch, we signed a big enterprise customer. And I think that we never could have done this without, you know, having them on the call. It also helped in many other ways. For example, I mentioned the the, the university researchers, we granted them free credits to the API for their research project. And like a few weeks or months later, they mentioned us in the University website, which is great for many reason for SEO for authority, etc, etc. So, I mean, there was like, it took me a lot of time to take these calls, but the, the benefits is a like, it's really worth it. And I'm glad we did. Michele Hansen 13:44 It's so interesting how you say that you You not only learn so much about why people need something like scraping be in the first place. But it also built this trust with your customers when you're very you're very new company, and they really didn't have a lot of reason to to trust you. And even though the purpose of them maybe was not, you know, making these sales, it really led to them down the road. All because you took 15 minutes to understand what they were trying to do and what they had been using before. Kevin Sahin 14:23 Yeah. Most of the time, it was more than 15 minutes, by the way. Like, especially when the conversation was getting technical. Because even those scraping visas, simple REST API, there's a whole you know that they often needed. Advice advices about how to implement it on their side. Meaning how to you know Do the scraping pipeline, the scheduling, the data storage, the error monitoring, the maintenance of the scrapers how to what kind of libraries they could use, etc, etc. So I, we we spent a lot of time with this. Sometimes this was a bit too much like, for example, when you spend one hour advising the technical team of your prospect and that that at the end, they don't end up being a customer. It's a bit frustrating. But at the same time, it was really I mean, it was a as a two months old startup, it's a really competitive advantage, I'd say that to be able to take the time to really advise and guide the prospect in the implementation. So and it really helped us to sign the first customers. Michele Hansen 16:24 I'm curious, do you remember the exact questions that you asked people? Kevin Sahin 16:30 Yes, I remember. It's not. I didn't ask a lot. But I was asking them about their, what their company is doing. What? Why they want to scrape data? I mean, is it part? Is it something that is part of their core product core business? Or is it some side thing? The, the the kind of website that they needed to extract data from the frequency? And why like, what did they tried so far? Why did it didn't it worked? Why are your other looking for another solution? Etc, etc. So that, like these five questions, or the most important one, I think Michele Hansen 17:35 it sounds like those questions came out of your own genuine curiosity, because you had some awareness of the some some things people might do with scraping from your own experiences. But you were aware that that was not the whole universe of things that people might possibly do. And so you genuinely did not know what the other things people why people might be doing it and what else they might be doing. Kevin Sahin 18:03 Yeah, exactly. And, and we were pretty lucky to realize this early. Because, you know, you're always tempted to just see things through your own experience. But we, as I said, early on, we, we realized all those kind of use cases we had no idea about. And so we got pretty curious about it pretty early. Michele Hansen 18:43 And in so many ways, that reminds me of how I got interested in customer research in the beginning, too, because when we launched geocode, do you know it? I mean, so it came out of our own needs, actually, because that that app I mentioned finding grocery store hours, it would show people a map, and we needed coordinates in order to show that map. And, and so it came out of our own need there. But we're not, you know, neither of us has a background in geography or geographic data analysis, GIS, any of that stuff. And when we launched and people were, you know, reaching out to us, and they're asking for us to do things, we would ask them why because we genuinely did not know because we were not do geographic information systems, people. We weren't steeped in this world. So it was as much about how do we expand our product? As you know, but what why do you want to do it in the first place? Because I just I just don't know. And following that curiosity, yeah. Kevin Sahin 19:48 And so um, the geocode IO, you launched this how many years ago, Michele Hansen 19:58 we launched in January of 2014. So we are Coming up on eight years this January. Wow, congrats. almost a decade of, you know, a couple more years. But yeah, it's kind of wild. snuck up on me. Kevin Sahin 20:17 That's a that's cool. And so how did you when you launched in 2014? What, how did you get your first customers. Michele Hansen 20:34 So we were our first customer for that app, because the app was making about like three or $400 a month in ad revenue. And basically, the idea of do codea was that, you know, we could basically if we released it as an API and threw a wall in front of it, maybe other people would pay to keep the server's going for it. And then we would, we could still keep our app going, and then not basically not be paying for for this geocoding API, rather than paying you know, a major provider, you know, 10s of 1000s of dollars a year, which we didn't. So we had, you know, two little digitalocean droplets that it was running on for 20 bucks a month. And that was our goal was to make 20 bucks a month. So we then, you know, put it on, you know, we talked talked to some other friends who are developers and had them test it out, and then put it on Hacker News. And that was how we got that initial wave of feedback, we had 1000s of signups. Most I mean, that traffic doesn't stick around, like, you look at analytics graph, and it's just like, you just we basically have to filter out our launch, because it's just, it totally breaks the graph. And but we made, we ended up making $31 that month, that that first month, Kevin Sahin 21:55 sorry, trade paid for the Digital Ocean droplet, Michele Hansen 21:59 we were over the moon, because we had made more money than we spent on it. And to us, that was a wild success. Kevin Sahin 22:10 And so how did you like, after this initial hack on your success? How did you continue to, you know, acquire customers and develop the company. Michele Hansen 22:25 So I think in the early days, it was a lot of, you know, when people expressed that they had problems that we solved, trying to be there, so I spent hours, you know, replying to stuff on Stack Overflow. And, you know, whenever something came up on Hacker News, someone asking about geocoding, whatever, we would always like pop in there, or on Twitter, or just kind of trying to be in the places where people were already looking for something like this. Of course, we had we had a website, but I don't, it wasn't super built out, you know, with, you know, case studies and example customers and testimonials and, you know, stuff like that, basically, it's for like documentation for for a long time. But um, yeah, I basically spent a lot of time on StackOverflow trying to sort of, you know, neutrally, like reply to questions and kind of, yeah, keep people coming to us, Kevin Sahin 23:33 and how, like, how did he did evolve? Like, right now, where, where does your customer are coming from? Michele Hansen 23:43 That's a really good question. Because I don't always know. We don't do a ton with analytics. But pretty much we're very SEO based. So it's still that idea that someone is already frustrated. They're already trying to find something for geocoding. Or for you know, they need you need mentioned academic researchers. So we have a lot of customers who are academic researchers, because in the US, in order to connect to any government datasets, you need this thing called a FIPS code. And you can only get that FIPS code if you have the coordinates for the address. And then the government data will be at that FIPS code level, which is basically sort of like the block. So for example, if a researcher is they know they need FIPS codes to connect to some data, there'll be googling it and so is to have tons and tons of landing pages showing people how you need to convert addresses to FIPS codes. Here's how you can do with our API. Here's how you can upload a spreadsheet. You know, if you need congressional districts, here's how you can do it. If you need time zones, here's how you can do it. And it's very content driven. On the SEO side, we we still do a little bit of replying to stuff on StackOverflow I don't think I've done that for months if not, you know like not really Really anymore? Um, pretty much it's it's about, you know, being there when someone is already looking for something. Kevin Sahin 25:08 No, we that's something that we, we also did in the beginning of scraping be. We answered Korra questions, not a lot, not a lot of Stack Overflow but a little bit, and then on forums on Twitter and indie hackers, etc, etc. And just like you like now most of our customers are coming from SEO, I'd say 90%. And we've been really focusing on that, since the beginning, we launched the blog, and even before the product was launched, so I think that our first blog was in May 2019. And we launched in August 2019. So you really treated SEO as a, like our main acquisition channel, Michele Hansen 26:17 and seems like you guys are, I don't know if you're quite like freemium. But you I noticed on your site that it says you can get started with 1000, free API calls, no credit card required. You know, in many ways, I feel like, you know, I think I think it's, you know, freemium is not a pricing model. It's a marketing tactic. And I very much feel like, you know, that combination of SEO and freemium is a huge part of why we have been able to attract customers, because people can try it out without, you know, without having to talk to us first, they can see if this is the product they need, and then they're like, okay, like, we're ready to ready to sign up, and you don't feel like you don't have to sell as hard when you have that combination of SEO and freemium, because people can just figure out for themselves if it's what they need. Kevin Sahin 27:22 Yeah, exactly. And there is only one thing that is very specific to API's. It's that in many companies, and so I learned this with the customer interviews, the developers do not necessarily have access to the company credit cards. And having a free trial without credit card is really something that can boost the activation. Because if the developer has to ask is n plus one or n plus two for a credit card? And maybe he's like, it's going to bother the developer, he's not even going to try the service, or it's going to slow things down because he needs the approval, etc. So having the free credits on the trial is really something that helped us. And I don't I don't see any, I mean, I see many drawbacks of not having it. I don't see many benefits of having, you know, a credit card. They will follow the trail when you're doing when you have an API business. Michele Hansen 28:45 Yeah, exactly. And then you know, the developers they can they're trying to get their work done. They can try it out for themselves, see if it works. And then if it is something that's going to work for them, then like they're the one selling your product within the company. You don't have to be emailing all the CTOs and directors and everything being like, Hello, we're scraping me and this is what we do. Like, it's already there. Developers within the company who are like, hey, like, we've got this project. We've got this deadline, I need to use this thing. I already tried it. It works like can you like, like, yeah, give me the card. Let's go. Let's get this over with. Exactly. Yeah. And I'm curious when you did those calls, you said you gave them free API credits? How many did you give them for those calls? Kevin Sahin 29:28 How many API credits Yeah, I mean, it was at least 10,000 acre grades, sometimes even more, depending on there. So the thing you have to keep in mind is that one API creates isn't equal to one API call. Because the the cost of the API call is depending on the parameters that you use with your API call, and it can cost up to 25 API credits per call, so it goes up quickly. Michele Hansen 29:59 Yeah. So but so basically, I'm just wondering what the, the cost to that, uh, you know, there's the cost of those interviews, but also basically like, you know, because sometimes, you know, often recommend if you're doing call somebody know, give them a 10 or $25. Amazon gift card, and I'm just kind of curious like what that Kevin Sahin 30:20 wasn't? It was not much, I'd say, but I don't have a precise figure to give you I don't know, but probably less than $1 per per 10,000. I mean, they don't even they don't like most of them didn't use the whole 10,000 free credit. So I don't think but not much. So these Michele Hansen 30:48 customer interviews cost you maybe less than $1. Yeah, each, which actually wasn't a cash outlay, because you're just giving them credits. Half an hour, maybe an hour of your time, depending on how technical their questions were. But down the line could lead to these enterprise sales. And the customers really trusting you in a way that they maybe would not have had you not spent this time and given them those credits. Kevin Sahin 31:19 Yeah, I can't even give you a precise numbers. The first month in August 2019, we signed our first enterprise customer for seven or $800, a month after one of those calls. Michele Hansen 31:37 Wow. Do you know how many of these calls you did? You mean, you mentioned you to them over 18 months? But I'm curious if you have a Kevin Sahin 31:44 I did a lot in the beginning, I'd say probably 200, something like that. Michele Hansen 31:55 And I'm curious, you know, you said you you did this for? Like, are you still doing these calls? Or? Kevin Sahin 32:01 I am but so right now, we don't offer free credits anymore. We just have some links in our email sequences. And on the website. If for the trial, period, when customers have questions that cannot be answered, with our knowledge base or recommendation. And now I would say that maybe I have four or five calls per week. Maximum. Michele Hansen 32:38 Yeah, that's, that's awesome. Yeah, I'm still sort of, you know, the the calls came about because you were just you were curious about why does anyone need this thing we made this very similar to us. And I'm curious of, you know, as as, as you were, maybe thinking about doing that, like, like, the questions you asked, you know, are very much, you know, sort of quintessential jobs to be done questions. And I'm curious, what kind of understanding you had of customer research. Before you started doing this? Kevin Sahin 33:25 I would say zero. Michele Hansen 33:30 facet came out organically. Kevin Sahin 33:33 Yeah. I mean, no, I, like, I probably read a few blog posts about how to do customer interviews. It's just not like it was a, you know, a bit of both customer interviews and sales call. So but I mean, I'm not I'm not a salesperson. I don't, I was just, you know, trying to see if, what the customer problems were and if scraping me was a good fit to solve these problems. And if it was, then I would honestly, tell them told them that I thought scripting was the best solution for them. And if it wasn't, then I just told them to. I mean, actually, I told them what if scripting wasn't the solution, I often told them what the solution was. So if I had to refer them to a specific software or consultant or whatever, I did it. And yeah, dog came, I'd say, semi organically. I had some notions about the customer. interviews and sales gold that no