The Startup Chat with Steli and Hiten on Smash Notes

The Startup Chat with Steli and Hiten podcast.

Unfiltered insights and actionable advice straight from the trenches of startup and business life. The show hosts, Steli Efti and Hiten Shah, are both serial entrepreneurs who have founded multi-million dollar SaaS startups. Being busy CEOs of fast-growing companies, they know the value of your time and make sure you get the most out of each 22 minute episode. Tune in for new episodes every Tuesday and Friday.



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In this episode, Steli and Hiten discuss “what to do when people screw you over.” Partners, investors, clients—there is always an opportunity for misunderstandings and conflict.  The important question to ask is: how do you respond when you feel like someone is taking advantage of you?  Steli and Hiten offer up tips and solutions based from real-life experiences.  They discuss the importance of knowing and owning your side of the conflict, understanding the other’s point of view, and how to take action.  


Time Stamped Show Notes:


00:30 – “What to do when people screw you over?” in the business sense

00:42 – Steli got an email from someone who was being screwed over by an investor and wanted Steli and Hiten’s take on it

01:00 – Should we take revenge or turn the other cheek?

01:30 – Hiten stresses the importance of making sure YOU KNOW that you are being screwed with in the first place, check in with the other person—they may just not be mindful of you

02:35 – ASSESS and OWN your own role and responsibility in the conflict. Did I trust too soon? Did I give them too much access (in the event they stole from me)?

03:05 – Choosing to be a victim is very disempowering

04:12 – “Did you let them screw you over?” You enabled them somehow—own your side and how you contributed to it

05:19 – “Everyone is doing the best that they can”—this will help you empathize with the other person and understand people have different moral compasses

07:11 – Go to Episode 134 “How to Do Due Diligence on People”; this explains the importance of doing the groundwork of getting to know who you are working with and trusting

07:50 – Steli sets up the scenario—someone is stealing from you for personal use

08:18 – TAKE immediate action but, DON’T react in the the heat of the moment; take a step back, assess the situation, and get outside help from a lawyer or advisor

09:22 – Think through the worst case scenarios—will I need a lawyer, could this get physical, etc.

10:13 – Think through the best case scenarios—the person may surprise and humble you.  This helps you to be prepared and stay balanced in your approach

10:52 – After all the preparation, you need to TAKE ACTION

11:24 – What do you do in worst case scenario? Hiten responds

11:58 – A lawyer will help you assess your RIGHTS and your OPTIONS based on the physical evidence of your contracts

13:05 – If lawyer is involved, it’s lawyer to lawyer dealings and you’re not even involved unless it leads to a mediation

13:32 – Go to a lawyer to understand what the issues are and what your options are legally

14:35 – The investor could be “aggressive about something that optimizes for themselves and not for you and definitely not for your business”

14:45 – Potential of a misalignment of expectations on behalf of you and the investor in regards to each other

15:30 – Sometimes you need to “recalibrate” with your investor and work out the misalignment of expectations

15:54 – Decide to have a conversation that is “honest and real” rather than argumentative

16:11 – How Hiten handles these misalignments—write down what you think is happening and you may realize your thinking is wrong

16:22 – This leads to really good communication

16:26 – Hiten’s example of how to communicate well in the middle of miscommunication

16:50 – Say “I’d love to understand a lot more about where you’re coming from”

17:11 – Ask “Can you please help me understand why you’re doing this?”—when you don’t understand someone’s actions

17:35 – You may not like the answer, but at least you understand where they’re coming from

19:01 – Steli states the choice—FIGHT or LET IT GO and come to peace with whatever the consequences are

19:53 – If you’re going to fight—fight to WIN and make sure you CAN WIN

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