L3 Leadership Podcast Transcriptions: Lessons Learned From Scaling No Wait From A Start-Up To Selling To Yelp For $40 Million With Evan Addams

By July 25, 2018Transcripts

Please enjoy this transcript of our interview with Evan Addams.  It was transcribed and therefore might contain a few typos. For ways to connect with Evan, the notes, and for links to everything discussed, check out our show notes.

Evan Addams: 00:00 No Wait, our rule was every employee had to work in a restaurant, not in a previous life. When you were hired, week one, you’re working in a restaurant. That was part of your onboarding, whether you were CEO or entry level, answering the customer support phones, whatever it might be. You’re working in a restaurant week one to make sure you get it.

Doug Smith: 00:19 This is the L3 Leadership podcast, episode number 198.

Doug Smith: 00:36 Hey everyone. Welcome to another episode of the L3 Leadership podcast. My name is Doug Smith and I am your host. I hope you’re doing well. In today’s episode, you’ll hear our interview with Evan Addams. Evan was employee number two at a startup company called No Wait, which scaled and got sold to yelp for $40 million dollars. If you’re unfamiliar with No Wait, they created an app that was a waitlisting system for restaurants and,, allowed guests to add their name ahead of arrival in order to speed up the time that it takes to be sat through the app guests can check their wait times, receive texts when their table’s ready in several other features. It’s just incredible if you haven’t used it, and, in the interview you’ll hear Evan share the lessons that he learned from being a startup and literally the number two employee, to scaling the company to getting sold and he gives a ton of practical advice that’ll help entrepreneurs scale their companies as well.

Doug Smith: 01:23 And so you’re going to love this episode and as always, we also interviewed Evan for the lightning round and if you want to listen to Evan’s lightning round, you can listen to that in episode number 199. As always, I want to thank you for being a listener to the podcast. We appreciate every single one of you and it would mean the world to me if you would subscribe and leave a rating and review on iTunes or whatever app you use to listen to this podcast. It does help us grow our audience. So thank you in advance for that. And just a few other announcements before we dive into the interview with Evan. I want to encourage each of you to become a member of L3 Leadership. If you’ve ever wanted to take your life and leadership to the next level, if you’ve ever desired to be surrounded by a community of leaders that will encourage you to challenge you, hold you accountable to your goals, and help you reach your potential, then you need to become a part of L3 Leadership.

Doug Smith: 02:11 When you become a member, you’ll have the ability to join our private facebook group, join or launch one of our mastermind groups. You have access to our community of over 135 leaders and you’ll have access to the tools and resources you need to take your life and leadership to the next level. So stop doing life alone as a leader and join our community of leaders and start thriving. To learn more about membership, you can go to L3Leadership.org/membership. I want to thank our sponsor, Henne Jewelers. They are a jeweler owned by my friend and mentor, John Henne and my wife Laura and I got our engagement and wedding rings through Henne Jewelers and we just think they’re an incredible company. Not only do they have great jewelry, but they also invest in people, in fact, they give every engaged couple of book to help them prepare for their marriage and we just love that. So if you’re in need of a good jeweler, check out HenneJewelers.com. With that being said, let’s dive right into the interview and I’ll be back at the end with a few announcements.

Doug Smith: 03:06 So Evan, thank you so much for being willing to do this interview. And why don’t we just start off with you just giving us a brief overview from you are and what you do.

Evan Addams: 03:13 Thank you. Yeah. I’m excited to do this. You and I have been emailing about this for a little while to get together and you continued to have people do your podcasts that have done incredibly better things than me and you’ve got great leaders, I’m like I better go on this podcast fast before he gets the president or something on there. And no,  I got to be a part of the No Wait team. I will talk about that I suppose. And that was all way back in 2011. I joined them and from Pittsburgh and grew up here, went to Grove City College, just north of town and I did the typical Grove City thing where I met my wife up there and she’s also from Pittsburgh, so Pittsburgh family through and through. And we’ve been blessed to spend the last roughly seven years total at, at No Wait, we were acquired by Yelp on March, first of 2017 and I got to be a part of a team that went through that acquisition and led portions of that. So here I am today, I officially wrapped up at Yelp January of this year. So I’m living the semi-retired life for the moment until we find the right thing to jump into. But, yeah, that’s been the last seven and a half years for me.

Doug Smith: 04:33 Yeah. So, so I found out today that you were officially employee number two.