experience at all. Michele Hansen 35:05 Fascinating you just kind of dove like head, you know, sort of headfirst into it. And I mean, it seems like it's really helped your your business and help you understand like, like why people need scraping and how you can help them and lead to these enterprise customers and you guys are in tiny seed like Kevin Sahin 35:30 yeah, definitely it really helped. Michele Hansen 35:33 That's awesome. Cool. So I'm curious, you had mentioned that you also had some questions about geocoding. And I wanted to make sure we got time to get Yeah, so Kevin Sahin 35:45 So I'm curious about the letter. So first of all, where are you based? Michele Hansen 35:50 So we are in Denmark now. But when we launched geocode, do we live? Actually, we lived in Washington, DC. We lived in Arlington, Virginia, which is just outside DC until July of 2020. So so now we're in Denmark. Kevin Sahin 36:07 Alright, that's cool. And yeah, so the question I had is, you know, the usual what, what led you to? to geocode? So you've answered this a little bit, but what what were you doing before? How did you find the date? You know, did you did some consulting on the side? Was it a side project, etc, etc. Found the stories, always fascinating. Michele Hansen 36:37 Yeah, so um, so I kind of mentioned a little bit. So we had this mobile app, which is making a couple 100 bucks a month in ad revenue. This is like 2012 2013. And we need a geocoding for it. And we ran into a point where we basically couldn't use Google anymore, because they didn't have pay as you go at the time, it was either 2500 for free per day, or enterprise contract, and we just needed 5000. So we had to, basically sort of rolled our own geo coder that was very rudimentary. And we kind of talked about this problem that we had, you know, not being able to store the data and whatnot. And, you know, developer friends had the same problem, made an API, put it on Hacker News, $31, the first month kind of vary, and got tons of feedback from people ask them, you know, why they wanted to do what they needed to do. So started, you know, adding those features as people needed them, like a big thing for us early on was was the ability to upload a spreadsheet. And I think we made our first sort of, you know, higher end sale, May of 2014. So a couple months after, and that was, I mean, that wasn't really adding that that we called the unlimited plan, which at the time was 750 a month was huge part of our growth. But so from that, the beginning as a side project, and it stayed a side project until I went full time, which is October of 2017. So currently celebrating my four year full time anniversary. I was I was a product manager before Okay, yeah, yeah, I was I was specifically like in Well, I was a first I was an operations manager that I was a technical project manager do work managing like WordPress website, builds that agency. And then I really wanted to to like dig my teeth into things. So I transitioned into being a product manager, which led into then doing product development, which is sort of where my heart is, which is how I got into customer research to is doing product development and launching a lot of stuff that didn't work out just like learning that you really need to talk to prospects and if you want something to succeed, learn that the hard way. me so I went full time 2017 and then my husband he and we're like, oh, you know, if I go full time, like it's gonna you know, maybe take some of the load off and make things a little easier. Except you know, I was full time so then our response to our customer response times got better, you know, and we actually grew more and so we're like, Okay, well now husband needs to go full time. And this is February of 2018. And he went to his boss and was like, you know, it's time for me to go full time on this thing. And his boss was like, No, and we're like, this is an interesting negotiating position to be in so he ended up going part time part salary but keeping health insurance which in the US is huge. And, but he eventually went full time by September of 2018, because I mean, basically the more we worked on it, the more you know, the better the product. Got. Yeah. And? Kevin Sahin 40:02 And yeah, did you? Do you have any employees? Michele Hansen 40:08 No, I have a VA, but we don't have any employees. Kevin Sahin 40:12 Okay, so you are very lean? Yeah, yeah, we Michele Hansen 40:15 we focus a lot on, you know, automating as many things as we can. And I think that's one reason, you know, we talking earlier about, you know, SEO and free tier and not having to, you know, sort of, you know, do cold outreach and reach out to companies. You know, partly it's because, you know, that's kind of the sort of workflow I like, when I'm starting up with a product, I like to be able to test it out, see if it works, not have to talk to anybody, like I hate when I have to have a demo to figure out if something is what I needed to do. But also, because we just don't have the time to be, you know, reaching out to people and pitching them, because it's just the two of us, but and that's also, like, a conscious decision on our part, like, we could hire another rep, or we could hire, you know, a salesperson or whatever. But we also just, we, we kind of like how calm it is with just the two of us. So So Kevin Sahin 41:06 you said, Yeah, so basically, you plan to stay just the two of you and not hire in the future. Michele Hansen 41:15 Yeah, that's the plan. Kevin Sahin 41:17 Okay. That's, I mean, there are many founders that, like, this situation that don't really like to manage employees, etc, etc. So that's great, that's working for you. Michele Hansen 41:37 I'm a very, I'm just very product driven. Like, that's what I really love doing is, is product work. And I also I do enjoy, like, sales work, too. So like my time, you know, my sort of favorite things to work on are both product and, you know, customer research and whatnot. And then also doing, like sales and negotiations. And, and yeah, if we had employees, you know, I would be spending time managing employees. And I just, I don't know, I just that that's just not really where my, my heart is. It's not in being a manager, it definitely is for some people. But Kevin Sahin 42:20 yeah, I can relate to Michele Hansen 42:21 that. Yeah. Kevin Sahin 42:25 Yeah, that's, I mean, that's, I don't have much experience managing employees. But for our blog, I worked with a lot of freelancers, you know, different kind of freelancers, constants, writers, editors, some Freelancer to help me with the SEO link builders, etc, etc. And I mean, it's really hard to hire, to manage to keep employees motivated. I mean, it's, it's pretty hard. Michele Hansen 43:10 Yeah, it's a lot of time. And, you know, I think from my own experiences, and you know, those of you know, people I know, like, having a manager who doesn't love being a manager, who, you know, doesn't love, like developing people, and helping them grow, and all that kind of stuff, like, there are people who genuinely love that those people should be managers, those of us who, you know, are a little bit more reluctant on it and enjoy other things. I think it's okay, if we allow ourselves to, to not be managers. And, you know, I sometimes think that there's this, this assumption that, that, that you have to grow and that you have to hire in order to grow. Is this sort of this baked in assumption, and I think there's a little bit of like, judgment sometimes around companies that don't hire because people like, oh, like, you're not a real company, if you don't have any employees or whatnot. I reject that. Like, I think if you can find a way to run a company, and it's successful and gives you the life you want, and for some people that involves employees, and some people it doesn't, and that's Yeah, exactly. And some people you know, it involves, like, I think, I guess, you know, my, my VA is is is you know, a contractor, like a lot of people have a lot of contractors working with them. But you know, having that responsibility also of covering someone's paycheck can, you know, can lend a lot of stress to running a business and some people like that stress and some people don't and I don't understand that like that. Yeah, I think that that sort of leadership component of it is is challenging and I sort of, you know, I asked myself, like whether I feel like at some point I could want to be a leader like that with employees. But quite frankly, I don't feel ready. You know, maybe in another season of life, I will be but at this point, you know, yeah. Kevin Sahin 45:25 Yeah. I mean, I, as I say, I totally relate to this, because it's, I mean, for me personally, I don't I don't think I totally agree with you with the fact that there is this assumption of growth and hiring and, and even sometimes raising funds, like, you have to you have to grow, you have to raise fund you have to hire, it's kind of, you know, a vanity metric in the startup ecosystem, how many employees do you have? To try etc. And, I mean, many companies that I mean, either don't hire at all or hire just, you know, a really small team, and that are doing totally fine, where the founders are happy, the employees are happy, everyone's happy. And, yeah, it's. And on the other side, there are many companies raising funds, hiring, and growing like crazy, whether founders are not happy at all, and stressed and Michele Hansen 46:43 yeah, I think, you know, that's something we, as founders, we have the decision to run our businesses in a way that, you know, to design the business. Right. And, and, you know, and for me, part of, you know, designing that business is it's, you know, setting it up in a way that, that we're running it in a way that we enjoy, and we enjoy working together. And it sounds like you and I really like working together, too. Kevin Sahin 47:12 Yeah. I mean, we've been, we've been, so we know each other since high school. So we, we've been working on many project, back in high school, and then side projects in college and the beginning of our career together. So yeah, it's been. And that's was the, it was great, because when we founded the company, we had this whole history of working together, of knowing how to talk to each other to, you know, divide the work based on, you know, what we are good at what we'd like to do, etc, etc. So it was pretty, I'd say, you know, a fluid, the work relationship. Michele Hansen 48:09 Sounds like you learned a lot from that that first side project you did together with him about how you can work together. I'm curious what that project was. Kevin Sahin 48:19 There were many projects, I'd say the most. The biggest one with a Chrome extension that we launched. I don't remember the year 2016, I'd say or 17. It was called shop tourist, it was a Chrome extension that could where users could save products on ecommerce websites that they were interested to buy. And our we had some scrapers in the backend that would refresh the price every day. And if the price dropped it send an email with a note with the with an alert that said, Hey, this product dropped 25% this night. You can buy it here. And then there was some affiliated links on the email. And like, we, we had some pretty good success marketing it on Reddit. Like we launched the we posted a Reddit post one day and it got 1000s of upvotes. And we like to overnight we got a few 1000 users on the app. And yeah, and the funny thing is that we realized Is that some customers? No, it was not customers, some users sorry. were added adding hundreds of products on their list. And we, we told ourselves, it's kind of strange, because why would I mean, unless it's, you know, the person is on the buying spree or is a has a buying problem. It's kind of weird to save, you know, hundreds of products with different variations of the same. I don't know, a T shirt or whatever. And so we realized that it was ecommerce owners that were monitoring their competitors, with our app, and they were doing it because our app was free. There were some b2b SaaS that were doing it, but it was very expensive. And so we saw an opportunity there. And we launched our first real company, pricing, but and it was a price monitoring app for ecommerce owner. And we did this in 2018. And it was a failure, we managed to get it from zero to 500, or 1000, in monthly recurring revenue. But we failed to grow it from there. And we knew nothing about marketing to ecommerce owners, or to ecommerce in general, except the previous experience we had with this little side project. And so we, we managed to sell it to one of the biggest player in this field, which which is priced to spy.com. And it's funded, what would become scraping be later. And the great thing about this failure is that with pricing, but we we had to scrape a lot of websites. So no, we had these those problems about JavaScript rendering, headless browsers, proxies, etc. So we like, we knew exactly that one, like this one kind of use case for scraping me. Michele Hansen 52:48 So interesting. And I feel like I hear so many similarities in our stories, but something that stands out to me not only how you were, you were able, you know that so that pricing bot, you know, ostensibly failed. But you were able to carry through that expertise you built in building scrapers, and understanding how difficult that can be and the problems with that. But what also carried through is I'm struck by how it seems you have this curiosity about user behavior. And you know, people were doing something and you're and you're like, Oh, that's interesting, why are they adding hundreds of products all of a sudden, and you allowed yourself to follow that, and I think that's such, like, such a great quality, and a founder to not only notice when something is strange, you know, but but follow it, you know, you could have shut your brain off that like, Oh, these people probably just have a spending problem and basically judge, right? And you could have just sort of left it at that. But instead of stopping at judgment, you instead be like, I wonder why they're doing it and follow that thread, you know, follow this sort of cookie crumbs and figure it out. Oh, it's because they're doing this ecommerce thing. Okay, well, maybe we can like pivot into doing that and then it didn't really work out but you got acquired and then you're able to use that funds to start scraping be but you had that understanding of your own use cases for scraping. And again, you were like, Why do people need this? Let me go figure it out. And you just allow yourself to follow that curiosity. And I I just love that. Kevin Sahin 54:33 Yeah, I mean, that was um, it was really a great experience. I mean, the the like, even though it was hard, you know, to fail, and both p&amp;i we didn't. Like we had to fund the business ourselves. So it was a very hard Financially but the experience the learnings were really worth it. Michele Hansen 55:06 Yeah. It sounds like it. I feel like I could talk to you all day about this. This has been so much fun. Um, thank you so much for for coming on. I I know from this conversation that this is not going to be the last time I talked to you. So So this has been really enjoyable. Kevin Sahin 55:33 Thank you. Yeah, same for me. Thank you a lot. And maybe see you next time. I still have many questions around the geo coder, yo. And I'd like to, I'd love to talk more about it. Michele Hansen 55:52 Yeah. Hey, I'm always always happy to talk about your cardio. Cool. So if people want to know more about you keep up with what you're doing on Skype and BMI and whatnot. Where should they go? Kevin Sahin 56:03 They can go to my Twitter. It's @SahinKevin. And yeah. Michele Hansen 56:12 Awesome. Well, if you enjoyed listening to this episode, please like Kevin, and I know. And you can find us on Twitter at @softwaresocpod. Thanks. Thanks, Michele.

