My guest in this conversation is Natalie Nagele, the cofounder and CEO of Wildbit. Wildbit is a bootstrapped, independent, people-first software company that is celebrating a very special milestone: 20 years in business! Now entering their “third act,” Wildbit is starting to expand its focus to new arenas, starting off with the new job board called People-First Jobs.
I’m catching Natalie at a very special moment – right at Wildbit’s 20-year anniversary, a milestone that most businesses never reach, and one that’s even more rare in the fast-paced world of software. As such, this conversation is a bit more reflective and goes deep into the mindsets and worldview that have enabled Wildbit to evolve as it has.
Wildbit is one of the best examples I’ve come across yet of the kind of company I want to see the world be full of. They are a terrific example of building an ethos and approaching a company as a vehicle within which everyone can continually evolve and do fulfilling work that makes a net positive contribution to all people affected.
For anyone who either runs a company or aspires to build one, this conversation will inspire and guide you to make impact and enjoy the journey.
I hope you enjoy going deep into Natalie’s world as much as I did. With that, I give you Natalie Nagele.
And if you have a moment, I’d love it if you could give me a little feedback via this SurveyMonkey link. (It only takes one minute.)
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Find a quiet place and record a question about this episode. If we can, we’ll answer it on the air in a future episode. Thanks for listening.
- Natalie Nagele – Twitter
- Chris Savage & Wistia — buying back the company from investors
- Amy Hoy
- Jason Cohen
- Laura Garnett
Transcripts may contain some typos. With some episodes lasting ~2 hours, it can be difficult to catch minor errors. Enjoy!
[00:01:00] [00:00:00] Andrew: Natalie, welcome to the show. How are you today?
Natalie: I’m great. Thank you for having me. I’m so excited to be here.
Andrew: Oh, it’s an absolute pleasure. You have quickly become one of my sources of inspiration. When I think about like, what does it look like to build the kind of company [00:02:00] that I think should exist in the world? So it sounds like you and I have both been influenced by two people, two writers, and I’d love to hear in what ways they’ve influenced you. And the two writers are referencing our Cal Newport and Bo Burlingham.
Natalie: A book that I sent everybody on my team called deep work. And he spent a lot of time discussing the importance of deep work, the difference between deep and shallow work and deep work being the work that you’re really hired to do, right? Like we aren’t hired to sit in meetings and answer, you know, email we’re hired to do whatever it is that as knowledge workers are, our skills are our unique abilities.
And so the argument is to maximize deep work, but. Also be conscious of how much deep work is actually possible in the book. Cal shared some research around the brain’s capacity for deep work, Chris and I, and wild. It’s a little obsessed with focus, work, and deep work anyway. And so when, when I read that book, data shows that our brain maxes out at about four hours of deep.
Really deep work a day. And even that [00:03:00] is extremely hard for most people. That’s like four hours of a very trained, focused, probably calm mind. we had an internal conversation on the team to say like, well, if four times five is 20 that’s 20 hours a week and we’re working 40, what are we doing for the other 20 hours?
So that cat was the catalyst for our four day work weeks for 32 hour work weeks was. Reading Cal’s book and thinking through that. And so through a combination of really being intentional in how we work and maximizing de-focus work and all of that, we were able to take off an entire day off of the workweek.
And so the whole company works 32 hours a week and we have for over three years now, and then Bo Burlingham wrote two books actually really like, one that he’s very well known for, which is small giants. I was actually just talking about this book yesterday. It’s a wonderful book. And he goes on this journey to try to discover what makes these, what he calls small giants.
These companies that had a choice to go big and didn’t, and some of them are big companies. So it’s not really big by, by, by size of employees or size of revenues. Big [00:04:00] by either selling or making a decision that, you know, going public, like all these different, different options. And these companies chose not to and were actually really successful.
And he just, he goes on this journey to understand what they all have in common. And of course, the thing they have in common is that they focus on their people. And so it’s like this beautiful, A story of different types of organizations and the various ways in which they make that choice. Everything from a single seamstress, you know, dressmaker to the large corporations, I think cliff bars in there, one of those, and so it’s, it’s just, it’s a great journey, but he wrote a second.
I can book after that, but not a lot of people have read that was really impactful to me. And, that book is called finish big. Yeah. And so what he had done in part of his, when he was doing all these interviews and talking to all these companies, the thing that he would continuously ask was. What’s next.
Like, what do you do? And, and all these founders were like, what are you talking about next? There’s no, next, this is it. This is my whole life. And the way, the way he [00:05:00] writes it in, in finish big is like, what, what he would follow up with is you’re going to there. You’re going to have to be out of this business at some point, whether voluntarily or on a gurney, like you’re going to get out.
Right. So what is the journey afterwards and went into this research project and finished big to understand. Various ways to exit a business. You know, whether it’s family, business selling, retiring, dying, you know, whatever, and try to understand what success look like in those scenarios. And he spent a lot of, a lot of time and I found it really valuable to think through what happens afterwards and, and.
You know, one of the things that I took away from that book from finished big was he found it consistent, which isn’t surprising when you say it, but a consistent thread that successful exits were ones that were planned. Right. So there’s always like the don’t don’t think about selling until you have something else you really passionately want to do outside the business.
Don’t, you know, don’t put your snake, put yourself in a vulnerable situation. Like don’t, you know, there’s all these. [00:06:00] All of these consistent patterns around making that an intentional decision and what you have in a lot of these small giants, right. And these companies that are so passionate about purpose and meaning and, and, long-term stability and, and, you know, all of these things that like our Wildbit and other core of our core cultural being is you don’t think about that, right?
You don’t think about the exit. And I, it was just a wonderful book and I recommend it to founders all the time. It’s one of those things where nobody wants to think about it and I’m like, well, Just read it because there is a journey there and acknowledging the fact that there is going to come a time when you’re done in some capacity or another.
It’s nice to think about it ahead. And you know, one of the things that I think is really important and I talk about this a lot with other founders is. The concept when you’re a company like ours and you’re not designed for an exit, or you’re not, you know, you didn’t come into being to be billions or, you know, whatever, like, you know, kind of, there’s like a, more of a story there, more of a journey.
You got to kind of plan ahead that stuff. And the thing that I [00:07:00] took away from. From finished big that I thought was really valuable, was building a business that you could sell, but when you design it that way, you end up keeping it because the process in which you design a business to sell is you make a business that is highly functional, operationally, really successful, right. It doesn’t
Andrew: dependent on you.
Natalie: Not dependent on you, right? You have other people on the team, you can trust, like you build all this core infrastructure that then the business isn’t hard to run anymore. It’s not painful. It’s not scary. And then you don’t need to sell it because it’s a beautiful thing. So you kind of like, it’s a good it’s, it’s important to walk that journey.
And it’s something Chris and I have done over the years. We’re about to. Turn 20 and five years ago, we had this conversation and said, you know, we’re 15 years old at 20. I want to be in a place where I can sell it because I don’t know if I’m going to still love it. And if I don’t love it, I want to build it in a way where it’s sellable.