Evan Addams: Yes.

As you mentioned, they got acquired, I think around $40, million dollars. Not a bad day. And I’m just curious, you were employee number two. What do you wish people knew about the journey it took from the startup stage? Do you guys getting acquired that people may not know?

Evan Addams: 04:55 Yeah, I think, one of the most interesting and kind of fun things about the No Wait story is that, in the synopsis of, of what we did is we would send a text message to guests when their table’s ready at a restaurant. So two pieces. If you go into a restaurant that uses our service, you would, instead of receiving a little buzzer or pager in the old days, that would be what Olive Garden used. Instead, you’d get a text message on your phone, but the bigger portion of what we did is allowed you to check the wait times of the restaurants around you and through an app on your phone and called the No Wait app, you’re able to actually put your name in line. The reason I explained what we did is that I constantly hear “That was such a, Oh, I had that idea.”

Evan Addams: 05:43 “I knew I should have done that. That was so easy” And a lot of people in hindsight will comment that a right place, right time and luck, whatever you want to call it. I mean, I, call it just some providence it. Yes, those things are a big portion of it, but I remember back in 2012 I had found an article written by what was a busted competitor. They had done the same thing as us and it was just a blog post for someone said, don’t try this idea. We try to do it and give it to restaurants for free. It’s really hard to convince the restaurant industry to do anything. And I printed that out and had it on my desk for a while because these guys had an idea before we did and it was a lot of hard work, a fantastic team, a team of people that were willing to put the project and the goal ahead of themselves that allowed us to be successful.

Evan Addams: 06:46 And I think, you know, just on the overall journey question, it’s, I hope people understand that it’s not just about being at the right place at the right time. Those that is a factor. Yes. But there is a lot of hard work. There’s no such thing as an overnight success I think is the moral of that rant I just went on.

Doug Smith: Over the course of those years. I’m just curious, what were some of the biggest challenges that you guys had to overcome from inception to getting required?

Evan Addams: Yeah, there, there are definitely different phases we went through and the first one, and I’ll highlight each of them quickly. The first is getting the right product-market fit. The first is, okay, we’ve got our, we’ve got a product that a couple restaurants decided to pay us for, but is this more than a friends and family thing or were you able to get more than the five or six restaurants in Pittsburgh to use us?

Evan Addams: 07:40 And so we had to find the right, what we call the right marketing approach, the right messaging. And when we did, we saw a big jump. We started to. I’ll share a story. There’s a restaurant in Pittsburgh that we were trying to get them to buy into our service and they said, well, we just bought all these new pagers and I said so how much do they cost? He said, well, these were nice pagers they’re $70 a piece, and how many did you buy? We bought about 30 of them, like, Oh man, all right, well we’ll come back to these guys in a couple of years and we got a phone call maybe even the next week, and it was late at night. I got a text message actually from the manager and he said, I need to see you tomorrow we’re ready to sign up. I said, what happened? He said, I have a guest who got really upset with the wait time, and he gathered together a bunch of other people who are sick of waiting and they had a pager skipping competition into the river.

Evan Addams: 08:38 So they went down to the river and about 12 pagers got chucked into the river, which was, you know, add that up. 900 some dollars. And so we realized this messaging of, okay, let’s talk about replacing pagers. We can charge 100 bucks a month and be way cheaper than the pagers you lose. And I think when there is that once a deep into that story is we had this hurdle of we were looking for the right messaging, we found it. We grew and grew to a couple of hundred restaurants and then the biggest hurdle we went over as, okay, now we’re growing, we’re able to get the top 25 restaurants in each city around the country, but how do we get even bigger and really get this to the place that we ended up with 5 million people that had the app on their phones and a five or almost 10,000 restaurants

Evan Addams: 09:24 I think by the time through the acquisition with Yelp, we got there from that question of scaling, of how, how do we scale? We took a couple of false steps. We tried to hire fast and we realized, okay, maybe we should back up a little bit. And then we brought in executive leadership over a couple of different departments, technology, sales, borrowed, a few people who’ve done this before and we made some missteps. We had some people come in, we had some people leave, but I think that scaling moment in a business is, probably the most important one outside of once you take your first step and you’re truly off the ground, the next part is how do we really build this thing into a national presence.

