GE 145: Drift CEO David Cancel (Formerly @ Compete, HubSpot) Explains Why Free Products Are The Best Acquisition Method (podcast) With David Cancel

David Cancel CEO Drift

Hi everyone, today’s interview is with David Cancel, the CEO of Drift, which is a tool that provides the easiest way to grow your customers with live chat right on your site. David is a 5x founder and has helped grow such companies as Performable, Ghostery, Lookery, and Compete. He is also the co-host of the Seeking Wisdom podcast.

In today’s interview, we’ll be talking about how David has been able to start five companies, including Drift, how his obsession helps businesses communicate better with their customers, and why the default that he takes is that he’s wrong about everything.

Download podcast transcript [PDF] here: Drift CEO David Cancel (Formerly @ Compete, HubSpot) Explains Why Free Products Are the Best Acquisition Method

Episode highlights:

  • [2:10] – How David came up with the idea of Drift, and how it all came from a customer driven obsession, and how he builds teams and products.
  • [4:17] – How Drift provides a live way to communicate within an app, plus drift daily which integrates with apps you already use and sends a daily digest about the people you communicate with. It can also send real-time integrations with Slack.
  • [6:14] – The goal of giving Drift daily away for free. Opening up communication by connecting to tools users use today.
  • [8:01] – Constants experienced when starting companies are teams, technology and design, but teams and people are the most important. Default attitude is I’m wrong and get feedback to correct percentage of wrong. Iterative process.
  • [12:06] – When it comes to finding the best people, David collects them over time. He takes a long view and keeps a list of people for different stages of development. Soft skills are very important. Curious learner, someone you want to spend time with. Day after test.
  • [17:00] – How Compete was the toughest company to develop because of market conditions
  • [21:45] – With analysis tools like Compete the numbers may be off, but it’s not about the numbers – it’s about the trends
  • [24:20] – The game is always changing, so providing something of more value is important, such as a product as a lead magnet

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Full Transcript of The Episode

Show transcript
David: Imagine you come into one of your favorite products that you use. Let's say it's Uber and you go into the Uber app, the mobile app or the web app, and you have a question for Uber or Uber has a question for you, let's say they're building a new product feature or they just want to get an idea of something. Back in the day people would email you, would send you something, would call you but why don't they communicate to you when you're actually using the app? Ideally when you're using the feature that they have a question about or you have a question about.

Speaker 1: Do you want to impact the world and still turn a profit? Then you're in the right place, welcome to Growth Everywhere. This is the show where you'll find real conversations with real entrepreneurs. They'll share everything from their biggest struggle to the exact strategies they use on a daily basis. If you're ready for a value packed interview, listen on. Here's your host Eric Siu.

Before we jump in to today's interview, if you guys could leave a review and a rating and also subscribe as well that would be a huge help to the podcast. If you actually enjoy the content and you would like to hear more of it, please support us by leaving us a review and subscribe to the podcast as well. Thanks so much.

Eric: All right everybody, today we have David Cancel who is the CEO of Drift which is the easiest way to grow your customers. David is a 5X founder and helped grow companies such as Performable, Ghostery, Lookery and Compete. He's also the co-host of the Seeking Wisdom podcast. David, how's the going?

David: It's going great Eric, thanks for having me. I'm excited to be on.

Eric: Thanks for being here. Why don't you tell us a little bit about who you are and what you do.

David: Sure thank, you did a great job there. I'm a 5 time entrepreneur, I'm obsessed with studying companies. All my companies have had one similar theme in them which is helping businesses communicate better with their customers and I've done that in different ways throughout all those different businesses but that's the thing that is my obsession and life's mission. I just love making that connection and building customer driven teams and customer driven products and so yeah, that's what I want to help every company in the world be able to do.

Eric: Awesome, so I want to circle back to your experience around those companies because I've definitely used some of those products before but talk a little bit about Drift. How did you come up with the idea and what are you trying to solve here?

