Leaders Podcast

Exiting Your Business

With StreetFight Co-Founder Laura Rich

Show notes

On the season finale of the LEADERS Podcast James talks to Laura Rich, the former CEO and Co-Founder of a media company called StreetFight, a regularly updated online trade publication covering hyperlocal business, local commerce, mobile, location-based companies, and services. Laura started StreetFight because she noticed a trend and a need, so she filled it. She focused on storytelling and the drama behind the local marketing industry to build StreeFight into an attractive acquisition opportunity for another company. A large part of the interview focuses on what happens after the sale of StreetFight. So if you're just starting a business, or you're looking to exit your current one this is the episode for you. They also dive into mentorship, women in business, and much more, enjoy our interview with Laura Rich.

Read the Interview

Episode Transcript

Quick disclaimer: these transcripts are auto-generated. They are best used in addition to the Podcast audio not instead of. We cannot guarantee 100% accuracy.

James Fratzke: [00:00:00] Laura how are you today?

 

Laura Rich: [00:00:01] I'm great. How are you doing?

 

James Fratzke: [00:00:03] I'm doing well. It is so cool to have you on the podcast today. We really appreciate you making the time.

 

Laura Rich: [00:00:09] It's really great to be here. I'm very excited about this.

 

James Fratzke: [00:00:12] Good well so are we. So let me dive right in. So there's this book that I've fallen in love with. It's called The Myth by Michael Gerber I don't know if you've ever heard of it.

 

Laura Rich: [00:00:20] I have I've read it.

 

James Fratzke: [00:00:21] OK good. So then you will know exactly what I'm talking about here. He has this theory that the number one reason for starting a business is to sell it and you have the very unique experience of starting a business and selling it successfully. And so I wanted to just ask you about that experience can you tell us a little bit about StreetFight starting and selling it and what that was like

 

Laura Rich: [00:00:42] Yeah. So StreetFight was or is I should say I'm no longer there but the company continues. A media company that was launched to serve an emerging industry of companies that were offering local digital marketing services we launched in 2011. And you know we really at the beginning launched with the thought of well let's see if there's actually a market here. But I think you know there was always this expectation that there would be some sort of exit. I don't think we expected that we would ever go public because that is a very large company. But we did expect that we would become part of another company at some point that you know it's hard to have a standalone media company unless you own a lot of properties and it wasn't really our ambition to create other verticals outside of our own. We did toy with the idea as we went on but we were pretty focused on doing the best job we could and we launched with a Web site at first to prove the market and see if there was an audience there that cared about the coverage that we were going to bring them in our journalism on the Web site. And the response was tremendous. It turned out our bet that there was this new market that needed content the community was there and desperately in need of that we launched that that that proved the market. And then we knew we were going to build a business model of selling advertising around that content as well as offering events so that that's part of the community offering people could come together and network and do deals and then we rolled out a research offering as well to help better inform people and help them make strategic decisions. That was 2011 and we sold the business to brand. About a year ago actually February 2017 felt like we crossed the finish line. Like you know we proved that what we did was valuable not just for market but also to potential buyer who understood the value of what we were doing and saw value for their own business in bringing our company onboard.

 

James Fratzke: [00:02:49] Right. And so that must have been like an awesome experience for you and saying hey we did it we arrived and we sold it great, mission accomplished. Shortly thereafter. You would kind of walk away from a StreetFight in a sense and I don't know if I'm getting that right. So you can help fill in the blanks a little bit. But what was that. As a founder or co-founder of a company what was that like for you and what was kind of a thought process you were going through.

 

Laura Rich: [00:03:17] Like I said we sold it in February 2017 and about six months later I moved on. And in that time I worked to get the company in a place where I could hand over my day to day to my business partner David Hirschman who was in turn also handing over some of his day to day to another person who worked with us. So the way we had divided up responsibilities and duties was that I handled sort of the revenue side of the business and he handled the content side of the business content on the site content at our events and so it was ramping things up for him to take over the revenue side as well as working with the new owner to better integrate StreetFight into the company. And then you know and then it was just time for me to go and I think that this happens with founders you know after a certain point it's time to spread your wings and look for new place to land. Usually a new place of your own creation. So right. But it's hard. It is hard to walk away from the thing that you dealt and which was your identity for so long and a real passion. You know it was my day to day and you don't get up every day thinking it's amazing but you get a lot of days I think inspired because it is your own gig and you are creating something. In our case that was out there every single day in front of people. So it was it was a shift to leave that behind. So the challenge the is real.

