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Allen Gannett was the founder and CEO of TrackMaven, a marketing analytics platform whose clients included Microsoft, Marriott, Saks Fifth Avenue, Home Depot, Aetna, Honda, and GE. In 2018 it merged with Skyword, the leading content marketing platform, where he now serves as Chief Strategy Officer. He has been on the “30 Under 30” lists for both Inc. and Forbes.
He is a contributor for FastCompany.com and his book The Creative Curve, came out June 2018 from Currency, a division of Penguin Random House. The book has been featured on CNBC, Forbes, numerous top podcasts, and has been picked up to be translated into seven other languages in 2019. Most importantly, he was once a very pitiful runner-up on Wheel of Fortune.
SUCCESS STORY PODCAST
Stories worth telling.
On the Success Story podcast, Scott has candid interviews with execs, celebrities, notable figures and politicians. All who have achieved success through both wins and losses, to learn more about their life, their ideas and insights.
He sits down with leaders and mentors and unpacks their story to help pass those lessons onto others through both experiences and tactical strategy for business professionals, entrepreneurs and everyone in between.
Machine Generated Transcript
people, entrepreneur, started, marketers, build, book, marketing, podcast, grew, company, important, point, digital marketing, tend, creative, marketo, startup, big, psychologically, familiar
Allen Gannett, Scott D Clary
Scott D Clary 00:06
Welcome to the success story podcast. I’m your host, Scott Clary. On this podcast I have candid interviews with execs, celebrities, politicians and other notable figures, all who have achieved success through both wins and losses. To learn more about their life, their ideas and their insights, I sit down with leaders and mentors and unpack their story to help pass those lessons on to others through both experiences and tactical strategy for business professionals, entrepreneurs and everyone in between. Without further ado, another episode of the success story podcast. Thanks again for joining me. I have Allen Gannett with me he is the founder of track Maven, founder and CEO. It was a marketing analytics platform whose clients included Microsoft, Marriott, Saks, fifth Home Depot, Honda and GE now in 2018, it merged with skyward, which is a leading content marketing platform. So he is now I guess, somewhat retired from from the from the business he built, he has been named a 30, under 30 on both Inc, and Forbes, he’s a contributor for Fast Company released a book called The creative curve, which came out in June 2018. The book was featured on CNBC Forbes numerous podcast has been picked up and translated into seven other languages. And the most important fact that I pulled out of his bio was that he was once a very pitiful runner up on Wheel of Fortune, which made me laugh when I read that. But thanks for thanks for sitting down. Excited to sort of understand your story. You’ve done a lot. You’ve accomplished a lot. You’re still relatively young. So I appreciate the the insight in the few minutes you’re giving.
Allen Gannett 01:39
Yeah, thanks for having me, man.
Scott D Clary 01:41
Yeah know, so so like, walk me through, you know, you built up a company, you exited. Now you’re just doing your thing after writing one book, you’re you said you’re working on another one. Where did where did your Where did your story come from? What what did you you know, how did you start track? Maven? Let’s start. Yeah,
Allen Gannett 01:59
yeah, totally. And yeah, so in track, Maven was a fight ran for six and a half years, we did this merger. And what’s interesting about a merger, slightly different, we can talk more about it than like an exit is really it’s like the story sort of continues, right? There’s some actual, like, practical differences, that mergers actually happens with startups more than I think sometimes some of the folklore is, but um, you know, and so that was really entry experience to just staying on for a year and a half afterwards as part of the executive much bigger company. But yeah, so my background is I started getting digital marketing, I was in college. And so I went into college thinking that I wanted to become a lawyer. And as I got into college, I started meeting people who are lawyers, I was like, I do not want to be a lawyer. Like, there’s never been a profession where more people are like, Don’t do this. And I’m like, That is like, I mean, I’ll take you at your word, if you’re do it, been doing it for 30 years and say, Don’t do this, like, God bless. Right? And so I was like, What am I gonna do? What am I interested in? And at the time, this was around, I entered college in 2009. And so it was around the time that the movie, The Social Network came out. And there was some, there’s a lot of excitement around sort of digital technology and social network calls stuff. And I just was like, Well, maybe it’s tech, you know, I like the speed of it. I like how fast things are. And so I started a company in college that did digital marketing, through a bunch of different web properties for colleges, universities, and we built Facebook apps, that all sorts of things. And it wasn’t a very good business for a lot of reasons. But I got really interested in digital marketing, and how to build audiences online. And not just the sort of micro tactical aspects, but also more macro sort of what’s going on when you build an online community. And so sort of, through doing that, in college, I sort of met a lot of people locally. And I had a I made a friend with this entrepreneur who is much older than me, as of 10 years older than me. So I guess there’s not that much older. And he recruited me to come be the CMO of his small venture back startup, he was doing a start up, he had done a company before. And so I did that never having managed fuel before was my first job. And I sort of realized a few things like one I don’t like working for other people. So it was like a good life lesson to learn. Even though he was like, great manager, I just don’t like it. And then too, I learned that there was like a lot of problems in digital marketing at the time. This was 2012, where there was just like, not enough, like, there’s all this data being created, but the data wasn’t actually very actionable. It was hard to gather is hard to turn into insight. And so track Maven started out of this desire to make data much more accessible for marketers, and so started the company in 2012. And, at the time that we do merger was about 5055 employees. And so sort of had a really interesting, I think an interesting progression of like the company grew as I was also growing up. And that was often for better and for worse.
