456: The Fear of Doing Something Insignificant
The Startup Chat with Steli and Hiten

Full episode transcript -


everybody This ist Luft and this is heating shop. And today, in the Southern trip we're gonna talk about should you, as an entrepreneur, worry about what you're working on, being true, small quote unquote or not significant enough. So you like talking about more than just sales and market? We just want a bullshit and chat about business and life globally. While we're doing that, provide along value to the business for people trying to get shit way. Don't want to give you feedback. That's bullshit. You want you to do your best. So here's a few that I've seen in a 1,000,000 different forms. A 1,000,000 different times with entrepreneurs and with startups. Is this fear of doing something that's too small,

working on something that might not become big enough That might not be thinking big enough. And I've always been in conflict with this fear, and so recently I was talking to somebody that was working on something I don't know. That sounds like a really, really big idea. But then when I when I poked, why, if they worked on this, why she decided to to focus on this Basically, she was just like well, it seems like a really big area. It seems like a trend. I think that this is gonna become the future. And so I decided to work on this. And then when I asked her what she's really passionate about, which she told me that,

you know she would, she had this other idea that she was much more passionate about that is much closer to our hard, much more personal to her. But she decided not to pursue that idea because she felt it would be too small, so heating. Why do we worry so much about the things that we're working on, his entrepreneurs being big or having big potential and is the fear of working on something that's too small entry and significant? Is that is that a healthy fear, a fear that entrepreneurs should have? I thought we should, like tackle this, unpack it for the audience.


You have to define it. You have to define small and big, you know, you have to really define it. I don't understand what when someone says, Hey, this is working on something too small. I don't know what that means, and that's the biggest problem I have is it to swell of a market. Do you think you can't make enough money? Do you feel like you need to solve a bigger problem in the world because you aspire to solve bigger problems? What is it? What do you mean by too small? So I think often times people will have in their heads what they mean by too small and their logic is flawed. And it's funny. Like you could point to some of the largest companies on the planet and argue that they started to small. You could point to failures that have occurred in,

you know, business and point to the fact that, you know, they were too ambitious, you know, it was too big. No. So, like, to me, this is a completely subjective thing, and you have to turn it into something where you can actually quantify What do I mean by too small? And if you can quantify what you mean by too small, then I think you can make a lot more. Ah, much more informed. Logical decision.


I love that. You know, the other thing that I that I noticed over the years kind of the entrepreneurial community, is that There's this kind of myth that we have on this story. A narrative that is is being told off these people that live inauthentic lives that work in a cubicle or working a job they hate. And what they really would need to do is to start their own business, to be entrepreneurs, to create something new, but their fears holding them back. Society is holding them back, their families holding them back. And so they're not living their true Selves. And they're like, confined in this, like whatever employee employees mentality, you know, framework that is robbing them off their authenticity.

And here we are amazing entrepreneurs. We broke through that we broke the resistance of our parents off our coworkers off our boss off society. And we left this amazing job. We took all this risk on which starting this company look at us. I don't be fucking amazing and awesome, right? In some cases, in many cases, that might have been a true story that somebody lived through, and I applaud those people, but I've seen the exact same story play out a 1,000,000 tons within the under parole community where somebody started a company was a founder and CEO in title, had raised some money, had created this identity around being an entrepreneur and then realized I actually fucking hate this, right? This isn't fun for me. And what I'd really like to do is I'd like to be a teacher in a school and teach.

You know, what 1/4 graders or what have been like to do is being an author and writing fiction books. What I really like to do is try to be an actor. And when they try to make that step, how, then it is is hard for them to make that transition as it was for somebody else to go from employees to entrepreneur because, well, exactly the same dynamics. So what are all my founder and CEO? Friends are gonna think about me trying to be an actor. Now what? You're trying to build a technology company to change the world, and now you're gonna be just a dumb actor. It's the same fucking feet. Or like self identity issues. I had sealed my business card.

And now what? I'm gonna write aspiring author, fiction writer, like people get stuck in the entrepreneurial world or get stuck being entrepreneurs and founders that I'm really happy with being farmers and entrepreneurs that aren't really Once they make that choice, they realize the military's for the wrong reasons. Maybe because they thought that that would give them significance. Maybe because they thought they would enjoyed me because they thought that that would make them rich, whatever it waas. And they realized at some point, this isn't really my thing. But now they're stuck in this new identity and because being an entrepreneur and founder is now even more celebrated than ever before, right? Especially the starter world, the tech world, that the tech world has gotten a lot more popularity because all the success on the influence around the world being a tech founder, CEO entrepreneurs such a cool identity today that letting that go or leaving that behind to start a new life in an area that might not be as prestigious,

