Adam Robinson Joins Us On The Join Up Dots Podcast
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Introducing Adam Robinson
Today, we are thrilled to introduce you to a man whose journey has been nothing short of extraordinary.
Adam’s professional life began in the world of finance, where he climbed the ranks at Lehman Brothers.
But when the financial crisis rocked the world and wiped Lehman Brothers off the map, Adam knew it was time for a major change.
Inspired by the creative energy of his former roommates, who famously founded Vimeo in his very own apartment, he embarked on a new adventure.
In 2012, he launched an email-marketing business called Robly, despite having no prior background in technology.
Against all odds, he managed to bootstrap the company to a staggering $5 million in revenue in just two short years.
Yet, as we all know, not all that glitters is gold. Burned out and yearning for something more, Adam’s journey took yet another pivot.
How The Dots Joined Up For Adam
After an eight-figure exit, he and his team launched Retention, a venture that has seen them achieve an impressive $20 million in annual recurring revenue in less than three years, all while operating with a lean team and zero external funding.
Adam is now on a trajectory to lead a bootstrapped billion-dollar business, and he’s documenting every step of this unprecedented journey in the captivating docuseries, “Billion Dollar Challenge,” which is currently streaming.
From surviving the toughest of times as a start-up CEO in the midst of a global pandemic to building a unicorn in public, Adam’s journey is an extraordinary testament to the power of resilience, determination, and radical transparency.
So why did he find himself burnout and wanting more instead of just saying “I’ve done well, lets vacation like my life depends on it?”
And what would he say if he could go back in time and give his advice to his younger self?
Well lets find out as we bring onto the show to start joining up dots with the one and only Mr Adam Robinson
During the show we discussed such weighty subjects with Adam such as:
Adam talks openly about his dissatisfaction of achieving his lifestyle business, and realising it was only half of what he should have been focusing on.
How you can easily lose control of your calendar if you are not setting firm boundaries and targets.
Why Adam believes that having a tech business means you have to keep growing or you die. Its simply try, try, try every single day.
Adam shares his belief that nobody ever makes it on their own. There is no such thing as a self made man or woman.
How To Connect With Adam
Or if you prefer just pop over to our podcast archive for thousands of amazing episodes to choose from.
Full Transcription Of Adam Robinson Interview
Life shouldn’t be hard life should be a fun filled adventure every day. So now start joining up dots tap into your talents, your skills, your God given gifts and tell your boss, you don’t deserve me. I’m out of here. It’s time for you to smash that alarm clock and start getting the dream business and life you will of course, are dreaming of. Let’s join your host David route from the back of his garden in the UK, or wherever he might be today with another JAM PACKED episode of the number one hit podcast. Join Up Dots.
David Ralph [0:40]
Yeah, good morning to you. Good morning to you and welcome to a decade of Join Up Dots. Well, thank you for being here today. This is an interview show and today, we’re going to introduce you to a man whose journey has been nothing short of extraordinary his professional life began in the world of finance, where he climbed the ranks at Lehman Brothers but when the financial crisis rocked the world and wiped them off the map, he knew it was time for a major change and inspired by the creative energy of his former roommates, who famously founded Vimeo in his very own apartment. He did just that he embarked on a new adventure. In 2012, he launched an email marketing business called ropley. Despite having no prior background in technology, and against all odds, he managed to bootstrap the company to a staggering 5 million in revenue in just two short years. Yeah, as we all know, not all that glitters is gold and burned out and yearning for something more, his journey took yet another pivot. After an eight bigger exit, he and his team launched retention adventure that has seen them achieve an impressive 20 million in annual recurring revenue in less than three years, all while operating with a lean team and zero external funding. He’s now on a trajectory to lead a bootstrapped billion dollar business. And he’s also documenting every step of his unprecedented journey in his Docu series Billion Dollar Challenge, which is currently streaming. So from surviving the toughest of times as a startup CEO in the midst of a global pandemic to building a unicorn in public. His journey is a testament to the power of resilience, determination, and radical transparency. So why did he find himself burnt out? And then wanting more? Instead of just saying that I’ve done well, let’s vacation like my life depends on it? And what would you say if he could go back in time and give his advice to his younger self? Well, let’s find out as we bring onto the show to start joining up dots with the one and only Mr. Adam Robinson. Good morning, Adam. How are you?
Adam Robinson [2:43]
How are you, David?