Scott D Clary 05:15
So that’s And just to clarify is want to make sure that I get the timeline, right. So that was with with that entrepreneur, this track man was 100%. On your own.
Allen Gannett 05:24
Yes, I started as a solo entrepreneur key I invested in it. But I started as a solo entrepreneur, solo founder. Yeah. Which I think is probably like, not the right decision looking back, but also not as wrong decisions. I think people tend to, I think there’s some like mythology around being a sole founder being impossible. I don’t think it’s impossible, right? Amazon as a solo founder. And clearly at work, I just think it’s different, and maybe less fun, and stressful,
Scott D Clary 05:51
and just a ton of work. And you don’t have that you don’t have a resource like an outlet to.
Allen Gannett 05:56
Yeah, and I think that’s one of the things, one of the things as your company grows, is that there’s a sort of talk about, like loneliness at the top. And I think when you have a co founder, you have someone who is very much in the same sort of position as you, you’re going to have a level of frankness, that is hard to have as the company, it’s bigger, in the same way. And so that’s why I think it’s more of like, it’s less fun. We don’t have a co founder, a little bit more difficult. But I think the lack of sort of enjoyment is actually more important.
Scott D Clary 06:23
So So two things I’m curious about, and you can decide which one to go after first. One of them I’m just curious about your entrepreneurial journey, and like sort of lessons you’ve learned as you grew up, quite literally, as you were growing your company. But the other one, I’m curious about the problems that track Maven was solving and have we seen the the marketing, I guess, I don’t know, culture, atmosphere, nuances, status quo, progress to the point where those problems had been solved, like was like, what is the current state of marketing in 2020? And that’s a loaded question. So
Allen Gannett 06:56
I can answer that one first. And that one, to me is pretty easy. Where I mean, digital marketing has become, I believe the dictionary definition is, you know, cluster insert here, where it’s basically there’s all these channels, and sort of what works and digital marketing is changing very rapidly and all the time. And so keeping up with that is incredibly time consuming, expensive. The result has been when I started track, Maven, they do these marketing landscapes. And at the time, there was 150, marking technology vendors. And the latest version, I saw this probably out of date, because I haven’t been in this for a little bit. There are 7800, marking technology vendors. So imagine that right? Just 12 hours a day, going from 150, marketing technology vendors to 7800. And so that fundamentally, I think, represents a digital marketing, it’s just become completely chaotic and crazy. And now what you’re seeing is that there’s a move by a lot of marketers to consolidate tools to sort of come back to simplicity, let’s do less things. Let’s do them well, instead of trying to do everything. Because that’s, you know, ends up with how you have 7800 tools. And so the marketing landscape, I think, is a place where it’s really hard to build a marketing technology company right now. Because a lot of spend is moving towards more consolidated solutions. It’s really hard to build a consolidated solution as a startup. Firstly, think about it’s much easier to build a very specific feature and then over time grow. But it’s hard to come in and say I’m going to, you know, compete with Marketo I’m sprinkler. I’m sorry, you’re asking
Scott D Clary 08:32
No, no, I was that that was that was actually going to be my question. So when you say like the, the quality, the the the the solutions that are basically the one stop shop in the 2020 landscape that is like a Marketo. And that’s really what, that’s what people are gravitating towards now, but
Allen Gannett 08:47
they’re all slightly different. If you think about, like, what’s interesting in marketing technology is there’s these people building these horizontal solutions. And they’re all coming from it from different origin points in Marketo, started sort of from email sprinkler started with really like social customer support. There’s folks like scission, who started with PR monitoring, and just adding more and more things. And so everyone is sort of coming in from different angle, but they’re all trying to build this very horizontal, sort of marketing technology company.