David: Sure. We started Drift a little over a year ago myself and Liz Torres who was my co-founder at Performable and we worked together later at Hubspot which acquired Performable. We started about a year ago and it all came from that same obsession which I mentioned which is around this kind of customer driven framework and obsession that we've had and it's affected everything from how we build teams to how we build products and how we build companies. Really what it is is like, we think like there's been a massive shift in our lifetime where we went from building software back



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in the day where you would never interface with a customer.

You would ship software in a static way and that's where agile from a software development standpoint agile and waterfall methodologies came from. You never connected with a customer. Fast forward to the world that we live in today where everyone who's growing up would not even believe that that world existed. We can create software, we can come up with an idea, we can go and kick start or we can go on and did go-go, we can get it funded, we can create a video, we can be talking at thousands if not millions of potential customers all in the same day.

It's changed the way that we build software fundamentally where we can be talking with customers throughout every step of the building and creation from little features to company ideas. We think we want to help companies make that transition and so we're focused on at Drift on building an easy way for companies to communicate with their customers across all the different teams within a company. Which sounds easy but if you've ever worked in a company it's hard because only certain groups in the company can communicate and they're not sure which channels to communicate in and customers want to be communicated mostly when they're actually using your product and so we're building a product that lets companies do that.

Eric: Interesting, okay. What would be like an example a use case of Drift in action?

David: Imagine you come into one of your favorite products that you use. Let's say it's Uber and you go into the Uber app, the mobile app or the web app, and you have a question for Uber or Uber has a question for you, let's say they're building a new product feature or they just want to get an idea of something. Back in the day people would email you, would send you something, would call you but why don't they communicate to you when you're actually using the app? Ideally when you're using the feature that they have a question about or you have a question about. We provide a way for people to communicate within the actual app experience and to get feedback whether that's how happy they are, whether feedback on a new feature, all kind of context they'll find in the app whether it's mobile app or a web app.

Eric: Great, okay. My understanding is you guys also have Drift Daily as well. Can you talk a little bit about that?

David: Yeah, Drift Daily is a free tool that anyone can sign up for. The idea behind Drift Daily is we all collect subscribers and users and contacts and all the different products that we build and even newsletters that we have but at the end of the day it's just a long list of e-mail addresses. We want to help people start that conversation with those customers and those subscribers and those users of your products. Drift Daily integrate into the apps that you already use like Hubspot, like a Mail Chimp, like a Shopify.

Each day it goes through and sees the new customers and new subscribers that you have and then sends you either a daily digest with more information about those people like, "Hey this is Eric, here's his Twitter handle, here's more about Eric." You actually get to understand the person and not just an email address. Then optionally if you use



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something like Slack we integrate into Slack and we'll send and instead of digests we'll send real time notifications, so you're seeing all the people that are new subscribers or customers and learning more about them.

Eric: Yeah, super helpful on the sales and marketing side. I guess not just for those but across the board especially if you're pushing into Slack. I guess the question would be, what is the goal of creating Drift Daily and giving away for free? Is it to grow Drift the core product?

David: You know, it's the starting point. Before you can actually have a conversation with a customer or user you got to know who they are and you got to know more about them ideally. Drift Daily connects into tools that you use today because behind what we're trying to do at Drift is to make an open platform that integrates into all your favorite tools and learns more about your users and customers. Then ideally you can someday use Drift to communicate with those customers.

Eric: Awesome, and I know for Drift Daily, I'm not sure about Drift but Drift Daily on product tank it did really well. Do you have any insight as to what a really good, I think you guys got like a top 5 rating that day I mean, what is that typically look like in terms of traffic and sign ups.

