Chris Heivly 9:04
Well, let’s be clear that all of us who have an entrepreneurial bent have this vision that’s about three to five years from now, right? When the UPS driver shows up every day with the boxes of money, right? When every piece of marketing is working perfectly and you know, finance guys are counting. And the question is, is that, you know, that’s yes, you need that vision, that dream to get started. But what the hell do I need to do over the next three months? I love the number three, right? So in every company I work with, so I was just working just literally an hour ago working with Tyler who’s got a very cool company called clothes wise, and Tyler is building some software for to help in the closed real estate closing, right and that whole process and scheduling and it’s got some cool AI technologies applying and he’s like I need to raise some money.
And you know, and then he explained that 90% of the money was going to be to build more features. And I said, Let’s slow your roll a little bit, you know, if you build value, right, like that, that’s the first thing, build a relationship with a future customer. They don’t care how bad it looks. I asked everyone out there to go into like the time machine or whatever and look at the first maps that MapQuest produced. By today’s standards, they are so ugly, so coarse, right? I mean, you guys will laugh when you go do this. And I put that in my speeches. Like when I speak from stage, I always put like an old map and like, this was cool. Why was it cool? feature wise, it was ugly as sin. But now you could do this at home instantaneously, instead of having to go to triple A, the value so far exceeded the feature or the look, right. So that was the advice I gave the title or let’s spend more time with customers and making sure they engage and have value and a little less time on more features.
Jeremy Weisz 11:01
With those five lessons. Let’s talk about MapQuest for a second. This is before you had learned all these lessons, right. So let’s overlay those five lessons with MapQuest for a second.
Chris Heivly 11:16
Yeah, let’s let’s in this case, let’s just you know, do what I say not what I did. Because Okay, first of all, Jeremy MapQuest was 26 to 27 years ago now, okay. Just everything was different. So it’s really funny when someone says, Oh, my God, you helped grow MapQuest and put it in play. You know, I’d really love to ask you, like, how did you acquire customers, and I just laughed, and I was like, first of all, we were completely lucky. We literally threw it up there, right, and saw what happened, you can’t do that today. There’s too many other people doing the same thing. We had what we all know now is a first mover advantage, that doesn’t really exist today. But in terms of the rule, or the lessons and building the fort, we had no fear, no fear whatsoever. Okay.
And in that fear, we were all kind of math geeks, we’re in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, you know, the technology hub of South Central PA, right, obviously, you know, in parallel with Boston and the valley in Chicago. But we had no fear. And I know that looking back, we just tried stuff. You know, like we built a whole bunch of forts, before MapQuest, we put the first CD ROM mapping software out there. Before that we rolled computers with laser printers into the back offices of every one of those audit clubs, you know, so our journey didn’t start with MapQuest; it started many, many years before. And we did smart things.
You know, at one point, I headed out to the West Coast to talk to Apple and Sony and rotor bond, which was the big producer of CD ROMs back in the time that none of the kids you know, no one no one remembers that. But we learned from them. We built relationships, we knew our stuff, they knew that their stuff, let’s figure out how to put it together. Again, we started simple. And then we tried stuff without any fear, right? We just went and did it. Maybe there weren’t that many math geeks for geeks around, maybe there’s a handful at the time. But you know, we had a lot of competence in what we could do. So I think in hindsight, we applied many of the things that I talked about and built a fort.
Jeremy Weisz 13:36
You know what often accompanies what starts off as is not what it ends up being. And you mentioned that with MapQuest. Can you just quickly go through the evolution you mentioned, from CD ROM to Auto Club, to what was the next evolution,
Chris Heivly 13:55
lottery reverse those we started with auto clubs, right. I think technology usually first replicates before it innovates. So we just wanted to imitate the trip tech that AAA and many other I think there was 15 Auto clubs at the time, Sears Montgomery Ward’s Who are they all stay? They all had these auto clubs, and they had this little map service. I needed to go from Chicago to Disney World down in Orlando on the road trip. How do I get there? Where do I stop along the way where the hotels, they provided that service. It was very archaic. So we automated the maps that we already had in house in this mapping company that we were part of. And we automated that and they were ugly black and white maps but they’re a little more personalized.