David Ralph [2:44]
I’m very well, very well, indeed. I’ll be honest, I’ve been spending the last sort of half hour or so watching your your billion dollar challenge. And people can go over on YouTube and watch it and I’ll be honest, Adam, I get offered to watch a lot of these and most of them are crap. This is good. I’m gonna say this is good. And I watched the first episode, where you were frazzled, you was overwhelmed. You was questioning. And all the time I was looking at you thinking, Adam have a break, you look tired, me. And then the very last episode I jumped to, and I will Join Up Dots by watching all of them. You’re laying on the side of a mountain, you’ve had time out in the country, and it looks like you’re a totally different person. So since that time, are we back at the first episode? Adam Robinson, are we still at the last episode refreshed and knowing exactly what you’re doing?
Adam Robinson [3:38]
Me? And that’s a good question. It depends on the day, I think is the honest answer. And I mean, just as it pertains to my business. We went through this period of transformational growth this year, that if anybody’s ever heard of the Gartner hype cycle that was like, what it is, we were running my company very lean, like three years, and we were only six people, but it was doing really, really well. And we decided that we were going to try to make a unicorn and I was, you know, thought it was interesting, like really scaling a startup. No one No one knows what that’s like. So
David Ralph [4:23]
just explain to people out there Adam, what a unicorn is in case you know what that is?
Adam Robinson [4:28]
Yeah, right. A unicorn is a startup which is valued at over a billion dollars. So I in this is kind of a tech entrepreneur way of looking at the world. Usually you sort of divide your entrepreneurial path into two ways. One is what would be considered a lifestyle business, which is what I had been doing up until this point, which is, you know, you’re not really trying to be the biggest company in the world. You are enjoying You’re free cash flow, you are maybe not working, you know, 10 hour days, you are prioritising everything else in your life over your business. But this thing is just sort of something that you’re playing with. It’s, it’s paying you. And that sounds really wonderful. And it is, until you have the opportunity to do something much bigger that you actually like truly believe in. So well, that’s my case, at least I can’t
David Ralph [5:27]
you believe in the lifestyle business more, can’t you believe in yourself more than the world?
Adam Robinson [5:35]
I think you certainly can. It’s just a really interesting thing that I think only people with successful lifestyle businesses can probably relate to. You’re just slightly dissatisfied. Yeah, yeah, as your cars and houses keep getting bigger. And oftentimes, you don’t really know why. Because this is literally what anybody in the world would want. And the reason why is because you’re not all in on something doesn’t even need to be your business. It’s just, you’re not all in. I mean, by definition of how you got to that place with your lifestyle business, in how you are living your life at that point you are there. I believe that I’m most satisfied when there’s, you know, a pursuit, look, I have my family life, and I have my professional life. And I’m pretty much you know, trying to work out once a day, eat healthy and you know, maintain some social relationships. But I’m kind of just all in on those two things. And while it is it can be stressful. That’s just part of the journey. And I will definitely not look back on the last year and say, I didn’t try. Oh, wait, that’s something that is something that is that is that is not going to happen, right. So it’s like it’s this. It’s kind of like, sad. life satisfaction ensues as you’re going through something. Yeah. And just knowing that I’m given this literally everything that I have. You know, it’s kind of like one of the things. Jeff Bezos had this amazing quote that kind of caused me to reframe how I look at it everything I do. When he left finance, he had a great job. And he said, you know, they’re every year in finance, they try to pay you $1 More than would be the amount that would keep you that would keep you there another year. That’s, does that make sense? So just enough to keep you there. So at the point where Jeff Bezos left he was making millions of dollars like incredible job at this great hedge fund. And he’s a super genius. So he was on the path to become some massive finance guy. He thought, and he said, I thought, when I’m sitting on my deathbed, when I’m 80 years old, and I look back on my life, what would I wish that I had done? So if you look at it through that lens, the lifestyle business actually not as satisfying as thinking, you know, I’m gonna see how big I can take this thing. Why not?
David Ralph [8:26]
Yeah, no, I
Adam Robinson [8:27]
understand. He’s totally, by the way. And by the way, like, like, it’s like I said before, like, I’m still I take Wednesday mornings off to hang out with my, my daughter who’s 13 months old, I exercise every day, you know, I go home at six. This is not like, I am literally putting everything else. But you know, I truly believe that I need to maintain loving relationships. You know, health get good sleep, I don’t drink. I try not packaged food, right? Like, all of that is part of what gives me the energy to give everything I have to this thing, but like, when you look at it, like, you know, what would I wish that I had had done in the same way. I started my first company and wanted it to be a lifestyle business, kind of natural evolution after you’ve done that is like, well, I have the opportunity to make this thing much bigger. I’m really curious if I can personally do it. Right. Can I Bootstrap? Can I can I create a unicorn with no external funding? My personal challenge? I and I think I think what I’m working on has the potential to be that. So why wouldn’t I go for it? You know, no,
David Ralph [9:40]
but what came clear on that video that I was watching and as I say, I just sort of clicked on it expecting it to be absolute toilet and it wasn’t it was very, it was very, very good.
