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🖨️ Dan Shapiro. How a childhood obsession with lasers led to the founding of Glowforge.

Rad Dad, hosted by Kirill Zubovsky podcast.

How do you enable your kids to create rather than consume? If you are a serial entrepreneur like Dan Shapiro, the answer is clear - make a device that can cut through any material with lasers, then put it in every household in America. Shapiro got inspired to create this company by his kids, and now he comes on Rad Dad to talk startups, kids and creativity.

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Hello and welcome to the ride. That show my guest today is Dan Shapiro. Dana's a serial entrepreneur from Seattle, and he's currently on his company Number four. You may have heard about this company. It's called glow Fortune. They make laser printers that allow you to create anything you want from a comfortable home with just the push of a button. Before this, then was also a founder of a board game called Rubba Turtles. You probably heard this name, too, because of the time he was the biggest kick started crowdfunded board game ever, then created both of these companies because he was inspired by his kids to do something which would be meaningful and inspiring for them in their life. Today, Dan joins us on the show to talk about these projects and how kids can actually be an amazing source of inspiration for an entrepreneur. By the way, if you've ever thought about buying a glow for stay tuned, because somewhere on the show den will share a discount cold, which will give you $500 off without further ado den, welcome to the O.


All right. Hi, I'm Dan Shapiro excited. Talk about parenting and glow of origin, lasers and robots, turtles and all sorts of good stuff. I actually started my first company in college, which was a deejay business, which came out of building laser shows and selling them over the Internet. And then people said, Oh, you should bring your laser showed at my party And then they said While you're here, why don't you start playing some music? So actually paid for a good chunk of my college education, playing music and showing laser shows at parties which, if you know what I want up doing, was a little bit of foreshadowing.

But I never thought much of that went to work in the software business, came up to here to Seattle to work for Microsoft, went to work in a start up that made cell phones for teenagers, actually made the cell phones and software everything I ran product for that spent some time doing games at real networks but love this startup thing. And so my first startup, originally called on Tele Photo Bucket, was born out of the impart, really, the real excitement around the product in this idea that you could automatically get pictures off of your Motorola razor or Nokia on onto the Internet, then also in part just because I was really excited about building a company and what that entailed. And it was two years into Aunt Ella that when I was, let's see, gosh held that I've been, like, 33 thereabouts when we had kids and that changed everything


s o the first start of two years into you have kids. And I don't think you can plan for twins, can you?


No. I mean, we knew it was likely because we had IVF and it was our second round of IVF when we got pregnant. As a side note, I find that IVF is something people don't like to talk about fertility problems. But as more and more people are having kids later and later in life, it's really common. And so we're very lucky because we got into Ah, a Pepsi group, a group that for sort of, you know, parenting support before birth, that was twins targeted eso. We found out that we're having twins and most folks do with the first ultrasound, but we need the likelihood was higher and then we were surrounded by a lot of other folks who were going through some of the same challenges. And, you know,

twins is a lot in common and a few things different. Higher likelihood of complications. It was great because we were prepared when our son had to go to the sq as soon as he was born, kind of talk through that had a plan for it on. You know he's fine, and there were four weeks early in a little small but again prepared for it because that's likely with twins. I remember when we're pregnant and probably every six weeks wet, we'd wind up in the prenatal e r with some sort of problem or potential complication. And I said, Part of me is glad that this is his high risk and as fraud is, it is because I would be just is worried either way. But at least this way, everybody else's worried with me. Way had, like one kid, normal pregnancy,

everything healthy, I would still be freaked out. My worry meter would be at 11 but at least this way it felt it felt justified. But I would feel that way regardless because you know it's your family and nothing's as important as that. So yes. Oh, juggling the company alongside that was was a toile both sort of emotionally and time wise on dhe just work and the amount of stuff that needed to be done. But you find ways to make it work and you find ways. Thio juggle that.


Well, let's talk about those ways, right? Did your wife worked at the time, or did you just go stay home with the kids basically, cause she


had she had her own business, but it was as a professional organizer, so she could schedule time so she could ramp that back as that went on on and kind of dial that up and down a cz her her time and energy allowed. She was on bed rest for the last while. So it was all hands on deck for that as faras like she was totally focused on. I could work more or less regular hours up until the kids were born. And even after that, although I don't know if I was particularly effective because I was in such a fog of sleep pays. I don't think I was at my best when the kids were too I did a strange transaction where we bought our biggest partner, Photo Bucket, merged the companies together. And then I stepped out of the company in terms of day to day operations and started a new company. So right as the kids were two or three and I was starting to get a good night's sleep, I was like, All right, I've got some energy. Let's let's do it again and cycle the ride That company lasted exactly six months before Google bought us.