David: It was fantastic. We were the top 5, I think we had between 400 and 500 votes that day which was fantastic. It led to an insane number of sign ups and not only directly from product tank but then we started to notice the roll on effect where different blogs where like design blogs, the developer blogs started blogging about Drift Daily and we never did any promotion except on product tank, and so it all pretty much stem from the product tank users. Being a free tool and being a one click integration it was easy for us to turn that traffic into Daily Drift users.

Eric: Interesting. I think the lesson for the audience is sometimes you can build out another tool to feel acquisitions. I think that's a really smart idea. Let's dive a little bit into, you've done these companies in the past, Ghostery, Lookery and Compete, what, after you've experienced all of these startups what are the same constants that you continue to experience from each company? What is the absolute similar trend that you see all the time?

David: Good question. After each company you're still figuring it out, you're still learning. I'd say some of the core ones that stand out to me are the obvious ones that we hear. Team, team is the most important thing to me. I used to ... I was an engineer back in the day when I started Compete. For me I get that in all the problems and the design and the coding and all that, all the stuff that we gig out as engineers. Through that experience and through experience of my other companies I came to view that it was like 99% people and technology and design and all the stuff that we loved to gig on about and on boarding and this is huge and marketing.

It's really like the 1%. If you can't get a team working together, if you can't get a team communicating well with customers, you can't really solve the people part of it



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especially if you're trying to scale a business totally different if you're a solo-preneur but that's where things fall apart and that's where things break. I spend a lot of my time thinking about team and recruiting and motivating all that kind of stuff.

I'd say a second thing is I've developed through all that experience this kind of framework or this way of thinking where I default now and I talk about this tiny and internally as we build products and new features. The default that we should take is that we're wrong about everything. That every idea that we have, every feature idea, product idea is wrong and our job is to get it out and get feedback on that idea as soon as possible by the people who are going to use it every day to figure out how wrong we are.

We're usually somewhere between 5% wrong or 100% wrong. It's somewhere in between there and that's a hard thing for entrepreneurs and engineers and designers to get their head around because they become obsessed. I have become obsessed many times of an idea that I have and one in the create that idea and it's really about getting out there and getting feedback from the actual people that are going to use it.

It sounds so simple but in technology for some reason we have this kind of hang up where we think and we believe these revisionist stories or these Hollywood stories, these fables that people have ideas in the showers and then those ideas go on to be billion dollar companies. I can tell you I've spent time around thousands of entrepreneurs in my time and that's never been the case once. That's like a Hollywood story.

The real truth is that you have an idea and you go out and that idea changes over time and you reiterate on it and it slowly changes and takes on its own shape. This is true in any kind of creative field. If you look at writers and painters and anyone who creates anything from something from nothing they always go through in this iterative process. No writer would ever think the first draft of something that they write is going to be the one that's going to be the hit. In technology we have this belief that the first idea is going to be the idea that's going to be the golden idea.

Eric: Right. That's a great framework because it adds a sense of humility versus a sense of ... I guess especially sometimes in the tech world we can feel really entitled, that would be feel like we're right all the time, so I think that's a great framework.

David: You nailed it. That's the main thing behind the framework. It's basically teaching you that level of humility that you need. We all have the egos. There's no getting around that but how do you put your ego to the side so that you can learn from your customers and learn about what you're trying to create and it takes humility to do that.

Eric: I love it. I think it was a couple of years back, I remember this one quote stuck on, it was Heaton Shove re-tweeting you I think and the quote was 95% of the time it's a process problem, 5% of the time it's a people problem and that's stuck with me ever since. I think it was you, right?





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David: Yeah, that was me. That's funny.

Eric: Cool, then I remember that, cool. I guess, how do you because when I look at these all technology companies Compete and Ghostery, how do you go about ... I guess what would be your number one tactic or strategy you can share around finding the best people?

David: In reality I collect them over time. I take a long view on this stuff. We're starting new ideas and new companies. We're all anxious to get out there, we want to move as fast as possible but when it comes to people I take this long view and all the different people that you interact with over time whether it be at your startup or past companies that you worked at or when you were in school or people who you grew up with, you want to become a people collector and you want to start collecting different people and understanding their personalities and what they're strong at and just collecting them in your head. I have a long list of people that I'm thinking about for different stages of different businesses and then I try to bring those people together.

