This is a transcribed video for CS183B, the YC startup class at Stanford.
This is a reading for Kevin Hale's talk. Kevin is a founder of Wufoo and a partner at Y Combinator.
The transcript hasn't been cleaned up.
Ben: Georgia Tech rejected me. I was like, "Screw you, guys. I'm just going to go to UGA." I always sound like A-hole when I say this but if you're working for me, you're a creative person, it's not my job to make you happy. If you search for the word boredom in our app, the whole screen turns into an asteroids game.
This money is like a pain in the ass to count. Are you guys having problem?
Speaker 2: Today, we have Ben Chestnut and he is the co-founder of MailChimp, a little company here in Atlanta and I'm going to read his bio real quick. He started college as a Physics major at UGA. He discovered Industrial Design. Then, he transferred to Georgia Tech and he got a degree in Industrial Design. He started technical Rocket Science Group, a web development agency in 2001. MailChimp was a side project of the Rocket Science Group to help their client send email. It eventually became their sole focus and now, they have 1.2 million users worldwide.
Without further advocacy, let's give it up to Ben Chestnut.
Ben: This is exciting for me because for the last 10 years of my life, pretty much I only got invited to speak about email marketing so finally, I get to talk about something else. I love email but I have nothing more to say about email. It's like I've been talking about this like if you have something interesting to say, send an email. Otherwise, don’t send anything. It's really that simple.
I actually tell employees spread rumors in the industry that I'm a germaphobe and I won't travel and that way, people would stop asking me to talk about email marketing. Ten years, I've had all this thoughts and they've been stuck up here because no one has asked me to talk about them. Then Tina invited me. She's, "You can talk about anything you want." This is like just to warn you. This is 10 years of stuff that have been tormenting me. I hope I can do this here.
What I want to talk about is controlled chaos and the maximization of the entropic states as applied to steam engines and creative environments. An insanely laborious title and probably the most uncreative title ever for Creative Mornings but running a creative environment and a creative office is really hard work. It's unbelievable hard work and that's kind of what I want to convey in this. This is going to be really chaotic lecture by the way just to set your expectation.
As we got closer to you today, I sent an email to Tina kind of like this and she said, "You know, don’t worry about it. Tell people your story. Tell them how you got here." Point A to point B, how did I get to MailChimp. I'll give you a little background. I grew up in a creative household. My brother was a painter and also a musician. He played the guitar and he fiddled with electronics and my sisters were into graphic arts.
They were always making collages and stuff. My mother was an aspiring chef. My father was an aspiring writer but also a computer programmer. We were just always making stuff at home and I was into cartooning. I thought I wanted to be a cartoonist when I grew up. I would take … I would steal
post-it notes from my sisters and my brother and make little cartoons and I'll take them to school and show them off, flip them on the bus and the kids would gather around like, "Oh that so cool."
Then I started to sell them. I turned it into a business. I would stay up late at night and I should have been doing my math homework but I would make this cartoons and sell them for 50 cents which is so stupid I … all night and I … 50 cents. Really bad at math.
I would take this to school and they love them. They're like little stick figures that run across the screen, bouncing balls and people loved it and they wanted more so I would make a car come in and run over the people. They're like, "Man, that's awesome. Do more, more, more." I had to make jets come in and drop bombs on the cars and the cars would explode and little tires would bounce around on the screen and they wanted more, more.
I found myself I was 10 or something and I was already dealing with A-hole clients, really demanding. I was just 10 and I couldn’t wake up in the morning. I didn’t want to get on the bus anymore. I got out of it. I just totally got out of the business. My dad, he bought us an AMStrad PC and I guess he wanted me to be a computer programmer. He said, "You know, want to learn this stuff?" I was like, "No. No. Numbers, no. No. No."
He didn’t push me. He said, "That's fine." I didn’t touch it for a while and went to RadioShack 1 day and he takes this box off the shelf. He's like, "What do you think, huh? Huh?" I think it was called Paint Deluxe Pro. I tried to go back and find this. It looks like one of the first programs from Electronic Arts which is like a gaming company now but it's Paint Deluxe but all I remember is on the cover was this giant tiger. It was a huge tiger face and I was like, "Tiger." I was like, "I want to learn that."