Huh? And I spent a couple of years at Google is an exact running Theis division called Google Comparison Inc on that was actually Google's big companies didn't have good infrastructure for parents and the like, and so that was okay. But, you know, my my passion for creating things was kind of calling to me. So after a couple of years, at a really unique experience, I took a leave of absence because at a book that I promised, I promised O'Reilly shortly before we got pregnant, so it hadn't happened for four years. It was four years overdue on the book is called Hot Seat, the Startup CEO Guide book, and I took a leave of absence to finish this book.


Wait. So let me double check. You promise that book after doing your first start up? Not even while while doing your first start up, you were writing the book and then things


kind of got in the way. Yeah. Then life got in the way. So I was way overdue on this book s. So I took the summer to go work on that and always doing that. The kids were the twins or four and four is an age where they really start to like they start to be little people and they start to be interesting in a way that grown ups are interesting, not just amusing in the way that kids are amusing. And I decided it was time to start to play games. And I was horrified by the notion of having to play candy land with my Children because Children's games can be really painful for grown ups like it's nice to see them having fun, but it's just mind numbing. And so I start playing around with him with this idea of a game that would be fun for the growing up to play as well as the kids and cooked up this board game idea that I called robot turtles and it was based around programming principles. So even though they couldn't read yet, they could use thes picture cards to build a really simple program. And the idea is that the kid was the programmer, and the grown up is the computer and computers do whatever the programmer says. That's what computers do. And it turns out that one of most fun things in the world for a kid is to boss around their parents the way programmers boss around computers.

So this dynamic, where the kid writes a program by laying out the cards and then the parent has to go and do whatever they say by making funny noises, moving pieces around the board really worked. And I create a Kickstarter around this because I thought this would be a fun thing to actually bring to the world. That kick started, blew up. It set a record for the most back board game Kickstarter ever, and I wound up being a board game entrepreneur for a year and made 30,000 of them delivered them. Pardon me, deliver them Thio all the backers and then license the game to think fun, which is a really great educational board game company and spent about a year wrapping that up so that it was kind of self sufficient on it was in the process of doing that. Kids, you know, another year older that I wound up with this for prototyping the board game with his $11,000 industrial carbon dioxide cutting laser intended for small scale factories installed in my garage. And I still have pictures of the kids helping me like uncreative thing straight from China, and it's like bigger than they are and my wife helping me pry off like wooden slats from the side of the box.

And it was this horrible contraption that took me days to get it, working weeks to make anything useful from it. But once I got it up and running, I had this revelatory moment and I said, You know this. This technology has been kind of in a backwater since the eighties, where it was developed as a factory technology, but it feels like it finally delivered on a promise that I've been hearing about for a long time. The promise of having the three D printer in your home, the Star Trek Replicator kind of experience where you could think of the thing you want, push a button and get it. But unlike three D printers, things are made from lumpy plastic laser cutter and rivers can actually go cut things and print things on materials like wood and leather, fabric, paper, even seaweed in chocolate.

And the results were beautiful. And so, unlike all my other tools and toys, people actually started asking me to make stuff for them on this. And this is where the idea for my current company on the one I'm most excited about, I think ever Glow Forge came from. It's a desktop device. It starts at $2500 to print beautiful things in the push of a button. And that's what I've been devoting my time and energy for the last four years to that was big Ark. Sorry I got from there to here.


It's amazing, cause I think what's great about use that a lot of people would say they're going to do stuff, you know, they'll write the book, they'll make the game and they don't but like you mentioned you basically started one company, then got an itch to do something else. Got that company thrown. So I started another company. You keep doing this, writing them in the game. You were a Google. You could have just relaxed and breathe by and have a good time. But no. Here you are doing this game. And I remember we were actually chatting at Google at the time, right? The great part.

I want to focus on the game for a little bit because I find it really amusing. And I did buy the game for my daughter as well. We tried it when she was, too. I don't think it's intended for two year olds, because at the time, but could you like Ooh, this is pretty pretty things


right. That's a really good chew


toy for two year olds. Three concept off programming wasn't quite area, but it was a bit of still fondle. I just have something in your hands. But I thought it was great how you didn't overthink it. And I want you to talk more about kind of the process and how you did this. But, you know, you didn't overthink like all the graphics. So the paper, this you can I just went with it. Did it put it out there and people bought it right? It was It was the lean startup in this best, I think. Can you talk about the game a little bit?


