Raising kids could be daunting, or it could ba lot of fun. Nathan is a startups founder and a dad who is making the best of every opportunity. We talk about his family, his work, and how the two intertwine to create a happy and healthy lifestyle.
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Welcome back to the show.
This is your host,
My guest today is nascent.
Me Mason is Ah,
He's a dad and a youtuber.
I gonna have a lovely conversation about what it's like to be in debt And 2020 what it's like to be doing a startup and raising your kid and how he can take all the lessons from start of life and applied to family,
life and future,
our Children and work and everything in between.
it's been a lovely conversation.
I think you're really going to enjoy it. So without further ado, let's dive right in. All right, Nathan, welcome to the ride that show. Thanks, man. Thanks for inviting me. Of course. Uh, honestly, I've been watching YouTube videos and you spend a ton of time with your daughter and I thought, This is so awesome. Your star of founder, your white commentator Alum.
You know your spend time with your kid. How cool is that? So I want to hear more about all of those things. Cool for sure. But before we begin, tell us, what do you do now? You know a little bit about who you
I do a lot of projects right now,
I'm still kind of looking for,
the next big thing to kind of sink my teeth into some dabbling in a few things.
one thing I do is I help a company called Rockstar Coders.
kind of his a c t o.
I do typically help them internally with things,
whether it's hiring,
solving their own kind of technique,
But I also do a lot of consulting,
um, working with a couple clients. Now, I'll take on some interim kind of CTO projects. Um, so that's that takes up about kind of half of my work time, the other half the time. Just kind of launching little things. Just trying to feel out. Another project. Ah. Little while ago, I launched the whole locomotion. That is kind of like a stop motion. Just a tool to make stop motion. A lot easier about to launch something this week. Cult film. Hope that makes YouTube split testing a lot easier. Um, so just dabbling right now in some projects.
Okay, well, that's a fantastic place to be. You get to explore, you get to play. I mean, we've talked about this with other dads on the show. Kids get to play a lot, and you know, we generally don't have expectations from kids on about accomplishing something specific, and it seems like adults forget how to do that. So I'm really excited to hear this about you and how you kind of just experiment.
And it's really it's funny because it's like at some levels,
on some days it's a little stressful,
there's that that,
I really wish I knew I had this,
real clear vision about the future,
Like I've started a couple companies now,
like y Combinator and and done some things that,
really took me down a path that lasted years.
And, you know, it's like, Oh, I wish I had that project in my hands right now, but at the same time, I'm like, you're saying, like I'm in that place where I just get to play like nothing really matters. Like I could have put something out there, turn it off. Um, you know, change it without making anyone upset. You know, like I was I didn't have that opportunity.
You know when When you launch a business and you start bringing in tens, hundreds, thousands of customers, it's like quite a different animal toe play. You kind of can't, um so yeah, just based on kind of that perspective, like this is either really should be a really good time, like you're saying. And when I have the right perspective, it does feel like that.
Yeah, actually, can you talk about this more? What's the difference between, you know, playing on projects where you don't really have big expectations? Vs being, ah, founder of ah, like VC fund the company versus, like, your stinted high rise, where you were basically growing the product that already existed Close it like both interns work emotions, family like everything.
I think it's largely just about expectations,
It's like when you when you start having expect external expectations,
it's either either it could be small,
even if you're bootstrapping and you bring on you know,
there that partner's gonna have expectations about how things go and when you start getting that first customer,
that first customer is going to start having expectations.
And then when you start bringing on,
if you start going the VC route,
even if you do,
small, even if you start with ah ah ah, you know something like y Combinator, they've got expectations, and it's like when you start bringing in those those external expectations. I think that that that feeling of play starts to leave and you start. It's like, isn't it? Isn't it doesn't feel like playing anymore, and so it's kind of nice, like, right now there's like, no expectations, like I do my job for rock star and then have all this free time just to put projects out there. But I don't have any partners expecting anything for me. I don't have any customers expecting anything for me or V.
C's or Angel investors. Nothing and so I can do whatever I want and put something out there changed my mind 100 times like film. Hope was actually something I created about a year ago, and then I just kind of put it on the on the shelf for a while. And now I just decided, Well, you know what? I should just finish that thing out. And so it just feels good to not have some of those expectations. Um, and and I missed. I missed it. I missed having this. I think when I was, you know, kind of running things a lot more seriously for things like high rise and and and and,
you know, a couple y c startups. Um, so it feels kind of nice not to have, um, those chains, kinda. Um, but it also you know, that constraint of expectations can
be a good thing, too. Everyone, this is your host was just a quick reminder. If you're listening to this episode in your little bit short on time, you can always go to smash notes dot com and find this episode. You'll see episode summary, and you'll be able to look around for the most interesting bits. Click through and listen to just those bits first. Then you can always go back and listen to the rest of the episode. Once again, it's smash notes dot com. You confined episode summaries for this episode and many, many others. Check it out. Now let's get back to Nathan. I mean, do you find yourself more productive doing these playful projects versus doing something where you have hard deadlines.
I that's a really interesting question,
and for me personally,
I think this is just something because,
maybe I've been doing this long enough.
I've I feel like I'm a pretty productive and efficient worker.
And so me personally,
I don't think it really matters.
I've gotten pretty good at just boiling things down to kind of essential things I need to do to get something out there,
And I think it took practice.
But I've gotten pretty good at just saying no to a lot of things,
Like pretty good about If there's a thought that creeps into my head like, Oh, wouldn't this product be better if it had X and why I'm pretty good at just putting that on a list somewhere, like not letting it stress me out that it doesn't have that. I mean, I screw that up too. Sometimes, like film Hope is a really great example, like one of the things I think that kept film hope from launching a year ago when I was really kind of done with it, like a good version. One was there was like, all this extra stuff I wanted and I started tooling with it and putting some extra things in there. And then I went down this thread that took extra long. So I screw this up to I'm not perfect. But, um,
you know, I think it really has just taken practice practice. It's saying no 100 times, even to myself. Um, just to get good at putting really simple, efficient things out there. So no for me playing or working for someone I've gotten pretty good at, Like, just getting efficient and not not experimenting too much that I never
ship anything, huh? Oh, yeah. That's the key that you gotta ship product, right? Regardless. And I think if you need another project that you just came up with, the ah, uh, admitted ago It's gonna be called Boil things down. And it's a book on how to be productive and shipped product. That's right. So there you go. So how does your family fit into all of this? You know, does your wife work so you can pay the bills Or do you know, does your kid go to school? How do you How do you make this fun time Work with work time?
work time is still serious time.
work work pays me Well,
I do still do Quite a bit of consulting for,
pretty serious projects.
both both my wife and I work.