He bought it. It was hundreds of dollars and he never spent that much money. He's just, "Let's get it." It was 5 floppy disks, you had to load this like the 5 inch kind like and there was no hard drive. It's in the RAM. You have to load this in order to start the program. I totally fell in love with this. I was drawing on the computer all the time and I knew that's what I wanted to do with the rest of my life, just draw things on computers.
There was no name for this profession. It was new. There were no [inaudible 00:06:22] commercials like computer graphics or anything. I had no idea so I just figured that I had to be an engineer like engineers got to play with computers and draw stuff. I went all through high school taking drafting classes just thinking, "I got to be an engineer so I'll take drafting." Then, it was time to apply to college and Georgia Tech rejected me.
The School of Mechanical Engineering was like, "No. Your Math is really bad." I was like, "Screw you, guys. I'm just going to UGA and I'm going to study Physics." Two years, I studied Physics and it was really ... I looked like him. I was very depressed. It was like, "All right. I know how the world works now. What I'm going to do with that?" My sister, she was working in a creative company. She was at Hallmark actually designing cards. Her friends heard about me and sent me a care package in the mai
l and I remember getting this. It was a college catalogue for art center in Pasadena. You guys know about this school out there?
I got in and I was like, "Wow!" I learned about this profession of Industrial Design. I was like, "Man, this is awesome." The suits and … He [inaudible 00:07:45] he's always got like a cigarette with his pictures. These guys get to play with computers. They draw stuff and there's no math. Not that much so I was like, "I want to do that now." Pasadena is extremely expensive that school so my dad was like, "No. No. No. No."
It turns out, yeah, Georgia Tech has a school of Industrial Design and I remember driving from Athens to Atlanta to talk to the director. It was Bill Bullock at the time. I don’t know if anybody knows him but he looked at my portfolio. I drew 2 pictures and he said, "You know, you've got potential. It's obvious you haven’t been doing this so if you were to apply today, we would say no but if you apply to the Georgia Tech School of Physics …" like nobody wants to learn Physics, "Go to Physics, they'll let you in and then you just transfer." He's like, "If you transfer, no one looks at your portfolio. You can just get in, you know."
I was like, "Really?" These designers, they're really sneaky people. I applied and they actually let me in. I was like, "Suckers." I got in and I was really, really in the product design. I love product design. I would probably be designing cars today but I suck with X-ACTO knives. These are the tool of the devil. They're cylindrical. You guys use these things? They spin in your hand. They're not right. I said, "Screw this. I'm going to get into Web Design." It's like … and … With Web Design it's like clean, you don’t have to sand anything or cut anything. It's just like pixels. It's nice clean computers.
Then so it's like 1 thing led to another and I ended up at MailChimp. Yeah. Now, I'm like the CEO of a software company and like that's … I'm the happiest I've ever been. It's the most challenging and stressful I've ever been but I'm the happiest and I didn’t start off looking to be the CEO of a company. I wanted to be a cartoonist and I think that's my first lesson is you always hear people say, "Do what you love. Do what you love." It's partly true but if it's business, if you start a business doing what you love, it will kill you. It will kill your passion.
If you like to bake and you start a bakery, you will have baking very soon. I love what you do better because it's wherever you're at just be good at it, embrace it, love it, and eventually success will find you. I actually believe that but you don’t forget your passion. You never forget it. After all these years, we actually made a coloring book. We're a software company and we made this coloring book and it's called love what you do and it's all about our little mascot, Freddie, doing little things in life but really loving it just finding joy.
I just love this message and we printed out thousands of these things and we just send them out to customers randomly and they send back pictures of their kids coloring at the laundry mat and they're all bored and it's just … very touching for me. This is what I also want to do anyway, mission
It got featured on this blog called Swiss Miss, some little design thing and it … I don’t know, Tina, if you notice but the editor of [inaudible 00:11:17] Company apparently loves Swiss Miss and she made a writer contact me and do a story on us. That was neat. It was all about creative cultures and how we give you permission to be creative in the company and they talked about the whacky things that go on in the company and I'm like I don’t know if you guys use MailChimp or but we had this mascot Freddie which just does random things while you're building your newsletter like, "Why I'm I smiling. I'm not wearing any pants?"