You got a slightly different version than someone else going from Chicago to Orlando because the things you wanted and we gave them some points of interest and things again, that weren’t typically you had to work that for yourself. So we sold that to every single all We’re a club. And it was a multimillion dollar business but not huge by today’s standards. And then, you know, this is now the early 90s. And then we said, All right, I did that trip out to California. And we started learning that now your desktops, we’re going to have CD ROMs. And we said, Geez, we can jam all of this map stuff on one CD ROM. Now you don’t have to go into this triple A store. Now you can do it at home the night before, right? So now we move the power from an expert. So an office to you at home.
By the way, we had a couple failures along the way. We had the top selling product on the Apple Newton. Jeremy, do you remember? Apple Newton was kind of like your phone about three times bigger. It was your first handheld device. I think it’s one of the biggest failures in Apple’s history. It was not released during Steve Jobs his time coincidentally. But you know, in that we started getting micro, smaller, smaller footprint in terms of how to do map stuff quickly and how to write software smaller. And so in 1995, we started seeing this website, we said, well, let’s try to create the URL MapQuest. So let’s, uh, for those of you who are a little more geeky, let me paint a picture. It’s 1996.
We’re in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, we’re in a cubicle farm. We have a server that costs $15,000. That calculates the route when you put it into locations. We have another server from Silicon Graphics, that creates the GIF image, right, that you get there in the last cubicle in the back corner. daisy chained together, right, with a couple internet connections, you know, and splitters and power, because there’s no such thing as a data center. So what are the things you’re trying to figure out? And by the way, we were buying one of those about every other week, at 15 grand apiece, because traffic just exploded, and you’re trying to figure out stuff on the fly. So even in 1996, you know, no, data centers had no experts on load balancing and servers. You’re just, you’re just trying to hold on for dear life.
Jeremy Weisz 17:23
That’s a pretty cool journey. And at that time, the big players, AOL. So how did AOL then come into the picture? Because eventually, you know, MapQuest sold to AOL for like I mentioned $1.2 billion.
Chris Heivly 17:35
Well, the first thing we did is we took it public. That’s when I left the company. I was sitting on the board for the last few years, I was representing our largest shareholder on the board. And, then I was learning how to do venture capital. Excuse me. And they needed adults on the board. So I left the board. And, you know, to take it public, they needed you know, old guys, I was probably 35 at the time. And so then we took it public, and then AOL bought it off to the public markets about a year later. AOL, you know, we had a relationship there.
Well, again, if you’re doing your executive role, right, you’re just talking to lots of people. You’re sharing things. It may not be a match today, but it could be a match tomorrow. I remember sitting in Steve cases. partner, who owns the wizards and the capitals today, blanking on courses name right now. But yeah, I remember sitting in his office, he was looking for an investment. I was working for an investment, corporate venture fund at the time and, you know, just said you guys should take a look at MapQuest. Well, the match was AOL ‘s business model was advertising, the more pages you looked at, the more ads they sold, and nothing was bigger than a bundle of eight to 12 pages, right of map directions with advertising. So their interest was, I want all those pages and all those eyeballs.
Jeremy Weisz 19:11
Totally, you know, with number two of your lessons find people to do it with How did you meet your,
Chris Heivly 19:18
Your co-founder? Yeah, so the funny little backstory of MapQuest was, it was baked inside of an existing mapping company called Donnelly cartographic services. And so inside this $6 billion printing company called RR Donnelley out in Lancaster, Pennsylvania was a mapping company that made maps for National Geographic for the front end of those phone books. kids out there, just ask your parents for a phone book if you know, National Park Service, National Geographic, all of these kinds of Mac publishers, we made the maps for them. So my co founders kind of were within that company. And there were three or four of us that got together who said, Geez, we can start to use computing technology to do a lot of things.
Not only make our matchmaking process cheaper and faster, but there’s other products and services we might be able to imagine. And, you know, I don’t think we talked about it. But, you know, I was a geography major. I had an undergraduate degree in geography. But I learned how to write code in the late 70s and early 80s. So the combination of this mapping and computing was something that even though we talked about MapQuest and 96, and the CD ROM and 93, I had been kind of jamming these two things together for over 10 years at that point
Jeremy Weisz 20:42
I think I remember, you had said, you know, you went to your I think, dad and said, You’re gonna be a geography major, and he said, do computers?
