Welcome to the Join Up Dots business coaching podcast interview with Steven Sashen
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Introducing Steven Sashen
Steven Sashen is today’s guest joining us on the Join Up Dots Podcast interview.
He is a man who quite simply appears to have stumbled onto something and then like all great ideas ran with it.
From starting a business from his bedroom as a bit of a joke “and those are his words” Mr Steven Sashen has created a business which is now thriving.
With an office, employees and a lot of late nights, alongside his partner Lena the two have developed “Xero Shoes” a lightweight sandal, which gives the feeling of running barefoot, whilst protecting your precious toes from stones, injury inducing objects…and I suppose dog mess too.
That last one is worth the price of a pair of these shoes alone!
How The Dots Joined For Steven
But its not all business, as with a few different content producing websites online (one that I have to discuss called the Anti Guru blog), a company that helps budding scriptwriters create the next American masterpiece, and being a published author of “Scriptwriting Secrets – Writing Your Million Dollar Story. ”
Steven fills his spare time with go-kart racing, miniature golf, bowling and on the 1st of January each year cracking open the ice and jumping into the Boulder Reservoir.
So is this man a creative action taker, or simply a lunatic…..come on the 1st of January going swimming!
Added to that he is also one of the fastest over 50 year olds in the whole of America too!
So how has Steven Sashen done it?
How did he do what so many people dream off, and create a future that is not only financially promising, but sounds like a lot of fun too?
Well let’s bring onto the show to start joining up dots, as we discuss the words of Steve Jobs with the one and only Steven Sashen.
During the show we discussed such weighty topics with Steven Sashen such as:
How he would like to punch Steve Jobs in the face!
Why he has turned a treadmill into his office desk….and now looks like a large hamster!
How he needs his wife to anchor his enthusiasm for new ideas!
How he most certainly believes that he has had his share of luck in his life!
How I couldn’t convince him that a small banjo player on every corner is what we all need!
How To Connect With Steven Sashen
You can also check our extensive podcast archive by clicking here – enjoy
Audio Transcription Of Steven Sashen Interview
When we’re young, we have an amazing positive outlook about how great life is going to be. But somewhere along the line we forget to dream and end up settling. Join Up Dots features amazing people who refuse to give up and chose to go after their dreams. This is your blueprint for greatness. So here’s your host live from the back of his garden in the UK,
David Ralph [0:22]
David Ralph. Hello, everybody, Episode 38 of Join Up Dots and it’s going to be a cracker one today. I’ve been talking to the man just off air, and he’s got he’s got a hell of a town to tell. And it’s the way he tells it as well, which is the which is well, I leave it to yourself to listen. Today’s guest quite simply appears to have stumbled onto something. And Ben like all great ideas ran with it from starting a business from his bedroom as a bit of a joke. And those are his words, he has created a business which is now simply thriving with an office employees and a lot of late nights alongside his partner Lena, but to have developed zero shoes a lightweight sandal, which gives the feeling of running barefoot whilst protecting your precious toes from stones, injury inducing objects. And as opposed dog poo to that last one is worth the price of a pair of these shoes alone or whatever. But it’s not all business as we have a few different content producing websites online, one that I have to discuss called the anti glue blog, a company and it helps budding script writers create the next American masterpiece and being a published author of script writing secrets. writing your million dollar storey, he builds his spare time with go kart racing miniature go bowling. And on the first of January each year he cracks open the eyes and jumps into the boulder reservoir madness that is total madness. So is this man a creative action taker? Or simply a lunatic? Come on the first of January going swimming? Would you think I would add it to that he’s also one of the fastest over 50 year olds in the whole of America to So how has he done it? How did he do what so many people dream up and create a future that is not only financially promising, but sounds like a lot of fun too? Well, let’s find out as we introduce to you the one and only Steven session. How are you today, Stephen?
Steven Sashen [2:11]
I’m overworked apartment overwhelmed listening to my own intro. It’s It’s a crazy intro,
David Ralph [2:17]
isn’t it? Really because there’s so many elements to that. But you kind of think why I want to get into that first or I want to get into that. And just the fact that you spend your time playing miniature golf and go kart racing. How would you get away with that? I’d love to be well and yet that
Steven Sashen [2:33]
I’ve got to be honest, business has gotten so busy that the only time that I get to do that is typically on a birthday. So miniature golf and go karts that that that’s a birthday tree we’ve been. We’ve been we’ve been just to 20 473 65 recently with zero shoes to do practically anything else. But so in lieu of that lately, we have we have movie night a couple times a week, because that way if we follow sleep from the exhaustion of running your own business, it’s not as bad as falling asleep in a golf cart or go kart
David Ralph [3:05]
so so tell me you don’t sit there watching the running man. Forrest Gump. All the other running films that I’m desperately trying to think that there was a Mel Gibson one wasn’t there. What was that one that he ran? Yeah, it was a Mel Gibson one that he was in the Australian War that come to me. I look that we’re talking, right.
Steven Sashen [3:25]
Yeah, I’m really, really that’s it? Yeah, yeah, I am really, really bad at remembering movie names, which is kind of ironic and embarrassing, because I have a master’s in film.
David Ralph [3:34]
So you would think that I would be able to remember film names, but I just don’t? Do you remember the themes of them? Or who’s in them? Or? Or do you get halfway through a film you have seen this?
Steven Sashen [3:45]
I usually remember the themes. I usually remember the Hussein without remembering their names. I’m bad at names. And there’s only been a couple of movies that I will watch two or three times and my wife will remind me that I’ve already seen it two or three times, but mostly I’m pretty good at that. Now, there’s some movies that when they come on, will deliberately watch them as many times as they exist. So Silent Running with Bruce Dern. If I see that movie on, if it’s two in the morning, and I’m exhausted, and I’m about to go to bed, and I see that that’s on, I’m up for the next two hours. Do you know do you know? My version? Is deliverance? Do you remember deliverance? Oh, of course. I got a camera The last time I saw that, but if that was on, I would do that
David Ralph [4:21]
too. Yeah, it can be three o’clock in the morning. I could be desperate for sleep. I turned the telly on and see a little boy person playing the banjo. And that’s me for the next year. Yes.
Steven Sashen [4:30]
And you’re watching an infomercial that how to play the banjo.
