Love Your Work, Episode 9 – Be Decisive. Laura Roeder of Edgar
Laura Roeder is the founder of Edgar, which is (or maybe I should say “who is”) a social media automation tool. Edgar helps you create a library of social media updates that you can schedule to repeat.
Laura has been honored at the White House, and spoke at the White House for being in the Empact 100, which is a list of the top young entrepreneurs in the US.
I’ve personally known Laura for about 8 years now, and I’ve always admired her decisiveness. I’ve never seen her really agonize over a big decision. In this interview I try to dig into the source of that decisiveness, and the philosophy that drives it.
One note in here is that I ended up abandoning a story about how it is – as Laura puts it – I’m responsible for her meeting her husband and CTO. First of all, she’s giving me more credit than I deserve, but secondly, wait until later on in the interview, and we do eventually pick that story back up. So be patient.
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This is Love Your Work, on this show we meet people who have carved out success by their own definition. I am David Kadavy, bestselling author and entrepreneur. Today’s guest has built multiples seven figure businesses, now I would reject that as a reason to admire someone in itself but I’ve known her throughout the process and she’s made it look really easy, she’s bootstrap the whole way, she’s traveled the world and currently she works part time. Laura Roeder is the founder of Edgar which is, or maybe I should say who is, a social media automation tool, no offense eager but in all fairness you are a tool. Edgar helps you create a library of social media updates that you can schedule to repeat. Laura has also been honored at the White House and spoke at the White House for being in the Empact100, which is a list of the top young entrepreneurs in the U.S. And I’ve personally known Laura for about eight years now and I’ve always admired her decisiveness, I’ve never seen her really agonize over a big decision. So in this interview I try to dig into the source of that decisiveness and the philosophy that drives it. One know in here is that I end up a bending a story about how it is, as Laura puts it, that I’m responsible for her meeting her husband and C.T.O. First of all she’s giving me probably, more credit than I deserve, but secondly wait until later on in the interview and we do eventually pick that story back up so be patient. Here’s the interview.
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I’m here with a Laura Roeder right now and Laura, when I was scheduling this podcast interview with your assistant I was given the option that I could do the podcast interview this particular week in this particular month or I could do the podcast interview in this same week, coinciding week in the next month, so it made me curious do you have a podcast week?
I do, I do. I’m being on batching everything possible and I have a podcast week is the first week of every month, we aim to schedule, I do a lot of them, we aim to schedule four podcast at day, so I do twenty every month.
That’s really fascinating to me, actually, so you could talk a bit more about this batching idea?
Yeah, yeah. So, you know, I am in the marketing for my company and I’m really being one, I men, there are lots of things, but with marketing you know, if you find something that works try to optimize it, and systematize it and batch it as much as possible instead of you know maybe getting small results from a lot of different activities. So we found that being on podcasts is something that’s fun for me to do and is a great way to promote Edgar and builds you know, back links and all the different podcast units and people learn about me in the company. So I like to join them so you know what, if I am going to do podcasts like, I’m going to do some podcasts and we get a lot of people that approach us because it’s sort of a nice vicious cycle where when you appear on podcast and other podcast really, maybe be I will be on my podcast and we are so I just look at the top list in iTunes and approach them. So, I do a lot of podcasts…
I am aware of that, I’ve been getting a couple of those pitches, you were one of them but…
Right, so at some point like you’ll probably get you all the you know, ones that worth doing, then I stop doing them and then, I’ve done all them.
You already have been on every podcast.
You will have to be on this one twice at some point. So do you, so then do you find that preparing to do a podcast interview has any sort of gear shifting overhead to it in which it makes it more efficient for you to do a bunch of them back to back in one particular day.
Sort of, I mean, I really don’t prepare for them but you know, you have to get in that sort of “on mindset” and so yeah, I just have that mindset all week, which obviously I’m a person that likes to do, I think some people might not really draining. Obviously I’m a person who likes to have people to listen to me talk.
Yeah, I was, I spent maybe five hours doing video conferencing total yesterday and I was totally exhausted. It’s not something I would want to do you know every day for a whole week for example.
Oh yeah, I love it.
Yeah, you can totally handle it and I mean I guess I also find that a lot of times it seems like a very low percentage of Skype or Hangout scheduled meetings actually happen at the time that they’re scheduled?
Yes, yes. This is a problem and this is right the reason we schedule so many, I mean actually, you and I have rescheduled us because I was sick, or you know, that happen or sometimes people don’t show up or people forget, so that’s the other reason we schedule so many is you end up doing most of them, but not all of them.
My killer thing is time zones, you know, I might be traveling and even if I change the time zone to the time zone I am in, and then I try to think about the time zone I’m going to be in what I actually do the thing and somehow I end up getting mixed up sometimes.
Yeah, it’s the worst it’s like I feel like it’s the biggest problem in my life that technology has not solved it’s time zones.
