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Rad Dad, hosted by Kirill Zubovsky on Smash Notes

Submittable CEO talks startups, life, cancer and living in Missoula, Montana.

Rad Dad, hosted by Kirill Zubovsky podcast.

July 18

Michael FitzGerald is a prolific American writer and the founder of He lives and works in Missoula, Montana with his wife and two kids. Although it isn't the easiest place to run a company from, Michael lives for the joy of living, and Missoula is where it's at.

The day after raising their Series A funding, Michael found out that he had a terminal cancer and he was supposed to be dead in six months. Fortunately, thanks to the advancements in experimental medicine and a whole bunch of awesome friends, he was able to get the treatment and is here with us today.

This episode will bring you closer to FitzGerald and inspire you to take full advantage of every single day in your life. Enjoy!

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Who is Michael FitzGerald?

Michael is the CEO of Submittable, a company that powers submissions and applications around the world.

Hello and welcome to the right. That show you here with me. Your host Kiddos Bousquet. Today. My guest on the show is Michael Fitzgerald. Michael is the CEO of a company called Submittal, based in Missoula, Montana. Michael has an awesome story. He started as a copywriter back in the nineties in San Francisco and then over time became CEO of his own company. He's gone through why Combinator raised funding, have two kids, and after all of that, he's also got a stage for eternal cancer. Michael,


welcome. Thanks so much for having me, girl.


Yeah. Thanks for coming. Let's talk about it a little bit about your past in the nineties because people people might. Yeah. There you go. People might not know this, but you live in San Francisco in the nineties, right? And you're a book

Where did Michael FitzGerald get his start in software?

Michael first started his career a copywriter, in San Francisco in the 90s, during the first dot-com wave. It was a crazy time that originated a lot of ideas that are finally coming to fruition right now.

Money was plentiful and ambitions were grand. You could have no idea of what you were doing, and still great a great sounding title at one of the hot software companies.

Fairly quickly into his gig, FitzGerald realized this was not a great job for him. He wanted to be a novelist, not spend his time endlessly playing with words. HTML skills in hand, he became an "online producer" for PC World.

about it? Yeah, a little bit about it. About that in Eastern Europe. Yeah,

Where did Michael FitzGerald get his start in software?

Michael first started his career a copywriter, in San Francisco in the 90s, during the first dot-com wave. It was a crazy time that originated a lot of ideas that are finally coming to fruition right now.

Money was plentiful and ambitions were grand. You could have no idea of what you were doing, and still great a great sounding title at one of the hot software companies.

Fairly quickly into his gig, FitzGerald realized this was not a great job for him. He wanted to be a novelist, not spend his time endlessly playing with words. HTML skills in hand, he became an "online producer" for PC World.

I read the book. I thought it was really exciting, but, you know, let's talk about that life first. So I mean,


there's San Francisco in the nineties, and then there's also just being 20 you know, which was I was in my mid twenties at the time and, um, the, you know that it was the first. That's exactly what everybody knows about. It was the first dot com wave. There was crazy money being thrown around that idea, you know, let's sell dog food online, and, um and it was really, like, the idea stage of the stuff we're seeing now. Um, and it just the money moved faster than than the audience was ready with the potential customers.

We're ready. And, you know, think about Web van or some of those grocery store, uh, delivery service. Is that that that spun up there was another one, I think Peapod or something. Um anyway, the it was a pretty funny time. You know, you could you could, like, have no idea what you're doing And suddenly be a web producer. It was the other thing. I was trying to figure out what the titles were because,

you know, being a, like just engineer, web engineer didn't exist. It was everyone was a producer.


What was your title? Because you joined the software company then, right?


No, I I joined. I worked for a PC world at the time, which was I d g. I started in advertising. My background is little arts, and I wanted I saw myself is a copywriter and ah, I went to advertising, um, in San Francisco to try to, you know, become a copywriter and pretty quickly realized, um, one I didn't enjoyed doing it. It's not nearly as it's not like you just sitting around ah, drinking gin and tonics and whipping off quirky smart sayings. But,

um, the ah, But one thing I did notice while I was at my, you know, wannabe copy writing job was that the network engineers all the, um, computer people, the support people generally seem pretty relaxed. You know, they would be down in the basement there at all. Be it. Um ah. Um, they'd have lunch and more or less. Just one, because no one understood what they did That it was hard to tell him what to do.

So, um, the so something at the time, I also wanted to be a novelist. I wanted right? And so what I was really looking for was a job that would just pay and not take up too much of my like brain space so that I could go home and write it tonight, all right in the morning, and copyrighting was the opposite of that. That's like just endlessly playing with words, and it's pretty close to the same muscle, a CZ novel writing. So I started seeing these guys been asking what they're doing, kind of looking over their shoulder at the time. If you knew HTML, it was like a marketable skill. Um,

so I started just picking it up. And then I went, worked for PC World and was, ah, was an online producer for PC World and for PC World Mexico. And at the time we were just taking Adobe illustrator files and essentially creating a gift of that. And ah, and that was a Web page. Um,


this is night. How's your Spanish?


It didn't exist. That's the other thing. The translation was a joke. One thing that was interesting. There was a pearl. We built one of the first spam tools in 1996 and it would. It was just it was. It was a PERL script that would run through some sort of data set. Just send out an email one at a time, and it would take something like like a day to send out 4000 emails. It was pretty funny, but But it was It was interesting that it was just all new super fun. Um, San Francisco kind of got I mean, I can't even imagine it now. Extended live there. But I thought it's time it was too expensive and too,

uh, you know, there everyone defined San Francisco at the time, is like the day you couldn't get a cab anymore. And I was living in the mission. And, um,


what was the rent like? Begged them, like, $200.


Now, now it was paid. I had my own apartment, a studio, and it was 6 50 So I mean, I know that's really cheap, but it seemed like a massive amount of money to me. I mean, I think I made, like, $32,000.


Yeah. Now they study to town. Dollars would buy. You probably closet in the mission.


That was my permit. Was like, that was what I got paid. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. I can't even imagine.

Are there any similarities between the first dot-com crash and startups now?

The first crash and what we are going through today does not sound alike. Amazing things are being built right now with a lot more utility than companies that were selling and going public in the 90s. When you are in the bubble though, it does not feel crazy. That said, San Francisco DNA of a beautiful hippy city is gone.

And now you're a startup founder said, Do you see this in a lawyer? It is big. Yeah, Bubble time then. And maybe bubble time now. Ah,


you know, it's It's it's No, it's, um you know, both industries that mature the actual, like, startup industry. The VC adventure world has matured. Um, you know, the time there weren't a ton of things threw money at Ah, but, um, the it doesn't It doesn't It doesn't feel like that now. I mean, I think, Yeah,

there's absolutely crazy stuff happening in the valley and in New York, but in terms of, you know, spending. But it's not nearly is like, unvetted or ah,


you must have not been following Cryptocurrency.


Well, Cryptocurrency, actually, that does smell a little bit like late nineties. Hey, um but ah, but, you know, there are also sort of amazing things being built, you know, drop box, like by two people in a garage. Sort of speaking, um, And at that, you know, at that time,

it was literally just web pages. That's old stuff, right? It wasn't wasn't were necessarily online applications. I mean, if you think about its sales force, which was really kind of one of the first SAS platforms or right now technologies those, like, if you go look at version ones of those. It's pretty. It's pretty funny. Salesforce started in 99. Um,


I think the last version of sales Force is still pretty funny,


but, you know, when you're in it, it doesn't seem crazy. When I went back, you know, when I went to I C, which was 2012. Ah, it definitely didn't feel crazy. Just felt started. Um, professional in a way that wasn't super fun. Like San Francisco's DNA is sort of hippies. And in my, my, my my sensibility,

it's sort of Jack Kerouac. And, um, it's it's, you know, it's a beautiful city. It's kind of a small town and a city, And that when I when I lived there when we were there, um, it just it felt a little static, and the weirdos seemed gone. You know, everybody always feels like, Yeah, cool things get ruined. I don't think.

Actually, San Francisco was cool when I was there, actually hated it. Just I hate the weather like like you made it. You have to bring, like 33 different like when you leave in the morning. You have to have three different coats because it's like 90 degrees in the mission and then


it's true. But then you can wear the same clothes all year around because it's literally the same another year


round. That's true. I think it's the the Mark Twain whose like the coldest summer ever the coldest winter I've ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.


Exactly. I think everybody agrees with it, but but it's still hard to be kind of the consistency. I think the consistency is what people like. Well, so how did you go from? Let's see. What is that the, uh, the the copy title producer in the nineties? Thio. Startup Founder Now, Yeah, How would you take the leap and what happened there?


Well, so I always wanted to be a writer. It was My goal is to be a novelist, and there's not sort of entry level novelist jobs aren't There's not internships ra novelists. They do this thing called the M F A program, which our master and fine arts in writing. And they're generally two year through two or three year programs and, um, they more or less our two years off to just focus on writing. And I'm from San Francisco. My wife, my girlfriend, now wife. She she and I started getting hot and heavy and what we met in San Francisco, and she had applied to graduate school all over the country. And, um,

she plot, you know, like New York and Ohio. And I think Baltimore and in Montana and the university. Montana has a very good writing program, and I had actually lived in Missoula, Montana, when I was two years old. My parents had moved here for like, a week before. My mom has from Manhattan. Um, um requested that they go back to civilization


and you saying, weak, like literally.


Or they came here to look for a job and my mom wasn't down with it. If she grew up in midtown Manhattan, I don't think she had a driver's license like it's totally understandable. And Montana in the seventies was probably a little rough around the edges is now. But But anyway, so I, Missoula, Montana, had been in my mind, and then later in life, when I was 17 or 18 I drove through on a drove across country with a friend, and we stayed here and I just remember, just stuck with me like that. It was amazing place and sort of beautiful and was a university town. And, um, you know,

a ah THS saying is kind of that we live where people vacation. So why don't you just live here? You know, um And so, um, when she got into school here, I was like, Well, I will definitely follow uda, Missoula, Montana. And, um I mean, she didn't come here just because of that, but she did. And so I moved. And it was kind of great timing because I just sort of gotten some programming skills under my belt. I'd been working a PC world for a couple of years, and I


so you would hurl in html were up to poor. At that point.