Scott D Clary 09:16
Now, so this is what you’ve seen sort of the current marketing landscape gravitate towards. And one other thing that I wanted to understand just in terms of the current landscape, you mentioned that you want to simplify, you want to double down on what works but you also mentioned mentioned something earlier that I thought was very interesting. You always understood the macro or the community aspect. What is the higher level theme that companies are trying to tap into that works? Is it community is that the takeaway that people are trying to gravitate towards and understand there’s,
Allen Gannett 09:44
I’d say there’s two two things. One is that ultimately all marketing is about building audience and converting that audience right? And if you simplify everything that adequately makes it all much simpler, where anytime there’s a new channel anytime there’s a new tactic, it’s really is this either helping you build audience This is how we can convert. That’s sort of one macro point and make the other macro point and make is that you can think about digital marketing as a sort of stock market for attention. Where what people find is like how marketers build really valuable big brands, they tend to find sort of like asymmetry in the sort of cost to value various channels. And as they find that what happens is other marketers sort of see them doing that they start trying, it works for them. And that bit, you know, bids up the price, and it becomes more expensive. So you can take this with any sort of marketing tactic about content marketing, when content marketing first was starting, it was much, much easier to get attention, because there’s a lot less people. Now, every startup, you know, has a blog, they’re doing content marketing. So if you think about it, as your consumers attention, sort of being the thing you’re trying to get, well, it’s much harder than it was before. Similarly, you see, when anytime there’s a new big social network that emerges, it’s much easier to build an audience or early in the development of that social network, think about tick tock right now versus trying to build a Instagram audience, right. And over time, as more people come into that tactic, it becomes more and more difficult. And so the result is that marketers who are successful from a long term career perspective, are very good at constantly doing what’s working and experimenting with things that might be the next main thing, because it’s constantly shifting and because big companies come into these channels and just make them prohibitively expensive at some point.
Scott D Clary 11:32
And that is, I guess that is the the strategy for somebody who’s looking to make headway into the market. It’s, like you mentioned, so you, you double down on what is traditional and what works. And that’s almost like the status quo. That’s like what you have to do. It’s like, it’s a pay to play, you have to be good at the certain things that people are all good at. But then do you see more, I guess, startup or or I guess, I don’t know, people pushing the envelope on on marketing in terms of trying to get things into new environments, like tick tock? Is that more of a trend with companies that are trying to get some some headway? Or is it something that traditional like fortune 500, fortune 100, companies are making a move on as well,
Allen Gannett 12:09
I think you tend to see it, that sort of competitive, or emerging companies tend to be better at that. But you’re also seeing that good marketers at big companies are good at that, too. Right. It’s not just about, it’s not just about the small startups. And so I think that’s an interesting. That’s like an interesting point. And I think if you’re a marketer, and you’re thinking about your career, like that is going to serve you really well, whether you’re at a big company, or small companies, if you’re at a big company, you know, and you start experimenting on things that take off, you’re going to get a lot of credit, a lot of reward a lot of all these things for sort of being a little bit ahead of the curve. So I think no matter where you are, as a marketer, it’s valuable. Yeah, traditionally, the sort of emerging businesses are the ones who tend to be better at it.
Scott D Clary 12:54
And and talk to me about the first book that you wrote the creative curve. What does that what does that book about? What is that? Yeah,
Allen Gannett 13:00
so the creative curve. For those of you listening, I was just holding up on the video. But it’s a book, it’s a book all about this question that I got really fascinated with, which is like, can you learn to become more creative. And the reason I got really into it is that we were working with all these marketers, and we were we have all their data. And we would show them like, actually, there’s a lot of like, patterns to what your customers like. Um, there’s a lot of like systems thinking you can apply to how you create things, what stories you tell what content you create. And yet, when you talk to marketers, they’d say things like, Well, I’m just not that creative. I can’t do that. Or that’s just not me. I have to hire an agency to help me with creative stuff. And I just I grew up in New Jersey, I got kind of frustrated. I was just thought that was sort of all a ridiculous thing. I was like, no, like, you could definitely do this. And so I started researching, sort of, like, people’s opinions and views on creativity. And it sort of morphed over time to what ended up being the sort of three year nights and weekend research project around diving into like, what is creativity really? And how can we learn it? And so the first half of the book is looking at the history and science of creativity, and a lot of the myths around creativity because there’s a lot of myths. And the second half is I interviewed about 25 Living creative greats, ranging from Michelin star chefs to you know, startup moguls like Alexis Ohanian, to songwriters like Pasic and Paul, who did greatest showmen. And Darrin Hanson and lala land, right. And going through their stories and actually teasing out four patterns of things they did to enhance their creativity, explain what those things are and the science behind them. Yeah, so the book is sort of part myth busting part actionable guide to creativity.