David Ralph [4:34]
Yeah, that’s right, that and I think generally in today’s world, there’s not enough little people playing the banjo. If you had one of those on every corner. It’d be a great world when that
Steven Sashen [4:44]
it would certainly change the world. Let’s just leave it at that.
David Ralph [4:47]
I’m going to leave it at that. So you’re you’re zero shoes. And when I was reading about it, first of all, I’m not a runner in any shape or form. I believe that that’s why we have cars to get from A to B quick. But we’ve zero shoes Is it a kind of is a delight to be running without any anything on your feet because I couldn’t think of anything worse when doing that dude, do people go out wanting to run with nothing on their feet?
Steven Sashen [5:15]
Well, let’s back up. So first things first you zero shoes for people who wonder is Xers shoes, and the there’s no bonus points for running. Running is optional. People walk in these they hike in these they do yoga and these they go paddleboarding they hang out on the beach, they do everything from you know, crazy, crazy running that you would never do like 100 kilometres through the jungles of Costa Rica, down to sitting on the couch. Or we’ve actually had people email us saying, Hey, I fell asleep with these. So sleeping, they’re good for sleeping too, apparently. So everything in between. And the answer to your other question is just being barefoot in general, just having your feet not wrapped up like they’re in a cast or stuck in coffins is a very pleasant feeling. Having your feet touching surfaces and feeling different textures of surfaces is a very pleasant thing. Now as you alluded though, there’s certain things you don’t want to step on certain things you don’t want to step in. And so zero shoes give you the closest thing there is to that freedom, that barefoot feeling that fun that joy of like when you’re a kid running through the sprinkler, but without the worry with a little bit of protection with a little style. And just enough just enough something to hold on your feet so you don’t have to worry so much.
David Ralph [6:25]
So is there a sort of market for obviously there’s a market for people buying your shoes because it’s Bing, which is great to hear. But actually people running without anything on their feet at all. I’ll a group of people to do that.
Steven Sashen [6:38]
Absolutely. There was a book that came out in 2012 became popular in 2009. I think it came out in 2008 called Born to Run written by a guy named Christopher McDougall about the Tarahumara Indians of Mexico who run hundreds and hundreds of miles in either sandals made of a scrap of tire that they lace to their foot. And that was our inspiration, or barefoot. And the book was about two things, one to talk about, well couple things, the tomato and when they came to America and ran a marathon in Colorado, it’s the highest marathon in the world and Leadville, Colorado, and they did chunks of it either in sandals or mostly barefoot, and then a race that got set up where they live in the Copper Canyon of Mexico, where they ran it again in these these little sandals or barefoot, there are now millions of people running, running all around the world. I was about to say running around the world, but that’s not true. They’re not actually running around the world. They’re all around the world and they are running barefoot. And there’s there are a number of people who’ve been doing this since the 70s. But everyone just thought they were complete Kooks and crazy but now there’s a lot of research that supports that it’s a valid and useful and healthy thing to do. A BB Bikila was a marathoner who won the us forget it for 6264 he won the he won the marathon running barefoot Zola, bud, right things all around the 10 K, I can never remember facts and I are not really great sometime. So please excuse me if I say 10 k when it’s a five K or vice versa,
David Ralph [8:03]
I knows out about and that’s about the only thing I’m keeping with you on this one.
Steven Sashen [8:08]
Good. Ron Hill and other Brit. He won, I think was the 10 k in Mexico, he ran it barefoot. And someone said, Why do you run barefoot and he said it was the lightest pair of shoes I could find in my closet. So so there’s the the whole Think about it this way for millions of years, we were barefoot. And we have a quarter of the bones in our body and more in our feet. We have more nerve endings in our feet than we do anywhere but our fingertips and our what sort of looking for lips, and mouth. And there’s a reason for that we’re supposed to feel the world, we’re supposed to see what it’s like when we step on something to know if that’s a good thing to step on, or a bad thing to step on. And having those sensations is not just about feeling things, it activates certain parts of your brain to stepping on something pleasant, feels good, not because it quote inherently feels good. But because we’ve learned that those are good things to step on. And we get nice positive reinforcement when we do it. And so you can have that experience, whether you’re walking, running, hiking, or doing anything else.
David Ralph [9:10]
I think it’s fascinating. And as you’re saying that I kind of go with it totally. And I’m I’m thinking in my head, when was the last time I actually walked anywhere other than like the bathroom without any thing on my my feet, I can’t remember, I cannot remember the last time
Steven Sashen [9:26]
go for it. Well, a go for it and be go slowly and be Don’t be stupid. So there’s some people who they take off their shoes, they go outside, and they’re having so much fun that the next thing they do, they’ve just, you know, run 20 miles or climb Mount Everest or done something more than their feet are ready for friend of mine likes to say let your skin be your coach. So it’s just do just a little bit and get used to it. And then see how you feel the next day. And you’ll very quickly build up to being able to handle lots and lots of things barefoot that you never thought you could when I first started doing this certain surfaces, we’re really unpleasant certain kinds of gravel or rocks or stones or sticks. And what happened over time as a few things, a my feet became stronger, be they became more flexible. So they bend around things more than they did before. I think that the reflex arc from your foot to the base of your spine and back, the thing that makes you recoil, if you step on something unpleasant has sped up. And so now things that used to be incredibly painful for me to walk on are either completely uneventful, or even pleasant. And those are all just natural changes that happen from spending more and more time without shoes.
David Ralph [10:35]
And I suppose on things like acupuncture and the sort of them Chinese medicine, and a lot of that is nerve endings in the feet, isn’t it, if you’ve got a pain in your shoulder or something, they press your feet, and that improves it?