My wife works for one password.
Yep. My kid goes to school. She's She's five years old. She just started kindergarten. Um, in terms of how you know, things work. I mean, I still kind of time box myself. I don't You know, I still kind of treat my my work week kind of like a 40 to 50 hour work week. Um, you know, But when she comes home from school, I'm done working. You know,
it's like just just her, and it's just family time. And when she goes to bed, you know, I allow myself to kind of bring out the computer again and start doing something, whether it's, you know, finishing something out at a consulting project, or it's, you know, working on one of my projects or editing videos from a YouTube channel um so for me, man, like I've always been, you know, a hard worker. And I love working on these projects,
but yeah, ever since having a kid like it's really all about family. And like, I it's not just it's not just my, you know, local family here of wife and child. But it's like it's also something I realized about my parents, like my father's had some health problems over the last, you know, year and 1/2. Ah, and so it's really kind of raised that awareness that no family first like, I'm not going to say I'm not gonna take my weekends and turn them into work hours. Um, you know, unless it's like,
super convenient to do it. But it's like, No, I want that those weekends, especially for, like, family time like Well, my kid's not going to school. I'm gonna squeeze every minute of hanging out with her and my parents and just enjoying family. So for me, everything's family first, Um, so there really is no question about balance. It's like when families around, I'm in it. When,
when When family is doing school and work. Then, you know, I I I squeeze those hours into as much get as much work as I can out of him. Because when when my kid comes home that that's all I want to do.
Yeah, And that comes through in your YouTube videos, too, because it's not like, Hey, look at me riding a bike around town, you know, talking about startups. It's like, Hey, look, I'm walking around with my family with my kid. We're doing something, and that's, Ah, it actually paints an impression. Like you guys actually spend, like, a ton of time together.
it's like you know it.
and like a good example was like,
my sister got married a couple weeks ago and we my mom had to get a new dress and my my wife had to get a new dress for her wedding.
And so they were gonna go shopping in a mall,
and I can't stand shopping like I hate shopping.
I never go shopping,
but because my whole family is going shopping,
it's like I'm totally going like you can't leave me because I want to hang out with with you guys.
And it turned out to be,
like a fun time, like we turned it into Not just your typical shopping trip, but that's that's just kind of like a good example, like, yeah, all I want to do is hang out with my family. Um, but I still love working. I just find a good way to balance those two, actually.
Can you tell me now that we I'm visualizing you and your YouTube channel right now and taking your family shopping with a camera in hand? So everything, What does it feel like to be a YouTube star and do that? And also, I think your daughter really loves it, but, you know, just by wishing it what about your wife like this? Does she love it, though? It kind of tolerated.
How does it work?
Thanks for calling me co star.
that is also thank you for those insanely kind words.
she This is a really Yeah.
I feel like it's changed along the years,
I don't think my you know,
I've been doing this for a few years now.
Kind of recording a lot of the stuff that goes on with our family.
Um, you know, I think it might have annoyed. I think my daughter was interested in for a while. Then she got annoyed with it. Now she's back to being interested in it again. Um, you know, it's something funny about my daughter being five. She's getting into things like I'm just kind of seeing the culture that she's exposed to. Now there there's a show that's on television right now that she really enjoys Barbie Dreamhouse adventures. This is like a really popular show for kids probably aged 5 to 10 years old or something. And what's funny about that show is Barbie on this show is of Logar like the show that they're watching is essentially a vlog episode that Barbie has created, You know, like they'll show her kind of editing a video, and she'll pop out and kind of provide,
like a meta analysis of this show she's editing for youto watch. And so this whole blogging thing is becoming so normal, and it's just such a part already of kind of the culture that my daughter's in, that she digs it. She's totally into it. Um, I respect though, Like you probably won't find me, you know, filming her, you know, having a meltdown or something like that because I don't want to embarrass her. I don't want her to look back on any of this stuff and be like Dad, Why did you embarrass me? So I try to be pretty sensitive to stuff like that. Um,
you know that that's still kind of goes on, and and I tryto really incorporate stuff she wants to do in these videos. As for my wife kind of same thing. I mean, I just try to respect her boundaries, and, you know, she gets into it. She knows she wants to support me doing this and and you know it. I really want my wife in it more, actually. You know, But she's, you know, she does her own thing. She's extremely busy with work.
I was she I could get her on more. She's got a lot of interesting things to say. Um and ah, yeah, it actually becomes kind of a weird thing, like she'll say something, and I'll actually make her repeat it because, like, I didn't have a camera rolling at the time when I do that. That starts, I think annoy her a little bit because she finds herself having to repeat herself over and over again throughout the day. But I think, for the most part, she tolerates it and, you know, kind of enjoys it cause she sees that I enjoy it,
and then Addison's been enjoying it. So for the most part now, I think we've kind of figured out how to kind of incorporate it without making all of us miserable that we're all of our stuff is on, you know, YouTube. Right now,
it's a great insight for everyone who is doing YouTube channel.
I just saw Ah,
who was one of the partners at Y Combinator.
he's got Yeah,
VC fund of his own.
He started YouTube channel and also putting his family.
And I think I'm gonna send of this so he could listen to like,
maybe I should keep this in mind,
how not to I know your family went 01 while you longing Yeah.
Yeah, that's amazing. You know, you said that, um, Barbie on the cartoon has, um, as a vlog And that's very different. From what? Somehow you and I grew up right here. How do you you know, teacher kid or ah envisioned her future and kind of helper navigated, Given that technology in the world is changing so much and that just view log, you know, the attention, the devices,
and it just it the world's changed, right? Like over the last 20 years. What do you think Hearse is gonna look like? And how you gonna prepare her for it? Given everything you know and everything you've done?
you're totally right.
and in man,
we could probably talk for an hour.
Just about this topic alone.
And it's like it sound like I have all the answers.