 

James Fratzke: [00:04:57] Right. Like you described it like, every day you wake up and some you might have some feelings of like Oh I kind of miss it or you might have some feelings of like oh I'm really excited for the future. So what. Like are there any habits or anything that you have that keep you motivated and keep you moving in the right direction?

 

Laura Rich: [00:05:17] In terms of the challenge. I was talking about like the day to day of running the business and the pressures there. You know the buck stops with me. And I had to make sure that we met payroll and kept the lights on and things like that. So there were challenges but that's also very exciting. So post StreetFight. So what I did was I just I took you know like four or five months off. I reconnected with my family and I did something useful. I did a lot of yoga and hiking and just thinking about new ideas and paying attention to trends and eating a lot and having a lot of coffees with people and it was a very exciting time and led me to the point where I'm at now where I have some projects I'm working on that are very clear to me are no interesting paths forward at this at this time. So after that period of time off which was actually more like four months because it was end of August till end of December and then January February we're really taking all of the ideas that I've been thinking through and drilling into them deeper having very specific conversations with people who were working in the industry that I was looking at and like mapping out road maps and sketching out piano owls and looking at you know what customer needs were out there and leaving some of the ideas behind which was a really strange experience for me frankly because I've started to media businesses and it was very clear to me that there was a market need for this and I had to create and I was just compelled to create these two businesses and I didn't go through the process of saying what I want to do it. You know at the time I was the first one I had a job at the time of the second one. I had a very comfortable like consulting and freelance life and was just kind of like possessed by these ideas and knowing that they had to become business. So it's been strange and exciting to be able to in some ways have a little more control over the process and explore these ideas a little more in-depth and be a little clearer about it. But in this process some ideas have emerged almost in the same way where they just keep coming back and they're not going away and they seem to just make so much sense and there seems to be an obvious need to me. So you know it's a combination I would say the last time was a little more. This is gut and process. So yeah.  

 

James Fratzke: [00:07:54] Now that you've been taking in these ideas and you've been deciding what's maybe a good idea what are some ideas you have to say no to. Once you finally decide on one and you've already done this twice with two other businesses you're getting ready potentially do it a third time. Now at this stage of your life once you've decided what that next thing is what are those first three steps you take to launch it and get off the ground. Besides the PNL statements and things like that like once you've decided Okay we're doing this. If I'm an entrepreneur trying to learn from you what are those three lessons that you're going to say. These are the things you need to do?

 

Laura Rich: [00:08:31] I think there are sort of intangibles in the way. I mean one is when is commitment and it is truly dedicating oneself and committing to the idea. But I think also keeping an open mind as you go even as you say this is the thing I'm moving forward with as you get new information you know as you start to put the product together or talk to more customers and you start to make it real. I mean it's so important to be okay with you know whether it's pivoting or simply moving on. But I think that I think that the commitment is really the most important thing. And I think it's also putting aside those other things so you know not just saying I'm coming to this one thing but I'm going to kind of keep these other ones in mind and explore them and I just don't think you can do that if you're going to make something work. You have to throw yourself into it. I think that's really the biggest the biggest thing and start talking to customers depending on what it is. If you have a service offering which is mostly what my types of things tend to be I mean they were products in a sense that we were creating content but it's not like we're building something that is based on code so we can start taking things out to market more quickly.

 

James Fratzke: [00:09:45] Now I think you made a good call out and I just wanted to speak into it a little bit putting other things off to the side and not keeping your feet in all these different pools basically. Okay. Well you know down this road but I'm going to keep this thing kind of warm and keep that thing kind of warm you know just in case because your mind becomes so scattered across multiple ideas it's hard to focus and truly do one. Well.

 

Laura Rich: [00:10:12] I think I think that you're not going to be able to do the best job that's the thing that you should be committing to and that's going to come through in your conversations with customers or with investors because you're not going to be completely 100 percent obsessed with the thing you're working on which I think is so essential when you're an entrepreneur and you're building something out.