The other thing I'd say on the people side is the most important thing that you want to optimize for is all the soft qualitative skills that usually people never interview for. Like all of us especially in technology and in marketing where we like to measure everything, we like to fixate on the quantitative stuff that's easy to measure when you're interviewing people. What school they went to? What kind of apps they build? What languages they know from a technology standpoint? What does their design look like? All these easy to quantify things. Those things are super important but those are like par for the course. That's like the entry fee.

Really where you want to focus on is, is this someone that I want to be around? Will I learn from this person every day no matter how experienced they are. If they're an intern, if this is their first job if they're super senior, if they're, whoever they are you want to feel like I'm going to learn from this person. Are they curious? Are they passionate about what they're doing and they're hungry to grow and learn. If they're hungry to grow and learn and they're someone you want to be around and you can learn from then they can figure out all of those other hard things. They can figure out the latest framework, they can figure out the latest tools, all that stuff is easy to figure out. That's the known stuff.

That's like, the analogy to me it's like back in the day going to school you used to, the focus was on memorization and memorizing facts and figures and dates and all that stuff. Why do you need to know that today? You can just Google that stuff. That no longer is the skill for you to learn. Same thing with technology. You can figure out most of the things, you can learn them now, they're easy to figure out, none of this is a mystery when we're building products really and so what you want to focus in on is the stuff that you can't easily teach.

You can't teach someone to be hungry, to have humility. You can't teach someone to be the type of person you want to be around, you can't fix those things and so I focus a lot on that. That sounds squishy but that has this add on effect where if you focus on that



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and focus on people that you want to be around and that are curious and want to learn and you start building a team around that then the team becomes super powered because you just have a team full of people that are leveling up each other or you're stacking these levels on top of each other. They are not competing but they're like want to get better because everyone around them is getting better. That's the key to get people super fired up and super productive.

Eric: If I were to recap, number 1 would be, they have to be a voracious learner and number 2, they should be, well, they have to be somebody that you'd like to get a beer with.

David: Absolutely. One of my like litmus test on last and the second point is that you may interview someone and they may be smart and great and all this stuff and you have an awesome meeting with them but you always have to do the day after test. This is just like dating. The next day when they reach out and they send you an email, they call you or whatever, what's your split second gut tell you? Do you want to pick up the phone? Do you want to email them or do you say, "Aah, I'll get back to Eric later, I'm busy right now." If you say the latter I'll get back to them later that's all you need to know. That someone you shouldn't work with.

Eric: Wow, yeah, I love that. I've never even thought of it that way. Typically it will because I like to act quickly. I won't even think about that, so I'm actually going to steal that.

David: You got to use that one because we're all going to rationalize the decision because you'll say, "Aah, I'll get back to him later" and then you convince yourself and this is where you make all the bad decisions. You'll say, "Well he was super smart, well we really need someone on the team now, we really need help, all right let's hire him." That's where all the bad mistakes come from.

Eric: Right. I think the extreme way to put this well, I guess there are still different ways but one from Jason Calacanis if there's any doubt there's no doubt that's number 1. Number 2, if it's not a fuck yes then it's a fuck no.

David: That's it, I love it, I love it. Derek Sivers wrote an article a long time ago called Hell Yeah or No.

Eric: That's the one I think, yeah, cool.

David: That's it.

Eric: All right. Well, I guess looking at the companies that you've helped grow in the past, what was the hardest one to grow you think?

David: Compete for sure. That was my first company. It was hard mostly because of the environment, the economic environment. We started that post if you can remember this far a bell. We started that in November of 2000. If you go back in your history books you'll know that in March of 2000 the market crashed. That was the dot com kind of crash that we all know about, we've all read about. I started the company in the fall,



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after the crash. Not a smart time to start a company because the world doesn't note things down.