Yeah. The The game started out with, like, PowerPoint clip art and a laminating machine and just messing around with the kids. And it was It was kind of loose, played around with different rules until we found something that we liked. Then I hired a an artist using rent a coder dot com, I think are one of the window, you know, work fine, normal work sites where I've brought somebody in who is in Indonesia and I really liked his work on. So he illustrated it. I do remember there's 111 point where the game intersected. Greatness, which was I went to my high school reunion had gone to one, but I ran into my best friend from junior high school who was kind of uh huh skate enthusiast in was I did like I would escape or in a little bit, but he was much more into it than I was.

And it turns out that in the intervening decades he'd become a director at Pixar and I showed him what I was working on and showed him. Some of the art is like the turtle's eyes are wrong here. And he scribbled and redrew the eyes and I was like, OK, great and sent that over in My artist sounds like Could you do this with the eyes? He's like, Oh, yeah, that's really good. Great. So but besides that, it was this one artist who is just back and forth with me working through this. It wasn't quick and sloppy. I mean, there're lots of corners cut, but I was working a pretty tight budget.

I said, I'm willing to spend this much to bring it to life and called a ton of different manufacturing facilities at a really tight date, tight schedule that I was working under. And, you know, you say I keep doing these things, but for every one thing I've done, there's been like 10 things that I kind of started up, played around with for a while and fell by the wayside. That never really clicked. And so for me, that's always a risk if I don't keep moving it forward. If I don't keep doing something about it, and then it could just expire. So for anyone project there's there's five or 10 that don't make it. And so it was driven by equal parts one to build something good and get it into the world and also knowing that if I sat around on my hands for too long,

I'd lose initiative. I looted lose inertia and I would never happen. So I had a date, had a deadline and the last few weeks before that were just frantic. I did play testing, plus all the video for all the shoot for the video, all in one crazy day. When I lined up six, I was at it, I was at a party and that somebody in the tech community had thrown. So they're going to start up folks, and I kind of realized that morning that I was way behind and had it had to get a bunch of video of kids playing this in order to meet the timeline I was trying to hit. And so at this party, I just basically went around to people and said, Hey, Are you free tomorrow?

Could you bring your kid over? Hey, are you free to market? You bring your kid over and then wire that my house up with, like, you know, phones taped to stands it like my wife's Conti to stand in a GoPro on to something else and sat and played for an hour. And I was like, Great, thank you. Goodbye. Okay, next, come on in. Let's play. I was taking a Playtex.

Testino's still refining the rules at the same time that I was shooting this video that ultimately got edited together. So it was a new, incredible amount of work and focused effort. But, you know, you're also right that it wasn't this exercise in perfection. It wasn't this beautiful pinnacle of a product. It was very, very personal. And it was me and, you know, some people I hired on sort of an hourly basis to help out a little bit. But it was something I'd done that I expected to do purely for the joy of it. And see if I could sell 1000 copies of it so I could get my sort of minimum factory run. I wasn't expecting it to get us Bigas It was, but it was a delightful surprise.

Andi was really fun on the flip side. When I was done, it was clear that I want to do something else because as great as it was, I wasn't excited about being a board game magnate. A TTE the end of the day, the board game business. Ah, large piece of it is being Dunder Mifflin from the office, like a paper company because you're printing paper and you're selling cardboard. And that wasn't that wasn't the big next till I wanted to climb.


So in terms of total hourly investments, are we talking? Combine like days, weeks and months.


It was months that I put into it. I think it was three months, three months of really intensive, like Let's go get this thing done that is spent to bring it out. And then it was pretty much my full time project for the rest. For the next 6 to 9 months, I'm delivering it and then, like getting a licensed and everything else


I'm asking, cause I think it's important to understand, right for everyone of us. Who wants to quote on Cole, write a book that even these seemingly short projects are going to consume you and take a lot of time. And like if you gonna embark on this journey, you really gotta get yourself prepared for a long journey, even for a small, seemingly small project, right? I mean, and I guess now I'm sitting here looking at the glow forage project, not a small project. But if you were to do your board game today, you could have probably imprinted a big sheet of cardboard with the pieces on it and cut it on glow and half on hour. And that would have streamlined a lot of that, right?