People love it and he says lots of other random stuff that our customers have sent us and we started to get some designers saying, "You know, I love this but my clients, you know, he's got a stick up his butt. Can you turn this off in any way? Is there a button?" We made a button. Let's see. Yeah. It's called "Party Pooper Mode." You just activate that and the monkey goes away. They love it and they snap tweak picks of it. It's like a secret with us in the designers.
There are all kinds of little touches in the app like when you hit the send button, just underneath it, we say this is your moment of glory. That's really … I can't take credit for any of this stuff. All I can say is I tried to make an environment where people on the team can just play around this. I discovered this stuff along with our customers. I will send emails like, "Who did this? This is cool." You'll see people tweet all about this. They just love these tiny touches.
If you search … I hope you can see this. If you search for the word boredom in our app, the whole screen turns into an asteroids game. It's this crazy like Easter eggs in the app and we don’t say like I don’t say, "Go do an Easter egg." I think I ask the guys like the CSS is way too bloated. It's 500 K. Knock it down. The guy started researching efficient coding methods and stuff and somewhere in the process, they found this game maybe as an exercise in efficient coding or something like that so they shaved down hundreds and hundreds of K and then they added this game back in because they had room. Snuck it back in.
That's where creativity comes from. We used to spend a lot of money on Google Ad words and we still do in case Google is watching. We still spend money but we launched a premium program a little while ago and that's … It really, really ramped up our user base and we could save a lot money from Google and we looked at the money that we were spending over there. We said, "You know, we could pocket it or let's maybe invest in our customers."
We started making these T-shirts and we'll ship them all over the world and it's like a nice surprise when customers like graduate from free to paid. You win a T-shirt and we'll ship it to you and we're getting photos back from all over like this fancy places that I hope to be able to travel to one day. We're starting to get sightings like, "Hey, I saw you on TV." We'll get stuff like
this. This is some guy on Hawaiian TV, I think.
This is neat. Then like this is a print ad for some gym apparently and like that guy is wearing a Freddie T-shirt. It's kind of cool and that's MC Hammer. He's not wearing the shirt but like over there, that guy is. Close enough. I love that. We make these knitted hats and we just shipped this out randomly as well and our customers post pictures of this. They love this stuff and naturally, they started putting them on dogs and we would retweet this and then, of course, the cat people wanted something so we had to start making cat hats.
It's actually like a friend of a friend of a family member in Thailand that knits this like on one of the street markets and that was like … I think she's probably super rich out there because we buy thousands of these things every month and like … I remember writing the email like people were demanding cat hats so … It's like, "This is going to sound weird but can you make this for cats?" They wrote back like in 5 minutes like, "Yes. Send us the measurements for an American cat." They're not obese.
We made a bunch of this and we sent them out and we get … Cats don’t like hats. That's one freaking out. That gave us an idea like all of this like randomness, it starts giving us idea is we made an iPhone app called "Pyow!" Yes, actually, thank you. We're into cats for a little while and we're like, "Hey, let's make Pyow and we'll make like laser shoot out of his eyes because this is like a red laser app, it scans QR codes for our customers who wanted like send coupons and stuff.
Of course, this was like, "Wow! That's kind of neat." We need to make like cat shaped hats as well. In our office, I love like if you say, "Can you hand me a cat hat?" "Which one like the monkey shaped ones for cats or the cat shaped ones for dogs and humans?" You have to be specific when you say cat hats at MailChimp.
People see stuff like this in our company and they see articles and stuff and the ask me like, "What's the formula? What's the formula for running a creative company?" I was like, "Is it that simple?" I never know the answer. It's such a weird question. You're like, "How do you have a creative company," because I think companies are legal entities. They're not creative. They're just pieces of paper. It's these people. You're totally missing then point. People want to be creative.
I wanted to share what I learned about humans. This is while I was designing refrigerators in Iowa. While I was a Industrial Design student, I actually interned, I think it was '96 like wherever … When the Olympics were in Atlanta, I was in Iowa, like I'm never where the action is. I was out in the cornfields designing refrigerators in this in-house design studio and the designers were awesome people and the product managers that they were work with were awesome people. I learned a lot about business and managing business and focus groups and all that stuff.