I know I think we should probably just all be like, oh you know let’s we’ll be talking and it’ll be two AM where you are, which is the middle of the day in London or whatever just to have the same time everywhere, just got G.M.T. from now on…
G.M.T. that is a thing we should try to do, but it didn’t work out for them.
I didn’t know that was the thing they’ve tried to do.
I mean, I’m sort of making that up but I feel like they were like, this is the time everywhere. I mean like that…but I just made that up.
That would make a really good story. So, the next thing is what is the company written as Edgar, what is Edgar, actually the better question might be who is Edgar?
Who is Edgar, intriguing. So Edgar is a social media scheduling an automation tool for people who have a lot of content, for people who have been blogging or podcasting for a while and you’ve built up this huge content library and you never seen it on the social media and no one knows that it’s there, you load up all your updates in Edgar and then he sends them for you over and over again, on auto pilot, and Edgar is optimism and he’s clumsy, we’re actually just talking about how we need to compile a list of facts about Edgar, his favorite football teams is Tottenham Hotspur, I know that.
Is that a real team?
It is, it is the much ridiculous one, … think god, that’s why he’s favorite team. Yeah, he’s like a friendly optimistic, that manages your social media for you.
And I could see how it could be really useful I know, I have a number of spreadsheets in my Google Spreadsheets that maybe have links or updates to them and I will write a script that will randomize the time at which they’ll be scheduled and then I’ll export them to C.S.V. and then they’ll put them in Hoot Suite and that might load maybe you know, two month’s worth of tweets or something and then I will forget to ever do it again and it never happen.
You really should … sort of funny hearing you say that I mean you’re like the perfect use case like people that I’ve always complicates friendships, yeah you can just let it in … and then.
Either way it would just reschedule some of the updates that have gone out, because actually I found that it’s surprising you know, some people are always being introduced to whatever it is that I have to offer and then I might have some article that’s five years old and then I might find a way to share it and then there are people some people who are like, oh well it’s a really cool article, and then I assume that everybody’s seen everything because to me it’s old news.
But it is just sort of hilarious, right, when you think about when you’re seeing you like, everyone on the internet has already read this article, surely there is no one.
Like when I came across this funny guy which obviously falls, so yeah I mean, the whole idea if you’re all in social media you know, you want to be bringing in new followers all the time, so they haven’t seen your old stuff and people who are to follow you, are not, you know they’re not meticulously, they read through five years of every article that you ever posted and they never miss a link, you know.
Right, and you know I know each other for a long time I think it’s probably been eight years I think I met you back in Chicago and maybe around two thousand and eight or something.
I think it around that time you and I each have a maybe five hundred Twitter followers or something like that and then, you at the time were doing like freelance like kind of small freelance jobs for local small businesses and since then you’ve built at least a couple of multi-million dollar businesses. And eight years might sound like a long time to some people but that’s extremely quick. What will happen between then and now?
Yes, so, I’ve been in kind of online marketing social media space the whole time in various aspects of various businesses, so yeah, when I knew you I was the first night I was doing websites for local businesses and that kind of … into social media consulting because I would just talk to them about how people are going to find their site, what people are going to do once they’re on their site, I thought that’s what you did when meet someone a website, I kind of found out later like a lot of web designers don’t do that, I just thought we were supposed to and that was the work I did for free you know, I built them the site, and then this what I now see as consulting work I don’t even think of it as that at the time. So when social media start to become this thing I started you know people told me you could just use social media consultant and I thought, sweet, that sound super easy, I just talk to people about Twitter or you know sign me up, so I did social media consulting and that very quickly turned into the social media online training business and which turned into a bigger business, I also started the … which is … towards teaching, Women Business Owners about online marketing and then I launched Edgar in twenty fourteen, which is my first software products and we’re now just over two million annual record revenue so, … really fast which is been really fun.
Yes it sounds like a lot of the experience that you had with doing the social media consulting probably informed the genesis of Edgar.
Yes, definitely. I mean, it’s funny they mention your spreadsheet because that is Edgar really came directly from training, we were teaching people how to put together the social media spreadsheets with all your updates and that’s what we were doing in our company and then you cycle through them and what you have to you know, load everything manually into the tool. So it was a very direct result of that, thinking ok, why doesn’t the tool do this for you, why do you still have to do all this grunt work around your social media and this is something that software could handle, so I mean that’s what Edgar does.
Actually going back to starting to do a social media consulting and in doing the training business, I remember you and I were both freelancing back when we first met and I’ve ever had the impression like, gosh, you’re working with the wrong customers here that you work with these small businesses and they don’t have any money for these small website and stuff, but it sounds like you found a way to create a product that they could afford but then there was like a huge market of them.
