December 15, 2023


What would a young Jordan and Brian say?

Hosted by

Jordan Gal Brian Casel
What would a young Jordan and Brian say?
Bootstrapped Web
What would a young Jordan and Brian say?

Dec 15 2023 | 00:53:13


Show Notes

In our final show of 2023, we're going deep... What would our younger selves think?  What were our biggest milestones to date?  Hardest challenges?  What's our favorite "cheat code"?  

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Episode Transcript

[00:00:00] Speaker A: Dude, strapped web. We're two weeks away from the end of the year 2023. It's December 15, Jordan. It's our end of the year episode. How are you doing, buddy? [00:00:27] Speaker B: I'm pretty good. It's Friday and we are officially closed the company between now and new year's. [00:00:37] Speaker A: Really? Yeah. Yeah. So what does that mean to be closed? I don't know what that means to close the business. [00:00:43] Speaker B: So for us, what it means is Black Friday. Cyber Monday is super intense development, onboarding, merchants launching, keeping track. There's just a lot of intensity required around DevOps development. Then we go into code freeze, then we come out of code freeze, we throw more stuff in, we deploy it, and this is, like, the reward that we have figured out. Makes sense for us in this ecommerce context, because between now and the end of the year, no one's talking to us, no one's answering emails. So it feels like a really good opportunity to give an extended break in a startup environment, that's generally pretty intense. [00:01:28] Speaker A: Yeah. Okay. What happens with customer support and who's keeping the lights on? Yeah. [00:01:41] Speaker B: So there's just some people are able to fully unplug and some people are not. Right. So our DevOps engineers, customer success and support, that type of thing. You have to keep an eye and you take turns so you keep coverage so that you do get a little bit lighter load. [00:01:59] Speaker A: But there's. [00:02:00] Speaker B: And then next week it's off and there aren't any standing meetings. But I have a few calls next week, and some of the people on the team are like, okay, let's just touch base next week because it makes sense to. It's just like an unplugging. And then the week after that is totally like, go away, go hang with your families type of thing. [00:02:20] Speaker A: Right? Yeah. [00:02:22] Speaker B: So this is, like, the last thing I'm doing this week, and then I'm off until January. [00:02:28] Speaker A: What are you doing? [00:02:29] Speaker B: I am going to redo the website. [00:02:33] Speaker A: Yeah. You're not breaking. [00:02:34] Speaker B: Well, it feels very different. My desk is a hot mess. I have an embarrassing stack of mail. I'm going to show it to Brian. Right. This is, like, the immediate stuff that needs to be addressed. That's on my desk. I'm going to talk. [00:02:48] Speaker A: All the paper mail that comes into my life literally stays on the desk. And I don't open it for sometimes like a month, month or two. I just don't even want to think about it. Yes. [00:02:57] Speaker B: I get, like, the dental bill for, like, $114. You're 90 days late. I'm like, sorry, guys, I'm not a jerk. I just don't care. And I haven't opened it. My bad. [00:03:06] Speaker A: My philosophy is like, all right, you can send me a letter, but you'll probably need to send me multiple emails and text messages and calls to get my attention, to actually care about it. [00:03:18] Speaker B: Yes. Which is frustrating for. [00:03:19] Speaker A: And it's like, if it's that important, that's what they'll do, and that's fine with me. It's terrible. [00:03:24] Speaker B: It's terrible. I feel you. So I'm looking forward to catching up on a lot of that stuff and some personal stuff. And I'm texting some friends in town to say, hey, let's go to lunch next week. So I'm starting to turn the corner toward family fun, relaxing, less stress. Yes. Then I want to talk about an interesting development on the business front. [00:03:49] Speaker A: Okay. Yeah. I mean, kind of similar idea. So the week of the holidays, Christmas into New Year's, in between those, we're going away for three days. Got an Airbnb in northern Vermont. So that will be pretty much an off week with the family, doing some skiing. But yeah, this week, we are days away from finally pushing out. Clarity, flow, commerce. We've built it all. It's in the final testing now. Today's Friday, so we're not going to deploy it today. We're going to deploy it on either Monday or Tuesday of next week. And now I need to do, like, the grind of launching this, and it's a huge feature to launch, so I've got to write a ton of documentation. I got to write a big email announcement. I got to record multiple product videos for this thing. It's going to be a grind, but I got to get it out before the holidays. It's already, like three months past when I wanted it to ship. It's just been such a beast to build. There's so many little facets to it. [00:04:54] Speaker B: So now you're close. [00:04:56] Speaker A: I mean, it's done. It's in the final testing. We're just kind of polishing it up. And then now it's almost on me to just do the launch stuff. And the other thing in my work life here is, as I've been talking about over the last couple of months and transitioning into 2024 with changing focus in my business and getting into this building, this media brand, instrumental products still very much coming together. And the way that I mentally think about it, this isn't exactly how it works, but I actually kind of think about it like I'm changing jobs. Like, I'm leaving one company and joining another company in a way, but they're all my businesses. [00:05:41] Speaker B: And are you looking at it as like, in January I start my new job? [00:05:45] Speaker