It's not like she's only five,
so I feel like I could really screw this up.
certain things I do keep in mind,
I do see. I mean, I think we're as we're speaking about this one of the top post on hacker news, right? This second is a post about, like, quitting social media and how I think it's in the New York Times. It's like an op ed in The New York Times about, you know, somebody feeling like a nobody until they quit social media, right? Because it's like when you're on social media, you have all these metrics about, like, how many friends you haven't likes. You have.
And if you put stuff out there and people aren't liking it and people aren't following, you're retweeting stuff, you feel like you feel less than who you should feel like. And it's so easy to do now like, yeah, when we, you know, we were growing up, we didn't have this extra force that makes us feel like we're nobody Just because we don't have, you know, 100 people Retweeting something clever. We said, So it's but it is. It exists. And it's like, you know,
I'm not gonna quit social media like I enjoy using Twitter, enjoy using YouTube and, you know, it's just it's there, and I don't see us all shutting it out. Um, so some of the stuff that I keep in mind are, you know where even though we do things like blogging, like, we don't do a lot of device stuff in the house like my daughter. She uses an iPad, but pretty sparingly. Um, you know, like, one thing that happens and I don't know if a lot of new parents realizes When your kid gets to school,
lice becomes like a really problem, something that you have got to keep controlling for and watching out for, um, more than I think we did when I was a kid. Like now these lights have become like super bugs. And so it's funny, like we let my daughter watch what we do. Lice checks on her. You know, that's when she gets to use her iPad, right. It's like it's like here's this released, uncomfortable, boring thing we have to do or we have to check her head. Well, let's give her,
you know, let's let her watch Barbie's Dream House, you know, on her iPad Then. So we use it sparingly. You know, we don't just sit around when she comes home from school. We don't really just sit around watching TV and looking at devices. It's all about like getting a meal together, talking to each other, reading books together, Um, the only the only thing I do give her freedom to do with her device. We actually have. Ah, an allocation of minutes she can use to use her device tow,
watch things like Lego friends or Barbie. And so she has these minutes to use in those minutes can go up if if certain good things happen and they can go down if bad things happen. But one thing that we let her do is she can use her device to film and record and create things for free. So if she's gonna use it to, like, record a video, she can just use that as much as she wants. Like, that's not gonna count. Because there's something I tried that. Well, I guess what I'm trying to get to, like, I'm trying to split it too. Consuming media and like creating something with it if you want to consume it, fine.
But you gotta keep that toe like a budget. You got to be careful. But if you want to create something, go to town like usual device and create something awesome, like, I'm gonna bless you and let you do more of that. So that's one thing I keep in my mind that I want to, like, allow her to do kind of think about these tools is more like artistic creative devices than just like devices to consume a bunch of junk food. Um, that's a big
one for me,
I'm nodding because I'm trying to do the same.
And we have bean very strict on the devices and trying to my oldest is four and 1/2.
very close in age.
And it's really hard because it's like,
why do you get to spend old day in front of a computer?
And I can't have my 15 minutes washing Acre tune right?
It's like welfare point.
I could explain,
you know, a four year old doesn't quite understand. By the way, anyone listening to this it's a little late, but don't Google lice. Well, listening to this, uh,
just say the word, my like, I don't even think I've never had lice, But saying the word like makes me itch like I It's so disgusting. Yeah, I hate it. Pictures weren't pretty. Yeah, but, um, but one thing I'm kind
Maybe where it is a strong word,
but my immediate reaction was like too okay,
I will enable creation,
no grand parents gave Ah,
my my oldest,
like a little kid camera.
And she had fun playing with that.
I was like,
why don't I give you,
a real camera?
One of my older cameras,
right? I give it to her and she can take, like, actual pictures she loves, like taking pictures of her sister and of me. But then I'm also kind of curious. Is that Is that the same idea is just consuming junk food? Because at the end of the day, you know, you walk around taking pictures, you get a bunch of pictures and now what? Right. Like creation stops, it becomes this, like addiction. I'm not sure I'm just speaking out loud here, all right? Like,
it's a good question,
and I mean,
it's it's it's hard to speak about it because,
I'm not totally there yet,
like she just she she's so just dabbling in this stuff that I don't even see any of this becoming dangerous yet,
like I've given her like a GoPro.
She's got this Amazon fire that has a camera on it.
she records just here and there,
and it better.
And we keep her interest so varied,
Like, she doesn't get addicted to any of this stuff, you know, like she she'll try it. But then she's, like, immediately moving on to something else and then something else. So I'm not there yet. Where I where I am worried about that? Um, I mean, I do. But I'm with you. I mean, yeah, Look,
I don't want her to feel like, you know, I read all these every all these other articles about, like, kids and teenagers, and all they do is, you know, they try to have this family time that everybody's on their phone, and it's in my mind like so I try to be a good example now, like when we're eating, you know, dinner. Uh, I'm not on my phone answering messages and having worked communication. Don't distract myself. Um,
and so hopefully that behavior is gonna be a good model. So that when you know, she does start having her own friends online, like, you know, like, Well, Dad wasn't distracted when he was doing these things with me, and I won't be either. I mean, that's what I'm fingers crossed. That's what our future is gonna be like. I'm sure it's not going to be like that. I'm sure is gonna be a lot more difficult than that. But, you know,
I don't know. I Yeah, I don't have the answers to that. Um, you mentioned something.
You mentioned something in passing, which I've heard before on the my episode with the H Age and and I guess, is a key that you know, you your daughter switches content. And so it's important to just have new material available for her that she can switch to. That's more interesting than a device. And then it's okay. Because then you give her something and then she gets engaged into that one. It's the problem. Occurs, I guess if you don't have anything and there's nothing to do, and then there's only device
in front of her,
like I said,
we we try not to make sure like that device isn't the go to thing ever when she's trying to entertain herself.
it's for lice.
