Get in touch

Paul was once a believer in creating small startups within large organizations. But after years in the tech industry, he’s changed his mind. This week Paul and Rich discuss internal startups and why they’re often just not possible. After all, one key ingredient is existential risk — without that, can you call it a startup?

Transcript

Paul Ford This is a guy in his late 50s with a ponytail who would like to date women in their 30s, that is what having a virtual startup inside of your company can be. [music fades in, plays alone for 15 seconds, ramps down]

PF Hey, Rich!

Rich Ziade Yes, Paul?

PF So we published this thing called Catalyst, kind of like a white paper, but like a fun white paper, like a readable white paper about how to, how to do digital transformation, how to get them to actually say yes to your big software project. That’s what it’s really about.

RZ It’s a great cheat sheet for anyone that is doing something big with technology. It’s free. You can get it at poslight.com/catalyst.

PF C A T A L Y S T. We didn’t even mess with the spelling, right? 

RZ No, we’re not playing that game. We’re not playing games here. And back in November, Paul, we had an event, a live recording of this podcast.

PF Rich, I’m going to tell you, you you invite people to a webinar, you tweet it out, and you expect about three people to come. 

RZ I was hoping to do this promo without saying the word webinar. But here we are. [Paul laughs] It was a lot of fun. It was kind of—

PF Yeah, more than 100 people showed up, the questions were great. You made a deck that erred on the side of being a little ridiculous, which is what everybody needs when they’re working for home.

RZ Yeah, nobody wanted to see bullet after bullet after bullet, right? It was fun. And it was it was pretty loose. And I think we shared a lot of good ideas. It was part one of a series around the Catalyst framework, right. And so the second part is coming up on March 4th.

PF Thursday!

RZ On March 4th at 1pm to 2pm Eastern Standard Time. We’re going to talk about gaining consensus and the power of design in helping gain consensus. But as these things go, we will go off the reservation, no doubt. So we’ll keep it loose and fun and bring your questions. It was kind of interactive last time. So it was actually very successful last time. So we’re excited to do this again.

PF I’m looking forward to it, because some of the questions are, throw us off our game. Like it’s actually fun. So come on and see if you know, sweep the leg, see what happens. We’re looking forward to it. So Rich, what people should do if they want the invite, go to Postlight.com and subscribe to our newsletter, and we will send you info on how to come to our event…webinar. Let’s get back to our podcast. [music fades in]

PF Rich, it is a beautiful snowy day in New York City.

I love the snow. I do. It turns into a weird, grayish brown color after an hour in New York City. But in the beginning it’s really pretty.

PF There is nothing worse than New York City snow after about three weeks. It’s filled with treasures.

RZ Yeah, exactly. It’s filled with treasures. We all—if you live in New York City long enough become a grayish color anyway. [Rich laughs] It’s all good. 

PF I want to jump in ’cause there was a post on Medium.com. Okay.

RZ Oh no, you’re still reading Medium.com?

PF I love Medium.

RZ No, I do too.

PF I like Medium. So it’s by Hunter Walk, who is a VC. But the kind of VC who speaks their mind and is actually seems to be a human being right. Like that’s, that’s a real challenge for venture capital is to just—good Twitter account seems like a pretty accountable thoughtful person, a good rep. And so he wrote a piece which frankly, all we need to do is discuss the title. He was responding to the CEO of Waze, person named Noam Bardin. Waze was, you know, it’s part of Google Maps, you go into Google Maps and gives you traffic, right? Probably used it, driving around.

RZ It’s great for speed traps.

PF Love Waze. Everybody loves Waze. It’s a wonderful feature in Google Maps, except it didn’t used to be used to be its own company. Google bought it. The CEO wrote a post about like the delta between being a CEO and a founder and living inside of Google when he stayed for seven years and kind of all the things that he learned. And you’re not allowed to read it, because it has like, he’s just there’s a point where he’s like, “I kind of needed people to work late and they said they had you yoga, and it got me very upset.” Right. Like that’s, that’s, I can’t have you reading that. Discussing that. [Rich laughs]

RZ It’s worth noting, I mean, I’d say it out loud. That’s not typical. Staying seven years at the company that bought your company is not typical.