Indie Bites

From $500k to $1m in 6 months with a podcast agency - Harry Morton, Lowerstreet

Oct 31st — Harry Morton is the founder of Lower Street Media , a podcast production agency that specialises in premium podcasts for ambitious companies. Lower Street are the agency behind top shows such as Secret Leaders , Technology Untangled and WFH Daily . Harry's business has skyrocketed since COVID, doubling in size of revenue and headcount in the last 6-months as more companies start to realise how effective podcasting can be. Harry also runs Single Track Conf , a 3-day mountain-biking founder retreat. ➡️ Here's my course on starting a podcast in 2 hours or less <em> (use "bites" for $10 off)</em> What we covered in this episode: Why start an agency? it's not exactly a dream business to start. How Harry grew Lowerstreet through cold outreach 1st client, Ultimate Leadership Podcast Why the productising model didn't work out for Lowerstreet What Harry did in the early days for growth How losing 30% of revenue was a catalyst for growth Doubling the agency revenue in 6 months Quitting his job with no savings to start Lowersteet Not knowing what to do when starting the company Addressing shiny object syndrome Why focus vs portfolio of projects argument is BS The secret sauce for making a sh*t hot podcast How to make a show that stands out Starting a mountain bike community Recommendations Book: Out on The Wire by Jessica Abel Podcast: Startup Indie Hacker: Andrew Wilkinson Follow Harry Twitter LinkedIn Follow Me Twitter Indie Bites Twitter Personal Website Buy A Wallet Sponsor - 2 Hour Podcast Yes, that's right, I'm sponsoring my own show 🤯 After producing hundreds of podcasts for myself and clients, I've been pouring all of my knowledge into my new course, 2 Hour Podcast, which shows you how to start, grow and monetize a podcast that takes you less than 2 hours per week. I know lots of people who want to start a pod and reap the rewards, but struggle to find the time, which is exactly why I made this course. I've taken a three-pronged approach to making a podcast efficiently. The first is a step-by-step video guide to creating your show, covering everything from branding, to editing to hosting. The second part is a 90 minute tutorial where I make a my own podcast completely from scratch, recording the first episode with Arvid Kahl, using the tips from part 1. The final prong is my full Notion system for creating my show, including my episode CRM, guest and outreach templates, plus an episode briefing doc. Head to 2hourpodcast.com to get the full course and get $10 off with the code "bites" at checkout.

Indie Bites

Taking on Google with Fathom Analytics and growing a course to $150k - Jack Ellis, Fathom

Oct 28th — Jack Ellis is the co-founder of Fathom Analytics , started with Paul Jarvis in 2019. Jack handles the technical side of the business, but isn't afraid to get on the mic on their podcast, Above Board, or send out some spicy tweets. Jack also runs the Serverless Laravel course , which he launched back in 2020. After this conversation Jack has turned into a true friend, speaking with me for several hours after, a genuinely nice chap. You’re going to want the same thing after listening to this pod. Jack talks with great wisdom on how to approach bootstrapping a SaaS company and taking on a huge incumbent. ➡️ Here's my course on starting a podcast in 2 hours or less <em> (use "bites" for $10 off)</em> What we covered in this episode: What is Fathom Analytics Joining as a co-founder after the company was founded How Fathom started How did they know Fathom was going to work What growth tactics did Fathom use to grow? How did they convince people to pay for analytics? The trade-off of free software How do you compete in a market with a huge incumbent Starting a medium competitor, Pico Benefits of having a co-founder Quitting a job for Jack's first side-project Starting a course (Serverless Laravel) that made $150,000 Recommendations Book: 7 Habits of Highly Effective People Podcast: Huberman Lab Indie Hacker: N/A Follow Jack Spicy Tweets Personal Website Follow Me Twitter Indie Bites Twitter Personal Website Buy A Wallet Sponsor - Part Time Tech Jobs Thank you to my friend Charlie from Weekend Club for sponsoring this episode, with his new project Part Time Tech Jobs , which is a fantastic site for finding and posting, you guessed it, part time tech jobs If you’re looking to transistion from a full-time role to indie hacking, finding a part time role might be just the thing for you to de-risk that transition. And on the other side, if you’re looking to hire great entrepreneurial talent without breaking the bank, this is where you should post. So if you’re looking for a part time tech job, head to parttimetechjobs.co or if you’re looking for tech talent, use the code INDIEBITES for 80% off all featured posts.

Indie Hackers

#232 – How to Punch Above Your Weight with Sonal Chokshi of a16z

Oct 27th — Today I'm talking to Sonal Chokshi, one of the biggest experts on building a media business that I know. Currently she's the Editor-in-Chief at a16z. In this episode we'll talk about creating content in a world where media moves so quickly. Follow Sonal on Twitter: https://twitter.com/smc90 Pitch Future: https://future.a16z.com/pitch-us