And here I have a 20 and I’m like, I don’t want to sell it. I want to be here for another 10 years. And that’s a beautiful thing, but we took it on this journey. We. You know, added leadership. We added structure, we added operational [00:08:00] changes, organizational changes, all these things to be able to create a business that, you know, wasn’t relying on us, which then meant that we built a business that was really enjoyable for us to work on because instead of growing a business and doing parts of it that we don’t love, we’re growing a business and optimizing on the parts that we do love.
And that’s just created this awesome opportunity to come up to, you know, come up at 20 years and be able to make those decisions.
Andrew: First of all, congratulations, most businesses of any kind, never make it that long, especially businesses in the technology and the software sector. That’s so rare, but actually something you mentioned a minute ago, if I’m remembering correctly, you and your family came to the States from Russia in 1989.
And your parents like your mom was I think a piano player pianist. It’s some of the research I did. I heard you talk about how impactful, like having creativity and the arts was in your childhood and growing up. And it reminded me of a book. I really loved that. I think you might really like if you haven’t read it called why we make things and why it matters.
And it’s by a guy named Peter Korn and he talks all about the journey of. Being a maker [00:09:00] of something, anything. And there’s two little quotes that as I was getting ready and thinking about your journey and Wildbit just seemed relevant and I wanted to share them and kind of just see how that resonates with you and your story and your journey.
He says that the primary motive for doing creative work is self-transformation and ultimately creative work as an experiment through which the maker seeks new ways to envision human potential using himself or herself as the laboratory, given your journey, what are you hearing that.
Natalie: There’s the term creatives. Right. But I, I mean, I guess I would argue when I hear that, I almost think like why it’s not just creatives, right. It’s a lot of us that do this type of work, right. This kind of transition from industrial, you know, manufacturing work to, to knowledge work and the impact that that’s had on us as individuals.
And I think a lot about my belief that. People are most fulfilled when they get to do something that’s really meaningful and challenging. And then see the other side of that and be like, Oh, I grew doing [00:10:00] that. Right. I changed, I understood more about myself or what, I’m, what I’m capable of. There’s a book that I like called multipliers and they talk a lot about kind of, People evaluate their best managers.
And consistently it was like the manager that was like pushed them hard, but in a loving, safe way so that they came out. The other side of it feeling like I did a thing, I didn’t know that I could do. And I grew in that process. I mean, for us, the journey is. Has an ha when it’s been most fun is when we’ve reflected on who we are as humans, and then applied that to what we want out of the business.
So like being super intentional about a bit, being a vehicle, a tool to enable us to live away and to live a certain way, to have a certain experience for the team to have a certain experience, right. Thinking of it as really this thing that we can control. It’s not, it’s not out of our control. It doesn’t just do a thing.
It’s not like this beast. That’s like insatiable, like it just wants to get fatter and bigger and hungrier and hungrier. [00:11:00] Right. That is what it is. Right. A business. If you let it go, that’s what it’ll do. It’s designed to get bigger. Right? It’s got to grow. How much did you grow? What did you grow? You know, like all these things that, how many employees do you have?
All these, all these. All these things, we hear all the time, but that the opportunity to reflect and think are, who am I today? Who do I want to be tomorrow? What I want my day to look like, you know, and, and have those same questions for the team, for our products, what’s their impact, right? What’s their impact on the world.
And really like developing that thought process is kind of the reason I do this. Right. I mean, I don’t, I don’t, I think I would be so bored if the whole goal was just to make more money. And make plenty of money. Like money’s important. Like that’s not, but I, I imagine a world in which chasing like these, these numbers and these goals, because somebody told me I had to.
And so you’re making maybe choices. They could be good choices, but they could also be bad choices because the measuring stick is like revenue growth or profitability or [00:12:00] whatever these things are. And there’s not a lot of time to reflect and like, why am I doing these things? Why are we, why are we choosing this path?
You know, is this valuable to the world? Is this valuable to my team? You know, to our customers, whomever, right? Like what are the, what’s the impact? So I think that’s valid. That’s a valid take on. All of us as, as humans, probably where there is this opportunity to look at something and say, how can I make it better?
And it’s what makes entrepreneurship worth it. And I’ve always found the associates so shocking to me when entrepreneurs get into this or people start businesses. Right. And they they’re just like following instructions. I don’t understand, like I don’t, I don’t understand this, you know, open Emmanuel RI the internet told me to do these 15 things. I’m going to
Andrew: The craving for the template or the
Natalie: Yeah. Like the growth hacking crap and like all of this stuff. And I’m like, I just, is that really fun? But yeah, I guess like the, the, the argument there is like, it’s not, it’s about making money and I get that too, you [00:13:00] know, whatever. it’s just not, it’s never been the thing for me.
It’s been this like dichotomy that I think about a lot entrepreneurs, business person. What’s the difference.
Andrew: Yeah. What is the difference?
Natalie: I don’t know. I mean, I, to me, I’ve pondered it a bunch and I, you know, the way I look at it is the entrepreneur is the, the, you kind of do a thing because you want to prove a point. And I think the business person is.
There to make money. And, and the, the, the time I noticed that the first time that when I started thinking about it was I had met this really wonderful person and we were having dinner together. And, you know, we, it was like a new, you know, kind of like a couples thing. And we were just like meeting these people, kind of getting to know them for the first time.
And so it was like, what do you do? And he responded, I’m a business person. And I’m like, The hell is that like, what does that even mean? I would never respond to I’m at this, this person. I respond, you know, I run a software company, you know, whatever. And so we were like unpacking it and he was sharing, you know, he brought, he owns several [00:14:00] different franchises, franchise business, like a lot of different moving parts.
And, you know, he’s got like fast food restaurants and maybe some other types of physical, like a very transactional. Business person, right? Where, where the goal is. I need to support my family in which I’m going to do that as to find ways to build wealth and value in different financial models. Right.
Where I guess. They spend most of their time in the spreadsheet, right? Like figuring out the P and L and where’s, where can we have economies of scale? And, you know, and I I’m passing zero judgment. I’m just saying like, that is such a different world than the way my brain works, which is in this, like, how do I prove that businesses can be designed for human beings, that we can be effective and efficient and also really grow fast, grow, grow well and, and be innovative.
And all of these things, they’ll focus on people and not focus on this, you know? And so. There’s a, there’s a, there’s a dichotomy there, arguably, and I don’t think you should be one way or the other. I think like, at least for me, like I would like to [00:15:00] be a little bit more business person. It would be nice to like, know how math works and not make beds.
There’s times where I’m like, Oh, I don’t, that’s rainbows and butterflies. They’re all workout. I have a great finance that director finance
Andrew: She’s she’s doing great.
Natalie: yeah. Yeah, no, we’re great. Everything’s fine. but you know, like there’s, there is this question of purpose. And I found this to be true a lot. And like, what you see in the software world is there is a, still a gold rush, right?
Like everybody wants to launch app. We have friends, so friends from high school call us and be like, and I’d be like, I got an idea for an app. I’m like, I’m not in the business of building apps for you. Like I, you know, but it, there is, there’s this like gold rush feeling of. Holy shit. I can make a lot of money in this.