 

James Fratzke: [00:10:30] Let me shift to this so we're doing research for this interview. And so I watched a few videos of you online. So I have in a good way. There was a video of you doing some opening remarks. StreetFight 2016 in 16 I think it was. And you said you know in the six years that you guys have been doing it that a lot had changed. And so what was one of those biggest changes that you experienced. But I'm going to put a little bit of a caveat on it. A change that happened that you thought was going to doom StreetFight. And then like what did you do to claw back from that or what did you do to change that situation.

 

Laura Rich: [00:11:08] Oh interesting. You know it really did come down to the coverage that expanded. And you know I think you take risks there too and saying OK we're going to follow the customer in this direction or we're going to hold on to the one we have because we're not sure about these other directions. And you know I think we got it right though. I think we did. We just you know I think it also we were journalists coming into this so we think about where is the story going and who are the players. And so we had a good inherent innate sense for who that who that is.

 

James Fratzke: [00:11:43] That's a cool perspective. I think some of the companies that do really well are the ones that do something and they just so happened to be about something else so you guys were journalists who just so happened to be covering the local marketing world. So you're able to come at that from such an interesting slant that now you're providing this value that people find because it's like you're not being deceptive you're not trying to do anything other than educate people and that's valuable information it's hard to find authentic people out in the space. Today I feel like would you agree with that?

 

Laura Rich: [00:12:16] I'm not sure what you mean so I'm not sure that I agree with that or not.

 

James Fratzke: [00:12:20] I guess what I'm saying is is that I feel like oftentimes everybody's got their agenda. And so whether it's a blog post they're trying to always point you back to a certain platform they're always trying to get you back to their product offering. Right. And so I'm just saying from your perspective you guys were covering in the industry you didn't necessarily have a dog in the fight so you could come at it from a very objective standpoint does that make sense?

 

Laura Rich: [00:12:49] Yes that makes sense almost like sponsored content or it's a blog site that is owned by somebody else and you don't know you know StreetFight was acquired by a company in the industry. We covered the CEO and founder of Brandify has been just great about saying you know the value in StreetFight is in maintaining this objectivity and independence. And without that it loses total credibility and value to the industry even if the services continue I think if the voice isn't there the intention starts to get a little muddied. So yeah we were we were able to do that and I think it is again because we were journalists coming into it we were interested in the story. And that's sort of how this started out in a way. You know I saw that there were these emerging companies like those three I mentioned for a great group, I thought you know there's something going on here. They're related even if they don't look like they are. And I think there's something more than just writing a freelance story for some business publication it seems like there is an emerging market here and that means there are people who need something. So yeah I would say like journalism and story kind of drove the company from start all the way through now.

 

James Fratzke: [00:14:05] You have mentioned this a couple of times now in different ways but I want to unpack it if it's possible. You seem to have this ability to identify trends and start kind of connecting dots that maybe other people don't see. You did it was StreetFight. You said that after leaving streetfighter you've done a lot of yoga and you've also done a lot of listening and kind of seeing what trends are out there in the world. Have you noticed that about yourself and how how could you teach that quality to aspiring entrepreneurs to be able to identify trends.

 

Laura Rich: [00:14:41] I do have to go back to my journalism roots again because I had this editor about 20 years ago who was talking to me about sort of the way I was. I had no idea it was like some sort of performance review. So I'm sure it was all great. But I remembered that a plus part yeah that was some small problem we were discussing and by contrast he was saying you have a sense of story and you can't teach that. So I don't think it's going to undercut this idea about identifying trends. But I think it's kind of the same thing and then that was when I was a reporter and then I went on to be an editor. You really have to have like an ear for things and just you know read a lot and pay attention to where the sort of repetition is and the redundancy and the ideas that just keep coming up again and then I also think Drona is a key component of this because StreetFight it wasn't just seeing that there was a story I knew there was this story and this market but it was reading a piece an article in which one of the leaders in this industry that we cover had said there's a land grab going on. There is some tension and there is some need and somebody wants to win and somebody is going to lose. You know let's look at that and provide some services to support that that fight now with some of the other things I'm looking at doing I guess it's sort of just hearing a need. Over and over again and pay attention to it and that's you know comes from talking with people or reading a lot and then and then connecting it with my own passion. So I might hear about trends but not necessarily want to start something and I have a whole bunch of those ideas. I really want to give to somebody to start saying like a whole bunch of ownership. And I don't think it really works that way.