Doug Smith: 10:07 That’s interesting. Two things. So I want to talk about scaling since you just hit on it. If you could go back now we’ll lay out the steps are where if someone’s listening to this and they’re starting to deal with it, hey, we’re starting to grow really fast, but if we really want to take it to the next level, what would you tell them to do today?

Evan Addams: 10:25 Well, I’ll speak to more the individual basis, so if I can go back and talk to Evan. Seven years ago it was, there was a lesson that I understood in my head but didn’t know how to truly walk it out. And it really, it was that I didn’t know how to ask for help. I was employee number two as you said. And so I, I really was employee number one of the business, kind of the client facing side. So when we started I was our sales lead. I was our account management leading, you know, the post-sales billing, customer support. I did all of that and as we hired more people, I was managing all of that and so we hired people and scaled a little bit. But I, I was in my mind I was the rock or the, you know, what was holding everybody together, but it’s really close to and really became me as the bottleneck of scaling. And it was necessary for that role for a while because I had been doing all those processes and I needed to scale myself first by hiring people who could do billing our logistics or sales or account management or customer success. But then I needed to get more out of the way and as I learned to do that better and I was never perfect.

Doug Smith: 11:51 Was that hard to do? Just out of curiosity, for, I don’t want a say, an ego, and pride standpoint. But, hey I’ve always done this. These are my babies. I built this and how did you start?

Evan Addams: 12:01 Goodness, I mean, I’ll say and ego and pride perspective. Yes, absolutely. That was difficult. And yeah, the healthier way to phrase it, which is I cared so much and that’s true. I did, but, really, I mean it was, it would, it would be one thing if I, I think the hardest part was when my CEO came to me and said, hey, you can’t do all this. And my first reaction was yes I can, I’ll show you. And unfortunately there were some things that had to be ripped out of my hands. My CEO would basically say, you’ll thank me later and take a few projects out of my hands sometimes forcefully sometimes, hey, we don’t want you to run this team anymore. We want you to bring someone else in or we’re going to hire someone else to run this team. And the psychology you go through as a particular at that point, a young leader is what did I do wrong?

Evan Addams: 13:00 Am I not good enough to handle this? And I’m I mean technically the answer is yes, but. But the truth is, it had nothing to do with my capabilities as a leader over that particular team or function. It was that I didn’t have a full vision of what it took to run a scaled organization. I didn’t understand that in an organization of 100 plus people that we were moving towards, that my roles that I was one I was one person doing maybe five or six different jobs and that’s not sustainable. And I actually started to realize that once I was burning out and when I was burning out, I started to be a little bit more sensitive and vulnerable to when my CEO would say, Hey, I think you’re doing too much. And I stopped pushing back over time and started to trust him. And the more I did that, the more energetic I was. I was more focused on the things in front of me. And I’ve carried that lesson with me through the end of my No Wait career and into some of the recent things I’ve started to develop is this concept of creating a margin around what I’m doing. So that, there can be some flourishing outside of myself when I become less of a bottleneck.

Doug Smith: 14:21 So in summary, whether you’re at a founder or employee number one and number two, if a company we’re a startup is going to scale, that individual’s going to have to let go of a lot of things, a lot of pride, a lot of ego in order to do that or they’re going to get moved out. And I was going to ask this later. I’m just curious, in your experience working in the startup world, have you found that all founders could scale their companies or the ones that can for someone who can’t, what, what characteristics or people back from scaling?

Evan Addams: 14:56 Yeah, experience shows that not all founders can scale their companies. It is, I don’t have a percent on it, but I know of experiences that, well I’ll use No Wait as an example for us. Our founders could scale but we needed help and so we didn’t remove any of our founders, but we did bring in a CEO and our CEO was not originally one of our founders. And so when he came in, what happened was our team, our founding team, they’re the ones who actually, they hire the CEO and so they made a wise decision which was, okay, we’ve raised some money, we know where we want to go as an organization, but amongst us as the founders and our leadership team, we’re going to be humble I think is the keyword on that humble and, and there’s wisdom in that humility to say that we don’t have the experience or the characteristics amongst us to get the No Wait team to where it needs to go.

Evan Addams: 16:02 So let’s bring in the right additional leadership. And because of that, I can’t say it was all peachy keen, right? You’re talking about bringing in other leaders. And I think it was all positive tension and, and good things. Obviously we had a positive experience, but we had a successful founding team. And while I haven’t experienced this, I do know people who have been a little bit more rigid with their control. And if they’re not the right leader to scale an organization, if they haven’t done that before, they’re not willing to bring in the right type of oversight to help them, unfortunately, I’ve seen those founders removed entirely from the organization and it’s not like there’s a disrespect of what has happened, but it is, it is common that a, sometimes what gets you here isn’t what is going to get you there.