Yeah, I mean, it was a problem for sure because when you’re dealing locally I was dealing with such a small site, also I was, I mean you know, I’ve grown a lot since then like, I would try to convince people they didn’t have the website, I thought oh, they don’t have websites, will want to buy a website from me, I’m since learned that you have to sell things to people who already have the thing, you know like we sell Edgar to people who are already using a social media scheduling tool that people who don’t see the value in doing socially marketing, so I was definitely barking up the tree a lot but I did see that small business owners are interested in learning about social media marketing you know, it’s a free marketing channel they can pursue themselves and the cool thing about the Interwebs is you know it might be difficult to find enough of them to pay like five hundred dollars to learn how to do it but there are so many small business centers around America around the world, you can have a great business finding people who are willing to spend five hundred dollars to go through some training.
Yes, so it was a lower touch solution then say, their hands on aspects of freelancing but there was, you were able to scale up enough where you weren’t involved with it to intimately that you could deserve a lot of customers and you could scale of the business that way and then you turn that knowledge into software we’re not really you don’t have to do anything…
Right, right. But yeah, I mean as far as my involvement it’s very different because I went from hours for dollars providing services and now I run a software company and by it, I mean, I’m not a developer, so even if everything like I can’t jump in, I don’t know what to do, I can’t jump in and fix it so it’s definitely a company that runs without me, I mean in particular for me that’s been a focus for me, so I was, I launched the company in twenty fourteen, when I was pregnant I had my son in January twenty fifth. I was on maternity leave for three months, I’m actually just work part time now so a lot of the growth has happened without you know me being there.
Yeah that’s amazing you’re able to work part time, and attend to other things and still run this lucrative business. Now actually stepping back even further what when you first started freelancing, what were you doing before you started freelancing?
So I started freelancing really young and I started working for myself when I was twenty two. So I only ever had one job which was working in an agency for about a year and a half after college, and I worked as a designer at an agency.
And what was it like kind of the moment that you decided that you weren’t going to be doing that and when you start working on your own was that, did you just sort of gradually happened or was it a where there was any perhaps a moment when you were like, oh this is probably not the right thing for me to be doing?
Sort of both, I mean I thought about it for a while and I thought I am not happy in my job and you know should I switch jobs or should I switch career paths, and then I had this idea, I basically had the idea, well if I work for myself I can explore a lot of different things that I’m interested in because I didn’t love, I was a designer and I’m not somebody who’s passionate about being a designer, you know, like great designers I fell like that’s what they love, they don’t want to do anything else, they would be happy doing all day long, I was like I don’t care, it was chaotic, and I found it boring, about my job that I only do design and I was interested in all the other clients side stuff, especially marketing strategy to stop the agency would do, so like well you know do I want to switch to be an account executive like, that looks like it sucks too, if I work for myself, I do all the clients side stuff and I do the design stuff and I actually proposed in my job that I go part time because also, I was just sitting like bored, not doing anything, so I thought I’d be great when went for them, I could still have that study income, and they said yes but then they said no, like three days before I was supposed to start part time, they came back and they were like well if you are part time everyone is kind of want to work part time, I though that would be great, because anyone’s here is doing anything. Actually…
But so and that was like the catalyst that push me you know in that point I was already mentally in like my whole game plan of working part time so I wasn’t going to go back to working full time so I was just ok, well then, I quit.
So did you quit on the spot.
It wasn’t like dramatic, but I mean it was yeah in that conversation I was like OK well if you’re you know, if I can’t work part time this isn’t going to work out for me, I mean I’m sure it is much less mature about it like I just was very emotional about it at the time.
I have been twenty two or so, right?
But you missed out on your opportunity to slam the door and make a dramatic exit, or do like Jerry Maguire…
…like the junior designer, I am leaving…
You know it’s happened before, somewhere, that’s probably happening right now.
Well it seems like a very stereotypical like when you read things like … it’s like one of those things you would really like and they would stand up and make a statement that they’re leaving.
I am leaving. Well you have to also to do the exit e-mail where you are like, all this… the email is like really bad, this was such a great experience for me and I just really all the people everybody who’s reading is like yeah, whatever, OK, just go. So that you went out on your own and I mean I feel like that’s a big turning point is realizing that you are going out on your own, did you feel like oh this is maybe a temporary thing or did were you did you feel convinced that you weren’t going to work for other people, how did you feel about it at that time?
I think in the beginning I didn’t really know I mean I was excited to work for myself. I was definitely excited about that freedom, from the beginning as well, because I remember one of my best friends, this is me, at the time like she was living in L.A. and I was living in Chicago, and we were visiting each other and when she would visit me in Chicago, I would be like, OK well I get up for work, you know around six thirty, so late we can have dinner together and you know I get really four days paid time offer whatever is like I can’t take any time off and when I would visit her she actually worked at the time as a waitress and it’s not like she had some amazing career, she’s an actress now but she had the flexibility of just being a waitress you know, because she is like, she could change her shifts or she didn’t have to work a day or whatever and I thought, it’s sux, this sux, my friends visiting, I want to spend time in there and I can’t you know, why am I setting up my life that way, so, and I remember seeing people in coffee shops, if I ever had a day off and you would go when you would like to see people in coffee shops during the day, you’re like oh…
Who are these peoples?