What can I build? And I’m not knocking it, right? Like a lot of great things come, but it’s just not the way my mind, like we didn’t come into this necessarily to say, Oh, I see an opportunity here. Let me run into it and try to see if I can make a bunch of money. And that’s where a lot of the failures happen.
You know, a lot of, I think what you’re seeing is there’s not a core [00:16:00] construct and that’s not to say you don’t have to. Build something that people want you opposite that build something that people want, but you probably need to build something that has some foundation on, like, why are you doing this?
What is this business you’re building? What’s the core purpose. Right? And if the core purpose is just making money, probably can make some really smart choices there. Like there’s cheaper ways to make money. There’s always that argument, right? Like either you’re a software developer, you can work at Facebook and make a lot, no, like there’s there’s if money is the only driver owning a business is not necessarily.
The best approach. There’s you’re statistically not, that’s not your best bet. Right? So there’s, you know, there’s often conversations around that.
Andrew: Natalie. I love just about everything you just said. Like
Natalie: What do you disagree with?
Andrew: actually that’s I, as soon as I said that, I was like, I actually don’t know anything. I disagree. So I’ll just say it again. I love everything you just said. I don’t have a caveat on it. I really resonate a lot with the ideas you’re putting out there.
Natalie: I’m reading a book right now that somebody on my team recommended it’s about [00:17:00] Ben and Jerry’s and it’s written by Ben and Jerry, 98, they wrote the book and they talk about values, led businesses, and I’m just like obsessed with it. I can’t, I keep telling my team, like, I want everybody to read this, but something you said that I think is interesting that they, they bring up and that I’ve been processing a lot.
Is, if you think about the world and how it’s evolved, you know, religion as a construct was probably, it was the largest thing in exactly, right? Like sidle structure, call it. Right. Which had a social impact right. Attached to it. Then you had government, right. Which became these like law, you know, the large societal structure.
And that always had a social piece to it, like a social social part of it. Corporations business is arguably maybe not, or maybe that’s true. I’m not smart enough to know the answer to that, but feels like the largest societal structure we have, right? The tallest buildings are the largest employer, right?
Like all these things are businesses and they have no built in. There’s nothing built in that. Designs them to build, to provide a positive impact to society. It doesn’t exist. It’s [00:18:00] that where you stop, where, what you’re feeling, what I’m feeling, what I think a lot of people are feeling right now in this environment that we’re in, which is not a total abandonment of business and innovation, all these things, but this like internal reflection that it’s become the biggest piece.
Why isn’t it also processing this? Need to have a positive impact too, to allow, to, to support society, right? To support our, our, our, our neighbors, our communities, all of these things. And that, that perspective is really important because it’s kind of that catalyst to change of what, you know, commerce and business and industry and all these things need to be because they did become so big.
Right. And, and, and we protect them with this religious fervor, like, you know, Oh, yeah. Free market. Like all these things that I don’t want to necessarily get into. But if we just think like, as a business, maybe we should be protecting is like, Hey, we designed this thing. It’s a human construct. It’s not real.
Right. It’s not natural law. The, the [00:19:00] chipmunks don’t have businesses, right? Like this is, this is like a thing that humans created. In an effort to do well for human beings, right. It should be good for us. And when, and when you become severe, like the Ben and Jerry’s, what’s so fascinating about that story.
And what I I’ve been obsessed about it is the argument is that it’s not enough philanthropy on its own is not enough. Right. And so it’s not enough to have like a piece of your business give back or focus. What’s important is that in every decision that you make. There is a question of value, right? Like if your values, you know, there’s a, there’s a conversation.
Can we make a different decision that will have a better impact on society than if we didn’t? And the only way you can do that is if your, your, your goals are, are based not, not specifically on maximizing profitability or like whatever your, you know, big grandiose mission is. But also thinking about my goal is also.
To make sure that I’m maximizing positive impact. So like in their case, their CEO has always had like, to th their, their, their performance was based off of two metrics, [00:20:00] rev financial performance. So they’re for profit, very successful business and how they aligned with their values, like their impact on their values, you know?
And, and I think that’s like, there’s something so core there. This was a 98 and now I’m like, okay, now it’s 2020, and we’re. Just having this conversation again, and it’s just like, it’s in the air, right? It’s, it’s the right energy. And it’s the opportunity to, to allow businesses to continue to thrive, but in a way that also makes sure society thrives with them. That’s your team and your customers and your community, which to me, the environment falls under community. When I say like the four constituents, because it’s like, what is our impact on the world? And it better be net positive because otherwise what the hell is the point?
Andrew: I so resonate with everything you’re saying it’s very much like, how do you build better futures? Like you’ve got to go where the people are and the people are in there at work. Right. So it’s like, you got to affect the world of work. And we live our lives there. I mean, not totally, but we live a lot of our lives there.
I remember I started asking myself a question that I think just based on some of the stuff I heard you say elsewhere, it sounds [00:21:00] like you’ve thought a lot about as well. What is work? Or what’s it for my working definition of it is that work’s a place we go to develop and express ourselves while contributing to something larger than ourselves.
Natalie: I think the, I think that’s, that’s true. And arguably I think what most people would want. It’s not what it, what it is from a, for most folks, you know, work is a necessary thing. Because of the way our world is structured, where you need to make money and you need to support your families and that’s core, right?
That’s going to be the core foundation. And also it’s a way to, as you said, like express yourself, it’s a way to find fulfillment. You know, I, I am a believer that every single person on this planet, if given the opportunity would want to do work at any level and do it really well and do it at a, at a, at a.
In a way that makes them proud. Right? And so like, most companies don’t give people a chance to do that. They don’t treat them with [00:22:00] respect. They don’t give them autonomy. They don’t allow them to be, you know, in control of how work is done. Right. There’s all these on every level. But it absolutely is both of those things, right.
It’s money. And we can’t anybody who doesn’t talk about that as being unfair. Right? Of course it’s money. If people were handed the same salary they were given now and told you can go spend your time with your family and your kids and create, I think a lot of people would choose that, but they can’t. And so, or they’re not able to.
And so that money is important as is the opportunity to create. Work that they’re really proud of, which is why I like the way I look at it is not a work-life balance. And especially, you know, it’s been interesting to watch everybody go remote. You know, it’s a integration, right? It’s, it’s a harmony because. In an ideal world in my head work is a calm, peaceful place that creates enough flexibility that it flows into your life without you having to make sacrifices. Right. So, you know, for us, it’s like tactical things like flexible working hours. And what does that mean in [00:23:00] principle? That means that, you know, we have.
two guys on our team who became private pilots while at wild, that, and like, what that means is it’s good weather and they knew that an hour ago and they’re like, I’ll see you later, I’m going to go fly because you can’t fly in bad weather. Right. So it’s like, it’s those kinds of it’s Hey, the kids, you know, I just need a break.