Absolutely. I mean, not hypothetical. This weekend, I was looking Thio. My father in law taught my kids poker, and so I went to go look for a travel poker set, and I couldn't find what I liked on Amazon. So I spent an hour dickering around and coming up with a design for travel. Poker Said took about 45 minutes to print one sheet of material, and now I have a travel Booker set, and it's great and the kids love it, and I can take it with us when we go to a restaurant, we can play poker, blackjack or whatnot it at the restaurant while we're waiting. So it really is that easy. Like I can go from an idea to thing. And in fact, anybody who has this tool can in minutes for hours


so can listen is going by the travel poker set now from


you know, but they didn't get it for free. All they have to do is buy Glow Forge, and then they can go download the plans from our community for him. So of the glow for toners. About 80% of them read our forum and more than half contribute, log in or participate every single month. So it's incredibly active field of ideas and excitement and inspiration and complaints. It's the best way that I know what we're doing right in what we're doing wrong, because people tell us when we when we fall down and it's really open for the whole world to see. But only people who have access to a glow forge can can contribute, so anything that's there, you know, is from somebody who's got real skin in the game. But if you go to the form, you'll see the free plans for the trouble poker set. People can download and customize with their own artwork or anything else.

Um, so? So free travel. Free travel poker set. But you have to go to glow forge dot com and buy a glow forge in order to get access to it. If I do have a coupon code for your customers, for your listeners that they could use what is so if they go to glow forge dot com slash f o d. That's friend of Dan. Then they get up to $500 off of their purchase.


Well, excellent. I'm going there after the show. Um, here's a free idea. If you let your customers complain. The A printing stuff on the glow fortune side


your office, right? Just send the print


right here. It goes right to your office. Yeah, you just get the print. And this way they kind of have to invest into the complaint. Right? Right. Yeah.


Wait a minute. By the way, Your listeners, you know, we're sitting in my office. There's a glow for pro behind me where they were kind of pointing at on top of the air filter. So, yeah, in theory, we could just have people print straight to here. And then I get all everything I done wrong, engraved, literally put up with a plan


Stone. Uh, can you print


in stone? You can engrave stone you can't cut Stone is easily, although some folks have done like micro fracture. And then you cracked. But yeah, you can engrave stone and it's stunning. Like take a picture thrown on piece of marble and you have an amazing gift that you can frame for somebody or something is really popular. People go by little slate tiles for light, 49 cents from Home Depot. And when you're greater than they look incredible, you put feet on the bottom little court feed on the bottom, and now you have gorgeous coasters that look like something you'd pay $5 each for them. Folks will sell them or use them themselves, but it's a really need sort of personal creation that you can. It's so easy, like it's the sort of thing you could do within 20 minutes of of three idea striking


you Well. In fact, you can decorate your bathroom with custom printed tiles if you really wanted Thio do


all sorts of Yeah, you can. We've got folks. You'll engrave sort of kitchen tile or bathroom tile. You could engrave it directly. You can take Inc and then wipe it on so it stains it and then the engraving changes color. The rest wipes off. It's really need and way started from the very outset toe make. This is easy to use as we could with the idea that it would be useful for everybody from engineers to kindergartners. And, you know, my kids were a piece of the inspiration for this, because back when I got that that laser in the garage and I was excited about it, I'd go to the kids and I'd say, Okay, like, let's make something and they'd hold up a drawing of whatever it wasn't so let's make a doll here.

I drew a doll, and so I would go on to put on the scanner on ID, scan it, and then I'd imported into Adobe Illustrator in Photoshopping and clean it up and then into illustrator and effect, arise and go through this process. And then I put it on the software. The software for most lasers is just really challenging to use. And so it's this weird printer driver and you said it through and you have to anyways. Then you put in the material you have to do test cuts, a different power and speed. And once you've gotten through all that, then you can run the prints. So four hours later, I come back and be like, Look, here's your dollar like array and I'm sitting here going,

man, if the material and the printer work together, if the software was integrated with this so you could actually transform that image directly, this should take five minutes. And sure enough, with a glow forage, you can set this up. It takes about 30 minutes from the time the box gets dropped on your front door until Europe in printing average customer times less than 30 minutes till they're holding their first print. So that's Unbox, set up plugging and WiFi everything, and it takes about five minutes to go from a drawing to a finish print. And the proof of that is, every time we go to a trade show show like maker faire Love the line. It's an hour long of kids and adults waiting with a drawing that they have to go print something, and it takes us about four and 1/2 minutes to get somebody in there, put it in Chaumont works.

Run the print the whole nine yards and out the other side, so we will do hundreds of those a day. It's just that easy that you know. If you can draw, you can create something with it.


Where'd you get the materials? Can I just put anything on the printer?