PF Incredibly unusual. And you see this as someone who really cared, that he really cared about the place. And there’s also an interesting fact, which is a lot of the way they’ve structured the company. There wasn’t a big buyout for him, right? Like it was the investors had kind of taken all the equity. So there’s, I guess, probably a motivation there to stay around. But he stayed for seven years. So it’s an interesting piece, kind of an interesting piece to read as a company leader. ‘Cause he’s just like, you know, and as you’re scaling. But let me give you the title of Hunter Walk’s piece. ‘Why there’s no such thing as a startup within a big company.’

RZ Yeesh. [Paul laughs] All you have to do is take out the why. Tweet it. And then you’re in business.

PF This is a tricky one. Because I’ll tell you at earlier stages in my career, I’ve advocated for this, I’ve said like—and we’ve we talked about, like, ‘Oh, you know, you’ve got to separate the team and create kind of the virtual startup and so on.’ As time has gone on. And there, there are cases where it works, you can sometimes innovate and create new product inside of orgs. As time has gone on, and I’ve learned about the nature of large organizations, I’ve learned that the odds are so stacked against you to do something really interesting and innovative and big at scale that will in any way eat up the other parts of the organization, that I have to take it under extreme advisement before I would suggest “Oh! Do a do an internal startup!” It really should be approached very carefully. It’s not a, it’s not a cure.

RZ You know, we’ve seen this movie numerous times, right. And the reason we’ve seen it numerous times is very often, instinctively, the sponsor of this startup, let’s put it in quotes, realizes that he could route around the political friction and biases within the organization by hiring a little shop outside. And it’s the right instinct, it’s a good instinct,

PF Let’s be clear, nobody goes outside first. They call us after they felt the pain, they try it, you know, the sponsored a couple projects they didn’t work out, or the the person who is really talented, quit and left. You know, we’ve met a lot of people who’ve come from big technology to work at in different industries. And they—like media or finance, and they kind of grab us by the shoulder and are like “You’re tech people. What the hell is wrong with everybody?”

RZ I’ve thought a lot about this, actually. And I’ve had a lot of conversations with leadership inside of companies who’ve struggled with this, right. And we’ve seen sometimes we’ve actually been able to make a difference. Other times, we haven’t, we’ve had to just pack up and leave. And that’s depressing. But it happens. I think there’s a few things at play. I think the first thing to mention is organizations, especially big ones, that grew, become optimized towards doing what they did well, to make them successful, better.

PF Well, and that’s risk, that gets expressed as managing risk, right?

RZ No, I wouldn’t even call it risk. I think it’s a particular muscle mass that’s built, because they keep working out the same muscles over and over again. And so they get really good at them. Like don’t get into a debate with the core search thinkers at Google. This is all they eat and shit search and ads, right? That’s all they think about. When you get into—

PF I mean, literally what they do is they eat search and they excrete ads, that’s what they do.

RZ And they shit ads. Exactly. It’s a business call. It’s incredibly lucrative, right. And so when you see something get that big, and have that much money, and you see it venture out, it’s just very alien to them. It’s it takes A) their biases are in place. They don’t have strong muscle mass in the other places which they’re alien to. They’re not used to not being good at something. They’re only been doing the thing they’re good at because it made them a ton of money. And they got real big. Xerox got really, really good at copiers. So you’re going to now tell me that I want to move a thing around called a mouse pointer on a screen when people have things to print out? Are you kidding? And copy? I don’t have time for that.

PF I think it’s like, yeah, it’s cool. That’s really gee whiz. But you know, I need to get the Xerox super copier and mimeograph system out to market. Let me read a paragraph from Walk’s post here. So “When someone tells you that there’s an opportunity to build a startup within a big company, don’t believe them. It’s just not true. You can work on experimental products in a mechanism that tries to counterbalance some of the gravitational pull and processes that a big company otherwise uses to manage itself. But it’s not a startup, you will never be able to take the brand risks, legal risks or partnership risks that a startup can. And to paraphrase someone I know who tried to lead one of these projects at Google and had done an actual startup themselves. It can never be a startup, so long as my team has the Google badge on their belt walks into the fancy cafeteria every day.”

