Intro — Why “Below The Line”?
Below the Line with James Beshara

Full episode transcript -


this is below the line. All right. Episode one little. The line felt only fitting for me to spend a few minutes in this first episode to kick off this podcast, telling you a little bit about myself and a little bit of why, and decided to start this podcast as well as a little bit on the what what the podcast will cover. So I'll break it down in that in that order, a little bit on myself. My name is James Bashira, and I am an investor advisor, founder, General Startup Helper here in San Francisco, California and I have been blessed with getting to meet some of the smartest, brightest, most insightful individuals when it comes to building companies in the world in my in my career, and it's been so valuable to me to get to chat with with founders, mentors,

visors, peers, people that admire and just get to have a 30 minute conversation with in here and here the rial versions of a lot of the stories that you get partial versions of publicly. In other words, you get 10% of the story in a news article or a online interview, but you miss out on 90% of you know, the rial version of the story and in the meat that that I found so meaningful as as a founder myself. A few years ago, I sold a company, and the above the line version would be that I sold the company to Airbnb the below the line version. You know, any other 90% of that story that I don't necessarily talk about But I certainly think a lot about is is that it was a It was a tumultuous experience to build and sell the company, especially the way that that we went about doing it in about four years into the building. The company is valued at about $400 million we were flying high, and it was through a lot of hard work. Ah,

lot of luck we got to that point. But in the last 18 months of the company's life, so smug about six years of building it, it kind of crumbled right in in front of me and fell apart right before my eyes. And what I would I experience was this this solitary journey of just feeling like no one is? It's been through anything like this, and I certainly didn't feel like I had people around me that had been through anything like that. And, um, it was this this journey of building something that was very close to being really significant then to selling it for a fraction of the of the capital that we raised for it and essentially a fire sale. That it was this this journey that I went on and felt like I could have really used something to help guide me, Help Help me avoid mistakes that I made and or just be there in the foxhole with me to give me the courage through some really harrowing moments. And it wasn't until after I got on the other side of that experience that I learned from founder after founder just reach out telling me about their own experience that was so similar to it. And I just wish I was like, Well, where was this insight,

this wisdom or or just someone to to help me navigate this while I was going through it or to help me before I made number of mistakes that put us in that position in the first place. and I just kept hearing story after story of the founders of the rial versions of their stories not the perfectly packaged versions but the rial versions that I thought to myself, Man. Okay, I'm going to share my experience brutally and honestly with anyone and everyone that that it could potentially help and just get kept getting put in touch with Founder after founder. That was going through a really tough time that I loved being able to share my experience with them and in a really honest way and in a way that I felt and I kept hearing was really valuable for them to hear. But he more that really rare for them to hear the thoughts going through my head were, if you could only have heard person X Y Z, etcetera. There rials story the real version. You'd realize it's not so different from your own, and if you could apply the mental framework that they've had to learn from scratch most of the time, you could see the way around the situation you're in or avoid it altogether and became an obsession of mine. Actually to start sharing my experience as well as these real stories. I kept hearing with early stage founders the real version of my own story in the real version of of these creation myths behind these seemingly infallible companies. And more than that,

it was an obsession to learn the different mental frameworks that each leader thought a lot about but but really talked about. I immediately felt, like, really felt like I should chat with everyone I could and compile these conversations in a book, perhaps, and gathering and sharing the real versions of these stories and the mental framework set these world class leaders developed to navigate their own harrowing and often tumultuous journeys would make for potentially good reading. I know it would have made for great reading for me. So two advisers of a mind, Eric Reese and Tucker Max of both Britain, multiple New York Times Bestsellers Both had the same advice when I told him about this, and that was that I should record all of these conversations and release each one as a podcast as I interview people over the next 18 months or ourselves. So here we are. We're going below the water line to see the real conditions that that put this leader in the seat across from me as well as going below the water line to appear in tow into the depths where the great decisions for these individuals have have come from going beneath the service toe to see what's really going on. So that's a little bit on the why behind this podcast and why it's called bloodline now on to the what the first few episodes, I'm absolutely going to be just figuring out what exactly I'm doing. But on that,

what and what I least going to start with is, Ah, a handful of standard questions and then each each conversation, interviews, going to ebb and flow naturally, and I really want I don't want them to. But here, for you the questions that I hoped to touch on with my guests and we can start by putting me under under the fire here a cz well and seeing how it goes. So first thing is first question that I'm really looking for tasking. My guess is coming three stories in your life that if that have shaped who you are. So for me, the three stories that come to mind 1st 1 is when I was 15. My close friends now this. But I want to share with you all because is the purpose of this whole concept is to dive deep into the topics below the line that that founders don't don't typically share. But they're things that they think a lot about one of things that shape my life in a major way that comes to mind something. I was very formative for me when I was 15.