Steven Sashen [10:48]
Well, there are a number of different theories that have to do with the bottom of the feet. I don’t know which ones are true. But suffice it to say, you will find a lot of people in alternative medicine who give you lots of great reasons for being very foot as well. Here’s one, I’ll give you a crazy one that people don’t really know about. So there’s a huge, huge problem with elderly people losing their balance and falling down going boom, and they break something. And that often can lead to people dying for various reasons. And so every now and then you’ll see a study come that comes out. So there was one I don’t know years and years ago about how doing Tai Chi improves people’s balance, then there was one that came out about how yoga improves elderly people’s balance. There was one a couple of years ago where they made these instals that would go in your shoes that had a little vibrating pads on them. And that improve people’s balance. And I wrote a blog post about this, I said, Look, this is this is none of these are magical. all they’re doing is stimulating the feet of people who’ve had their feet wrapped up like in a cast for years and years and years. And it helped them regain their balance. So you don’t need to have magic vibrating instals, or do Tai Chi or do yoga, just take off your shoes and go for a walk, let your feet use them the way they were meant to be used. About a week or two later, I got an email from a guy who was looking for the magic vibrating instals and found my blog post. And since he couldn’t get the magic vibrating instals decided to put my theory to the test and just sort of walking around barefoot. And he says it’s been a week and for the first time in 10 years, I’m not using my Walker. And this is a very underappreciated aspect of Let’s not talk about barefoot, let’s just talk about natural movement. And if you don’t use your body, I mean simple, you don’t use it, you lose it. If you don’t try and do things to stay strong, you get weak, if you don’t try to do things to stay flexible, you get stiff. If you don’t use your feet, as the sensing devices and balancing devices they’re meant to be, then you lose all that function. And let’s get let’s talk about the balancing thing for a second. Your feet are designed to articulate to flex to bend to do all that balancing. If you wrap them up so that they can’t do that. All that function has to move upstream as it were into your ankle or your knee or your hip. But those joints are not designed balance you the way your foot is. And so if you wrap up your feet too tightly, if you don’t let your feet feel the ground, then you end up it’s not surprising, you could end up with ankle pain, knee pain, hip pain, back pain. And people often we get hundreds and hundreds of emails from people who report taking off their shoes and finding those pains going away. Because they’re no longer trying to force their body to do something unnatural.
David Ralph [13:22]
Yeah, I buy into all that. I really do. And I’m sitting here eight hours a day stiffening up as we speak.
Steven Sashen [13:29]
So I wait just to let you know I am. My desk is a treadmill.
David Ralph [13:35]
You must be you must be like a large hamster.
Steven Sashen [13:40]
Well, now I’m only about five five. So I’m you know, small hamster, but definitely hamster esque. And And honestly, I started doing it because I was so I got so sick of sitting at my computer for 810 12 hours a day. So this just driving me crazy. And at first I just went to standing up. And then I found I found a US treadmill on Craigslist. Someone gave it to me for free when I told him what I was going to do with it. And I just took off the handles and took off the the electronics and just taped them to the wall next to me and then built a desk on top of it. And it’s I can’t imagine spending all day sitting down any longer.
David Ralph [14:17]
Hey, I think he’s amazing. I you know, you kind of political the idea of little bored people playing the banjo on every corner. And you’re creating this kind of freedom in your office space.
Steven Sashen [14:30]
But look, look, Don’t go Don’t get me wrong. I’m as crazy as the next little person on a bit with a banjo on a corner. But but it’s just a little it just shows up differently.
David Ralph [14:39]
I’m going to go for the banjo all the way through this interview. I’m gonna I’m gonna go for the banjo players at your words. If we go back to the introduction, you started this business as a bit of a joke. Yeah. Why? Why was the joke? was it? Was it a joke that nobody wanted the items? Or was it a joke? You all right? She’s actually starting a business yourself?
Steven Sashen [15:02]
Well, it’s really that the start of the business is a joke. So here’s what happened. I I got into running again, I got into sprinting technically I don’t I don’t run that whole idea of long distance running. I don’t do that. You know, if you go around the track over and over, I don’t do that. In fact, I don’t even go around the track. I’m a 100 metre runner. So I just goes this on the straight on that one side of the track my my running partners, they tease me they go You must have a phobia of the other side of the track. And I said Don’t be ridiculous. How can I have a phobia about something that doesn’t exist. So I don’t even know what that side looks like. So I got back into sprinting when I was 45. This is now just shy of seven years ago and I was getting injured all the time. And a friend of mine suggested that I try running barefoot as a way to cure my injuries. And I took off my shoes I went for a run I very quickly realised what I had been doing that had been causing my injuries and very quickly and naturally stopped doing it because doing it in shoes is probably doing it barefoot hurts. So I stopped doing the thing that hurts that translated to the rest of my sprinting. And I’ve been basically injured ever since. And I just I wanted to be more barefoot more of the time, I knew about those Tata moto tire sandals. And I decided to make something similar to those. I found some materials, I put them together, I made a few I made a pair for my wife, I made a pair for me, I made about three other pairs. And then people said, Hey, those are cool, can you make some for me, so I bought some more material, I did it again. And I just did a kind of lather rinse repeat on that a few times, until someone a local running coach. His name is Michael Sandler said, you know, if you treated this, like an actual business, if you had a website, I would put you in this book that I’m writing about barefoot running. So I rushed home, I pitched this idea to my wife, she tells me it’s a completely stupid idea. It’s, she’s, you know, it’s not gonna make any money. It’s a waste of time, it’s a distraction for other things that we’re doing. And I, you know, completely agreed with her. And then when went to bed, I built a website. So that was the gist. And then the next morning, what I said to kind of calm her down is it Look, this is a case study, one of the businesses that we were in at the time was doing search engine marketing, I said the people who are in the search engines for barefoot related things, barefoot shoes, barefoot running, they’re there by accident, I think I can own this in a couple of months. And it’ll be a great case study for for our business. And it was a great case study for our business, but so great that it became clear that this was our new business, not the search engine biz. And so we just we had to bail and and and start something new. And then four months later, we ended up sitting around with the former lead designers from Nike and Reebok who designed products for us and help us with our business model. And it just it really took off completely by accident. This is not something that we had we’d planned in any way.
David Ralph [17:50]
And so do you say to your partner, Lena, say say I told you if it wasn’t for me, and that late night when you went to bed si si doo doo doo rubber nose in it at all?
Steven Sashen [18:00]
No, I think she’s still curses me for it, because we’re working really, really, really, really hard. Call me call me when and if we sell the company and you know, we’re having this conversation with with both of us on our island.