Yeah, that was early on. Why did he say that? At that time? What, what year? What year? We’re talking like the early 80s. Why would he even
Chris Heivly 21:02
people weren’t thinking about computers, then? Yeah, my dad was really well read. And one of the most curious people I’d ever met in my life. He was never done. getting curious about something and diving in. His brother, my uncle, was a geographer as well. And at the time, getting a PhD in geography was also very computer oriented. So I was probably maybe a little inspired by him. I think he didn’t want me to be a geographer per se. I think he said, Oh, like, I’ve watched my brother just sit there and do the academic thing. But I was never going to be an academic. So when he said computers, I said, No way. But you know, I found it anyway. So you know, probably a father son, typical interaction back in, you know, in your 20s.
Jeremy Weisz 21:54
You know, after MapQuest you I think it was after MapQuest he moved to Chicago and did a road tour. Can you talk about that, and some of the companies you met along the way?
Chris Heivly 22:08
Yeah. So our largest investor, Donnelly, had spun MapQuest out by then. They asked me to come up and said, Hey, if I gave you $25 million to invest in internet companies in the late 90s, post MapQuest, you know, would that be something cool to do? And the answer was obviously, yes. You know, I have a little bit of what I call a career add, where I’d like, I’m curious, maybe like my father, and I want to go explore things. So, you know, we’re based in Chicago, but I spent most of my time out in San Francisco running up and down one on one.
And looking at companies, you know, I was at Yahoo, when I was 25. People, Google hadn’t even been created yet. I saw Google when I was 35. People. It’s a hell of it, you know that money thing, that investment instrument, if you will get you into a lot of places, and you get to see, add hundreds and hundreds of companies and hear how they’re thinking and see how good founders are doing things. And maybe not so good founders are doing the wrong things. And Jeremy was just one heck of an experience other than the airplane miles, it was great. That’s wild.
Jeremy Weisz 23:16
I mean, you were really seeing the birth of the Internet, and some of the biggest tech giants at the time. So you were interacting with Yahoo and Google, who else? Where did you come across other companies?
Chris Heivly 23:30
Well, there’s lots I mean, you know, there’s lots of little companies. In fact, one of the last investments I made, you know, circa 1998, or nine, I, later on, Donnelly wanted to get rid of all the investments, so I kind of sold them to a group of people. Some individually, some as a package, we had about 14 or 15 investments at the time, but one of them just exited, like within the last year and a half. So what’s that? Almost 30 years. Maybe now maybe more like 2022 years, 23 years anyway, very good friends, mine sat on the board, and you know, as a company called Panto, and they just dealt with photographs and images and let you kind of, you know, gather them and manage them as a corporation, marketing departments and such and they pivoted three or four times, but they had an office in San Francisco and office in Germany, you know, made trips to Berlin to but you know, you find these companies, and the reason we’d like that one is it matched most of Donnelly’s customers who are content producers, right.
So I needed to find that intersection of technologies that were helping our customers. And, Jeremy, I think you’d like this line. The way that I talked about our venture capital unit is where we’re making investments in companies that are chips over the horizon that you can’t see yet. But by the time you see it, it’s too late for you to get involved in it. So I’m your I’m your, I’m your scout, right? I’m making these investments, we’re gonna make, you know, these 10 to 14 investments over the three or four years. And some of these are going to teach you where your customers are gonna go. And it was a great kind of corporate innovation tool.
Jeremy Weisz 25:17
What was Google like, at that time? There were 35 people. Do you remember some of what you had seen at the time?
Chris Heivly 25:24
No, I mean, I remember that. It just didn’t faze me, it didn’t, you know, wrongly, obviously, you know, it just, you know, why do we need, you know, a better search engine? We got lots of search engines at the time. And one, you know, one flavor is no different than the other. Obviously, we didn’t see the advertising, the sponsored ads, the paying, you know, for private placement. We hadn’t seen that yet. AOL, Yahoo. Asked Jeeves, remember any of these? Right? There’s four or five really good search engines. It was to me, it was not remarkable at 35. Yeah.