Adam Robinson [9:53]
They’re doing this team is doing it’s doing a great job by doing a good job. And the interesting thing is, is I have very little, if you want to call it artistic input into that, like the producer, Christy, literally like So John, the camera guy, he’ll follow me around when I travel. And she’ll just be talking to me once a week and then making these story arcs that occur over three months. But they seem like they’re sequential in a way. Does that make sense? Yeah, absolutely. And she just sends me an episode, I’m like, Wow, that’s incredible. You know, like, you know, it’s like, you kind of forget what you’re living through, in a way. And then she’s like, representing it in the, you know, through her lens. It’s a really, it’s a really cool piece of art, I think, um, yeah, I’m just happy to chronicle this period in my life that way, so that I can look back at it, you know, I’m not I’m not even sure what it’s doing. For my business. People tell me they like it all the time. But like, you know, it’s, it’s, I think it’s great.
David Ralph [10:51]
What he’s doing is it’s giving you got to look back on and learn from those moments in life that you don’t actually realise. And the bit that I was just about to reference was a bit where you were sitting there looking at your calendar on a Monday morning, and effectively saying, I can have lunch on Friday, this isn’t sustainable. And I looked at it. And I thought to myself, it’s not sustainable to anyone. So how does it get to that point? How does it get to the point that you’re allowing your calendar to be packed up? And then you answer that a little bit later, where you’re literally grappling with leadership issues of saying to people, I need help, I need things to be taken off my plate, but you was juggling every plate known to man. So I want to start off with that first bit where you allowed your calendar to take control to a point where if you’re not eating lunch, until Friday, it’s quite obvious, something’s wrong.
Adam Robinson [11:53]
There was an interesting moment. You know, as I look at my calendar, as we’re talking right now, today, actually kind of is that I do have a break for an hour and a half. But John’s going to be following me home, because I just moved in this office on my blog. So it’s going to capture this like, moment of me having lunch with my wife, which is not actually a break. But what I will say about the moment in that episode is there is this, the reason that we all collectively, there were six of us, you know, a year ago working on this, and now we have 50 employees. Our product was experiencing such growth in demand that it was just drowning everybody. And part of how my calendar got that way was I was trying to figure out, kind of like, what distribution channels were not only available to us, but like the smartest to go after first, and who I needed to hire to handle them. So a lot of my in and we had I would, for anybody starting a company, I would highly suggest trying to start very niche first, with my company, we didn’t really do that we kind of just created this app. And what it did was, somebody could hit a website, somebody could hit a website. And without filling out a form, we could resolve an email address of that person and give and I was like everybody with a website’s gonna want this. So we just made it self serve low cost, and anybody could sign up and use it.
David Ralph [13:45]
Is that blows my mind? Just that fact there? I sit there and thinking, number one, why didn’t nobody think of this before? And secondly, how the hell is that possible? It’s like, it’s like alchemy somehow?
Adam Robinson [13:58]
Well, we can. So there were so first of all, it’s only legal in the US,
David Ralph [14:07]
which genuinely, most things are. Right,
Adam Robinson [14:12]
exactly. So that that takes everybody else off the table. And there were a few people doing it in the US. But there were several reasons why going into the market wasn’t appealing. There’s just so much complexity to the story. The the technology was meant to be obsolete in 18 months from when we started because it only used entirely third party cookies at the time, and Chrome was supposed to Safari had already eliminated them. Chrome was supposed to get rid of them. During that period of time, Chrome kept kicking out the third party cookie expiration date, and we figured out how to do it without third party cookies. So that was one reason why people weren’t doing it. Another there were several other reasons and basically, how we do it is still There’s ad tech, which is like banner ads. And, you know, Google ads and stuff like that, that wet that entire world is anonymized. Meaning there are persistent identifiers that follow people around so that they can be tracked and shown the appropriate ad. But it is not identifiable by human being, you know, if you looked at that persistent identifier, you would see a bunch of numbers and letters, you wouldn’t see email@example.com, for instance, what’s called martec is messaging. And that’s after you’ve captured someone’s email that is, personally identifiable information. And, you know, you send people email and SMS and, you know, push notifications and stuff like that. So this technology sits in the middle of ad tech in martech. And basically what we do is we can gather enough information about the person who is that persistent identifier that’s anonymized. And we can figure out who it is long story short,
David Ralph [16:10]
surely, surely, you you must have thought about this. But isn’t that kind of like stalking somehow that they haven’t given their name? Or their details? But still when contacting them?