Yes, Pearl in H E Mail and JavaScript was just coming online. Um, what else PHP had. Just just All these things were just in their infancy. Not Pearl. Pearl was a little bit more big, but so I could make Web pages and I could do some dynamic stuff. You know, I could make sort of a shopping cart. None of the Web service is that we know existence. You build each one from ground up at the time, and I came to Montana with my wife, my now wife, and I built more or less a shopping cart for a thing called Clutch Masters, which, um,

this this guy was amazing. He essentially remanufactured clutches that kids would put into their, um they, like, you know, super up a Honda that put these Kevlar clutches into them, and and, ah, and this guy built remanufactured him. He'd go get a used clutch dip in Kevlar, and then we'd sell it online, and people were, but these were, like, 700 to $2000 items, and we were selling,

like, 10 a day, and he just couldn't believe it, you know, because he had previously only sold retail. And suddenly we're sending clutches toe like air bases in Saudi Arabia. And it was pretty funny. You know, we're taking credit cards. I shouldn't really go into this, but let's just say it wasn't the most secure way of doing transactions at the time. I mean, at the time, it was fine, but this is a pre PayPal. This was pre papal.

Yep. We would take the credit card. I print out a email of the credit card, go into the accounting and have they retyped the credit card back in? And that was how we did the transaction. Then they would run it through, you know, as if someone had called it in. Um, it's waas, you know, Was the while is literally the wild


West, you know, not go with the Wild West, but I'm pretty sure that's how the utilities where I live. Still take credit cards.


That's right. Well, it's funny. I haven't actually looked at it in a couple of years. And I'm now nervous about saying the actual company because, um, we probably weren't doing this through encrypted. None of this. These transactions were encrypted,


but I think that you have limitations is like seven years. So


you're okay? Well, the place was called Clutch Masters, and I haven't looked. Maybe I'll look right now, but when I looked like five or six years ago, they were still using the the code that we wrote at the time I wrote a time which was in Java script Computer. That's amazing. Yeah. I mean, it works, you know?


Oh, yeah, sure. I mean, telecom companies and banks and, you know, big works like that is still running code in production from seventies and eighties that was written in, like, archaic languages. Right then still there. It's still processing transactions, but it


works. It works. It is still working. There's there's pieces in here. They've got a I'm looking at it right now. They've got it's still running on. There's definitely code in the PHP. This helping is 20


years old. It saw someone somewhere is still calling the accountant every time a transaction comes through, right?


I am sure that I have to sit in the back and feel better, But But it's awesome. It's encrypted. Now I see that they're on https.


Are they still built based on missile?


Yeah, Um, I know that the will the owner owner. I haven't seen him in 10 years. He was, uh, kind of an amazing person. You know, I think he was a high school dropout and started this business when he's 16 or 17 and is a very does very, very well. And he was really actually an inspirational person. You're asking how we started this company to make me think, you know? Well, I could do something like that. Um, you know, I really I sort of appreciated his lifestyle shouldn't being sort of master of his own domain. And that stuff. Um,


what do you think was the key to the fact that this clutch master think took off? Because, you know, a lot of people looking for inspiration looking to start a company, But here it says, like, Okay, high school dropout went and sold something that people really wanted. Is it the whole PGS make something people want mantra? Is that what got it started?


I mean, you should interview him because he I was just fascinated by him. I mean, this was 20 years ago. Some of the slaughter the story a little bit, but, um, what he told me was, you know, he was just didn't like school. And so he was younger is 16 or 17 and he lived near Long Beach, maybe somewhere in south of L. A, and he would go to a long beat. You would go to the docks every day and essentially helped out. Like work is a scab, you know,

like if a ship came in and they needed one more person, he would help out, and then he started learning how to drive a forklift, and he, um so you'd show up every day with the forklift and he would rent it out. He bought a forklift and he would rent it out. And if I remember correctly, he eventually got it like a fleet of four cliffs. And so he and somebody's would come and rent them, rent out the forklift every day to these to these ah, to the incoming ships. And then one day, somebody essentially, um, game a deal he couldn't refuse and suggested he stopped because he was he wasn't unionized or something. And,

uh, you know, there are people who care about that, namely the mob, right? And so he was asked to never come back with his service is again. And so he was. I think he was in a little bit out of luck. Um, and he had all these were cliffs. And so he started thinking about like, who? Who did he write checks to? And one of the things that always broke on these machines with these clutches. And so he started figure out howto remanufacture clutch because you could go get the original for free, and I um um,

at a dump or something. And then he would re manufacturing by dipping them in this molten Kevlar and actually making them better than the original. And again, I'm slaughtering the technology. I don't I don't remember exactly. But it was something along those lines. And then So then he started building his clutches, and then he realized you could build a product. And, um, you know, it's like technology going from a service is based. You know, selling yourself is a developer to building a product. You know, when the magic when someone buys that first project product is, you know, pretty inspirational and tired,


right? And it's a great story because here he is, turning something basically free into thousands of dollars, all by just, you know, manufacturing process that others didn't think off in time. You guys actually have another story like that from Montana. I forget his name. But I was a makeover the other day, and it was, ah, $200 million yacht parked there. Oh, Danny Washington. Perhaps, I guess I guess he's known for that yacht, right?

Because he's a multi billionaire and he started by basically digging trenches and Then he asked himself like Well, why am I doing all that digging? Why don't you just buy the equipment than have somebody else dig and took off from there? Right? But it's amazing cause you're in small town, sort of like in the middle of nowhere. It's It's not the most popular city. Yeah, and yet people actually come up with these things perhaps faster than anywhere else.

How entrepreneurial is Montana?

Montana and small-town America are ridiculously entrepreneurial. In a small town, there are no regular jobs. It used to be that everyone was either working in a small business or hustling 2-3 jobs to pay the bills.

Unlike the Silicon Valley though, Montana companies are not trying to eat the world, they just want to create awesome products and create jobs so their own kids don't leave Montana for other places.

Well, I think Montana in small town America is like ridiculously entrepreneurial compared to the Valley or New York or anywhere. You know, the big things come up there because they have the cash to, like make something big. But in a small town like there's not regular jobs are the only people who had regular jobs in Missoula when I first got here were professors, doctor and doctors. That was basically it right, like everybody else was working in either a small business or doing two or three jobs toe like pay the bills because that also the time remote working as it wasn't wasn't wasn't around. Like now we actually have tons of remote workers, people who you know, we have Twitter developers who I just want to live a better life style, but, um, but remote working wasn't really possible at the time. And so anybody who lived here had the was It was totally entrepreneurial. Everyone was always,

like, hustling and figuring it out. Um, the only difference was the aspiration was to pay rent like they loved living here so they'd work two jobs just to pay rent. And in Silicon Valley, the aspiration was to, like, dominate the world, which is good, too. You know, I think if we could just take some of the aspirational stuff and move it here, which I think is actually happened, it's crazy What's happened in Missoula in the last two years? Um, we've got class passes here.

Now, there's amazing cos like Onyx maps. Just raise $23 million. Siri's a first money in Missoula, Montana. Freaking awesome. Um, uh, orbital shift, which is, is taking on a teepee for for shift management software. There are tons of weird little companies here, Not a little, but, um, and it is starting to be what I saw,

which was, you know, people would do anything to live here, and they just had to rejigger their aspiration from paying rent to being intimate, you know? Ah, large company.


Well, it's a good thing you're saying being a large company because, uh, the whole value dominate the world only makes sense from the corporate point of view. You want to make this much money as you can to return to your shareholders. But I like the small town mentality where you can't just dominate the world. Unlike ruin everybody else's world. It feels more compassion and more about maintaining cells of community. And you can still have a really big, successful company. Just doesn't have to murder the rest of the world to do it


right? No, most of the companies that I talk to you just mentioned like the gold. The gold for them is just to be like an awesome employer to have, like 500 employees, you know, create jobs so their kids don't leave like that. So you talked to any of them. It's none of them are like I can't wait to go sell to Amazon or whatever. Everyone just wants to build awesome businesses, and, um, it's it's it's super exciting to see because, you know, we've been here for 20 years, and, uh It just feels like this thing that you could tell was gonna happen.

It's finally happening and there's bad with it, too, you know, we're suddenly immediately housing in prices and class past. Do you know class pass? Do you know what it is?


Ah, yeah. My wife has spent quite some money


on it. OK, yeah, So it's It's a group. You know, It's a way to buy a membership to all the potential classes in your region so you can get into your yoga studio A. Or you can go into, you know, some fitness center, or you can take a class and it's just it's an app and it tells you, figures out what you're interested in tells you what's available and pay one price and get out and get into all of them. Anyway. They just They stood up a team. I think they have 150 people here, and they just came here because, um, one you know,

you're not totally in a battle royale for talent. Which Silicon Valley is in New York is you can hire str is like how do you hire a str in mountain view, right? Like here we've got a college. I actually didn't say this because I don't want to many more companies to come, But you can hire like, educated 25 year olds who, you know, You know, we're looking for that entry level career job in the high tech space. And we previously didn't have those jobs. And now we d'oh! Um, so you know, if you if you want to have a sass platform that's built around standing up a sales team, you know,

cold calling and stuff less at less at a different ticket price and what you need in Silicon Valley. To do that, you need to sell something at $20,000 to support a sales rep in Silicon Valley in Missoula, Montana, you can you can sell a $5000 product and, um and so we're just seeing tons of that. I think the rest of the country is too, I think No. Indianapolis. All these medals, Middle States


people, please don't move to Missoula. Keep it weird as it is, you know, so we can still look live there. Uh, you know what's awesome about you? And I don't think you've been realized, but a lot of people would promote their own product. And they talk about submit a bill and how awesome you are and your employees, and you're like, you know, we're doing our thing and look at everybody else around us. And I think that's part of the reason why you live in Missoula and why, like, missile is where you live, right?