 

James Fratzke: [00:16:45] Right. I like to your point about drama as well. Right. When especially starting a media company if you can find an audience that there are winners and losers or at least people think they're winners or losers or they think they've got a shot you know they're in the back. They're on the battlefield you know then you know there are a lot more inspired to keep coming back. OK. It can I learn something. Something is going to give me an edge here. So I like that tip. And you said you know you keep coming back to story but I think stories are so important because as humans we all love story whether it's on our TVs or iPad or the movie screens in a magazine. Whatever it is. And so I think if you can kind of tie that into your business and tell a good story that it gives you a leg up above some of the folks that come in at more of a surface level so let's shift to your personal story. Let's talk about Boulder Colorado versus New York. There's a little bit of drama here in your own life and so do you mind unpacking that for me a little bit.

 

Laura Rich: [00:17:52] Where to start? It goes back away. But I can just start with career wise. I I was a journalist until I started this company started out New York in the 90s and then and worked for some advertising trade publications and then I went to San Francisco and continued to work for one of the trade publications Ad week. And then I went to this magazine that was kind of the bible of the dot com of the first dotcom the industry standard and that was super exciting and we kind of reflected the excesses and hubris of the time. But we also had amazing journalists and on staff. And that's why I had that editor who said you know you have a good sense of story and then I and then I went to L.A. and I wrote a book when I was there a biography of Paul Allen the Microsoft co-founder and then I went back to NEW WORK AND THEN I GOT THE ONLINE bug. So I had been a print journalist before that and I got the online bug and that was super fun. I think once you start working on mine you know these days nobody works offline anyway. But now that I came out to Colorado to take a break I had been working for. S had a business magazine called portfolio. It folded because portfolio was covering like the hedge fund class and covering it as kind of a reflection of it also and there were lots of excesses. And now with the recession in 2008 average has market just bottom fell out. And so by the spring of 2009 the magazine was gone. I was I was laid off a little bit earlier in 2009 and started a little media company with some friends called recession wire and the intention was to cover the recession. But really it was to serve an emerging group of people which was in a very large group who were struggling with how to deal with this downturn that was going to impact their lives in ways that previous downturns hadn't. So a lot of the creative class in a little bit of financial class I guess you could say. So there was a lot of fun and we got a lot of press coverage and the New York Times and on morning shows for that that was pretty fun. And then I had an idea for a tech company something that you do have to code right. And so I didn't know anything about that. So I went looking for a supportive accessible tech community where I could find a potential technical co-founder and build this thing so I created the list of cities and I evaluated them and Boulder seemed like a great option. So I came out to check it out for seven weeks. I had a seven week sitting gig network like crazy going into it had a very successful time here in terms of making good contacts. But as it turns out there is no such thing as a free technical co-founder. I had to I had to abandon that idea but it worked on it for about nine months and then I yeah abandoned it and just started consulting and living the life here and then the StreetFight idea took hold of me. That's kind of the story.

 

James Fratzke: [00:20:57] So you kind of went on a seven week journey to explore Boulder. Plus it seemed like it was a paid gig your house sitting or at least maybe it wasn't paid but you got a free place to stay.

 

Laura Rich: [00:21:06] A free place of someone with sublet my place in New York.

 

James Fratzke: [00:21:09] Yeah okay perfect. So what was it like though to take that risk? I mean like. That's is a risk like that. How did you get to the point where you're like OK I'm doing this.

 

Laura Rich: [00:21:22] I mean in some ways it wasn't a risk I dipped my toe in with this house sitting. I'd sublet it my place for Yeah for those seven weeks and then I decided I really liked it here and I would stay longer so I sublet my place through the end of the lease which is about four months later and found another house sitting gig actually. Where are all sitting ducks. Well I know this was a couple whose husband was a ski instructor and the wife sold real estate so they would just go to the mountains in the winter because there's not so much real estate work in the winter. So they had a house in Boulder that they just needed someone to look after. So it made a lot of sense to sit things out in Colorado while New York dealt with a recession because it was just ugly there especially the media industry. There were no jobs. So I just thought you know this is this is a fun little break. It really sweet little small town and you run into people on the street and everybody knows everybody and there's a lot of creative energy here. So I thought you know I'll just I'll sit out the recession in Colorado and then I'll go back. You know I left New York in the past when I went to California and I gone back and I expected I would return again. But then life just went in a different direction. I mean StreetFight started. And you know when you're building a business you need to keep your overhead low. And Colorado has much lower overhead than New York. So it was it was a great place to be. Even though we were distributed company and my business partner was in Rhode Island. But it was it was useful to have low overhead and I just became integrated in the community here the Grace day and went back to New York enough to sort of maintain a professional life there. It felt like it wasn't too much of a risk because it was a little bit of you know rolling out through baby steps and just natural circumstances.

