Episode 0041 · May 9, 2023

The podcast about what to do next.


[Unedited Transcript]

Paul Ford: [00:00:00] Well, I don’t need any advice. Rich

Rich Ziade: Billy Joel in an interview once said, me leaving Madison Square Garden, which he’s played at 5,000

Paul Ford: Sure.

Rich Ziade: Me

leaving Madison Square Garden and getting in that limo is the loneliest feeling in the world.

Paul Ford: Mmm.

Rich Ziade: Yep. It’s very lonely.

Paul Ford: Tell you when you want, when you wanna feel really lonely, you just put on The Stranger.

On Vinyl.

Rich Ziade: Stranger’s a good album.

Paul Ford: is a good album.

Rich Ziade: It is a good album.

Paul Ford: Yeah. I don’t know

Rich Ziade: what are you in such a good mood for?

Paul Ford: Well, first of all, nothing is better for people than hearing two middle-aged men talk about their love for Billy Joel albums. That’s,

Rich Ziade: not a huge Billy Joel fan, just to get

Paul Ford: No stranger’s good though. And you’re, I’m, I’m not either.

Okay. So I’m, I’m really excited I’m coming to you today cuz I’m gonna launch a website really soon. Oh,

Rich Ziade: Oh, you’ve got a show coming at Madison Square

Paul Ford: Oh, it’s so great. I’m gonna get out there. [00:01:00] Yeah. I mean, Billy Joel, you know, he’s had a lot of problems in life. Not me. I’m gonna want, we’re gonna hit the big red button.

That thing’s gonna be out there.

Rich Ziade: and

Paul Ford: Everyone’s gonna think I’m so smart and so great, and they’re gonna be like, good job, buddy. And then it’s just gonna succeed and millions of people are gonna use it. And I, I’m just, I’m already seeing, I, I have, I have to revise my obituary in my

Rich Ziade: Just success

Paul Ford: Oh, just, it’s gonna be so great.

I love launching product products. It’s the greatest feeling in the world. And once they go live, everybody just thinks that you’re the best person ever.

Rich Ziade: It, it’s nothing like that.

Paul Ford: No, it isn’t. And I think that’s what we should talk about today.

Rich Ziade: Let’s do it.

Paul Ford: All right, so launch. We’re about to launch a product.

are quietly now we’re, it’s gonna be for people who’ve signed up to [00:02:00] the mailing list, which I know everyone listening to the podcast has

Rich Ziade: aboard.com. Put your email address in a really fun, cool tool for organizing your passions@aboard.com.

Paul Ford: I will say I love this thing. I use it all day. It has made the web better for me already and we’re, we are getting started.

So let me get that outta the way. We’re launching a software product that I personally find useful and interesting and that I, I like using. So that’s a good feeling.

Rich Ziade: get launched all the

Paul Ford: Mm-hmm.

Rich Ziade: Uh,


debut movies get released to theaters. Albums are dropped. That’s the language to

Paul Ford: They’re all really successful.

Rich Ziade: books get released,

Paul Ford: Oh boy.

Rich Ziade: um, and, uh, restaurants are opened.

Paul Ford: Mm-hmm.

Rich Ziade: The restaurant analogy is a good one.


Paul Ford: restaurant and be really excited about how it’s

Rich Ziade: let’s spend some money on pr.

Paul Ford: Okay. I just hired a pr. Pr I’m gonna spend

Rich Ziade: Whoa. For a restaurant.

Paul Ford: for.

It’s a good [00:03:00] restaurant.


Rich Ziade: you’re out. You’ve got all kinds of press. You’re packed.


gonna try you out, especially if your lighting is good and you’ve got a good stereo system and the plating is nice.

Paul Ford: Yeah. No, we need to name any completely random country,

Rich Ziade: Guatemala.

Paul Ford: It’s a Guatemala and gastropub.

I love a good ev. You can take, you can throw a, a, a dart at the wall

Rich Ziade: Yeah. Yeah.

Paul Ford: as long as you don’t hit Antarctica Yeah. You can just put gastropub after it. And Brooklyn will follow all over itself.

Rich Ziade: yes. And so you open the restaurant.

Paul Ford: Mm-hmm.

Rich Ziade: There’s a lot of people there cuz you promoted the hell out of it.

You spent some money.

Paul Ford: It’s, it’s Brooklyn’s only Azer by Johnny and Gastropub,

Rich Ziade: And then two things happen.

Paul Ford: Mm-hmm. At our.


Rich Ziade: cover both. We might need an extra podcast for this.

Paul Ford: good. We’ll do two.

Rich Ziade: The first thing that happens is there is this messed up thing your brain does to you where it tells you that when [00:04:00] you launch or open, that your work is done.