Um, it's not the cutthroat. It's It's that, um, group mentality of just supporting everyone and raising everyone up together. Totally. Yeah. So let's see. So back in the nineties, you do this thing. Then you get inspired to do your own company somewhere in the middle. And I don't know if we should talk about this, but you were a shadow, right? All right. You did some

What did ghost-writing teach Michael?

By writing books for executives in top software companies Michael was able to get a front seat in whatever business they were in and to learn, while getting paid for it.

writing. Oh, ghostwriting. Yeah, I can't. I mean, I'm not legally allowed to talk about her, right? Ghost wrote for,


but I goes, It rhymes with little soft.


I go straight for executives. Um, and that was great. That was really actually, like I loved it. It was learning. We wrote a book about personas on Duh, That's time. You know, it was just it was really like a front seat of how this large software company thought about user interactions. And I learned, you know, you wrote the book talking directly to this peach. The expert. It was excellent. And then yeah, And I also work for a great company in Boise,

Idaho, called pra clarity that was bought by, um, Microsoft. And, um so I had kind of experience startup, You know, I start up there. I was probably employees, like 50 or so, And that was super inspiring because the founders, we're totally normal people. You know, I think in my world I saw startup founders like visionaries like Bill Gates or Steve Jobs. It is, you know?

Well, just geniuses. And how could you replicate that? And, um, the pro clarity people were super smart, but they also didn't seem, you know, to me, it was just like, Wow, those idiots can do it. I can do it. Which is super empowering and actually something that I think people around town think when they see me. I hope they dio um you know, just by witnessing,

seeing it done is 90% of it, right? Not necessarily happen. How, but just being like if that person could do it I can


do. You've got an unfair advantage. You've got that Einstein here going on. So they see you. They know you're a genius. And then there's no competition


from there, right? Yeah. My hair is a little intimidating of you've got some good hair. You got a little out eyebrows to you got to get intense eyebrows.


If I need to stare, gets in the way But so you got you riding out of the way. That must have felt pretty good. And then you got to submit a bill so


so really quickly. I publish the novel in 2007. I'll promote myself. Radiant Days genius.


Brilliant, great novel.


The best. Amazing. Um, there's some pretty funny, actually. I just was My kids like to read me the one star reviews. There's some pretty funny reviews on their fear. I'm looking for some comic relief. One

What does it take to publish a novel?

For three years he would write in the morning, go to his job, edit at night, and do it all over again until 400+ pages were ready. Then, it was time to sell the novel, which was a really challenging thing if you did not know how to sell.

Michael FitzGerald wrote a novel called Radian Days only to realize that writing novels did not really pay.

is if you guys wanna troll, Michael, go on Amazon and leave them some reviews.


And then, um so I you know, publishing a novel was a pretty educational experience. Namely, in that I realized it doesn't pay and I'd probably envisioned I published my first novel. It's a bestseller I buy a house and I live happily ever after writing novels, right? And, um and I was so far, you know, publishing my first now will probably put me in debt. And and so I had learned that it was a great experience. I loved writing, and I loved publishing it, but, um, it was it I realized it was It would be very challenging to survive without teaching or doing something. And and so I had just gone. I just had been working for pro clarity while I help us your novel


just one second. So what does it take to write a novel, You know, because I'm thinking I'm gonna take a year off, move to Italy, just hang out somewhere in line here. Is that how it works?


Yeah, that's exactly how No, I, uh So you're not getting paid while you're writing it. And for your first novel, it took me around four years. And so I wrote in the morning from 5 to 7 every day. And how you write a novel is your type, you know, hundreds and hundreds of pages. And so for me, you know, if you think about code are you still writing code?


The same pages?


Well, they kind of are. So if you think you know how when you when you're like Oh, yeah, you're writing code it normally it usually takes you like, an hour before you. You're actually like in the groove, right? You're like like it takes you an hour before you can just, like, start to actually be productive and then your next to ours or super productive. And with writing, it takes you like a page or two. You kind of like gotta right into, like, get yourself actually into the novel, into the action into the atmosphere of the novel.

And so you pretty much right three pages for every one that ends up in the book. Or at least I did. And so, um, you know, every morning from 5 to 7, I would write, I would try to get to two, maybe three pages and then I would go to my job programming. It was a sort of different experience, different part of the brains. It was pretty easy to just leave. And then at night I would edit those pages, and then I would wake up and do it again. And I did that for about three years. And then I had,

you know, I had probably seven or 800 pages, and the editing process got it down to, like, 300. Maybe. And, ah, And one day you got a book, and then you got to sell it, which is similar to starting a software company where in the beginning, you just think you'll write. Write this amazing. You know, you build this product and you kind of forget how hard it is to actually sell stuff, right?

It's very similar with writing a novel. The first thing you realize when you finish, you know, when you type the end is like, Oh, my God, no one asked me to do this. So fucked, right? Um, no one. No one cares that you wrote a book. No one, no one sitting outside waiting to pay you for it. So then you got to go sell it, which is a really challenging thing.

If you don't not a selling, you're not used to it a lot. You know, this is sort of the stereotypical problem that developers who start companies running too. They build the product, and I don't know how to sell.


Well, I don't know how to sell is part of the problem. Build a product that no one wants. That's that's a bigger problem, right? Yes, I do have to ask you a startup question in software question about this book, though. You know how blessed Lean Started Got popular for a while. And the whole idea is that well, before you build a product, go put up a splash page and go sell it and see if anybody signs up. And then if they sign up, then go build a product. So do you think people can write a book in 10 days and sell it and then actually go make the book heaven? Um,


you know, I wouldn't pay for that, but I mean, people do any, You know, I think sort of famous personalities probably could. You know, I think Ah, Jay Z probably could say, Give me 10,000. I don't know. I mean, I couldn't do that, but if you have ah, whatever social footprint, you probably could.


But the life of a novelist is not as glorious as it sounds. It


sounds glorious, but it's pretty awesome, you know, it's no one's telling you what to dio. I mean, if you can get paid for it, it's amazing, right? Like you just right for five or six hours a day and, um, go for a run and, um, you know, it's pretty low fi, it's not. You're not on a yacht or anything, but it's definitely not as horrible or not horrible. But it's not a stressful is starting a company being responsible for 70 people and all that stuff.

Does being the CEO change your life?

Michael feels he is a very lucky person. He's been able to do what he wanted to do. He has a great family, and they are not starving. He gets to walk to work. He is pretty happy, and if it was not for stage-four colon cancer, life would be amazing.

Let's talk about being responsible for 70 people, okay? Is that how many people were working for some middle Now,


Uh, it's probably around there. I think we're at, like, 74. And I think we're at 70 now. Yeah,


that's awesome. You guys grew quite a bit. I mean, last time, you know, you and I were in the same room together, was like, well, mostly during my company, and that was by six years ago, and it was just you and couple of co founders in couple of employees. So that's really impressive.


I think it was. We just had one employee at that time, and she was stuck back here in Montana. I felt bad for um, but yeah, right. 4 to 70. Um, it's Well, that's


so what does it feel like to be you? Um


well, I e I'm pretty, You know, I'm very feels fortunate. And I feel grateful. Thio that worked. It could be much worse. Um, pretty. Um, I'm just getting used t never knowing what I'm doing and figuring things out on the fly. Um, a I don't know. It feels I'm a very lucky person, you know, I've I've done some things that I wanted to do and, um,

not starving. And I've got, you know, great kids and fancy wife. And I live in a place that I want to live. I walk to work. Uh, I don't know. I'm pretty happy. I am very sick. What? Ah, we can talk about But, um if it wasn't, I didn't have stage four. Colon cancer. Life would be amazing.


Kick cancer in the butt. Yeah, and


yeah, yeah, I mean, I would if I didn't have cancer.


Ah, that's a T shirt right there.


Well, you how are you? How does it feel to be you?


It feels great. I'm just a full time dad chasing after kids. All day long. But, uh, I mean, there's, you know, the grass is always greener on the other side. Of course, I'm, like, really wanna get a company going again and be engaged all day long. But part of it also, I think to me, your kids are older it, But I have to.

Yeah, my kids are still young, and I feel like right now is a good time to get to know them and do something with them and really understand who they are and figure out how to empower them to be successful in the future. And once they started school and I don't see them for, like, five days a week, then I can do more, but at least in my experience, to be doing a company realistically, at least in the early days, you have to be, you know, in the office, whether it's actual office or by a computer or on the phone, you have to be there for, like, 20 hours a day in some capacity. So

Is it a good idea to start a company when you have young kids at home?

FitzGerald started Submittable when his kids were 3 and 5, and in hindsight it was a silly idea. Starting a company takes all of your energy, so your kids don't get to see you very much, and when they do see you, your mind is often wondering somewhere else, focused on problems at work.

yeah, true. I mean, I started this kid. I started the submit Herbal, or we started Bruce and John and I started middle when my kids were three and five, and I looked back and that was that was a pretty dumb idea. Um, it's, you know, when you're in it, it's your first time. You don't really realize how fragile everything is, like how fragile a company waas. And, you know, if you get laid off and your startup founder,

it's not like you're getting your like You've lost your job. It's just you said, you know, like basically being a startup founder is a euphemism for being unemployed, right? Yep. Um, but looking back, it was I I I think you're right. I think it's super thoughtful and kind. Have a frame of mind to know that this time that you have with them is is specific and and and will end is very smart mindful because I I didn't see my kids. And when I did see him, I was usually kind of crazed and and desperate and probably not the best role model or person to be in a three year old room.


Remember years going, going.


I came home one time and my youngest one, he was probably like he was probably three or four was walking in circles, putting his hands through his hair in this kind of thing that I used to do and, uh, and just look kind of crazed and manic. And I was like, What are you doing? And he's like, I'm being you, Dad. Okay. Uh, you know, I had to consciously not talk about work when I got home because it clearly was just bleeding in tow. Three


year old don't want to hear about your work. Yeah. Yeah. How many years did it take until you got to somewhat of a stable point and could get back to the family?