When the 2 groups had to get together, it was pure hell. It was … The passive-aggressive tension in the room was just crazy and I was just like
a stupid intern but even I could tell, "Man, these guys hate each other." I never knew why but years later, I'm piecing things together and I understand now. They would secretly buy these Japanese and Korean refrigerators and ship them in and dissect them and look at them and they'd say, "Ooh, ahh. Look, it's got these floral prints on them. they've got curves …" and this is '96 so like curves were new.
They're like, "Wow, curves." They didn’t beep. They sang like the birds would chirp and they would sing music and we're like, "Man, we want to do that." The whole company was tooled. The factories were tool to make white sheet metal boxes. You could white, glossy white, off-white, textured white, or cream. That's all we could do. It was incredibly frustrating to get to the point where they could do something beautiful. They're doing beautiful stuff now but it would be like 3 or 4 years. The designers and the managers, they all hated each other because they just couldn’t get anything creative done. Really, really frustrating.
My takeaway was humans really want to create lots of cool stuff and they want to see other people using cool stuff. That's all they want in life. If you can create a business that takes advantage of this, you might have a creative company so to speak. The thing is you have to set up a business to take advantage of this and most businesses they're set up in a weird way. They make a fundamental mistake somewhere along the way. I thought I'd explain it.
This is part of the 10 years of pent-up frustration about business. Here's an example. An entrepreneur has an idea usually. He wants to start a company. A business is like the steam machine like you don’t know how this works. You start up a business. You're like, "Oh, if I tweak this knob, I think money comes out."
If I adjust the screw or like maybe make the pulley or something tighter like more money will come out. That's the first couple of years and then after a little while, you're like, "Wait a minute. Wait a minute. Wait a minute." Two knobs. What happens then like, "Holy shit. Wow. ..." Then, you're like, "Wow, man. I kind of get this stuff. This is kind of cool." Now, I'm going to start thinking big like Richard Branson big. You start learning about key performance indicators like my KPIs are all like knobs. I'm like him but knobs on top of knobs and I've got knobs down here and then like bam.
That's usually what happens and this is where things begin to shake with the company like, "All right. This money is like a pain in the ass to count." Do you guys have that problem like it's ... Pain in the ass, right? It's like everywhere. You need a manager to help you organize and stack this stuff because that's what managers do. They organize and they create order. Managers are good. I'm a manager. You need managers. They create order. You need that. The thing is ... This is not where things go wrong. Things go wrong when that original entrepreneur, the creative guy, says,
"You know what? I deserve a break. I'm going to delegate now. The business is running itself. I can sort of like step back a little bit. Hands off."
That's where things go wrong. They're like, "I'm going to take up like extreme sex surfing or something, you know." I don’t know. I don’t know what that is but I want to do that. He's out there like living it up. That's what business people do. You're like, "You deserve a break. You've been working for 10 years trying to make that stupid money machine print something and you deserve a break, right, so you're going to be hands off. You're going to delegate." I hate that word delegation. I think it's BS but you're out there.
The thing is, your managers back at the office like, "What do I do with this thing?" He didn’t leave a manual. I don’t operate this stuff. I just protect so I'm going to hire robots and they're going to guard it. That's what I do. I protect and defend business and they're going to need guns and dirt bikes and if you have guns and dirt bikes, you need lawyers and lawyers, they need copy machines and shedders and everybody needs to sit down and we need label printers because people take you chairs and they mix them all up. You need cameras to watch all those bastards because they will steal your stuff. You end up with way to much law and order.
That's what ... Managers do that. It's a good thing. You need this but when it gets too much, it can get really, really, really dangerous for your business. I just learned key note like transitions and effects. It's like ... I apologize but I'm going to do this. Before you know it, your whole company is thinking like managers. You're not all managers but you're thinking like managers. You're defending the money machine that you made 10 years ago. No one's making new machines. No one's looking to improve it. You're just defending, defending against competition, whatever. You're just in defense mode and even worse, the creative people at the bottom, they're like, "Wow! The only way to move up in this company is to become a manager or think like a manager."
That's where things really start to end. Too much order is really horrible, really horrible. You got to balance it out with disorder and chaos. Before you get into chaos, this is what I remember from physics at UGA, entropy is the study of waste and disorder. It was discovered by I think a French scientist. Are there any like Physics majors in here? Anybody that actually knows this because ... All right. Good, so I can make shit up.