Adam Robinson [16:23]
Yeah, I mean, look, that’s certainly an argument. There are people that don’t like what we do at all, there’s a very small, my if you want my personal opinion, this is the way the internet works. And we’re like one generation away from privacy, digital privacy being something that no one cares about. My daughter is like, looking at this iPhone, I’m sure she’s playing with it at 13 months old. I’m sure that if you asked her when she’s five, if that iPhone was like, following her eyes and seeing what she looked at and serving her content, she’d be like, Yeah, of course, that’s what it’s supposed to do. You know what I mean? Like, it’s just a totally decide. So, long story short, to me, this is just the internet and the way it works. And if you knew what Google and Apple and Amazon were doing with how they’re tracking you, they just don’t see it. They don’t explain it as clearly as I do. It would, it’s just way more manipulative and intrusive into your, into your actual life than just popping somebody with an email who, who you are visiting on a website. So the answer is, is it stalking? Like, sort of, you know, is it the way the internet works? In my opinion, it is. You know, it’s just look, there’s, there’s white hat in the internet, which is like, you know, you’re reading a blog about, you know, a bouquet of flowers or something like that. There’s black hat, which is like, you know, a Nigerian prince is, you know, taking your money over email, or whatever. And then there’s, everything else is in between, right, like, and that’s kind of up for regulators to decide what they think is okay, and not and, you know, they get lobbied by people with interests. And, you know, the, the big tech companies have a hand in it too, like, Apple is very proactive and trying to make it harder and harder for for people to be tracked on the internet full stop. Like, they have this protocol called intelligent tracking prevention. In Safari, Now, third, party apps can only track people for seven days, which makes marketing very hard. If a direct to consumer ecommerce store can only track someone for seven days, then on the eighth day, if that person puts something in their cart and leaves, they can’t send them a cart abandonment email, which, I mean, if you’re a privacy person, you’re like, great, but like, that’s the most, you know, that’s a lifeblood of these e commerce businesses. It’s like, it’s just if you can’t track people, you can’t build profiles for them. You can’t send them targeted, personalised and timely messaging. It’s just, it just makes it hard. Black and white, it’s a great it’s a shade of grey.
David Ralph [19:23]
Yeah. So so when you come up with this idea, originally, and obviously, there’s going to be people like me that look at it thinking, Okay, it’s a great idea. But is it? Is it fair? There’s going to be other people that go, Yeah, this is brilliant. Let’s jump all over. How do you start building a team when your product and services can be quite black and white as you say?
Adam Robinson [19:51]
The team for this came from my last business. This started as a feature in my last business
David Ralph [19:59]
So they believe moving you more than the products
Adam Robinson [20:04]
each other, I would say, not necessarily just me. We, we had a team that believed in each other. And we were, it’s just hard to describe this, you know, my first business got stuck. And we just couldn’t get past that revenue level. Because the space we were in was really hard. And I was much, you know, we were a much less experienced team also, which has a lot to do with it. But it was mostly that we were in the email newsletter space, a lot of people have heard of MailChimp, it’s kind of the entry level product that people use to do that. That’s an incredibly hard company to compete with, they have a free product for 90% of the market, they have a great brand, they have an incredible business, quite frankly. So I couldn’t get it to grow because these guys had maxed out all the channels, and they had an incredible product. And it was just really hard to differentiate against a free value proposition. So this was what I thought was going to be what differentiated us and, you know, the team was like, great, we’re going to be growing again, awesome, and what the strangest thing happened, people would sign up for our email newsletter app, they would use this identity feature, they download the file and put it in their email newsletter app, so they wouldn’t even switch. So and they’d say, it was great. They’d give it like a 10 out of 10, NPS score net promoter score, which is answers the question like how likely are you to recommend this to a friend or colleague, and they’re all like, 10. This is amazing. So at that point, it was like, Okay, well, we can either continue to try to get people to switch to our quite frankly, subpar newsletter app experience versus what they’re using. And it may not even have been subpar. It’s just not good. Not enough, you know, to switch rooms kind of pain. Or we can spin this out connected to everything and make it its own its own thing. So so that
David Ralph [22:05]
moment when you’re at pivot point, and you’re thinking, there’s an angle is an angle, was it a bolt of lightning? Or did it creep up on you over a period of time?