Well, I looked back, and I realize we've never been stable. I mean, we're stable now, but it still feels like there's always something and, you know, when we're I see, we left our families here, So I had kids back home, and I remember Paul emailing me because he saw a picture. I think it was like my Gmail picture has a picture of all my family, and one of them's the infant ones. One of them's like, two or three at the time. And PG was like, um hey,

I don't think I understand. Knew you had kids like Are you sure you want to do this? Kind of trying to talk me out of it, and I What? I appreciate it. You know, it just showed it was just nice to see, You know, Paul's just, you know, I think he's, um you know, I think he obviously did something amazing with y Combinator, But I always just really appreciated how thoughtful he was and and Jessica to around that. We were just, you know,

we're human beings trying to do this challenging thing, and ah, but he basically tried to talk me out of it, you know? He's like, you guys should go home, and ah, I said no. I said, I'm gonna take this experience. I'm gonna go back to Montana. I'm gonna build a company with 500 employees, and I'm gonna keep my kids in Montana. I'm and you're gonna make it possible. And he never that was I don't know. I don't know his side of it, but I never heard back from so and I stayed with it. And I only got 430 more employees to go, right.


Easy, because all we have to do is raise $50 million you can hire them all tomorrow. Yeah. Yes, that's right. But that would be a very Silicon Valley. Uh


oh, my God. I totally didn't realize that I should go do that. Thank you, girl. Monday.


Yeah. Call yourself the post revenue company, and you're good, but, um well, you said is getting better now, right? So I mean, like, well, a cipher cancer, which sucks. But the company is more or less stable. And you guys Yeah, Well, what's interesting is I think you're doing in a way, you know,

their other successful companies that do something similar to what you do. But you guys have a big enough niche that you can exist, be profitable, be successful, have a lot of customers and deliver value, right? Without having to compete with the big, like, massive companies that do similar things.


Well, I'm not going to name him, but one of our competitors just went public. So there's there's there's competitors, that competing products. This went public. Uh, so, um, it's it's not all like cupcakes and champagne, but, um, it's Ah, I don't know. I guess I'm not agreeing with you. There's competition, and it's every single sale was a dog fight.

And, uh, it wasn't in the beginnings were going for, you know, most are published. Most of our customers were small literary publishers and and in the magazines and just small niche publications And what we moved into internal work flows. R p we have tons of grants. So foundations use us for this grant application process. Um, and we get, you know, that's probably one of our fastest growing verticals, UGC. So large organizations like 18 t your Nike uses for accepting videos and accepting images from their users and from member organizations. Same thing. So there's all these different particles now that are pretty Beaky and and have competition and way.

Just We focus on delivering amazing service. We've tons, a customer support. Which difference? Is there anything you can't do? Customer support in the valley, you know, so way have you know, I think 12 full time support people we have support on the weekends. Um, way over, Emphasize that you can call us, and that's something you can't really do. A big company. Um, but


now I know what to do on the weekends. Crank, call our support. People just called. Uh, so you're moving into enterprise basically


within Yes, your usual customers, university wide packages, brand wide packages and those air totally different muscles. As you know then, then we'll start with In the beginning, we were, you know, putting your credit card and give us $20. Now it's, you know, really big deals that come with count management and all that, and it's exciting. And I mean, it's just super. You know, this first couple of deals were amazing to me, and,


uh, is it true that it never gets easier? Just the nature of your work changes.


I agree with that. I keep thinking it's about to get easier. It gets easier for a while. We, you know, we we've hired executives in this last year, which we didn't have before we hired this guy. We hired some of the from Oracle to be our VP of sales are first VP of sales and he is his name's Brady Melter. You know, he had I think you have, like, a $4 million quota or something at Oracle, you know, joined us and really sort of put some rigor into our process and stood up. You know, we have 30 sales people now and a CZ has put all those sort of big company processes in place that we didn't have before, which is good and great.

And then we hired, um, I can't She's not joining us to January 1st, but she's originally from Missoula, and she is, Ah, a V P at one of the bigger brand. You know, I'm not allowed to talk about because she hasn't left the company yet, but she's been working for us part time since August, and, um, she's amazing. She's absolutely, like, changed My life changed,

like, taught me so much about just work and intensity of work and working in a big organization like How do you actually, one of the biggest challenges you once you start to scale up in terms of employees is, you know, adding 10 more people does not necessarily make you go 10 times faster, and many times that actually makes you go slower. So there's just some nuances and leveraging those employees and creating a brand and stuff that I didn't think about or care about, and, uh, and it's been so I've just loved being part of that as I never thought in a 1,000,000 years. I was, like, learning how to be, you know, build a sales model. But I love it.

Um, and a so parts of really great, um, getting sick sucked, you know? I don't know. We raised our Siri's a last May year ago. May so May 17. And, um, I had had, uh I got sick the winter winter before. I've said this weird weekend where I just didn't feel well and had some digestive issues. And I went into the my general practitioner, and he was, Ah,

go. Well, you know, I run. I run marathons fairly active, you know, pretty in shape. And I eat drink pretty well, And, uh, he I said, Well, you should get a colonoscopy because Missoula is there for really rural place. I couldn't get the colonoscopy for three months, and I just forgot about it. And I got a robo call the day that our Siri's a closed from my doctor saying,

You gotta You've got an appointment tomorrow, and I just had a They had to go. Look. About what? You know, I'd completely forgotten why I had scheduled a colonoscopy, and, um and I've not had any symptoms or anything. Um, and I woke, So the deal closed? I woke up the next day. Um, you know, there was more money in our bank account than we had ever imagined. And we suddenly,

you know, it was a great feeling to suddenly think about like what we could possibly do now and how big we could get. And the next day, I went in for colonists for the colonoscopy and and woke up to, you know, some nurses wouldn't look me in the eye, and they had some pretty awful news. I had ah ah, colon cancer. And it had metastasized and got into my liver. Got into my little love nodes, and, um, the prognosis waas um really? Really. It was,

you know, it was it was awful. Terminal. I was supposed to be dead about six months ago, and, um and so, you know, fundraising N y c had actually tired. The whole startup process had taught me this. That you just that if you don't hear the answer you want, you just go find another answer. Right? So I got on a plane and with the mayo I did a console that Seattle I ended up it, Um m s k in New York. It's Sloan Kettering. And there is this incredible person,

their names, uh, Nancy Kemeny and she, um, started. She pioneered this thing called the, um hey, pump, which stands for the hip attic. Ah, our tip artery infusion. And essentially, it's an implant. The problem with metastasized colon cancer is usually takes out. Your liver gets your liver first. And then,

um, your liver Uh um, it's hard to treat because chemo systemic chemo will go to your other organs, but it gets your liver and your whole whole gold your livers to pollute toxins. So chemo is not super effective. So what she figured out was that if she could focus, target the chemo directly at the liver and increased the dosage and increase the amount, Um, she could have some success. So, like in the nineties, she started putting these things in people, and, you know, it looks like a like a hockey puck. She attaches it to your liver,

and twice a week they fill it with chemo, and it does. Your body temperature pushes. The chema does a slow drip over two weeks to your liver. and, um, and it works. And it saved my life. Within five months, I was, um, respectable, which means that they can go in and do surgery. Before it was too extensive to do surgery and they went in, they cut it all out. And,

ah, I was cancer free from November 2, actually, last week, which, uh, I just found out I'm having a recurrence of my liver. But it's an incredibly small dot and we're on top of it. And, uh, it's not gonna be anything like last year, but but, um, I mean, go back to the start up. I walked away and went and got this insane surgery the day after,

um, and I had to call the investors I had to call True. And I mean, if Aiken, um, sort of promote any organization like my board was fucking amazing. Like, true, Could you imagine sending, you know, a large Siri's a to a company and the founder calls you the next day and says, I'm terminally ill. They didn't even hesitate when I call them. They were just, like, Go,

do you know, go get fixed. This is not Do not concern yourself with this. Everything's fine on our end. I mean, they're just such stand up people. Um, and ah, and and, um, forever grateful. You know, I came in like that. Making that phone call was the crazy. One of the scariest things I've ever had to go through. Never mind massive surgery and getting a titanium parking appointment. But, um,


anyway, some life like conversation right there. Start up like that, Uh, and people worry about their fundraising. Another start. Everything's right. Like you could have a start up and be sick to, Uh, wow. You know, that's Ah, yeah, That's definitely something people I wouldn't wish on anyone to experience. And I remember reading imposed from from you on the internal way, see system saying, Well,

this is what happened, right? And there were people people willing to jump in and like least try to help you find the right doctor. Sure. Did any of that help like that the outreach Help it do a general's?


It did. I mean, not just one. There were literally oncologist at y Combinator. You know, there was, like, the chief like surgical resident from USC. USC f I can't remember. Is there her name, but But there were and their startups trying to cure cancer, You know, like it's a kind of crazy. It's not like posting on Facebook where, um, you know, your friend from high school is like high fiving you and stuff.

It's it's literally like, Oh, I'm actually trying to cure that right now. You know, it was that was a pretty awesome moment. And then also, you know, the other founder, you know, everyone. You know what I think? I think my post was just like, Have you ever dealt with this? How do you do the day to day? You know, the thing I didn't understand was what?

What did I do? What what like, what would you have done? Well, if you if you were suddenly terminally ill and you were running the company,


did you have people responding saying, Well, I've been there, and this is what we've done


to Yeah, Yeah, I think rescue time. I can't remember the


guy. One of the co founders.


Yeah, um, he was sick. And then there's there's sort of I haven't been And maybe it was just coincidental. The time and I was hyper like, sensitive to it, But there seemed to be a rash of like, high tech people getting stick, getting terminal cancer. I know somebody in Seattle. I can't remember his name. If he had pancreatic cancer, there was a Google executive that colon cancer. Um, and, you know, people blogged about it,

and I didn't block about, um my own disease. Um, namely cause it to seem it's it was it seemed like there are other. I just didn't wanna join into the chorus, but I, um but but I suddenly want to work on this. You know, one of the things that was pretty telling was, you know, I'm here right now. I I'm healthier than I've ever been in my life Other than cancer. Like, you know, I'm in great shape. I don't drink anymore.