Right. Or the kids need, or I pick up my groceries middle of the day, cause it’s not as busy, you know? And it’s it’s, you, you, you can ruin that by like, Attaching work to home. And then now people are like obsessively checking their phones while at the grocery store. That’s not what I’m saying. I’m saying truly finding an integration of work.
That’s really meaningful. Yeah. And there’s a thousand pieces that go with that. Right. Don’t give them stupid work. Don’t make people sit in meetings that aren’t meaningful, like all that, those things, but in its, in its perfect ideal form, you know, you’re waking up in the morning, you’re doing really great work for a couple hours.
If you feel really fulfilled, you take a break, you go do some other stuff. You come back to work, you have a meeting with people you really care about the meetings, really intentional, purposeful, and it has, it has an end and it’s a con you know, it [00:24:00] it’s like all that kind of stuff, but that’s what we strive for.
We’re not perfect. There’s so much more work we can always be doing, but that’s what we strive for is this interconnection. When we, I think what we found is when you try to draw this big black line, like work is over. Family starting, you’re actually putting a bandaid on like, work is, work is work is not maybe what it should be, right.
Andrew: we’re working straining me.
Natalie: yes. And I’m, I’m in like, my dream is that we do like less than, I mean, I want to do like, you know, two hours of work or five hours, you know, I want to do eight hours of work. Right? Like, I don’t know, three, three, 10, 15 hours of work. Right. Three solid focus, work days. And then the rest is just life.
Right. I mean, that’s kind of the ultimate goal is can we prove that we can do. And enough work that’s meaningful and then spend the rest of our time in leisure, which is, you know, arguably where we should be as you know, like thinking and creating
Andrew: Reading exploring.
Natalie: humans to each other. Right? Like that only comes with leisure and with the ability to, [00:25:00] that’s an interesting thing.
Did you realize, I didn’t realize this, but I recently read that like, there’s been this crazy shift where wealth was defined by leisure, you know, in like the twenties and thirties and like.
Andrew: I’ve heard that, but see it say more.
Natalie: Well, you were rich because you like didn’t work. And that was how you wanted to show off. And like, you know, women’s clothing was all designed around like showing that this is so uncomfortable. You could never do anything in it, but like
Andrew: the wealth, your wealth was identified by your, your time. Freedom.
Natalie: And now our wealth is defined by how busy we are. Like, there’s like a societal stress. Like Steve jobs worked a million hours and everybody, you know, Elon Musk has 45 companies and he doesn’t sleep. He sleeps three hours and takes.
Andrew: What are you doing?
Natalie: Right. Exactly. And it’s like, it’s this complete switch and you know, is that better for us? No.
Andrew: For me, a lot of this shifts is because my background was in sort of the Silicon Valley tech world of entrepreneurship. And I’ve, I’ve had to spend like a couple years deconditioning myself and like re I mean, I’m going to be really explicit here, unfucking my brain for the last couple of years to [00:26:00] like basically not worship at the alter of scale.
Like. Oh, like, I’m not trying to build a company that growth at all costs is the point. Like that’s I don’t, I don’t think that is the point, but you know, I want to actually ask you about something specific one with wild its values. And I think this became your top value as a company a couple of years ago is that, and I’m not going to get the wording right here, but it’s that you’re effectively product agnostic and the company exists to serve the team.
And the people, this is a really interesting idea to me. And I think you’re giving language to something that I’ve been trying to sort myself out about. So maybe you can crack the mystery for me. My bias historically has been that the sense of fulfillment I get from my work is largely driven by the impact of what I work on.
Like the what’s the, what’s the mission that this product as a vehicle is designed to deliver. And so when I came across. The idea that wild bits putting forward about being product agnostic. I was like, Oh, there’s something here, but I’m trying to sort myself out around, okay. If a product is just a vehicle, what is it that gives you that sense of fulfillment?
Like you’ve talked, you’ve mentioned that [00:27:00] word quite a few times already. Like what is it, where does that sense of fulfillment come from for, for the team? Is it from the work itself? Is it from what the company is advancing in your lives? Is it. Do you just do you guys really just love transactional email with postmark?
Like I, you know, talk to me a little bit about that. I’ve tried it. That’s can you of see where I’m going?
Natalie: Sure. Yeah. I mean, we love transactional email.
Natalie: Okay. So some history there, the reason why, but it’s product agnostic because we’re were, we were a consulting company first. And when we got into products, nobody was ever fired. Who stopped doing consulting. Everybody rolled into product. We were wild that before we were being stopped before we were postmarked, before we were deployed by, before we were combat.
Right. Like, but we were. And so that. That has made it very clear that we did not, we’re not a company that came together because of some idea, right? This fulfillment, you’re talking about creating a product and they are fulfillment is from the value that product derives to for others. Right. I, [00:28:00] we didn’t have that.
We were a team first. That built a thing that we were really excited about that we thought was going to do good in the world. And people like that. And it worked out, we were like, awesome, what else can we build? And we build another product and like, that’s how it turned out. Right? And so the way I look at product agnostic is maybe the core of what people first means.
It means that your foundation is the people, and that creates a sense of security because. Products are the business, the thing that makes you money and they are susceptible to market conditions to, you know, to your
Andrew: come and go.
Natalie: thing. And they come and go businesses, right? People don’t have to come and go.
If you can figure out a way to tie yourself. To the values and the principles and the work of the business and the team. Right. And so for us, product agnostic is also a way in which to survive this long, right? Like being stock, plateaued, bean stocks, and maintenance was our biggest product. The reason why it’s 20 is because we had postmark, right?
Because [00:29:00] we had multiple products because we had a team and a culture and a value system that allowed us to build the next thing. So buckle down and figure out what to do next as a team, right? To, to work together, to support each other, to do the work of our lives, right? Like all these things are maybe the whole point, right?
Because if, if, if we think about purpose, very few of us can say that our businesses are actually like. I there’s very few things that I can say in the products that are like life-changing right. Changing the world. Right. I don’t, I always say it’s like, we’re not saving lives. Right? There’s there’s arguably like levels of work.
And while I think what we do in the world with transactional email is much. Much more ethical and better for the, for the, for the community, our customers and what our competitors do, because we are so obsessed with like protecting from spam and sending less email and not harassing your customers. All the, all of that is still like aligns our values.
I’m sending transactional email, right? Like I’m not saving lives. And [00:30:00] so. That fulfillment we draw on is what that does for our customers. Right. What that enables our customers to do. Right? Our customers are saving lives legitimately, right. And also like we’re enabling them to do work. That’s meaningful for them, right.
Because they come and they switched to postmark and their work is, it doesn’t suck and they don’t hate what they do. And, you know, we find fulfillment in that and like those conversations. So what do we do if we attach ourselves to our customer or personal relationships, right. We are very well known in the industry of having like real human support.
You know us, like we are not some scale. And we do that because for our own fulfillment, we want to know our customers. We want to know that we’re helping. We want to know how to make it better. We don’t know how to make their days better. Right. Then it’s like fulfillment with each other. It’s working together and figuring out what’s next.