Adam Robinson [22:17]
Well, I had been, you know, it’s hard to describe this state that I was in when our last business was stuck. I was so it was a dire situation. It sounds great to have a lifestyle business that’s creating cash and everything. If you are not growing in tech, you’re dying. Period, a flat tech company is a very dangerous place to exist. So I had been reading, I had just been reading a tonne of blogs. You know, there’s a great blog about building software companies are starting startups. There’s this accelerator called the called Y Combinator that’s in Silicon Valley, like a lot of the big tech companies went through when they started Airbnb, like some of these, you know, really big ones. Read it, I think did. So anyway, they described what is called and this is one of the most important concepts, I think, in entrepreneurship in general, I think it gets talked a lot about in tech and not really anywhere else. But product market fit is this idea that the people that you the the audience that you are intending on selling to. They want what you have so badly that they’re basically pulling it out of you. And kind of like an example, if anybody has read this great book by Phil Knight, the founder of Nike, called Shoe Dog, like when he was starting that company, and basically using his apartment as a warehouse for shoes, he could not keep the shoes in stock. So like, that’s an amazing example, if you can’t keep what you sell on the shelves. It’s a really good indicator of product market fit. Like you are solving such an acute pain in a way that these people do not have access to or a price that is, you know, 10 times better than what they were doing before that people are literally ripping this out of you. So one of the ways that they describe it is if your users are willing to endure a horrible user experience, and they still say it is an amazing product. That’s a very strong sign that you are on to product market fit. If
David Ralph [24:47]
it’s an example I’m grappling in my head of something that was so ugly when it started, but we still jumped all over it. Well,
Adam Robinson [24:54]
we’ll look at my example is a great one right like I People were in order to get these, like, what is our product now. So Shopify stores use it, they click a button and instals all of these scripts. And it immediately integrates with their email programme and starts sending all of the emails and the necessary events to this email app called clay. VO. It all works so seamlessly and beautifully. It’s just incredible how smooth everything is, and how seamless it is. When this this moment that I’m talking about that the aha moment occurred, they had to sign up for some software they didn’t want, they had to put the scripts on their website. And then every day, they had to manually download a spreadsheet from the software they didn’t want and then upload it in the software, they wanted to use it in every single day,
David Ralph [25:48]
that you’re not selling experience, you’re not selling it to me, that is
Adam Robinson [25:53]
an ugly user experience compared to what ours is now, which is very beautiful one. And people were saying that it was amazing. Right? And when people are telling you what you’re doing is amazing. And you think that you can do it 10 times better. You’re in a really good spot, in my opinion.
David Ralph [26:12]
Okay to take you on a different journey, because there was a there’s another comment that you made. And it really struck out. And I thought to myself, I’m going to jot this down, because I haven’t heard it said in such a precise way. But you and you’ve said it a couple of times as well. Nobody rarely makes it until they’ve been banging their head on the wall for 10 years. Now, that’s true. But that’s kind of depressing as well, isn’t it? Do you believe that across the board? Hey,
Adam Robinson [26:45]
I think that there are some instances in which success can come to people quicker. But I think that anybody who is very successful, and hears that anybody who’s really successful that hears that is nodding their head. Well,
David Ralph [27:10]
I noticed when I went, that’s why I jotted it down. I did it. And yes,
Adam Robinson [27:16]
like it’s not I just think, you know, my first career was Wall Street, I was a young guy, I was in the right place at the right time. I did, you know, call it upper middle of the road for what I was doing. I happen to be lucky enough to make millions of dollars in that whole thing in my 20s, which was crazy. That was extremely lucky. But what it also did was it gave me a massive amount of belief in myself that was unfounded and not deserved. But had I not had it. I might not have been so keen to take on this whole thing. Yeah. In the way that I did, right? Like, I had no business starting a tech company in the email space. I know nothing about tech, or email or being an entrepreneur or hiring people or product or sales or marketing or right, nothing. So and here I sit, basically 11 years after I decided to make that decision. And I’m very good at a few of these things. I’m not good at some of them. But I know which ones I’m not good at. And I have people who I work with who are very good at them. But I’m like we’re launching a new product right now that will very likely it could even turn into a business that we spin off. It’s like kind of a so we currently sell to Shopify stores, we’re creating a version of our product that does this identity for business to business software as a service companies. It gives sales teams LinkedIn URLs of the people who were on their website, in the pages they looked at. unbelievably valuable to somebody who’s selling, you know, $50,000 subscriptions or whatever, right? So the amount of intuition and how I’m approaching this versus how I started my first company, like, it’s as if I’m, you know, LeBron James now, and I was playing middle school basketball 11 years ago, like the decisions the prioritisation. Like, you know, we’ve basically built the entire sales machine before we’ve even launched the product. We know exactly how we’re gonna go to market and we already know that it’s working, you know, like the risk that this is not going to at least somewhat work is near zero. Because we would have thrown it out by now. If it wasn’t going to work. Does that make sense? And we barely spent any money or time on it. All right. Whereas I don’t know, my brother and I probably spent a million and a half dollars building our first product and it sucked. You know?