Then, we managed to get off the ground and we managed to have success with customers early in that first year. Then, if you look in your history books yet again in September of the following year that was 911 basically happened. Then the recession really started. It was already bad after the dot com bubble but people who had experienced it knew that there was still hope but then after 911 things really shut down.

Then we lost, because of that we lost pretty much all of our customers after 911 because we had a lot of companies that were in the travel industry and a lot of industries that were affected by 911. From 2001 through really the end of 2003 those were the hardest years of my professional life I'd say. Just trying to hold on and just trying to make things work. Then in early 2004, the market turned around and then we started to hockey stick as a company.

Eric: How did you guys keep it together in those, I think those 2 years?

David: Yeah, really hard. That's why I look back now and I think the only real business book that I ever read and I've read hundreds at this point is Ben Horowitz says The Hard Thing About Hard Things. If you read that book which I highly recommend it's one you've got to go read it now. If you're listening to this podcast and you haven't read that book you need to go read it immediately after this podcast. If you read his book he's talking about the forming of his company with Marc Andreessen called Loud Cloud and the whole story of that book is really during the same time that I had this company.

He tells all the same stories about just like the layoffs, just making it happen, just figuring out a way to just keep this thing going. Because of that, it was hard, at the end we had a great outcome for the company. We sold the company in 2007. That has framed my worldview and since then everything is easy. All these other companies and this time that I've lived, the current time even is like a cakewalk. It's nothing compared to that. I had my worst story and that's helped frame everything else.

Eric: Super helpful and I highly recommend that book. I think you're probably the 21st entrepreneur to recommend that. That's how good it is. That's why everybody has to read it. I keep recommending it often.

David: When you read it, for me I kind of like experience it emotionally when I'm reading it because those were the exact times that I was going through. It brings me back to that time.

Eric: I can imagine. Well, it's quite a while back. When you sold Compete, what numbers can you reveal around that? How much should I sell it for, how big did it get?

David: Sure, we sold in 2007. We got acquired by WPP which is the world's largest marketing agency and marketing research company. We were acquired for 150 million dollars.





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Eric: Wow. I guess, this is just me wondering for selfish reasons. Why would a marketing, I mean what did they end up doing with it, do you know?

David: Compete still lives and is doing great and it's part of their company. WPP is a European company. There's a couple of these which are kind of conglomerates, we don't really have them in the US and so they operate thousands of brands and you've probably heard of some their brands but they're all owned by this company. Compete still exists and is bigger than ever and Compete is one of their market research companies and Compete helps brands and companies know more about their customers and know more about their competitors customers.

We provide information about like any website in the world and how they're getting their customers and how they're converting and where they're getting traffic from and how that's stuff is converting and who are their best customers and all of that kind of stuff. That was the main beginning of my obsession around customers and companies.

Eric: It's really interesting. Me discovering Compete a few years ago when I first started doing internet marketing, I started looking at Compete, I started looking at all these other tools and today they're similar in web as well. The traffic trends seem to be, they seem to be accurate sometimes but then the traffic numbers are sometimes way off. Can you go into that?

David: Yeah. The numbers will always be off because they're panel based. The important thing is not that the absolute numbers are exact or not but that the trends matter. The trends where people are trying to understand in terms of brands and that because we had a single panel of several million users and that's where we were getting our projections from, we could look at not only your website but all of your competitors websites and understand like how they were doing relative to yours.

You had a single benchmark to see how JetBlue is doing versus Southwest versus Delta whoever the brand was and so without Compete and now there are lots of tools like this but at the time Compete was pretty much the tool. You had no way to understand how your competitors are doing. Right now you have like SEO spying tools and you have all these competitor research tools that are out there but when I started Compete those things didn't exist. That category really didn't exist in the online world.

