The Founder of WooCommerce on Happiness, Money, and Merging Your Personal and Business Lives – 240
It’s very popular for entrepreneurs to speak proudly about how well they separate their business and personal lives. Whether it’s leaving the phone in a dish by the door or not answering work emails and messages over the weekend, it’s become fashionable for many small businesses and online sellers to make a firm distinction between the two.
Today on the AM/PM Podcast, Tim Jordan welcomes an original e-commerce legend who spends the next 40 minutes tearing down the wall separating your business and personal life.
Adii Pienaar founded WooCommerce then quickly exited not one but two successful e-commerce software platforms. Now he’s built Cogsy inventory management, and sounds like he’s just getting started with his entrepreneurial creations.
Listen in to learn more about concepts like benchmarking your own happiness, the democratization of e-commerce, and how according to Adii, money isn’t necessarily what we’re really after.
In episode 240 of the AM/PM Podcast, Tim and Adii discuss:
- 02:00 – The Democratization of E-Commerce
- 06:00 – Building WooCommerce
- 09:00 – An Original ‘OG’ Serial Entrepreneur
- 10:30 – Selling Low with Zero Regrets
- 12:30 – Redefining Work/Life Balance
- 15:00 – A Tough Phone Call at Walmart
- 18:00 – A Conscious Work Language Decision
- 22:00 – We’re Not Our Business (When it’s Going Badly)
- 24:00 – Blending Work and Personal Time
- 27:30 – For Entrepreneurs, it Should Involve More than Money
- 32:00 – Acknowledging Achieved Goals is Critical
- 34:00 – “Bookmarking Your Own Happiness”
- 36:30 – Filtering Out the Noise
- 40:00 – Adii’s Mic Drop Advice
- 42:30 – Siddhartha’s Journey
- 43:40 – How to Reach Adii
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Tim Jordan: For a long time in my business life, I’ve tried to separate business and my personal life. Today’s guest Adii Pienaar basically sets me straight and says, Tim, it’s impossible, you can’t do that. We’re going to talk about concepts such as those. We’re also going to hit topics like benchmarking our happiness and ultimately figuring out what we want by launching a business, and making ourselves happy. And it’s not always the money. Really great topics, some really great truth bombs in this episode. Stay tuned, listen to the whole thing. It’s going to be a great one.
Tim Jordan: Hi, I’m Tim Jordan, and in every corner of the world, entrepreneurship is growing. So join me as I explore the stories of successes and failures. Listen in, as I chat with the risk takers, the adventurous and the entrepreneurial veterans, we all have a dream of living a life, fulfilling our passions, and we want a business that doesn’t make us punch a time clock, but instead runs around the clock in the AM and the PM. So get motivated, get inspired. You’re listening to the AM/PM Podcast.
Tim Jordan: Hey everybody. And welcome to another episode of the AM/PM Podcast. Today, we are talking old school and new school. And when I say that, I mean, we have a guest who was a, I guess you’d call you one of the OGs like old school e-commerce guys, because you founded Woocommerce and anybody that knows anything about e-commerce knows that Woo is one of the big players in the game and has been for a long time, was very instrumental in the accessibility for an e-commerce store for maybe not the biggest companies, right? Like when I think of Magento, like I’m thinking I’ve got to have a huge dev team and all this stuff, but WooCommerce was, if I remember right, one of the first plugins, you just kind of drop this thing on WordPress and you’re off to the races. Is that accurate?
Adii: Yeah, a hundred percent then I think part of the backstory there is, when teams came before with commerce and a big part of the passion, I built the first WooCommerce product before Magnus and Mark, my co-founders joined and we kind of formalized everything into WooThemes and then WooCommerce, but it was also always this passion around how do we democratize something really powerful at a price point that actually makes sense for loads of people. So that was always the DNA for us. And I think if you have a look at WooCommerce, they’ve literally just kind of, I think gone much further than we could ever have thought about that vision. They literally talk about, Hey, we just want to sell absolutely everything everywhere because we want to democratize, not even e-commerce, just democratize commerce in general. So I think that DNA is very much still there.