It was a French scientist who came up with this. He was looking at steam engines and saying, "Wow, man." That's my French accent. "You put potential energy like fuel into this machine and kinetic energy comes out the other side like useful work but somewhere in the middle, there's all these waste, the smoke. It just ... Where does it come from? It's like nature so weird like I'm going to call it entropy. No matter what in nature, you're going to get
entropy, this chaos, this disorder. I'm going to label it with like S because E would be too obvious so I'm going to use S." S stands for entropy. Q is heat. T is temperature or ... I went to UGA so get off my back.
Nature, what I got out of this nature, nature loves chaos. Nature needs chaos. You can have something really nice in order. This is really my takeaway from entropy is you can have a nice orderly studio like studio [inaudible 00:25:37] like nice and clean and white with little red accents but if you want work to get done, you're going to have to let humans in and humans like human nature, they're going to turn it into a pigsty. It is inevitable and that's just nature and I believe that is the very essence of the second law of thermodynamics.
Nature, it's just a part of nature, chaos. You need to get used to it but the thing is managers hate disorder. They don’t like this entropy stuff. It's inefficient. It ruins their sorting. If they had their way, S, entropy would be 0 and I believe the way that the equations work out is without S, you don’t get Q and Q is part of the equation for work and ... Basically, no chaos, no work, not output. They have their way. There'll be no pigsties which means no pigs. No pigs, no bacon. No bacon, no Baco Bits. We need chaos.
Chaos is good. You have to embrace chaos. I think my job as a manager of a creative kind of company and creative people is to find ways to create chaos. Little controlled chaos, not like, I don’t slam employees with chairs. Nothing like, "Ooh yeah." Nothing like that.
I want to talk about the little ways that I try to create chaos in the company. This is a really big idea and I didn’t have time to put text on this slide. It's ironic. This is like I think innovation and creativity comes from just assembling pieces from other stuff in weird ways. You're like ... I try to tell people, "Don’t worry about big ideas. Just keep making the stuff." Build little things. Build prototypes. Sketch this. You want to learn a new programming language, go ahead but don’t take a 2-year course. Just learn a little bit and make something. You got 2 weeks to do it. Two weeks is the ideal timeline at least for me.
After 2 weeks, I don’t want to hear you talking about it anymore. You keep it fast-paced and you're just making junk. It feels like just parts and that's what I tell people all the time like put it in the parts bin. You might launch it. It might have nothing to do with email marketing, nothing to do with MailChimp. Doesn’t help us one bit with the business but just save it because we will use it one day.
Then, you want to avoid meetings. You want to let people stay and work on their stuff and you need meetings every once in a while but you keep it to a minimum so people can work on stuff but then, I always call myself like a
little bumblebee like I buzz around from desk to desk and I ask people like, "What are you working on? What are you working on? What are you working on?"
I never praise people like, "Oh, that's cool," or anything. I just say, "What are you working on? Okay. What are you working on?" I just remember it because I think my job is to go around and say, "Oh, you're working on this but you need a logo like, oh, like Erin over there designed a logo and he doesn't have an app to give it to so like you guys should connect." This is hard work. I could just say, "You know, delegate. You guys go have a meeting and like focus on 2 projects." This is much more hard work but you just have to deal with it. You don’t delegate the creativity away. You deal with it. It is difficult, time consuming.
I don’t feel like I'm doing my job if I'm not buzzing around like a bumblebee. If you're lucky, you can put together these pieces in unique ways. You guys have probably seen this poster. You find creative ways of assembling these pieces and like if you have good managers, they'll take it from this level to something that you can sell. We have a guy in our company called Neo. He just loves it when it's time ... when the creatives like put together their stuff, he comes in and he's like, "All right. Are you ready to make money out of this stuff?" He'll turn into something like this.
One of the reasons I was so stressed is I wasted a month. I didn’t want to come up here and describe myself as a bumblebee. It felt unmanly like flowers. I spent a month ordering guerilla warfare books and art of war and I was like, "Try to learn about this tactics," like I thought that wouldn’t be the topic or the theme. It didn’t work. It was ... I think the FBI is just watching me now because I bought all these books. I just went back to bumblebees and for a minute, I was like maybe like the Transformer Bumblebee. He's awesome but I give up. I'm just not ... That's me. That's me.