I don't I'm pretty conscious about very little red meat. I've learned tons of interesting things, and, um, you know that, like, literally when I got cancer, it was the first year of my life that I could afford cancer thing. Average person. That's any I'm not average, but the the general population if they get, um ah, um, cancer. The path is they, um Go broke and then they die.

If there's with Stage four cancer like that's sort of what? What is the prognosis there? The Yeah, that's sort of the pathway from most people. It's changing every day. There's tons of stuff happening. And it was so inspiring to see that I mean, like, Jim Allison. It was one of the immunology person people. All that stuff starting to like actually happen. Similar mean immunology was sort of the basic. Science was figured out like 100 years ago. But like in Pharma's pharmaceutical companies, it was happening in the nineties, and it's just now coming online.

We're just now seeing like K. Trudeau. We're seeing, you know, things get cured that that just 10 years ago were were death sentences. And so, um, it's been it's amazing, but what drove me nuts was that I got out of this. I'm not totally out of this, but I got a lot farther simply because I knew that somebody out there somewhere who was doing something crazy and potentially cured. And most people don't have that option toe like flight in New York and spend two months in New York while you go through surgery, and, um and I would like to fix that somehow. I don't know what the answer is. It started actually building a little tool on hey pump dot com, which is more or less a marketing site for four of the cure that I ended up with. And it just tells people that this this treatment is available in other places, which it is. But I lost my train of thought.


Well, in your case, it sounds like the solution to being able to afford cancer ended up heaven. It happened to be a startup because, like, it could have partially led to you having cancer in the first place, you know, with the stress and everything. But at the same time, fortunately, the company took off at the same time that the cancer did. And so, you know, it kind of overlapped and just in time, yeah,


yeah, it is still stressful. And I still I'm a little nervous about being back full time and and and escalating the disease because of the stress. I don't I don't know what to do, though, because it's not like I could just stop working and that there yet so and I love


little boring. Are you guys looking for a new CEO? Yeah, Um, the


But even if you know, I don't think it's just a Z Z is just replacing me. I personally just don't What did I just do, like hang around? I don't know. Let's go fish. Well, I don't have the money in the bank or anything. You know, I don't pay my pay myself less than a lot of my employees, which is probably just stupid. But, um, I think it it demonstrates something. I think it's a it's a good sign of. The leaders aren't just driving Maserati's or whatever.


I have a couple questions about this whole process on dhe. So thinking of when you got sick again when you posted a message saying, That's what happening, you know, who can provide sort of ideas. I remember there were a lot of scientific responses. There were a lot of doctors this in that they were also a lot off quote unquote thoughts and prayers. And this is something I personally want to know, like, you know, does that help like, should people do that?


I think it helps people who Yeah, I don't necessary. I'm I'm not super, you know, my mother and prays for me. And and And I think she believes it worked and and something did work. So I'm happy to have people pray for me but telling me that I don't Yeah, I think it's pretty. It's an easy way to get out of doing actual things that matter. But if it helps people to say it, not a knock themselves out? Yeah. Is that what you're asking? Whether I I'm not religious


and I yeah, neither. Neither in mind, but even the religion aside, you know when When that I've seen this happen. Maybe not necessarily with stage four cancer, but in situations kind of like that, right? People would always want to provide support, but really, it makes my eyes roll a little bit because I'm like your thoughts and prayers were just like, I'm I don't know. Some people say, you know, just saying thinking of you, like hope you get better helps, but like, Well, how about some actionable stuff? All right, three


young ladies, if you have any of your listeners want to actually help somebody, they know who has cancer s 01 of the things If you ask somebody like how what can I do to help? You know, that's that's something in them that, like tons of amazing people came out of the woodwork like I would not be here if people didn't just deal on such incredible levels. Like, um, actually, one of my investors in New York gave us an apartment for three months in New York. Just put me in my family up like, unreal, unreal. Um, they actually helped me get to M S K like people. People did amazing stuff, but,

you know, it's you get a lot of one of things cancer patients get is like, what can I d'oh and everybody means well and I've done it myself. But when you ask them, what can I do? You're essentially giving the cancer patient of job like, Oh, I've gotta figure out something for you to do now and then if I say no, you feel like you're rejecting them. You know, everybody really, truly wants to help. But what, um, like most people have pretty obvious needs, like if this if if you want to help a cancer patient,

not me, don't I don't want people doing this team, but, like, like, rape my yard or like paint my house or, you know, like, just do it. I don't even want to hear about it If if stuff magically gets done, um and I don't have to think about it. That's like something super helpful but asking me what to do. Um, what can I do to help is and and everybody, it's not about me. Everybody knows everybody means well,

but, um, for me, at least, that's like it's kind of maddening because I because then you feel bad because you don't I don't I can't I don't know what you can do to help and I don't want to think about. And it's like a chore for me to go figure out something you can do to help. Um, so if you know cancer patients and you want to help them or you know people who are sick from anything, just go do the thing. You know, don't use a proxy. Don't just breakthrough yard or clean their car or bring them dinner and then get out of the way. Yeah, um,


it's like Saran Sensor presently like what? You should dio if you want to help new parents.


Totally. Exactly. Exactly. All right. Like you don't You know, you have no idea. Don't the energy to think about what you need, but if someone just showed up with the lasagna was like your creel lasagna, there's no meat. Cheers like that would be so helpful. Vs what? Can I d'oh? I don't know what,


And I think people do you remember to, like, bring something or do something, But they often forget the second part where you just got to get out of the way quickly, too. Yeah, that's room one of it. Sorry. No, go.


One of the, you know, sort of things you go through when you're sick. One of the for me at least. The hardest part is that you don't necessarily. You're not in control. Like the worst part about cancer wasn't even just taking chemo like being in surgery. But you lose every two weeks. You had to poison yourself for two or three days, and and you wake up after the third day of chemo and you're like, Okay, back. I'm like, I'm gonna go do this. This is just, like, bound into the office or you go and deal on a wet like your man because you know,

you're gonna get poisoned in, like, you know, 10 days and ah, and and you're also not available. Like your energy is so like less than it used to be. So you spend you spend a lot of time just telling people No, I can't come to dinner. No. You know, people reach out and and of course, everyone means well. And of course, everyone like it's obviously, like, great that people are thinking about you.

But it's also like just exhausting on yours and just saying I can't come to dinner. I would love to come to dinner because I feel like I'm probably gonna fall asleep at the table. And and you don't You don't want to be that you want to be yourself. You want to be able to talk and you want to be able to hang out and have dinner table conversations and, um, you want to be able to kick ass at work, and then you just get poisoned every three weeks, and it's just that was really, like the most maddening part, not the actual physical pain that you're in, or even like, the fear of death. Like you get used to that pretty quickly. But just the disappointing people over and over, and not, you know, just being a shell of who you were physically.


So would it help if people somehow figure out how to, you know, let you know that they're not disappointed or bugger often? Don't talk to Michael for years. The best way to kind of, like, keep you from disappointing. Your friends are what's a good mix there. You don't other patients.

What should people do with their life?

Don't get cancer. Have fun. Be kind to your fellow humans.

Um, well, you can wreck my yard now. You can, uh you know, I think the thing you see this with with other people have gone through some sort of physical. They just, you know, hey, checking in. Um, do not reply. Don't worry about, you know, just being straightforward. Like, I'm just sending this to say I'm thinking of you. And, um, and don't spend an ounce of energy.


Oh, I see. So, like, sending you some happy news is a good way of doing it, but yeah, that expectation.


Yeah, totally. Like, you know, you want to be connected to the world like the worst is when you're just you're completely disconnected and you don't You don't see a way back and then Ah, yeah. So it's great when you hear from people, then but, um, but the idea when they ask you to you know, how can I help yours like, Ah. Oh, my God. Block off. I mean, you know, not really. But


so I have to ask you kind of an existential question, because a couple of those founders that provided you some advice what, a couple of years ago, they have unfortunately passed away. And, um, I know their friends or coworkers. And, uh, I think when people pass away the immediate reactions that, like, Okay, I gotta do something about my life. Like life is short. You know, I gotta get out there and give it to my kids to my family, Go travel,

do whatever I wanted to do. I do it now. But then a couple weeks go by and all of a sudden, people like, Yeah, but, you know, I'm, like, really comfortable here. And over a couple of months, it seems like that energy that sparks with some buddies death just ends up dying and they're dying tuning their back to the status quo and the comfortable living that used to be. How do you feel now that you've had this experience, right? Like, And you have any advice for people like who haven't had cancer yet them before. They do sort of thing, right? Like what? What should people do with their


life? Don't get cancer. So that's like an easy one. Um, the I don't know. I mean, I think I think I feel sort of physiologically different, like I'm definitely mentally different. Um ah. You know, this is awful. I mean, maybe I was just like, an awful human being before I got cancer. I mean, there is sort of a life before and after cancer or any sort of terminal disease. Er,

chronic disease. And that is, um yeah, you know, like, I absolutely feel more empathy towards people towards everybody. I think, um, I was pretty juvenile and good at just being judgmental, and even if I didn't consciously think it, I was probably like, Is this person interesting or useful to me or entertaining to me? And if I could figure out whether they were within seconds, you know, I would just like Okay, I don't want you.