Doug Smith: 16:56 Yeah. And when you guys hired a CEO, I’m just curious, what characteristics were in that CEO role was strategic? What did you need at that time to go to the next level?

Evan Addams: 17:07 Yeah. No, I, I did not get to be, it was strictly our founders and our, and our board who brought in that CEO. So I didn’t get to be a part of building the hiring spec for that, but I can say from my experience with, with our CEO who was hired, a big portion of that was a, a dual language of being able to think strategically on technology but also think strategically on the business side., while the startup of a CEO is also mostly tasked with a revenue and fund management, so he’s was very focused on continuing to fundraise for the business, continuing to find the right investors, and that was really addition in addition to our clients, we would not have got as far as we did without proper investment with the right investment partners. So it actually makes sense. Our founders were very talented at building. No Wait that you know what everybody thinks No Wait is, the product, the APP, the experience, the messaging, our CEO is talented is on that as well, but there’s. It would make sense that well if you’re really good at building a product and creating a great idea, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re great at going out and

Evan Addams: 18:28 raising money or managing 100 people in it. And so you look for some of those complimentary things and his CEO and that was the case with ours.

Doug Smith: I want to talk about your role specifically. So you did a little bit of everything, but it sounds like your primary focus was sales. And just to piggyback on something you said earlier about we had to get our message right. I think that’s so interesting. So important to talk about today, how it talked to organizations, really any organization out there, how can they get their messaging writers it just concentrates and errors that hiring an outside team will come in and tell you what your messages.

Evan Addams: 19:01 I wish there was a silver bullet on it. There are some great teams out there that have great third-party organizations that can help you figure out your messaging. But my personal favorite is I can probably make it sound a bit more glorious than constant trial and error with the way, it generally is that I, the way I phrase it is, the Buzzword is, is empathy. And for us that actually starting with our founding team, one of our founders started to spend a lot of time in, are not even our clients yet in our prospects. So they would, they would go to a restaurant and they would, this was in the more of the research phase. They would spend hours at a restaurant just learning, and as the first salesperson I did the same, I would go to a restaurant, I would sit, I’d have lunch, I’d go into the kitchen, I’d carry my dishes back with me.

Evan Addams: 20:01 I’d sit there and I just learn about not just, hey, why are, why can, how can I sell you this iPad at your host stand? How can I replace your pagers? The conversation became, tell me about your business. Tell me about what’s going on here, and the more we are able to be empathetic to what it is to be a restaurateur, empathetic to what it is to be a host, at a host stand. Well that was when our product really tightened up and we started to realize how much of a pain it was to manage sheets of paper. At the host stand. We started to realize how much of a pain it was when guests would walk outside of the radius of your pager system or that the pager batteries die and you’ve got to buy new ones and this costs $57 a piece. We started to learn these pain points just by spending our time with our prospects, becoming friends, with them, eating with them, and when we work that back into our products and our sales pitch, we were effective and that took months really to go from kind of that early stage idea to where we started to see some early product market fit traction.

Doug Smith: 21:16 Yeah. I’m just curious. Your best sales advice through your experience, if you could sit down with a sales teams that are just starting off, you know, what would you tell them about what it takes to be successful in sales? Where do you see people missing it? You know, what are the daily habits that you have to have to be successful?

Evan Addams: 21:35 Yeah. There’s. I think there’s a difference between advice given to say a team of people in an individual. On an individual, I think there’s a certain preparation needs to do as a salesman about the psychology of sales. Every salesperson says, oh, I can hear now. People tell me no all the time when I pushed through, but it’s a different thing when you back’s against the wall, you’re trying to hit your quota, you need to make your money for putting food on the table for your family and things just aren’t clicking in you quickly. Then you can quickly, I’ve done this, you can associate your performance of that day to your call it personal worth and those things get confused and so you fly high and think I’m great when you’re making a sale, but on those droughts you really questioned who you are and so being able to separate who you are from your daily performance.