Who are, what they are doing you know, like, I want to be them, so that was only something that I was excited about and I think, I saw that was the right path for me very soon after because I never had another job I never went back and forth, I never worked for anyone else, after that. So now I would, I love working for myself, I would never get a job a now.
Yes, it is really a totally different existence and it’s interesting that you share these experience of visiting your friends who have this flexibility or seeing people in coffee shops, I remember feeling that same thing or seeing people walking, like sitting around in a park in the middle of day, and you are like, what is this, we are having friends who are freelancers and maybe go out for a drink with them and you’re like man you don’t actually really like have to go to work tomorrow or like when you going to get up, and they, yeah you know whenever I wake up I don’t have an alarm clock or something. You know I think it takes a certain type of person or a certain type of things that a person has to value to see that and say you know regardless of the circumstances, that’s going to be an important thing to me whereas some people I think, they worry that, oh I won’t make as much money or something which hasn’t been the case for you, I will make as much money or the play something else of value above it and you know you made it up something you made a priority to have that flexibility and that’s carried over into your life today perhaps.
Yeah, I mean, I think people have a lot of unrealistic fears about, I mean one you know, quitting their job and working for themselves, because the worst case scenario is that you get another job, you know I mean, the very worst case scenario is you get a job that’s not as good for a few years maybe you have to take a while to work your way, back up, but it’s like OK if your worst case scenarios back where you started, I mean, most of us are lucky enough to have a network of friends and family you know, most people listening to this podcast are not going to be homeless, I mean there are some people out there that are in that situation you know, grow up without a family or whatever and it’s a lot harder but you know, I know I’m like most people and I have random cousins that I’ve never met but I can show up at their house to be like, can I sleep here for a week and they’d be like, all right you know, you’re not going to starve to death if you don’t do well working for yourself, like you’re going to job you might have to get a job at Wal-Mart, and that would sux but it is not the worst thing in the world.
Yeah I remember having those sorts of conflicts myself and I remember one conversation in particular was somebody who was, I was think about starting something and he was like, all right, worst case scenario you go work on this thing for a few months and then when you go look for another job you get to tell them that you ran your own company.
And they are not going to want to hire you, unfortunately that didn’t happen to be the case, yeah for me it was like I had to have quite a bit of money saved up in the bank before I like stop get freaking out about whether I was going to just disintegrate the moment that…
Yeah, it is just a big sense, yeah, when you think through it because it’s like, if I were to not have that much savings you know, you would bring money in, right, if you didn’t run out of money too early and then you know, you would go get some sort of crappy job just to be able to survive, and it is fine, people want to save up more money, or whatever makes you feel good about it, the part that it is not fine is if you’re living in fear, or if you don’t like your money if you want to make it change but you’re too scared to do it, that’s like, that’s not cool.
Right yeah and that’s totally me and for me it didn’t happen until somebody changed it for me you know they fired me and then but at the moment that it happened I was like oh this is like going to be the greatest day of my life and I had a bunch of money in the bank saved up and the first couple of weeks was just getting acquainted with the idea that I wasn’t going to disintegrate, my bank account would go down a little bit of course of a month, and that I would still exist as a human and but it also opened up this wide expanse of time that had to be filled up with something.
Yeah, that’s why you hang up with the freelancers, that’s why you were friends.
Yeah exactly, because they were yeah, we had lunch or something and it was you know maybe an hour and a half lunch you know, during the day and oh, do I have to get back to the office? No, ok, well I guess it’s time we go back and work on some stuff.
Yeah, and you do like a co-working in the coffee shop, or just hang out, I’m still a big fan of …
Yeah I like coffee shops too, it’s more of an afternoon activity for me, I think. The mornings are happen to be more creative time for me I think. So, you’ve done a lot in a short amount of time but are there any qualities that you think have enabled you to do that, any quality is inherent to you.
I mean, I think, I’m definitely very optimistic in how I see things, it’s hard for me you know as we mentioned I do a lot of podcast and sometimes people be like tell me about your biggest failure and it sounds fake but I really like I don’t know and it’s not because everything goes well for me…
I want to ask that question.
It is not because everything goes well for me all the time but it’s because I genuinely see it all is just part of the process and you have to try things out and you have to learn from them, and some of them may work out some of them don’t and you know a lot of things don’t hang out the way that you thought they would it, so I mean I think having that outlook is extremely helpful because it makes you not fearful and I think I am good at judging risk and to me being good at judging risk means that things are actually not as risk as a lot of people think they are I mean, as we just talked about the whole risk of going out to work for yourself you know you might have like a down year and you Daniel kind of get your career back on track and you’ll go back to the job you don’t like or another one you like or whatever but that’s where you started and as a company, I think one of the sort of best ways to be more successful company quicker is to do things that other people are maybe scared to do or do things that the rest of your industry doesn’t do and you look around and you’re thinking oh, nobody else does it this way, maybe I should just stick to the script I mean, this isn’t interesting for me being in SAS because there’s a way and people do things in SAS and a lot of it I don’t…
Software as a service just to clear…
Yeah. I don’t think a lot of things a lot of sense like there’s a statement about how you have to have a free trial or now this is sort of changing, used to be you had to have a freemium model and you had up a free plan and a lot of companies now are cutting the free plan where I’m like we’re bootstrap company we can’t have a free plan, you know, we can’t afford to support a bunch of free users and we’re not a charity or like at service for your business, we look for businesses to do marketing, why would people pay for that? So, yeah.