Tim Jordan: Amazing. So the founder of WooCommerce, and now if we skip all the way forward to what you’ve got going on now, you’re like just getting ready to launch Cogsy, which is kind of a state-of-the-art inventory management software tool. And you’ve got some other stuff in between. You’ve been involved in some other businesses, but long story short, you’ve been involved in entrepreneurism, specifically related to e-commerce for a lot of years now. And you’ve seen a lot of things. So I love when I get to interview people like you, because you have so much insight from back in the day. When I say back in the day, it was only what 12 years ago, in dog years, it’s been forever.
Adii: And remember internet years and dog years are relatable, right? So like 12 years in internet years is a hell of a long time as well.
Tim Jordan: It is. But more importantly than just talking about the stuff you’ve been involved with and obviously your success as a business owner, you want to talk about success in life today, which I think is hugely important. And in fact, you’ve got a book. I had to look over here the title, but it’s called life profitability, the new measure of entrepreneurial success. And when I was given the notes for this show, I was so excited to hear your take on this. And here’s some of the wisdom that you’re going to drop on us today, because I think that there is so much noise and so much false information and so much just bull crap out there about who is successful and why they’re successful. And I’m not buying in. I used to buy in and it left me heartbroken and depressed and anxious and crying in the fetal position on my bed because I’d screwed everything up. And like I’ve had to take a big step back and realize, Hey, there’s different ways to succeed. So I want to get into some of that today, but Adii, thank you so much for being on. I appreciate you taking the time. I know you’ve got a lot going on and I am super excited about the content. You’re going to be able to share to the audience here.
Adii: Yeah, no. Thanks for having me, Tim, by the way, I did not realize that full transparency that I only realized that half an hour before recording this, that this is like, has this whole e-commerce angle and stuff. I thought it was mostly just kind of business. So I’m super excited to kind of share, I think the bigger parts of my world than I often get to share in different conversations.
Tim Jordan: Amazing. So we’ve already talked about Woocommerce. If you would take another, just like five minutes and walk us through your journey, walk us through your professional journey if you don’t have to get to the personal stuff yet. We’ll talk about that in a minute. Maybe because I want to set the context. I love for people to understand where the people we’re interviewing like have come from, right? Because if we understand what you’ve done, it – one adds more credibility and more power and more context to what you’re doing, but it also helps people understand that frankly, I think that a lot of people that are massively successful are like the rest of us, right. And I think that it’s empowering because, I bring someone on say, Hey, the founder of Woocommerce and this is like that’s a really great resume. Right? And I think that a lot of people are already listening and thinking, well, how am I going to be able to relate to this guy like this guy’s way smarter than me, way more successful. But I think a lot of people that are listening are probably as smart as you and have just as much potential as you. For a lot of reasons you figured it out where other people haven’t. So I think that relatability is something that I want to make sure that we cover when it comes to kind of your backstory. So if you would kind of walk us through from the WooCommerce days to what you’re doing right now.
Adii: Yeah, totally. So, I think, probably just before WooCommerce days, I think the first thing that I can mention Tim is I grew up in a middle-class home, which in my words means that we never needed anything. And we definitely had some luxuries, but I wasn’t the kid that kind of got the branded clothes. My dad also had a computer hardware store. He was an entrepreneur and everyone on the block always got new computers. Like I can remember back in the day when CD rom came out, like I was the last kid to get a C-Rom, even though my dad could get it at cost. Right. So middle-class upbringing. And I eventually go to university to study accounting. And I think the first thing with regards to my studies, at least that I can mention is I managed to finish a four year degree with no study debt. And I think that’s kind of important in terms of me at least acknowledging what kind of platform that creates. Right. So all the way up to that journey, I’ve been dabbling in different things, trying to, I wouldn’t even call them businesses right? But, literally projects. And I think the projects were there as a way for me to refine some of my skills and to do something, to put something else in the world and learn, maybe it was just a kind of very cruel way of learning rejection. Like you put something in the well, then people don’t want to pay you for it. Right. Which is perfectly fine because you learn, I think the point is in that, it doesn’t make you rich. It doesn’t get you the money you want, but you learn the skills. So what effectively happened is in my final year at varsity, I’d already been doing WordPress work, firstly for myself, and then started doing this consulting work by that stage. And then I built the first part that became WooThemes and eventually came to WooCommerce and that’s the whole WooThemes, WooCommerce journey was an absolutely wild ride in that sense, purely because we were always very reactive in the way we did things. Somewhere in between like neither Magnus Mark myself thought this was a real business until there was a massive business already. Right. I mean, I had still taken a job post university where I stayed for six weeks until, and then almost sold the business for pennies on the dollar which would have left a lot of you would’ve left the money on the table.
