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 talk about the book The Answer to How is Yes. Steli is currently reading the book and believes it has a powerful message that can impact one’s decision making. Listen as Steli and Hiten discuss the question “how” and the implications this one question can have on our daily decisions in life and in business.  

Time Stamped Show Notes:

00:30 – Steli introduces the book

00:57 – Steli is currently reading the book The Answer to How is Yes

02:10 – The core thesis explained

02:15 – We live in a world that is currently deterministic, utilitarian, and wanting to be useful to an extreme to where it’s not serving us well

02:38 – The book attacks the question: “how?”

03:14 – When we suggest an idea, instead of asking what the idea is, people directly go to the “how” questions; for example, “How are we going to do that? How are we going to get people on board? etc.”

03:50 – People ask the question “how” as a defense mechanism for not acting

05:03 – Hiten searched for the book online

05:20 – If something has to be done, it should be done – no questions asked

06:10 – Hiten focuses more on the right thing to do rather than how something is done

06:45 – You can answer the question “how” after you have made the decision to do it

07:51 – Steli has been self-reflecting while reading the book

08:30 – Sometimes, asking the question “how” can make you unproductive

09:40 – What stands out to Steli from the book is how people use the “how” question as a defense mechanism because the task may be too difficult

11:00 – The question of “how” can be a pragmatic and practical thing

11:50 – Hiten has a lot of practice in answering the question “how”

12:50 – Hiten flips the conversation and would rather ask what is the right thing to do

13:58 – Answering the question “how” is also overwhelming

14:30 – Hiten has always been told by his dad to be an entrepreneur

14:56 – Hiten decided it was the right thing to do without really knowing how to do it

15:40 – Hiten and his co-founder never talked about how to get something done, they just do it

17:00 – Hiten shares how he survived through issues that arose by making an agreement to do the right thing

18:12 – Steli highly recommends the book The Answer to How is Yes

19:50 – In every situation, you just decide to do it—then you tackle the question “how”

21:25 – Tweet Hiten and Steli about a time when you used the book’s advice or how the book has impacted your decision making

21:53 – The author is Peter Block of the book The Answer to How is Yes

3 Key Points:

If something has to be done, get it done – no questions asked.

Asking the question “how” can be a defense mechanism for a difficult task. First, decide to do the task, and then work out the “how”.  

When you’re faced with a problem or a new challenge, ask yourself, “What is the right thing to do?” and go from there.

Hiten: Hi, this is Hiten Shah.


Steli: And this Steli Efti. And in today’s episode of The Startup Chat, I actually wanna do something unusual. I don’t think we’ve ever done this, which is talk a little bit about a book I’m currently reading. So we’ve talked about books and why we love reading, and I think it’s very apparent to most people that know us and have listened to the podcast for a while that we are passionate readers. But I don’t think we’ve ever reviewed a book. And I don’t wanna do that today, because I’m still kind of in the middle of reading it. But I wanna discuss some core ideas I’m picking up out of this book with you, because I’m dying to hear your thoughts on this. So the book that I’m currently reading is written by Peter Block, and it’s called The Answer to How is Yes.


Hiten: Okay. I haven’t read it.

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