Kind of a zig when other zag.
Yeah, I think so, and just doing things the way that you want and not being so worried of other people think that’s the right thing to do.
Are there any kind of big bets that you’ve made and that sort of thing where that is something that you did that seem very counterintuitive that paid off for you or that didn’t.
I mean, one is just the branding of Edgar you know, you said who is Edgar and when we decided on the name we did sort of a formal branding process. I remember we talked about the character of Edgar and my husband Chris his our C.T.O who you know, because your responsible for Chris and I meeting, and therefore my whole life happening.
We’re going to have to cover that eventually, we can’t just…
So he though this idea of having a character is just the worst idea, he is like, it’s going to be like Clip* everyone’s going to hate the software it’s going to be so annoying, and I’m like, no you did the development, leave the marketing to me it’s going to be actually really fun and people really latched onto it like whenever we read reviews people always call Edgar he, and I’ll start their reviews and they’ll be like, I met a new guy, he’s really doing a lot for me, his name is Edgar you know.
He is a machine.
Right. I mean, that was a risk, it’s not what most companies do although now I see, I don’t know I just noticed because I have one with a person’s name but I notice a lot of companies that uses a person’s name. We don’t have any affiliate program, that’s a very unpopular decision you know, our customers complain about it a lot but we don’t have an affiliate program but I have this bad experience in looking at software and I only find affiliate reviews and this isn’t helpful at all, I want to read real reviews and I don’t want people to have that experience concluding my company so, that’s a few examples.
Yeah, actually you reflected poorly on your perception of the companies that you read it that…
Reviews are… Obviously they are being compensated in such.
Right, because you never get a totally honest review you know, people will be like well here’s the pros and cons but you know, you should give it a try, because they’re going to be paid if you give it a try, and I just wanted people to be able to Google Edgar and find real reviews and know their a hundred percent the real experience, the person writing them.
Right. I guess I just wrap it to explain the people why how it is that I might be responsible for that… I, several years ago it was almost four years ago exactly…
Where I kind of tweeted out like, hey, I am going to go to Buenos Aires for their winter is anybody want to come. And then you’re like, I’ll go, and then we were just like have a quick Skype chat the stuff I’m like, all right well, you know if you decide that you want to go and you’re like, no, I’m going, like you were just decided then like, OK I’m going.
You just decided so I mean, that’s one thing that’s a quality that I’ve noticed in you I think, I would posit has a lot to do with your rapid success is that you’re very decisive you don’t, I don’t think I’ve ever seen you like really mull something over and I couldn’t be that I haven’t been privy to it.
Yeah, I think you’re right.
Do you agree with that?
I am not a “muller”.
Yeah and I totally am because I know that actually four years ago we, I had a conversation with you where I was like you know actually about having a podcast, now it’s finally happening you know, four years later. Is that a quality that you always have the decisiveness or was it something that you eventually discovered and decided to double down on, how did that comes down?
I think it is something that I probably have naturally more than a lot of people, but it’s something that I also cultivate and because I do think it’s a really important skill it’s just making quick decisions because once you decide, you can see how it goes, this is a problem right, if you’re just thinking about doing a podcast for four years, in that whole four years you’re not able to improve the podcast, you’re not able to see you know, what topics people like, or if it’s going to do well, or if it’s not, you don’t know any of those things until you make it, until you want to and then you can make all those adjustments, so I just see how important that is to just put something out there you just make a lot and do it and then you can see how it goes. So, it is something that I try to be conscious of, and I consciously do for a lot of decisions like, I’m in a house now that was custom built so you have to make a lot of decisions when you custom build a house so, there are constantly … so we are just like, we’re just going to go to the store and we’re going to pick the faucet today, so whatever faucet they have, so whatever is your favorite one, it is like, we are done, there’s no more.
It’ll be done and you’ll be happy with it.
Right, because you don’t actually care that like after we do it like, you don’t notice the faucet like, it’s fine, it’s not most important thing in your life, but it’s easy, just like I am … at faucets.
This is something I very slowly notice we are like, I resent recently got like a pair of shoes and it arrived in the mail and it wasn’t quite the color that I expected them to be but I was leaving for an extended trip soon like, I need these shoes, I guess somewhere in the issues but I reminded myself like you know, they probably seem like shoes you don’t, that are not exactly what you like right now but within two weeks I guarantee that you’re either not going to care or you’re actually going to like them just fine, you found out to be true.