Scott D Clary 14:46
Because I think that myth busting piece is what’s inhibiting a lot of the companies from getting into some of these emerging platforms and trying new things. And I think that that’s probably an inhibitor. That what I’m thinking about, I’m not saying it clearly, but what I’m thinking about is when it comes He’s saying, I don’t know how to get onto tick tock, I don’t know how to convert my product into something that can be communicated via 62nd or 15 second video. So is that really what, you know, the creative curve breaking down these myths about how to become creative? Is that really something that can be parlayed into an effective marketing? I don’t know.
Allen Gannett 15:22
Oh, yeah. Yeah, I mean, definitely, you know, I mean, I’ll give you one. One small example. One of the things I think really throws people for a loop is consumer trends. Like, why are certain things popular when they’re popular, right? Like that really gets people like, it feels really sort of squishy, and intangible. But the reality is, we actually have all sorts of amazing sociology and psychology research that tells us exactly why consumer trends happen. And like, I’ll give you an example. So one of the most prominent forces, it’s, as humans, we have these two sort of urges, I like to call them that we’ve developed over time. One is that our brain has realized that sort of coded that things that we see that are familiar, represents safety, right? So they think about, you know, when you see your door for home, like safe place, if you see a door that is the same physical door, but it’s a place you’ve never been before your brains on what’s behind that door could be potentially sort of risky. And so merely the fact that something’s more familiar changes what we think about. And so familiarity breeds this idea of safety. As a result, we also tend to fear things that are unfamiliar, because we’re like, what’s there. So that’s one urge we have the other urge, it’s really important to understand what consumer trends is that we’ve also developed this novelty seeking behavior, where when our brain sees something new, it gives it what’s called a novelty bonus, which is basically this sort of, like perceived benefit to that, where it’s like, okay, that piece of fruit I’ve never seen before, kind of looks like a weird strawberry. Oh, well, like I should try eating that, because it might actually be delicious, right? It might be, you know, breakfast, think about when people were hunter gatherers. So it’s interesting, these two things are contradictions, right? Like, literally I just told you like, familiarity breeds safety, novelty breeds pursuit. That doesn’t make sense, like those, those are contradictions. What it is, is our brain really is constantly looking for things blend of the familiar and the novel, we like things that are fair enough to be safe, but yet novel enough to be new. So think about if you saw Barry, when you were a hunter gatherer that was sort of like a weird strawberry, you go, Okay, I’m gonna eat that is probably delicious. If you saw berry look nothing like anything you’ve ever seen before, you might be like, ah, a little bit too much like it might be poisonous, I’m gonna leave a beat. And so as a result, what you find with consumer trends is that over and over again, there’s all these studies that basically show that the things that people like things that have one foot in the familiar and one foot in the new and so if you think, think about like Apple, I think Apple is a great example of this, like Apple we think about is like, sort of radical innovation. But actually no, like, that’s not the story of Apple. If you look at Apple in the 90s, when they released their first tablet device, the Apple Newton, there was a spectacular failure. People were like, This is crazy. I don’t want this. But then fast forward today, the iPad, tablet computer is like wildly successful. They think about it, like getting to the point where the iPad would be adopted by consumers was actually very incremental, right. So like, the iPad was an iPhone, without a phone, the iPhone was an iPod with a thumb, the iPod was a better mp3 player, right? So like, if you actually look at a lot of creative success stories, which you’ll tend to find is that the ones that are successful adopted by consumers tend to be much more incremental than we realize, because we have those two urges that pursue the familiar and that pursuit of the novel that coexist.
Scott D Clary 19:07
I really, that’s that’s very insightful. And it makes a lot of sense. Now, I’m just wondering, for somebody who is bringing a new product to market, like you mentioned with with Apple, the familiar and the novel, do contradicts. So how do you strike that balance? When you’re trying to, you know, go into a blue ocean? You don’t have a reference point? As a business?