Adii: So I almost made loads of mistakes, but then WooCommerce and WordPress in general kind of continues to ride this wave. I ultimately left in 2013 because I got to a point where I wanted a new challenge, regardless of kind of the money, which means by the time that WooCommerce got acquired by automatic in 2015, I was not in the cap table anymore. I did not partake. In fact, I did not know about the deal until it was published on tech crunch on the day. Right. But I said, I really want to do something else. And I eventually got into my next startup, which was called initiatives called Receitful by the time we got acquired again, it was called Conversio where we built email marketing automation tools for e-commerce brands. So e-commerce brands built on top of Woo on top of Shopify, big commerce, sold that about 18 months ago now. And I got older talking about OG, they’re OG in terms of the email marketing space dating back 17, 18 years. Right. And then recently started working on Cogsy where kind of initially were really focusing on helping e-commerce brands, making smarter purchasing decisions for their inventory.
Tim Jordan: So I think it’s safe to say you’ve had some successes in life. Right. And I think that one of the things I’d like to talk about today is the sense of fulfillment, the sense of satisfaction, like as you’re exiting these different companies, you’re walking away from these different companies and things are going well, did you feel satisfied? Was that what made you feel like you’ve achieved life, won the game, so to speak. And that’s what I kind of want to get into today. Maybe you can give some more context to that, but with direct focus on, like, as you’re doing this, what were some of the mistakes you made when it came to your work-life balance? And how does your opinion differ now on how you should be handling work-life balance than it did even 10 years ago?
Adii: Yeah. So, I’ll probably start with the first part of the question first, just around fulfillment, right. And I think the best way that I can even try and quantify that. And I don’t think that this is a calculation as much, but I can try and quantify it at least. And that’s the, if I had waited 18 months longer at WooCommerce back in the day, and again, I’m not super familiar with the exact valuation that was paid to Woocommerce. I am relatively sure that it is exponentially more than what I had sold for 18 months before, which means in that sense, I didn’t maximize on financial value. The interesting thing for me is that not for a single day of my life have I ever regretted that decision. And the reason I don’t regret it is I went off to do what I wanted to do, which was I wanted a new challenge. I wanted to prove that I can build a successful business. I wanted to learn new things. I wanted to apply learnings and experience that I had to do this new thing. And ultimately had I stuck around for those 18 months and potentially spend longer time to acquire. I would not have been able to achieve those other things that were valuable to me. And those things, ultimately at that stage, at least didn’t have a quantifiable monetary component to it. Yes, years later, I managed to build it up to a point where I could sell that as well. And that was a life-changing exit for me, but like, those things are different. So when I think about fulfillment, at least I’m like, those are – that’s the kind of thing that I’m thinking of and aware of in my life as I chart kind of this path where I’m pursuing more successes, it’s not as black and white for me anymore. It’s not as binary and saying, Hey, there’s kind of these checkboxes or kind of milestone driven things that I can achieve. Then normally they’re rated money. Those things don’t kind of get me to wake up in the morning and do hard things. It has to be about something else. I think like that’s the first thing that I will throw out there. And I think that plays nicely into this notion of work-life balance and just what that has meant for me and kind of say 10 years ago to five years ago to what it is today. And I actually think that work-life balance as a concept, doesn’t give people the outcome that they’re most hoping for purely because it proposes that work and life are these totally separate things that you can, that can keep each other in kind of an imbalance.