My you know, there's 24 hours in the day, and I don't want you to take up any time in it. You know, when I, um maybe it's just getting older, but I think I'm much more, uh, I think I'm nicer. Which, um, I wish I was nice. A nice person. I wish I wasn't judgmental my whole life, I wish I was. I mean,

this is that so, sophomore, as a rule that, um But I think, Ah, that's just I feel better because I'm not being like hyper not critical, but just like hyper. Everything was about being smart up until a point like everything was like, Is that clever? Is that intelligent? And, um, and now it's it's, um, a much more sympathetic Thio. Just he the rest of my fellow humans that I waas um and you know,

about traveling or going out and doing stuff like I I want my kids and my wife to go do stuff like I want them to go to Italy. I don't personally, I don't like we're thinking about during a family trip, and, um, I, like, badly want them to go do it. I want them to go to Italy in March for a week to go to Rome. And I don't want to go because I'm nervous that if I sign up and suddenly something rears its head with my disease, I will be I could potentially derail the whole trip. But I love the idea of my family there. I love the idea of my kids, my wife walking around room, seeing the sights and eating, and Seth,

um, and would give me great joy if they went. Ah, and so it's different than me. Wanted to go check off some list. I don't feel that way at all. Like, and I'm not so not scared of death, I don't a a I totally think it's gonna be fine. Like everything scary so far in life has been fine. And I think death is the same. I think we either sort of expand into another dimension and death, not necessarily having her hell that I think we're I don't know if we're done, is what I'm saying with death. But even if we are, I think if it just goes black,

that's okay, too. I don't, um I'm not Ah, like when you go to surgery and you see you're totally black out. You're not in pain. You're just do this in dark. And, um, it's gonna happen to all of us except Peter Feel, I guess. But, ah, um um, you know, I I don't know.

I guess just be nice to be thoughtful. I definitely try to think I don't try to have, like, the most clever answer. I I see a lot of people, especially younger people like that, like you see really smart kids like smart, 25 year old, too. It's sort of like in their DNA to just get to the answer as soon as possible. And I don't think that's the goal of most conversations Like, um, it's not about knowing the answer first or knowing everything. It's more about examining and having sort of fun with the conversation.


I guess so. It sounds like you've become less active, but more peaceful and more mind cold. More just present.


I do think so, eh Don't meditate or anything but a absolutely, like breathe. I tried to meditate for a while, and, um, my wife said it just it was like I was just hyperventilating. I didn't know how to read it, but I love go for walks. I've started playing piano, which I didn't do. I never play. I played when I was a little kid that I hadn't played in 30 years. Um, I can't run because of this pump inside May, but I swim and I really enjoyed that. It's kind of a weird Do you swim


occasionally, but I'm sort of allergic to chlorine, so that makes it hard.


I enjoy swimming and, you know, just kind of you're literally underwater, and it's kind of different.


It feels like that there's a movie in here. Or maybe, you know, a book. Um, well, do you have anything else to tell Cancer in the face while we're in this topic?


Well, I don't you know, cancer, I know. But for cancer patients or people who know who are you know, family members who have family members like stuff is definitely happening. There's a great new book called The Breakthrough by Charlie Graber, who about immunotherapy. I don't think you mean a therapy is gonna be this magic cure all, but I think, you know, targeted targeted therapies. Um, they're just getting incredibly fancy. I mean, my my father's actually Gaston ologists. And when I told him what I had,

you know, he was pretty much like Okay, well, you know, that's it. Lights out. And the fact we went got like, he couldn't believe the treatment that I got, which he retired just eight years ago. Um, it's definitely a brave new world. There's stuff coming online all the time, and people think they're 17 million people in America living with cancer. Um, I'm living with cancer and running a company. You know,

I have bad days, but, um, I just want people should know, especially if they've just been diagnosed, that there are ways forward. And it isn't. It's terrifying to get that news. But you, you know, there are so many options that weren't there just 10 years ago. And even chemo isn't nearly the ah that I came away, You said one used to get it to your your your ventura, a vein in your arm and your your veins were collapsing and her hair was all falling out, you know, And now they've added steroids to chemo,

and we ever appetite back. And you know you can totally live a pretty good life. Um, you know, just, like chronic. Like treating it like a chronic disease. So I guess I thought I would say I have Don't die. Don't give up. Don't you know there's a There's a path for everybody? Um,


that's really excellent advice. You know, just aside. Now, you mentioned the trip to Italy, and I would highly encourage you to go because yeah, no, not just because, you know, it would be a nice trip, but my grandparent's like, I think I mentioned to my grandpa passed away. It's, um you know, not so long ago. Also from cancer.


What do you know? What kind do you remember?


I think there were a lot of kinds going on. I didn't get a full picture of what was going on, but but the point being, they were also going to on a trip to Italy a couple of years ago. And then I think he got sick and they postponed. Grandma gets sick, and they postponed blah, blah, blah, you know, And, uh, it's really think put obstacles and say why you're gonna postpone now, but later it doesn't get any easier. So, like the worst case your family's gonna go without you. But if you plan it to go with them at least,

uh, you'll maximize the chances of you being there with, um yeah. No. Well, if you have a few more minutes, let's talk about some happy thoughts, okay? And I don't


think cancer. I mean, I hate having it, and I but I've met unbelievable people. You know, I've met people who have just done like the craziest, hardest things, and it and there's like some of the best people I've ever met have been through cancer. So tons of good things have come out of having this. Um, so it's just wanted. It's just it's just it's just a bunch of bad cells that are giving you a hard time. But, um,


I don't have cancer. But if you have cancer, have the best cancer.


Just have a good time. Just just yeah,


no, but let's go back. Thio that clutch masters clutch masters, right? That was a couple of decades ago. Almost raid. Yeah, Yeah, 99 I think. But I remember looking at your Facebook and your kids are now doing something similar. And that's obviously because you're pushing them to do something exciting, right? That's not just go get a job at a subway. It's like here, sell something on eBay or go polish some skis. Uh, how is that going on? Like you're teaching them all this cool startup stuff while doing it yourself?


Yeah, my kids are pretty fun. And they They are the proud owners of two companies. The Montana Leaf Breaking Company in the Montana Ski Wax Inc. Which is Montana Ski waxing is ski waxing as a service. So, um ah, sweats And what? Well, they'll come to your house, get your skis, go wax him and bring him back the next day. So it's


he is talking about the benefits of small town, right? That's right. Actually, that's great. Next thing you know, the uber is going to get in their


business. Oh, my God. Yes. Uh, they are building an app, so watch out. Um, but yeah. I mean, having kids is fun because you can try to make them, like, you know, I think this is sort of the path everyone you're trying to make your kids just essentially not make any mistakes that you made. Um, there's You know, that's not necessarily the best way to raise kids.

Like half of life is just making mistakes figuring out. But, um, I don't know. What do you do anyway? How are your kids?


Mike is a great I'm currently recording with you in the basement where my office is, and I don't know if you can hear it, but there's a bunch of stumping going on on DDE in some amount of crying because it's, you know, getting to dinnertime, I think. But I think I'm used to that right now. Um, well, I'm asking this, you know, started question because for me and my wife and you know, Jan, right for us, it's important to raise kids sort of ready for their generation and not for what we're doing and for what happened before us. And that's why it's, um,

it's entertaining and amusing and sort of empowering to see what you do with your kids, encouraging them to do this things because I think the ones done this to us and, uh, but now we have this ah, start of bug Great than the Yeah, I'm trying to learn both weather, trying to learn more what we can do it even in your three year old, to encourage her to be more entrepreneurial, to go and find the answers. I don't know, you know, like people do lemonade stands or that kind of stuff, and I don't really get it because it's feels like it's been done before. Like oil doesn't send him doesn't scale, but it's like, you know,

the car was been done before, But can you think of something that's gonna Ah, But it's not even the money is just, like cannot be exciting for you and also maybe generate some sort of that took money. Let's talk about opportunity, right? Can generate opportunity. Um,


yeah. E three's a little young


for three and 1/2. So we go My bad. I don't like you gets going to college.


I don't know. I mean, it's college. Still a thing. Do we like? It seems I thought there was, like, a question about There are wide and everything. I mean, my kids would go to I mean, I'm a liberal arts person and it drives me nuts. This whole stem, I mean, I think everybody should study math and physics, and, you know, some of the traditional.

Um, I hate the idea of my kid's going to be in CS majors. I think that is just a joke. I think computers are amazing, but, um, the idea that we're all gonna become technicians and save the world is ah, just gonna generate a bunch of, like, thoughtless citizens. I mean, I think, um, that's like dystopia. If everyone's out their programming computers, I do think that will even out now that everyone's programming computers and ah,

um, it's on, you know, I think ultimately, liberal arts majors, you need someone to be your boss. And I think those air people who can sort of think in full paragraphs, um so I I would pay for my kids to go to a liberal arts school like a good one. Um, you know, we have great schools here. University, Montana, Montana State. Um, I'd pray for them to go to like an Ivy League school or some specialty school,

like a weird, like Colorado School of mines or something. But, um, I'm not If they tell me they don't want to go to college, I'm not. Ah, I won't feel too strongly about it. I obviously don't think you know, I was a German major and I have a master's degree in creative writing, and here I am running a technology company. It's hard to convince me that you needed some specific degree to do anything.


Yeah, and, uh, I'm glad you're saying that I think I've heard this from a number of smart, successful people in the podcast and outside of it and, uh ah, go out and say it right because I think a lot of people don't realize that the message let's teach everyone to code released suits the companies who is spreading the message. Really? Google and Facebook, like somebody still needs to write test goats for those


companies. Oh, my God, It's so like, Let's teach you how to be corporate like servants.


It's like Henry Ford them back in the day saying, Let's teach you how to change tires cause, Well, somebody's gotta do it. But exactly yeah,


and so I don't think any wrong with learning code. And my kids, you know, play around with python and stuff, and I like coding. E think it's fun. I don't I do not think it is a valuable way to spend your college education at all? Um, I'd much rather I mean, just a pure engineering is better. Math is totally interesting. Are VTR VP of engineering is a math major, actually, so is our new CMO. Um, I don't know, you know,

just do hard things. It doesn't matter what just do really difficult things. I think that's what you look for in young employees. Like people who have proven they can just do something that's challenging and and and whatever it is, whether it's in programming or writing, I think writing a novel is really hard. Teaches you patience teaches you, um uh, How to show a habitue ality had to show up, keep after something. So I just think young people should go try to do difficult things, whatever it is and and be able to communicate to, like, That's why I like English majors or philosophy majors.