uh it's Ah,
and maybe That's what's helped,
It's like her default mode when she comes home is to do something either, you know, on her own independently, probably with like, um, you know, some craft thing that she started at school, that she's finishing at home or something with me, you know, we'll work on something together with Mom or help cook. So, yeah, right now, I feel like we've given her enough things that nothing, you know, feels,
I think too addicting or, you know, that she sucked in too much. Um, I also really worry about like when her friends are old enough to start communicating together like, I'll see her actually pretend like she's communicating with her friends on the phone, right? She's got, like, a ah play kitchen, which came with a play phone, and she'll dial up fake numbers and talk to her friends on this fake phone. And, you know, I mean, that was something,
you know, even even us. You know, we at least had friends. We could maybe call on the phone, remember that, becoming a big thing. But when it you know, he starts becoming digital and there's group texts and messages, I just talked with a friend of mine that there was like a group conversation with a bunch of friends that entered into bullying a little bit, or like at least one of the people on this group. Thread felt like that they were being bullied or that or that people were kind of saying some insensitive things towards her. And I think one of the things that stood out about that story for my friend was simply like these parents were close with each other. And when they heard that this happened, they coordinated to make sure that this was resolved. Um,
so that's just something that I'm just kind of keeping in my pocket, like for when the time comes that my daughter is communicating with more and more people online that at least I know who those people are online. And I know the parents and, you know, we try to keep, you know, I guess, I guess, like a community going, you know, like I know right now there's a meet up with for the parents of my daughter's classroom, and I like I'm definitely gonna be there, like so that I could meet the other parents um I mean, so it's just something I'm kind of keeping in mind that I just need a kind of keep a community going of the people my daughter is associating with, and hopefully that's gonna help for future problems like that,
right? So you can't prevent this, you know, entertainment, discovery, et cetera. But you can at least box it into something that you approve of,
right and and be able to kind of take,
some sort of constructive,
ways to fix it because,
no doubt she's gonna run into trouble online,
all teenagers bump into something,
All kids bump into something.
They kind of wish they either hadn't said or they're part of AA group communication,
feels badly about it.
And so that's going to happen. You know, sheltering people from it is probably not the right thing. But maybe providing the tools toe fix those situations is probably something you know, that that I should be ready for. And that will
help in the future.
how's it going so far?
Are you loving this conversation with Nathan?
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there was less attention to political correctness and sensitivity, which wasn't necessarily great because people were offended and wasn't paying attention to. But I feel like today we live in the world where that swung the other way and you can't see anything without offending a You know somebody and so you basically can't see anything. Um, do you feel that may have been the case or, you know, if whether or not it is like, how do you think about that? Ah, with
your kid's future,
I don't know.
I don't know.
I don't know if I the on some on some level,
I I kind of agree that there are things that were more the group of all of us are more aware of certain things that are being said that,
2030 years ago would have passed without any kind of mention I would I disagree with.
I guess where I think the difference is is that we now are more aware that it offends someone.
But it always offended someone,
Like I don't think it didn't offend anybody back then when somebody said something,
I just I think we're more aware because people can be more vocal today.
You know that people have more ways of talking to get their messages out,
like using social media like using Twitter like using YouTube.
And so smaller groups of people that may have been quietly offended before can be more vocal about problems they've had. And I don't I don't think that's a bad thing. I mean, I I think it's educating my behavior. I mean, I look att, something that I've struggled with and I still struggle with. It is just even using the plural form of guys to address an audience. And I think that this could fit into something. I think, where people feel. Ah, this is a bigger deal than you know, like bring it back a second. Like I, I will typically have always,
typically said like, Hey, guys, let's go Our guys nice seeing you all for a group of people that are men women, uh, or people that don't even identify as such, right? Like I will just say Guys is a generic prone on for everybody. And today I had, you know, now realize they're actually quite a few people who take offense to being called a guy that take offense to being in a group where I'm using the word guys and because of social media, I mean, that has been brought to my attention, and I'm now much more aware of it. And so I don't think that's a bad thing. Like I have not eradicated it from my language.
Um, I try now, though, Like, I definitely try much harder. Um, but I'm not perfect at it yet, And I don't think it's a bad thing to kind of have that that that voice of Hey, I don't feel good when you use that language around me. I mean it definitely, you know, makes my my vocabulary may be a little more, Um, I don't know. Yes, something I have to think about that I didn't before,
but I don't think that's a bad thing necessarily. You know, it's like I I I kind of like that. I'm getting some pushback and I get to grow and learn, and and and I think it's making me a better person. Um, so, yeah, I don't I don't know. I don't I don't really think there's much of a downside, like, I don't really think about it being politically in those terms of politically correct and incorrect and Now that we have to watch ourselves so much more, I just I try to use it Is something toe kind of help grow from, Um but that's that's just my perspective on
it. Right. So it may have introduced a couple of new challenges, but overall, it's in that positive
for me. Yes, that's that's how I look at it.
I might have to cut this out later, but I heard the sun Twitter is ah, you know, solution to Hey, guys, is if you want to go gender neutral, it's hate clowns. Yeah, yeah, yeah. There is social media for you, you know, tasty outer. Yeah. And Ah. And that's why people are quitting Twitter now, because
you could get a little interesting.
I you know,
I I will try to say also,
I try to understand both sides,
like I get I get it to that.
Some people feel like we're being overly sensitive to a lot of things.
I I try to understand that argument also like,
but for me,
I feel like I can find some some nugget of, you know, like Yes, if this is making someone offended, there's probably an ounce of something that we all can learn from that and get better at. We don't have to, like, immediately become defensive about it. We don't have to put them down. We don't have to make a joke out of it. Um, that's that's where that's where I try to come from When I, you know, in these types
of situations No, no, it's a It's a great way to look at it at the other day. Well, will be all happier if we're all happier. Yeah, fingers crossed, right? Right. You also said something about you know, when your daughter comes from school and she can play on her own. And I'm very curious about this. Like, how did you encourage independence and disability to just do suddenly without the parents involved for a while? That's a good question. Um, I mean, did you have to encourage it or she's naturally just totally fine doing that
because she's kind of natural,
just fine doing it.
She's a pretty independent kid.
I don't Yeah,
maybe that's one of the things that I didn't even really think about.
like I feel,
maybe it's like genetics there,
but it's like,
I'm a pretty independent worker.