 

James Fratzke: [00:23:17] To your point I think like a lot of entrepreneurs like you think this way and its risk mitigation right. So I love what you said was like from an outsider looking in I say that's a big risk and you go Well not really because I sublet it out this and you know I had the free place to stay there. And so you were able to devise this brisk mitigation plan that you were very comfortable with and I think that's something very special to entrepreneurs because there's a lot of people that could have been in your very similar situation in any one of those things would have been so daunting that they would have said. I think I'll pass to stay where I am. So you know I think it's worth kind of calling out. You talked about reconnecting with your family. That's another popular question that we like to ask is work life balance. So can you talk a little bit about maybe that work life balance. Was it in balance or was it out of swing when you were running StreetFight day to day. And how did you get it back and swing. I mean maybe kind of talk about that a little bit?

 

Laura Rich: [00:24:22] So first of all I'm a single mom and my son is six and a half so. So it was you know when I left StreetFight it was being able to pick him up from school every day. So he was you know I wish I wish I had left a StreetFight or I wish he had been younger when I left StreetFight. So it could have been like entire game like taking him out of preschool or something. I mean I say that but reality probably would have been that that would have been a bit much. It wasn't just the time but it was also being able to focus so when I was at StreetFight there was a period where I would take an afternoon off a week and or I would maybe leave work a little early and then I would just work at night. But you know the e-mails were constantly going and I had to be on the clock even if I was with him. And so it's been great to be able to just you know really be present with him and also reconnect with my community here in Boulder because streetlight wasn't really a Colorado company. My focus was really all over the country you know wherever our readers and clients were. So that was you know just having the time and the headspace to do that. And when I was at StreetFight like I said I would try to find more time and I really would end up working a lot of evenings which you know I was fine with the tradeoffs to be able to have that time with my son. But I don't recommend it.

 

James Fratzke: [00:25:54] You wrote an article recently on LinkedIn about women and confidence and I'm going to distill what I got out of it and then Ali I'll let you unpack it a little bit. But your argument was this should be less about women and confidence and more about agency in your definition of agency was basically I water it down to great. Right. Like having a goal that you're trying to reach and being greedy about it and just focusing in on that goal and I really liked it. I feel like to your point confidence is fragile with men and with women and with everybody in between. Right. Like it's this very finite thing that you are awake. I know I wake up some mornings and I'm not very confident at all I think I'm a failure. People are going to have eventually find out about that and you know I'm a phony. Everybody's going to know pray. So I mean you make a good argument that it's we keep talking about confidence and women in the workplace and if they're just more confident then they'll be more women CEOs. You're basically saying that's crap Allah. You kind of back it.

 

Laura Rich: [00:27:01] OK. Well first of all you're not a phony. You're not. So the issue my issue with confidence is that in some ways it's super patronizing. You know tell women like just be more confident and you'll be more successful. I mean that's really bogus. I mean in some ways you can compare it to men and if you look at like the swagger of some men it kind of makes sense like oh look at them they have confidence and therefore you know things are happening. But see what I think is that like you say confidence is a bit fragile and it's about the ego and it's emotional. And I think if we can take the ego and the emotion out of things and just let women feel empowered without attaching an emotion to it I think sometimes people can feel empowered by any anger. They are empowered as though they are also empowered by confidence. But if there could just be a detached empowerment a sense of agency a just a knowing that you can get something done. Then I think that's going to be a lot less exhausting for a lot of people. That's why I like this idea of a sense of agency and you know I wrote it as ME2 was emerging. And I think that's kind of what was happening there because you know a lot of women were coming forward especially early on who. Well I guess all throughout. Didn't feel necessarily confident but me too with giving them a sense of agency and ability to come forward and take care of the business that they needed to take care of. And I think if we if we saw that from more women and there wasn't this pressure I need to feel confident to do it. It could just get done.