Was my older sister who was my closest sibling. She's three years older. She passed away, and this is gonna be a hallmark of the conversations of my podcasts. I'm not gonna leave out details. I'm gonna tell you honest details and give you honest answers because I think these stories, they could be they could be so meaningful when shared honestly. So my my family struggles with mental illness and depression, and I've been depressed in my life at various points. But for the most part, I've been very lucky to dodge the bullet that affected my my sister. And she had deep depression when she was 18 and she took her own life, and it was for a lot of the man will. It affected me and and so many countless dimensions for sure. But it was something that I can consciously said. It's I'm certainly aware of Perfect is that I from that that moment in that experience,

I approach each day feeling like life is extremely precious, and each day that we have is extremely precious. And so I I try to make the most out of out of every single day that I have, and that's certainly one of the most formative experiences that that I've ever had, because it, you know, that cliche of of life is precious. Sometimes you need a really intense experience to appreciate it. That's first story. Second story is I could probably some up my twenties with one story that's I failed a lot in my twenties, and throughout these thes episodes you'll learn more and more about my story and in my background. But suffice it to say, short version of something that I think a lot about it, I mean eternally, both of these, these 1st 2 stories,

while three of them I'm eternally grateful for. But when I think about what has shaped my life and try to distilled it. And the three key stories one that certainly is, is at the top of the list. Is my twenties. I was just trying things left and right. I mean, I still am 32 now, but 10 years of of building companies, about 12 years total. Since I started in college of building things, it's it's hard not to look back in my twenties and just say, Wow, that was just a lot of of trial and error and basically just a lot of error. And it is like I said, Um,

I am extremely grateful for it, but started three companies. None of them exist today. Sorry, countless projects, none of them really exist today. And you know, my summary on on something like LinkedIn will give the above the line version, which is sold a company to Airbnb and and and then have invested in a few a few multi $1,000,000,000 companies as as an angel investor. And yes, it is true. But it's certainly not this story that I think a lot about. It's certainly not a story that's helped shape my life compared to the below the line version of just a decade of trying things constantly in them, usually not working out. And I love that I've had that experience because I feel like I feel like it's it is the foundation. Everything that I've tried it in,

kind of ah, failed or fallen forward with it will be the foundation for for anything I do in the next 60 years of my career, and each each step forward was certainly it was movement. It was progress in its own in its own way. But it's it is something that I look back and see. Yeah, I don't have much to show for for all of the activity off that decade. But I do have a reservoir of scars, earned insights and and things that I think will be extremely formative for for the next few decades. But I also I'm also comfortable where where I am in life, to where I don't necessarily need it to be so. It's interesting. I one part of me says, it's foundational. Another part of me just says it is, Ah,

I'm exactly where I'm supposed to be doing what I'm supposed to be doing, and it's the culmination of just 10 years of trying things in them, not necessarily working out, but me being able to let go of needing them toe workout and realizing just the experiences alone. I have made them worth it. All right. Story number three last story that has helped shape my life and one that I think a lot about but don't talk a lot about is my daughter. I mentioned ah a few minutes ago that they're cliches out there that you just sometimes need to experience to realize, and every cliche about having a child is absolutely true. It is so crazy. The whole, like the phrase melt my heart. I had no idea what the hell people are talking about when they'd say, Melt your heart. But I see my 15 month old just walking towards me in the mornings, and there's no other way of describing it is so un riel and and makes me wish being my wife.

Both say, I wish we had started earlier because it's just such a transcendent experience. People here in in Silicon Valley they talk a lot about, or at least it's. It's a topic du jour. Talk about psychedelic experiences and and I got to say the most mind bending, mind altering experience of my life has actually been in having our daughter. It is. It's hard to think of anything more mind bending than having a child and and reorienting your perspective, at least for me and 15 months, and I know it's gonna be one of the most formative experiences of my life. Just I looked back and I can see this clear break in and split in my life of before and after and before thinking about myself or my wife and I in our life to just right after just thinking about my daughter and think about her life and and completely reorienting my perspective. So those air three stories that have that have shaped my life. And that's a question that I can't wait to ask my guests. Another question that I plan to ask my guests and it's similar related to the 1st 1 But it is what is something you think a lot about, but you rarely ever get a chance to talk about.