Jeremy Weisz 26:04
Um, I want to talk about the second tier cities. And that kind of goes back to your book a little bit. He talks about visiting Alabama.
Chris Heivly 26:15
Yeah. So from 2017, through about 2021. I work with TechStars, to say, let’s, and I’ve been building the rally derms ecosystem with a group of people TechStars is doing in Boulder and then starting to, you know, move into other cities, we have this. We had this, you know, very small number of people who understood what the importance of an entrepreneurial ecosystem was to a city, why that was a vital component of their kind of economic strategy.
And people were starting to call each of us individually to say, how do we, how do we do this? How can we catch up? How can we create the next Silicon Valley Wesak? The first thing is stop saying that, because you’re not going to do that. But that doesn’t mean you can’t do something magical. And, you know, prior to, you know, I’m a weird one, and that most people doing what I did during my timeframe would have migrated to Silicon Valley, right at some point. For some reason, I fought that off. So as we start building, start going around and talking to all these people, I get to Birmingham out Birmingham, Alabama, probably about five years ago, pre pandemic. And I spent a day and a half, two days there, meeting with a leader.
So by leaders, I mean, like government, like the mayor, right? Also a twice-excited 30 year old entrepreneur, who’s now on his third one, who bought a building for entrepreneurs to gather, you know, university, college people, and everyone, you know, their investors, all the people that make up for a great ecosystem. And Jeremy over those two days, I was just blown away by the support, the collaboration, the lack of ego, the collective mission to grow Birmingham, to whatever level you know, it can be optimized to, to be an entrepreneur ecosystem. And I’m going to tell you now, sometime, 510, I don’t know years from now, we’re gonna sit there and go, Oh, my God, they’re doing some magical stuff there. And it’s Birmingham, Alabama. Right. And that gives me confidence and comfort that really any city, tier two and tier three can do this. If they do it, right.
Jeremy Weisz 28:32
What are some accelerators? People should maybe check out when I think of that, obviously, the Y Combinator comes to mind and TechStars comes to mind. I think TechStars is all over the country. What are some of the other accelerators? And obviously, you have the startup factory? What are some other accelerators that maybe people don’t know about?
Chris Heivly 28:54
them? Yeah. So I’ll qualify this by saying I’m a little snobby. I’ve run my own startup factory. And then I spent time under the tent of TechStars. And you’re right, TechStars and Y Combinator are like, you know, the Harvard and MIT s. And then pretty much there’s a couple of mid tiers. And then there’s everyone else, right, tied for last. And though I thought I did a good job at the startup factory, when you pick your head underneath the 10 of something, that machine called TechStars or Y Combinator, you go, Oh, this is you know, if you’re a baseball fan, it’s like going from double A to the majors.
You like, oh, that’s what a 97 mile an hour fastball looks like. Right? Right. Or a 95 mile an hour slider that there’s a whole nother game being played. In tier two cities. My favorite run right now is generator. I brought them into some of the cities that I’ve worked with. I’ve seen their work, they’re doing a very, very good job. They understand how to serve founders, which is what every great accelerator does. So I look for them and their model is to work in these tier two and tier three cities. So those are the three that I like TechStars, Y Combinator and generator. Be careful of the local homegrown ones, they’re like double A expect what you’re gonna get out of that double A don’t expect you’re getting Major League, you know, results from a double A service.
Jeremy Weisz 30:25
What made you leave Chicago?
Chris Heivly 30:27
Well, after 10 years, Jeremy, it turns out, I figured out that it’s really cold and gray for about six months of the year. Were like eight, but yeah, well, it’s funny, I say six, and my wife says two things conspire together, it really was whether my wife just said, I can’t I love this town. But I can’t do this anymore. Well, you have to go south, we have to go warm, we have to go somewhere with more sunshine. But for me personally, and I say this jokingly, there’s a lot of seriousness in it in 2004, and five, I was running around doing something else, looking for something interesting to do. And I couldn’t find anybody who knew what the internet was really at any scalable level.