Allen Gannett 19:31
Yeah, great question. And this is where a lot of entrepreneurs really attract because they build what is in their mind the most advanced or the best set of features, not actually the right thing to do. And the book I tell the story, campus network, which was a social network heard a month before Facebook at Columbia University by the student body president went viral on Columbia’s campus, and the co founders it took off, much like the face But cofounders did in order to focus on it for a while it was growing. What’s interesting is campus network obviously did not work, right? We’re not talking about, you know, Adam and Wayne, who started it talking about Mark Zuckerberg. And what’s interesting, though, is that campus network actually had dramatically more features and a lot of features, which much later, Facebook would have and lead to a lot of success, activity fee, groups, events, a lot of these things they had years before Facebook years. And what’s interesting is, if you go back and talk to the people who are involved in this, like I interviewed, the folks on campus network, and I’ll stuff like one of the things they point out is that one of the reasons Facebook one was that it was like, incredibly simple. And so you know, people at the time, were using screen names as pseudonyms online. So like, the amount of novelty they were willing to have was like just having their real name and photo and directory, which is what Facebook started as, right? Like, that was enough, the idea that you’re also gonna have all this other stuff out about you was like, not no, like, that was not something people were comfortable with. And you saw this, Facebook very slowly, over time, added more and more public features than major, more public, as we as consumers became more comfortable with. And I think it’s a really great example, when it comes to technology businesses have it’s so easy as a technology business, to build the best features from a technical perspective, or from a sort of metaphor, I don’t know, like a first principles perspective. But like your job is not to just create something that has the most bells and whistles, but it’s actually something that customers want use. And so I think that’s really important. This is why the blue ocean, I think the thing that’s important is usually start with either a wedge or a metaphor, right? Start with a much smaller feature set that people are ready for, and over time expand, or start with through like a metaphor or when you’re doing something that maybe in a new space, but it’s a familiar process, and is letting you eventually grow into that blue ocean, but you can’t just go and build a blue ocean, no one will lie.
Scott D Clary 22:09
So this is something that I think is a great lesson for entrepreneurs. And I feel that I feel that a technical entrepreneur does not take this into consideration until much later on, which is I’m not sure if you have insight as to why so many businesses fail. But this seems like it could be a very blatant reason as to why so many businesses fail
Allen Gannett 22:32
Oh,100%. I mean, there’s all this interesting research around how successful CEOs, serial entrepreneurs do something very different than first entrepreneurs. So successful serial entrepreneurs do something they do solution seeking, not problem finding, solution seeking not problem finding. So what’s the difference? solution seeking means they start with the problem. They’re like, I want to solve cloud security. Then they go into the work to figure out what that means what that looks like, but they don’t actually care from a technical perspective or feature overs with it looks like they just wanna solve the problem, because they know that problem is ready to be solved. First time entrepreneurs when the biggest most common mistake is they do problem finding, where they start with a solution that they essentially built for themselves, like this is a great idea. And they look to try and find a market. And to me, this is like this is like this happens all the time. It’s totally crazy. Because it’s literally building for an audience of one. And you see this people have either Yeah, I’m trying to like find product market fit. But the reality is like, you’re literally starting in reverse, like when you talk about finding product market fit, you should start with the market, not the product, right, you start at the market, and then you work on building up the product to get that fit. If you start with the product, nine times out of 10 it is a horrendous horrendous method of getting there. It’s very inefficient, very expensive and rock with failure.
Scott D Clary 23:58
Now, when did you you know, let’s let’s bring it back to your life and your career and what you’ve learned. Because this is not something that jumping into your first cmo gig, you would have realized, so how did you how did you grow yourself? Like how did you come to these conclusions? Where did you go to seek answers as you’re growing your business to 55 and then merger because that’s not easy to do, either. So you probably made some mistakes at the beginning that a lot of people make,
Allen Gannett 24:22
oh, I’ve made mistakes all throughout it all the time. Like, you know, and and so, you know, one of the things I always think of sort of interesting as like, I literally don’t think of myself, anywhere in that journey, even when we were sort of having some of our biggest highs I never thought of myself as successful, which I think can often maybe be sort of psychologically probably not healthy, right? Because there’s a lack of contentment that comes from that. Um, but I think this idea of like always striving to be better was always very useful because for me, I always realized that like other people typically have Like the best answers, and so I’ve always found myself with like a lot of people in sort of a kitchen cabinet. I don’t like the word mentor, because I feel like it has a lot of like, weird sort of overly formal connotations to it. But the idea, like I had a lot of people, some are formal advisory board members, some are board directors, some are friends, and we’re older, some are younger, some of the same age, some had very different experiences. But I would probably have at any moment, like 15, people who I was in regular touch with for advice, and because like people have seen these problems before, like this not actually, like, You’re not the first one to deal with, like, how to manage someone. And so I found that, that having that group of people that I could call upon was like, a dramatic game changer for being able to rapidly grow as a CEO. And I had like, lots and lots of mistakes, and I like messed up a lot of SEO. But I a lot, I would have messed up way more, you know, if I hadn’t had all those people supporting me.