A: Yeah. I've been hoping that that date would be in December, but I think it's probably going to be after that trip. And literally it's going to mean starting the weekly content production cycle of video recording and production and writing newsletters and the audience game, like, really starting that up. I've redone my whole studio, been doing all this work with equipment and testing shots and things like that. It's been fun to put it all together and test it out, and I'm learning a ton about production and content strategy and relearning a lot of stuff, but I haven't been able to put it into action yet because I've been so busy on clarity flow and getting this final commerce feature out the door. So once that's finished, there's some infrastructure projects that my team is going to be working on, but basically my big focus on clarity flow is done for a while, and then it goes into that more of a side business mode, and I start to really turn my attention to building this audience game. So that's where my eyesight is pointed towards in the next couple of weeks. [00:06:59] Speaker B: Okay, cool. I have something similar in that I look at this rest and then I look at January as like a sprint. Six months between January and June. That's our selling season. That's when merchants are open to new ideas. They're looking at new things. They're exploring. And we have a bunch of meetings set up in January that at least it feels good to have it confirmed that the interest in demand is there. But people are looking at January in a similar way that I am, and they're saying, all right, I'll get to that in January. Right now, I'm just going to finish what I need to finish. I'm not going to start anything new. [00:07:38] Speaker A: What was that thing you just had? [00:07:42] Speaker B: I'm sure I will be talking about this a lot more. I'm going to be quiet about it. I'm not going to give details for at least another month or so, is my assumption, because I don't want to telegraph anything. But we had like a product breakthrough that gives us the ability to sell our product a little differently. And the biggest thing that it changes is the nature of our onboarding. And our onboarding plays a huge role in how we sell the product and how people buy the product. And if you think about our pitch right now, it requires a significant amount of demand to be generated during the interaction with the prospect because you kind of have to bring the demand high enough up that they are able to get over the hurdles of implementation and maybe changing your payment processor and then your fraud protection and your loyalty program and all these integrations that are point of checkout. And you got to talk to your finance team. There's a lot to get through and you need to build up enough momentum in the sales process that it'll break through all those potential barriers. And we had a breakthrough around our ability to onboard much more easily, and that changes the nature of how the pitch works. Right now the pitch is a promise of ROI, and then you have to get through a lot of these things to get to the ROI. And we have figured out a way to get the ROI all the way up front with far less work in implementation. And that kind of changes the nature of how we can go to market. [00:09:26] Speaker A: Interesting. So I know nothing about what you're talking about here, but my mind goes to it's some form of, I don't know if you want me to guess it, but it's some form of hosted version so that they don't need to kind of build it into their own site yet, but they could still at least test it or run some portion of their traffic through you first. Like that. [00:09:52] Speaker B: It's not exactly that, but it's in that direction, right where it does not require them to have a big lift. I think it's actually a good analogy in this case to look at a competitor. If you look at our competitor bolt, who just announced another round of layoffs today. So there's pain. What they did is they first offered a checkout and then they started to offer a lighter weight version of their product by having the ability to add their vault of shoppers to your existing checkout. So that's how they tried to go. Well, maybe it's easier to sell something that requires a lower lift. So we have never had something like that in our repertoire, and all of a sudden we do, and then it's just kind of happened. I sent a tweet the other day, never underestimate the combination of stupid questions with smart engineering. And I think it's obvious to everyone who knows us and listens to this podcast that I'm the stupid question. I'm not the smart engineering. That's rock. But sometimes that combination of a technically ignorant person coming at it from the customer point of view combined with an engineer, it's an interesting dynamic that rock and I have had over time, where I come to him and I say, well, why can't we just do x? And he comes back with, well, here's why we can't do x, you idiot, because that's not how it works. [00:11:25] Speaker A: But sometimes that it's always worth asking the question. Be like, yes. Well, really, why? What if that was a requirement just to think about it? What if that were a reality, right? [00:11:38] Speaker B: Or what if this assumption just went away? Or what would be different about things if we assumed something totally different than what is true currently? [00:11:46] Speaker A: I love those questions. Always. [00:11:48] Speaker B: So we kind of started sharing with the go to market team, and everyone's just buzzing. Everyone's just like, oh, my God, now I'm going away. And I cannot wait to come back in January armed with this new thing. So it feels like it's a bit of a coincidence, but we are going off on our break with a lot of. [00:12:11] Speaker A: Yep, love it. [00:12:14] Speaker B: All right, man. You went out on Twitter and asked for some suggestions on what to talk about. [00:12:18] Speaker A: I did, and then I opened up a text doc, and I just started jotting down some deep questions for us to answer. Okay, this is that end of the year episode where we usually kind of talk about looking back on 2023 and setting our 2024 goals. I don't know. I think we're bored of that stuff, so let's just talk bigger picture. And I'm thinking more about career level, career time span. Let's look back. Let's look ahead. And I got, like, what, four or five questions here. [00:12:53] Speaker B: Like life stuff. [00:12:54] Speaker A: Yeah, well, work life stuff. You know what? [00:13:04] Speaker B: I'm taking deep breath. [00:13:05] Speaker A: Okay, cool. Because I got to run out there. [00:13:07] Speaker B: Okay, cool. [00:13:07] Speaker A: I'll just be back in a minute. Yeah, no worries. It. Yo. [00:15:15] Speaker B: Yo. [00:15:16] Speaker A: All right, we're back. We'll get that edited out. All right. You hear me? Okay. [00:15:27] Speaker B: Yeah, all good. [00:15:29] Speaker A: All right, so, first question. What do we see as our most significant career milestones to date? We can define that however we want. [00:15:44] Speaker B: Okay. My most significant career accomplishment or milestone, whatever you want to call it, was leaving my family business. [00:15:59] Speaker A: I'm sorry. Your audio is kind of low volume now. Why is that? Feels lower than it was. [00:16:09] Speaker B: It says 99% uploading. Output volume is all the way up. It is the right. [00:16:17] Speaker A: I hear you, but it just seems lower. I think it'll be fine. Yeah. Can you talk for a second? Okay. Yeah, that's better. All right. [00:16:31] Speaker B: Okay, cool. [00:16:32] Speaker A: Yeah. [00:16:33] Speaker B: I'll just restart. Why don't you just restart with the question, all right? [00:16:37] Speaker A: First question, what do we see as our most significant career milestones to date? And we can define that however we want. So what do you got? [00:16:47] Speaker B: Okay, I have two major milestones. [00:16:49] Speaker A: I got two as well. [00:16:50] Speaker B: The first major milestone was leaving employment. I started off in finance, in investment banking and left, and that was step one in going in the direction that I wanted. Life. [00:17:07] Speaker A: Yeah, I guess that's one for me, too, but I wasn't really counting that one. [00:17:13] Speaker B: It's a long time ago, but. [00:17:16] Speaker A: I. [00:17:17] Speaker B: Think that's more significant than the individual accomplishments and revenue levels and whatever else, because it just puts you into very. [00:17:28] Speaker A: You and I started in very different industries, you and the finance industry. And I started my career. Actually, I started in the music recording industry first and then switched into web design working for a web agency in New York City. But I think what we both have in common with that is, correct me if I'm wrong, but you went into the finance industry not expecting to be an entrepreneur, right? Or maybe you were at some point later, but I wasn't thinking, like, I'm going to be here for a couple of years, and then I'm going to leave as soon as possible to start a business. It sort of occurred to me a little bit later. [00:18:09] Speaker B: I knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur, and what I wanted out of the finance industry was to build a nest egg, a little something to go off. And I didn't have the patience. I hated it so much. I couldn't wait the three, four, five years. [00:18:26] Speaker A: Okay. [00:18:30] Speaker B: I thought I could handle the trade off. I knew the trade off was, you give us basically all of your waking hours and we will give you a base of money. [00:18:40] Speaker A: When I was that age, I just wasn't thinking that long term at all. I was just like, this is a career that I'm interested in web design. And I started working in that industry, and it wasn't until I was in that job that it started to even occur to me that I could go out and do this on my own as a freelance consultant. And then it wasn't even until then, once I was out on my own, that it even occurred to me that I can do digital products on the Internet. Yeah, it's weird. Anyway, so, yeah, for me, too, I often look back on that because I left in January of 2008, and I constantly talk about this, but if I had waited a year or less than a year later, the economic crash would have happened and I would have held on to that job for dear life. And I don't know if I ever would have left after that. Yeah. [00:19:37] Speaker B: I mean, looking back, I kind of think I made a mistake. I should have had more patience. It would have made a lot of things a lot easier to effectively start off my entrepreneurial career with hundreds of thousands of dollars saved up, which I could have done if I just stuck around. [00:19:58] Speaker A: Yeah, you might feel that way. I feel like that early nest egg is not as valuable as the experience, the early experience of an entrepreneur. In my experience. [00:20:09] Speaker B: Yeah. I mean, the mistake I made was when I left, I should have left to go get more entrepreneurial experience. I should have left to go work for a small company. [00:20:22] Speaker A: Yes. [00:20:22] Speaker B: And see what it was like. I didn't. I left to go work with my family business, and I knew that business. I had worked in that business in high school, and we grew it and we made money. But it did not create a network of like minded, ambitious people in an industry that I was interested in. That then sets the stage for partnerships and networking and unfair advantages and opportunities that you come across that, ideally, I should have done in my. For me, that leads to the second