 

James Fratzke: [00:28:52] I'm trying to ask this from them the best way possible and I'm really it's not a loaded question. But OK so 4 percent the last time I checked 4 percent is the number of CEOs that are women, to me I do think that that is a problem. There are different ways to solve it. Do you think. Well I guess I'll say to you I'll pose it back to you. Do you agree that that's a problem? and if so what. Yeah I guess agency is one way of tapping into that and solving the problem. But what is the what are these big businesses what do they owe the general population to make sure that it's a more equal playing field are the certain things that kind of stand out.

 

Laura Rich: [00:29:36] Yeah it does. So I have always maintained that I think the best person should do the job. And so I am I am a feminist in some ways but I really think the best person should be the person to do the job. Now I think there are institutional issues that prevent the right person from doing the job being the person doing the job sometimes. And that's you know usually inherent sexism that a lot of people aren't even aware exist at companies. But there's also things like I mean I do think confidence in that agency can get in a way someone but I also think family leave policies are really you know backwards and don't serve they don't serve women well. They don't have families well and I don't think there are companies well if you're kicking out these people having to leave their jobs because there's not another way to deal with you know having kids. So it's not just family leave.

 

[00:30:37] But being able to afford childcare and you know there's a lot of really smart and talented women who have to leave the workforce to take care of their kids. And that's a big problem. And I also think that women have been maybe more inclined towards work life balance than men. In the past though I think that's changing. And so you might not have as many women who want the CEO role. I think I think that's changing because I think that people are figuring out ways and it's becoming more acceptable for there to be work life balance. But I think I think it's a big problem and to see more women in the in the corner office for sure.

 

James Fratzke: [00:31:16] I appreciate you sharing your opinion on that. Let me shift gears to another article that you wrote on LinkedIn.

 

Laura Rich: [00:31:24] You're throwing my words back at me.

 

James Fratzke: [00:31:27] That they're such great words I just want to get them on audio tape Laura. That's all. There was a little segment from a piece you were talking about local marketing companies. But there is a piece that I really loved which was there's this industry where you have these workshops you invite small business owners to come sit in the workshop. I know because I've participated and we've put on workshops before. And you're right the small business owners show up very eager and they're OK. You're going to teach me something and then at the end they kind of all go OK this was a lot of information it was very overwhelming. What do I do now? And that's where this sales opportunity is right.

 

James Fratzke: [00:32:04] But you made a great point which is maybe it's time for us to flip this thing on his head and have the vendors sit in the audience and just listen to these business owners. What did you mean by all that? Can you tell me a little bit more?

 

Laura Rich: [00:32:22] Yeah well I think this comes down to listening to your customers and just being more aware of their needs being more aware of the data. I think there's a lot of local marketing ventures that you know they have their sales plan to get their feet on the street and then they just go out and they try to sell or you know maybe they do try to do some relationship selling or education educational selling you know informing small businesses about the industry or you know about product offerings and how it can improve their business but there needs to actually be a better understanding of the day to day of a local business and how unfortunately thinking about new customers while important isn't always at the top of their list. Retaining some customers is almost never at the top of their list. And that's crazy. Both of those should be near the top of their list but they are just deep in the day to day of simply running the business you know making sure that products come in that they price them the right way and they squeeze as much revenue out of as much profit out of products as possible making sure that their employees are doing what they need maybe hiring so I'm keeping the books balanced like theirs. There are so many hats that local business owners have to wear and some of them have a dedicated marketing person but that person is also usually spread then so. I think it's great when local market vendors can get small businesses out to these events and to learn more about what's available to them. But the point of my piece was to really say like things be done that appeal first to the day to day of local business and how to make their lives better and easier and I think there's that intent and hope at the vendor companies but some ways to do that are to listen to them you know so. So get the small businesses together get them more invested in the event. The ones who communicate at the benders and I say I think it's usually the vendors communicating at the small businesses and I do think that I mean you've been there. Small businesses are very excited to learn about this stuff. But you know then applying it to their day to day is harder if they are more in the driver's seat at these events. I believe that that will that will turn the tide and that they will be the ones thinking about it more and start to think about how to apply their business in a useful way.