My wife is a very independent person.
we like collaborating,
but, like, I mean, I even look it like what I do today. I I really like doing things on my own. And I like taking ownership of, like, all the pieces. You know, these projects I'm working on now. I love doing all of it, and I know a lot of people get frustrated with, like, you know, they're developer in the they don't feel comfortable doing the design or they think they need a marketing person or a business person or, ah,
business person's got a great idea, but I don't want to learn to code. I mean, I love learning all of it so I can feel independent in that. Nobody's holding me back, and so maybe it's just something she's inherited for me and my wife and I look it when I take her to go, Um, when we try to do something that I know she's not very good at yet what, like a sports? Maybe it's like biking or golf We've been taking her to the driving range recently. She's super independent, like she does not want my help. Um, but she's terrible at golf, right? I mean,
she's She swung a golf club twice, now in her life, and she's very good at it yet, of course, but man like she does not want me like helicoptering over her and correcting everything she does. She wants me to, like, go away, and she's gonna practice on her own. So this is something that might be more nature than nurture. Um, but maybe, maybe also, it's just kind of natural for me to like. I I'm very receptive of her wanting to be independent. So,
like, I don't you know, I don't ah, slather her with criticism constantly, right? Like when I see her like, we'll go back to the Gulf example. But when she's swinging a golf club, you know, I try to offer something, but it's real gentle. I don't sit there being like, Okay, you got to do this. You got to do this. You got to do this like I know she doesn't want that.
So I don't I don't even bother giving her, you know, the lecture of all the rules of things that she should be thinking about. Um, so for me, it's like and I don't know, like, I champion being independent, and so I kind of maybe understand what she wants, as is an independent person and just kind of let her roll with whatever she wants to do, whether she's gonna screw up or, you know, she's gonna screw up and then we'll try to fix it and correct from there.
No, I love it. That's definitely how I raising my kids and trying to push for it. In fact, we tried a couple different schools, and one of them, you know, there's a different schools out there for everyone. Right then one of them was, Ah, I kind of like this. And the other one was extreme opposite of this. Where if a kid made a mistake, they'll eventually swooping and help correct the mistake and sure, the right way, and just like
that takes all the fun
and the right. Yeah, make mistakes. They should learn from their mistakes. Yeah,
I would say one thing that I was cognizant of.
this is maybe just we lucked into this,
but I think it's been a good parenting trick is we let her make a lot of decisions,
even as a group.
So like this is going to shock some people,
But like she has actually been kind of in control off where she goes to school.
And I don't even think she realizes the power she's had.
But like when my wife and I were studying things like preschools for her to go to,
there's a bunch of preschools in our neighborhood.
We let it up to her like we had eliminated it down to,
two or three,
that we felt like we're good options and we were kind of having a hard time deciding.
We just asked her.
I mean, this is nuts. She's like, you know, like she's 23 years old, barely able to make, uh words correctly, and she's directing where she wants to go to school and whether or not I mean that, that might seem stupid. At two years old, she probably doesn't even like realize what she did. But, I mean, we thought it was a pretty good idea. It's like, well,
she can't really make the wrong choice because we can't even decide which school to go to. So whichever one she chooses is fine by us. It's probably, Ah, fine decision. And then when the first school when it was coming, time to decide, Should we change schools because she had gone through a year? It's like, Well, she could actually now is old enough to go into this other school. We gave the decision to her again and again. It was like, Well, she can't make a bad choice here like she could choose to change schools or not. We really don't care,
either. One will probably be fine. She chose to switch schools. She's three years old and she's choosing to switch schools and we let her do it. Um, and so you know, like we wouldn't have let her make a bad choice there. But I think by giving her kind of the authority of a decision like that, she's kind of gotten used to making decisions, and and I think that's been good for her independence in her leadership skills, like she knows that she doesn't, you know, doesn't have to go to Mom and dad to get every decision made that she's gonna have some authority here, too kind of control her life,
right? And I think it's amazing because going back to, you know, you're playing with startups or ideas. I mean, what's wrong with letting your three year old make choices? It was just sort of the norm that people want to make choices for the three year olds, but but really, you just described her making the choice. And then the day you presented her was too equally lovely. Choice is right. It's not like you're like Go live on the streets
or go to preschool,
it's funny because I bring this up with some parents and they they like,
Are you serious?
You did that.
we were practically ready to flip a coin.
Anyways, why don't we just ask her preference and stick to it? Um, I don't want Yeah, I I I almost don't understand why that is a novel thing to do, but it seems like it proves out to be kind of a novel thing to let your kid make some of them or important choices, Um, to know we let her Her vote carries a lot of weight in our house.
You know, there's just reminded me about one story. My wife signed me up for this parenting class one time. She thought that I Well, the difference between us, for example, is she loves to study, and, you know, I don't want to go anywhere in your school, but I thought Okay, fine. You know, if she thought it was she went to a class. She says, Well, I was really useful. So, uh, sign up and went to and we're chatting with appearance and one mom
how do you fix this problem?
And that was about the choice.
Exactly what you said.
My advice was like,
why don't you ask?
How do they feel?
And but you should have seen that,
She looked at me like I was crazy.
She was like you.
She literally thought I was joking,
no, I grew up with my parents, told me exactly what to do. And I was like, Well, is this really helpful to you right now? You know, it's like, Well, you But it's amazing, right? Like people just people are in their ways, and but this is this is our way. I mean, I love what you're saying about letting kids make choices because I think it's that's how you're gonna make them better humans for the future.
Totally. Yeah, yes. I mean, like like I said, like, we kind of just naturally got into it. But if you look, it's proven to be a good thing now, you know, like a couple 23 years later, I think she's She feels good, you know? She feels more comfortable, kind of being the leader and and speaking up for herself like, Hey, let's do this because that's what she gets to do at home.
Hey, and you know, switch gears for a minute. Let's talk about your choices and in all the projects you've released in stirrups and can you tell me about one that was, You know, your favorite.
That's a good question.
That's tough right there.
They're all you know,
my little babies.
I would say the thing that that the one,
They they all have like and they are like Children,
They all have like all these little different strengths and they all like meant something different at the time when they were happening.
like getting in a y Combinator the first time.
that was like a major like mine shift that I could do this on my own,
like I don't have to work for a big company,
that I can make decisions and and run a business.