RZ Ooh, okay, first off, there’s some psychology seeping through here. 

PF Yeah, there is.

RZ This guy’s been through some stuff clearly. I’ve been in the Google cafeteria. It’s very nice. Let’s just put that out there. If that’s the audio snippet—

PF You have your choice. It is like imagine infinite breadsticks as a concept, but every cuisine there. When I was there, I was at the New York office and they drive food trucks into the office and you’re just like—

RZ Yeah, it’s a lot. The risk part, which I sort of brush you off on is also a key facet. So I mean, I, we love to bullet things, at least I love to bullet things out. One is organizational muscle memory and muscle mass around doing one thing very well and then being asked to do another thing well, that’s hard. Google has a lot of just naturally bright people that can pretty much do anything, Google could pretty much do anything it wants, if it really wanted to do it.

PF If they want to make a car, if they if they wouldn’t go into carpeting, you know, make a good move. 

RZ But you’re bringing up another point, which is there’s too much at stake. You can’t stick Google on the Google logo on anything you want and give it a go. The hesitation is because there’s too much to lose. And when you’re a startup, there is nothing more liberating than that feeling of like, ‘Oh, my God, the training wheels are off, we’re live. We crashed. We have problems, but we’re gonna barrel through them.’ That’s a very, it sounds terrible. But let me tell you, I’ve talked to other successful founders. And they talk, they speak romantically about those times, because it’s incredibly exciting to take those risks. It’s clarifying and to be near the edge of the cliff and not fall over.

PF You know, one of my fondest memories of Postlight, was the very early days we were, we were a couple months in, and our biggest client just vanished, right? Like, woof. They didn’t exist anymore, they didn’t send us home, the whole organization just cease to exist. And we were like, well, I guess that’s it. I was barely a salesperson at that point. I went and talked to a friend. And she was like, I’ll take what you got, what do you got? 

RZ Bargain basement prices. [Rich laughs]

PF And it was like, it was like we were, it was like we were in Vegas, just trying to keep it moving. And we were just kind of holding on to an idea that literally only you and I truly had in her head, and a few other leaders were connected to and everybody else was like, I don’t know, maybe I work for this company. And that was so clarifying and find and we’ll never have a moment again, like that. Because you can’t move we have to manage our every single thing we do to keep things like that from happening, right?

You know what a big company is that tries to do a startup? It’s like, it’s a 63 year old dude, divorced, who pierces his ear and wears like a black silk tee shirt in Miami.

PF It’s a ponytail.

It’s a ponytail. It’s just contrived. It’s not real, because the truth is, he doesn’t have to try too hard. He’s actually not taking many risks, because his investment portfolio is in really good shape. That’s why I bought the condo in Miami.

PF There’s another thing in here. I think that is interesting that we wrote about this, this is our white paper Catalyst, Postlight.com/Catalyst, check it out. There’s a third way here. Okay. So there is ‘I work in a giant company, we do boring work, we are stuck on Java 2. And we can only update our core platform, which is unusable once every six months.’ And then there is ‘I am in a hot startup that iterates every 35 minutes’, there actually is a vast middle trash, which is like, ‘I need to make the CRM not suck. And that would be really good for the whole business. And everybody agrees, but they’re fighting about it. And I think I could get in there and actually ship a good software product. And it would make a lot of difference to the bottom line. It’s it’s not profound, I’m not going to completely change every aspect of my business. However, I am going to get every salesperson to start using an iPad, instead of only sending emails once a week.’

Is that, is that a startup though?

PF No, that’s the thing. But I think you got to be really careful. Like, there’s really boring giant organizational development. And then there is incredibly, like, just we are a startup, we are completely independent. Here we go. And then there is this big range of meaningful work in the middle that nobody complains about, and doesn’t make anyone a trillion dollars. So you kind of never hear about it.

RZ You know, I don’t think the sponsorship is genuine. I think when someone is trusted in an organization, it’s like, ‘Look, we gotta get into Internet of Things, or whatever that means, right? We have to, we have to, we have to, we have to, and we’re behind you.’ They don’t mean it, they often don’t mean that they’re only sort of behind them. I’m not sure why that is. They don’t mean it mainly because they’re not betting everything. They’re not actually, it’s not existential, it’s the key ingredient of startups is that there is an existential element to the whole story that fuels everything else.