What else can we do? We have an impact committee? Like, we’re kind of looking at the next 10 years and saying, what’s like, Bigger impact. What can we do bigger? What, what, what, what Wildbit does a vehicle? What can it do? That’s bigger than ourselves? my team, because you’re right. Your, this is your brain for three years.
It’s been a lot of people’s brain, right? How can we be more mission focused as [00:31:00] an industry, as a community, as people, our team has been very introspective around, like, what can we be doing better? Right. What can we do with this profits, with the money that we’re making with the products that we’re building.
And we’re starting to veer into products that are more, a lot more, maybe meaningful to the world. You know, in, in like with people first jobs and things like that, like we’re starting to look at more opportunities for that kind of work, impact work, things like that. It’s, it’s, you’re deriving that meaning from a bunch of things, but you’re doing it with ways that, which you control it.
Right? If, if we are a team of people who care about each other, who’s for each other, the products, the end result is going to be amazing, but it can change. You know, cause if the, the end result is a bunch of really smart, caring people, putting something out into the world that customers value that are willing to pay for so that we can support ourselves in this kind of mission.
And it’s done in a meaningful way ethical way then like that’s fulfillment. So like, we’re not going to build ship products, right? I’m not going to build you a marketing [00:32:00] tech product. That’s going to like spy on your customers and convince you to send 75 emails a day to them. I won’t do it. It’s like, it’s just not going to happen.
I don’t believe in it. It’s ethical. You know, we don’t, we don’t believe in the growth hacks and all of that stuff, but we will build you maybe an email marketing product that’s really, really ethical and follows the values of what we see in the industry, privacy, security, you know, being kind to your, to your users.
So that’s the kind of like, If that makes sense from an agnostic perspective, but it’s really fun because the sky’s the limit. I mean, my goal is like in the next 10 years we have a non-software product. That’s, that’s the, that’s the crowning piece I can retire if we’ve been able to prove that a team of really smart, caring people can do something completely outside the box, open a hotel.
Andrew: Yeah, that’d be
Natalie: Yeah. Like that’s, that’s a dream.
Andrew: It’s like this idea that software or a product, or even a company, right. Is a, if they’re all vehicles for something, right. And it’s like, okay, well what’s in the vehicle. And it’s like, okay. So their ways of their mediums, maybe for channeling your passions, [00:33:00] right. Creating a team, creating a culture, helping people to experience life in a certain way.
I think that’s a really interesting one. So when you think about, let’s talk a little bit about the next 10 years, you’re at an amazing milestone right now. Amazing anniversary, 20 years, two questions, a what’s that feel like. And B, when you think about the impact you want to create and what you want the next 10 years to look like and what you wanna explore, what does that look like for you?
Natalie: it’s humbling. I think looking at, you know, We’re both pretty young. And so realizing that we’ve done something for 20 years and that is relevant, maybe more relevant now than it was. And to reflect on the people who have taken this journey with us on the team present past, right? Like there’s a, there’s definitely Chris and I have like a very humble feeling, very humbled and very grateful.
It doesn’t feel like it’s been 20 years. You know, like we’re just kind of cool. you know, we have young kids, so it feels still really full of energy and, and we get to do really fun work. [00:34:00] So it feels really great, but, I’m proud of shit. I mean, like I, I’m not going to pretend that this isn’t like, I know what we’ve done.
Right. And I know that it was intentional and it was not an accident. And I will not pretend that, like we woke up one day and we were 20 years old. Right. There was a lot of decisions, some conscious unconscious that were made over and over again. That allowed us to build a system, a business that survived this long and, and thrived for this long.
Right. But I think it also, it’s given us a chance to really reflect and what I’ve shared with the team over and over again is I, I feel like I’ve got another 10 in me. And that’s kind of how Chris and I looked at it and we looked at it from a pretty practical standpoint of, you know, if we sold today, we wouldn’t have to work.
Right. It would be done. Cool. All right. what would I do? And it’s back to Bo’s book and finish big. And I was like, the only thing I don’t have in my life right now is I can’t travel the world. Like I I’ve never lived anywhere outside of Philadelphia, so well before Russia, but that was the young, but so I’ve like, I, you know, one of our dreams, one of the things that we love to do so much is to travel a lot. [00:35:00] And the other thing that we would do is open a hotel. I know joke joking about this, but one day it’s going to happen. And so the hotel we kind of built into Wildbit we’re like, why not?
Andrew: Where’s the Wildbit hotel gonna be?
Natalie: Oh, I don’t know. There’s a couple ideas out there. probably if it was like a hotel hotel would be like on an Island somewhere.
I mean, that’s kind of where we’d end up like more all services. Like service focus. Like that’s a, what I’m obsessed to do. Like little details were crazy, but anyway, but we love to travel, right? Like that’s the most important thing for us outside of, you know, our families and our work. And so I can’t do it.
I got two kids in school. They’re in grade schools are thriving. So I got other 10 before I could even do that if I wanted to. So we kind of looked at it from very practical sample. We love the work and another 10 sounds great. Like there’s no reason to rush it. Cause our life wouldn’t change. We’ll be sitting twiddling our thumbs and like, what are you gonna do?
Start another wild bit. Chris Savage at Wistia, like had that realization too. And I think he shared that a bunch when he did the kind of, the buy back from their investors. And it was like when he and Brendan sat down, they were like, we’re just going to start another Wistia. Like we have a Wistia, why would we start another [00:36:00] Wistia?
Andrew: It’s hard. It’s hard to do it. Why would I, why would I go through
Natalie: Right. And that’s how we looked like, we’d start another wild, but that doesn’t make sense. Like I’d want to work with every single person that was here. Right. Like, so that just doesn’t make sense. So anyway, I told the team, we have another 10 and the reason for saying that was, I think he gives Chris and I a sense of like another milestone.
Entrepreneurship can be really difficult. Like you do this for 20 years. Like you don’t get to change jobs. You don’t get, you know, like you kinda, it is what you get. It is what you make of it. And so saying another 10 is like, okay, I can see another mile. So maybe we still want to do it in a 10 after that.
Cool. I have no idea what the world’s going to look like in 10 years, but I can at least see like, okay, I’ve got like another journey. And so then the reflection was art was the 10 years look like where’s the, what’s the point? And we’re looking at it as like the third act, because we’ve had wild, but the first act was consulting while, but the second ad has been product work and as we’ve seen it, and the third act is, what’s the reason for the, what, what’s the reason for it.
Right. What’s the reason for the profits. And how do you operationalize being people first? And that’s where I think [00:37:00] I want to spend. A lot of my time is understanding. And Chris wants to spend his time is understanding how we can be people first in, in how we run the business and how we operate the business and how we, how we look at innovation, because we’re a company that builds lots of products, right.
It’s what we do. It’s what we love to do. We’re going to keep doing it. What’s that look like? How do you operationalize that? How do you scale that? Right? Like how do you make sure that there’s opportunities for folks to move around to different places, but in a safe way that we don’t spread ourselves out too thin and then like, what’s the impact.