Adii: And I don’t think it is two separate things that in fact, I think everyone you’re listening knows that when you have a crappy day at work, that crap day at work spills into your home life, and you’re arguing with your spouse, you’re being short for your kids. Likewise, if you’ve had an argument with your kids first thing in the morning on the school run, and you’re shouting at each other, like the first hour or two at work, like you’re not as productive, right. Part of you is still there. So I actually think that the way I’ve learned to think about this is too broad. Think about what my life portfolio looks like. And work is just one part of that. And what I constantly want to do is I want to be aware of what those other things are in that life portfolio, and be sure that I make the few investments in that whether it’s kind of financially, whether it’s in terms of my attention, energy presence, right? I think presence is often a thing that we neglect to do and those other spaces in our life, but make the necessary investment in those things to ensure that I’ve got a well balanced, diversified, rich portfolio of things. That’s not just this very narrow definition of, Hey, I need to be working really hard. I need to be making loads of money so that in itself, and linking that back to the fulfillment, which is why kind of I started there was I get fulfillment. Then mostly when I can ensure that on a daily and weekly basis, I am not sometime in the future, but almost an everyday basis. I can make the necessary investments in that life portfolio. That’s where I think the kind of the fulfillment, my life starts kind of manifesting itself.
Tim Jordan: This is super bizarre. And I say bizarre because it’s contrary to what I thought you were going to say, but also what I hear a lot, but I think it makes sense. So, let me just make sure I’ve got this right. So what you’re saying is this concept of work-life balance is a little bit of a fallacy because it implies that you’re either doing one or the other, how you turn off work and now you’re in like your personal life or you switch from like personal life into work. And what you’re saying is that’s an impossible feat because just like you said, things affect each other, right? Like if you’re doing well at work, you’re happy if someone pisses you off at the office, you’re going to take that home. Like, and I get that. And I actually feel like that’s a little bit empowering when to move on to the next thing, because man, I am so guilty of letting work affect my personal life or personal life affect my work. And I feel terrible about it. I was telling – so I’ve got like a coaching and Mastermind group, right? And I never gripe. I never complain. I never put my personal stuff on social media, but last Saturday I had to. And it’s because I was about to explode. I was so furious. I was so off and I had to vent to somebody. So it was my private mastermind group. And what had happened was I was at Walmart with my three little kids who are all getting new bikes. Now Saturday morning at Walmart getting brand new bikes is like the happiest moment in the life of a four, six and eight year old. Right. And they were picking out their bikes and my phone buzzed. And I looked at my phone and I shouldn’t have, and I pulled up this email from this guy and man, it pissed me off and it was completely work-related and I just froze. I read this whole email twice. Like I actually got tears in my eyes from anger. Like I’m all those people that like when I was little and I was going to get a fight, I’d start crying. Because that’s like my anger reaction and it made it worse because the kids would start picking on me more and then I just go ballistic. Right? Like I felt my eyes tearing up from anger and I was just dead at that moment. Couldn’t speak, couldn’t talk, just bottle up emotions, trying to hold it together. And we get in the car and my eight year old from the back of the minivan says I’m never going to be a businessman because daddy is always so stressed out and miserable and it like ruined my weekend. Right. And I think I blamed myself and that’s when things I vented to this group was like, Hey, I’m a horrible parent for letting this business affect my personal life. And now my kids see me as this way and I ruined their bike buying experience. But what you’re saying is Tim, like that’s part of it. Is that right?
Adii: Yeah. Totally. And I can totally empathize with that situation. Right, Tim, I think that the biggest challenge we have as current day or modern day entrepreneurs, right, is the fact that we carry our business around in our pockets. Everything is super connected. Everything happens in a real-time manner. Like it doesn’t respect boundaries in terms of weekday versus weekend. So it is just harder. And I don’t think we, as a greater community in society have figured out proper rules around kind of what makes sense here. Right? So you can just imagine like in the past, like the most fascinating for anyone that wants some perspective on this is reading Shoe Dog” by Phil Knight, the founder of Nike. And you’d read that story. And sometimes it sounds like, I mean, they don’t always peg it perfectly in the book, but it sounds like they, like, it takes 18 months just to organize a single batch and the shipment of new Onitsuka Tiger shoes. Right. And that puts everything in perspective. Whereas we’re expecting things to happen in a very agile manner now. So, I just want to emphasize that at least. The story I’ll share though, Tim is my wife and I made this very conscious decision a couple of years ago. So my kids now are six and nine and we decided, as parents, one of the things we will never tell our kids is, Hey, we have to go to work because we have to feed you guys. We have to pay for the house. We’ve got both expenses, whatnot. We decided, you know what? That is our responsibility as parents. Like we made the choice to be parents. So, we’ve changed the narrative. And we actually tell our kids, listen, we work because we like our work. We’ve worked because we’re ambitious. We work because we get to create things. Right. We’ve worked because I get to put my ideas out there and have to have stimulating conversations like this. Right. Whatever that is, but stating like not put that back on the kids. And I think to your point there is, like that’s where life and work should be blending, right? Yes. And we can totally have a totally different conversation about why work is that stressful? Why it’s, and I don’t think it should be, but if that’s the status quo, I think the best we can do for our kids and our families is at least to be transparent and honest about that and not kind of hide behind this – Yes, but this is just the way it is. Yes. Like kind of the morning customer, the morning this, right. That I think there should be something better there that’s more kind of individually focused. I personalized to you. Right. And then personalized to the family and like optimize for that versus all of this other noise that is out there.