PF You know, sometimes you’ll talk to people, like, especially consultants and be like, you know, what we’re seeing is used to be that, you know, it was the CFO who became the CTO, but now increasingly, it might be even the CTO in a tech org who could become promoted to the CEO or the Chief Risk Officer. And that’s like a really exciting conversation that people like to have in consulting. It’s not interesting to anybody else. Right. But it is. It’s sort of like, Where is the power center in the organization? You know what no one has said? The director of the research lab is going to run the company now.

RZ No, no, no, no, no, that’s the playground. It’s a playground, right?

PF The people who were in charge of innovation are going to run the giant org. And I think that to me is like it is play. And it’s and I think researchers know that like, “Hey, we’re gonna get some ideas and we can roll them in.” When you talk to giant orgs, they’re like, ‘Hey, that’d be great if you came up with that idea, we’ll need to rewrite, rewrite it on our core platform, and it will take 13 months.’ This is also true about the giant cloud and tech companies, right? Like they can’t, they can barely acquire anything anymore, because it all has to get ported into their completely independent operating system of global mega scale.

RZ Yeah. And that’s bias, right? That’s bias. That is not just judgment or opinion, that is bias that has been actually activated. Walling yourself into your own platform is essentially bias run amok?

PF Yes. Unless you’re at a particular scale, like a really unusual scale like Google, Facebook, maybe Twitter.

RZ So I want to give, I want to share a counter, the counter example of a company that just is able to do it constantly. And I’m gonna, I’m gonna help you here by quoting the founder. “I constantly remind our employees to be afraid, to wake up every morning terrified.” You know who said that?

PF I mean, that’s you. You said that, are you talking about—[Paul laughs] Sorry.

RZ Fine. Yes.

PF Yeah, people don’t know this, like, every day at 7:30am my phone rings, and it’s Rich, saying, “Be terrified.” That’s how we’ve that’s how we’ve been able to grow Postlight. [Rich laughs] I’m gonna guess Jeff Bezos.

RZ That’s right. Jeff Bezos. And what Jeff Bezos is, is doing that, you know, we talk about bias. We talk about lack of humility. I don’t think he’s a humble guy. I think he’s genuinely terrified. I think he’s fully convinced that he is going to be Eastman Kodak, and the digital camera will arrive and he’s not going to be on the train. He’s terrified. 

PF Well he’s decided, right, usually, I mean, I’ve never had the experience of being worth $250 billion, personally, never had that. But you know, give it time. You know, he has decided on a certain posture, right? And this is real, like, Amazon Web Services is a factory for generating new products.

RZ It’s a shit show, also. We won’t get into the product experience side of it.

PF It is true, it is like Edison’s lab, but instead of the light bulb, it’s like, oh, yeah, actually, how about a bag of garbage? And you’re like “Well, actually, can I get a light bulb?”

RZ When you fly open that menu to see the different options, my whole computer kind of slows down for a minute, my lights dim in the house, because it has to draw the 800 products. [Rich & Paul laugh] My mouse pointer hitches for a second.

PF Do you know how to tired the person who does Amazon Web Services icons is? [Rich laughs] It’s like, the person who did them for the Mac. It’s either I think it’s Susan Kare, I don’t know how to pronounce her last name. But, you know, she worked hard to get all those little icons, right. And the person at Amazon. I mean, it’s just like, ‘Okay, what if it had a little like a little pipe coming out of the square?’ [Rich laughs]

RZ “You did that one already. That was 30 products ago, you need another pipe! Point the pipe the other way.” [Rich laughs]

PF I just feel that like AWS product meetings are just like, there’s just people lined up outside with eight page memos. And it’s just like, “What do you got, Mike? What do you got?” “Well, it’s DNS, sort of again. But you know—”

RZ Let me ask you. So I’ve heard, by the way, look, I think it’s cultural. I think it’s part of like the collective collective sort of ethos that is infused in the company. And existential dread is in Amazon. I’ve heard this through a lot of people who’ve gone through Amazon, either work there and come out. I’ve heard people who got who interviewed there and said there was something really cold and ugly going on. And I think it is just a place that is not basking in its glory. And and I say that in a complimentary way, not in a negative way. That is not fun. That’s always pressure cooker, you will get put through a meat grinder. There’s no way around it. But man, when they start to sniff out something that’s going to diversify who they are, even if it may fail, when they get behind it. They truly get behind it. And we’ve seen it right. I mean, I don’t like being happy about seeing an Amazon Studios movie. I’m a little embarrassed.