most important milestone is then leaving the family business and saying, okay, let me go beyond the emyth immigrant entrepreneur mindset of we do the work and we hesitate to hire people to do the work for us, because that limitation is like, that's the curse. The curse of american entrepreneurship is to get stuck into a scenario where you love making flower arrangements. So you start a company that makes flower arrangements, and then you create a job for yourself, and there is nothing wrong with that. But if you don't realize that you're getting into it and that's not actually what you want, then you can get stuck for sure. [00:21:46] Speaker A: Yes. [00:21:47] Speaker B: So that, for me, the single most important accomplishment or milestone of all was leaving and then floating in space and then all the risk that goes with it and all the. [00:21:58] Speaker A: I think my two big milestones after I was out on my own as an entrepreneur, the first one I wrote down was actually selling restaurant engine, which was the first time I sold and exited a business. And it was not the largest exit. Like, not even close. I had other ones that came after that that were larger in terms of exits. But that first one, which happened for me in 2015, was the most significant because it was like a low six figure exit at the time. That was, like, the biggest win of my career, but it was the biggest learning experience of seeing, like, hey, I bootstrapped and built this and someone else bought it. And the whole process of selling was a learning process, but also just seeing what was actually valuable that I managed to build that someone else found value in, because that influenced every single thing that I worked on from that point forward. It completely changed the way that I even think about starting and building and operating things, because everything after that, because there were a lot of messy things in restaurant engine, and I still managed to be able to sell it. But everything after that was like, you can look at the little things, like how you keep the books and things like that. But what I'm talking about more is like, how am I actually assembling something of value here? Because later on I went on to obviously build audience ops and sell that. And I built a process kit I sold that was a little SaaS, and then actually my productized course and community, that entity, that website and course and everything. I also sold that business to someone else for a little exit. And so even now, when I start to plan out this thing, instrumental products, yes. It's going to be like me on camera and a lot of content, and not something that I'm looking to build and sell very quickly. It's more of a longer term thing, but I'm still thinking about it, like, all right, what does the operation look like? What's the brand look like? How does this eventually have a pathway to a valuable asset? [00:24:26] Speaker B: Yeah. As we're talking about this, another milestone came to mind. It was more of a mental milestone for me. And at some point, I think a lot of us, it depends on your nature, but I know I can speak for myself, that I operate with a decent amount of guilt and comparing myself to others and envy and all that stuff. And at some point during the Cardok experience, I was able to more objectively look around and finally say, hey, there are 20 people working for this company. They love their jobs. This thing's making millions of dollars. I think I can ease up on the self criticism, maybe stop comparing, stop feeling guilty that you're not the most disciplined and organized, like, whatever your mix of stuff is, some of it, you're good enough at that. You've created this thing and you should stop feeling guilty for the stuff that is your shortcomings. And that has brought an amazing amount of peace over the last few years of just shedding the weight of the guilt and comparison. And that's like poison. I am not proud of the fact that it required objective proof. It required revenue graph, millions of dollars in revenue. The only thing that actually convinced me was not myself having the wisdom. It was this objective. Hey, idiot, just look at the God financials. [00:26:12] Speaker A: This is actually going to get into the second question, which is more about our challenges, but it's weird. I sort of had the same sort of experience, but a little bit backwards. I think I had a higher confidence level a few years back than I do even now in the more recent years, because I think I put a lot more pressure on myself as I get older and more of that comparison to peers and things like that as we get further along. Just real quick to wrap up the first one, the other big one for me was learning full stack web development. I started my career as a front end designer, but in 2018 I spent that year, the decision to invest that year for myself to go from just designer and marketer, bootstrapper person to full stack designer end developer to be able to build anything. That was such a massive milestone for me. I'm always learning on the technical side, but I've built multiple software products since then and it has just completely opened up my world of a I absolutely love it. I love the craft of designing and developing user experiences and interfaces. I really loved being in it on all levels, from the design, the architecture, the customers, all of it. But it also opened up my entire worldview of business in a way, because before that, even having sold a couple of businesses and the productized services and stuff, I still had the service mindset of how do we help clients? What can we do for them? And becoming a product person opens your eyes to what makes this a product, not a service. And that's a big one for me. [00:28:09] Speaker B: Yeah. The leverage inherent in a scalable product to be sold as