 

James Fratzke: [00:35:00] And it's useful content for the vendor to your point. How often can you get prospects to speak to you very candidly? It doesn't happen all the time. You know they have their force shields up making sure that you know they're not giving too much away or whatever it is or committing to something that they're not interested in. Yeah that's a revolutionary idea and hopefully people listening can think to themselves How can I apply that to my business model which is basically how do I ask as many questions as I can to my potential customer so I can understand what they really want and not building something for you. It's building something that they'll actually use so we're going to get into the rapid fire question for us. Laura and I will tell you this first question. Now you said you listened to a couple of our episodes of the leader’s podcast so you might have heard this question always throws people off. So I'm building it up here. If you could write a postcard to anybody on the planet past or present who would you write that postcard to. And what would it say?

 

Laura Rich: [00:36:07] I mean you know it would probably be a family member or an older one because they're the only ones who are aware of postcards maybe millennial and drop a postcard in the mail to remind them of the world before the Internet.

 

James Fratzke: [00:36:22] Right. I like that. Very good. And so your message to them would be this is a postcard. Go outside.

 

Laura Rich: [00:36:30] Yeah. Yes. This is how the mail works. This is how to communicate outside of snapchat

 

James Fratzke: [00:36:37] Right. Exactly. All right next question that was good you did a great job on that one. Here's next question how do you define success for yourself personally. What is your guiding light? It's a few things. It's you know recognition and awareness by others of what I'm doing and some financial stability that follows that loving what I'm doing enjoying it. So sort of all of those things should work together.

 

Laura Rich: [00:37:04] And I think if any of those aren't there it's a little out of whack because I think that recognition and awareness is an important marker that leads to the other two. OK. Let me give you a little follow up here when you find that something is out of whack. Is there anything you do to kind of reset the balance at all. I mean I really I kind of listen to it and I look at like OK if I'm not personally enjoying this where is it that it's not working for me. And is there something I can do about that. The financial part. You know what. Why is this not making money. There's obviously something wrong here. So I have to figure that out. And then the recognition and awareness is that their ideas are products that are just not resonating. So that's a big problem.

 

James Fratzke: [00:37:53] Listening is very important and we all need to listen more and speak less and I think that applies to ourselves as well. We need to listen to ourselves a little bit more. So that's a great piece of advice.

 

Laura Rich: [00:38:04] Do you like to read. I do like to read. Yes. All right. So you know the next question is what are the top three books that you would recommend to people listening.

 

James Fratzke: [00:38:13] Well I just finished rancheros turn off trainers Alexander Hamilton and went to see the show which is just incredible I highly recommend both. And Daniel Kahneman who wrote thinking fast and slow about how the brain works in decision making and the oh I read this amazing biography of Putin which I think is just a really important thing for. I think people should read this biography of Putin it was written by a New York Times author I can't remember now but I've got this nonfiction book group. We meet like three or four times a year. We started it in 2003 in New York and now with everybody scattered all over the world. We meet over hangouts and it's all nonfiction geopolitical or global economics. Things like that. So we actually read something recently which was kind of amazing called The Rise and Fall of American growth and it is a bear of a book it's that 800 pages and it's almost like economic data and will sign me up. Incredible. It looks at it is that 1870 to 1970 was I think it was a really special century in which innovations and inventions that are one time took place and radically transformed our world. You know create a lot of efficiencies or just change the way that people lived. If you think about how there wasn't electricity and there wasn't you know indoor plumbing and all of these things made people's lives harder make their lives shorter. And there wasn't wealth or it wasn't distributed. So fascinating book.

 

James Fratzke: [00:39:54] Well I will have to check that out. I don't know if you ever listen to Tim Ferriss. Have you heard of him? Yes, I do know sometimes the four-hour workweek which I'm not a fan of the book but I do love his podcast. But he had somebody on recently and was just talking about if you looked at the human race and you think about the thousands of years we've been around so much has happened. And this last hundred years versus the other you know 3000 years or whatever it is. And so it seems like the book that you were just sharing with us kind of covers some of those things so.

 

James Fratzke: [00:40:29] What's one thing that you do that other people think is crazy or they look at you funny or something along those lines.?

 

Laura Rich: [00:40:38] Oh nothing. I mean everything they want to know. Yeah. I mean you know I use a notebook to write things down and use a notebook for me to Do List versus a digital app so they look at me crazy about that. Right. How old school.