PF Yeah, no, it is embarrassing, because they got good. That’s the thing. I mean, I’m wrong plenty of times in my life. I used to think virtual startups inside of large organizations were good tools for innovation. It turns out it’s way more complicated. AWS, I would have told you three or four years ago that there is no way that the Amazons and Apples of the world could just suddenly get into making really top tier content, just not possible. And I was completely wrong. I just sit there and watch Ted Lasso and The Expanse with drool rolling out of my mouth. And they won, they just they absolutely, they got down there. And they said, “Well, what kind of talent do we need over here? And you know, that’ll be 2% of our bottom line, let’s do it. Let’s do a good job.” And they kicked ass. And it’s really good. And I mean, it’s Amazon, like you’re watching. I’m watching The Boys on Amazon. You know, I mean, we’ve we’ve definitely tried to cut down the number of packages we are getting delivered from Amazon. But we’ve yet to actually even have the conversation about getting off of the digital platform, right? It’s not possible. 

RZ The other example I think is worth mentioning is Netflix. Netflix got very, very good at dealing with the US Postal Service, like great at it, like really graded envelopes, they got the cost of shipping an envelope, they were able to recycle their envelopes. And then one day, they woke up and said, the thing we got really, really great at is actually going to end our business eventually. And so we have to shift it all. And that takes a particular tyranny, you have to be tyrannical, by the way.

PF There’s a nice consistent narrative of them doing that. But the reality is they completely screwed it, like it was remember, they had like two products for a while. They’re like “Good news! You don’t have a Netflix subscription anymore. You have a subscription to wootodoo!” I can’t remember what it was called. 

RZ Yeah, the transition is hard. Like, there’s no way around that.

PF The transition is hard.

RZ But they came to understand what they had to do.

PF So let me be a potential Postlight client. “Hey, Rich, I want to build a virtual startup inside of Carpet Co. We sell carpeting and I want to make something that lets people automatically select carpet and it actually gets knitted by 3d printers in their house. Can you help me? What do you think I should do?

RZ See, the first thing I’m that’s going into my into my mind, when someone asked me that question is Who are you? Like are you someone that’s been asked to go and look into this?

PF My name is Brad Bradson. I’m an SVP of Innovation at Carpet Co.

RZ Okay, so I pause. I’m Catholic, by birth. And so I say a little prayer for you, in my mind before we continue the conversation. Yeah, I mean, I would say, Brad, you know, what, what is your mandate? Who are your sponsors? Why are you here? Like, what happened? Tell me the story up till now, because you’re in my office.

PF This is real. This is what’s tricky about our, our stage of growth, right is most platforms are going to follow, you know, the rough set of principles that, you know, they’re gonna have a back end and the front end and middleware and so on and so forth. The reality is that more than anything, the sponsors, the organizational will and the desire of leadership to get something done is what’s going to decide whether a project ships or not.

RZ One of the things we do is help that stakeholder gain, like real support, whether it be helping them with the deck that to pitch it. Sometimes it’s unsolicited, sometimes it’s like, Look, I’m going to do something for you here. Because I think this isn’t going to resonate with the real power dynamics within your org, unless you put this in front of them,

PF You know, we often review and not even related to the work we do people bring us their decks, and they give us the pitch for whatever thing they’re doing. It doesn’t have to do with Postlight. And we’ll be like, ‘okay, yeah, you got to be mindful of this audience.’ The number one mistake everybody makes, is trying to tell too much story about the platform and the technology and so on, right, like the people who your sponsors want to know what this is going to do for the business. And they don’t really care of that it’s built on some sort of new processor architecture. 