So there's a whole bunch of any things you can put on the printer. Any natural material leaves paper cardboard from your old Amazon boxes. Stone glass. We saw a line of materials that we recommend that are encoded with the settings already. So you put them in there and everything's loaded up and ready to go. They're tested, the woods are sanded and have a Finnish applied that protective coating. So when you're done, you have a beautiful masterpiece instead of a project that you have to go finish. But people use the mix. They'll use our materials for things where they're doing where they're iterating on a project. They want to go quickly, and when the materials. Kind of like a unique materials the focus like they want to take a leaf and laser, cut their house into a leaf and frame it put on the wall, They're gonna use a leaf. And


you know, we don't sell leaves. Genuine listening. You can get in the business of selling leaves. What's your and vision


long? There was this moment that stuck with me where the kids came up there in kindergarten at the time and they said dead. We've been discussing this and they're in the same kindergarten class. We have ipads at school like, Yeah, I know where this is going. Those ipads were very educational. Yes. We would learn Maur if we had not padded home. Yes. So, Dad, you should Prentiss ipads I was like, Wait, what record? Scratch Pring, you iPads And I kind of laughed And then I thought about it and I thought back to when I was seven when I was seven.

My parents had an argument about whether or not to get me a computer. I only one in this years later. My dad is a professor of computer science. My mom's a professor of speech in communication. My dad said There's no point in having a computer at home. I know I used them all day and my mom said No, actually think this is really important that kids be exposed to this early on. So my mom one on I got a Commodore 64 it costs about $2500 in 1980 $2. Expensive, Yeah, and And I remember seeing my dad's knee learning to program in Basic on. We just got to see Justin. The Technicolor Dreamcoat seized a bunch of, if then statements to make a text adventure about the story of Joseph the Technicolor Dreamcoat


today speak. You were doing machine learning


more or less and and I love that and I used it constantly, and I grew up with this sense of entitlement, which normally is a bad thing. But I'd argue in this case, it's not the sense of entitlement that computers worked for me and that computers were thing that were mind to do with to help me in my problems. They were tools for me to use a CZ compared toe other tools, like machine shop tools which were not for me. Those were things other people used to do other things. And so from from that moment forward when I had a problem, I thought, Oh, is this a problem for a computer? Maybe, Maybe not. But it was It was something that I owned When a computer didn't work. I said, Stupid computer.

I didn't say stupid me. I said, Stupid computer, You're supposed to help me. And when I think about the ark that my life took, it was the sense of of computing entitlement that put me on a path where I found it to be my course in life, to put technology to work for me instead of feeling like I was working toe learn technology or toe is a slave technology. And what I saw on my kids was that same sense of entitlement to making things they're question wasn't dead. Could you go buy me this? It was dead. Why can't we go print this? And it didn't occur to them that because it was too damn hard in the same way that when I first got a computer, I was like, I'm gonna go make Pac man and I'm gonna go make all this game And at some point I'm like, OK, it's really hard.

I'm gonna start small and I'm gonna learn, learn and grow forward. And so the thing that got me so excited about this idea is taking the ability to make things nobility that I got by virtue of a background in computers, by virtue of an engineering degree by that virtue of countless time and ours in the shop and encouragement and support and all these things taking that and putting in a box that anybody could purchase. And making that box is affordable as we possibly could, and having this be the same way that computer was this gateway into a different world where you know that computer was a data center wrapped in glass and plastic on your desk for $2500. Well, I want to wrap a factory in class that glass and plastic and put it on your desk for $2500 I think it's gonna create that same set of opportunities for a next generation that that computer created for me. By putting this incredibly powerful tool within reach. It's still a 25 $100. It's still a stretch but it's something that a family can afford and give that same opportunity to them. So there's a 1,000,000 uses for this, people scaling there, Etsy stores and prototyping machine tools and all sorts of things. The one that brings closest tomorrow is giving other people those same creative superpowers that that I was able to get. And then I'm able to give my family.


You know what I find really amazing. $2500 is basically 10 months of no cable, and that's still expensive, but it's completely doable for somebody who decides to make creation their priority. So you give kids and adults and the whole family really an opportunity to create something together and see it come a life right there in front of them. In essence, glow force can enable local commerce. So instead of buying something that would be produced in China and then shipped halfway around the world and then sit in the store shelf for months until it's purchased, you can enable me to go and buy something from my neighbor who is really skilled in making that one particular thing. And how awesome is that


exactly? I think about a world where it makes more sense to print things where they're used when they're used for the purpose that they're used. Then it just a greeting halfway around the world. Put him in an Amazon warehouse and let him sit there until somebody orders it to be driven to their house. And that's really exciting to me, changing the way production works, to put it at the place where the production happens and in the hands of the people who need it. And you know, the scope of things people do with it just boggles my mind if, like, it's hard to imagine what something like this could do. So like, if I open up right now, I got to Instagram and I'm coming my phone so you know, apologies. But if I go to Instagram and I search for hashtag, glow forage and your listeners could do this,

too, you can see just some tiny fragment of the incredible stuff people are doing on a day by day, hour by hour basis, and that's things like there's one guy who's selling high end Japanese knives and he's engraving photos on the side of the knives so the customer takes their photo and gets the family or the picture, their house or something engraved on the knife and personalized. I'm looking this. Just you know what's in the feed right now? So he's got this amazing Pokemon box. Somebody's making hearings for themselves and their family. Looks like somebody's got this crazy compass. Here's a whole ah, whole frame. It looks like somebody selling earrings at a craft market that the earrings that they've created. There's a pile of key chains I'm guessing, or a gift. There's this incredible shell that I don't even know what it is.

