The How I Built This podcast goes in-depth with creators of successful startup companies. They go through the entire journey of their companies, from where the idea came from to where they stand now and the roller coaster ride it took to get there. This is really helpful for us and where we are sitting now with our companies because we are hearing first hand that even the successful companies went through extremely hard times, which is encouraging as we are still fumbling around with our companies.
The Southwest episode was interesting to me because Gary Kelly, who owns Southwest was running his own law practice and decided to buy an airline. I like the idea that he brings up, he was able to do something different with his airline because he didn’t know anything about airlines. He had no preconceived notions about how to run this business, he just saw there was an untapped market in the airline industry. He looked at his competitors and figured out how to do things differently. Gary was also interesting to me because he is one of the first people I heard say he doesn’t get stressed easily, which is a great quality to have with a startup especially since he said it took Southwest four years
to send out its first flight.
I really liked learning about the characteristics of Tony Hsieh and how he supported the funding of Zappos in the beginning. I like when Tony said he isn’t passionate about shoes and he still doesn’t really know anything about them; he is passionate about customer service and figuring out how to enhance the customer service industry. He was interested in expanding his company in a million different directions, a company that as it was growing it was losing money. Tony had to fund a lot of Zappos himself for a period of time. The part of this interview that stuck out to me was Tony admitting he was an introvert, which is interesting to me because when you think of startups you think of someone who is comfortable in front of people.
The best journeys tend to be when people succeed after hearing a million times that they are crazy or incapable of achieving those things. Cathy Hughes, who created Radio One came from a line of firsts so her story is inspiring but after you listen to it it really isn’t surprising. The opportunities weren’t out there for her so she created her own.
The Instacart episode was really intense because of the story Apoorva Mehta tells about quitting his startup because he wasn’t passionate about it. I think we all have moments of realization when we know we should be doing something else, and either you make the choice to make a change or you don’t. This was a good episode
for us to hear how he built his company, but it is quite different than ours.
The INC article was helpful in understanding what it will actually take to take a startup idea to the top in terms of one’s psychological state and checkbook. Even the most successful of startup business founders went through mental and financial hard times.
Ultimately what I got from all of these stories was you will not succeed without being passionate, not necessarily about the product you are selling but passionate about finding a way to solve a problem or make something better.