This is pre cube Groupon and 1871. And all the great things that Chicago has going for it now. It didn’t exist. And you know, it’s fundamentally still a manufacturing town, isn’t it? And you know, at least at the time, 15 years ago, very manufacturing oriented. So as I mentioned before, entrepreneurs also get to decide where they go. And so I said, Let’s go to greener pastures. Turns out, I made a spreadsheet, about 50 cities, and it was either going to be Boulder, or Raleigh Durham, specifically, Chapel Hill in North Carolina. I’m from Philadelphia, my wife’s from Rochester, New York, we decided staying on the East Coast would probably be smarter for our aging parents and access to them.
Jeremy Weisz 31:56
I was just in Boulder. It is beautiful there. But it did hail on us. So maybe you made the right choice in North Carolina. Let’s talk about the startup factory. Um, and I love to talk about some of the companies that have been involved or have benefited from the ecosystem there. Can you talk about written word media?
Chris Heivly 32:15
Yeah, so really, what the books are about is that anybody can play a role and should play a role. And being a leader to help build their startup community or entrepreneur ecosystem. And Ricky Wallman is a great example, with our company written word medium. So I met Ricky, great attitude, very giving had what we call TechStars, a good first piece of her right that said was unwilling to and I would bring her in to talk to my five to seven companies at the startup factory, we did seven cohorts of about 542 companies total went through our program over four years. And Ricky would come in and give about three hours over time to talk about marketing, and talk about and then she’d say, listen, and I’ll give each of you an hour after this, of one on one time. And if something happens after that, you know, then we can figure out a, you know, a transaction to help you out.
But I’m going to teach you as much as I can about what the role marketing has in your startup at this point. And she was fantastic. Interesting story is that, at the time, Facebook changed her whole algorithm about how they do advertising. She’s like, how can I serve my clients if I don’t know how to do this myself? So she created a sandbox, she was an avid reader. And the sandbox was, how do I help authors who usually give their books free for a day or a week on Amazon? How do I help them promote that?
Something simple, she and the next thing you know, it turns into a company. What I love about Ricki in the written word story is that now I had something I can help her with, right, I can help her and do that without any transaction or you know, just me being part of the community and introducing her to people. And you know, from potential employees, to customers to strategists or whatever the heck she needed. And I think if she was sitting here today, she would say that the first year or so of her company benefited by being part of a very, very good community that was very helpful and supportive of each other and would give first without asking for something in return.
Jeremy Weisz 34:34
Love it. And I want to talk about archive social, and Neil and a bit about his journey.
Chris Heivly 34:42
Well, just to show you that entrepreneurs come from all different places. I think a lot of people think that most entrepreneurs are 25 year old computer science guys right? Now maybe we had two of those right with Neil but he’ll work for IBM, George to get a master’s degree in computer science, super smart. He had met, you know, I do these office hours, he had pitched me one of the ideas, and I just went, I’m not crazy about that one.
But here’s how I would figure that out. He still laughs about that. But then he came up with another idea, which I thought was really interesting, which is that governments and large institutions are required by law to archive all of their emails. And what he was thinking is all right, coming soon, this is now circa 2012, maybe quote, yeah, 2012, our first cohort of the startup factory, he was going to archive those government and large institutions, social media, because legally, they if they hadn’t had a role or regulation, then it was coming.
So he got in front of that, did a fantastic job, built up a great company, and had a very nice exit a few years ago. So he’s our poster child for what you can do. And you know, a tier two community, still very tier three ish, maybe at the time, and it building community, but we all rallied around him in terms of helping him with advice and investment, and, you know, all the things you need kind of as you’re kind of trying to scale your business.
Jeremy Weisz 36:16
That’s super interesting, Chris, because I am always intrigued by really non-sexy companies like archiving social media, like it’s a necessity for some of these companies. But it’s just not the sexiest industry. That fascinates me.
Chris Heivly 36:33
Well, it’s funny. That’s exactly what I would say. People say, what do you look for? I’m like, I’m happy playing in small unsexy industries that are going to be automated on the later end of this automation, right. I still think there’s hundreds of opportunities, there are still things happening in companies that are using a spreadsheet and email to communicate stock. Right? So I, we and I think not being in New York in the valley, we had to concentrate on some of these, like singles and doubles.