Tim Jordan: This makes sense but it’s so contradictory to what I hear. And I also think it’s very dangerous and I’ll tell you why. I think there’s some danger here in accepting, like this it’s all blended together and I don’t disagree. It is blended together. And like for me personally, I try to separate it. I try to turn off and on and off and on. And it’s interesting, you’re saying, Hey, like Tim, that you can’t do that. Like it doesn’t work. But the reason I say it’s dangerous is because when we blend it all together and work as part of life, if work doesn’t go well, it implies that our personal life is not going well. And to give some context that I think I’ve shared this on the podcast before in 2019, I had an incredibly difficult year for a number of reasons. And I remember one night like sitting on my knees on the floor beside my bed, like just in tears and like telling my wife, like this is going to fail. I’m going to disappoint everybody. Like, everybody’s going to be upset with me. Everybody’s going to be disappointed. Like I’m not going to be able to pay my staff after this happens. It was awful. And I went through a phase where like, I didn’t get out of bed for two weeks. Right. And I was always one of those macho guys. It’s like, you’re depressed. We’ll just smile. Be happy. And my wife who now she’s a nurse practitioner. She was like, you need to go to your doctor, you moron. I’m like, why? She’s like, because you’re depressed. Really. I go to my doctor and he’s like, have you been sleeping? I’m like, well, I haven’t slept in seven days. I just lay in bed and toss and turn. He’s like, you’ve been going to work. No, I just stay in bed all day. He’s like, well, you big dummy, you got depression, anxiety. Right. And it hit me in the gut. I was like, no, this can’t be like, I can’t be the guy that has a mental illness. Oh my God. So I started researching this heavily and my wife started researching it. And we found out that entrepreneurs are seven times more likely than the general population to suffer some sort of anxiety, depression. And the reason is because they equate their business success to their personal success. So, for the past two years, Adii, I’ve been telling myself like, Tim, turn it off and on like your business doesn’t define you if this business fails or doesn’t go. Like, it doesn’t mean that you’re a failure. And what you’re telling me is like, no, it is all related. You have to own it. That’s why I say it’s a little bit scary. So correct my misconceptions here, like coach me on this.
Adii: Yeah. No. And you’re spot on there. Like I think the only nuance there, Tim is at least that, because I a hundred percent agree. I think none of us are our businesses. Right. And I think that’s like, that’s a very deep hole that we get into only when businesses don’t work well. If I see something that feels amazing, I’ve done it. Right. I think that the nuance there is that ultimately like if you abstracted your business and you and your business, to a point where you’d say, Hey, there’s parts of me in this business as well. Right? Whether it’s ambition, whether it’s your personality, it’s your ideas. There’s a kind of the, whatever the meaning was, or the purpose was for you to work on that business or do the work that you do, right. There’s parts of you in there. Which means, if it doesn’t go well, then for you as a human being, part of your experience is not great at this stage. And I think being ignorant or dismissive of that by trying to hide it, for example, I don’t think that helps you as an individual. Like to that extent, I don’t care about the business, but I still care about you and the business and that I think ideally at least at that you and the business should be the same you, or a very similar you in all other parts of your life. I, in fact, I think the biggest mistake that so many of us make is we show up as different versions of ourselves, depending on who we’re around. Right. And I think that’s a cop out and a compromise, and these are harsh words. I don’t mean them to be judgemental, but I still do. It might. When I see certain people, I still put on a bit of a facade, right. Or have a different kind of persona. But I can honestly say though, that’s a big part of, at least kind of my purpose for myself. The meaning that I drive in life is figuring out, Hey, how can Adii be the truest version of himself on this day and every single space that he operates in. Not Adii, the entrepreneur, not just Adii the husband, not just Adii, the dad, not kind of Adii the author, just Adii. Like I don’t care about all those labels. Like somewhere beneath all those things. There’s a very true and clear version of that is, and ultimately that person, like if one part is not going well in their life, other parts will suffer as well.