David Ralph [18:12]
When when you are building a company together, because one of the things that is becoming apparent as I speak to many entrepreneurs, they need a supportive partner and a supportive partner that understands the leaps of faith that are required to do these kind of things. Is your wife, somebody who anchors you down? Because from from the conversation that I’ve been having with you so far, you seem hugely passionate. And I can imagine, and I’m only speaking from what I’ve heard so far, I can imagine as soon as a really good idea comes into your head, bang, you’re on it, you’re on on it big time. So is that true? First of all? And does she sort of anchor you down? Or is she as creative as you are when she gets going?
Steven Sashen [18:55]
All of the above. So yes, I’m definitely one of those people who when an idea really catches my fancy, I’m screwed. I’ve got to follow it up. To some extent, I’ve got to figure out how it works. I’ve got to do something with it, to get it out of my head basically, because otherwise it’ll just spin around, spin around, spin around. And I like to know how things work. I like to get things started and see what see what that does. I don’t I’m not often the follow through guy I’m usually the the inspiration guy. Lena, when she gets really into something, she she’s one of these people who can really commit to something, despite all the obstacles. So as it just as an aside, years ago, we were I was analysing and developing stock trading systems. And we were doing some day trading. And lane is the kind of person who if you if you say here are the rules for this system, she can follow those rules to a tee, regardless of the outcome. And most traders, if things go well, they change the system. And if things go bad, they changed the system. So they have no way of knowing if the system really works. Because they let their emotions get the better of them. And she can, she can just really dive in and just stick to it. regardless of whatever emotional upheaval it seems to cost or cause. So. So in this case, and and she’s often been tolerant, let’s say, of my flights of fancy, but in this case, it’s a whole different thing. We, we never talked about starting this business, it just kind of happened that we started doing it. And when we met each other and for the first 1012 years of our relationship, we were essentially retired. So we didn’t know each other as working people either working independently or working together, certainly. And when when zero she started, it just it just kind of happened and we fell into it. And it’s the happiest experience of my life one of the most satisfying aspects of my life. That it turns out, we are really, really, really good partners. We’re very complimentary, Lena lateness kind of half jokes, that that she has the the short end of the stick that my job is to think of all the cool things that could happen. And her job is to think of all the horrible things that will happen. And and to a certain extent that’s true. It’s not not really but she really is. She’s the operations person. She’s the organisational person, she’s the one who makes sure things get done. And I’m the one always planning for what the next thing is, and trying to create all that. So it’s, it’s a great combination. If I never had the experience, you know, like someone will say, how could it be? What’s the phrase, but let me just say to say, say it this way, this definitely wouldn’t have happened without her. It couldn’t have happened without Yeah, either of us. And I am, I feel incredibly, incredibly lucky that that’s the situation. Plus she’s really hot. So it’s an unbeatable combination.
David Ralph [21:44]
Get in there, you’ve sorted out every angle well done to us. I’m a very lucky guy, you are very lucky guy. Because I’ve got a wife who was incredibly supportive of me as a person. But yeah, doesn’t understand what I’m doing. As far as she’s concerned, I’m going to do these interviews, and I’m posting them on on the web. And she she used to say to me, that sounds great, but how are you going to make money? How are we going to pay the bills? And I said, Yeah, just leave it to me. And I’m going to do this, I feel strongly about this, I feel passionate about this, this is going to be our thing. And it’s going to be the first thing in my life personally, that I’ve had total control under and I haven’t had, you know, a boss or a manager or whatever, dictating to me, this is going to be my thing. But she, she believes in me, she believes in my passion, but she doesn’t understand it.
Steven Sashen [22:35]
Well, luckily, Lena has an entrepreneurial history as well. So she’s she’s hip to it. And at the same and early on as Nike, Reebok, as I mentioned, they said to us, we would start this business with you. But we’ve been in footwear for 35 years, and we’re too smart to start another shoe company. And lane and I both said not really jokingly, oh, yeah, we know that we’re naive and stupid. And I think that’s the most important or not even important, it’s the most common characteristic of any entrepreneur is that you. You either unconsciously or completely deliberately choose to ignore how risky and often stupid, what you’re trying to do is, and all the different ways that it could go wrong. And yeah, if you don’t have someone who is at least willing to tolerate that, I can imagine it being challenging, but I’ve been very lucky in that I either have had people who were supportive, or I was so oblivious to them not being supportive, that it didn’t matter.
David Ralph [23:31]
So if we went right back to the very beginning, because the the theme of the show is really about people achieving success. And really, when they start not having the answers just leap of faith time, as we said, what it
Unknown Speaker [23:45]
David Ralph [23:48]
Absolutely. When you when you decided to have this idea, and you put the business case together and you you sorted out URL and all that kind of stuff. On the great scheme of things, how did you know which way to turn?
Steven Sashen [24:02]
You don’t, and anyone who tells you that they do is lying.
David Ralph [24:07]
So how do people get going? Because so many people out there you get going, don’t get going? Do they bite by? You just do
Steven Sashen [24:15]
it? I mean, literally, yeah, the idea, you know? Yeah. On the one hand, I want to say if you’re asking yourself the question, How do I get going? It’s the wrong question. It’s meaningless. And it’s irrelevant. The people who do things, they never asked that question, they just do something. And then they look at the results and figure out what they need to do next. The this whole notion of preparation, is really misunderstood, or more, the whole notion that there’s certain prerequisites for doing almost anything is really misunderstood. I’m sure I can think of many counter examples and counter-factual for this. But when it comes to business, by and large, the most important thing is just start doing something and see what kind of results you do or don’t get both of which are valuable, not getting results is an important thing. Now, that said, I’ll come up with my own counterfactual That said, the biggest problem that I see with most entrepreneurs, is that they think they have a cool idea for a product, and then they try to figure out how to sell the product. And the reason that that’s what’s the technical word stupid, is that the most important thing is, is there going to be someone who wants your product. And you can find that out, thanks to the magic of this crazy thing called the internet. You can find that out now very easily. And if not free, very inexpensively, you can actually cheque and see if there’s a there there. If there’s a market there, and you’ve got to be this is the one place that you really need to be. Not diligent you need to be Come on, I can do it. I turned 52 and words is don’t come in. And I’m actually not even 52 I turned 51 I don’t even remember how old I am anymore. That’s how bad my brain is. But words, you got to be cutthroat. You got to be almost the worst slicing industry wise.