Scott D Clary 26:00
Now, you mentioned something about just being like self aware of really just your own faults and your own shortcomings and sort of supplementing that with like a healthy group of column mentors, call them just, you know, peers or whatnot. How do you how do you psychologically do that? This is a tough question. But something that I think a lot of people struggle with, I want to ask you, if you don’t have an answer, it’s fine. But how do you psychologically impose on yourself the will to say that I’m not good enough to? I don’t know what I don’t know, is there an exercise that you went through as a massive like screw up, that just sort of shook you to your core that made you go outside, because I think that that kicking off point where you where you get the first mentor, I’m just gonna use a word, because I don’t know what else to call it, you get that first mentor. That’s like the string of your that’s the kickoff point for your success in the future. If you can open your mind to that concept.
Allen Gannett 26:52
I think I think there’s a few things. I mean, one is I wouldn’t actually necessarily agree on you’re not maybe not saying this, but I wouldn’t actually necessarily psychologically or great thing, like, you know what I mean? Like there’s a level of, I think, a level of ambition that tends to come from a place of like pain, that’s like, not particularly great. Always. Right. So I think the idea of like, doing yourself is like less than, as a driver of behavior is like, very effective. I don’t know, if it’s like, great. You don’t I mean, I don’t know if I can say on a subjective level, that that’s like, a good thing is, but I don’t know if it’s a good thing. Um, I think in terms of maybe a more healthy way to think about, like, learning to take feedback or advice. And I think it’s maybe a little less clinical, so to speak, I guess, would be like, I think we, I think reframing your work as a as the, the process is your product, right? So your product is not whatever you’re doing, right. If you want to be an entrepreneur, you’re going to be creating different products in different different categories, right, your entire career, it’s always gonna change. And so you have to think about your process and how you develop an idea how you build your business, that process, which is unique to you, because everyone does it slightly differently. That is what you actually are working on as an entrepreneur, that process that is your product, if you’re building, you’re making sunscreen, or if you’re building software, the process is actually really, really fundamental and important. So I think when you shift your thinking to thinking about the process, as the product, then becomes much easier to completely reinvent that, to change it to bring it outside opinions outside voices to because you realize like, that’s actually your job, right? Your job isn’t just make the best sunscreen, your job is how do I get better at this process? And I think when you’re trying to constantly focus on the process, it makes everything I think, much easier. I think it lowers sort of our very human defenses around change.
Scott D Clary 28:55
I think that the one word you mentioned was the one thing you mentioned was like lowering the human defenses, which I think is is a healthier way to put it than just than just thinking that you’re not adequate enough as an entrepreneur. So the product, if you understand that process, and you know that your job is to understand that process, not only will that open your mind up, but that is I’m assuming the the secret to success in serial entrepreneurs because they are no longer building the product. They are now focusing on the bad they have optimized and continuously focused on building the process. And then the the widget is just a result of that.
Allen Gannett 29:33
Totally. It really was. I think one of the things that’s important is that one of the things you realize when you start making you know, when you’re CEO and you end up sort of making co friends like all stuff is like people are entrepreneurs and leaders for a lot of different reasons. A lot of them are not particularly like emotionally satisfying reasons. Some of them really are right some of the people really love the coaching aspect and stuff but some of them are like pretty dark or come from a place of pain or like there’s a lot of people who grew up in some form of broken home and are trying to sort of prove something to themselves into society and maybe their parents, right. And so I think it’s really, really important to also think about like, looking at your motivators and your behaviors, and thinking about your motivators. And being open to the idea that like, maybe it actually isn’t like you think about life as a sort of satisfaction and contentment thing, right? Like, maybe actually being an entrepreneur is not the thing that’s going to best maximize your satisfaction, contentment, because if you’re sort of trying to solve something that’s internally broken, like, it’s not gonna solve it, right, and you’re just gonna waste a bunch of time. And so I think that’s something that I think we don’t talk about a lot. When it comes to entrepreneurship, I think we always sort of assume that it’s like this good thing for the person. But I know a lot of entrepreneurs who use it as sort of a distraction from dealing with like, other internal personal issues, if that makes sense.