Do you think young people should, or in case of you kids, you know, jump in and thio colleges start up or work? Or should they going be like, kind of a paragliding instructor for years like that? And you just absorb life and do things that necessarily a part of me feels like our parents generation, you know, had the work was different. So they had to work 9 to 5 for many years, same company. But nowadays, with remote work finally catching on right and jobs being so different, you can actually do things differently. You can go work for a few years for for a company, make some money, and then retire for five years and then come back and go to college or whatever,

right? Like, yeah, you can do it completely differently. Do you feel the same? Um,


I do. I don't I think you know one. I don't think that they should think about corporations as, like this goal working for a corporation goal in any. Anyway, I'm tryingto, you know, with the Montana Ski Waxing Corporation and the Montana Leaf raking Company. I am basically, you know, my dream is that they just have this company that's sort of running by the time they get to get to college. You know, a lot of a lot of success for company is just literally mean. I think Paul Graham says not dying, right? Like if you just don't die, you will eventually be successful.

And so I like the idea of them having this ski wax Inc for 10 years, and then when they're adults, maybe they have two or three employees. You know, like, um, I wouldn't want to do straight retail, obviously, because Amazon is just out there dropping stuff from zone drones on you. But I would like, um, I think service is a really good business is like things that you can't export. Window washing, painting, uh, swag,

sing skis, things that actually, um you can't you know, Amazon can't come in and paint my house. I mean, maybe they will, but, um, if I were a young person, I'd start like, three or four of those businesses. Maybe they're seasonal, and you're not trying to make a lot of money, but you're just getting to the place where you can employ two or three people. Um and then you're you're kind of living off the top of that and then start another. I would like to,

you know, I would recommend people just start doesn't have to necessarily be a $1,000,000,000 company, But just start one or two companies early on because, hey, that's better than N b. A you'll learn everything you did know within six months, right? Um B it's in her personal skills. It's like the value of a dollar. And, uh, that's so that's what I hope my kids do while they're trying to figure out what they want to D'oh. Um, I mean, don't get me wrong about education. I would love if they want to go into medicine if they want to study something very hard.

But, um, yeah, I don't know. What do you want your kids to be?


Mmm. Interesting question.


What are that? You have a boy in a girl's.


I have two girls. I have two girls and, uh, they're very same in some ways and very different and others. And I think, you know, I'd love I think to me, almost asking myself what they want to be as a seller, question like I wanted me to create an environment for them where they could be successful. And to me, that probably means, you know, financially stable, where they can take time to choose what they want to be, or if they want to be something that doesn't generate a lot of revenue that they can afford to do that because I think, uh I feel like going forward. There's gonna be a huge disparity between rich and poor.

Kind of Elysium style on DA thing is important on us to prepare our kids for that because there's gonna be there's gonna be a switch. One day it's gonna hit really hard. And if you're not 11 side, you're gonna be on the other. Yeah,


there's a revolution. Um, I think I mean, I actually don't I don't even like thinking about it. But obviously, the way things were headed, it feels like there's gonna be a correction. With the societal differences and population wise, I kind of wouldn't want to be on the I wouldn't necessarily want to be on the 1%. I think about that with pay. You know, I have young employees here, and as I said, I don't pay myself. People make more money in the company to me. And, um,

I really do that so that I don't forget. Ah, one. I think it's I think it's the right thing to do, but really, it's like how you it forces you to really think about business. I think if I was making hundreds of thousands of dollars a month of a year. Whatever I would, um, you just live a slightly different life than your clients than your ah than your staff and that would I could see that being not productive.


You know, I think like cats don't have to lose for the dogs to win. And, uh, I would be very happy if we'll both feel, actually myself and my kids. If we could get to a point where it's not even that you have to be a billionaire, right, I'll be in the 1%. You just have to be in a place where you can generate income to enjoy other things, because I think there's some so many other things around us that important, like, you know, hiking, running, fishing, swimming and name it right with most of the society.

It currently lives for enjoying those things outside of work hours. But I feel like we have matured far enough. It's a world where we can flip that and say, Okay, you know, we collectively gonna figure out a way to make money so that we can all enjoy those things because I think if we're all enjoying those things that we can appreciate and take your over planet. And that's more important. Long term, that actually just making a ton of money because, I mean, sure, a couple of 1,000,000,000 years they're gonna live on Mars. But for the rest of us, there's only one planet left, and, uh,

we're pretty good at destroying it, so I think that's the most important. But, uh, I mean, it's gonna


be an amazing one. So our kids are gonna live to be, like 100 80 right? They're gonna literally cure cancer. They're gonna figure out all this stuff. So the kids are gonna they're gonna live a long time. Um, they're they're gonna have to make some hard decisions, because we didn't, you know, around the environment around, um, mass destruction, weapons of mass destruction. Ah. If they get through it, it's gonna blow our minds,

right? Like it's gonna like. There will be, you know, colonization of Mars. There will be, um, like people creating energy out of, uh, Pop Tarts. You know, there will be amazing things. Um, if we could just get there without killing everybody first, it seems like we're in this teenage stage with technology, right? Like we've got the technology. We just don't fully understand how to use it without killing each other first.


You huh? So, you know, to you against and to listeners if you haven't read this book by the Patagonia founder called Let my people go surfing. I highly recommend it because I thought it was It's what you'd expect from Patagonia. But it's also about environment and sustainable future. And you know how you can create, run and maintain a company in the way that takes care of employees and maintains the planet. Yeah. And


I think actually, that speaks to what I want my kids. Mostly to be able to do is to make things to feel in control. You know, what's his name? I can't Yang. I remember the founder's name.


The woods up co founder know the Patagonia. Oh, yeah. Sorry. Delia. Yes.


Um and he This whole thing was like he build his own climbing gear, and that was sort of how the company he built things for himself and then started selling them. And I want my kids like I were like, That's the most terrifying thing with them sitting there with their phones all day is that they're just consuming. They're not necessarily. You're not making things. And coding is one way of making things for their. You know, I I love it when I see my 15 year old trying to fix his bike. You know, like, that's like what I really hope to them is that they feel some agency and they can build their own. Whatever e. You know, cooking on dinner is like a low bar. But I'm so thrilled every time I see my 15 year old actually cooking something that isn't pretty, maid, are you, and you're gonna be so you're gonna Anyway, go on.


Sorry. No, no. What we're saying.


I was just saying you're gonna be a pretty funny teenage dad,


but you mean me is a data


of my kids. You as a dad, I mean, your kids. I feel sorry


for, uh, yeah, yeah. I mean, you know, if faith what they say the three major stage. If that's any indication of what my older one is gonna be a za teenager, it's It's gonna be a ride.


Many How many companies did you have? You started before the kids they had, like, three up. I think at one time well, this is your third.


I don't count these things. That's cos I mean, I think we've only had, like, one serious company, and everything else was just like projects, I mean and how many I haven't started, right? There's a whole running list of things. I'm a little bit more, um, a little better now. It's optimizing for doing things that will probably make money right. That is just an exciting thing that I'm doing anything that's it's important. And I, you know, even if it's a couple 1000 people that listen to each episode, I think it's it's delivering value to people and that's all I can ask for. Um,


yeah, yeah, but you I Well, never mind. It's fine. Um, what do you think? Do you find any difference or any similarities between kids and your startups?


They both keep me up at night. I know. I think having a startup having at a start up is the best way to prepare yourself for kids now, in many ways, in both, you know, know that I've had kids. I think when I do my next, like really thing that's gonna consume all of my time. I'm way more prepared in many ways, but I think specifically, patience and attention Thio priorities and ability to manage people, right? I think before this I was pretty good at reading people and a number of occasions. But after having kids, I think just my patients for ah, mysterious things were just like dealing with people is so much higher because,

as you know, right, because they're always doing something. And also, you can't really If you really wanna embrace, I think kids and, uh, let them be themselves can. You can't just go ahead and tell them what to do. You have to work with them and negotiate and let them do what they want to do and have explained to them like it's a lot of work. But once you do it with three year olds doing this with adults who are presumably a lot more, you know, educated, impatient themselves like don't be so much cheese here. I feel like having two kids I can now take on 200 adults.


Easy. Yeah, right. Um, one of these I'm trying to get my kids to do use okay. Ours if you have you ever run into Okay, ours or use


them at work. You mean like you'll have them set up their own goals and then tracked them? And,


uh, it's not going very well, but yeah,


What's an example of one?


Well, um, let's say Okay, so, the ball, um uh, well, an easy one is Have enough money to, um, Byron ski past. And so how could you do that? You could wax 100 skis. Um, you could not spend your allowance on anything. So there's the key results. Would be 100 skis, waxed allowance, 80% saved or something, you know?


Yeah, that's pretty cool. Sounds like a good idea.


Yeah, Or like whatever they want to do. My 15 year old wants to go to school. Trip toe. Um, Lebanon, I think. And Ah. So how did you get to Lebanon? From Missoula, Montana. I mean, financially, the actual equity viewed shots. You know, all the actual results that get you to Lebanon. Yeah.

That's a great thinks or make you know he wants to. They be on the cross country team. So how do you make the varsity cross country team even run 10 miles of the antenna, whatever it is, But it's an easy way to give him goals and make things trackable Are, you know, just may think straight word everything seems like this mystery to them. And I'm one of the things that hate is when they think, Well, I'm not good at that. That's, like, most awful thing. I ever hear that someone says I'm not good at it. Especially a young person. Like what are you talking? How do you know you're 14? If you get anything


or like you can be not good at it for a really long time and still be better. Um, then a lot of people. Or but you know what you said about? Okay? Okay, are so Jen and I were just talking about the other day how in college you often don't have time to do it because you're so stressed and busy. But the best way to actually get the most value out of a class is if you read the book before you go to class. Yeah, eso Instead of listening to the material at during the lecture, you just ask questions and verify your theories and that kind of stuff. And I think what you're doing with your kids is the same idea for life, right? Like you. And this is to all the listeners, right? Like,

I Yeah, I think that's a great way to encourage your kids to think on their own, because you essentially saying okay, set up the goals and think how you're gonna do it before you're gonna try to do it right, Because then you can validate whether you're getting there and you're not. You're not the passive consumer anymore. You're like, proactively getting something done. Yes, I agree. Less question. Maybe so Gig and then dinner, giving your experience with everything you know from from the bubble. One point. Oh, Thio,

start up to getting sick. And the kids, um, what are you doing about your family's health? To make sure that everyone can live through 180?