I'm a bumblebee. I'm going around. I'm connecting these random chaotic ideasm right, and you're just keeping it fast-paced, make people keep making things. I wanted to show you how this happens at our company. This is ... He's a programmer, Jessie. He doesn’t shave. He lets his hair grow until he's done with the project and then he shaves so we know when he's working on something and when he's done with something. He grows and then, he was ready to shave and our video guy, Josh, he's like, "Can we film you like when you shave?" He's like, "Whatever." It's kind of random silly stuff and so he films it and they thread it backwards. Nothing. No rocket science there but whatever. We post it at the [inaudible 00:31:11] or something and customers got a chuckle and no big deal.
People think this is like creative culture. No. That's not ... That's a piece. This is like a part here. This is work because later on, our creative director starts thinking like, "Whoa. You know, he kind of looks like this Viking terminator
like robot thing, right?" He starts like getting into Vikings all of a sudden. Ron was talking about Vikings and I was like, "Shut up about Vikings." He was like, "We got to make like an app called Enforcerator, but it's … Dude it says, Enfroceator. He spelled it right. Eventually, he got it right. He's sketching Vikings. He's just obsessed with Vikings for a while.
It really goes nowhere but he's sketching swords and skulls and stuff and it turns out Chad, our lead engineer upstairs, is working on something called alter ego and it's a 2-factor security app. He doesn’t have a logo. He's like, "Maybe the design geniuses can come up with something," and he's like, "Hey, we have a sword." We got this done. The whole project was done in about 2 weeks. We launched this thing and what's really beautiful, the whole human thing. You want to build something cool and you want to see other people use it. We built this in 2 weeks and made it free for our 1.2 million users. We get to see it in action.
Version 1 that we knocked out in 2 weeks, it didn’t ... It was a mobile web app, not a native iPhone or Android app. You have to log in to your browser on your phone. It was okay. We just want to get it live though. It turns out we have ... We have a mobile lab 2 doors down from Chad and I told him about this. I don’t say, "Hey, we're working on something. Can you help?" I'd like to say, "We just launched something. Can you help?" I think that's important. We just launched something now. Can you go back and help us build a native app and they were actually wanting to tinker with Android apps. They were into iPhone but they wanted to ...
This was such a simple little app so we actually built an ... I got Josh to film this thing in action. We got to play with the sword more. That's all it does. It's so simple but it was so easy ...
Speaker 3: Flawless kill.
Ben: it's like that Lightsaber game where when you swing this thing around, it sounds like sword fighting. We're hoping that someday, somebody plays with this thing and moves it and I'm like, "Whoa. Wait a minute. You know, Lightsaber." Be in their office swinging the thing around. We were done in 2 weeks and so you have time to work in Easter eggs like that like bring some creative fun stuff into the app.
It's almost like you go back to that money machine in business and the average guy would say, "I want a creative company. I get what I want. You creative people, start being creative. Give me more useful output and stop it with that smoke stuff. It's annoying." In our company, we say, "Whoa, look at that smoke. Whoa! Can you make a shape or something with that? Oh my God. Look at that awesome smoke, guys. Can you do something like ... Whoa! Shh ... Give me more."
The creative people are looking at you like, "He's really into unicorns." They're like making unicorns for you like this guy is a weirdo but mean time, a byproduct is
innovation and money. You just flip the equation around. Instead of focusing on the work, you focus on the entropy or the chaos and you get a byproduct. Hope that makes some kind of sense.
Speaker2: That was awesome. Thank you. [crosstalk 00:35:19] We're going to do a real quick Q&A. We're a little over so maybe like 3 or 4 questions.
Ben: Yeah. I'm pretty smart. I took 10 years to figure this up. The question was, "Did I figure this out right away?" Yeah. No. Ten years, hard work, pure agony. Hence the picture I think at the beginning. If you look at that, that was ... That scared me. Yeah. It's like grueling.