Yeah I had that happening the other day I bought this like, Kindle cover and it came it was all scratched, so it is like god damnit, it’s all scratched, I am like, you know what it just going to get scratched up anyway like, I have a one year old, like he is going to mess things, he is going to scratch up, so why would I care, I do I really want to go to the trouble of sending him back, like worrying about how is scratched in turn I am just going to use that, I don’t actually hear at all, there are scratches on it, and it’s just a much easier way to live your life.
Yeah. So were there any times when you started when you like, first realized, oh that was decisive, I did that more decisively than most people do and you became aware of that quality so that you could cultivate it.
I try to think of a good story and you know, I can definitely remember…
Because it does something kind of maybe mold over well, a little bit going freelance.
Yeah and I also have definitely like, I mean it’s not like I’m always so decisive, so recently I was invited to speak at something and I fell myself really stressing out about like asking for a fee or what the fee should be you know, a lot of people who get paid to speak asking for money, they probably don’t pay anybody and I definitely will catch myself when I’m doing that and just sort of try to remind myself like, why am I going through this mental anguish and trying to remember that there is no right answer I mean, I think that’s kind of the secret in all this is that the right answer is not going to come to you, it’s not like if I obsess about this for a moment I will land on the perfect speaking fee that I would be you know happy to offer and everyone will accept it like, it’s just not real, so you’re going through this anguish trying to find something that’s not there and yeah, I wish I had a better story to illustrate, I just try to … you know.
I mean yeah, I mean if I can add to that I can think of yes, so if you’re thinking, the very fact you’re thinking about the speaking fee instead of just being like, oh hell yeah I want to go talk to this thing tells you that there’s something inside of you makes you maybe not careful with that but you know you’re agonizing over whether to ask for it, but it’s better to just go ahead and ask for it and also the mental anguish or mental stress that you go through in considering whether or not to ask for the speaking fee is actually comes from a pool of cognitive and emotional resources that could be used for something else.
Right. And if you kind of I don’t think it is, I am just sort of like logically thinking the situation through and I was talking to Chris about this speaking fee and how I was worried about it, so he’s like, well think about what’s really going to happen you know, because your fear, my fear is that I’m going to come across like a jerk, which it just doesn’t really make any sense like that like I’m going to come across as a jerk who super full myself, and he’s like, if this guy is real bad, if you ask the fee and he wrote back like, who do you think you are? You know like, what do you think, you would think that, that guy is the jerk obviously.
That’s crazy, I did not expect that reaction and so if you kind of just think through what you’re worried about I mean, I think it’s very often totally ridiculous, whatever this like scenario is, I think is going to happen.
Yeah, maybe we put a story in our head about how people are going to react to something and even what the consequences of that reaction are like if a guy did respond with that, you’d be like well I’m glad that I’m not doing business with a person like that.
Really, quite honestly. There’s one thing I was kind of thought about people who were designers who would maybe complain about problem clients, which sometimes it is, you don’t have control over, but you know you realize, wow this person actually a really bad business person, because they’re meddling with this logo designed with the person that they hired to do this thing, I probably shouldn’t do business with them, in fact.
Yeah, I have some stories there with some people that I worked with early on, that were just, yeah, just like a real jerks which I will always remember of someone who is like that.
Well and some people just go ahead and take that for their whole career.
And just kind of say, well, that’s the way the cookie crumbles, and then other people decide, well, I’m not going to deal with something like that again.
Yeah. I was definitely the latter of being like, you have shown me who you really are, I don’t think I want work with you anymore.
Yeah that sounds like that’s worked out just fine. So, it’s interesting also that you started off as a designer and that’s kind of a creator roll, like you’re sitting there, you’re creating stuff but now you’re a manager like, you’re managing a lot of people, you’ve got your hands out of the operation enough that you know, you’re working part time on it, was there any process through which you started to recognize those qualities about yourself that you know like, I don’t really want to sit in a chair all day and create stuff and then you actually do enjoy the process of managing it, that you are talented at managing, myself I’ve tried to manage it and it just doesn’t stick with me.
I think actually I did recognize that pretty early because in retrospect I had helped very early on in the process much sooner then most people do so, even when I was working as a free lancer designer and I was making you know, like fifteen thousand a year, I had sort of like intern assistant or whatever … she like, I hired her to help me to do some of the job, kind of might doing some of the administrative stuff and you know, a lot of people have a lot of hang ups about hiring, about letting go and delegate, and I always feel like somebody else wants to do this work that I don’t want to do, sounds great, that just sounds absolutely fantastic so, I’m a pretty natural delegator I would say and always in my business is like, I’ve never tried to really do a business alone you know, even though I haven’t always had like co-founder, I’ve always built a team of people around me to help me because I just view this as great thing like, oh there’s people out there that love doing customer service and there’s people out there that love doing bookkeeping and we can trade the money for the bookkeeping and I’ll do it and everyone’s happy, it’s like, it’s a good system.
So did you ever struggle with the idea that oh I have to give money to get this thing done and do I have the money to pay somebody to do it you know, because I have to pay somebody mine to do this thing before I can make the money to pay the person.