Software Social

A Conversation with Rosie Sherry

Oct 26th — Follow Rosie! https://twitter.com/rosiesherry Check out Rosieland: https://rosie.land/ Michele Hansen 0:01 This episode of Software Social is brought to you by Reform. As a business owner, you need forms all the time for lead capture, user feedback, SaaS onboarding, job applications, early access signups, and many other types of forms. Here's how Reform is different: - Your brand shines through, not Reform's - It's accessible out-of-the-box ... And there are no silly design gimmicks, like frustrating customers by only showing one question at a time Join indie businesses like Fathom Analytics and SavvyCal and try out Reform. Software Social listeners get 1 month for free by going to reform.app/social and using the promo code "social" on checkout. Hey, welcome back to software social. I am so excited this week to have with us the woman the myth, the legend, Rosie Sherry. Hello. So excited to have you. So you were I founder of Ministry of Testing, lead community at Indie Hackers, which is probably how many people listening know you, currently leading community for Orbit. Also have your own thing going on Rosieland, which is a community about community. So excited to talk to you. Rosie Sherry 1:30 Thank you, thank you. It's good to be here. Michele Hansen 1:33 So I want I want to start out with something something I noticed when I think about your background is how you've kind of gone between being a founder yourself, and intentionally working for other people also having sort of other things going on. And, you know, on the show in the past, we've kind of talked a little bit about how sometimes there's this perception that there's this sort of like staircase of an entrepreneurs career where you start out working for other people, and then maybe you have an info product, and then maybe you do consulting, and then you do an info product, and then you have a SAS and then I don't know, and it's like this sort of like staircase. And there's this sort of like implied increase in virtue throughout all of that. And then if you're taking backwards steps, that's seen as like, literally like a step backwards. And it's like this ladder rather than being this kind of what I'm more see in people's actual careers, which is kind of moving between different things as their interests lead them and as their life leads them. I feel like I see that in your career. And I'm kind of curious how you think about these shifts you've made between working for yourself and working for other people? And like, like, kind of all of that. Rosie Sherry 2:45 Yeah, it's kind of like steps going up and down, right? Or going up and down or left, I guess, an elevator? Yeah, I mean, I have like, no idea what I'm doing. But I guess like, I kind of go with the flow. When I when I stepped back from Ministry of testing, I had been doing that for 10 years. And I thought, like, as I was stepping back, I thought I'd never work for someone else's, like my plan was to take some time off and just like, take it easy for it. And just, I don't know, see what I wanted to do. And I knew I kind of wanted to, like focus in on community, but I wasn't sure how. And then, like, the opportunity with indie hackers came up. And I was like, Oh, you know, this could be fun. This could be interesting. I think I could learn a lot from how courtland has built community there. It's similar to ministry testing, in some ways, but yet, it's, it's really different. So I kind of just jumped on that, like, you know, earlier, earlier than I had planned. I was I was a contractor there for the whole time. And I was there for two years as a contractor. And basically, we just kept renewing the contract, like every three to six months. So it wasn't like it was the plan, stay there. And apparently surprised that I stayed there for two years, I thought I wouldn't last I thought I wouldn't be able to kind of work for someone else after like doing my own thing for 10 years. That was interesting. There's a lot of benefit, especially, I think, perhaps more these days where everything just seems I just feel like there's so much opportunity out there. And there's a lot of things that I didn't like about running a business. I didn't necessarily want to manage people, I didn't want to do the accounts, I didn't want to worry about money or worry about, you know, the future of, of the business. So yeah, I mean, this, you know, loads of things about running a business that I think people try to glorify, they try to hide, they try to not talk about it. But you know, it can be stressful. And I think my realization after running the Ministry of testing, is actually I don't, I don't want to run a company and employ people. I don't want to be responsible for someone's wages at the point of life that I that I am in at the moment. might might change over time, but right now Yeah, I'd rather like I guess, do something more for me something more, you know, focusing on, like my interest in things that that I need. And yeah, and I guess like contracting, bringing home a paycheck, that's great. But you know, for me, it's been, you know, it was great, I saved up a bunch of money, I didn't actually spend any of the money that I made in the hackers. So that was like a nice, consistent income for me to like, you know, get our family more and more of a safety net. Now, my Uber and I never, ever considered working for a startup people have it. Yeah, it's, it's new. For me, it's different from me. But this negative, there's a lot of pros as well. So I try to kind of be mindful of all of that. And, you know, there's days, I just want to pack it all in and say, I can't be bothered, I should just go back to being independent. But there are other days where I'm just like, no, this is actually really good. I'm enjoying what I'm doing this, you know, there's a great team that I'm working with. And again, you know, I get paid well, I don't have to worry about money, I don't have to invoice people the money every month in my bank account. And I'm like, Oh, this is nice. This is, you know, this nice not just to show up and do the work. Michele Hansen 6:11 You mentioned how it was stressful, being responsible for people's paychecks. And I totally relate to that. I think it's one of the reasons why we haven't really, you know, formally hired here, right? Like, I have a VA, but you strike me as someone who you know, and this comes through so much in your work for indie hackers in your work on community who like deeply cares about other people, and supporting them and encouraging them and helping them reach their goals, and you know, and be that person they want to be. And I wonder if that almost made it harder to be running a company and responsible for people's income when you felt so responsible for those outcomes and really invested in them as people? Rosie Sherry 6:57 Yeah, I mean, it's actually interesting, because I still own in ministry, testing, or co owner, when you're founded, you kind of like, I guess, the foundation of everything that comes later, to a certain extent. So like, the fact that I worked when I wanted, the fact that I had five kids, the fact that I just like took time off when I needed to the fact that I defined, you know, decided my own hours, all of those things, ended up becoming how things were done administrator testing, and it's become more apparent, I guess, as the team, I think about eight or nine people at the moment, at first, you know, I was only one with kids. And, you know, I was very much family friendly person, I would support, you know, everything about me is like, we need to live our own lives as well. We need to have flexibility, you know, work shouldn't stop us having having a family and doing things that we want to do. And at first, it was like, just me it was kids. But then like, as the years have gone, I think last year, there were three new babies born within the company, and as a team with like nine people that's like, oh, wow, how are we gonna manage this as like, as a company, even though it's not my responsibility anymore. There's a CEO running it. But he very much took on the philosophy of like, well, this is how Rosie has always done it. So this is what everybody else gets to do as well. So we let the mothers choose what they want to do. We let them you know, take the time off that they need to take time off, and have a say, and there's no there's no judgment for any of it. And we listen, and we care and we try to make good decisions, even even if it costs us money, right. And like, as a small company, and you have three of your people off on maternity leave is a big kind of hit. But it's not something that feels wrong, it very much feels right and like allowing everybody just to choose the time that they have off and pay in the world. And you know, making sure that they get a fair deal when they're often on maternity leave is to me, you know, I couldn't do it any other way. Because it would feel hypocritical. And for me, it's just like, I can't have once that rule to me and like different set of rules for For everyone else, even if I never took maternity leave properly. I believe like, you know, everybody else should have had that right to do that. I guess. Michele Hansen 9:20 It sounds like a bit like Golden Rule management, like treating others as how you would want to be treated. Rosie Sherry 9:26 Yeah, I don't understand why companies can't do that. can't comprehend it. And it's probably why I haven't. It took me I guess it's probably why it took me a long time to actually end up working for other people. Because without listen to the pandemic, because just like nobody was truly flexible enough in their thinking about how people showed up for work. And I've been working from home all this time on my own rolls, and then the pandemic comes along and I'm just like, still working the same way that I was working before. This ain't nothing changed for me day to day, but for everyone else. Or, you know, like a huge majority of people, life change and companies rethought their processes and what was acceptable and what wasn't acceptable. And the fact that we can all work from home now I think is is great, but at the same time is unlike Well, why couldn't we do this before we could have. But companies, you know, I guess like it wasn't urgent enough to think of our needs until the pandemic came along. Michele Hansen 10:26 And, you know, you mentioned how your life didn't change all that much with the pandemic. Yeah, I want to detour for a second because I understand that so you have five children, and you unschool them and it would just be interesting for a moment just to talk about not only what does that look like but also you know, you mentioned your whole life didn't change much. And I'm kind of curious what does that home life look like between you and your husband with this sort of unschooling elements layering on top of also like your, your work life? Like how does all of that work together? Rosie Sherry 11:02 Yeah, it's tough. I think like unschooling, I think the toughest part about unschooling, I think is, or even homeschooling is about making that kind of adjustment to life, like trying to instead of like, you know, if if kids go to school, you know, you have the six, eight hour block of time to kind of get work done and you can plan things around that with unschooling is like, well, you kind of have to plan for your kids. And then you have to plan your work around your kids, and you have to juggle things. With me, it's with my husband, we like have equal share on like, the kids in the house. And I just think that's the hardest part is like most people, probably, I guess I feel I feel privileged to be able to do that at the moment. But like, I guess, like, the thing I do is like, we're having this chat for me, it's in the morning. And that's like, not my normal schedule. So the like, normally like I'm online from midday till eight, and I'm with my kids from when they wake up until midday. And then at midday, me my husband swapped over. And that's those are the, that's the deal we have right now, to make things work. And so, in the morning, I would normally take my kids to a class that they have or a group that they go to, and it works, I guess, to try and to split that time, it changes all the time as as my work changes, or as my husband's work changes, we find ways to adapt and I guess that's the magic of unschooling, I guess like unschooling is like, we're always, I guess, we're always looking for things that our kids want to do to keep them active. So every day, especially our younger ones, who are between the age of three and 10. You know, getting them out out the house once a day is like basically our goal. And that happens in different ways at the moment, except for school, beach school, art class, sports, or football. And then other days that we hire, or we pay a friend to take them out for the day. She's like a single mom, and appreciates extra bit bit of income. It's tough, it really is tough. And it's like we have to say no to things a lot of the time, but I think at the same time, I think like the pandemic has kind of worked in my favor as well. Now that everyone's online, I feel like what's the right word? I guess previous to the pandemic, I felt like I was only one needing to have the flexibility. But I think like these days, it's it's more more acceptable. I guess, everyone's more accommodating, like having kids in the background is okay. Pre pandemic, that was not okay. You know, stuff like that, you know, despite COVID I appreciate how the world has changed. We feel it feels weird. I don't know. What do you think it feels? It feels weird to? Yeah, to say that. But I think you know, actually, there's been positives from COVID. Michele Hansen 13:57 I think it's forced us to reevaluate things and maybe shifts that were happening very slowly, like you mentioned, you know, more work from home and maybe more flexibility shifts that were happening very, very slowly, or only in very specific corners of the economy were kind of thrust on everyone all at once, which was both traumatic and also sped up things that needed to happen to at the same time at great cost to everyone involved, Beto as you said, like, you know that it's acceptable to have children in the background or even a dog barking, like I remember two years ago, you know, before COVID, and I was having a call and my dog barked in the back because the mailman was there or whatever. Like, I always felt so embarrassed on the call. And, you know, I remember sometimes, you know, the people, you know, whoever I was having a, you know, customers having call with, or one of them being like, Oh yeah, you know, we have a dog friendly office too. And I was just like, Yeah, like, dog friendly office, you know, that whole thing of like being a really small company and not wanting? Yes, I'm actually like working from home like that being kind of like something to be sheepish about, you know, like that you were working from home because it was like, What? Like, can you not afford an office? Are you not legit enough to have an office? Like, do you not like it used to prompt so many questions, most of them not very, like, positively reflecting on the company. But then all of a sudden, you know, so many of us, you know, who were lucky enough to be working from home, everybody was working from home, everybody, you know, had kids in the background dogs in the background cats on their keyboard, like, you know, and we all just had to learn how to be a little bit more understanding with one another. Rosie Sherry 15:41 Well, human right, I think like, we, we've learnt to appreciate and see that we all live in different circumstances, and we should adapt to that, and we should make sure it's okay. You know, almost like, I guess, like, the whole diversity movement, I guess, in the past few years is, you know, crept up. And, you know, to me, this is also like, part of it is like, we're all human, we're all people, we have different circumstances, that the