David Ralph [30:09]
It’s fascinating. No, Adam, because when you talk about, you didn’t have anything other than Ben belief in yourself. I mean, money too. Well, you got some money too. But if you look back at say Dumbo, for example, the Flying Elephant, he could always fly. But he couldn’t fly until he was given a magic feather, which then gave him the competence to do it. And off he went, you know? And so, did you really need to have anything other than yourself? Because in entrepreneurship, it’s not so much about competence. It’s just about persistence, and willing to make it up as you go along. Just just try things.
Adam Robinson [30:49]
And the third thing, not running out of money. Yeah, yeah. Yeah, I think I honestly, it’s like, at the end of the day, the root cause of everyone stopping entrepreneurship, or their attempt at it, I think, is that they ran out of money, or they just couldn’t make it work. Because of money. Yeah, probably, that would be my guess. But what look, I think whenever somebody is starting something, really starting something for the first time, if it’s the second time, I think I can have a conversation with them. If it’s the first time, it’s not even worth me listening to their idea, all I say is, I will give you two pieces of advice. One, please read Four Steps to the Epiphany, this book, it’s amazing for us, particularly if you’re starting software companies. And number two, this, this will not hit you nearly enough, you’ll do a bunch of stupid stuff, just like I did. But try to spend as little money as humanly possible and try to raise as little money as humanly possible. You know, yeah, those are my two pieces of advice. And like, you know, you just end up doing a bunch of stupid stuff. It’s like people, for some reason, think they need, you know, maybe less so now, but it’s like, you started, you think you’re gonna start a business? They’re like, well, I want to form an LLC, which is like this entity we have in the US, right? And like, you know, I need office space. It’s like, you need people to buy your product first. Yeah, you know, like, like, you need to know that, like, what you’re doing the LLC for and the office space for it. Like, you know, my wife is, has had her own PR business for the last four years. And when she’s starting, I’m like, Helen, if you are, if you still have PR clients in one year, form the LLC. You know?
David Ralph [32:44]
Because your, your, your wife was an interesting one as well, because they asked a question about you. And she came out and I’m just tired. And it was just like, it was just a weariness, of answering thinking, making decisions and everything in between. How does your drive for the unicorn and a business that lights you up? How does it light her up as well? Or is she just going along for the ride?
Adam Robinson [33:13]
So keep in mind, you know, this woman when they were filming that she had had a baby like six months ago. So that had ended our life. You know, we had two construction projects going on, like we I had decided that I was gonna go from this very, very, very cushy situation to literally ploughing everything back into, you know, growing this business. And, you know, she, she, she was struggling with, you know, trying to figure out her nutrition and sort of get she she had a lot going on at the time. Health wise, and you know, this, this new thing I was doing, right. And, like, I don’t know, if everybody’s anybody’s ever had construction projects go bad, but like, man, like, that is I don’t wish that on anyone. Like, we had a guy vanish and steal 100 grand from us. And now we’re gonna have to, like, you know, take down the frame that he built this house that we’re building in the country and rebuild it, right. Like it’s just an unbelievably stressful thing to be going through. At the same time. I’m trying to build this unicorn company, and we’re raising an infant, and you know what I mean? It’s, it’s like, so, there’s a lot of depth into that comment. I don’t think that what I’m doing is the driver of most of the stress. It’s certainly part of it because we took what was a very plentiful cash situation. When we had started all of these projects. And then you know, if I’m ploughing it all back into my business just on a personal level it was it was, it was a, you know, it was tight for the last six months or whatever. But yeah, there’s there’s all sorts of different reasons behind that. I’m tired, but she was tired,
David Ralph [35:21]
she looked tired, she looked, let’s hear from Steve Jobs.