opposed to very incremental. [00:28:21] Speaker A: All right, next question. What were our most challenging times to date or phases or whatever you might want to point to? I'll kick that off real quick. Yeah, I know it's not pretty. I'll try to breeze through. I've got two here. One was just the year in 2013, a while back. Now I just remember I was working on restaurant engine. It was probably a year or two away from when I sold it, and I was working on multiple things and I was involved in multiple ventures. Some things were starting to find a little bit of success. This was before I started the productized course, before I started audience ops and all that. But it was too much going on and not enough income, like struggling financially, having this little SaaS business and doing freelance work and doing this partnership over here and writing this ebook over there and doing this and that. But looking back on it, I think the big stress of it was my lack of experience. I was involved in a lot of things that ultimately I was not really even enjoying and not getting the rewards. That was one. But then things really improved on all that in the 2015 to 2021 phase when I had audience ops and product highs going, and then the more recent years, like the last three to four years. It's weird because in some ways, these are some of my favorite years. Like I said, I love working on software and I love how much further along my skill set has become in both product and just entrepreneurship. But at the same time, I have so much more pressure that I probably just put on myself that it makes it right now in the last couple of years, some of the most difficult and challenging years, but at the same time, it's like that's what we do. We make it harder because that's what keeps it interesting. Right? I don't know. At least that's my excuse anyway. [00:30:36] Speaker B: Yeah, I hear you. The challenge is that the score is very objective, it's very unemotional, and the only way we know how to keep score is money. And so there is a disconnect between the satisfaction we find and the interest we find in our work and the passion involved and the creativity and the rewards outside of money, they are not directly connected to just straight up dollar bills and a number in an account. So that is a weird, weird relationship. And everyone brings their own baggage into it 100%. And that's just the reality of it. Because some people see it as a score and a competition and who has more and where they stand. And everyone goes through a filter of what it means to them, what money means to them, if it's material, if it's status, if it's being more attractive to the opposite sex, if it is feeling mightier than your peers or whatever that crazy mix is. So everyone kind of suffers through this in their own way. [00:32:08] Speaker A: Yeah, for sure. Definitely the case. For me, it's not at all really about competition with other people, although there's definitely a lot of comparing myself to others and just flat out jealousy and all that, let's be honest. But for me, it is sort of a game and a score where I'm playing against myself and that's how I tend to enjoy games and sports is like trying to beat my own score type of thing. And that's how I see it in business, for sure. Whatever next win I get, I want it to be a bigger win than my last one. There's obviously like, yeah, we want to live comfortably here with my family and do nice things, and then the other driver of course, is freedom. Where I feel at this stage in my career, I would have liked to achieve a level of freedom that I haven't yet achieved and a lot of friends have, where it's like, okay, month to month, year to year needs are fully met financially. Don't even have to think about it. Now we're just building. Now we've got total freedom to just keep building bigger and bigger without even having to think about what's happening this year in our finances. [00:33:40] Speaker B: Yeah. Do you have a sense of what you want out of that, though? [00:33:43] Speaker A: We are much more than we were, like, ten years ago, but there's still a sense of, like, I don't know, I want 2024 to look decent financially, whereas there's a level that we want to achieve where it's like, we're going to be more than fine every year. And now it's just a question of what's the bigger thing that we're building. [00:34:09] Speaker B: Yeah, I think for me, that last bit that you said, like, what are we building? I think that has come into question for me, it's probably directly related to things being hard. So maybe that's a natural reaction. But when I think about what I want, I am not nearly as certain as I used to be. If you asked me five years ago, I would say, I want to build a happy, healthy company that I really enjoy working at. I really enjoy the people I work with. I enjoy the work that we do and the product that we put out and the money that we make and the money that it makes me personally. Now there's a little bit. The exit sign is a little brighter. And what I mean by that exit sign is just unplugged from the system and just not play it anymore and not build companies and not own things and not have employees. That has become more attractive over the last few years on just, you know what? Maybe if I can just put aside, like, $10 million, maybe I'm done. Maybe I don't want to build anything else. I don't want to hire anyone else. I don't want to work with anyone else. I want to find satisfaction and interest in other things other than offering something of value to the market and requesting money back in exchange for it. [00:35:34] Speaker A: Interesting. That leads perfectly into this next question because I'm thinking about a lot about that same, like, redefining what success looks like for me. I'm absolutely going through an evolution right