It's beautiful, and people are just using this to express themselves in their own creativity. And I never cease to be amazed at the quantity of stuff people come up with, or even just the number of different ways people can create a settlers of Catan set of their own. Because there's like that cz one of things that people love Dui's reinterpreting the settlers of Catan game. We've seen a bunch of those, so it's it's so inspiring to see where people take this and how people take take things that they may find. Another place is like a wallet designed from our design catalog and then make it their own with their own engravings and customization and pockets and really making it something that's unique to them and their needs.


And a kitchen that is we're sitting in your office women talking about all this amazing creativity. I just realized that there was a business idea that I want to implement. And I was literally thinking about this morning and I'm I'm thinking of how Glow Forge can actually do it for me for, like, a fraction of the cost of what I was thinking this morning. And I think I'm gonna go buy one and just do it like tomorrow.


You will pay for itself pretty quickly. Oh, and we just start offering financing. So it's a $120 a month at the Entry point firm using a firm way actually looked at a bunch and we found that they had the happiest customers of the financing solutions we looked at, and our internal company motto is, we have the best customers, so we wanted to pick the partner that was gonna make our customers the happiest, and that actually means that if you're using this for business, you can pay for your go forged by using your glow forge, which makes it easier. Thio,


bring it home. Yeah. Oh,


this is just amazing. I don't know if you can share on air which ideas, but I'm really curious now.


Inexpensive frames for kid's artwork. Oh, yeah. Oh, hey there, listeners. So is dead, and I set her on his office and geek around the picture frames. I really can't shake off this notion that I really got to do this. I've always wanted to have these picture frames, but never had the ability to actually get them quickly. So then you framing cos born. If you're like me and you always wanted to frame your kid's artwork in pictures without spending an arm and a leg and have it delivered straight to your door, then check out the new framing company dot com and use promo code Rad dead to get 25% off your first purchase. Now let's get back to the show


and that it's so easy and fast to do that. You can print one. You can tweak it. You can do it again. You can iterating until you get all the details right? I mean, it's like, uh, it's like, compile time. When you're writing software, the faster you can try the code you've written, the faster you develop. And similarly, the faster you can create the physical version of your idea, the faster you can improve on it and learn from it. Sold. Yeah, that's my job.


Yeah, well, I think we talked about Glow for quite a bit, and I'm gonna link to all of this so listeners can go and check it out and buy. And then we can all print really red stuff together. But let's get back, Thio. The rest of you started journey and family, and I think for a lot of listeners who contemplating doing a start up or, you know, even contemplating doing a family, what do you think of the most kind of important lessons that you learned all the time to deal with to do it better to make less mistakes?


I only have one great learning at the intersection of family and start ups, because because most of it is his most of families, family and most of startups, that startups. But there was only one thing I learned. It's not really start ups. But this was the thing that probably saved my sanity. And it was after after I left photo bucket and was in the middle of doing sparked by and I was crushed. I was distraught beyond all belief, because every single night there was something work wise that was demanding. My time might be stand work late might be Go thio fundraising to a networking event where I could meet potential investors and might be travel overnight travel to go and, you know, meet folks Thio, develop the business and pushing forward. And every single day I had to make a decision of what was more important, that thing or my kids and my family and my wife and that I mean, it was fine for a year and two years,

and in here three of that. It was just eating my soul, doing that every day, because how do you do that? How do you say, Well, you know, I make my deal. I try to make my business to succeed a little more on my there for my family, especially when the work thing is always the shiny important one time like you don't know how big it is, but it's one time to do it. There's one thing that's right in your face. In your family, you can always miss one night, right? Maybe not an anniversary,

Maybe not. Ah, birthday. But just a regular Thursday versus this one thing that you have this time. But it was tearing me apart trying to make these decisions. And then I realized this stupidest simplest thing, which was, I mean to tools that I'm pretty good at our budgeting and prioritization. And so I said, Wait, I know I know what I need to do here. I need to budget. I'm gonna budget that I'm gonna be gone three nights a week, maximum. And then my problem just got an order of magnitude. Simpler.