Paul Ford: Oh, that’s the worst.

Rich Ziade: And then it turns out nobody likes the spinach fritters at your restaurant, or it turns out the labor behind one of your dishes is four times longer than it needs to be, and it, and you’re packed. And so the work, instead of that moment of exhaling and just kicking back, which by the way, let’s put aside even the book getting released, the publisher’s like, all right now, Get going.

Go visits all the bookstores and the universities.

Paul Ford: it all 15 years ago. It’s horrible, horrible

Rich Ziade: Dave sent you to work.

Paul Ford: let me give you a metaphor. I have, we’ve been, how long have, have we been working on our product?

Rich Ziade: Two and a half years.

Paul Ford: Think, let me give you a shovel and you’re gonna start digging for two and a half How big of a, how big of a hole have you made?[00:05:00]

Yeah. And the dream of the launch is that, that you’re gonna fill that hole in right away.

Rich Ziade: Well, first you’re gonna get shot back out of it so you don’t kill

Paul Ford: You can, you can get out of the

Rich Ziade: gonna fill with gold bars,

Paul Ford: Gold bars and dreams and love, and people, people who, and then people are gonna understand your intent and be excited and motivated

Rich Ziade: Well, let’s, I mean, let’s, let’s focus on, first off, that.

There’s two things happening. One is you just expect to be washed over with love and adoration. Mm-hmm. The other is you’re sitting in a recliner as all that happens. Neither of those things happen first. There is no recliner. For some reason, the work like quadruples on the other side.

Paul Ford: side.

Go back. Now that I’m done with my home metaphor, let’s go back, um, into, to the restaurant. There’s been a small kitchen fire. The,

Rich Ziade: No, no. Chef quit

Paul Ford: the fire department, white shirts

Rich Ziade: times, three different chefs in the first six

Paul Ford: Fire

department, white chefs need to do a walkthrough because of the, the way your gas line [00:06:00]

Rich Ziade: by

the way, the, the more intricate the sleeve tattoo, the more likely they are to quit you in Brooklyn.

Paul Ford: it is true.

You see a, and it’s weird. It’ll be like, I went to culinary school, I have a neck tattoo, and you’re like, perfect.

Rich Ziade: Yeah. And, and, and they won’t quit because they’ll, they’ll quit because you said something about the

Paul Ford: They’re artists.

Rich Ziade: they’re artists, right? All right, so chefs are

Paul Ford: so, and actually, hold on.

We’re talking about this as like restaurant owners slash co-founders. Everyone who’s been working towards the project has been part of digging the hole.

Rich Ziade: Everyone’s been digging

Paul Ford: And is really counting on that hole to like fill up really fast and, and it’s, you might think it’s money. I don’t think it is actually. I think no one expects like magical gold bars to rain from the sky.

I think what people expect is people will acknowledge and see the labor and the energy and the, the sort of aspects of myself that I’ve put into this.

Rich Ziade: mm-hmm.

Paul Ford: And they don’t, and we’ve come back to this a bunch of times in the podcast. I, I’ll skip ahead and what they see is themselves reflected and then they decide if [00:07:00] they like the reflection or not.

And that’s software. That’s the restaurant. That’s the Azerbaijan gastro pub. It’s, it’s all of

Rich Ziade: Is it a movie?

Paul Ford: It is the movie. You go to the movie and guy, I, I like the, why do we have critics in this world? It’s so that, that’s, that’s a person like

Rich Ziade: is. That’s a profound thing you’re saying, which, you know, we could end this podcast because it’s so big, which is, uh, it isn’t about you, even though you are the creator.

Paul Ford: this is the hardest, and it sounds like a like, oh, well, you know, of course I’m not full of myself.

But you’d be amazed at how baked in the identification of yourself with the things you do and put out into the world is, and until you’ve. Just received the indifference of the world five or 6, 10, 15 times As that slap across the face with the back of the hand, uh, it’s really hard cuz you really think, you’re like, no, I get it.

I get it. I’m gonna pace it. And what I do now is I just sort of prepare for. A little sense of gloom and, and anxiety on the other side of any launch [00:08:00] date.

Rich Ziade: I, I, I think that’s, I, I, I wouldn’t say gloom. Uh, I, I, I think recalibrating your expectations around how people are gonna react, um, is really healthy and really smart because it could crush you two and a half years.

Uh, and I hope the team, which is an amazing team at a board, um, listens to this podcast and doesn’t latch on like this.

Launch as judgment day of any sort. Like that’s not what it is. First off, it won’t be about you. It will be about why it didn’t work for them in their world, in their kitchen, on their kitchen table.