you know, and all these entrepreneurs that have become offers or life coaches or something like that, and I know that secretly other entrepreneurs, I actually like pointing fingers in them going. I don't understand this decision. How can you become a life coach like it was This seems like a weird job that you were a fucking CEO of a tech company. You had raised $10 million now you're like a life coach. This is weird. So to me, you know, And I went a little bit on a rant here, but to me it's just I don't know. It's this one narrative that I think growing up, I believed in. And once I spent enough time in this in this community in this industry, I realized how much,

huh? Full of shit it is on. And that I see all these people that chose to be entrepreneurs for exactly for many bad reasons as any other human being chooses to be in any other career path and how they get stuck in it. And they're afraid of leaving. Or they're afraid of form their true passion, even within entrepreneurship and working on an idea or something they really love. But they think other people wouldn't admire Wouldn't believe in a wooden fingers big enough. All right, I'll pause my rent it to you if you're responsible.


I think you're right. I think I think what? The thing I hear underneath all of this is judgment. Mm. You're just making a judgment. And you're making a judgment that in a lot of the cases that you describe are about other people, not you. Yeah. So you're judging your yourself based on what you think other people are gonna think of you. That's just being unfair to yourself. If you really want to do something, there is no it's too bigger. It's too small. Just figure out if you really want to. It don't worry about what other people think. You know, like grizzly.

Like something you want to do. You want to realize it. You want to do it. You think it's relevant to you? Um, we want to see it out in the world. Just do it. Don't Don't make it that big of a deal where you don't do it because of what you think other people are gonna think of you.


I love that. And I think that and this is maybe an important message, even if it's not a popular 12 here is just because you we're an entrepreneur in the past or your on entrepreneur today you're founder. Today doesn't mean this is to be your identity for the rest of your life. It doesn't. It's not some kind of a better place that there's no turning back on or stepping back away from. You might be a founder today and tomorrow. Maybe. What's better for you? What's a more authentic path for you would be to join another company but joined somebody else's vision to help them. You don't want you accomplished Once you go from employees to founder. It's not some kind of the thing that you never want to leave because founded by definition is always better than employees. It isn't. They've been many, many founders that are a lot more broke. And then employees like his employees, they got people that work for other people that got a lot richer than founders of failed startups.

These people have a lot of higher quality of life, so it's not just about rich and financial outcomes is a lot of people. They live a lot happier, lives on a lot of founders. There's a lot of people that have a lot more impact than founders for some. Whatever reason, we think that a founder is the most in one of the most impactful things we could do one of the most fulfilling things we could do one of the most financially rewarding things we could do. And those things can be true, but they're not universal truths and our gravity off the planet entrepreneurship, right? So you're not Everybody's gonna experience these things. And if you are a founder, you're working on an idea that you don't love and that you're not passionate about that. You don't care about what you think is big. Stop, Take a break and really ask yourself if you want to devote your life in your time on those things And remember what he said in the beginning.

How many off the biggest companies started off as thes Real little hobby looking like companies, right? Computers were a hobby, for these were people, you know, Uh, maybe I remember. Like I give a talk once they wanted me to give a talk about how Silicon Valley help me think big. It was somewhere in Europe, and they just always Europeans always have this fear that they're thinking too small, an American sing really big. So that was like there some faces from assumption. Stilley was thinking small, then went to America learned how to think big, and my whole talk was the exact opposite. How I learned to think small in Silicon Valley.

And I mentioned this story of like, I met the founders of Airbnb and Dropbox in the first, like 56 weeks of being in the U. S. And I remember judging both of these founders, thinking their ideas, a dump and small I I wanted to change the world of education. That was my first idea when he came to the Valley and I was like, What? Their air mattresses in people's apartments and then cooking breakfast for them? Like, What the fuck is this like? This is such a dumb, weird idea, or dropbox file shaking like it's a shame, a problem that needs to be fixed half game Just to give you an idea of how dumb I was and how great of an investor I would be choosing $1,000,000,000 unicorns.

A lot of massive companies started out looking like little hobbies, really little companies. And as you said in the beginning, the the opposite is also true. A lot of these overly ambitious, obviously big ideas fail when they start off like that So life is too short. Teoh worry about is what I do. Significant or small or what will other people judge me if I do this? Or if I stop doing this like this to pressure for this ship, just ask yourself who you wanna be, what kind of a life you want to live today and tomorrow and go chase those dreams your authentic true dreams. Don't worry about anything else. Everything else will fall into place on its own.


Well, the that's


it, That's it from us. We'll here very soon.

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