Scott D Clary 31:00
It does. And I think that that’s some of like, you know, the whole hustle porn issue was, it was highly criticized, because being an entrepreneur is is is a lot more psychologically draining than I think a lot of people understand. And to, you know, you I don’t, I only reference Gary Vee, because he just speaks. He’s changed his tone. And he’s a very prolific speaker, and he has a huge audience. So when, when he says something people listen, so I think he’s also changed his tone, because he used to be very adamant about like, you know, work harder, like side hustle this side, hustle that. And I think that it’s the wrong message for people that just want to be happy. And they have to balance and you can be quite successful and quite happy within an organization. And you can be exceptionally brilliant and smart and bright and financially well off still working for somebody, just like you mentioned, it may not be for everyone, but it can definitely be for some people.
Allen Gannett 31:48
Totally. And what’s interesting is one of the things this actually really I think is really fascinating is like, I have a lot of friends who are entrepreneurs who have told me at various time, things like well, I don’t want to like go to therapy, because whatever is this broken part of me, that drives me, I don’t want that to go away. And I actually think that’s like a much more common thing that people realize, even successful people is it like, they’re like, I don’t want to fix myself, because whatever’s broken seems to be causing some good sort of, like, external rewards. Um, and I have two thoughts that one is, I think the external rewards are sort of fleeting, right? We’re all gonna die eventually, right? And then two is that I’ve seen as in most of my friends, who sort of do the work to become more peace with themselves, who maybe started on the side of not being at peace with themselves, right. And that being a big ambition driver, at that they don’t actually lose the ambition, they’re just much more self aware and are better at taking care of themselves and like, are better about that stuff. And people actually, I think, are more attracted to the idea of working for those people, because I think they actually come across much more confident, because they’ve done the self inventory, and the self work and the self assessment and all that kind of stuff, which, ironically, I think makes people I think knowing our weaknesses tends to make people view us stronger. And so I also tend to also push people on this idea of like, brokenness can often lead to a lot of ambition and energy and all this stuff. But, you know, working on that brokenness isn’t going to make you not ambitious. That’s, it’s, it’s
Scott D Clary 33:26
something that I don’t think is discussed enough. And I think that it has to be increasingly discussed. So I appreciate you going there and bringing this up, because I had no idea where we’re gonna go with this chat. But I really, really appreciate that. And I think that as long as we normalize, we normalize the the mindset of an entrepreneur so that somebody else who’s listening or watching or whatever, hopefully will hear this and understand that, perhaps, especially a solopreneur, where they’re not, they don’t have a sounding board, right, like you mentioned, it’s tough. They can they can work on themselves and keep working on your business. But know that working on yourself is like always, always number one, like never, never opportunity where it isn’t number one is, you know, like you mentioned, like it’s, we all die, we all die. So what’s, what’s the point in building something if you’re going to kill yourself doing it or if you’re going to be sad Crestor.
Allen Gannett 34:17
I know a lot of people who are sort of externally very successful who sort of have an epiphany at 35 or 40, that they have been sort of trying to solve their problem the completely wrong way. And you’re to a person I know, they would all wish they could go back and sort of take a different course. And so yeah, I think you think you nailed it.
Scott D Clary 34:39
Yeah, that’s a that’s it’s tough to hear. Because it’s always like grass is greener, right. It’s always like, that’s all people think. And I know, like now, now with this podcast, and I still I do a whole bunch of stuff, but I work I work quite a bit and I have my like myself, I think about you know how much effort and how much energy I’m spending Am I giving enough time to my family and all this All these things that I, you know, I’m trying to self aware, optimizing and making sure that I don’t have my professional hobbies take away from things that really matter, right, which the people that are most important. And if somebody worked a nine to five, and, you know, they come in at nine o’clock, and they clock out at five o’clock, and they don’t get an email after five o’clock, and they’re looking at somebody who perhaps has, like, you know, two extra 3x The wealth, it seems like, but it doesn’t, it doesn’t really translate like that, like happiness has, it has an intrinsic value that a lot of people don’t realize it has until they’ve lost it. And I think that that’s something that people really have to take note of, and I actually speak on, I speak about this on a much smaller scale, just in terms of like switching jobs for like 5k or 10k. And, and how you better make sure that that switch is worth it, and that company and the culture, and the leadership is all in line with like your ideology, because if it isn’t, you’re not going to enjoy that 10k You’re going to wish you never had that 10k. So entrepreneurship, like a whole other level, right? So very good. Um, I want to I want to just, you know, we kind of went off on on a really good chat, but I want to, I want to sort of tee it up with just a few like questions that I like to ask at the end. And one of them being I’m just trying to think of which ones I want to ask because there’s a lot of good stuff that we aren’t going to have time to do today, and maybe sometime in the future. But one of the ones I like to ask is just one life lesson that you’ve learned over your career that you would impart on somebody within a company or entrepreneur.