Speaker 2 [35:25]
Of course, it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backwards 10 years later. Again, you can’t connect the dots looking forward, you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something, your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. Because believing that the dots will connect down the road will give you the confidence to follow your heart, even when it leads you off the well worn path. And that will make all the difference.
David Ralph [36:00]
Now I’m always fascinated with entrepreneurs because genuinely their forward thinking it’s about the future. It’s about tomorrow’s about the exciting things. But a lot of the lessons that we can take forward. I will say at the end of the show, I believe that by joining up the dots and connecting our paths, it’s the best way to build our futures. How often do you actually stop and look back? How often do you reflect on on things and go? Yeah, that’s a lesson I should be doing now. But I’ve just moved forward because I’m just thinking about tomorrow.
Adam Robinson [36:36]
So I deeply value reflection, that was the purpose of that go into the country. thing that you saw on that video, I like went into the woods, by myself did not see another person for seven days, and literally just reflected on everything that had gone on. I did it two years ago as well. And I’m going to try to do it in two years. I’ll be honest, though, it’s very hard to do that on a day to day basis. Life gets very full very quickly. So but there is no question that reflection is valuable. It’s just a matter of how you work it in and how frequently you feel like you need, you know, how frequently you feel like you need to have it be part of your life, I think I
David Ralph [37:32]
think what I’m gonna do is set you a task, Adam, and that is to sit there and watch all 10 episodes of the billion dollar challenge. And I guarantee you will go, Yeah, I need to be doing that. I need to be doing that. It’s it’s like it’s laying out I only watched two episodes, as I say, but there was about five or six things in there that I thought to myself, he needs to get on top of
Adam Robinson [37:54]
that. Well, that’s the point of the show. And sometimes, you know, yeah, it’s, it’s always the hardest to see when you’re in the middle of it. Yeah. And I will not pretend that I’m bigger than that, I totally understand that. I am blind to my own flaws, and everybody else can see them. So we’re
David Ralph [38:20]
over sino, we’re all the same. So did you when you look back on it, if you do look back on it is sort of we call it a big dot moment when everything comes together, when your failures and your successes and the knowledge and the it kind of gets you to that point where you think, Ah, this is where I was heading?
Adam Robinson [38:43]
Well, I think that I had a version of that happen this year, in the last six months where, you know, we went from a very small company, we started hiring people very quickly, we were kind of doing everything in bit of a rushed and sloppy way. We were getting a lot of indicators that made us think that things were going a lot better than they were. It led to even more hiring and then it’s sort of you know, in software, at least we hit it, we hit this macro slowdown in April, and literally everything stopped. You know, our VP sales quit, we had to let go of two other VPS it was just like we had this contraction period, and realised how sloppy everything was. And then really like probably a month ago, it felt like we were back on incredibly strong footing in the future was very bright ahead of us. And, you know, all of these other sort of stresses that I alluded to my life had had kind of calmed down a little bit and you know, that’s, I’m having one of those moments now, I guess is the short way to say that.
David Ralph [39:55]
And I Are you excited? No, actually are you oh my god. too excited. But that’s the way I
Adam Robinson [40:02]
think I think I was too excited a year ago when we made the decision to like, try to create a real company out of this. And I think now my my optimism is, is very measured.
David Ralph [40:14]
Yeah, yeah. It’s interesting. So
Adam Robinson [40:17]
I hope at least you know, I, I think I will not make a lot of the mistakes that I made. Last year. Again,
David Ralph [40:27]
there’s that old phrase about you, you win the outer game by winning the inner game. I think the many people that doesn’t become true until that 10 years, when you look at it, and you think, Oh, I can see what I was saying there. I can see it’s not about me, being on the hamster wheel, just going for it going for it is about that measured approach as you’re talking about.
Adam Robinson [40:50]
ever say that anything about entrepreneurship is easy. But that is not what I’m signing up for. I think that what I have gone through has given me the tools to continue on my journey in a way where I will experience continued growth in a way that it wouldn’t when it as it pertains to business, I’m not I’m not sure that would happen any other way. You know, there’s businesses and the only thing in life, you can get really into anything you can, you know, the universe is just full of great depth that that you can pursue, that can lead to tremendous personal growth. I think entrepreneurship is a pretty good representation of, you know, kind of living in the natural world or whatever what life used to be like, because, man, there’s, there’s no one, Mommy is not around, you know, you, you can get punished and rewarded with equal magnitude. And, man, when you get something wrong, you get destroyed. And when you get something right, you get rewarded. So I don’t think it’s going to be easier. I think I’ll be able to navigate it with greater effectiveness and efficiency. And I think I’m in a position to do much bigger things than I than I was years ago. Which, you know, a lot of people might ask, well, what’s the point of all that? And to each his own, right, like, for me right now, I’m trying to do bigger and bigger things. But, you know, the someone who’s truly achieved enlightenment, I think they might say, what’s the point?