Eric: Make sense. I guess another question would be and this goes across all 5 companies. In terms of customer acquisition, what's the trend that you're seeing continue to hold?

David: The biggest one which is you kind of mentioned in what we're doing with Drift Daily is, and this started with my experience at Performable and Performable was later acquired by Hubspot and then we sold at Hubspot again and then we're seeing it at Drift which is this move to product or free products as an acquisition source.

We all know like if you come from the marketing world you went from the old model of cold calling people. That was the old school model and that was mostly the enterprise sales model. Then you went to model no last whatever 7, 8 years where you created



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content so kind of inbound approach. You created content. You created give away e-books, you gave away webinars, you gave away something of value in order to get contact information and then you would follow up to try to convert someone.

Then you've seen this new wave of companies who are using either their core product or side projects or side products to give away something of value instead of giving an e-book, the new e-book is giving away a product that people love and use every day. Then as they use that product there's a natural synergy with your product and a natural path for them to upgrade or to move into your bigger product.

Eric: That makes so much sense. I think the way you put it is perfect. It is the new e-book. This actually might be the headline for this podcast because seriously everybody can do e-book nowadays but you have to be able to raise the bar. You look at products I'm like now yeah. People are doing things like Drift Daily or worst case scenario you might do locking of security, a bunch of content saying, "Here's the best hundred resource" and those do really well. I think there's something to be said for that, so I like the way you put it.

David: Yeah, because the game is always evolving and it's always changing and you need to be providing something of more value. The value keeps going up. We saw content was really hard to create and then content became easy to create especially written content. Written content is pretty hard to stand out these days, you got to be really good.

Then, video content was really hard to produce and really hard to create and so a lot of people had some advantages with video content for a while and still do today. I don't think you know we're still in that rise but now video is becoming easier with everyone on periscope and snap chat and share all types of video, so what's the new bar? The new bar is product as the source to get new leads and new customers.

Eric: Product as lead market, I love it. Cool.

David: That's it.

Eric: All right. Let's talk about, after Performable was acquired and you had to go to Hubspot for a little but, a lot of founders, people are probably, companies are probably going to be acquired or they might IPO but what does that acquisition, what does it look like afterwards? What does your day to day look like?

David: This was unusual for me because my other companies Compete and Ghostery and other things had been acquired in the past and I had never gone as part of that acquisition. I had always left at the time of acquisition. As a kind of serial startup person I never thought that I'd go as part of any acquisition. It was just not in my nature to want to work for a larger company but the Hubspot acquisition at Performable was totally different.

The things that were different were I knew the team really well and I knew those investors really well even before they had started the company, founded the company.



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We had pretty much the same mission Performable and Hubspot and we wanted to create an anchor company here in Boston. A company that we would go all the way with, we would go public and a company that would outlive us focused on in the same area of marketing. It made sense for us to merge and to try and achieve that dream which we did about a year and a half ago.

The thing that ... Inside it was pretty different. Hubspot was like around 200 people when we got acquired. By the time we went public we were a little over 1,000 people. That was about the time that I left and we had gone from 2,000 customers to about over 15,000 customers. We had expanded offices globally and all that kind of stuff. I got to see this kind of a rapid growth because at Compete the largest any of my companies had ever got into was 150 people and that was Compete. I never seen life after that.

That was one of the things that I wanted to learn. I wanted to see like, what was this stage which I went through which was 200 to 1,000 people, hyper-growth kind of stage. Really fast growth, high velocity. What did that look like and how did marketing work in that world? How did sales work? How did we approach building product, all those things.

Hubspot was amazing in that Hubspot had this amazing marketing and sales culture and team like I had never ever seen in my life. Also great services and support team but they were always historically very weak on the product and engineering side and Performable was very strong on product and engineering. When we came together we got to create the superhero, super league.