sooner we can make that, okay for everyone to just like, be who they are opt in, opt out things, be able to, you know, not have shame for, for whatever it might be, I think like, the better the quicker, we can just like, move on and like, kind of focus on our work and get and get things done. Michele Hansen 16:38 Using shame, just there kind of reminded me of what we sort of started this conversation with, which is, you know, in your career, you have sort of intentionally and consciously moved between contracting and, and being a founder and working for other people. And when people come to a situation where they realize that maybe consulting isn't working for them, or they're trying to get their own SAS off the ground, and it's not working, and the finances are tight, and they're thinking about, you know, going out and getting a job. Yeah, it seems like people often feel a lot of shame around that. And then that feels like failure to them. And I think what your story shows that, you know, it's not linear. And, and I'm just kind of curious what you would say to someone who is kind of maybe at that point, who is wondering, you know, just, you know, that thing, things aren't, things aren't working, or the finances aren't there. And they've they've got to go back and, you know, get a job, like, what would you say to them? Rosie Sherry 17:56 I definitely felt this, like in the indie in the indie world, like, being immersed in that world. And, you know, people want to make it they want to be full time, indie hackers. And it almost becomes, like, a thing of like, what if you're not a full time indie hacker, then, like, you know, you're not a success really are there's only one way. And, you know, I almost, you know, thought that, you know, I thought even just like working in India, because I thought I wouldn't last I thought, you know, people, you know, I wouldn't make an impact. I wouldn't enjoy working with courtland, or all that kind of stuff. And even even when I joined indie hackers, the opportunity came up as a result of courtland looking for some social media help. And I was just like, at that point, I was just looking for something else to do. And like when I reached out to him, he was like, Yeah, but you're overqualified for this. I was like, Yeah, I know. But I'm, you know, I'm still like, yeah, I could do it. And, you know, I, I personally felt like I could learn from indie hackers. And that role ended up being more like of a community manager community lead role that he that he offered me. But did I feel shame, like doing that a little bit, but at the same time, as I, it doesn't matter, you know, I need to, you know, I really wanted just to have an excuse to do something else. And so yeah, I work for CEO, founder to social media and community manager, which is a step back, right? You know, on paper, it's a step back. But actually what it did for me was was huge, is like, before I joined India, because no one in the indie world really knew who I was. There's a few people here in there. But what it did for me was was massive. So I say I think a lot of the time choices, I guess, perhaps is that it's not all about money. It's not all about job titles. And we can dismiss job titles is not important. That's, you know, I think sometimes they can be but I think I think, if we think about, or like, the way I think about it is like, well, I want to do stuff, I want to learn stuff, and I want to work on things I care about. And does it matter if it's starting your own thing? or working for someone else? I don't think it really does. I think, at least for me, it's like, you know, five, finding, finding the right people to work with is, is key. And yeah, I mean, there's a lot of jobs that I'm sure would be sucky. And I see I definitely see people struggle, working for companies and being like, part indie part, like, working for companies. So yeah, I don't think like anything is necessarily Perfect. Perfect solution. But I guess it's like more about like, finding your fit what's right for you? How do you get to do the work that you do? Enjoy? How are you growing personally? And, like all, but I think I'm growing a lot personally. And also in, in my, I guess, desire to kind of impact the community world, I think I'm doing that. And I get access to stuff that I wouldn't, if I was trying to do all, all of that kind of stuff on my own. So yeah, there's definitely like, the pros and cons. So yeah, but but it's easy to think because when I joined, obey, it was at the back of my mind is that oh, my God, what will people think? I've been indie for, for 15 years. You know, should I actually take this job? Is it is it in conflict with, with who I am? Those are all that was definitely in the back of my mind, I can't, I won't lie about that. Yeah, I was nervous about announcing that. I'm not sure what people would think. But I think, at the end of the day is like, I'm still sticking to, to who I am, I'm still sticking to my values, I'm still pushing for the things that are important to me in all of it. And if I don't get those, and it's going to become a problem. You know, say, I'm still being me, in every, every space that I show up. And, and that's what's important to me, is that, and if I can't get that, then that's where it becomes a problem. For me, I think, Patrick, my boss, Michele Hansen 22:52 I noticed that you just said how you had this conflict around identity. And I feel like that's running undercurrent of a lot of time when people are having this struggle, is identifying as a founder, and all of the things that come with it, identifying as an indie hacker, identifying as someone who, you know, runs their own things and whatnot, and shifting identity into something else into, into, you know, who am I if I am not somebody who runs their own company? What does that say about me? Just who am I as as a person, I think in a world where we wrap up so much of our identity and what we do for work. That's a, that's a massive and can be quite a, you know, debilitating sort of shift and psychological process to go through. And yet what I also heard you say several times throughout the, the conversation is a reason why you took the job with indie hackers, or the contract with indie hackers, is because you wanted to learn and, and I wonder if that transition is a little bit smoother. When you think of, you know, there's you have this identity as an indie hacker, as a founder, you also have an identity as someone who likes to do other things. And one of those, I think, for you that really comes through is somebody who's curious, and who likes to learn and letting another identity almost kind of supplant that, that founder, one that's sort of, you know, taking a backseat. Rosie Sherry 24:40 Yeah, it's interesting. It actually brings me back to like minister testing and like when I stepped back, it was like, Oh my god, like, Who am I? Who am I going to be now I've been this testing person, this person, leading the testing community for so long. I'm almost leaving behind. And much of that, obviously they I still keep in touch with people, but I'm not in that world anymore. Yeah, it was, it was hard, it's hard to shift away from that and to figure out how to how to kind of redefine your life and who you want to be. And how do you get people to, I guess, to see that to know that and, and yeah, it's, it's tough and I guess like, right now with the indie stuff like, you know, I do Rosi land stuff on the side. But even that, I feel like oh, you know, I see a lot of the indie stuff happening, I still keep an eye on indie hackers. But, you know, at the same time I miss in the hacking as well, I don't do nearly as much as I would love. And, you know, I struggle with that. So it's like, how much of these different people can I be? How do I? How do I separate that? Do I need to separate that? And I mean, I was I was employed over it was no full well, knowing that I had all this stuff on the side. And that that had to continue to exist when I joined over it. But yeah, I feel like I definitely feel less a part of the indie world. Because just because I don't have the time to spend in it. And that makes me feel sad. Definitely sad. And I want to do more, but I can't just because because of time. But yeah, I don't even know where I'm going with this. But this constant shift of identity moving on, almost like shedding skin. All right, is that I shed my skin from history testing. I'm shedding my skin a bit from indie hackers, but not quite. And, you know, moving through life, I think, like, I think we almost become different people as we grow up. I mean, I think I'm in my early 40s now, and am I the same person? I was 10 years ago. So yes, but no. And that's okay. Yeah, I don't even know where I'm going. But yeah. Michele Hansen 27:31 It's interesting you say that I love how you dove into the identity shifts of that. And you're like, so even though you're no longer with, you know, indie hackers proper. I still think of you as the mama bear. The indie world is my head but like that's, that's it's you know, Rosie, Sherry mama bear of the indie hackers. Rosie Sherry 27:59 Well, I like that. I'll have to put that on my Twitter. But it's interesting, right? People will always remember you for different things. So there'll be people from the testing community who will always remember me for ministry testing, and things I did, and nothing will probably change as much in a ton of indie hackers out there will remember me as being the mom of their I love it. Yeah, and like, the more I do all of it, orbit, the more people associated me not with being indie, but being more all about community. And that's okay, as well. Right? And what does it mean is that, I don't know. But But I think like, I mean, you know, I guess it goes back to trends, life, the world changing, no one has careers for life anymore. And this is you know, probably I guess a proof of it is like, let's, you know, change as we grow, let's be okay with, like, actually discovering things. As we learn about ourselves, and as we learn about the world around us, and, and adapt and we should Yeah, I think we should all be able to do that and make make it feel okay. And make it you know, not not feel like step backwards, is you know, it's not a step backwards. It's just like, as you as an individual, you you're doing what's what's right for you at any point in your life. And that's, you know, that's okay. Michele Hansen 29:45 I'm reminded of the Walt Whitman, quote, I contain multitudes and, and I feel like what you're saying is, is about that we have many different identities and even the identities of us in other people's minds may be different than what we think of ourselves as or reflects a version of us in the past. And, you know, you're that that identity that you had as a founder, the identity you had, as the community person for indie hackers. As rosy land, as community person at orbit, like, all of those are valid, and they all exist, regardless of you know, what you're currently we're doing. And I feel like, what you're saying is, you don't really have to choose one, you know, you can still you can still have all of those pieces and so many more pieces of yourself. And, and it's okay to shift and change and grow. Rosie Sherry 30:54 No, think like, as as, I guess, like an unschooling approach to things we encourage, everything we do is like child led learning. And, like, I live that, that same philosophy in life is like, you know, I think like, like, as I get older, I just, I just can't spend any time on anything I don't enjoy. And then when I look at my kids, I'm like, why should they have to spend any time on the things that they don't enjoy, we should, like, you know, focus, focus all our energy as much as is possible to do the things that we love, because that's, that's like a really special place to be. And, like, at the moment, like, like, you know, I've been working for 23 years of my life, when I started out, working. Man, it was just like, a different place. And like, where I am, now, I'm like, this is just such a better place to be doing work that, that I love that I appreciate that, that, you know, I believe I can have impact on. And if I look back at myself, like 20 years ago, and see see where I am now, I say, I would have like, I guess, never, never imagined that this kind of life is possible. The life I had then was about working in jobs that I didn't really enjoy that much, or for companies that I wasn't really, that interested in what they were doing. And now it's like, everything's flipped to like, I'm working for a company that I believe in what they're doing, I enjoy the day to day work, we're aligned in the things that we want to do. And that's just like, Whoa, you know, how, you know, how great is that, to be a part of that. And regardless of the outcome, whether, you know, I continue to rise up in the company where they continue to get pay raises, whether whether orbit ends up, you know, growing massively in IPO, and that that doesn't matter. To me, it's like what matters is, you know, being able to do do what I love, right now. Michele Hansen 33:22 Follow the things you love, even if those things take you from entrepreneurship, to working for other people and changing your identity. And, yeah, Rosie Sherry 33:34 I look at Patrick, my, one of the cofounders I see some of the things that he has to do as a founder. And I'm like, I'm so glad I'm not doing that. And like I can see it as the founders because like, not not to the same extent, you know, they've raised money, it's a different game. But you know, that the same principles applies, like, I don't have to do any of that stuff. And I'm very happy about that. Michele Hansen 34:03 It sounds like you're in a good place. Now. I want I want to thank you for for joining us today. You know, we again, in this sort of indie world, we talk a lot about building in public and you know, I talked about writing in public. But something I am really valuing lately is when people are willing to be vulnerable in public. And I feel so much from that of that from you. And not only in on on Twitter, and your support of other people, but also here today. And, and I have a feeling that your story today is it's gonna make somebody at least one person feel feel less alone and feel feel better about their journey. Hopefully you know, less shame about Going from entrepreneurship to employment? Rosie Sherry 35:06 I hope so. I hope so. I try. I think it's, it's hard, I guess. I mean, I don't know what your experiences but like women in tech when in business, whether it's like, I guess it's hard to stand up to certain things and be open about the challenges that we have. And so yeah, I try my best, I think my confidence increases over time. I will say, I don't give a damn anymore, like what people think. I don't know if that comes of age. But like, you know, I definitely wasn't this open about everything before. So, yeah, part of me like does it to, to help other people see, I think it's important, like, who I am a woman, five kids on schooling. I kind of want to show people that. Yeah, yes, I'm a bit obsessive with the things that I want to do. I'm, like, you know, switched on, like, all the time, pretty much. But But I spend lots of time with my kids as well, you know, I managed to make it work. And I guess that my hope is that in time, like more people can be like this, if that's what they choose, you know, if they, if they can see the possibility. You know, it's done me a lot of good. And I guess, like, there must be more people out there that want something like this. And for them to be able to see an example. I guess is, is what's in the back of my mind when I tweet when I write when I do my things? Yeah. Yeah. Well, thank you. Yeah, Michele Hansen 36:59 thank you so much for yesterday. I've really enjoyed this conversation. Rosie Sherry 37:05 Thank you, Michelle. I appreciate catching up. Michele Hansen 37:08 If you enjoyed this episode, please let Rosie and I know on Twitter. You can find us at software social pot. Thanks