But I would say I think draft,
which came out of a bunch of failed stuff like I don't know if people realize this, but Draft is technically a y Combinator project like draft The writings offer and made a draft in dot com came out of the rubble of what we started with a Y Combinator, which was like a branded gaming startup, um called city posh and so city posh didn't work out. Um, I tried a number of other things. I ended up taking a break, and then in the end, I created draft, which is this writing software which I still use every single day, like all day long, and a bunch of other people do, too. So that one for me it is really special because it's still something like I use every day. I built it for that purpose, like I've always been with with inkling,
which was my first y Combinator startup. What stunk about that project was it was always something that was for other people, like I originally intended it to be something that would help me make decisions but really quickly re realized the people that would we would get money from were like a big companies. So all of our customers were like giant corporations or the government, and it was never somebody like me who would use this tool. But with draft, I refuse to do that again. Like I made sure draft was going to be a thing made just for me. And if other people were going to use it, awesome if they weren't, I don't really care, because at least I have a very super useful tool out there in the world that I can use. And it just so happened like, yeah, a bunch of other people didn't want to use it and still want to use it today and pay me for it. Um,
so that one is a real special one. Just because like I said, like it was the first time. Like, I think I really got to chew on a project that meant, Ah, great deal to me personally and then turned out to be something Sema somewhat lucrative in the in the world that that could pay for itself.
That I'm curious. You know, if and I've seen you talk about draft tweet about it, is it capt and its growth rate right now? Or is there a way to 10 X debt?
There's probably a way to 10 exit like it's It's something if this is one of those places that I'm still kind of in limbo with of making choices about because it's like when I was running it.
like I'm gonna screw up the dates here.
But like I forget when I launched it,
I might have launched in like 2013.
and then the opportunity to run high rise came and I end up kind of putting draft on the back burner like it kind of went into just kind of maintenance mode where,
I would I would keep it up to date and and things fixed and running.
because I was gonna use it still constantly,
and everybody else was going to use it constantly.
But I I had all these different kind of ideas about what to do about growing it.
like whether it's other features or you know how to grow it,
revenue wise that I just didn't do.
And so now that I'm not doing,
I rise, it's It's, It's it's there. It's a decision I've gotta make Whether or not I'm going to kind of re embrace draft and those those things I could maybe do to maybe 10 exit I mean, I I do think like, you know, I just got an email from someone yesterday that was like Draft is such a gem and like I see Draft mentioned over and over again and blog's about writing tools out there and and things authors can use. And so it's still something that's like, top of mind for a bunch of people, and I don't capitalize on that. And so it is something that's totally Capt. Artificially just because of my lack of work on it. Um, So, yes, the answer is yes.
It is artificially cap growth wise. Mmm. Interesting. Yeah, I've seen
in being, you know, a second time founder. And now I've seen the attitude from founders changed from, like, Let's do a $1,000,000,000 business and dominate the world to like, let's make something that people really love And also, you know, something that pays the bills, uh, maybe disregarding draft. What's your vision on your next project? Like, Are you experimenting because you want to find something that is like draft but makes maybe a little bit more money or you're looking for the next you know, uber opportunity?
I feel like closer to the 1st 1 but still maybe a little bit different.
I still think,
I really enjoyed the experience of working on something like draft that has become,
the desire to work on it has nothing to do with money.
I mean the money,
like my philosophy and working on projects right now.
And I think it would make a lot more people.
Happier is if they worked on things that if if you weren't able to find a single customer,
you would still use that thing.
lot like it has this crazy men,
if it like. I don't think anybody works on stuff like this. For some reason, I don't know why. Because I think people are always chasing money and they get they caught up in what everybody else wants they forget. Like what? What would make something truly useful for them, for example, like a sea? People work on all these different ideas about, um, you know, let's just say Let's just say it's like a C R M tool or it's ah, a new in box for your email time and time again. I see people work on this, and if it doesn't get traction,
the marketplace, they just turn these projects off. They don't use them themselves anymore, which just confuses me like it's like if you created this and you knew it was so useful because you're using it yourself every single day, then it doesn't really matter if nobody else uses it. I mean, it's socks like I get it like you want money. Money makes makes things a lot easier if you want to get paid for it. But what if you didn't get paid for? At least you have this gem you can use to make your life better every day, but they don't They throw it away. It turns out it wasn't really all that useful to them either. Um and so I try to use that is like my litmus test for all these projects. Like right now, like locomotion. I don't have a lot of business for locomotion right now.
Like I knew it going into it. That, like, stop motion film making is a very niche industry. Um, you know, like, I was probably gonna have a hard time like finding customers for this. Um, but what I didn't know was if I built it, I'm gonna use it a lot myself. So I don't really get hung up on the difficulty of finding customers for this. Like, I have some ideas of where I could find some kind of lucrative customers for this. And maybe that'll pan out. But it doesn't stress me like it used to stress me for projects where,
you know, like inkling where it's like, nobody's using this. What are we gonna do? You know what was me? Because, you know, I wasn't using inkling myself, but like with locomotion, I fire that thing up constantly to make a little stop. Motion movies, like maybe eventually I'm gonna find some lucrative dollars at the end of this project. Maybe not. But at least I put this out in the world as something I feel like I'm gonna keep using over and over again. Um, so my future project kind of has That is a litmus test.
Um, so money I'm not really concerned about, like, big dollars or big growth or $1,000,000,000 opportunity, Like I'm just focusing on, like, useful tools. And if as long as like I'm happy with it, I'm pretty confident they'll turn in a some kind of opportunity. And it's like a gamma chi I'm not. I'm trying to not get too hung up on Like what? I envision the opportunity to be the delicate A friend of mine who is working on a project. Um and I don't think it got the growth he wanted out of it. But it's turning into, like, a lot of interesting connections for him and his partner to build something else.
And then now they see that something else could be something they could turn into another business. You know, they're going to get an opportunity to spin that off into a generic solution to sell the other people. So I tried to just focus on, like, make something useful, keep putting enough stuff into the world and, like, these opportunities are going to come by whether it's, ah, job at an interesting place to work or it's an acquisition, or it's an opportunity to finally make something that's got some decent traction in the marketplace where a lot of people are gonna buy it. I try to write just kind of let those things happen right now and not get too hung up on forcing them. Um, that's kind of where I'm at.
No, it's a fabulous place to be. It's really stressful to become something thinking of how to make your project into something that makes money.
and I'm just blessed now because I've found this consulting project that allows me to spend my time like that.
And but I and so I This is this This kind of came from a couple things like I was talking to Kevin Hail,
the founder of Wu Fu's use.