And for me, there’s like there’s, I spent a lot of time in nonprofits on my free time, on my Fridays. It’s The only work I’d probably ever do. If I wasn’t working here was be, you know, a nonprofit work. And there’s a big part of our DNA that looks at Wildbit and says, what, what can we do to make impact outside of our customers and our products?
How can we impact our communities? I want to make that a thing. Like, I don’t want it to just be this, you know, Oh, somebody asked me for a donation and I make it, or like, Two volunteers on Fridays, we’re looking at it and say like, no, like we’re going to actually put our money where our mouth and we have [00:38:00] these four day work weeks and they found on Fridays, we started a mentorship program, an external mentorship program with a small group of our team to like try all this thing out, for underrepresented folks in the technology.
And so that kicks off next week. We’re doing non-profit work. The teams volunteering their time to help with a few different nonprofits. Planning to hire a director of impact, like have a full-time or a dedicated person to do this work. And, and that’s the journey, right? It’s like, can we create a model or be a model for how to take that?
So once you and I started this conversation with take that next step to say, values led intentional decision making that has more impact than just making me money. I make money, a lot of it, but that’s not enough. Like, You know, and, and how do we make sure that this is this amazing opportunity, this vehicle for impact? And so that’s kind of what we’re looking at. So it’s like this ten-year plan, that’s calling it a 10 year strategic plan, bringing on some, you know, my God, this amazing team. That’s just so committed to this work. It’s a [00:39:00] million unknowns, but the goal is, is there it’s to see how can we positively impact our team?
How can we positively impact our customers with products? That means something that continue to create value for them, make their lives easier. And then how do we impact the community? Like, and, and do it really intentionally, we’re looking at B Corp we have for a while, but I love their model of double bottom line.
So that’s something we’re spending a lot of time investigating, thinking about, you know, looking at the different avenues in which we can create impact. And then, you know, after reading Ben and Jerry’s book, They have this whole system of like really looking at the different parts of their business and saying, each one can have impact, right.
You don’t have to have like a single, they have, they have themes missions and, you know, for the, for the year or for two, but in each, in each org, the structure, they also say like there’s impact to be had habit. Right? So the, the, the example was like, if we’re only focused on family, you know, and, and creating safe spaces for families, and that’s the, the organization or the, the mission for the year, There somebody in receiving, you know, or [00:40:00] shipping might lose an opportunity to help mentor folks in the community to join, you know, to have living wage jobs.
So looking at each piece of the business and saying, all right, where’s the decision? What are the options and how do we make the one that has the most impact? So it’s, I mean, it’s, it’s, it’s such an awesome journey. I mean, it’s just like so much fun. And I think where, my heart is, I don’t want to be alone in this.
I don’t. I know there are many companies out there. It’s why we launched people first jobs, because we know there are companies out there that want to be people first that are people. First I care deeply about this, that want to think through these things. And, you know, I wanna, I wanna, I wanna meet them. I want to know them.
I want to learn from them. And I wanna figure out a way that we can be a louder voice, right. This podcast, right? Like a louder voice and a good example of, Hey, we are a growing profitable, innovative, very, very. A successful company. And yet our goals are not grow at all costs, maximize shareholder value.
Right? So who, who [00:41:00] else is out there and who wants to be part of this brand? Can we inspire other young folks? I meet early founders all the time who are like, I heard you say something, you know, I heard you speak or how did this? And I, I felt it in my core, but I didn’t know it was allowed because when I read the internet, I’m told that these are not things that are allowed.
They’re not allowed businesses to businesses. Don’t do this. This is not how to be successful, or my failure not be as successful as successful as who
Andrew: Yeah. It’s like, well, who’s your comparison
Natalie: exactly. I think my friend Amy, the other day tweeted something like if you’re, if you want to be better than the next guy, you’re never going to win. Like, if that’s your, you know, your measuring stick, cause there’s always going to be somebody that’s bigger than you can make more money than you’re going to do better than you.
And it’s like, you’re chasing overall. You’re going to fail. So like figure out, figure out what you’re chasing.
Andrew: It’s really exciting to hear that because similar to what you’re doing, like that’s, that’s my goal. My career too, is to build these kinds of companies and enable other people to build these kinds of companies, which is why I’m doing this podcast. Like that’s the whole point is to make companies no matter.
Natalie: Yeah. I mean, it’s not, you said like it’s, it’s hard. I, I heard you say, you know, like it’s hard not [00:42:00] to compare yourself. You know, we run into that all the time, throw around for 20 years and there’s. Companies a lot younger than us that are making more revenue. And I’m like every once in a while I’ll be like doing something I wrong.
And then I have to like, Oh, no, remember, like these were intentional choices you made, right. You made decisions and took a path and it’s okay. But I, you know, I get stuck in that stuff too. I’m a human being, right. I’m competitive. Every entrepreneur, whether they wanna admit to, or not have, have an ego, they have to fight and.
Embrace. And you’re going to have to embrace. You don’t have to fight your ego, but you have to embrace it for what it is. And you know, there’s plenty of moments where I’m like, why am I not, you know, 3,000 when I turned 30, I was really sad. It was a kind of make it under 30, under 30, and I have advisors.
Like you have to pay for that shit. I was like, Oh, okay. 40 under 40. Now I still have those, like those, those moments where I’m like, Oh, why didn’t I do that? Or how come this person did this? It’s hard. It’s and that’s why you have to ground yourself in the values and the purpose, right? The team knows this it’s it’s constant work.
It’s a practice. I [00:43:00] don’t wake up like this every morning thinking, you know, this is how it’s going to be. It’s like there’s moments where Chris or I, or together we’ll be like, Down and grumpy and needing to like reground ourselves and have conversations and rethink, right. You know, there’s days when it’s hard.
I’m like, why are we still doing this?
Andrew: Yeah. What do you, what do you come back to? Like when, when you’re in those tough moments, what is it that you returned to, to keep you going? Like, what’s that North star for you? What’s that impact you want to create next? Like, what is it that keeps you fueled up?
Natalie: My first reaction is always the team. There’s always like if I’m hurt or if I’m down, it’s like, there’s an impact on the team. And I have to figure that one out and then I have to figure out what my decision is always. Who’s it going to impact the most after ourselves is going to be the team right. In that order.
Right. Like us, the team, the customers in the community. Right. Like it’s going to be in that order. And so it’s, it’s a reflection of like, Of that, the team, but then there’s always, I only because we’ve done this enough and had enough conversations that it’s usually a really matter of fact, like one of us is reminding the other one, like, we’ve [00:44:00] talked about this.
Like, what are you going to do? Nothing. Right? Like, let’s get like, sleep on it. Let’s come back to tomorrow. But there’s enough. I mean, especially in the last six months, it’s been so hard, hard, and I’m exhausted. I’m mentally drained from all of the non wild, the wild it’s doing great, you know,
Andrew: Yeah, just the craziness of 2020.
Natalie: Yeah, the team has rallied and made good choices and we’re working really hard and you know, we’re fine, but I get tired.