RZ Yeah. And the other thing, I mean, and this is a trick we can share out because we love to share advice is you can have a deck going one of two ways. One leads you towards a beautiful, happy ending. And the other shows you a near miss of a really horrible, terrible ending. And executives in companies are far more motivated by fear than they are by the potential glory of success. And it’s better to tell a story around ‘If we don’t do this now. Our lunch is going to get eaten. And I’m not saying in 10 years, I’m saying three.’ Right, that is far more compelling to the people that are worried about the long term health of the business, then, ‘Guys, Internet of Things is changing how we live! My son showed me this yesterday, he talked to his bicycle and his bicycle answered back!’ And it’s like…cool.

PF Cool. That’s right. They’re not gonna make that jump. Right. You’ve already made the jump.

RZ People who are enamored with technology and just love the magic of tech have to be very, very careful because the real decision makers don’t give a shit. 

PF They really don’t and that’s not bad. That’s just what’s up. [Rich laughs] The other thing that’s key here is, it can actually go the other direction. Literally yesterday, I sat down with you, I’m like, “We’ve got I got a client I love and I really like working with them. And they need to expand where they’re at a little bit.” And so it’s like a pretty big project. But I tried to I’m like trying to shave off costs and trying to make it really efficient and trying to just kind of move things forward for them. They don’t have a lot of resources. And I presented it to you and you’re like, “This is fine. This is good. We could do this. But what do you think? Do you really believe this is enough?” And I’m like, “No, this is a really great idea. And it absolutely has to happen.” And you’re like “How much?” I’m like, “It should be twice this team, it should be much bigger.” And you’re like, “Alright, well go pitch them both.” And, and I did I pitched them the small, tight version. And then I said, but you know, “I actually think this is wrong, given the kind of impact you want. Here’s what it would look like to go to doubled up.” You know what they said? “Yeah, that’s exactly what we’re thinking to. We’re trying to decide between these two paths. There’s a lot of reasons for the tight and efficient path. But we need to really be thinking, are we true to our mission unless we’re going big?” 

RZ Credit to them by the way, because most don’t have the courage to make the bigger bet. Most don’t. That’s probably the primary reason these things fail, right? You don’t have the right support, you don’t have the the will, frankly, the organizational will to really support something.

PF Well, they’re not trying to check a box, they’re trying to get the most impact possible. And so they’re willing to take some real risk to achieve that. They want to know and understand. I mean, these are people who, they work very hard. Right? Right. But they want to know and understand every bit of it. But if if it’s valid, they want to make the big move. But it was a good moment for me, because it’s like, I’m pretty used to selling stuff. And you were just like, “What do you believe?” And it’s like, “I think they want to do this.” And you’re like, “What’s up?” It’s exactly the opposite direction. Organizations can change and do new things. But the idea of the magical startup that will find 100, or 1000 times growth inside of the big org, the entire thing is structured so that that must never happen.

Yep. I want to I want to close this with a thought, a little story that actually happened. A client of ours was looking for like really high level like C suite level leadership around technology. And I had a colleague, a friend of mine, a friend slash colleague, who was interested, and I made the connection. And they said something to them, they said, and this was exactly the scenario, by the way, which was, “We need to pivot in a big new direction. We’re a huge company. It’s hard. We’re having a hard time.” And you know what my friend said, when he had the conversations with them? He said, “I’ll do it if you let me do it away geographically from the core headquarters.”

PF Yeah!

He’s essentially saying, ‘I don’t even want to run into them in the halls.’ Like, if you’re really serious about this, and you really want this to be a startup, then let me stand it up elsewhere, and actually not borrow oxygen from your culture. Because that oxygen happens to be carbon monoxide.

PF Did they let him do it?

No. They couldn’t stomach it. Because that’s scary, right? Because they said, ‘You know what, this is your baby, you’re seven years old, you can’t move out of the house, you gotta we got to take care of you, we got to support you.’ 

PF You know what they do after that? Okay, so this is the virtual, the like the, the mini startup lifecycle, is there’s that there’s like ‘get out of the house’, then there is ‘we’ll do it in house, and Team B, and Team A will come up with the right solution’.

