#60 – Solosode, Get in the Game

In this episode John discusses how it is often more important to “get in the game” than to figure out every detail and wait for perfection.


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Hello folks, I’ve been doing a lot of recording late. Lee with a lot of great guests, both remotely and in the defiant studio. And, uh, I’ve had a couple of topics that keep coming up when I talk to people, both on the podcast and in some of the advisory and investing work that we’re doing at defiance. So I’d done a solo sewed before and, uh, I’m going to try a couple more of them.

And if people like them, I’ll continue to do, uh, more of these. Uh, so today I want to talk about, uh, a simple concept that so many people get wrong. And I think once I realized this idea, it really changed my life forever, not just in the business world, but in the gym. Uh, in personal life and, and really in school was probably the first place where, where I realized how important this concept is.

If you want to succeed at anything you have to get in the game. I don’t wait for perfection or to have managed every single risk or to know everything that might possibly happen and have a game plan for how to respond. You have to step up to the plate and swing, swing hard, swing off then on your craft along the way, be ready to pivot, but you have to start by getting in the game.

If you’re not at bat, you’re just, you’re just, you’re, there’s no possibility of success if you don’t get started. And I think this podcast is an example of me getting in the game. Uh, I know that I want to bring founder and investor perspectives to people in long form interviews. Uh, I truly believe the people I interview are inspirational.

And I think I understand their journey enough to be able to tell the story. Well, I realized this two years ago and did the minimal research I could to start recording. I figured out how to publish and I sketched out a list of more than 70 people I wanted to interview and then stack rank them based on how likely I thought they were to begin the pigs.

And I wrote the first 20 scripts, and then I jumped right in. I made a ton of mistakes. I continue to make them, uh, but I learned from them and push to make the podcast better every week. So it isn’t that I did nothing and just started, started running around like a fucking idiot. I did a little bit of homework, but it’s not like I had everything figured out.

Um, the point is I didn’t wait until I had all the answers. In fact, I didn’t know all of the questions to ask and frankly, I probably still don’t. But it doesn’t matter. I’m a firm believer that you can only get better by making mistakes and you have to play with live fire. Sure. You want to do a couple of practice sessions that you don’t publish and that you don’t even record or where it isn’t with a real guest.

Fine. If that’s a tactic that helps you then do it. But the reality is until you get out there and put out a couple of podcasts and see what people think about them, uh, you know, this, this, this would have never happened for me. Uh, in the same way, Chris Hart and I got in the game with rewards summit, we knew that we wanted to build a product.

We thought the market would embrace it. Uh, we didn’t know how to build a mobile app. We didn’t know how a credit card affiliate networks worked. And we didn’t know anything about digital marketing or consumer product design, but we started in any ways, we built the first version of the app and it looked like shit and it crashed all the time.

And we chase down my family and closest friends and forced them to install the app and use it and give us feedback. We then hired a firm that I knew to crowdsource the redesign and build the app. It looked much better, but it was still a piece of shit. We promoted that version of the app very publicly and scratched our way to 500 downloads.

We recruited advisors who taught us lean methodologies and how to interview customers. We learned that our product user experience was fundamentally broken. So we hired a rockstar designer. Uh, by the way, much younger than us. And we didn’t, we didn’t try to go find somebody with a ton of experience. We found somebody who actually knew the fuck they were doing, uh, and he worked his magic at that point.

Apple picked up our launch and a few prominent bloggers wrote about the app. We got tens of thousands of users and actually broke our cloud service, which is a badge of honor. When, when, when you’re building an app, uh, in that process, we learned a lot about infrastructure automation or what you might call.

Enterprise containers or platform as a service, a dev ops, if you will. Uh, we didn’t figure out how to make money with the rewards summit product, but we learned so much about dev ops, product design and user experience payments, consumer banking, mobile apps, and API APIs. We could have never taken a class, frankly, to learn what we learned in that experience.

Uh, ultimately we decided to shut down that product and we created a firm that would dedicate itself. To bringing our learnings about modern application development and marketing to the big, biggest, and most established companies in the world, that company ultimately became level, which was one of the fastest growing tech companies in the world.

And now employs over 200 people. If Chris and I hadn’t gotten in the game, both with rewards summit, and later with level, we would never have scaled to the Heights that we did had. We waited until we mastered all of the skills that were required to build either a company. Somebody else would’ve done it.

And, uh, this thinking applies to literally every aspect of life. Don’t wait for some imaginary event to happen that finally convinces you to try Brazilian jujitsu or orange theory. Don’t wait for divine inspiration to join a yoga studio or take that cooking class. Don’t keep adding on pounds because you need to find a diet that is 100% perfect for you.

If you have dreams, you need to learn the minimal amount possible to make sure that you truly want to do it and know how to improve. And then get after it. Nike said it best. Right. Just do it. So, thanks again. I’ll be recording a few more of these. Please give me your feedback on, on what might be useful in the future or anything about, uh, my advice that you like or dislike.

Thank you.