And there’s times that I’m like, is this still like, I want to do this for 10 years. And then I just go back to all right, what don’t I, what don’t I like, what are my feelings right now? Like yesterday I had a day full of meetings and I was feeling really energized in the morning. And by the end of the day, I was really drained and I came home and I was grumpy with the kids.
I I’ve just had to really process that like really meant just really, okay. What did I do wrong? I didn’t exercise. Okay. That’s a big one because it helps my brain kind of just flush things out and then it was, you know, what meetings that I have and what was draining. And is there somebody else on the team that could have taken that?
Is that a project I should have delayed? Do I have too many projects on [00:45:00] my plate? Right? It’s it’s the cheapest easiest way. The simplest way to just, I forgot I want to do it anymore, but I know that I wake up the next morning and be like, wow, that was not the greatest choice. The harder is to reflect and say, all right, what do I have to change?
What do I have to do? And sometimes it’s really energizing and sometimes it’s exhausting. Most of the time it’s energizing, which is why I keep doing it. But there’s. This shit is hard. And I have the best team in the world the most, like I’m so supportive and so loved, and I feel so grateful for them and this shit is hard.
And so you have those days. I don’t ever want people to think that they, sometimes they hear me and they think it’s like all put together and I’m like, Oh my gosh, no, no, no, please don’t please don’t ever think that. No, no, it’s a dumpster fire in my brain, but it works. It works most of the time.
Andrew: But it’s your dumpster fire.
Natalie: It’s mine and it’s special and it’s big, you know, but it’s really good.
And I, and maybe that’s the, maybe that’s the key messages that I think the 10 years feels important [00:46:00] is you got to a point, we got to a point where like, if it’s just about building, you know, scaling operations and, and, you know, finances and being, you know, capital efficient, I don’t think either one of us really enjoys that.
Like that’s not.
Andrew: like it, doesn’t get you going.
Natalie: but that it’s like a tool, right? That’s like, again, another, like it’s important. And I, it really, it, I love that stuff because it lets me, you know, I could see how we can move things around and how we can get to where we want to go, because what’s inspiring us. Is these bigger missions, right?
Like for Chris, he loves product and he loves working with the team on products. Right. You’d love us like those early, early glimmers of a product and iterating quickly and playing around with stuff and solving big challenging problems and understanding that. Get such joy out of that. It’s why wild, but has the product.
I mean, there is products, not mine, right? And so designing an entire world in which he gets to do that is important. If that doesn’t work, then he doesn’t want to be here anymore. Right. And that’s, that’s where it’s like, it’s a little chaotic, it’s kind of stressful, but the [00:47:00] result is this beautiful opportunity.
We know it’s going to be good for the business. We know it’s going to be good for Chris. And so like, That’s important, right? For me, it’s just like bigger social mission. And I know that if I have that to wake up to then even when it’s hard, it’s like, you know what, we’re doing something here. And if I walk away, what am I going to do?
Like, this means something to me, like really deep down to prove this point. That’s my ego, right? To prove this point that you can build these businesses that are highly successful, innovative growing, like all these things, but prioritizing people like. Wouldn’t that be me? What if, what if, right. Like, think about the net positive of that, right?
Like if small businesses, I’m not a huge, because I’m a tiny business and, but there’s a lot of us. And so like if there was a lot more of us, the ripple effect of all of these businesses and then fulfill people that work for these businesses and customers that have better experiences in the communities and the vendors and all these things, right?
Like your suppliers, right? Like, think about the ripple effects of that positive energy. The, the, the, the. The people who are, [00:48:00] you know, fulfilled financially fulfilled emotionally and all of insecure and their families and their, you know, it’s, it’s, it’s endless and that’s change. Right. And so that wakes me up in the morning and that definitely gets me out of my ruts.
Andrew: Yeah, it’s it is a journey, but it’s a worthy one. So.
Natalie: It’s fun.
Andrew: Awesome. Well, now let’s close out with a couple of rapid fire questions here. So these are just really short questions. Your answers can be as long as you want. So the first one is, what’s the thing that, you know, best. That’s a good answer. I think a lot of people wouldn’t say that.
So that’s, that’s a really good thing. What’s a quote or a saying that’s important to you. And what about it speaks to you?
Natalie: Last couple of weeks it’s been, I think, is it the RBGs quote that two things that. Pick something or choose something that makes an impact, but do it in a way that has others follow. I’m butchering the exact words, but I, the world is in a difficult place right now. And there’s a lot of things that [00:49:00] we can do better.
And I think a lot about how to do it in a way that it’s not just me yelling into the, into the void, but really finding ways to bring others along with you so that you have enough. Support to actually make change. And so I, while I think there’s, it’s important to have the yelling into the void too. Right?
You need all the things. But I think for me personally, I, I, I’m always like, all right, now, what do we do? Like boots on the ground, how do we make impact? And how do we do it in a way that, that brings as many people as you can, along with you? it’s kind of what I think about as leadership in general, right?
Like part of a leaders, my view of leadership is at least 50%, this ability to just. Bring people together and convince them of a goal and, and support them in it and allow them to thrive. Right. My job is to not be the smartest person in the room, but probably one of the people who can, who can bring us all to the table together, right.
And to project a unified value based message, right. Based on who we are. And [00:50:00] so I think a lot about like, how do you, how do you do that? but do it in a way that brings people with you, I think is a really important.
Andrew: Hmm, well said. And then at this point in your life, or this stage, right, 20 years in going into the next 10, what does success look like for you now?
Andrew: Whatever your definition of that is.
Natalie: gosh. Oh, I don’t know. That’s man, that’s a hard one. I, to me success, what I, how about this? My next I’ll be successful when I have a team that can do more work so I can do less. And where I am much more intentional. Like I have enough clarity in my purpose that I am much more intentional with what I do.
I am very busy right now and I don’t like it. Like what went to what we said earlier.
Andrew: Do you feel successful already?
Natalie: Success is a funny thing. I, yeah, of course. Right. Like I have everything I need. I have an incredible team. I’m asked to do things like this, which obviously feel great that people want to hear me speak and want to [00:51:00] hear my thoughts, you know?
I think my team loves me and I love them very much. And so I feel very successful from that perspective. But I also, I think I have this like constant I’m very bad at celebrating today. I’m always looking at the next things, a milestone that feels really important. And I’m already
Andrew: cool. What’s
Natalie: Yeah. I like that’s part of that’s the immigrant story, right?
I think my father was always like that. It was like this fear of like living in the happiness because there’s. Just gotta know, it’s that move on to the next one. Right? Like my therapist says I have a fear of negative emotions. Sure. I would be, I’d be an asshole if I said, no, I don’t feel successful. Of course I do.
But I think there’s, there’s different points in it for me. The next one is. We’ve done all this work and I’m so busy that my head hurts and I’m mean to my kids when I come home, that’s not success. Right. So finding my equilibrium again and finding a way to, to slow down would be really important. Part of it is just the time of the world.