David Ralph [26:03]
A mover, interesting, no, no,
Steven Sashen [26:05]
no, no vicious. You’ve got to be you’ve got to be willing to kill your own ideas. You have to be willing to to face the fact that this thing that you think is going to save the world, even if it does, if there’s no one who wants to buy it, who gives a crap, if you have a cure for cancer, but it requires taking, you know, 50 enemas a day, trust me, no one’s going to buy that cure, and maybe they will. But you know, my point. So, so the 49 enemas a day people will do 50 it’s just, that’s crazy. I tell
David Ralph [26:32]
you what, that crack that market. Exactly.
Steven Sashen [26:38]
So the the, the upshot is that it’s important to get started, but the only thing that I would encourage people to do is do enough research to make sure there’s a they’re there. And, and really, really be willing to kill your children and find out that you’re wrong. And find out find out fast and early. I’ve been very lucky in that the things that I created it. Either the market found itself before I was even aware that there was a market. That’s what happened here, we saw there was a market just by accident, and then ran with it pun intended. Previous things that I’ve done my screen writing software, there was obviously a market because I was in the business, I was dealing with people on a daily basis who were using the bad software that mine was an improvement of, I’ve never started anything. That was just an idea that came out of nowhere. And I decided this to see if it worked. Usually it came out of a very acute awareness of problems that actual human beings were actually having. And we’re already paying for, but just paying for bad solutions. And I had a better one.
David Ralph [27:38]
Yeah. So So do you think that in? Have you been lucky been? Or is it like you think
Steven Sashen [27:46]
I do this funny thing. I go to people who are seemingly very successful. And instead of asking the question, how did you become successful, which is what every business book is based on? And when you ask that question, what people will tell you is a patent false hood, because they will tell you all the wonderful things about them and what they did and why they are successful because of them. And if you ask them instead of question that I asked, which is very different, which is, so how much of what you’ve accomplished is due to, I don’t know, luck, fate chance things that are out of your control. They get incredibly animated and tell you a much more interesting storey about completely unrepeatable events. And that’s been a huge, huge part of our experience. Now that said, we were in a position to take advantage of some of these lucky things that occurred, either because we already had some skills that we could apply, or because we’re willing to learn as fast as humanly possible, and figure it out or find other people who could figure it out. But the luck factor is through the roof. So that book I mentioned Born to Run by Chris McDougall, that book really catalysed the entire barefoot running natural movement movement, and had it not been for that book happening at the same time that we were doing what we’re doing none of this what occurred. So that alone was a massive, massive bout of good fortune that we could have never engineered in any way. And literally, every time I see Chris McDougall I kiss his feet and thinking,
David Ralph [29:13]
is it going to be a possibility that you run out or block or just the fact that you’re constantly doing stuff and pushing yourself and learning and networking is, is is bad? How luck occurs?
Steven Sashen [29:26]
I don’t know. Because if if we use the actual definition of what luck is, there can be no in no cause for it. No specific cause for it. So it can either run out nor Well, you can have more of it sometimes, but it it, it does. It’s not that I don’t think that putting it on a scale of running out or having more of it is, is appropriate. Sometimes it shows up. Sometimes it doesn’t. But it’s not even in it. It’s not like it’s waiting to happen or not happen. Some sometimes there are lucky moments, that’s the only thing I think we can say. Now that said, the things that you do preparation for by networking by talking by, by doing all those things that you can do to get you and your idea out there. That’s not about creating luck. That’s just the law of large numbers and statistics. And, and and, you know, you put yourself in enough situations and something will happen. That’s just, that’s just reality. That’s that’s not luck. here’s, here’s the difference of being between that and, and, and luck. So. So you’re you go to a networking event. Well, here’s a perfect one. Two weeks ago, two weeks ago, I’m in Washington DC lobbying Congress about a thing called the affordable footwear act. And I get an email from our sales manager saying that, hey, we’re having some bad luck with a product that we’re trying to sell to the Boy Scouts of America doesn’t look like it’s going to happen. I turned around. And at this meeting, I see that literally the next guy that I see, has a name tag that says national director Boy Scouts of America. And I walk up to him and say, I don’t like you. I tell him the whole storey of what happened. We had a great time. The deals possibly moving forward as a result of that. Now, that was now there was a lucky element to that because I who knew that this guy was going to be there. I certainly did. But I’m at a very high powered washington dc lobbying event. So it’s not surprising that there’s some high powered washington dc lobbying guys there. Okay, that’s thing one. So here’s a different one. We have a friend who’s a massage therapist, who was out walking his dog one day, which he doesn’t normally do. Normally, his wife walks the dog. just so happened that same day, there was another guy out walking his dog. And he normally doesn’t do that because his wife normally walks his dog. So the two dogs knew each other. So they went and said hi to each other, the two guys started talking to each other. And it turned out this other guy was the former head of global product design for crocs the multi billion dollar shoe company. And so my friend says, hey, you’re in shoes, you should talk to my friend, Steven Atlanta. And so they traded phone numbers. And I contacted this guy. Eventually, we got together and had lunch. And now Dennis Driscoll, the former head of global product design for crocs is working for us. That one is so so far out there, because I wasn’t putting myself in any situation. I wasn’t doing anything it just like that was that one I put on the other side of the scale that falls into luck. The first one, that was the law of large numbers of networking. Did you believe and I keep
David Ralph [32:23]
on touching on it? And I’ve never had an episode of it yet. Because, as I’ve said, in other episodes, I’m a bit frightened of touching on this because some people think it’s a bit whoo, whoo. But did you kind of go with the law of attraction? Because a lot of what you’re saying seems to absolutely,
Steven Sashen [32:40]
absolutely not. Not
David Ralph [32:43]
it? Is it just cause and effect when the fact that you’re getting out there is how this is happening to you?