Yeah. I mean, we eat very well. You know, my teenager, definitely. It's a bunch of junk. I mean, it's amazing how many calories a day they consume. Um, you know, it's like a stick of butter, like it's just crazy. But, uh, but other than him walking down like waffles and pizza. Um,

we really? Well, um, I you know, I used to run, and both of them are runners, and that's makes me super happy. Um, I love running as a sport like cross country. You can get your kids. You know, some of the sports are, like, super equipment intensive and literally violent. Um, and if you can get him into running,

but there's no equipment and literally all they do for training as they go run, it's It's, like the best. So I love that both my kids are runners. I like skiing. As you know, I think the last time we saw each other was skiing. Right.


You're mad, skier.


Thank you. Well, you're, uh I love skiing with them. Um, so it's, you know, actual very fortunate that they're both into it. I have unfortunately spent their college fund on skiing on their ski racing. But, um, you know, way hike way live in Montana. We do. I feel pretty healthy. I'm definitely the most unhealthy out of all of them. Um,

so I don't do anything specific. I mean, I'm pretty Hands off is a dad a, uh I know. I just tried out toe. Too bad of an influence. Mostly, um, get out of their way. No kids, you know, surprising. I'm amazed that they're not delinquents like I was.


I think that's part of also you guys living in Missoula that you can be hands off and also still very involved in very influential, because you're not on the pressure cooker like we have here on the coast where kids a sign off, like 16 activities a day.


Yeah, I go to go visit friends in Portland, and they're just like in the car from 3 to 8 every night. I can't even I just drives me. They were driving. That's


so if somebody has a family and you know, they're tired of coastal living, pressure cooking or, you know, maybe they just want to get out of San Francisco and they're moving to missile. Uh, what do you think they expect? And she's, like, Look forward to as a family.


Yeah, well, we're hiring. We're looking for a product designer right now. Was amenable. Formidable is hiring to get us a medieval slash jobs, I think, um, that and I mean what you would expect. You know it first. It's probably a little euphoric because you're just There's no right. There's no like traffic. There's no traffic more. There's no ride to work. That's more than 10 minutes. Um, the schools are amazing.

You know, you work isn't a joke. Obviously, you'd be amazingly lucky to work for us. But the best work of the best company in all of Montana. Um, but the But you know, it truly like my kids. 10 kind of, I don't know, like they can walk out the door and be gone for a day, and I have no idea. Um, there they can go skiing and leave them and just gone. And, you know,

I feel when I go visit my friends and cities that that we're putting the other pretty on top of their kids because they have to be 24 7 and, um, I feel very grateful that I don't that I can be hands off and e think anybody who came here that would be like the first, like, Oh, my God. You know, I I don't know. There's whole hours in the weekend where you don't have anything to do and you go for a walk and not see anyone taken. Um, you could within five minutes be walking up in a mountain. I mean, literally. I live in town and I go to the M. Hey, did you see that?

Trump came here yesterday by accident? No, he came to Missoula. E mean, Miss. It was a pretty liberal town. So he was hopefully here to, like, start a commotion, but And he and he did this really well. Anyway, he came here. But we have two mountains with letters on them. One is an M, and one is an l. And Ah,

And there were these massive letters. Some assume college kids, But somebody went up and spelled out the word Liar on the mountain is huge. I mean, you could see it from like, Well, you could see it from Air Force One, but you could see it from miles away. ZX red white. Yeah. Um, So anyway, you can walk up that mountain that has the word liar on it from from town. Our offices a block from a river, the Clark Fork River, which has surfing in it.

It's got a fake wave in it, too. During the summer, employees go surfing. Um you go fly fishing all the sort of traditional Montana staff. But actually you can also go. You mentioned paragliding. People jump off like lunch. You look out the window and there's people flying around and paragliders. Um, I don't know, I personally I mean, I think we used to talk about this when we were in Mountain View that like one, there's no mountains in Mountain View and two like those air just like soup. It's like strip malls with With with Maserati dealerships. It's like


just mount of you is a horrible place. Don't live there. Here's a match to everyone.


Yeah, like, awful like the worst place on earth. I mean, I think about this whenever I was raising money and I was dealing with, like, you know, hyper smart, aggressive person on the other side of the table. And and I'm you know, in the beginning I was super, you know, from Montana, and I'm not, You know why Combinator was illuminating. But I really didn't know what I was doing when I was raising money. And ah,

and the thing that fortified me because you get rejected most of the time was if this person so smart. Why do they live here? Because it is a shit hole, like all of mountain view all of like Silicon Valley. I mean, I understand that used to be rural, but now it is just It's just like strip mall, fake city, strip mall, highway, strip mall, fix city. Just like Why did you like? It's crazy if you're a capable, educated, wealthy adult and you put up with that every day,

it's like it blows my mind, like you either think you're never gonna die or you don't fully understand, like our temporal time on earth. And, uh um, and how much better, like other parts of the world are? Sorry.


No, it's It's really hard to see that I think when you're in your early twenties and then what? And I think if you don't have a family and you wanna start a company when I just work in it all the time, some of it makes sense and that your friends and your veces live kind of, you know, 10 minutes right away. But yet, in the grand scheme of things, there's so many beautiful, fantastic places all over


the country. Did it doesn't make any sense because you actually can't like in New York City or in San Francisco to do to go anywhere. It takes like an hour and 1/2 just like go to the go to a restaurant, to go out like all that stuff consumes your day, even like going to have coffee with your vet with your investor or whatever is like two hours of just nothingness, you know, here, like I am so efficient. I walked to work in the beginning, you know, John Reese and I would sit down. We code all day and we go home. We we didn't have to walk to work, but like there's no waste, there's no fluff. There's no traffic. There's no B s coffee.

There's no, um, meetings. There's no, you know, there's just focusing on the thing at hand. There's no proxy for the actual doing. Um, and I think it's crazy that people go there. I mean, I understand one or two companies blossom into these $1,000,000,000 companies, but I have a very strong feeling that's all about the end, like if you are still living there in 10 years. Ah, it doesn't make it. I totally get it for also for immigrants like it would make sense to me if I was coming from like 1/3 World country.

And you're getting a job is like the next step. But if you if if If. If you're starting on third base, which most Americans mostly educated Americans are and you live in one of the city's, um I don't get it doesn't It doesn't translate to me at all. I don't It actually makes me Generally. I think when I meet, people do that. I think less of them since they have cancer, because now I'm super nice. But before I can't say I used to think less of him. Sir,


there's that Michael pre cancer coming through working it, Michael. Work at it. No missile. Uh, I mean, the last time I was he was a lovely city. So yeah, I can I can feel the wives. I'm not


even promoting Missoula. I'm just promoting anywhere in the world that isn't a strip mall and and a bunch of Maserati dealerships, you know, like mountain you in particular freaking nuts, like That's the dumbest place I've ever been


and a mountain view for like $4 million. She can probably give, like an apartment. For $4 million you can get, like, an entire mountain with a house on the top.


You can like, Yeah, Literally. Like, like, 5 6000 I mean, for hunting for six or $700,000 you could get $4 million house. That's a comfortable house. Um,


yeah, well, let me know when the house goes for selling in neighborhood. Yeah, but okay. Yeah. Did did you want to finish


this year ago? No, no, no. I'm just got on my rant. And now I'm a little sheep sleep sheepish Noah


old things that I'm really glad he came on the show. And we talked about this because I think it's really important for people to hear and that there's life outside of Silicon Valley. Thinks happened. You can still run a company. You were prime example. You know, things are going. It's a normal started, but things are going well, you know, and ah, and it allows. You're sort of a very different life in fulfilling life and the life that you control. Yeah, and you can still, I mean, there's always challenges and sometimes regrets, but you can still have kids, you know you can do all these things And there's like, You can take this weird passing life from being a writer to be in a startup founder and be successful. So I loved every minute of it.


Yeah, actually, Can I, like, call out something like some of the great companies that are in Missoula right now, you have started in the last few years. There's Audience Awards, which is a film which is an entertainment based film platform orbital shift, which does shift management and his, you know, like, really like going up against the big dogs like a teepee and class pass, which was a New York based company has. Suddenly they doubled their staff here. They just got here in January, I think. And,

um, they're they're hiring. They've got 175 people over there. Um, and there it doesn't seem like they're gonna quit, which is pretty exciting. And then on its maps, which is is it started as a hunting company, but now it's basically Google maps for anywhere that isn't a road. It's essentially off, um, wilderness G p GPS tracking. And they're killing summit just put $23 million into him so that the fact that you used to not be able to start companies here because there was no capital, so you had to bootstrap everything, which is good and bad. But now you can actually do either.

Now, like, um, there's stuff that you can we can raise serious rounds. They raised a $23 million Siri's a unbelievable company. Geo flies like three or four kids that they're killing out there, selling directly to schools for essentially customizing a school's admissions page based on where the the, um, the user is coming from. So if you're applying to University Montana from Baltimore, you'll get a different experience. And if you're applying from Missoula and it's just like there's companies and I'm probably missing my 10 gather board, which is another company for community sort of engagement, um, it's it blows my mind that there's so much they're all these companies here. And then there's submittal,

which you know, out of all of these companies, Middle is obviously the best, um, and has most promised. But, uh, I'm skipping, but, um, but I I I think if you're not living in a town like Missoula. Uh um, you're not thinking thing. You're not


thinking things through. I think you're right. I I think you know, for everyone who is considering that they're tired off. You know, high high rents, high prices for everything, and they're ready to kind of change the lifestyle. Musical or towns like that is it is an amazing place to go


because you can still be ambitious and also have a great daily life. Um, it's


and you might get to hang out with Michael.


Don't ask me for coffee that you don't have to go out for coffee. Ah, but now, uh, the yeah. Anyway, thanks for having me on.

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