Well, my quick answer to that is, I think a lot about philosophy, and those close to me know that I think about it a lot but it's still it never really comes up, socially or professionally. Something that that, you know, makes sense toe talk a whole lot about. But if you care a lot about philosophy and you've got great resource is for it, shoot me. A note at asked below the line at gmail dot com. It's something that I'm always looking for. Great online offline Resource is for some of the best philosophy is absolutely in books. Someone is best found by sitting quietly under a tree, to be honest, but I've actually found YouTube to be a great resource for diving into interpretations of different great philosophers.

Over time, there are a number of lectures from Stanford or Yale from their their philosophy and departments that you can you can listen to on YouTube. It's really, really such a great resource and personally. And over the last 56 years I'm particularly, I've become most interested in Eastern philosophy. I grew up learning about Western philosophy, and I grew up raised Catholic and and B o. The Western sense of philosophy is kind of its very Greco Roman based, and and there's there's phenomenal wisdom within things like Greek philosophy. But I have come to really appreciate Eastern philosophy, and I'll owe a lot of that to my parents. My dad taught us to meditate when we were very little one about when I was like, eight years old and introduce us to Buddhism at at a young age, even though where a church, every Sunday and and we're very,

very clearly raised Catholic. There was an interwoven awareness of the tenants of Buddhism, and I really appreciate that it was It was kind of a quirky thing in Dallas, Texas, in the eighties and nineties to get exposed to. But when I graduated school and I lived in South Africa for a few years on my own, pretty solitary, really there for a while, I began to look much more closely at at my World views some and some different ones out there that that I hadn't hadn't given a whole lot of thought to and began looking more closely into Eastern philosophy that the philosophy that was introduced to casually as a child I really love Buddhism and many of the tenants within Buddhism and an adage about Buddhism is that it's Hinduism made for export. So Hinduism starting in India and Buddhism, also beginning in India and and making its way to China and then Japan. Hinduism is the underlying philosophy of Buddhism and the underlying philosophy of Hinduism, which is equally fascinating. Not the caricature ized version of 3000 gods and the Virgin, the version that you kind of learn in the 20th century America, where it doesn't do it justice.

But the intellectual tenants of of Hinduism are just phenomenal. Just super, super deep and and thoughtful and love loved, exposing myself to to that as well as Buddhism. But I actually say the philosophy that I think immensely about or more Southern, perhaps any other, is the source of Hinduism, which predates Hinduism. And it is, Ah, it's a school of thought called Vedanta, and it's it is something that, Ah, I'm a weave it into the episodes here and there. But it is just, ah,

very thought provoking worldview and and one that I find I find extremely fascinating. And I love thinking about this stuff because I think it's just there's so much wisdom in the thousands of years of this type of mythology mythology with a capital M. I don't wanna I don't wanna take anything away from it by calling it a mythology. There's so much wisdom in these stories that have lasted 5000 years. So much wisdom in Christianity is, well, there's so much wisdom. And there's a reason that these stories of last longer than any Empire country or basically any human structure, anything we've created that when you take a deep look at them and and not trivialize them. But take a, uh, least when I have taken a deeper look at them and moments in life where I could have let them go. I always found something to to really appreciate about them, so that's something that I think a lot about. So that's two of the questions that I'll ask my guests, and I hope to dive into these topics with them.

Ah, and many more topics that they think a lot about but ones that they might not get a chance to talk a lot about. Like I said, the episodes will all differ, and all of them will ebb and flow with natural conversation as they should. But as part of the preparation for for this book, it will all focus on on learning about these stories from below the waterline for these individuals and focus on the versions of the stories that you don't hear these founders of leaders talk much about. But trust me, trust me, they're they're the versions that they think a lot about. Also plan to touch on the research from the smartest psychologist, neurologist, researchers, sports psychologists, executive coaches. Everyone that I can chat with that can provide insights for how the 10 million plus entrepreneurs in the US alone should and could strive to approach each day.

And Wasik can help them find their flow and meet their potential. So I'm really excited. So with that, I invite you to join me in these conversations, and I really appreciate you taking the time to listen. Thanks friends and listeners. Thank you all for tuning in. He enjoyed this episode or you enjoy below the line in general. Go ahead and subscribe in the iTunes podcast app or leave a quick review. We love those basically because we just we love hearing from people that find value from these kinds of conversations and leaving a review, good or bad, is a great way to encourage more of this dialogue and lets us know that people are enjoying it, so we appreciate those. You can also follow us on Twitter at at below the line podcast. Tweet us questions anytime or you can email us at ask below the line at gmail dot com. That's below the line podcast on Twitter and ask below the line at Gmail.

No idea why those are different, but anyhow, I'm your host, James Bashar, and this has been another episode of below the line until next time. Below the line with James Becerra is brought to you by straight up podcasts.

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