Steven Sashen [32:49]
It’s neither the law of attraction. Yeah, yeah. The law of attraction, the basic idea that you are somehow by your magical powers of thinking making things happen, that implies a level of control that I just can’t find and look, if it were true that just by thinking about it, and imagining as if it was true. If that was happening, then there would be millions of men plus or minus my age who slept with Farrah Fawcett. It just didn’t happen. So but but but the bottom line is that, that, that I don’t have any use in my brain for trying to make things happen through magical thinking. It’s just not. It’s not, it seems like a waste of time where I could actually be working, or resting, instead of imagining something with the hope that my imagining it will make it happen. Now, that said, there can be a piece to that process that is not magical. It is not a quote, law, there’s no attraction necessary. That simply if you’ve put your attention somewhere, if you start putting your attention on what do I need to do a good question, what do I need to do? Who do I need to meet to start this business? You’re going to be looking you’re going to be have a heightened sense of awareness for answers to that question. And that may be helpful. But that’s again, not magic. The way the law they talked about the law of attraction is you could literally be sitting at home in your underwear, just imagining being a billionaire. And the next thing you know, Ed McMahon, is he still alive shows up and it gives you a million dollars. I don’t know. So I don’t have any. I don’t see any evidence that that actually works. Some people will argue with me, please don’t. Because I’m not gonna argue with you back. We different our opinions. I don’t care. But But I don’t think it’s necessary. I think I think the end, it’s not just cause and effect, because that applies, in the same way that you can figure out the causes that reliably lead to these effects. The world is a very complicated place. And things happen. I mean, here’s here’s a, here’s a classic, fun, semi unrelated storey. So my wife and I are moving out of our house in full two hours. And two days ago, I was chatting with one of my neighbours guy, I’ve been talking with three years. And I don’t know how it came up in the conversation about where we grew up. And it turns out, we went to the same high school a couple years apart. And then we turns out, we had like nine other things that we had done in our lives, exactly the same in the ensuing years. And it just never come up in conversation. I mean, that’s pretty wacky. But it’s not magic. It’s just things happen. It’s I don’t know, this, this is tangential for me. I am. Yeah, I don’t think that you need to try to control the universe as much as find the next thing to do and see what happens and keep going.
David Ralph [35:41]
No, I, you know, I throw that question out as being devil’s advocate, because it is an interesting point of view, which is seems to be just kind of tipping into some of the conversations that I have, where some people swear by and other people say absolutely no, in any shape or form, I kind of go with the fact that if you’re out there doing stuff, and you as I said before, and you’re networking, and you’re making contacts, it’s got to have an effect, it’s got to have an effect. Yeah. And weird things will happen only because you’ve got out and you’ve done stuff, and you haven’t laid under your bed for for 28 days.
Steven Sashen [36:16]
Exactly. But it’s not like you’re thinking about it and made that person magically appear. And so, literally, I mean, the simplest thing I can say is and let me back up by saying, I spent a lot of my life actually believing in things like that. And what I can kind of concluded after a while was a, it’s a highly unripe unreliable technique. And be it takes a lot of time, it’s unnecessary. And see when it doesn’t work, when you don’t magically materialise the things that you’re trying to make happen. The only recourse you have is to think that there’s something wrong with you that you’ve done it wrong, that you have the wrong technique, that there’s a problem that you have, which leads to a kind of self flagellation, that is completely unnecessary. And there’s other kinds of, but not that one. And, and, but you know, it’s just not, it’s extraneous, just like you said, go out and do something, it’s, it’s a lot more effective than spending a lot of time imagining things happening.
David Ralph [37:17]
But the theme of the show is Join Up Dots and is the Connexions that we make without knowing it, that we can only see when we we look back in time. And at this point of the show, I will generally play Steve Jobs speech in 2005. And I’m going to play it now. And then afterwards, as I normally do, as well, I’m going to ask whether you you understand what he’s saying whether it’s relevant to your life, and whether it’s still relevant to your life. So this is Steve Jobs.
Steve Jobs [37:42]
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 can 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 leaves you off the well worn path. And that will make all the difference.
David Ralph [38:18]
So what do you think, Stephen?
Steven Sashen [38:21]
I’m having a different reaction to it now than I ever have before. Now, I wish that Steve Jobs were alive, so I could punch him in the face. And here’s why. Some of what he’s saying is true. And he’s actually he’s actually describing something very, very well. And that is certain beliefs can give you comfort. But that’s but what he’s doing. Oh, man, you know, a guy who tried everything who ended up being a bum, who’s got cancer, and his dying of leprosy. He can connect the dots too. in history, in hindsight, we can always make up a storey. That’s a coherent narrative of how we got from here to there are there to hear more accurately. But it’s just a it’s just a storey that we’re telling if I asked Steve Jobs, how many dots Can you think of that? Were really that came out of nowhere, like the thing we said before, instead of how did you become successful? How much was luck, chance fate? How many things can you think of that were completely like crazy that you couldn’t have predicted, that just came out of nowhere, that those dots are so far afield that you know, to connect them is really a stretch, I’m willing to bet he would say a bunch. In fact, the most important ones, they only seem connected, because I’ve now lived to the end of it, and can tell the storey that to get there. But I gotta be honest, there’s nothing I hate more is funny. This is not what I expected to be thinking. There’s nothing I hate more than unusual and unusually successful people telling a storey about how they got there. Because it implies that this whole thing you need to trust in something and trust your gut. Well, that does not in any way guarantee that you’re going to be successful. There are a lot of people who trusted their guts into bankruptcy, trusting your gut is is you gotta trust reality, you got to look at the facts. You gotta I mean, you definitely need something to get you out of bed on those difficult days. But maybe it’s not trust, maybe it’s not feeling good. Maybe it’s not confidence, maybe it’s the fact that you’ve got to pardon me for saying it, you got to pay the rent. And you know, and that’s the thing that gets you out of bed. And the idea that there’s some specific way that you need to be to take the next step that might give you the result you want, or might give you a result you don’t want but eventually leads to a result that you do want. I find that I find that an a horrible and evil message. Because what about those days when you don’t trust yourself? What about those days when you can’t tell yourself the store? You can’t even tell yourself the storey that Steve Jobs is right. What about those days? Honestly, when you’re in when you’re in serious entrepreneur mode, those days happen a lot, when you can’t make payroll this week, those days happen a lot. And the idea that you’re supposed to just trust that sometime in the future, it’ll all work out. Sometimes shit does not work out. I mean, I’m living in a town that is full of tech companies, and 90% of them fail. That’s their job. You know, I know the investors, I know the VCs, these guys invest in companies, knowing that eight out of 10 minimum are going to lose them money. And so, you know, that means if they’re on the other, the people on the other side, these are people who trusted their gut, they came up with a product, they believe that it was all going to work, and it didn’t. But here’s the kicker, that’s not a problem. That’s just what happens sometimes. I mean, my God, the number of things that I did that didn’t pan out is really high. I just don’t pay attention to those. When I tell the storey when I try to connect the dots. I just happen to leave those out of the storey because that’s what human beings do. So, so yes, of course, everything makes sense, in hindsight, because that’s the way hindsight works. And yes, there may be beliefs that you may be able to adopt that help you get through the difficult times. But I don’t think that’s required. I mean, everyone’s going to find their own way to get out of bed, hopefully not put on their shoes, take a walk, get to work and do the thing. That’s next. And at some point, decide, hey, it’s working, let’s keep going. Or, hey, we got to cut bait and try something else. And there’s just, there’s life is too amazing. for there to be a formula is all I’m trying to say.