Adii: I would always flip that. Right. I bet that in that story, if you told them in a similar way, and you were speaking to business partners, right. Or your mastermind and saying, Hey guys, my marriage is falling apart. My kids absolutely hate me. Right. And you kind of had that chat with them, right. Relative to your business, the answer would then be the same. Well, they’re kind of the business term is not kind of the family template. Those things are separate. Right. But the common denominator is still Tim, is still kind of got your tentacles into both of those areas of your life. So that’s the part that I think we should honor you and figure out is like, Hey, I’m just unique individual. And that need, regardless of whether I’m doing this or that, regardless where I’m working today or playing Nintendo switch with my kids, it’s the same Tim, right. Just Tim doing different things. So I don’t know if that makes sense. That’s at least how I kind of rationalize it for myself.
Tim Jordan: It does make sense. It doesn’t completely give me a clear path forward. Right. Because it’s almost like I used to be able to have this excuse of, Hey, Tim, it’s not always going to be this stressful on the family when you have a bad day at work, because you’ll eventually figure it out how to compartmentalize and silo this. But what you’re saying is no, you’ll never be able to compartmentalize or silo. It is what it is like we have to own it. Right. So that’s something I’m going to have to like lay in bed tonight and ponder like, all right, it is what it is. How do I cope with this? How do I deal with this? And that’s a whole nother conversation, but we’re talking about success, right? We’ve mentioned it like four or five times, just in the past 10 minutes, talking about succeeding in business, succeeding at life. And it always raises the question of what is success. And I know that this is a theme that you love to talk about, which is like, how do you define a positive outcome? Or what is the positive outcome? Or how do you define success for yourself? And you even go so far as to say that success, “with business” is usually not even about the money. So talk to me about this theme and like, walk me down this whole theory and strategy that you have.
Adii: Yeah. So I think, even before the money, um, what I will say is most entrepreneurs and business owners, they start their journey with some kind of pursuit of freedom, right? Freedom of like what they work on, with whom they work on, when they work, et cetera. And then they, we ultimately kind of trade that freedom for restrictions or fewer freedoms elsewhere. Right. I mean, we spoke about that notion of as soon as you’re a business owner, like you have your business in your pocket and when you’re out by shopping with your kids at Walmart and Saturday morning and your phone pings, you don’t have the freedom of saying no. Right? Yeah. You have a choice. Right. But generally we don’t like when things pop in business, we don’t have that freedom anymore. Whereas somebody that has a corporate gig right. Employed elsewhere, they do their nine to five, they close their office door and they don’t, they really do not care right. When those things pop up. So when I think then if I can take that segway from there and I go to kind of money, right. And outcomes, you’re – again, I get these much publicized milestones, right? Hey, I sold my business for a million dollars or these days it’s all about being a unicorn. Right. And those sorts of milestones. And I always wonder, by the way, like if you sold your business for $990,000, like, are you as cool as someone that sold their businesses for a million dollars? Right. Maybe not, you wouldn’t get the article. Right. That’s just to me, it’d be kind of funny there, but what I, the real thing there is, I don’t think any people really want money. Right. That’s what they want. I think what they actually want with that is something else. Right? So whether it’s money to buy that fancy car that you’ve always wanted, or whether it is to go on these lavish kind of trips and have this holiday that you had, or whether it’s paying off your debt. Right. I think everyone wants something else. Something that money can actually buy them. Right. And I think when you take that approach to it, I often think that some people could actually get to that outcome right. In a way that doesn’t require them to work 80 hour weeks and make X amount of money. Right. Probably doesn’t require you to sell the business for multi million dollars, but you can probably do some of those things in a slightly tweaked way. And you can do that now without having to hopefully kind of get to that 0.5, 10, 15 years down line where you’ve either saved enough money or you managed to sell your business. Right. So I think it’s just about changing their perspective. I don’t mean to take money out of this and sound holier than thou. And that sense, I think we live in a capitalistic society where our economies function on money. We all need money to pay bills. What I’m saying is I think very few people have that clarity around what it is they really want. Right. Which means they often end up kind of putting a ladder against the wall and they start climbing that ladder only to get up to the top. And they realized, Hey, this is actually not what I wanted. I should have put my ladder against a different wall. Right. And I think that’s the thing with money. Money just becomes this very big hammer that we sometimes put near to a very small nail. Whereas I would much rather want to be aware of what nails are there that needs to be hit and what amount of, kind of force. I need force and us resources. Do I need to actually hit those nails very specifically?