Evan Addams: 22:38 Now it in the grand scheme who you are should be your daily performance, should flow out of who you are, but not allowing yourself to be defined by whether or not that particular sale goes through is a key sales tactic that I’ve seen, I’ve seen people quit and they shouldn’t. I’ve seen people get too high or too low, but when somebody’s really can understand, yes, making this sale is great, it affirms what I know about myself or I missed that sale. I’m going to learn about it, but it doesn’t change who I know I am. That’s when I see a successful salesperson. And I think just overall on the team front I’d go back to that empathy, when I, when I talked to a team about what to do, I say, look, you don’t need to build the perfect product to sell it.

Evan Addams: 23:28 I think you need to get in the field right now talking with students at colleges, you know, early stage business plan type projects, and they tried to build the perfect financial model and those things are important. But when you can get into the field with your prospects, into the field, with your target market and just learn with them, your product will be better and you’re not even selling at that point, but you’re simply, when you, your, your mentality will change from selling to fixing a problem, coming alongside and industry as an advocate. That’s the kind of mental switch you want to try to establish early on in your, on your sales team that I’ve seen, when that’s done well, it is consistent and to keep doing that. No Wait, our rule was every employee had to work at a restaurant, not in previous life. When you were hired week one, you’re working in a restaurant that was part of her onboarding, whether you were CEO or entry level, answering the customer support funds, whatever it might be. You’re working in a restaurant week. Want to make sure you get it. That’s awesome. Yeah.

Doug Smith: 24:31 What restaurant did you work at?

Evan Addams: 24:33 Um, and I was in Texas Roadhouse out in Beaver. Nice. And technically when Manaca and met some great people out there. I also spent trying to think, I, I’ve spent so much time in restaurants, so I spent a lot of time that The Franklin Inn, up, in, up off the Wexford exit. And it, those were my early days of indoctrination.

Doug Smith: 24:55 Do you have a, I guess we’ll keep it local to Pittsburgh. Do you have a top three restaurants in Pittsburgh? I’m sure you visited them all and visited them all.

Evan Addams: 25:03 Yeah, I’ve got, I’ve got some favorites. One of my favorites is one of No Wait ’s first clients I think they make great pizza and it’s Dinette over in East Liberty are located by where the Whole Foods is and right across from, from BRGR are another one is Burgatory. They were another one of our early, early restaurants and that was when they had one location and they’ve done really well and I remember walking in, one of my first, uh, one of my first sales pitches and I walked in and the host said, Oh, thank the Lord, No Wait’s here. He was so excited because he was losing his mind. They had two hours waits for lunch on a Tuesday at a Burger restaurant and that so those are, those are probably my two top places. And then I have to give a shout out to a place I’ve gone and especially if it was next to our Oakland based office, but Pamela’s specifically in Oakland, that location, I think I’ve personally funded their subscription rates to No Wait because I’ve been there two or three times a week for years. And it became a second office to meet for a little while when we were too full. We do interviews down there and great people. So I would say those three are, or some of my top places.

Doug Smith: 26:18 Do you just have great genetics? You look like you haven’t gained a pound.

Evan Addams: 26:21 I that we were, we were talking earlier as I, I’ve, I had to pick up running in order to support my habit.

Doug Smith: 26:28 I love it. I want to talk a little bit about just entrepreneurship. I’ll just leave it really open-ended, but lots of people want to start a company today. Entrepreneurship is really cool. What advice would you give to entrepreneurs or young the young or old people? Anyone who’s out there listening, saying, I had this idea, I want to start a business.

Evan Addams: 26:46 There’s a phrase that local Pittsburgh legend Sean Ammirati uses and he says, “Great entrepreneurs create the world how it ought to be.” I love that. And because we think an entrepreneur someone who starts a business, can I be an entrepreneur and start a haircutting shop? It’s really are you seeing an opportunity in the world are saying, Hey, world, I’ve got an idea. I think we should change the way we do this a little bit because it’s going to be better if we do. I, I love that. And so I think as an entrepreneur you need to separate your desire to be your own boss from the phrase we just used because being your own boss is great and you certainly, there are entrepreneurial things in that, but you need to make sure that your fire is more on that creating the world how it ought to be. I think at a high level, you know, that is the advice that I try to give regardless of industry, regardless of age. I think that’s the checkpoint that, entrepreneurs need to hold themselves to.