Paul Ford: May not have found the users yet,

Rich Ziade: whatever it is, right? But the point is it can, I mean, you’ve worked on a movie for four years and then you release it and it just, Hits like a, it was just a thud and nobody, and it’s just two stars every, nobody hated it, but nobody loved it.

Paul Ford: No, your, your child went through puberty.[00:09:00]

You weren’t, you weren’t home. You were filming the movie.

Rich Ziade: crushing. You know, I always think about the front row seats at the Academy Awards, like they’re very like just iconic actors and directors and producers, but also the ones they think did the best work. And I’ve seen that award ceremony where the, the. The winner, the, the filmmakers got the front row seat but never got up cuz they didn’t win

Paul Ford: Yes.

Rich Ziade: And I’ve seen it and it’s a strange thing. It’s like, well I’m here, let me tell you something, just cuz you got there and you got the front row. The fact that you didn’t win makes it all feel like a failure. Right. And that’s just us and

Paul Ford: Oh, I never look, everybody gets it. Like you go home and you, you know, yell at somebody and then you go like, I’m sorry.

I’m just upset. It’s a silly night. It’s stupid. Whole thing. Stupid. And then you gotta go back and make another one.

Rich Ziade: and you gotta go back and make another one. And so I think what you’re saying here is such a big deal, which is you think, [00:10:00] let’s focus on software for a, a

Paul Ford: Mm-hmm.

Rich Ziade: Software is not a form of expression.

Paul Ford: No. It’s a tool that people use to express themselves.

Rich Ziade: Exactly. And when you make them feel powerful, and there are examples of this where people feel smart,

Paul Ford: Mm-hmm.

Rich Ziade: productive, powerful, knowledgeable, they then, then they’ll flatter your software and they’ll become advocates for

it. But until then,

Paul Ford: well, then it becomes theirs. It’s not, it’s not yours.

It’s never yours. That’s the thing. It’s never great.

Rich Ziade: Great. Software is appropriated.

Paul Ford: Let me go back to something I said a little earlier cuz I think it’s a, the, the point I wanna make, and this is the advice part, right? So prepare for the emotional release of [00:11:00] launch. I’m at a point in my career, you and I have worked together a long time.

I do not expect our launch day to actually be radically different than many other days. I’m gonna have to send about 20 emails to people, so I’m like, that’ll be my job. But, and I, you. The reason I don’t think I’m gonna feel very gloomy because I actually we’re on a good product. We have a plan for post-launch.

We have a product roadmap after what


Rich Ziade: to do. We are realistic about the fact that it’s just this way. Point in the journey of the thing.

Paul Ford: and this is, people are definitely putting in more hours right now, but we we’re, we’ve worked hard not to burn everybody out, so it’s like we’re gonna lean back in and just like everybody can take a breath and then let’s, let’s get back to work.

And I think that that’s a good feeling. I’m looking forward to it. The other thing too is, And this, this is the real advice cuz I’ve done this and it’s not great. You can get a little gloomy or be like, well, you know, poof. You know that’s life. Sometimes things work and sometimes they don’t. A little too early to tell, but Well boy, didn’t quite get a lot of response on this.

Now is not the moment for [00:12:00] truthful irony. Post-launch now is the moment to spackle the biggest 1942 Broadway show. Smile on your face. Yeah. And say, I couldn’t be more pleased with how this is going. Team has worked so hard cuz there’s a lot of people looking at you going like, what do they think?

And what I think is, no matter what happens on that launch day, this is a success.

Rich Ziade: Oh, that’s a, I mean, it


Paul Ford: but it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter what I feel.

Rich Ziade: doesn’t matter what you feel.

Paul Ford: That is what I’m saying, and I’m gonna retrofit my beliefs to that emotional reaction. Like, I’m gonna end up believing that, and that’s gonna be really good for the product.

Rich Ziade: me tack on a bonus piece of advice to your

Paul Ford: Mm-hmm. Which is,

Rich Ziade: is I think.

It, it’s definitely a footnote cuz what you said was, was really big and profound and requires you to put your ego aside, especially if you’re an entrepreneur. Like entrepreneurs do a really good job working out their egos, Like they’re very good at it. Um, [00:13:00] sort of little mini piece of advice next to which is do not try to rationalize. The lack of love or recognition by trying to explain away how everyone else got it wrong or isn’t understanding it.

The world.

Paul Ford: not. their fault.

Rich Ziade: The world is the world and everything. You wanna be successful in business.

I’m gonna, here we go. Here’s the airport Hudson News business book. Start up your own business book ready. Everything is your fault.

Paul Ford: mean, that’s that. I’ve been working with you for years. You, you live it. You believe it.

Rich Ziade: Everything is your fault.

Paul Ford: especially when it comes to our relationship.