David Ralph [42:38]
But some had. So how do you do it? If we say that those words don’t have the relevance to yourself that other people seem to gain from them? How do you actually get out of bed every day? And keep on going when things are difficult for you?
Steven Sashen [42:53]
Well, I know it’s gonna sound silly. But what else is there to do? True?
I mean, really, that’s I can’t I, you know, when I don’t have any evidence that it’s time to cut bait, so I have to figure out the next thing. I just it doesn’t occur to me that there’s some other option.
David Ralph [43:12]
But is that more to do with the fact that looking at your background, it’s filled with success? And so you’ve got that belief that? Well?
Steven Sashen [43:22]
That’s a very interesting question. Because I don’t know the answer. It may be it may be that my entire everything is completely genetic. It may be that all the things that we’re talking about, about what makes an entrepreneur is completely genetic. It may be that, that either you are or you aren’t, and there’s nothing you can do about it. I don’t know. All I know is the way my mind works is that on the really difficult days that we have, or the really difficult moments that we have, after I bitch and moan and punch the wall or do whatever I need to do to get it out of my system, and then start thinking about a solution, then the only thing that occurs to me is I’ve got to figure out a solution when someone says, when we’re trying to close a deal, and they say, No, my response is, well, you’re lost. Now I’m gonna go, I’m gonna have to go find a different way to do it. But it’s not. I don’t know, I do know that the Minnesota identical twin study, where they looked at twins who were separated at birth, and they look identical twins versus fraternal twins, they have identified that your basic outlook on life is I think something like 60 to 70%. Excuse me, genetically determined. So so a big chunk of this could be just the soup that I was raised in. I don’t know, is the is the easiest answer I can give. Because
David Ralph [44:42]
I actually go about I go with that totally, because I, I can’t remember the last time I was miserable, I’m happy. I just don’t seem to get unhappy. But I know lots of people. But the complete opposite. And you kind of almost go What What have you got to be miserable about, you know, you’re paying the bills, you’ve got a job.
Steven Sashen [44:58]
And here’s the thing, if you if you buy into this idea that our basic outlook is fundamentally predominantly determined, then it’s not a problem that you’re happy and they’re not. That’s just the way they’re built. there’s a there’s a great storey from a guy. He was he was a very successful man who was engaged to a woman who was upset that he was one of those people who’s just never really happy. He’s just kind of misanthropic and not negative, per se, but just, he was had a slightly pessimistic outlook on life. And inspired by her, he went into very intensive therapy. And after a couple of years, the therapist said, I gotta be honest, I don’t know why you are this way. We can’t find some thing in your life that cause some problem that led you to being this way. And this guy approached another friend of his was a different kind of psychologist and said, you know, what do you recommend? And the guy did not recommend some form of therapy or some different form of therapy says, I recommend you go to Eastern Europe. It’s what it is. I recommend you go to Eastern Europe, where they don’t have the same idea in America that you’re supposed to be happy and bubbly all the time. And he goes to Eastern Europe and meets a wonderfully pessimistic misanthropic woman and they’ve been married for 25 years.
David Ralph [46:21]
I don’t know how to go with that. That’s, that’s kind of blown me away that storey. So love that storey. So what is the message behind that when
Steven Sashen [46:31]
you’re not broken?
David Ralph [46:33]
Is that simply it? No matter what you do in life, you are a result of your situation and your environment?
Steven Sashen [46:41]
Well, that’s part of it. But the real message for me is you’re not broken. And and the reason that I wanted to punch steve jobs in the nose, is that to a certain extent, any anything, anything that proposes that there’s some specific way you need to be some specific thought you need to have some specific feeling need to engender, is it is telling you that you’re broken into anyone who tells you you’re broken, I want to punch him in the nose.
David Ralph [47:07]
But I fell break. I think Steve Jobs is just basically going take action, trust yourself. I think that’s simply it. Which is it? I think
Steven Sashen [47:16]
I think trust is optional. You can doubt yourself all day long. I’m all for doubt. self doubt is a wonderful thing. There’s no bonus points for trusting yourself. I’m totally serious. It’s like when people call me this can be fine. When people call me. And we talked about marketing, marketing tactics. We talked about writing an ad, or building a website or whatever it is, they go, what do you think I don’t care? What do you mean? I said, I don’t care what I think whether I don’t I don’t have any need to trust myself or doubt myself. We’re just going to build a few of these things and see what how people respond to them. I’m, while I have some confidence about my skill set. Because I’ve been doing these things for so long. I couldn’t care less what I think about me. I don’t care if I trust myself on the there’s certain days where I am completely convinced that I’m doing things all wrong, as does every entrepreneur that I know. So trusting is a passing phase, every now and then you get it every now and then you don’t. And if it’s paid, it comes and goes like that. I couldn’t care less about it. It’s just not important. But how do the people feel? Who asked you that question?
David Ralph [48:23]
They must be taken aback.
Steven Sashen [48:27]
Yeah, usually because we live in a culture that tells the storey that you need to have a certain feeling and act a certain way and be a certain way. And then you’ll magically get what you want. And then you’ll finally be happy. That’s just not true.
David Ralph [48:39]
Did you think I’m quite fascinated by this? Do you think that attitude that you’ve got whether it’s right or wrong, it’s your attitude. So you know, go with it, just as he saw Do you think helped you along or as it held you back?