Allen Gannett 36:37
I am, I’m, I started sort of working professionally, when I was 18. I sort of started doing college or quasi part time. And so I’m 29 now been working for 11 years, which is a long time for 29 year old. And I’ve been like amazed at the amount of people who I’ve met in the first four years of my job and work thing that I have now become in various sort of funny, comfortable universes of weird thing, sort of way huge parts of my life. Often people who I met and maybe like, like thought, Oh, this is just a fleeting meeting, like, literally may change the course of my life. And I think that long that seeing that happen, I feel that I’ve had that happen when I was very young, because I think going forward, I’m very old idea that like any meat might like dramatically change your life. But it also sort of speaks to the importance of I think, like, living with integrity and being honest and forthright and all these things because like, the, like people like you’re not going to they’re not going to disappear. We live in a hyper connected digital world. And so I think I think the idea of just like, the world, life is very long term. And you should sort of, I think approach it with that mindset. And that perspective.
Scott D Clary 37:59
I think that’s something that the sooner you learn that the better. For sure. That’s a very important, that’s a very important life lesson. And I don’t think that’s discussed enough. Either people make knee jerk reactions at very young ages. And I think that that can really impact you later on in life, especially like I mentioned,
Allen Gannett 38:18
we’re just actually, yeah, you’re a jerk to someone because you’re having a bad day. And, you know, that’s gonna come back to haunt you. Because it’s like I see on the having hired a lot of people just the amount of backchannel references people do and hiring and like, the people they call you never would expect or the people they call and so like, you know, yeah, like, very interconnected.
Scott D Clary 38:38
Very good. Very good insight. Um, and one more question, just a resource, a book, a podcast, it can’t be your book. But another book that you would recommend to are actually, well, two things. First of all, what what book are you working on now, but I also want to get a resource that you would learn from or suggest other people check out.
Allen Gannett 39:00
I’m like, literally three weeks in the research for it. So it’s too early to talk about it. All right, deal girls come out in like 2022. But in terms of books, I mean, one of my favorite entrepreneurship books is the hard thing about hard things by Ben Horowitz, which is just, I think, the least romanticized of all the books on entrepreneurship. I’ve read a lot of them. But I think it’s the most practical like it has a chapter literally about like, if you hired someone who’s a friend of yours, and now you have to fire them, what do you do? And like, that’s like the stuff that happens when you’re running a company that like people, there isn’t like a lot of books that sort of talk about that kind of stuff. So that is by far my like, number one suggestion people are either first time CEOs or first time entrepreneurs to like read that book.
Scott D Clary 39:46
Very good. And what’s next last question for you? What’s next for you? You know, I wanted to I wanted to dig in a little bit more into this but we went through a whole bunch of great stuff. So exited a company wrote a book, you’re writing another book, what do you want to do your So,
Allen Gannett 40:01
I do a lot of startup investing, which I find a lot of fun and enjoyment out of. And so sorry for now, you know, be a full time writer, I do a lot of speaking, obviously, because of COVID. That speaking is not a thing right now. So I’ve sort of told myself that COVID is a writing sabbatical, which sort of helps the mental framing of it all. So once once that ends, I think, you know, get back into speaking about the topic of my new book, and keep investing in like really great entrepreneurs.
Scott D Clary 40:27
Very good. I appreciate it. And where do people go to to find you?
Allen Gannett 40:30
It’s just Alan ll e, n dot XYZ and there’s links to books stuff and all sorts of good stuff, newsletter, social media, all that good stuff.
Scott D Clary 40:39
That’s all for today. Thanks again for joining me on another episode of the success story podcast. You can download or stream this podcast wherever podcasts are available, including iTunes, Spotify, Google, Stitcher, I heart, radio, and many others. You can also watch his podcasts on YouTube. If you haven’t already. Please subscribe and share this podcast with your friends, family, coworkers and peers. Please leave us a rating on iTunes takes about 30 seconds as it allows other people to find our podcast and lets our amazing guests reach even more people with their message. And remember any rating is fine as long as it contains five stars. I’m Scott Clary from the success story podcast, signing off