Now y c partner kind of just post high rise,
when we all finished high rise,
and that was his advice.
just be careful not to get into something just because you're trying to find the next thing that's going to be big and make a lot of money,
like used this time now to kind of find a passion again for things in the industry,
this this period of play for me now allows me to,
get interesting a lot of different things,
whether it's moviemaking or software development again. And so, like, I get to kind of work on things that come from a place of passion, and it's more fun than kind of stressing out about like, Oh, man, how am I gonna find like, 10 more customers this week? Um, but I was able to do that because I had found this consulting project to give me that that ability and I have a feeling if a lot more people look for projects like this, they could write like I'm consulting just part time, and I don't know if a lot of people look for opportunities like that. They either, like, look for working for someone full time or if they get into consulting,
they take on, like, a 40 hour per week consulting gig. Like you can push back on this stuff. Like we I remember we hired a guy at at at, um here. Here. I'm using the word guy again. This this was ah, man apologists for using the guy prone on here. But we hired a person who, um, at high rise on Lee worked 30 hours a week. It was in his contract, and he did that specifically he pushed back like, No,
you can't get me for 40 hours a week because he wanted that extra time to work on his own projects. Like, I think you just have to, kind of if you're gonna do this, you just gotta have the confidence that your work is good enough that if someone wants you for four hours a week, they're gonna want you for 30 hours a week, and they will understand that you need those the extra time for your own life and projects.
I think you're absolutely right.
And this wave of,
focus more in life than just work is slowly rolling in.
I have friends and a company called Fun Size their designer agency out of Austin.
They've been doing this for well since the start.
I think they basically don't work for more than 32.
I think hours a week.
And for a while they've had a problem.
When they would explain this to their clients in,
the clients would push back and they always be like,
this is This is how we do this.
This makes us happier,
more productive, and we deliver great work. So, like, you know, our work speaks for for itself. And now they think they've down to, like, I'm or up to 20 people and everybody works this way, right? And the whole company doesn't they still delivering great projects. So I think little by little, people are starting to choose life or work to some extent.
And if you're here,
and I don't know what it is.
I think a lot of people don't realize there's there's opportunities out there that aren't always thes full time anchors,
like I I like it said OK,
I'm struggling to clients right now.
For a while there is juggling like five.
Um because they all wanted,
like something that I could do for them,
But none of them,
some of them.
I'm not sure any of them really wanted the expense of me for 40 hours a week.
And so it is kind of opened my eyes that there is actually a lot of opportunities out there where you know,
you can be expensive. Um, but there are There are plenty of potential clients out there that are okay paying those rates, but they're probably just want you part time, like they don't want to pay. You know, that expensive rate 40 hours a week, which is great for you, because then you can spend the rest of your week working on your own projects. Um, but I think it's just starting to kind of trickle in. Yet people, people don't quite fully realize that. Yet they think they're only They're only opportunities air like, full time, you know,
for a big company or full time consulting. Um, they don't They don't play this game where, like, you know, you could just have a part time client or two. And there's a lot of riel small part time gigs out there
and it's a win win because you can raise your prices to work less hours.
Yeah, and as long as you're efficient and putting out good work product like, yeah, like you said, it's a win win Like it, you know, you Ah, you get the extra time and it's easier on their pocketbook, their cash flow. So
I have a couple more questions left,
first of all,
you know your consulting.
You working on this projects you've switched through a number of jobs,
how does your family and I guess your wife specifically deal with you through this whole period?
I'm assuming she knew what she was getting into,
But where they're challenging moments where you had to sec sit down and talk about the progress because I was just talking to another dad who is doing part time consulting and part time start up.
And he was say,
they live in the cheaper area where the expenses air like manageable and so But even then,
there is still sometimes moments,
really like, how high should I go back to my cushy big job? You know, How did it work for you guys? And what advice would you have for other parents going through similar situations?
um You know,
I think most of my life I'm lucky,
I found this awesome woman who kind of understood me immediately.
we actually met in college.
we're actually both chemical engineers.
And so she knew.
You know who I wasthe like,
you know, she she knew right away. You know, my brain was constantly on, you know, all these other projects I wanted to make. And I was this creator, and I wasn't really interested in, you know, working for this, this company making a lot of money. Um, and coming, you know, this career individual. Um,
so you know, obviously I think it wasn't a big surprise that, you know, when in 2005 I was like, Honey, I want to do Why Combinator You know she blessed it, right? So she lived in Chicago while I moved to Silicon Valley To do why Combinator Not once but twice. We didn't have a kid yet, and so yeah, she let me go and move back to California twice, once and at the beginning of 2006 than once in 2011. Um, and And she She was happy happy to do it. Um, so she's just awesome like that.
Um, but other things I think that that enter into a two. I mean, I think we're pretty good about living below our means. Um, neither of us came from very, you know, like, again. This is something you could you could say. We had some unlucky stuff happen in our childhoods. Or you could say we were fortunate to have these things happen in our childhoods. But neither of us grew up with a lot of money. We grew up with Cem Cem very different and interesting financial challenges that I won't get into here. But rest assured, like,
you know, I won't. You know, like, I won't get into a but it's like we had some struggles growing up, both of us, in our families, with money. And so, like, we're used to not having a ton of awesome things, right? Like we're used to. I'm used to driving a junker car. I'd prefer it. Um,
I used to drive a car. Just provide a little color to this. That one of the cars, The car that I had kind of growing up was a car that it, um the windows wouldn't roll down The, uh I didn't have a speedometer. A working spin. Ah, Mina. There's no air conditioning. The here's there's no horn. This is the real kicker, though. It didn't go in, reverse it on Lee parked and went forward. And it was,
ah, like this insanely large car. I'd have to if I ever had a parallel park it. I had to get out of the car and push it back and forth to get into the parking space. Um, so, like, I'm safe? Yeah, it really isn't and it's it's crazy. Like I'd be going on the highway and cops would follow me and I slow like down, and I didn't know how, like I didn't know how fast I was going. So, like, if there was no one else on the highway to follow,
I'd be going. I must have been going like 20 miles an hour. Cops would shine there like spotlights in the car, like, what on earth is this kid doing driving so slow. But I'd just be so paranoid. It's bonkers. There's so many weird stories about how terrible this car was, but it's it's experiences like that that I don't know have have kind of maybe grounded me that I don't need a lot of money. You know, I'd rather not have a car than have, like, an extra car payment and insurance every every every month. Um, so, like,
I just feel like I've I've I've grown up with enough experiences, help kind of ground me to not live outside of my means. And so, you know, like we still are comfortable financially with, you know, like I work my wife works. Um, you know, there has been moments when, you know, like, half post high rise. We were both looking for work, you know, like that's not awesome.