 

James Fratzke: [00:40:56] But you know I do the same thing. Yeah I've noticed that the digital app although it's got these conveniences built into them and oh it does this and it does back flips and everything else. Yeah. You know it you just never get back to it gets lost in the apps. Phone Yeah I don't need to solve. Not me. Yeah. Good for you. That ties back to the beginning of the interview. Yeah. Here's the last call out that I give our guests which is there anything that you would love to share with people that we did not talk about is there any burning topics or anything. You get the last word.

 

Laura Rich: [00:41:32] I do want to say something about mentors because I didn't used to think about having mentors. I was at an early job. I was assigned a mentor and I thought it was kind of kind of silly and forced. But over the years I realized I didn't realize until later that I of course had mentors and they were more accomplished editors and journalists and then at streetfighter I had some mentors a little bit but not so much. I was kind of just busy with the day to day. But I think mentors are really important. And as I embark in this new area I have sought out some mentors and I think it's important and I and I used to think that you know by time I got to my age which I'm not sharing but I don't I know that I would be a mentor. And I do. I do mentor people. So I am a mentor to others at this point. But I did always think that once you were a mentor you would no longer be a mentee. And that's just not the case. I think we can always learn from other voices especially those who have gone before us so I did just want to mention that I think that's super important.

 

James Fratzke: [00:42:41] I think that that's a great point and it shows a certain level of humility that kind of realization that you came to you which is you know you think oh I've arrived. I'm mentoring others I'm giving back. And at this point you know there's nothing else I need to learn. But in reality like we're all at different stages of life and there are different people that are a little bit earlier in their stages of life and that are a little bit later and we can always learn from other people and we can always teach other people. And I think that kind of creates this sense of community that's really worthwhile. Let me throw this out now that we're talking out mentors which is a topic that I do enjoy. We just didn't get around to it in my line of questioning.

 

James Fratzke: [00:43:26] Asking for a mentor can be this very vulnerable thing. And I've always been amazed when a mentor has kind of developed in my life and they've want to help. And I guess because of the culture that I grew up in I'm always trying to think to myself What did they want out of this. What's there and what are they trying to. Why are they so helpful?

 

Laura Rich: [00:43:53] I don't think that that instinct is always wrong because I do think sometimes what they want out of it is they see that you're doing something that's you know interesting and has legs and could potentially lead to something for them later on whether it's other contacts or media they want to ultimately be an investor in something or start it whatever it might be they see what they see long term value and yeah which is I think not a super great way of thinking about people. I don't think you're wrong that there is still a trans transactional component to it. It just may be a longer term payoff for the mentor. But I think a mentor can also get some short term things out of it like you know talking to somebody who's on the ground and working through some stuff that as a mentor you may not you may not have time for yourselves.

 

James Fratzke: [00:44:46] I've had good and bad experiences I've had mentors that yeah the the game came into clarity a lot faster than I had hoped. You know like well this is this is actually what I have in mind and I'm like oh OK. And then I've had to your point folks that have just been willing to get kind of unconditionally because they see a lighter. They see a spark they see something they like. You know you guys just get along or whatever it is. And so to your point it's important to be I guess it sounds like you have an open posture to mentoring others and at the same time have an open posture to still receiving that guidance from mentors. Laura where should people stay in contact with you. I'm sure you're on Snapchat Instagram Facebook. What's the best place.

 

Laura Rich: [00:45:36] I'm actually not really on snap chat or Instagram but

 

James Fratzke: [00:45:42] I was only kidding

 

Laura Rich: [00:45:43] But I'm on Facebook quite a lot but. But really the best place is LinkedIn or people can send me an email at my Gmail which is Laura rich lives just now.

 

James Fratzke: [00:45:55] Very nice to me. This is the last question I want to ask. I always wondered and it's probably a very simple answer. But how did you get the five. Did you make the account in 2005? What was the significance of the five?

 

Laura Rich: [00:46:08] No! There are apparently four other Laura Rich imposters. OK. That makes sense. Yeah.

 

James Fratzke: [00:46:18] All right. Well it was great talking to you. Thanks so much for your time today.

 

Laura Rich: [00:46:21] Great to be here. Thanks so much.

Leaders Podcast

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