And then when they do it in house, by the way, they get like an Xbox, and they get like beanbag chairs and put them into the corner. [Paul laughs]

PF Those are the worst. Well, then actually, you know what you can do to supplement that if you’re a large enough organization, you can actually hire someone from Google or Facebook. [Rich laughs] Which is like the human beanbag chair, and then that person leaves in 18 months. And then you know, what actually happens in the end? Is it kind of, it implodes to the point that they just reach for salvation for whatever platform is out there? And it’s like, I guess Salesforce will do this, or I guess, you know. And what they do is then they get kind of like innovation, but mapped to a corporate thought process into the organization. And now they can kind of get back to work and it lets them shortcut that. We try to help people skip all this pain. But a lot of times people just need to go through the pain. 

RZ They need to go through the pain. I mean, that’s just real. 

PF But we can help you. Call us up. We’ll help, we’ll tell you that. You’ll see Rich’s face.

RZ Postlight.com, check this out. Now, it’s worth sharing a lot of a lot of the problems and a lot of the things you’re contending with, are not software related. Like I’m gonna say this and maybe this is not right for me to say, but I’ll say it anyway. No software is the same. It hasn’t changed a whole lot in many, many years. 

PF I just wrote about this on our website. Like if you go to Postlight.com and look for me.

RZ It’s kinda mostly the same. The problems are the classic human dynamic problems, right. One of the things we’ve learned and it’s really part of how we think about problem solving problems at Postlight, is mostly is how do we empower? How do we help you navigate? How do we like make your message stronger as you’re communicating internally? And because we’ve seen too often that the barriers aren’t some library that isn’t up to snuff everything. Everything’s done. The world is amazing right now.

PF It really is amazing. I think it’s it doesn’t mean it’s easy, you still need a good schema, but you’re not writing your own database, right? Like, and there’s just like, people think that’s where the innovation is gonna come from, not really. It’s not coming from that part of the platform, it’s coming from, like, ‘I’m gonna connect with customers in a different way’, or ‘I’m gonna, I’m gonna work a little more efficiently internally’, or ‘I’m gonna have better communication’. And then you, the tools that you need in order to achieve that are are built, you don’t have to worry too much. It’s about orchestrating those and making them sort of happen inside of your org. Here’s what’s brutal, it’s supposed to be so easy.

RZ Well they always tell you that, right?

PF It’s so easy. Like we’re sitting here going like “Software! Software is so easy!” And we’re still gonna charge you a lot of money to get your some. 

RZ Well, you know, to do it real good, right? To do it real good, takes a lot of room for error. A lot of willingness to reboot. That’s another reason why big orgs are like, ‘What is going on over there? Like, what are you still doing over there? It’s just the thing you said it was going to be a simple thing.’ Ask any startup that’s succeeded, right? They have to kind of—I mean, some pivot entirely. Some are like, “Oh, that big bet we made didn’t work, we got to keep going.” And they try another thing. That’s really what it’s like. That’s really what it’s like. So if you don’t have that support, to have that room to play, it’s not going to go well. It’s going to be challenging.

PF Anyway, change is possible. But the startup inside of the org is an idea that has to be carefully interrogated.

RZ Yes, that’s right. We are Postlight.com. I feel like we’re past—we’ve reached a nirvana state Paul, where we don’t have to pitch Postlight in this podcast anymore. 

PF I think we just—I’ll tell you what, you know what I think of what I wake up in the morning? Postlight. You know what I think about when I go to bed? Postlight. I’m living it. I live the brand. When you hear me talk, when you hear Rich talk, you’re in Postlight.

RZ I mean, it’s real. It’s true. You’re right. I mean, by the way, just for everyone out there. Paul has a very beautiful family that he also thinks about some of the time. 

PF They are, they’re fantastic. I need to go visit them. [Rich laughs]

RZ So check us out at Postlight.com. Good discussion, Paul. I feel like zooming out, it’s really not that different than marrying into a family during the Medieval Ages. Change into the status quo is a an eternal human challenge.

PF That was exactly the metaphor I was gonna use. So.

RZ Ah man, see there you go. Paul Ford and myself are insync. 

PF Simpatico. Alright, let’s get out of here. Let’s get back to work. 

RZ Be well, everyone. Have a great week. 

PF Bye! [music ramps up, plays alone for 3 seconds, ends.]