Because now my problem isn't How do I trade my work off against my family? My problems. Which of these work things this week is most important, And how do I balance these workings against each other? And I can prioritize my job against my job. I just It's just when you start feeling like you're working, your family are every single day intention. It lets you take away that painful every single day moment and look at the broader view. So home, four nights a week, with dinner at least four nights a week and then three nights. I'll do whatever it is that I need to do. That was probably the single greatest improvement in my own life. In my own happiness that I made that brought me, brought me forward, a SZ faras,

you know, just family advice. No wiser than anybody else. And as faras startup advice, I wrote all down in a book because I'm very forgetful in that way. Wouldn't forget it. But all my best advice is in Hot Seat, the book I wrote about startups, CEOs, but more generally about startups. And it's not just my advice it was getting to go talkto Ah, whole bunch of great folks. I knew great entrepreneurs, both successful in failure on DDE, both successful entrepreneurs and entrepreneurs who failed at what they were trying to do. I want to say failures because they're not, but who didn't get where they were


trying to go. You can fail for many reasons.


It's not always Yeah, and on its not necessarily you failed period. It's you who failed at doing a thing. I filled it doing a huge number of things in my life. But I consider myself a failure. And just because the most recent thing somebody did failed doesn't mean that they're a failure, either. And frankly, you can fail at everything you do in life and be a great parent and a great human and still be a big success in my book started failing everything You do it work and still be a great person. So in any case, it's a collection of stories of successes and failures with a re ally towards trying to take the things that you know when you were talking at lunch about some of the experiences that are really common. But nobody talks about like when a parent meets their new child and doesn't immediately feel like they've fallen in love with the child and saying, Hey, look and start a planned there. These things that happen a lot there's found co founders who don't get along. That actually happens more often than not. When a co founder leaves an early stage start up theirs,

there's, you know, downturns in the business that cause, because you have to do things like layoffs, which are excruciatingly painful. But successful businesses have those as well as business that don't work out. And so, trying to capture all those remove a little bit of the stigma, or at least a little bit of the Oh my gosh, I'm the only one and take away from that because I think that's that's one of the biggest problems when you feel like you're alone and you're the only person who's facing whatever the problem is that you're dealing with today, the worst part is feeling alone, and the worst part is feeling like everybody's getting it right, but you're not.


Oh, that's excellent. And it brings me to a very important question because I think it's possible that sometimes kids and partners off people who are working really hard stress environments we have a lot of their shoulders might not realize just how lonely they feel and how much stress there is in you. So what do you think people can do in order to help you and to help them communicate with you when you get home? How do you diffuse the tension? How do you get you to open up?


Yeah, and It's hard because, you know, one of the classic things that you do with somebody who's who's facing a challenge is to have them talk about it. Sometimes when you go home, the last thing you want to do is talk about work that could be very counterproductive. If what you're trying to do is get yourself into a separate space, so you know it really depends. Some days you go home and the kids are like Daddy and they come and wrap their arms around in. My wife's like dinner's ready and that's great. And I'm like, Oh, okay, this is time to turn off work into, you know, being the moment. Sometimes I come home and I hear he hit me and she took my thing and go to your room and I'm like,

Okay, now it's time For me to engage is like, you know, calm problem solver and everything else. And sometimes I come home and it's kind of quiet, and it's, you know, how did work go today? And my daughter actually loves what she calls CEO problems. She's like Daddy, did you have any CEO problems today that you want to talk about and then it's time to kinda like, take any internal conflict in turmoil and package it up into a child size child size servings on is right and say, Gosh, you know, honey, I did.

And I'd love your help. And so, you know, have a conversation. It's like, Well, you know what your problem Daddy and I remember. Like a year ago I had a conversation and I said, Well, I'm interviewing somebody to be a manager at Glow Forge and he's really good at lots of things I need for the job. But I talked to him about one of things. It's really important to me, which is hiring people of all different backgrounds, and he didn't seem to think that was important. Should I hire this person? And so we had this great talk about,

you know, a candidate who's really well qualified, but for whom one of our core values are in diversity wasn't a core value for them and what to do about it Now, In point of fact, this was a nisi one for me because the simple answer is no sitting down, having kind of a simplified talk with my daughter about this and their challenges. I was going through answering her questions, actually took a whole bunch of other stress and pressure and everything that I remember I was feeling and and let's just a little air out of that overinflated balloon, which was something I really needed at that time. So it's totally different, and it depends on the day, and it depends on the situation. And sometimes for days or weeks or months, you feel like you're carrying the way to the family in the business and everything else. And sometimes sometimes it feels like everything is going your way. And,