Right. And I feel like oddly things have just really picked up in the last couple of months. I think like people are starting to come back and realizing that we got to live with [00:52:00] this and we got to figure out a way forward and I’m just, I’m extremely busy. And part of it, it’s just, we have so many exciting projects.
Do and I want to be part of them, but I’d like to find my equal balance again and, and have what I have, but be a little bit more mentally grounded.
Andrew: her name’s Laura Garnette and she wrote a book called the genius habit, which I think is a really good one for people to think about how they find work, that lights them on fire intellectually and fills them up emotionally. And at the very end of our conversation, she shared with me something that has changed how I’ve looked at success.
And so I wanted to share it with you. She said, I’m already successful, and I have an ever expanding vision.
Natalie: And that’s, that’s beautiful. And that’s probably a really great way of articulating it because I do think that there’s an important, it’s important to pause and reflect and be like, okay, I did a good thing. Like we’re good. Right? I can also want more. And, it’s this, that’s an internal struggle because something that I talk about a lot with the team team is [00:53:00] defining enough. And you know, part of it is my personality too, which is something I battle all the time is not. On my own. Like I don’t, I don’t see enough and I don’t stop and reflect on the positive moments and I’m constantly, and it’s, it’s actually exhausting. And there is like, I think, I think she’s right. That, yes, I’m successful.
And I want more, and I’m not saying you have to stop, but there is probably, and that’s kind of maybe a better way of putting what I’m striving for is I want to like, enjoy that success. And be at peace with it, you know, and, and really like lean into it. And I’m because I’m chasing the next thing. I haven’t.
I haven’t been able to just like live in it. And it’s also like moments when work gets really hard for us and for Chris and I and moments when we’re like, do we want to do this for another 10 years? Is when we’re so busy and so like tired or like, well, if we didn’t have to do this anymore, we would be [00:54:00] fine.
Right. We’d like take long walks all day and read more books that, you know, don’t have to do with business. I really don’t want to read business books, but. Reading the Ben and Jerry’s ones, cause it’s really impactful, but otherwise I’m trying to like stay away from business books and, you know, just find that space.
And so when, when we get to that point, it’s like, that’s when I’m like, okay, I gotta make changes. Right. Because I can do that now. I don’t have to sell the business or stop working to do that. I just need to be intentional about the changes I make. And so I, I I’m, I’m bad at it, like defining enough and I wa but I’m preaching all the time that I want the team to find enough.
I want knowledge workers to find enough because that ability to like, Say, you know, like that, like I have to put a hundred widgets on the conveyor belt and when that’s done, I’m done. Right. We don’t have a done. Right. There’s more words to write. There’s more code to write. There’s more ideas. There’s more strategic projects.
Right. Defining, done. Defining enough is part of our challenge. All of us, right. Enough, big enough business. Should I be a billionaire, right? Like, is that, you know, all these things,
Andrew: Yeah, when do I get to feel like I did it?
[00:55:00] Natalie: Right. Right. And I, now that’s a, that’s like a shitty feeling and part of that’s just my personality. It’s something like, I’m telling you, like my therapist, I was like, I’ll, I’ll tell her something.
Like, I’ll tell her a good thing and I’m already on the next thing. And she’s like, can you stop? Like, can we just like, talk about this really good thing that happened? Like just spend a minute, like just sit there with it. And I’m like, Oh yeah, good call. It’s an important thing. And the only way I’ve been able to find it is being really specific with it.
So what is that? What is that, you know, so financially, and I’ll do this with founders. I think my favorite exercise and I’ll be like, all right, how much money do you need to make? Nobody ever knows the answer to that question, or they’ll say like a hundred million dollars. I’m like, okay, cool. So write it down.
What are you gonna spend it? Like your year’s worth of like expenses, like pick your frame, the house you want, right? The schools, you are the cars you want the vacations, you just know all this stuff. And they’re always so shocked by how little money they actually need. Like, there’s this like perception, like there is yes, you want a private jet and you want to find maybe, okay, you want to own a football team.
Fine. But like for most of us you can live like the nicest life. [00:56:00] And not need more than a million dollars and a million is a lot of money, but like for when you’re thinking about growth, like at margins for SAS products, that could be a $3 million business that doesn’t need to be a $30 million business.
Right? So like you start doing these things and like, those are like small tactical things like for, for Chris enough is, or success is being able to take an hour walk every day. And not feel guilty about it. So like, you get really specific for me or for him. It’s like, really? So it’s not this like arbitrary thing, like I’m successful when I stop working.
If we can start building that into our, our actions present.
Andrew: All along the way, like how much better would that ride be?
Natalie: Right. And so like, it’s not perfect. Like I said, I’m so busy and I’m in all these meetings and it’s really stressing me out, but it’s knowing that like, okay, well, what would be good if I had two solid four hour blocks a week? You know, if my Fridays were less busy, if whatever, you know, and then just starting to chip away at it.
And so they become more concrete and more like you can actually check them off. There is no pie in the sky. You sell it all. And then you’re like, yeah, you total your thumbs. Maybe go on a couple of cold [00:57:00] trips. And then you’re like, now what do I do? Like it’s in our DNA. Like we can’t sit still. There’s like a fire under our butts.
Andrew: Martinez or margarita is or daiquiris or whatever. You can sit
Natalie: and there’s a lot, there’s a lot of margaritas, but yes. But you know, I have a personal relationship with tequila, but yes, exactly. So like building it into the journey is beautiful. Like, like you said, is, it’s being specific about it. Right. And just like, okay, well what does that draw it out? What does it look like?
I’m always like, draw it up, write it out. Right. What is it? You know, what do you want? Like, I want to enjoy this work now and I want to be here with it. I can’t tell you how many friends I’ve had that have scaled the thing to a thing. And then they’re like, Oh my God, I don’t even like this thing anymore.
And they’re already on the next thing. Not because they miss and that’s risky. Right. And you’re like, Start at it’s just, the whole process is sad when it’s it’s ours, it belongs to us. It does not belong to anybody else. And we get to do whatever the hell we want with it. And that is the beautiful thing.
And then the result is products that customers love and can rely on and trust, and they trust us with their money. And we, you know, we do [00:58:00] good things with it and it’s, it’s beautiful.
Andrew: Yeah, well, I feel like that’s a beautiful place to wrap this up just to be around one. I think there’s gonna be lots of fun updates as you navigate the next 10 years that I look forward to hearing about the Natalie first off. Thank you so much for being here. Congrats on an amazing well-deserved anniversary.
And, thank you so much for sharing all your wisdom. What would you like to leave the listener with?
Natalie: Well, thank you. I mean, thank you for having me. I’ve really enjoyed this conversation, but I think if nothing it’s that last bit, right? All these businesses, they belong to us. And I just want people to constantly ask themselves why, why it exists? What is its purpose? What do you want from it? And then solve for that?
Because there’s no reason not to. And that’s when joy comes out of it. Right. And longevity, it’s the only reason we’re around for 20 years. That’s the only reason I’m would be around for at least another 10 is because you get to just keep asking yourself that question and course correct thing over and over and over again, to make sure that you nail it. [00:59:00]