Indie Bites

Building a portfolio of projects to $6k in one month - Pete Codes, No CS Degree

Oct 20th — Pete runs No CS Degree , among other things, sharing stories of people who have made it as a developer, without going down the traditional route of getting a computer science degree, showing how it's possible to earn a nice salary without going to university. He has also started High Signal , a community for revenue verified entrepreneurs, a site for finding fully remote companies and finally made 2 courses where you'll learn how to both monetize and grow your newsletter . ➡️ Here's my course on starting a podcast in 2 hours or less. What we covered in this episode Pete's crazy backstory How he got into entreprenuership Most inspiring story from No CS Degree How does Pete get revenue Getting a sponsor for a course How do you grow a newsletter Launching a monetize your newsletter course Doing a bundle deal with other indie hackers Starting the High Signal community Why some paid communities are bad Pete's nifty pricing trick Launching a job board Recommendations Book: Mindset by Carol Dweck Podcast: Indie Hackers Indie Hacker: Lachlan Kirkwood Follow Pete Twitter Website Follow Me Twitter Indie Bites Twitter Personal Website Buy A Wallet Thanks to this episode's sponsor, Churnkey It can be a huge challenge to keep churn down when your SaaS product starts to see traction. The founders of Churnkey know exactly how much of a challenge this can be, having collectively grown three SaaS companies to over $4m in ARR. They realized that they were thinking about cancellations all wrong. A relationship with a customer doesn’t stop with the “Cancel” button. So they built Churnkey, which reduces churn by up to 42% with custom cancellation flows. For every customer who clicks “Cancel,” Churnkey offers up dynamic offers that encourage customers to stay subscribed. Just connect Stripe and plug in a small bit of code. In minutes, you’ll be reducing churn by immediately unlocking subscription pauses, dynamic offers, and cancellation insights. See how much revenue Churnkey can recover for you. Visit churnkey.co to start your free trial.

Indie Hackers

#231 – Learning from Conversations with Andrew Warner of Mixergy

Oct 20th — In this episode I'm talking with Andrew Warner (@AndrewWarner), the host of the Mixergy where he's interviewed over 2,000 founders in the tech and software space. His new book, Stop Asking Questions, breaks down everything he's learned about having a meaningful conversation and maximizing the value out of one-shot encounters. Learn how to have better conversations: https://www.stopaskingquestions.co/ Follow Andrew on Twitter: https://twitter.com/AndrewWarner Check out Mixergy: https://mixergy.com/

Software Social

Getting Meta

Oct 19th — In this episode Colleen and Michele look back at their 14 months on podcasting to see how far they've come, and look forward to see where they want to go.

Indie Hackers

#230 – Grit, Timing, and Building Businesses You Love with Andrew Gazdecki of MicroAcquire

Oct 13th — Andrew Gazdeki (@agazdecki) has some contrarian viewpoints when it comes to the startup ecosystem today. I invited him here to find out about his beef with TechCrunch and how he is empowering founders with his own company, Microacquire. Follow Andrew on Twitter: https://twitter.com/agazdecki Check out Microacquire: https://microacquire.com/

Indie Bites

Growing Upvoty to $17k MRR - Mike Slaats, Upvoty

Oct 13th — Mike Slaats is the founder of Upvoty, an instant feedback software which has recently hit $17k MRR. Mike also runs the SaaS pirates community, where he talks all about running a SaaS company. Previously, he scaled Vindy, an only marketplace for home development to 1m ARR in 5 years. What we covered in this episode Why did you start Upvoty? Stopping a $1m business to start from scratch Why your work should be fulfilling Should you be passionate about your audience? How to validate your idea How Mike got his first customers for Upvoty The value of an MVP and a landing page Why you should build runway or have an alternative income source How you can make your own luck Why indie hackers should build a personal brand Mike's one bit of advice for founders; validate How to build an MVP with the BML framework Recommendations Book: Intercom on Marketing Podcast: How I Built This Indie Hacker: Arvid Kahl Follow Mike Twitter YouTube SaaS Pirates Upvoty Follow Me Twitter Indie Bites Twitter Personal Website Buy A Wallet Thanks to Weekend Club for sponsoring Indie Bites. <em>‘I absolutely love being part of Weekend Club.’</em> <em>‘Huge fan of Weekend Club and I love being part of it.’</em> <em>‘Absolutely love this community.’</em> These are real testimonials for Weekend Club - the internet’s most helpful community for bootstrappers. If you’ve ever struggled meeting other solo founders and staying accountable, then this is for you. We offer weekly Saturday deep working sessions with up to 30 bootstrappers, such as the founders of Simple Poll and VEED, an active Slack community and over 100 software discounts. Go to weekendclub.co and enter a very limited promo code ‘Indie Bites’ for 50% off your first month.