Doug Smith: 27:51 I love that, we were talking earlier, I think that’s so important because if they don’t have a great why is just money. If it’s just to stay at home, it’s just not to be in an office, they’re going to burn out, they’re going to phase out and not getting anything that they want. And so you were fortunate enough to work for a company that not only scaled, but they did what every scaling company probably wants is to get acquired or get bought. And so $40,000,000, not a bad sale. And so obviously you had to benefit somehow from that financially. I’m just curious, thoughout this whole process, what have you learned about money in and of itself?

Evan Addams: 28:22 Yeah, that’s, that’s a great question. And you know, it, it’s a while, while, you know, I’m, I joked about being semi-retired, you know, the, the, the luxury that my family has received from this exit is really not so much the money side as much as we’ve now received the luxury of time in order to make sure we’re focused on the right next project, you know, whether it’s No Wait or other major acquisitions. And there’s been a couple around Pittsburgh, you’ll see individuals go two different ways. You’ll see them retire on a beach somewhere and sorta check out, or they finally answered that question, which is, if money doesn’t matter, what would you do with your time? And you can really get back to that, that why on why you do what you do. And it’s a scary thing sometimes actually. It’s a scary thing because you, you, you can for a minute poke your head out of the weeds of, you’re not just working with your back against the wall, you have a little bit of luxury and then you really have to,

Evan Addams: 29:32 you really have to answer for yourself what, what do you, what in my background, I get to say what has God put you on this earth to do? And there’s, it’s, funny that money can do this, but, but there’s a, almost stuff if you’re not careful when you’re trying to answer some of those questions for yourself. It can get, I use the word scary. It can get dark at times to have, wow, do I really care about this as much as I thought I did or am I a terrible person that I really just want to work over there to make more money? And, and I’ve seen in a while I’ve had aspects of, of sort of sorting that out in my life. I’ve had friends, whether they’re from No Wait or from other companies that have been acquired that I’ve watched them I’ve been a part of their walking through the psychology and I think that overall this acquisition has served as a catalyst for what hopefully proves to be a successful calibration of psychology here for whatever, whatever the next phase is. So yeah, I think the money simply just serves as the, a little bit of a key to, to kind of start that up a bit.

Doug Smith: 30:48 Yeah. And so when this happened, do people start treating you differently? Right. Were there people waiting outside?

Evan Addams: 30:54 So the funny story was, is this happened, I remember the days. So March first was the acquisition. That was actually my birthday and so I remember the day saying it was a great day and it was a Wednesday, so I had friends going down, one of my best friend’s Bachelor party down in Florida to go to spring training for the Pirates. And everybody flew down on, I want to say Wednesday on my birthday, but I knew I couldn’t tell them why I couldn’t go on Wednesday, but I knew what was happening. And so it happened Wednesday hits, social media a good thing.

Evan Addams: 31:32 I have to be there on Thursday and Friday, so I fly down on Friday afternoon, and I get to, I get to the Avis rental car, they upgrade me to this convertible Mustang. I’m like great. So I drive up to this bachelor party and these guys have read all the news that Evan was late to the Bachelor party because the company sold for 40 million, but guys I do not have $40,000,000 with me like stop it. But the best thing ever happened to me while we went out that night and everybody was excited about Evan buying drinks or whatever it might be. One or the other Yinzers in our group weeks prior or just, you know, very close to the trip, had hit gold on fantasy daily football and make hundreds of thousands of dollars. So it was this experience where like I could basically divert everybody towards him and he was happy to, live like daddy Warbucks for the weekend.

Evan Addams: 32:29 And uh, but it was, it was a, it was a really good time. And, you know, they tease me about it at one of the funny comments, right as we sat down, I got in, we went out Saturday morning in one of my favorite dishes, one of my favorite restaurants is First Watch. And they have, they have a seasonal dish called millionaires, Bacon and, and I sat down and I said, guys, you’ve got to try the millionaire’s bacon. And of course they’re like, oh, my friend says to the waitress, he says, do you have any, a paycheck to paycheck pancakes? And so you gotta watch what you say just because of the perception is out there, but it really, you know, I think people quickly understood that you, whether you’re making, you know, this is real, this experience for us was really much more about the, well, the experience, the wisdom gained,  the psychology of how do I react to an acquisition, how do I react to something that I love for seven years, a team or company kind of moving into this next phase, a new bosses. And, we went from 60 people to 5,000 people overnight. So I’m a lot less significant in learning how I react to my teammates react and hopefully in a future acquisition-like scenarios, I’ll have a better game plan. Even have a solid mentality of how to, how to go into that.