Yeah, I mean, I think that’s the eternal bootstrapper struggle for sure but I didn’t see that you can kind of pay for everything in scales, you can get like worse people to do it for cheaper, better people for more, obviously just people to do it for more time so, I saw I mean, that’s really how I’ve you know, built my company, it is bootstraps like, I have hired positions part time freelance that most people don’t really view as part time freelance positions, like a project manager, I brought a project manager and my social media training company again much earlier than I think most people would do that, and I mean, I am in a group of like startup software founders and we’re talking about how some of them were just considering bringing out a person to do kind of operations, and project management, administrative stuff, they’re still doing all the stuff themselves you know, when they’re funded the start up. So I just was like ok well, if I have ten bucks like, find someone who can do ten bucks worth of, whatever it is I need done, I think for me and for a lot of people it was just more of a mindset issue of will someone really want to work with me like, is my company legit, or important enough, or whatever it should be able to hire a project manager for example, that in particular was this big dream that I had and I thought, well I’m just not big enough for that to happen.
So you had a kind of get over an internal kind of inferiority complex over whether somebody would decided to work for you?
Right. Like thinking my company wasn’t a real company, which is only something I struggle with a lot is thinking that for whatever reason and what I’m doing isn’t as legitimate, or serious or important as what other people do.
Yeah I think that’s something that takes time and it’s for me in the beginning of having a company it was hard for me to wrap my head around like, oh, so I’m not it’s like a person who does stuff and this is supposed to be a company and it’s like … that’s like, I’ve got a different bank account and it’s like, it’s a different thing. And, if I want to say that this thing is like really big, and huge and successful and then people would just maybe sort of believe me and decide they will work for me, like.
And the guy is really, what every company is…
Right. And I think you’re really hopes to see your friends have those experiences and you get to see companies that you thought were really impressive and then you see that they’re just sort of throwing everything together, as well.
Yeah, exactly, or even that the systems of how things work out, you think that there’s going to be this sophisticated internal thing and no, we’ve got Google Docs.
We just do this part manually.
Because we try to write a program but it was just too complicated, we didn’t do it, things like that.
Yeah. And you see you know, I remember it like when you got your book deal, that was so exciting and I mean, that was very exciting to me, like, my friend is really important, you know he is like speaking at South by Southwest, he just got this book deal, so like you see your friends do this impressive things and you are like, it is just David, he is not that impressive, he could get a book deal, you know, but it really doesn’t happen to see, it’s like, OK he is like, he is just a normal person and through this series of you know, coincidences and things that he proactively made happen, this thing happened for him and he made the most of it and you also do see like, that people that are successful but how much work that takes and how proactive they’ve been in choosing the things that got them there.
Yeah, there’s such an interesting observation too. Because when you know, even if I consider a certain project like, considering doing this podcast or something before it exists, before you make it exist, it’s so hard to get over that threshold but then you realize once you do make something exist and all this energy sort of rallies behind it where it becomes this thing that is in the world now and you know, suddenly you get a lot of support like, oh you know with Laura one of the interview by the podcast, oh yeah, actually she would, that’s good.
You know things like that, that you wonder about before you actually start the project but it’s much easier once it actually exists, is there.
Right, because it’s real and people can engage with it, people can share it, it is a real thing.
We’ve had such an interesting conversation, I know that we’re really approaching the end of our time and I realized that I totally abandoned the story about how Buenos Aires has anything to do with your family. I guess the long story shorty is you came to Buenos Aires and then you met your husband.
Right. Yeah, thanks to you and …
Oh right, yes, …
So yeah, my husband was having a party and you got invited to that party by… I think and so yeah we went there, my first day in Buenos Aires and so yeah, you are responsible for me meeting my husband who then you know, made business with me, so you are responsible for Edgar, we had baby so, I mean it’s a lot there.
All right. And actually you know, just to go butterfly effect on the whole thing, the fact that even went to Buenos Aires was because I went and spoke in Chile because somebody from Chile approached me at five hundred Startups when I went to talk there, because somebody at five hundred Startups saw that I was traveling in the Bay Area, and said, oh, hey come do a talk today and I just kind of went down there, and that person from Chile said hey, do you want to go to Chile? … America, and now I’m in Colombia and that’s kind of all connected to and it’s amazing where things will end up if you’ll just leave yourself open to opportunities that open in front of you.
Yeah and you know, it is also a great example like something else that I am a big believer and it’s all opportunities come from other people, which I think we spend so much time trying to engineer plans and think of how we want things to go and actually every opportunity involves another human, that’s the nature of it, someone asked you, you know, invite you to speak, or invite you to the party, or to say that … or whatever it is and that serendipity is sort of this like extra thing, I think we tend to think of it as like, oh, I have my plan and then maybe it will be the successor of that sort of pile on the top but it’s not just an extra thing, it is everything.