you know, you're kind of like Hooray! Finally, we've made it no more problem and then cried Then then you switch right and then something goes sideways. But that's life that's not start ups. That's not parenthood. That's just wife. And at least for me, the process of taking whatever my headache is and digesting it down into something that a child can relate to is very comforting. So if I'm thinking about somebody who's not working out at work and who I'm gonna have to fire, that causes me men's personal stress and really upsetting, and I hate doing that. And you know, we worked really hard to try and hire fantastic people in part, so that happens as infrequently as possible. Um,

but over the years, it's something that's happened from time to time and sitting in having a conversation with my daughter that goes to things like, Well, why did you hire this person if you don't think they're doing good work, and could they do better? And like, is there anything you could do actually find really peaceful and having this conversation about How do you think they feel? How does it make you feel? And so it's powerful and it really gives a different lens on the world to see it through the eyes of a child. It's a cliche, but it's something that I've been able to put to work for me to sort of intersect my parenting and the stress and problems that I feel and bring this together in a way that's constructive because the end of the day I don't think it's right to fire hose your problems on your kids. Nor do I think it's completely rightto wall them off from your life and trying to find a way that you can that you can find some overlap between those is powerful and important.


Excellent point. And that brings me to our last question. With both companies Robert Turtles and Glow Force, you've created something which will empower a whole new generation of creators. But outside of that, what do you think is the single most important thing that parents can do in order to set their kids up for success in life and give them that ability to be independent and creative and just really take the most out of life?


The big hard question for us on the education front was the preschool that they went to was also had a private school, and when they finished preschool, we had a big conversation about whether we wanted them to continue in private school or go to public school. And the way that we finally made that decision was I was constantly frustrated with their private school for all these different reasons, and I realized after talking to folks who are in the public school system, that that would not change. But I remember saying to my wife, You know what? At least this way, we won't feel like we're paying to be frustrated, but more, more to the point. In the private school system, there's constant volunteering. There's constant donations in the public school system. It's the same. We looked at this and said We would rather invest our time and energy into the public school system and feel like we're a part of something bigger.

And, you know, my wife and I are both public school kids, so we did. But then we cheated and we moved to the best public school district in the region. So we took the money we would have spent on private school and used it instead to move to a great public school districts.


You on Mercer Island now? Yes, if you don't mind me saying this publicly, but it's more of the great. Guzman was in podcast the other week, and he also mentioned how they live in Mercer because it's the best public school and just and especially, you have multiple kids, allows you to send everyone to the same place and kind of forget about it for 10 years,


and then you can sit down with people like Greg and say, OK, Greg, which teaches your kids, kids have and how were they, which we've done because he's like It's Ah, it's a great stable school system where people spend time and interestingly because it has a reputation for being great. Although it's not nearly as diverse as we want, it's fairly homogeneous. And people there are, for the most part, high income. There's this really powerful cadre of people who are renting one room apartments on Mercer Island because they want their kids to have access to the best school in the in the region, even though they can barely afford it, even though they could have a much bigger house and an easier commute everything else somewhere else. So what you find that to me makes a bigger differences is not just the funding but the parents who are there because they care and who are committed together to making it a better, better school district.

And that's that's the rub of it. So you know, you say, What are the things that from an education standpoint, are important? It's being around parents who care and who are invested in who invest in making that work for their kids, and it's that is part of the school system, and it's not as part of the one on one activity. When I think of the two most impactful things on me and my childhood, it was my dad spending time to teach me out a program and my mom teaching me about communications. She's a professor of speech in communications, specialising organizational communications. And she would, from a very early age, talk to me about things like organizational leadership, although not knows what's right and simplified voices and showing me how people communicate and how they work together and talking about that and that notion of rolling up your sleeves and doing something that's exciting and you care about with your kids and letting your excitement be infectious is what motivates me and everything I do that's that's the cross between my day job in my home job and giving myself in,

giving other people the ability to sit down with their kids and bring whatever it is. They're passionate about the life, whether the ballerina, whether the rubber band launcher, whether the home improvement, you know, coasters for the home shelves, you name it to empower people to do that, to inspire people to spend time together and with their families to do that, that that's what gets me excited. That's what motivates me. That's what I love doing myself. And what with Glow Forge. I want people to be able to do with their families. You know that world of creativity in connection with your kids is something that I don't care of using pens and paper. If using scissors and glue, there's nothing like creating something with your family together as a family. It's one of my favorite things.


Excellent. Well, thank you for a great advice and geeking out about glow forage.


Thanks for having me on the show.


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