Yeah, like the spark, like the light bulb moment. There wasn't. It was like we were busy doing client work and it was just like hassle and clients needed something. Honestly like when we were working at Cox Interactive newspaper company, we saw a news article that Blue Mountain like an e-greetings site from ages ago, they were bought for 600 million and my friend and I, we were like, "Dude, let's do that." We made an e-greeting site and I drew the cards and he programmed the delivery engine. It went nowhere like friends and family like, "You guys are idiots." Then, we just sat there like parts sittings in the parts bin. We knew we'd use it 1 day. We kept it alive and a client many years later said, "You know, can you do this email marketing for us, these newsletters?"
We started doing it for them. It was all manual and they kept asking for it. We built it into a web app and said, "Leave us alone. Just go log in and do it yourself." We left it. They kept annoying us with the invoices like $200." [inaudible 00:37:01] "Come on." We gave our credit card system so they could just pay their and we left it alone for 5 years and we went back and we're like, "Jesus. It's making more money than us." There was no leap or anything. It's like while you're in there doing your work hustling, that pops up.
Yeah. It's an excellent question. It's like ... If I can repeat it, it's, "How do you get back to the numbers when you're working on happiness all the time? Can you really turn that into money?" The part about that's hard for me to convey, I tried it and I took out the slides. It's, "I don’t care about your happiness." A lot of people worry about that like they think that I'm here doing this fun stuff for happiness and I always sound like an A-hole when I say this. If you're working for me, you're creative person, it's not my job to make you happy. We have a business. It's hard work. We're making money but I'm going to give you opportunities to be creative by keeping it fast-paced and making you do random stuff. You're going to be creative and if you're a creative person, then you'll be happy indirectly.
I'm not ever focused on happiness. I don’t ... You are a robot. I plug you in and you make me money. No. That's ... Tiger to chimp. That's a good question. I don’t have any idea. I know we got chimp from ... We had to pull an all-nighter and it was during the Super Bowl and like we really resented that working for a
client and there was no YouTube like people were posting to some advertising site all the commercials. We would work and then pull up the site and watch Super Bowl commercials and they were all chimps. We were like, "People like chimps."
Speaker 4: Earlier, you were talking about love what you do versus doing what you love. [Inaudible 00:38:58] and maybe your last answer about not caring my happiness [inaudible 00:39:01] but is it your contention that for a lot of creatives, you do start a business based on something that they love that they should go out and find something to do that would not necessarily be what they love but is able to finance what it is that they love. Does that make sense?
Speaker 4: For instance, if you start a business as a bakery and you end up hating baking. Now, you're like, "Okay. I hate baking." This is something that my wife is doing [inaudible 00:39:31] photographer. It's like all the pains of [inaudible 00:39:33] a photography business is making her hate photography. I'm like, "Sweetheart, you know, you should just go back to you doing what you love." What's your take on that, Ben? Is it better to then in the real world find something that can finance what you love whether or not it's a business that you love doing and then spend your free time doing what you love? Does that make sense?
Ben: Yeah, it does. It's hard to answer. One thing you can just get a manager and to help with a lot of that stuff that you hate so much, managers are really good for that kind of stuff and they love that actually. They're doing what they love. Yeah. It's a really hard one to answer. I feel like I never got to do exactly what I love but I still try to be really good and I ended up loving whatever ... wherever … I had a stint as a banner ad designer for 2 years. I loved it. I was pretty good at it. Eventually, all of these things add up to some kind of knowledge where in the end, you will be able to go back and do your passion but while you're working on business, business really isn't about that passion.
There's a book that like weird businesses sales e-book but it's called the e-myth. I don’t know if anybody's read this but it talks a lot about this sort of thing where, it's your passion, you start a business and it becomes a chore and you hate it. They're ways around it. I'd say just be prepared to lose the passion for a few years but keep it. It will come back later. You might end up with a business that does email and not cartoony but you still get your passion done.
Would I have done MailChimp sooner? Yeah. I sometimes think about that but the way that the economy work out when we started it, it was right after 9/11
and there was ... like a real estate fallout before that and right before that was like the dot com bust and we call ourselves cockroaches like no matter what happens, we can survive. That kind of pain really helped us get stronger. I don’t know if I would go back and change that. I see lot people now like, "Man, they start up in good times and like their business jus ramps up," and when you see them in hard times, it's really, really rough for them. We're like, "Pssh. That's every day." Cockroaches. Thank you, all.
Speaker 2: Thanks.