Jeremy Weisz 37:03
It’s cool. Also, you mentioned Tyler earlier. And that’s definitely why I feel like the real estate industry. I’m still signing documents, like in person and even had to open a checking account at the bank. I mean, they don’t use DocuSign or anything. It’s kind of crazy. So there’s definitely something there right for the picking. I don’t know what it is.
Chris Heivly 37:26
Yeah, well, hopefully Tyler is going to figure it out. But, you know, that’s, you know, going back to build the fort. Like many of us, the ideas come from something we’re sitting in today. And we look at this and go, that’s really stupid. Why are we still doing it that way in today’s age, all right, start thinking about that, start talking to some people, maybe there’s a little slice that you can kind of wedge into, I want to
Jeremy Weisz 37:50
I’m gonna pull up my screen for a second and people can check out Chris’s website, then you go to Heivly.com. It’s H eivly.com. And I’m on the Books page here. But do you want to learn more? He’s got some. I don’t know how you came up with these images . This is my favorite one. Chris, this one here. Don’t alienate your community with accidental power. This is a great image here. But check out his blog and some of the writings but the book here. I want to talk about Brad Feld, Brad Feld wrote the foreword for your book in some of the learnings you’ve had from Brad. He’s one of the co founders of TechStars
Chris Heivly 38:35
Yeah, you bet. And, uh, by the way, a longtime investor, mostly technology oriented companies in Boulder, and one of the bolder kinds of DOGS, if you will, and also a prolific blogger and author. I mean, his venture deals book is a must read for every, you know, new entrepreneur who wants to go raise money, you know, you go do that. Brad is someone you know, this is the power of connectivity. And 2009 When I was reading about Y Combinator and TechStars, with the idea of putting together to start up factory in Raleigh Durham, I got introduced to Brad and David Colin, who was the CEO TechStars at the time, and they became good friends, and they became allies.
And what was amazing, Jeremy is that David Cohen said, here’s how we run tech start. Here’s our whole playbook. Go take it. Right. This is not a competitive zero sum game kind of thinking. And where David gave me advice and thoughts on how to put together a great accelerator program, Brad was starting to think about what made for the qualities of a good ecosystem. He later wrote a book called startup communities and then a follow up book of startup community way about this that I partnered with him on and He’s really like I tell him, he’s the grandfather of Raleigh Durham, in a way, and what we’ve been accomplished because he seated in me, attitudes and a mindset that I could then, you know, carry on throughout the community, which made for someone like Ricky woman, the ability to connect with five or six people to help her, you know, scale or business or Neil Chawla. So Brad’s a, Brad’s a heck of a smart guy.
And what was fun is that, you know, my five years of TechStars was about me reaching back out to them and saying, Hey, I’m kind of bored, there’s something I need to do next. And the next thing you know, David Cohen, and TechStars, and his staff, Nicole, Glarus, and Brad and I decided, let’s start a consulting business to help other people in other cities, because they’re coming to us for advice. And they got a chance to work with Brad was just, you know, it’s one of those times like, Hey, do you want to go up and hang out with? You know, I’m using this baseball analogy all day? I don’t even know why. But, you know, do you want to go play in the Major Leagues with, you know, with Roger Clemens, and you’re like, Shit, yeah. So that he’s a, he’s a great friend, and a good colleague, and super smart. And he and he just, it just sets the right mindset for you. And helps you with that. And that’s what really, my books about the mindset about how each of us can take a role to play and building our individual
Jeremy Weisz 41:27
community. Yeah, it’s kind of what you say, in one of the five lessons, which is share it, and even what people would consider a competitor, but by sharing it, you, you know, grow even more, and people share and give, what were some of the things that you learned, what were some of the advice they gave you, when you were starting the startup factory?
Chris Heivly 41:49
Yeah, probably the best piece of advice came from David Cohen, which he said, You’re going to have a tendency, and you’re going to talk to people in the area leaders, they’re going to want to build a cluster, biotech, medical devices, marketing, tech, real estate, tax, whatever insurance tech, because they’re going to look at the assets, they’re going to try to engineer an outcome. And the bottom line is, please don’t do that. That stuff bubbles up from the bottom isn’t mandated from on top. And this is one of the core lessons that I coach and speak and consult with business leaders.