We had an amazing product, amazing engineering, we already had amazing sales and marketing and putting those things together let us build an amazing company. I don't think it's like any other big company. It was just a different experience and it was kind of once in a lifetime thing. Drift, I never want to sell Drift and I want Drift to become an anchor company in Boston just like we did with Hubspot and I want Drift to live well beyond my lifetime.

Eric: Makes sense. It sounds like the only reason Hubspot worked out was because the core values aligned with both the core values align for both sides.

David: Absolutely. Without the core values there's no way that I would have done it and they probably would have done it.

Eric: I want to dive back into Compete when those 2 or 3 years when you were struggling. Can you give us a specific example where maybe the company was on the brink of failure?

David: Yeah, we were lucky in that when I started the company we managed, I'm not sure how even. We managed to raise a Series A in November of 2000 which was you know back then, no one was raising any money especially here in Boston in Cambridge. We raised a 6 million dollars Series A which was big and we were lucky. Then we went into market and then like as I said we lost most of our customers in year one. Then those next 2



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years were really tough because we were trying to find product market fit.

We had cash in the bank but we didn't know when we would get cash again and so we had to go through 2 rounds of painful layoffs within the team which were devastating. Because it was a time unlike today where even if you were an engineer and you were getting laid off, there was a high likelihood that you might not find a job for 6 months to a year. It was like having a layoff, you knew you were almost pushing people into that environment or sentence them into that. You know, was really sad time and so emotionally it was super tough.

At the same time we were building a company that was focused on understanding the internet and understanding your competitors on the internet and your performance on the internet but guess what, in 2002, in 2003, nobody cared about the internet. We were off trying to sell Compete. Now I have lots of great stories and funny stories that I can look back at because it seems so ludicrous but we would go in and try to sell the companies and they would say, "All I have offered him is a quote." They would say nobody is ever going to buy anything on the internet except books on Amazon. Because, remember at the time Amazon only sold books.

No one's ever going to put a credit card online. Multiple people going in and be like, "What, internet data? I lost my bleep bleep bleep bleep for one Katie Yahoo stock why would I ever care about the internet." The list goes on. They're all funny now in retrospect but when you're grinding day in and day out and that is every single day and you're also thinking about layoffs and all that, tough, really tough.

Eric: Makes sense. I think even if you need to buy the book here for The Hard Thing About Hard Things if any of you just Google the struggle like Ben Horowitz you're going to know like what David went through.

David: That's where I lived through the struggle. Now it's easy. That gives you context for a lot of things and helps you appreciate the times that we've been in since then but it also makes me worried about entrepreneurs that I meet that don't have that context because they might think that this is the new normal and that startups are no risk.

To me startups are crazy. You have to be a little crazy to want to start them because they're actually not rational. When we're in a time and we always will have these cycles, we're in a time where people start to think that they're the rational bat. Those are scary times because they're not. By default they shouldn't be. You can't have high upside without high downside and so you need high data to make startups work.

Eric: Right, makes sense. Well, I want to switch gears here. What's the one piece of advice you give to your 25 year old self?

David: Learn from others. Number 1 thing that I talk about with people which is learn from others. People are always asking for short cut, tax, tricks, style. If you read medium or you read any Twitter feed you know that most articles are about tricks, hacks, shortcuts, lists, whatever you want to call them and we all fall prey to wanting to read them but



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the thing that I've learned is like the only guaranteed short cut that I found is learning from others. There's lots of ways that you can learn from others. The reason that it's a short cut is that you're getting to live their experiences without having to live through their failures if you're smart enough.

Warren Buffett has a great quote which is about learning from failure but the trick is that you don't have to learn from your own failure. You can learn from other people's failures. That's why I read so much, non-stop reading. Reading is one way to learn from others.

Peer groups are one of the best ways which is like whatever you want to learn whether it's like grow or you want to learn about building something or certain area or sales tools or whatever you want to learn about, you want to surround yourself with people who are experts in that area, who are just a little bit ahead of you and who are going to help you level up.