Rich Ziade: No one wants to be told that, Hey, listen, that I know you used to like that

Paul Ford: you want to talk a launch

Rich Ziade: off the the burger, [00:14:00] but a smaller one will be lower for your cares cholesterol. I sat on that drive through for 11 minutes. You’re gonna gimme a proper slice of cheese on

Paul Ford: Rich, you want to know a business book that would fail upon lunch?

What that one? It’s the message that absolutely nobody wants to hear, right?

Rich Ziade: Everything is your fault. Success is nothing other than navigating out of failure again and again until you’re away from it all.

Paul Ford: Look, it’s tricky, right? Because at some level, launch is meaningless.

Rich Ziade: It is. It is.

Paul Ford: It’s a story. It’s a story you’re gonna tell and it’s a change in the story.


Rich Ziade: we, we are, look, we’re talking about software mostly cuz that’s what

Paul Ford: are. and, restaurants and gastro pubs.

Rich Ziade: launching a restaurant, Is very different than launching a, like once you launch a movie and it’s done and

Paul Ford: you can’t go back,

Rich Ziade: film, you kind of can’t go back.

I’ve seen restaurants Bob and Weave

Paul Ford: no, this is real.

Software is like a [00:15:00] restaurant. We can change the menu.

Rich Ziade: We can change the menu, you can change the signage. There’s a restaurant near us that, for whatever reason, I’m not even sure why repaints the out storefront like every five months.

Paul Ford: want to name it because, but like we, we go there first of every time you and I go there, there’s a major issue with HVAC and we’re freezing.

Rich Ziade: and we, but the, the food is pretty good,

Paul Ford: pretty good,

Rich Ziade: but they keep painting it.

Paul Ford: They paint it yellow and then they don’t heat it. It’s really upsetting.

Rich Ziade: it’s upsetting, but I look credit to the man or the woman who owns that restaurant for kind of

willing to, to just send the software patch out

Paul Ford: over and over and over again now, and the users.

It’s like getting, it’s like Windows Vista updates that

Rich Ziade: kind of wild, And so unlike a movie, which you know, you can’t revise, you really can’t revise

Paul Ford: I mean, you can, you could do the director’s cut, but that’s only if it was successful the first time. They don’t let you make,

Rich Ziade: directors don’t. You want some more?

Paul Ford: They don’t make [00:16:00] like wild hogs too. Director’s cut. Right. Like,

Rich Ziade: Um, so it’s, it’s on you and, and just be forgiving what you’re saying and another way of saying what you’re saying, which is for, you know, just be a little forgiving for yourself and your team, right? You’re not gonna get it all right? The world is crazy

Paul Ford: Yes.

Rich Ziade: the world is gonna want what it wants.

Paul Ford: Last bit of advice to that end, and then, then we’ll, we’ll, uh,

Rich Ziade: This is a three pack. Three

Paul Ford: Yeah. Yeah. Last bit of advice is upon launch, you’ll receive an enormous amount of feedback if you’re lucky, and you should safely ignore all of the first wave.

because the first wave that comes in tends to be friends and family with agenda and they kind of know the space and they have opinions and thoughts.

Those aren’t your users. Yeah. Those are, those are people who mean well. Yes. And that is really different than your users. Yes. Your users are gonna shut stumbling later drunk and be like, why does it, I don’t, it’s blue. [00:17:00] What? And, and then you’re gonna have to listen and figure out, out what they really want, cuz they don’t know what to tell you.

The person who can confidently tell you what they think should come next is an absolute risk in the first couple of months.

Rich Ziade: It’s a great point. And you know, the, the pioneering UX designer Alan Cooper used to say, users with ideas and feedback are far less valuable. Then the observations you make of a user just using a thing quietly. Right.

Paul Ford: The phrase I use is monkey with a hammer. You just wanna watch the monkey hit the thing with the hammer

Yeah. Yes.

Then you see I’m monkey really is hitting it hard with a hammer. Um, alright, so, so just to recap, get ready to be depressed. Don’t listen to anyone.

Rich Ziade: It’s all your fault.

Paul Ford: and it’s all your fault.


Rich Ziade: Congratulations on your launch.

Paul Ford: Yeah, you guys did a great job. You’re successful entrepreneurs. Can’t wait to see where this goes.

Rich Ziade: Um, Hit us up. We are ziti and ford advisor ziti [00:18:00] ford.com and at Zdi Ford on Twitter. Subscribe wherever, uh, and check out a board our sponsor.

Uh, full disclosure, we are the founders of a board a board.com. Sign up for the beta, you’ll get access very soon.

Paul Ford: I think everybody’s okay with that ambiguity. Uh, thanks everybody. Yeah, get, get in there and in and really in like a couple weeks. We’re gonna wave you in. Bye. [00:19:00]

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