now as I look into 2024. But my next question that I wrote down here was, what does our ideal work life look like in ten years, we can fudge that number. Maybe you call that five years, maybe you call that 15 years, but two years. Because lately I've been thinking a lot about the one year plan, but what you were just saying there about changing the picture of what you're actually building and why what you're building toward. My vision of that has changed, I think, significantly just in the last two or three months. And in some ways, I think it's more like reverting back to where my natural view of success is. All right, so in the last couple of years, when I sold all my businesses and I was focusing on zip message, which turned into clarity flow, the bet that I was making, the thing that I was going for was the picture of success that I see with a lot of other peers in our industry, which is build a single successful SaaS business, grow a team, get to a point where it's profitable and growing steadily, and it's a fantastic asset. It's a great business. It's creatively fulfilling. I loved the picture of my friends businesses who can fly their team of 15 high caliber professional people into a really fun location and having a team retreat, because a, that team exists and b, the business exists to support that level of you can just drop fifty k on an awesome team retreat. And people love working for your little SaaS company that just does crazy profits every like. That's the dream scenario. And that was what I had my sights set on in the last, probably like five or six years. I was hoping my last SaaS attempts, one of them would result in that. I think I've come to terms with that picture just might not happen for me. And I still, of course, own clarity flow. I'm still going to run it and grow it, and I hope it grows into something. But for right now, I'm redefining my picture of success to look more like where my gut and intuition tends to point. And it's probably different from most founders in our circles. My mind goes to portfolio of businesses, more creativity, more variety, but still very much focused on building and creating value and selling things to customers. That's always my interest. And owning assets and accumulating assets. Of course, right now I'm not in a position to start to really grow a portfolio. But when I think about my dream scenario ten years from now, the businesses that I've always been inspired by, and I wouldn't ever dream of reaching this level of success, but like tiny with Andrew Wilkinson or Syed, building this kind of portfolio business again, those are beyond a dream scenario, but a smaller version of that. I would be super thrilled to be own as a portfolio owner over the next decade or so. [00:39:39] Speaker B: That sounds like it would satisfy all these pieces. So income at its most basic, but also like multiple things, some of them. [00:39:49] Speaker A: Small, some of them bigger. Getting into acquiring assets, selling assets, building, creating, hiring small separate distributed teams to run different assets in my portfolio. I like the sound of that. I mean, for right now, it's basically just me and a couple of people that work on my small team on stuff. But the concept of a single product, a single company with a single team, that we just lie away for ten plus years, that is just probably not the trajectory that I'm on anymore. And that's it. [00:40:31] Speaker B: I think it's tough to tell. You don't know, it's not a direct path from where you are right now. [00:40:38] Speaker A: Yeah. [00:40:40] Speaker B: I don't know. [00:40:42] Speaker A: Here's maybe a more fun one. What's been our favorite cheat code in business? And I just want to clarify. I feel like every person has some cheat code or what they think of as their go to advantage, key advantage. But thing that you decided to do that has helped you succeed in some way. Okay, I got two. [00:41:12] Speaker B: Okay. I think what I mentioned before is an important cheat code to be okay with not being great at everything and leaning into the stuff that you're good at and not feeling bad about all the other stuff. I think that is helpful for everyone to get to. It also makes your life more enjoyable, focusing on what you're good at. [00:41:33] Speaker A: I got one and it's this podcast. And podcasting in general, I think it's okay. People who podcast for this many years, I think there's different types of podcasts out there and stuff, but I don't know about how you feel about it. For me, we don't even have a very large audience on bootstrapped web. Right? It's pretty small, relatively speaking. I haven't even checked the numbers in probably well over a year. Who knows? But the thing that this does, and it's happened year after year for me, is network effects. I'm out there and a small, relatively small group of influential people tend to know who we are because we do this podcast. And that makes it easier to dm someone or get an introduction, or get invited to speak at a conference, or hire people, or sell a business or this or that. Different opportunities come about because we've been out here building in public for this many years. It's not like a marketing channel that's going to, if you podcast x number of episodes, you're going to get this many leads. It's never that. And also, podcasting is probably the worst way to actually grow an audience. It's not like a discovery platform, but it's just like, at the very least. [00:43:09] Speaker B: You should link to your podcast. [00:43:11] Speaker A: But I'm sure you get this. I get this all the time where it's like I hop on a call with someone for the first time and they're like, I feel like I know everything about you, but I know nothing about them because they've been listening to the podcast. [00:43:24] Speaker