David Ralph [42:55]
Yeah, yeah, no, I asked that question so much. Yeah, I asked when is enough is enough, is something that has been running through Join Up Dots for the last probably 1015 podcast episodes, people just wanting more and more and not being able to actually answer the question of why they’re doing it. It’s that internal driver, isn’t it? It’s that internal driver. So anyhow, this is the show,
Adam Robinson [43:24]
you know, more wanting more and more, I think it’s different if what you want is a thing, or something you don’t necessarily have in it’s a long way away. I think that that can be very unhealthy. But I want you know, this could just be a naive statement, but like, I feel like I just want more of what I’m doing right now. And I want to push what I’m doing right now as far as I can. Which, until it’s, you know, until it’s like, oh, that’s not you know, working anymore. But I think it’s a you know, reasonably it’s, it’s, it’s an imbalanced balanced life. You know, it’s some people would say, I’m, I’m waiting my head’s way too into this, but like, whatever I perceive my understanding of the basic tenants of, of fundamental human happiness. This thing that I have going on meets them fairly well. And I’m not tied to an outcome. You know, I just really want to see how far I can take this. So I’m not sure it’s about more and more. It’s just kind of about I think what I got going on is pretty good. And I want to see how far I can go Yeah, yeah, genuine cure, there’s a genuine curiosity to it, you know,
David Ralph [45:05]
how far you can stretch that elastic band. And it sounds like you’re gonna stretch that elastic band to the moon on this one. But maybe
Adam Robinson [45:14]
it’ll snap at some point. And then we’ll just deal with that when it happens, you know, I’m
David Ralph [45:19]
sure you’re, well, you’re going live in the woods for six weeks? Well, this is the part of the show that we’ve been building up to. And this is the part that brings the whole thing together when you get the chance to give your lessons and your learnings to your younger self. And if you could go back in time and speak to the young Adam, what age would you choose? And what advice would you choose to give him? Well, we’re going to find out because we’re going to play the music. And when it fades is your time to tell us this is the Sermon on the mic.
Sermon On The Mic [45:51]
We go with the best bit of the show doesn’t remain on the mind the sermon on
Adam Robinson [46:08]
here, I am talking to my 30 year old self now because I’m just not going to muddle in my my pre entrepreneurial self, because I just will leave that alone. For my 30 year self, I will give the same advice that I give to all other entrepreneurs, read the book Four Steps to the Epiphany before you start doing anything, and spend as little money as humanly possible while you are getting your business off the ground. I want to add one or two other things, one, learn as much about the discipline called product as you possibly can. And really understand that your pursuit in this entrepreneurial game is pursuing product market fit. And you probably won’t have it for a long time. That’s what I tell myself. Okay,
David Ralph [47:03]
so Adam, for the audience out there who’s been listening, what’s the best way that they can connect with you.
Adam Robinson [47:10]
I create a lot of content, my most of it ends up on LinkedIn. My LinkedIn handle is retention, Adam. And my company is called retention.com. If you happen to be a Shopify store, we can help you do a lot of really cool stuff in email. And if you want to email me, if you want to email me, it’s firstname.lastname@example.org.
David Ralph [47:32]
Right, we have all the links on the show notes. So Adam, thank you so much for spending time with us today. Joining up those dots. And please come back again, when you got more dots to join up. Adam, thank you so much.
Adam Robinson [47:44]
David Ralph [47:48]
Mr. Adam Robinson. So he starts a business and kind of feels deflated, it is doing well but he can’t quite push it to the next level. So what does he do he looks at it and he finds a gap in the market and and finds a way to transition starts ugly and built it from there and now it looks like it’s bigger going to be the next unicorn a billion dollar business. Do you think you could do the same? Do you think you could find a gap in the market and go for it? It’s all about finding the biggest need and if you find the need it doesn’t matter how how you get going? More often not customers will find you really important to Nova. Until next time, I will see you again you look after yourselves and cheers See ya. Bye bye. That’s
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