Because once you're around those people it's not that they're going to necessarily teach you anything, you're going to figure out and say like, "Wow, I'm as smart as these people, I can figure this out. They don't know anything I don't know." That's going to help you level up and that's where you got to continuously surround yourself with different groups of people who are role models, who will help you accelerate.

Then lastly mentors. I've always had mentors and mentors are 10, 20, 30 years ahead of where I want to be in a particular area and those can help you accelerate your learning as well. Number 1 thing I would tell myself is learn from others, learn from others, don't be stupid, you don't have to learn all of these things on your own.

Eric: That actually segues well into my next question. I don't typically ask this but I do know this from certain people have or I can tell that they have a framework around and Pete Jones is a good example. I just know he's very studious and he's learning all the time. I look at you, I can tell that there's a learning framework, so can you share that?

David: Yeah, he and I are old friends and have similar ways of thinking, that's why we hang out. What's my learning framework? I don't even know if I can describe it. I think constantly wanting to learn and always defaulting to this idea that I'm wrong is the method of framework for me. There is lots of little details and how I do this each day but that's the worldview that I take.

I don't have any entitlement, I don't think I'm owed anything, I don't think anything's going to happen magically for me so I'm going to go out and grind to make it happen and I'm going to default to thinking that I am wrong, that all my ideas are wrong and so I need to get them out there soon as possible. I'm always going to be looking for others to learn from.

When I'm in a room of people who are way ahead of me or even slightly ahead of me I'm going to shut up and sit and listen and learn from those people and absorb and then I'm going to go out and actually put those ideas and thoughts into action and test them



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and evaluate them and go back and learn and so the learning process never ends. That's maybe my biggest obsession is just learning and continuously getting better and every day I want to wake up a little bit better than the night before.

Eric: Love it. I think one thing we'll drop in the show notes, so you do have a list of books that you recommend. I know Derek Sivers has a list of books too. I think those are always really helpful for people so we'll drop those in the show note.

David: Awesome, and if you ever have a list of books I'd love to read them too.

Eric: Absolutely. Talking about that list really quickly. What's one must-read book you recommend to everyone aside from Ben Horowitz's book.

David: There's all types of books. My favorite and the one that I always come back to is the same it's called Made in America and it's written by Sam Walton. That's a book that I always recommend to anyone who's thinking about the stuff that we're talking about. You can buy it on Amazon, it'll cost you 6 bucks 7 bucks max and it looks like something that you would find at the supermarket checkout stand but it is worth a 1000 four work week books and whatever other books on the top best seller list.

It was written by Sam Walton if you don't know who that is, he was the founder of Walmart and he lived an incredible life and he was the epitome of what we've talked about today, which is this quest to always be learning, to always be humble and to be out there learning constantly from others. He has lots of famous quotes about that he's never had an original idea in his life, that he stole ideas, he stole the best ideas from the best people and put those together. This is a man that for a long time was the richest man in the world and he never stopped learning, he never stopped progressing. That book I've read now 5 times and I recommend to everyone.

Eric: I love it. All right. Well, David this is been fantastic. What's the best way for people to find you online?

David: You can find me on Twitter Dcancel D-C-A-N-C-E-L. As you mentioned I have a new podcast, I'm trying to figure things out and I'm learning from folks like Eric and It's called seeking wisdom, you can find it on iTunes and I appreciate any feedback that you have. I'm just getting started. I'm used to grind and so I'll grind and I'll figure it out.

Eric: Awesome. David thanks so much for doing this.

David: Thanks so much Eric, have a good day.

Speaker 1: Thanks for listening to this episode of Growth Everywhere. If you loved what you heard be sure to head back to growtheverywhere.com for today's show notes and a ton of additional resources. Before you go, hit the subscribe button to avoid missing out on next week's value packed interview. Enjoy the rest of your week and remember to take action and continue growing.





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