They have this, these muscles that tell them that when they engineer things, and when they structure things, that better outcomes will happen. And it doesn’t work in startup communities. The very people that are that make up the community have horse structure, right? They like to break things, entrepreneurs are change agents. So the very thing you’re trying to help them with, they then push away from and you alienate the entrepreneurs. So he said don’t let them build, build bubbles from various industries or companies and just be open to all of them for at least the first three years.
Jeremy Weisz 43:09
You know, one of the things, Chris, I love you and some of the most successful people that I’ve had a chance to interview is about not having a lot of ego and being humbled because you could have been like Elon said, I done this, I was all over the country, I started this really successful company. I know how to do this. Right. But even though it’s a different model, right, and there was a humbleness and lack, you know, not ego about it going to others for help, even though you have gone through and had successful companies before. How do you talk to founders, you want to have somewhat of an ego, right and be confident but be humble? How does that fit into when you’re giving advice or talking to founders?
Chris Heivly 44:04
Well, I think the best way to lead that is to lead by example. I don’t show up with any ego. There’s things I know I’m good at. There’s things I know I can do but I don’t pretend to know all the answers. So you shouldn’t pretend to know all the answers. And in fact, if you pretend you know all the answers, I know that you’re full of shit, right? I already know we have a problem. And you know, and you know, Jeremy Swanee, one of the things I say just about every day is listen, here’s my thoughts, but I’m just one person. I don’t know any I know a little bit more than some of some things.
But here’s the thing. This is your company, your idea? Use my advice. Don’t use my advice. I’m going to sleep the same tonight regardless, right? And what I’m trying to signal with that is, this is your company. What I would do is go out and talk to as many people as possible. There is no point of diminishing returns, of course, but go out, go talk to 358 people about the challenges you have, get that feedback, be open to that. ask good questions, have them share, there’s a great way to do this, by the way, and then take that feedback and then make your decisions. And they’re your decisions. I’ll support you 100% on those, right?
So that little bit if you unpack that, that’s me saying, I don’t have the answer. By the way, if I knew the exact playbook, I wouldn’t be sitting here talking to you. I’d be running it over and over again, building a Facebook every day, right? Or a Google? So we know there’s no we know, you don’t know all the questions, which means we don’t even know all the answers. We know it’s a process of discovery. So be open to what comes and build that mindset. And this and let me give you examples of how I live that every day. And that’s the best. That’s how I do it.
Jeremy Weisz 45:54
First of all, Chris, I want to thank you. I have one last question. I want to hear some of your favorite books of all time. But before you answer that, I want to point people back to your website Heivly.com heivly.com. You can check them out. Obviously, the book builds the for the startup community builders field guide. You mentioned Brad Fell’s book, what other books and I’m looking if you’re watching the video, there’s a big bookshelf behind you. What are some of your favorites?
Chris Heivly 46:28
Two books that I recommend to every new founder: our Lean Startup by Eric Ries and Running Lean by Ash Mora and may you IRA, those are two books. There’s my Bible. When I run workshops with people with ideas, I’m going to run through those principles with them. You know, one of my old school favorites is a book called Crossing the Chasm by Jeffrey Moore. That was our Bible back in the 80s and 90s.
What I love about that, and probably not a day goes by that and I’ll bring up a couple charts from that book that I’ve recreated. And I hold up in front of the screen when I’m talking to a founder. The idea is that in this kind of go slow kind of crawl, walk, run, kind of approach to this is the idea of early adopters and innovators. We know many of us know the phrase early adopters, but you don’t really know where it comes from. That’s from Jeffrey Morris Crossing the Chasm. Love it. There’s three or
Jeremy Weisz 47:28
four for you love it. I want to be the first one to thank you Chris. Thanks for sharing your knowledge and thanks for meeting with so many people on a weekly basis to help them out. And people can learn more by checking out more episodes of the podcast and checking out Heivly.com. Thanks everyone.
Chris Heivly 47:45
Thanks Jeremy. You’re welcome.