B: Yes. I never felt it until you and I started, and then I went to Microconf after we started and was like, okay, it is a very different dynamic in a networking environment. When someone comes up to you and says, I listen to your podcast, it's a cheat code. It is a weird factor that's thrown into the mix that makes things easier. Right? If that's the definition of cheat code, yes. [00:43:51] Speaker A: I forgot. [00:43:54] Speaker B: But if I think back there was a point in time when I was leaving the family business, I didn't know how to get in. I didn't know how to break into this world of people that I looked at and admired and listened to their podcasts. [00:44:08] Speaker A: It was mixer g. That was one. [00:44:10] Speaker B: Of the first ones, right? We've talked about how we first met through that. So I think you're right that getting uncomfortable and reaching out and networking and then starting to publish and starting to get out there is a real cheat code. I have backed away from it. I think that's right for me right now. But to get started, it's tough to be as a cheat code. [00:44:39] Speaker A: I think it light that I wrote it down. And these are not like recommendations to other people. If you're not a podcaster, don't do a podcast. If it's not natural for you. If you don't want to do it, then don't do it. But I think it's the kind of thing that it's hard to explain the benefits until you sort of experience them over a long period of time. The other thing that I wrote down is conferences, but more specifically tiny conferences. But what I mean here is, first of all, just conferences in general, like larger ones. That's where I started to make friends in this industry. Microcomp was a big one for me, even locally. Also, I started to meet some friends at meetups early on in my career. And for the first like four or five years, I never left my house and never met anyone in person. And not many interesting things happened in my business, but it wasn't until I started to meet people in person, go to conferences, develop those relationships, that more interesting things started to happen in my career. And then through those relationships, people that I met at Microcomp and those sorts of places, we got together and started doing big snow, tiny comp skiing and snowboarding. Twelve people in an Airbnb. We've been doing it for, I think, over ten years now, and we do a couple of these trips every year. So business founder friend retreats. And then you develop these long term advisor relationships. So those tiny conferences in themselves are incredible. It's the thing that I look forward to all year long, but it's at this point now, years into doing that and developing these high caliber, deep, long standing relationships, these are go to advisors. And for someone like me, who's a solo founder, literally just yesterday, well, first of all, I dm'd you and we hopped on a call. You were helping me out with a big business problem that's on my plate this week. I did the same thing with two or three other friends this week because we go back and I really, really trust their opinions. Having this network of friends and advisors is absolutely gold. And the only way you do that is to get out there and just meet people. [00:47:12] Speaker B: Look, short of moving to a city and creating a network in a city in a physical environment, the trade off there is that for us right now, in this stage of life, that is not what we're going to do. I'm not moving to New York City. I'm moving to Austin. I'm not doing that for my network. My family is the determining factor on where I live. But that means you have to get out there in a different way. Yes. The other cheat code, more specific. Every time I have started a business that directly impacts revenue, I have had an easier time than when I have. [00:47:55] Speaker A: Not, like, closer to the dollar. [00:47:57] Speaker B: That has been closer to the money. That's right. The family business, that thing worked really well because we represented homeowners to lower their property taxes. And it was literally a piece of mail you sent out that was like, I will save you money on your property taxes if I don't succeed, don't pay me anything. And that is really close to carthook's original pitch. Add this to your abandoned card emails. If you don't recover money from it, you don't pay. If you do, then pay me a percentage. It's like really? Right there. [00:48:28] Speaker A: Next week we are launching clarity flow commerce, and it's my first and we've been building toward this for the past year and this was part of the calculus in niching down and building this platform for coaches was like, we're going to eventually get to giving coaches the ability to sell their coaching services and sell their packages through our platform. That makes us like an essential tool in their stack. So it'll be interesting to see how this plays out for clarity, flow. I think looking back on all my products and things, it's the first time that we are really in there in the way that they sell their stuff. The last one that I had here, and I didn't even prepare anything for this one was what are we most surprised about where we are today? If young Jordan were to look at what you're doing, what are you doing talking on this podcast, Jordan? [00:49:28] Speaker B: Oh my God. I don't know if I'm being honest. I think I made one mistake after another in my career, just one after the other. [00:49:41] Speaker A: Do you think you're Jordan in college or that age or whatever is looking at you today? Do you think you'd be, I don't, like, impressed with what you got going on. I think I'd be pretty damn impressed with how I'm living over here. And I say that sitting here, like, not even close to being satisfied with what's going on, but I think a young me would