Software Social

Deploy Empathy Audiobook Podcast Preview

Oct 12th — Go to deployempathy.com to buy the audiobook private podcast, physical book, or ebook! This episode of Software Social is brought to you by Reform. As a business owner, you need forms all the time for lead capture, user feedback, SaaS onboarding, job applications, early access signups, and many other types of forms. Here's how Reform is different: - Your brand shines through, not Reform's - It's accessible out-of-the-box ... And there are no silly design gimmicks, like frustrating customers by only showing one question at a time Join indie businesses like Fathom Analytics and SavvyCal and try out Reform. Software Social listeners get 1 month for free by going to reform.app/social and using the promo code "social" on checkout. AUTOMATED TRANSCRIPT Michele Hansen 0:01 Hey, everyone, Michele here. Colleen is at a conference this week. So doing something a little bit different this week and wanted to give you a preview of the audio book podcast for Deploy Empathy. So as I've kind of mentioned on previous episodes, I am releasing the audio book every week as a podcast as I record it. Part of the idea of this was kind of to sort of sort of do like I did with the newsletter with the book and sort of you know, do it and you know, sort of chapters at a at a time. And so I didn't have to spend you know, two weeks recording which is just, I didn't didn't really have two weeks, you know, of full workdays to sort of lock myself in a closet and record it. So this is allowing me to record it as I have time. Which is kind of a challenge as I say this right now, my desk is literally surrounded and pillows from the last time I recorded which was like two weeks ago. So So yeah, it's been it's been kind of an interesting challenge. But I have been enjoying it. And it's also allowed me to get feedback on it as well. This is my first time recording an audio book. So if anything sounds weird, or whatnot, like people can, you know, give me feedback, and I get a chance to re record as I go. So, so yeah, so it started in I want to say the end of August. And currently, it's on Part Six, which is the how to talk so people will talk section of the book, which is maybe my favorite section of the book. I admit I was a little bit nervous going into recording these chapters because the tone of voice is so important. And I wanted to make sure that I got that right. And I think I got a little bit in my head about that. But I think it I think it came out Okay, so I think I think I'm happy with it. But so yeah, so So this week you're gonna get a chance to preview the the the private podcast, there are still spots in it if you want to join so it's limited to 500 people and right now I think there's about a little under 200 so there's quite a few spots left if you wanted to, to join along, but also you know what, once the full thing is recorded, which I don't really I guess it'll be sort of end of the year early next year. You know, it'll also be available as a regular audio book not quite sure what I'm going to do with the podcast I'm actually kind of curious to hear if people want that to stick around or whatnot. I don't I wonder if it makes it more digestible to get through but maybe that value is on the you know that it's coming out every week, right now. So yeah, hope you enjoy and Colleen and I will be next back next week. Part Six, how to talk So people will talk. This is the most important part of this book. The tactics you'll learn build toward one goal, creating a bubble of suspended judgment, where the person feels comfortable being open. Throughout this part, you'll also find ways to practice these skills before using them in customer conversations. We'll go into each of these in depth one, use a gentle tone of voice to validate them. Three, leave pauses for them to fill for, mirror and summarize their words. Five, don't interrupt, six, use simple wording. Seven asked for clarification, even when you don't need it. Eight. Don't explain anything. Nine. Don't negate them in any way. And let them be the expert. Love it. Use their words and pronunciation 12 asked about time and money already spent. Lastly, you'll learn how to pull it all together by picturing yourself as a rubber duck. Trust me, it'll take you some time and some practice. But I think you'll notice a difference even in your personal life. By using these phrases and tactics. I want you to make me a promise, you'll only use what I'm about to teach you for good, you won't be manipulative, and you won't use what people say against them. deploying the tactics in this chapter can make someone open up to you much more than they otherwise would. Someone's confidence is a sacred gift. And it should be handled gently, respectfully and ethically. That respect should continue after the interview to I expect you to carry through the empathy you build for the customer well beyond the interview, and use empathy as part of your decision making process. Before we get into the tactics and phrases, it's important to understand just how much these tactics can transform a conversation. I got my start doing proper customer interviews in the personal finance industry. In America, people are generally very private about their personal finance decisions and situations. It's an extremely delicate topic. And because of this, I had to learn interviewing in a rigorous way. I didn't realize how much the techniques outlined in this chapter had woven themselves into my everyday conversation habits until I was at the grocery store a few years ago, I was in line with a dozen items and notice that the cashier hugged the woman in front of me, and they interacted with one another in a heartfelt way. I must have just finished an interview because I found myself asking the cashier about it. me with a smile. Oh, I noticed you hugged her. Is that your sister? cashier? No, she's just a longtime customer. I've worked here for a long time. me. Oh, you have? cashier? Yeah, almost 20 years. I'm due to retire soon. Companies changed a lot in that time. me. Oh hasn't. cashier proceeds to tell me about how the store chain was bought out by another chain 10 years ago, how they changed the retirement plan how she's worried about having enough income from Social Security, her 401k her old pension and retirement and how she's making extra 401k contributions. This was all in the span of less than five minutes. As she rang up the dozen or so items I had in my basket. It's important to note that this cashier wasn't just a particularly chatty person. This was my local grocery store. And I had been there a few times per week. For several years at this point. I'd been in this woman's line many many times. And we had never had more than a simple polite conversation about the weather, or how busy the store was that day. I went home and told a former co worker about it and joked Do I have Tell me about your retirement planning written on my forehead. I was amazed that a stranger had told me that kind of information in such a short amount of time. My former co worker pointed out that it was a sign of just how much interview skills had worked themselves into my everyday conversation style. And how I become so much more effective at digging into the heart of an issue without too much effort. For someone who's only negative mark in their first professional performance review was that I was abrasive and was diagnosed with a DD it'll 11 years old, it came as quite a shock to realize I now had an active listening conversation style without even realizing it. That experience taught me how we need to be careful with these skills, and to know when to hit the brakes. It's a person's decision what to reveal. But I always keep that story in mind and remind myself to back off or shift topics. When it seems like someone is on the verge of saying too much. It's possible to make someone too comfortable and safe. It's always okay to say thank you for telling me that I was wondering if we could go back to something you said earlier. I'm curious about something else. It also reminded me of how so many people don't have people in their lives who will just listen to them. Especially about things that are processes or tasks they complete daily or goals that are top of mind. The cashier at the grocery store clearly spent a lot of time thinking and worrying about the different sources of Income she'd have in retirement and whether they would be enough, but maybe didn't have anyone who would listen to her talk about that. I find that once you build trust with someone and show them that you're willing to listen, they will talk. Because no one has ever cared about that part of their daily life before. Maybe they grew up to a co worker about how long something takes, but they've probably never sat down and had someone genuinely ask them what they think about creating server uptime reports or following up on invoices, they've probably never really talked through where they spend a lot of time the tools they use, and so forth. They've probably never had anyone care enough to try to make it better for them. Just being a presence who's willing to listen is more powerful than people realize how customer interviews differ from other kinds of interviews. If you're already familiar with other kinds of interviewing, it might be interesting for you to read with an eye for how this kind of interviewing differs, journalistic interviewing, motivational interviewing and a negotiation based interview all bears similarities to user interviewing, yet they also have significant differences. The first professional interview I ever did was the summer I was interning at the Washington bureau of a British newspaper. the BP oil spill had happened a few months earlier. And my boss asked me to interview someone thinking back that was a very different interview from the customer interviews I started doing years later, in that BP oil spill interview, I was digging for information and I was looking for specific quotes that could be used in an article I already knew about the oil spill, so I wasn't looking to learn their perspective on it. Instead, I needed them to say specific things and say them in a quotable way. Customer interviews by contrast, are all about diving into how the other person perceives an experience and intentionally suspending the desire to validate your own ideas. Later, after the interview has finished, you can analyze the interview and see what opportunities might exist. We'll talk about that more in Part Eight analyzing interviews. Chapter 25 use a gentle tone of voice. In Chris Voss, his book never split the difference. He suggests using a late night DJ voice in negotiations. You're listening to wb mt 88.3 FM therapists will often speak in soft slow voices as a method of CO regulation to calm their patients. These techniques help put the other person at ease and create an environment where they feel safe. These techniques apply when you're talking to customers to a customer interviews should be conducted in the most harmless voice you can possibly muster. Imagine you're asking a treasured older family member about a photo of themselves as a young person. There might be a gentle, friendly tone of voice, a softness to your tone, genuine judgment free curiosity. Or perhaps picture that a close friend has come to you experiencing a personal crisis in the middle of the night. You would listen to them calmly and just try to figure out what was going on. You probably wouldn't start offering ideas or solutions to their problem and would focus on helping them get back to a clear state of mind. use that same gentleness in your customer interviews. It's important to note though, that you cannot be condescending. I purposefully do not say to speak to them like you would a child because people have very different ways of talking to children. Think of your customer as someone you respect and you can learn from because you should and you can. Why did you do it that way set in a medium volume voice with emphasis on certain words could make it sound accusatory and put them on the defensive versus will lead you to do it like that. And a gentle, unassuming, curious voice will help them open up. Try this now. The next time a friend or family member comes to you with a problem. Intentionally use the gentlest voice you can muster when you talk to them. The next time use your normal approach. Notice whether the person reacts differently. Chapter 26 validate them. books on product development often talk about validation, validating ideas, validating prototypes, validating business models. This chapter is about an entirely different kind of validation. It's a pivotal part of getting someone to open up to you. This chapter is about what psychologists and therapists describe as validating statements. These are specific phrases you can use to show someone that you're engaged with what they're saying. It's okay to have trepidation about what you would say in an interview, and how you would come up with follow up questions. Yet most of what you say during an interview aren't questions at all. Instead, you use validating statement It's that shows someone you're open to what they're saying and are listening. Your goal is for them to talk as much as possible. And you as little aim for the interviewee to do 90% of the talking in the interview. In a customer interview, you use validation, even when you don't necessarily agree with what they say. Or even if what they say sounds absurd to you. It does not mean that you agree with them. It is instead a way of recognizing that what they think and do is valid from their perspective. You cannot break that bubble of trust ever, even when something wacky cans, which I can. In a memorable interview years ago, the interviewee suddenly said, Sorry, I'm eating a case of beer right now, about 45 minutes into the phone call. Mind you, this person had given zero previous indications that they were eating. My research partner, the unflappable research expert, Dr. Helen fake, just rolled with it and said, Oh, you're fine. Notice what she said there. She didn't say no worries or not a problem or don't worry about it, all of which either hinge on negating a negative word, worries problem, and thus leave the negative word in the person's mind. Or invalidating instead told him he was fine. Not, that's fine, which is abstract. But explicitly putting the interviewee as the subject. And that saying that he is fine, which validated his state as a person. It was subtle yet next level of conversational jujitsu that will start to come naturally to you, the more you practice this, you also cannot say that you agree with them, or congratulate them, or do anything that implies that you have an opinion. Even if it's a positive opinion, this is probably one of the strangest parts of how to make an interview flow. And for many people, it runs counter to their built in instincts to be positive and encouraging. The person you're interviewing may ask you if you agree, and you need to purposely find a way to make that question go away. I can see where you're coming from on that. Can you tell me rather than Yeah, I agree. agreeing or disagreeing will remind them that you're a human being with opinions and judgments, and the trust will start to melt away, you almost want them to forget that you're a person. For example, when I was interviewing people about their finances, they would admit to doing things that a financial planner or portfolio manager would never endorse, even though we knew that we couldn't correct them. We also couldn't agree with them, either. We were searching for their internal logic and thought processes. And if we were introduced outside information, or agree or disagree with them, they would have shifted into trying to impress us and holding back information, examples of validating statements. That makes sense. I can see why you would do it that way. I'm interested to hear more about how you came to doing it that way. Would you be able to walk me through the context behind that? I can see what you're saying. It sounds like that's frustrating. That sounds like that's time consuming. It sounds like that's challenging. Sounds like you think that could be improved? Can you help me understand What went through your mind? When? Can you tell me more about? It makes sense. You think that? It makes sense? You do it that way? Sounds like there are several steps involved. I'm curious, can you walk me through them? Sounds like a lot goes into that. When using validating phrases, I encourage you to use the word think instead of feel. Some people I've noticed will find it insulting to say that they feel a certain way. But think is interpreted as more neutral and factual. For example, you feel the process is complicated. Versus you think the process is complicated, or better. The process is complicated. And remember, most people like to think their job is challenging. years ago, I heard someone talk about their recent move to LA. their spouse was in the entertainment industry and this person was not. And they kept finding themselves struggling to make conversation at cocktail parties. But eventually they learned a trick. Whenever someone said what they did, they replied with that sounds challenging. Even if the person's job sounded easy or boring. People would open up because it felt like a compliment. And it would lead to an interesting conversation about the things that person did at work. What that person found was that encouraging someone to keep talking requires Turning the conversation back over to them. Rather than offering your own ideas. Try this now. The next time a friend or family member shares a problem with you and does not explicitly ask you for advice, say that makes sense or another one of the validating statements mentioned previously, rather than offering a solution. Sometimes people say I just don't know what to do, which sounds like an invitation to offer a solution but may not be. If that happens, ask them about what they've already tried. Chapter 27 leave pauses for them to fill. Several years ago, I was sitting in the audience at the DC tech meetup. I was there to support a friend who was giving a presentation. And something one of the panelists said stuck with me and it's something I remind myself about during every customer interview. Radio producer melody Kramer was asked what she had learned while working for Terry Gross host of the long running NPR interview show fresh air. She said that Terry Gross his interview strategy is to ask a question and then to wait and wait and wait at least three long beats until it is uncomfortable. Quote, the other person will fill the silence and what they fill it with will often be the most interesting part of the interview. I remember Cramer quoting gross as saying this tactic of saying something and then waiting at least three beats for the other person to fill it is something that I use in every single interview often multiple times. The length of what feels like a long pause varies from person to person. The research of linguist Dr. Deborah Tannen, shows that people from different American regions tend to have different conversation styles. A coordinator her research, people from the northeastern us may talk over one another to show engagement. While California and may wait for a pause to jump in. People from different continents can have different conversation styles to people from East Asia may wait for an even longer pause and could interpret what seems like a suitable pause to the California as an interruption. A three beat pause may seem long disarm and normal to others. I encourage you to experiment with us and add an extra two to three beats on top of whatever is normal for you. In addition to pauses, I also encourage you to notice whether you provide prompts and additional questions. What do you do if the other person doesn't respond right away? Imagine you're trying to figure out what kind of delivery to order for dinner with a friend or spouse. Do you say Where should we order takeout from and let it hang? Perhaps you had possible answers like where should we order takeout from? Should we get pizza? Chinese sushi? One of the ways people make a typical conversation flow is by adding these sorts of little prompting words, when someone doesn't reply immediately. Maybe the prompting is an offering answers like above. And it's just a rephrase without offering an answer like where should we order takeout from? Do you wanna? while adding gesticulation. In an interview, you need to avoid prompting as best as you can, lest you influence the person's answer. When you ask a question, you need to let it hang and let the customer fill the silence. So can you tell me why you even needed a product like your product in the first place? And wait? Don't prompt. If they don't reply right away? Don't say was it for use case one, or maybe use case two? Just wait. I know how hard this is. In fact, there's a point in the example customer interview where I slipped up and prompted cool was there, or is there anything else? Did you have any other questions or? Drew 24:10 No, I think that's everything I have. Michele Hansen 24:14 Now, sometimes it might get truly awkward. The person you're interviewing may not respond. If they say, Are you still there? You can gently bring the conversation back to focus on them and say something that elevates what they've already said like, Yeah, I was just giving you a moment to think. Oh, I was just jotting down what you just said that seemed important. And then rephrase what you'd like them to expand on. Yes, I'm still here. Do you want to come back to that later? Oh, we just sounded like you're about to say something. If anything too long pauses and the interviewers phrases the follow, make the customer feel even more important and reinforce that they are in the dominant role in this conference. It puts them in the role of teacher which marketing psychology expert Dr. Robert Steele, Dini, has identified as a powerful way of influencing another person's behavior. You want them to teach you about their view of the process. And this sort of almost differential treatment through pauses, helps elevate them into that teaching position. To get the answers you need about the customers process, you need to create a safe judgment free environment, you need to hand the stage entirely over to the customer, and talk as little as possible. And leaving silences without prompting is one of the ways you can do that. Try this now. The next time you're having an everyday conversation, not a tense conversation, not appointed conversation. Notice whether you ask a question and wait. Chapter 28 mirror and summarize their words. I have a friend who used that a parrot named Steve. I remember listening amused as he told me about the conversations he had with Steve. This was years before I learned about active listening. And now it makes more sense to me why parrots are great conversationalist, even though their vocabulary is limited. What parents do is repeat words back at people and repeating words back at someone and rephrasing what they've said, as the magical power of encouraging them to elaborate. It's a tactic that therapists and negotiators use all the time. CHAPTER TWO OF never split the difference by Chris Voss is a deep dive on mirroring. And you can also learn about it and nonviolent communication by Marshall Rosenberg. Consider this excerpt from the example interview, I wasn't Drew 26:44 really seriously considering anything that had a paywall on it was I wasn't sure that it would ever pay itself back off. I knew there were other options out there that would either require moving our storage and our database altogether, which didn't really seem appealing, or having two different services, one to manage each. But then the storage still being just as complicated only somewhere else. Michele Hansen 27:07 It sounds like you had a lot of things you were trying to like wave back and forth about whether you should sort of try to plunge forward with this thing that was already being very frustrating. Or then all of the the negative effects of switching and all the complications that that would introduce. Drew 27:23 I really didn't want to spend a whole lot of time investing, you know, building up a new infrastructure for a new product for new servers to handle this one thing that I think the most frustrating part was that it worked in now it doesn't. Michele Hansen 27:36 You'll notice there aren't any question marks and what I said as a follow up. I rephrased what he said as a statement, which then prompted him to expand on it. This is a combination of two conversation tactics, mirroring and summarizing, mirroring is repeating what someone has said. And summarizing is when you rephrase what they have said, and sometimes label their feelings, you can hear another example of mirroring in the sample interview, he describes himself running into a lot of walls, jumping through a lot of hoops. And that phrasing is mirrored back for elaboration. Drew 28:10 And Firebase Storage just did not work as easily. As it was we found ourselves running into a lot of walls, jumping through a lot of hoops just to make the simplest things work. Michele Hansen 28:22 Can you tell me a little bit more about those hoops and walls that you ran into? negotiation expert Chris Voss notes that it's important to say it rather than I, when summarizing, it sounds like is more neutral, then I'm hearing that since in the second one, you're centering yourself as the subject, but the first phrase centers the situation. For example, if your spouse or roommate comes home seeming frazzled, man, what a day, I had, like 10 calls today. You mirroring. You had 10 calls today. The other person? Yeah, and then my last one didn't even show up and I'd had to cut the previous call short to make it. If I'd known they weren't going to show up. I could have gotten this thing sorted out and then I wouldn't have to work tonight. You summarizing and labeling. Sounds like you had a lot of calls today. And because someone didn't show up, you're feeling frustrated that you have to finish your work tonight. Notice that none of these follow ups or questions? Oh, are you talking to new clients? The clarifications are simple restatements of what the person has said without added editorial zation of the events. Try this now. When a friend or family member says something to you about their day, try stating back at them what they've said. Then try summarizing what they've said as a statement. Sometimes a gentle upward tone implies interest more depending on the person