But again, we we don't live very expensively. Um, you know, we've had the car long enough that it's paid off. Um, and and we just are you know, we're very slow to kind of upgrade things. You know, We've been in the same apartment for quite a while. We're not looking to kind of like, make those expensive get bigger and bigger, and I almost don't understand why people do that to themselves, right? They they get a a an extra paycheck, and they start looking for real estate listings to get an extra bedroom in an extra bathroom.
And now you know, the mortgages just gets bigger and bigger, and we're really careful about not doing that. And maybe that's just because of the luck of, ah, where we've you know what's happened to us growing up. I mean, I think all the stuff that people talk about, like the stoicism stuff is really good education for this kind of living, right? Like, uh, Ryan Holiday is a really good author in this domain. Read any read any of his stuff, but he's got some cool stuff on, like,
stoic philosophy. You know, in a lot of that is like, you know, pretend like you were to lose your job and all this bad stuff happens to you, like, what would you do? And if you just if you imagine the worst and you prepare for it like you'll be okay, like you know, you'll figure it out if you know you prepare for something
like that, you know, knowing all of this, Um What? My last question is, how do you consciously think about bringing your daughter into your, like, work life balance and constantly engaging her, cause I can see that you do, but, you know, for for other parents to, ah, to think about this and to figure out tricks and ways to do that. Is there anything you can recommend that enables Your family's gonna spend more time together?
for me again,
this is something maybe I just kind of looked into.
My father used to incorporate us into,
So it's just something I guess I was used to,
he used to Ah,
we used to kind of run in lease a golf course pro shop,
he would have us like working there.
So I grew up like working alongside him,
he was my boss, and I'd have to do everything from, you know, sell people pizza and coffee and golf balls to cleaning the inside of a soda machine. Um, and so you know, because I had that experience like it, it's just sort of natural for me. to, you know, think like, Well, if my daughter was interested, you know, she could totally help me on stuff. And I treat her like,
you know, any other person who, you know, could, you know, contribute some value to a project. Um, I don't force her, though, you know, like, you know, just last night we recorded some video for, you know, hopefully I'm gonna put out a video here about the film Hope this project I've been working on. And we recorded some bits last night that that I think Will will get published here soon.
But again, it only came because I asked her, Are you interested in doing this with me? And she could have said no. And I would have That would have been fine by me. She's She's got her own life, and she's got her own interests. So I just asked her a lot. Like, Do you want to do this with me? Do you want to do this with me? We did a thing the other day where we went around the city of Chicago, testing for lead in water fountains. We picked four water fountains. Um, a trick to this was also like I piggy backed it off a trip to the zoo,
so I knew she would want to go to the zoo. And I also thought this would have been an educational thing for her, for us to test for lead in these water fountains. And so I just asked her like, Hey, do you want to do this with me? That might be an interesting project and she said yes. If she had said no, I wanna pushed it would have been fine. We would have, you know, found something else to Dio. But she said yes. Um, and now there's some interesting results of that lead testing. We actually found lead in one of the water fountains and there's gonna be a whole video about this.
And we got the City of Chicago to turn off this water fountain, and she gets to see now the results of helping me. We actually got toe help people's lives, and I think she's now interested in doing more projects like this. So I don't know. For me, it's just giving her a lot opportunities being okay with her saying no. Um, but asking her permission and also trying to piggyback it off of things she is interested in. You know, it's not all about me. It's about us doing something together alongside something I know she's going to be interested in.
Mmm, that's Ah, I'm gonna take note and get my kids to participate in my life more often like that. And I think it ties into what you said at the beginning and throughout, right? It's about making choices. You give your choices. She feels empowered. And because she knows from prior experience is that those choices led two interesting things. Probably makes her more interested in them in the future, too.
Totally. Yeah, I hope so. It seems like that's that's
how it's playing out. Yeah, well, if people want to learn more about you, you know your family and kind of interact with you. Where should
we send them? I mean, the best place, if if you the ah, where a lot of the stuff goes is just on YouTube. So just my name on YouTube, Nathan Cotton. Me, um, you know, I'm also, um you know, I'm also on Twitter. A lot. A lot of stuff ends up out there, So just Nate cotton me on Twitter.
Mmm. All right. Well, for the last question, you know, is there anything that's been burning a hole in you that you want to share with other parents? That you're the thing that should fix or do more off? Now is the time to share?
I I think I took this.
I used to look at someone you and I both know a little bit like Paul Graham and his wife,
like to these two founding partners of y Combinator and important people in my life,
Like I used to look at them Very,
I don't know,
as mentors as they were,
having their first kid.
And I knew we were thinking about having Children.
And I reached out to Jessica and like,
about kind of any kind of interesting lessons about raising a kid.
So I really liked how they it seemed like they were doing it,
you know, like their their youngest boy would come to some white Combinator meetings and and I would see Paul interact with him, you know, before he'd interact with us. And, you know, he's just kind of kind of Ah, engrossed him in the y Combinator stuff and and I reached out. I think it was Jessica. I reached out to kind of like about any tips. Um, maybe when my wife was pregnant and all she did was like No, like, just love. Like, just love your kid as best as you can in it.
All the rest that stuff's gonna work out. And I mean, that's I think that's just it. Like, just show as much love as possible. And there's going to be bad stuff that happens. There's gonna be great stuff that happens. But I feel like a CZ. Long as everything comes from like you loving this kid as much as you can, it'll all work out. You'll be fine.
It's great advice. Thank you for coming on the show.
Thanks. Thanks Alive. There's been a lot of fun.
Hey, folks, thank you for joining me on yet another episode. I hope you had a CZ much fun. Listen to Nathan as I have, and if you like that, please let your friends know shared on social media, email it to somebody. Just let them know to sign up for this podcast and that don't have a great time. And of course, if you don't mind leaving a review in iTunes, that would be very helpful. It's been a pleasure, and I'll see you next time.