Doug Smith: 33:58 So if you’re listening to this, there are two paths to wealth, one is jumping on board of a start-up that may get acquired one day and the other is the to keep playing fantasy football apparently. Any other. Any other advice for, I guess I’m curious on the entrepreneurship side, can you talk about feedback? So you talked about the importance of getting into the field and listening, which is really just getting feedback, but for those entrepreneurs who have an idea and they’re putting their idea out there, sometimes feedback, it’d be tough to hear. Can you talk about just that?

Evan Addams: 34:30 Well, I, I remember constantly hearing, and this would have been circa 2004 or five, this concept of stealth mode. I heard about that frequently, which is you’ve got a great idea. Don’t tell anybody about it or make sure you sign ndas. And I was trying to reconcile with that. It didn’t, I realized that the advice was coming from some folks who were very successful in the nineties when it was a time of insane amounts of investment over a powerpoint presentation and you know, money was quick and fast and it’s different now and so part of the advice I give to myself and to other people trying to do a new project is talk about it everywhere. If you’ve got some trade secrets or a couple of angles, I think you’ll know what those are. Of course, you don’t blast those out on social media, but conceptually sharing your business idea is a brilliant thing to do.

Evan Addams: 35:30 It will you, you’ll realize your target market a bit so you might have a conversation with somebody who’s like you, similar age, similar family, similar socioeconomic geography, and they’ll love your idea and it feels great. You’re the hero of drinks that night because you’re the one who thought of this brilliant thing. Go talk to your parents about it. You don’t even need to ask them for specific feedback. Just tell them about it. Go talk to, go talk to your friend’s little sister about it. Go Talk to some of your coworkers about it, talk to your taxi driver about it, you know, whoever picks you up at the airport it, you’ll get a sense of different demographics and how they respond. And when somebody responds and they’re not excited, it’s not because they’re not smart enough to get your idea. Remember, different personalities represent different huge chunks of people.

Evan Addams: 36:28 So if someone reacts negatively if you know your friend’s little sister, 16, 17-year old says like, well that’s stupid. Dive into that some more. She might be onto something, right? Even though she’s only 16, 17 right now, but give her 10 years and her generation is going to be running the world. So hopefully maybe 20 years from the. I know that a lot of 16-year-olds sisters so, but you know, give us some more time and um, and you want to make sure that you’re addressing the different things that, that the different generations are looking for. And yes, you can have a target market. You can’t please everybody, but it’s hard. I mean, it is, it is an embarrassing thing. It’s kind of like watching yourself perform on stage or whatever. No one likes to listen to that on the old answering machines, no one wanted to hear their voice like that’s not what I sound like.

Evan Addams: 37:19 It’s important to force yourself to do that and I’m a big advocate for that. I know you’ve, you’ve talked before about even just personal feedback sessions. I think you know as an entrepreneur, it’s not just about product feedback, but you also need to grow as a leader and so you want to ask questions about, well, how do you think I’m doing or am I thinking well about this or what are some things I can do to communicate more effectively and the odds of you just being a home run straight from birth or you don’t need to change anything about yourself at any point. I’m sure there are people out there who just happened to have the good genes for it, but I think the greatest of leaders are those who have constantly adapted.

Doug Smith: 38:06 Hey everyone, thank you so much for listening to our interview with Evan. I hope that you enjoyed it. You can find ways to connect with Evan and links to everything that we discussed in the shownotes@L3Leadership.org/198. As I mentioned earlier, you can also listen to our lightning round interview with Evan in episode 199, so I encourage you to go and check that out as well and as always, I want to thank our sponsor, Alex, Tulandin. Alex is a full-time realtor with Keller Williams Realty and if you are looking to buy or sell a house in the Pittsburgh market, Alex is your guy. He’s a member and a supporter of L3 Leadership and he would love to have an opportunity to connect with you. You can find out more about Alex@Pittsburghpropertyshowcase.com. As always, if you want to stay up to date with what we’re doing here at L3 Leadership, you can simply go to our website and sign up for our email list at L3Leadership.org. As always, I like to end with a quote and Kevin Turner said this. He said, “The only job security we have is our individual commitment to personal development.”  I love that and I know that if you listen to this, you have a commitment to personal development. Thanks again for being a listener. Lauren, I appreciate you so much and we will talk to you next episode.