Indie Hackers

#229 – Stealing Users Away From Incumbents Like Google with Marie Martens of Tally

Oct 6th — Today I'm talking to an Indie Hacker Marie Martens (@mariemartens) who has gained over 10,000 users in less than a year for her software Tally. The best part of her story is that Tally isn't even a new idea. In fact, incumbents like Google are already in the space. I invited her here to find out how she did it. Follow Marie on Twitter: https://twitter.com/mariemartens Build a beautiful form with Tally: https://tally.so/

Software Social

To Freemium, or Not to Freemium

Oct 5th — In this episode Michele gives an update on her book sales and Colleen thinks about changing her pricing structure.

Indie Bites

$250 to $3k MRR in 4 months with a Notion website builder - Noah Bragg, Potion

Sep 29th — Noah Bragg is an indie hacker in its truest form. Building in public hacking away on his project, Potion , which is a a way to host your Notion pages as websites behind a custom domain. He's also the co-host of the Product Journey podcast , where he speaks with his co-host Ben about their progress on their respective side projects. What we covered: The goal of building a huge business Project: Coffee Pass When to decide to stop a project Failing after 2 years working on something First project as an indie hacker: Supportman Selling Supportman Starting Potion $250 to $3,000 MRR in 4 months How to do a successful product hunt launch How to get a product hunt maker grant Focusing on product instead of marketing Finding the right market / a growing market Dealing with competition Recommendations Book: ReWork Podcast: My First Million Indie Hacker: Kenneth Cassel Follow Noah Twitter Potion Website Product Journey Podcast Follow Me Twitter Indie Bites Twitter Personal Website Buy A Wallet Sponsor - Upvoty Do you want to build the best product possible? Then listening to user feedback is one of the best ways to do so. Because by listening to the problems of your users, you can build a real problem-solver that they'll love. Upvoty is a user feedback tool that gives your user's a voice and makes it really easy at the same time for you to prioritize what to build next. By installing Upvoty's feedback boards, you'll have all of your user feedback in one central place and it will really help you connect with your customers and understand their needs. On top of that, you can close the feedback loop by setting up your Changelog and Product Roadmap. Your users will be actively involved in building new features and will love you for that. Try Upvoty 14-days for free and with the code 'INDIEBITES' you'll get a 10% discount on any of their plans. Sign up here.

Indie Hackers

#228 – Making $1M/yr Then Raising Money as a Solo Indie Hacker with AJ from Carrd

Sep 29th — In this episode I'm talking to AJ from Carrd. I want to find how he grew from $30K MRR to over $1M ARR in just two years and what Kim Kardashian had to do with it. I'll also ask him how he thinks about fundraising as an indie hacker. Follow AJ on Twitter: https://twitter.com/ajlkn Build a simple one-page website with Carrd: https://carrd.co/

Software Social

Taking on Amazon...and winning?

Sep 28th — Colleen interviews Nadia Odunayo, the founder of The StoryGraph. Now with over 500,000 users, The StoryGraph is an app that helps you track your reading and choose your next book based on your mood and your favorite topics and themes.

Indie Hackers

#227 – Constraints, Longevity, and Avoiding Competition with John O'Nolan from Ghost

Sep 22nd — In this episode I'm talking to John O'Nolan (@JohnONolan), the founder of Ghost. For the last year, he's been living on a sailboat and growing his company remotely. I want to ask him about what decisions he made early on that put constraints on how and why Ghost grows. Follow John on Twitter: https://twitter.com/johnonolan Check out Ghost: https://ghost.org/

Indie Bites

Bootstrapping two $3k MRR projects, selling one for $55k - Andy Cloke, Data Fetcher

Sep 22nd — Andy Cloke is the founder of Data Fetcher , a platform for running API requests in Airtable, which is currently doing around $3k MRR. Andy has started many projects in the past, his most recent one, Influence Grid, was sold for $55k back in mid-2020, having only started it 7 months before. In this episode we talk about his framework for finding trending ideas, building a product and being successful with marketing as a developer. We also talk about the process of selling your product and how to make that go smoothly. What we covered Andy's background Kabooshi Why Andy started Influence Grid How to leverage Exploding Topics to find trending ideas Getting validation for your idea Using cold outreach to grow a platform Rocket Reach Doing SEO from the start How he grew Influence Grid to $3k MRR Why decide to sell Influence Grid? Should you go through a platform for an acquisition? How to best prepare for a small acquisition What Andy bought himself after selling for $55k What he did after the acquisition The process of finding a new idea Software Ideas by Kevin Conti Micro SaaS by Tyler Tringas Why Andy started Data Fetcher How Data Fetcher has grown to $3k MRR Andy's framework for finding a successful idea How to push through when things aren't going so well Recommendations Book: Blue Ocean Strategy Podcast: Startup to Last Indie Hacker: Jon Yongfook Follow Andy Twitter Data Fetcher Follow Me Twitter Indie Bites Twitter Personal Website Buy A Wallet Sponsor - Upvoty Do you want to build the best product possible? Then listening to user feedback is one of the best ways to do so. Because by listening to the problems of your users, you can build a real problem-solver that they'll love. Upvoty is a user feedback tool that gives your user's a voice and makes it really easy at the same time for you to prioritize what to build next. By installing Upvoty's feedback boards, you'll have all of your user feedback in one central place and it will really help you connect with your customers and understand their needs. On top of that, you can close the feedback loop by setting up your Changelog and Product Roadmap. Your users will be actively involved in building new features and will love you for that. Try Upvoty 14-days for free and with the code 'INDIEBITES' you'll get a 10% discount on any of their plans. Sign up here.