Steven Sashen [48:53]
Neither, because it’s something that’s evolved over time. It’s not I don’t think I was born with it, per se. But I started noticing because again, I was heavily involved in New Agey, magical thinking things. And just one day, I had to take a look and see if it was producing the results that people promised both in my life and in the in the lives of friends of mine. And I saw that it wasn’t. And it was a it was a let’s just say it was it was a come to not Jesus. But it was a come to somebody moment. Come to Deepak moment perhaps, and I and I just started investigating reality a little more carefully. I started, I could I could hear from a mile away when someone was was positing a philosophy. And I just started saying, okay, is that true? Or are there an equal number of examples that that are completely contrary to it? It’s again, it’s like, you know, what did you do to become successful versus how much of your success was luck? Or chance? Yeah. It or or, if we use it on the track, one of my best friends came up one day. And he said, You know, I just had a personal best in the whatever race that he had just run. And I’m really surprised because I just felt like crap all day, said, so. Have you ever said other personal bests on days that you felt horrible and your mind wasn’t there? And you weren’t thinking clearly? Because you know, all the time? I said, Have you ever had days that you just felt totally on? And it just didn’t work? He goes, Oh, yeah, all the time. And I said, well, then sports psychology is unnecessary. And there’s a pause, and he just burst in hysterics, because there’s this whole idea in sports psychology that you need to feel confident know that you’re going to win. Well, I can tell you that everybody that you’re racing against thinks the same thing. So clearly, that’s not necessary. And I started asking every serious athlete that I met in Boulder, Colorado, that means a lot of Olympians, I go, have you ever had days where you just really had no confidence whatsoever? And, and still want to race? And they said all the time? I said, so what you think is just secondary? It’s just not that important.
David Ralph [50:48]
So So, so easy. Shoes gonna win, Stephen.
Steven Sashen [50:51]
I don’t know, I have no way of knowing the universe could change in a moment. You must have a gut feeling against your competitors. And no, no, sir. I really don’t care. I mean, I mean, let me say that differently, I do care, I would prefer for us to be a successful company and to help millions and millions of people. And I know that that there’s a lot of things between here and there that could go wrong that are some are in my control. And some are out of my control. The ones that are out of my control, or big ones. Like I like to say, I don’t care how much planning you did, and how confident you were, if you were planning on opening a Middle Eastern tourist agency on September 12 2001, you’re screwed. And so there, there are so many things that could make this just disappear tomorrow, that I I genuinely don’t want to say it. While I can. While I can come up with a lot of reasons for why and how this could and should and might be successful, I can come up with an equally large list of reasons that are the exact opposite of that. And so I don’t concern myself with either so much as figuring out what’s the next thing I need to do today.
David Ralph [52:03]
So what’s the next thing for you to do tonight?
Steven Sashen [52:07]
Pack because we’re moving in 36 hours. And other than that, from a business perspective, we’re in the middle of trying to raise some money so that we can hire some additional people and do some additional marketing things and develop some additional products. my to do list is about 150 items long. So I can pick any one of those and, and, and tell you that that’s next? Well, I’m going to make it
David Ralph [52:28]
151 because this is part of the show that I like to call the Sermon on the mic. And this is where I send you back in time to give some advice to your younger self. And whatever comes out of your heart, whatever comes out of your mouth, we’re going to listen to it. So I’m going to play the music, I’m going to step back and just listen to you. As you go on the sermon. This is a sermon on the mic.
We go with the best bit of the show.
Steven Sashen [53:12]
Boy, you’ve put me in a tough spot here.
I have a really hard time imagining myself at an earlier, two parts of this are tricky. Just talking to myself, my younger self, I have a really hard time because I can barely remember my younger self in any way that seems meaningful. But more I can’t think of anything that I would say to him. Because any advice that I would give would have to be based on the idea that if he took that advice, it would lead to a better outcome, different circumstances and more happy Venus. And I can’t I have no way of believing that idea that there’s a thing that would have turned the tide or maybe turn left versus right, that would have reliably led to that better outcome. I just had this fascinating thing was it my 30th College reunion. And at one point, I was hanging out with all of my alternate histories, all of the times where I said left instead of right or right instead of left or straight instead of up or whatever the hell I was doing. I’m hanging out with my these guys that I met 30 plus years ago, some of whom I haven’t seen in 30 years. And there’s the doctor, I was a pre med, there’s the lawyer, I thought seriously about that for a while. There’s the guy who went into corporate business, there’s the guy who went to Wall Street, there’s that I mean, they were they were all sitting right there. And it was very clear to all of us that regardless of what had happened, some had made a lot of money. I mean, like a lot of money. Some had not some had successful relationships were had relationships that had gone on for 30 years, some had not, it was very clear that there was not one of those that was better or worse than the other. And so
Unknown Speaker [55:12]
Steven Sashen [55:16]
if I had to say any thing, boy, I, I can’t even I can’t even think about saying you’re not broken to my previous self. Because for all the time that I thought I was that that could have been really valuable.
So I think I would probably just go buy him some fries.
David Ralph [55:38]
A happy meal.
Steven Sashen [55:41]
No, no, I didn’t like McDonald’s. But I love fries.
David Ralph [55:44]
Okay, Burger King, where we go, we go. We just go with fries with a pig pig. Yeah, well, I haven’t had that answer before. But it is. It’s finished off a memorable episode. You are a force of nature. You really are. I’ve been enjoyed this conversation. I hadn’t known where to go. I’ve concentrated probably harder than I have on any of the interviews that I’ve done. And I’ve loved every minute of it. I’ve got no doubt. But zero shoes are going to become a global success. I’ve got to weave you in Lena behind it. It’s got to go because I can’t imagine how you can overcome any obstacles that come your way. It’s been an absolute delight having you on. And please come back in the future to sort of tell us what else is going on in your life because I believe that sort of our history is all about sort of connecting the dots. And by joining our dots and connecting our paths, I think we have the best opportunities to build our future. So Stephen, thank you so much.
Steven Sashen [56:42]
Oh, it’s been an absolute treat. And thank you, thank you.
David doesn’t want you to become a faded version of the brilliant self you are wants to become so he’s put together an amazing guide for you called the eight pieces of advice that every successful entrepreneur practices, including the that changed his life. Head over to Join Up Dots.com to download this amazing guide for free and we’ll see you tomorrow on Join Up Dots.