have been like, damn, that is awesome. [00:50:11] Speaker B: I think I would be very disappointed. And that speaks directly to the lack of wisdom of 18 year old me. And look, I don't really blame myself. I came from a challenging environment and we were immigrants and we had no money. And that kind of stuck itself into my mindset. And I remember back being 1011 years old, walking into someone's house and being like, this is nicer than my house and I want this. So it started pretty early for me and it never left. And because of that, I have overemphasized going after money and it has led to two things at the same time. Not following my passion and not ending up with more money. I think that's why I look back and I see a trail of mistakes because I think I would have been better off not going after money. I think it would have led me to things that I'm more interested in, that I would have been better at and I would have made more money. [00:51:14] Speaker A: There's so many things about my life that I never would have expected. We grew up sort of middle class, living in Long Island, New York. Actually, you and I lived not very far from each other when we were almost neighboring towns. And I would say, and I now live in Connecticut, which is not far from New York. But the cost wise of living, you get so much more space, more house, more space in between the houses in the neighborhood here. It's a totally different game from growing up in New York. And so the place I live in is so much bigger. It's so much nicer. I have a Tesla, and I'm sitting here in my sweatpants in my own home office. This is where I've worked for the last 15 years. Yeah. [00:52:15] Speaker B: You, beautiful wife, you beautiful kids. [00:52:17] Speaker A: It's beautiful. Two girls. I figured at some point I would have a family, but I don't know. A young me would have not been when I was that age. I was thinking, like, I want to live in New York City. I want to be making enough money to get courtside seats to the Knicks and have some baller apartment in the city. But here I am in the suburbs, and I love. Don't. I don't know. [00:52:43] Speaker B: Yeah. Look, I, like you grew up in Long island and then went to Connecticut and lived there. And going from long island to Connecticut, that's making it is an improvement in your surroundings, in the stress level. That's my take on it. I don't want to hate on Long Island. [00:53:01] Speaker A: I would love to hate on long Island. I think it's terrible. I love the people, but it's not their worst value in all of America to live there. [00:53:11] Speaker B: It was set up for failure. It's not their fault. It was a bunch of beautiful farmland, and it tried to get too many people into too small of a place to give the world War ii gis a place to live. And it made it just too crowded. [00:53:26] Speaker A: But it's, like, too expensive. Too crowded. What are you doing there? Go somewhere else. [00:53:30] Speaker B: Yeah, I hear you. And I have a lot of friends from high school ended up in long island, and I'm, like, the only one that didn't go there. And I'm like, guys, I don't think I'm wrong. [00:53:43] Speaker A: Yeah. [00:53:43] Speaker B: No. When I have the wisdom to be a little more rational, I get the moments. I get out of my audi q seven. [00:53:54] Speaker A: Sorry for a sec. [00:53:57] Speaker B: And I park in this beautiful neighborhood, and I walk up to my house, and it's nighttime and all the nice landscaping lights are on, and I see my wife and kids inside, and I get that satisfaction of, shit, man, I made it. Maybe I can complain and I want more and all this other stuff, but there is that element of. [00:54:19] Speaker A: We have. [00:54:19] Speaker B: A lot to be proud and feel good about. Hold on. I just want to finish this part because this is what I talk about with my brothers the most. No one has paid me money that I didn't create for a very long time, and that is something to be extremely proud of. It is really difficult to do. To live outside the normal range of having a job and getting paid by a company is a monumental task. I'm not saying this to give myself credit. Is everyone out there? It's like, 95% of the people listening to this. It is something to be so proud of that society. Thank God we live in this country. That makes it easier. But it's still. [00:55:08] Speaker A: I mean, the thing. The thing with being unemployable is it's like a blessing and a curse. Right? You're alive. It's like the best thing ever, and it's the most stressful thing. I was just talking about how lucky I feel to be sitting here and doing this, and a young me would be crazy impressed with my life, and I sit here frustrated as hell that I'm not where I want to be, and I have so much more that I want to accomplish and not satisfied. [00:55:40] Speaker B: Yeah. [00:55:41] Speaker A: But you know what? As hard as it is, even just day to day, but the ability to say, I need to earn an income, how am I going to put together an income and then go do it? And that's something I'm doing right now. Literally getting the first dollars in the door for a new business. That's what we do. We go make it. Yeah. [00:56:07] Speaker B: And then that turns into our tribe. Our people are the other cowboys who want to go out. And I'm fired up. [00:56:16] Speaker A: All right. It's Friday. [00:56:17] Speaker B: Me, too, man. [00:56:19] Speaker A: Let's do it. [00:56:20] Speaker B: Let's have a great weekend. I'm off for a few weeks, so happy holidays, Merry Christmas, happy Hanukkah, happy New Year. All the celebration. Thanks, everyone, for listening for another year with us, man. [00:56:34] Speaker A: All right. We'll see you in 2024. Later, folks. [00:56:38] Speaker B: See you. [00:56:38] Speaker A: There's, um.

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