Yeah, this idea of inviting serendipity you know, leaving yourself open to the idea that serendipity things will happen because the opportunities are right in front of you, even if it’s as simple as like walking a different route on the way to work in the morning.
And I just have a few rapid fire questions towards the end here and oh, there’s only so many that we can have time for. What is the biggest compromise that you’ve made in getting where you are?
Oh God, the biggest compromise that I’ve made? That’s a really hard question. I mean, I guess what is sort of related, what comes to mind is a big reason I wanted to start a software business is in my training business I was the face of the business. So it was like training by Laura Roeder and I taught the classes and you know, my pictures was on the home page, it’s very much about me and I had a real love hate with that, I can see kind of a style marketing, and it’s like obviously something that feeds my ego right, like I talked about how I did twenty podcast a week like, obviously I am that type of person that it is like, other people like me, you know.
That’s good. I’m no different.
So you know, it’s nice to have that like ego gratification and as a marketing strategy I also think it’s an incredibly effective marketing strategy. I think whenever you put a human in front of the company that always works really well because people like having to someone they connect with which is why you know, we can still use that strategy in meeting or podcast, talking about Edgar, even I am not the face of Edgar. I feel like that’s a compromise that I’ve made and that I struggle with like, I am going to give up a certain amount of my freedom in order to be the front person of this company because I created a structure that was very dependent on my time and even when I got farther along like, after a while I would have good strangers write everything, so I didn’t even have to write it myself anymore but I still had to pretend that I wrote it which is you know, I got rid of the commitment of it doing it but it’s still like this…
Someone had a podcast by asking you a question about something that you don’t wrote.
Right, it still has a level of commitment of being there and now that was a compromise.
That’s a great answer. What was the last book that you read the change the way you saw something?
Well, this morning I was reading a book called the first five thousand years, do you know that book?
I don’t, sound interesting.
It’s about the history of debt and I learned about, what I am that fence which I didn’t actually know beforehand like this big idea…
The International Monetary Fund which I don’t know much about.
Yeah, it’s totally like, I didn’t knew anything they’ve talked about it, on this podcast. But yeah, I would say it like changed my world view in a small way in because I understood more about, especially the different countries interact with each other financially which you know, it’s interesting going more into business and like you make more money and that’s messy now like I said you know, we’re at like two million dollars, which to me seems like this really big business but obviously in the scheme of business is this really, really tiny thing. And as you kind of move up the financial ranks you start to get this little peek into how things work differently, like when you do have more money like for example now it’s really easy for us to get a line of credit for a lot more money or we can have an Amex balance of like seventy thousand dollars and that’s fine so, and I got this thing I actually sent it to our meet, because I knew he would love our meet … I’ve got this thing in the mail and it was like, special mortgages for like, rich people, I got on this list somehow and it was like you can get a mortgage without putting any money down because you can leverage your family trust for your mortgage like you know, I receive a mail like a trust fund…
Like a I trust fund.
Yeah, which I jam, for the record. It is like, yay, I can make on my own. So yeah, it’s just like it’s always interesting to meet and learn about, you kind of think you have something that works and then you realize, oh I don’t even know how that thing works in my own tiny little world.
Absolutely that applies to anything in life. Next question, do you make your bed?
No, don’t be ridiculous. I don’t understand the making of beds, it’s weird.
I’m amazed how many podcasts yes, are totally with you on that.
You probably make your bed, do you make your bed?
I do it now. I do now, but I was always like, no. I actually I make it to the point where I used to do the whole talk thing and make it all, it is neat when you come back to the bed at night you’re like, oh it’s clean. But then I, actually was Jason Fried it was like, I throw the bed sometimes, I was like, oh that’s right I actually don’t, I hate having to kick the sheets from underneath the mattress and so now I just place it over by at least like, make it looks smooth and that’s like kind of part of my morning ritual it’s all really just to organize the chaos that is in on my own brain or to give some sense that there is a way to organize all of it.
You have some control over…
Yes, it’s because I’m a control freak, exactly. Do you have a final message for everybody?
Oh, final message. A final message is that you can do stuff that you never done before you know, I think that’s really important to remember like, I for a long time when I started a software company but I don’t really know how that would work, and I didn’t really have an … that I thought was good enough and I still want to build software but now I have a software company and I think we get really stuck and like, I don’t know how to do that or I don’t have the skills, but you know, unless you’re ninety years old, hopefully you have a long life ahead of you and if you’re in your thirty’s, or in your forty’s, or in your twenty’s it would be so crazy to limit what you do for the rest of your life based on what you’ve done already.
That’s fantastic advice, life is long.
Hopefully, if you’re lucky, life is long.
And, where can everybody find you?
You can find Edgar at meetedgar.com and meetedgar on twitter, and facebook and on twitter I am L.K.R.
Great that is total hacker … that twitter … three letters, I wish I had something like that.
It is pretty cool.
Anyway thank you so much for being so generous with your time and for chatting with me, it’s been fantastic having you on the show.
So there we have it, before I go, I got to ask, do you like books?
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