Tim Jordan: Yeah. I couldn’t agree more. I think that a lot of the people, at least in this, the majority of this audience I can speak for, right. The audience of this podcast is that kind of solopreneurs entrepreneurs get started. E-commerce, it’s little things that get us started. Hey, I want to just make my mortgage payment, or make an extra mortgage payment to get it paid off sooner. I want to have freedom where I don’t have to work a second job. I want to have freedom where I don’t have to clock in nine to five, making somebody else wealthy while I’m beat down at nearly minimum wage. And I think that that soon forgotten about, we go from thinking, Hey man, if I could just be happy launching one product on Amazon and making a nicer car payment, it’s all about the dollars and it’s all about the money. It’s all about being a seven figure seller. And it’s all about this and this and this, this, and it’s almost like we take the eye off the prize. And a lot of times I think that we, as a community, achieve what we set out to be our benchmark of success. And don’t even realize it, like we do have the freedom or we do have the education that we got to learn from this, or we do have the experiences and we don’t even realize it because we’re so wrapped up in the dollar value or we’re so wrapped up in where other people think we should be achieving that we don’t even realize we won. Right?
Adii: Exactly. Right. So, and I think there is, I coach many other entrepreneurs. And the first thing we do in all of our coaching calls is to just celebrate a win or whether professional or personal for exactly that reason. I think ambitious people, not just entrepreneurs are so focused on the next thing, whether it’s the next opportunity or the next challenge that we often forget to sometimes just stand still and say kind of your virtue, kind of high five yourself and say, Hey dude, like you’ve actually made some progress in the last month. Right. There’s a psychology, for example, like when you’re kind of taking a new diet and exercising, like literally just taking a progress pic every single day because our brains aren’t good at allowing us to compare like, Hey, start here. Now I’m here. Right. So, I get that, right. That’s the first part. And the second part of it is ambitious. People generally are the kinds of people that get to a milestone and then they set a new goal. That’s what ambitious people do. And I think, and that’s perfectly fine as long as we acknowledge that. Right. And we say, you know what, fair enough, I’ve achieved this goal. And that you’re part of that goal was getting to seven figures in revenue because it helped me achieve X, Y, and Z. Now I want to get to eight figures. And I think at that point, it’s just a question of just don’t do it automatically. Just don’t go from seven to eight because that’s numerically the sequence that you follow. Like just again, revisit, like how things relate to my personal values and how does, like, what outcome do I want once I reach there, kind of get to that door. Like if I get to that door and I managed to unlock it, what should be on the other side of that room or on that door? Because that’s what I want to be clear on that shouldn’t be this automatic, I’m just a hamster on a wheel that keeps on running because that’s how sequencing works. That’s how life works. That’s what mainstream media tells us. Like, I think at least be intentional about thinking that through and always bringing that back to kind of who I like, what are my highest values? And what are those kind of, who are those other people? There’s other considerations around me that I also need to honor and respect and consider as I go down this path of pursuing whatever it is I’m pursuing.
Tim Jordan: And I think that, I think it sounds great, but it’s tough because we see so much noise. Like we are inundated with this imagery of what success looks like or what we should be aspiring to. And a lot of it is because it needs to look that way in marketing, like I hate this concept of like e-commerce is easy, but it’s because there’s people screaming e-commerce is easy because they have to scream e-commerce is easy to get you to buy their course. Right. So a lot of times what happened, and it’s not just because of the marketing is not just because of the environment out there full of this stuff, but it’s we as humans do this, we compare ourselves to others, right? And we set benchmarks, “benchmarks for success” that are not realistic. Or we compare ourselves to others, perceived success when they have to put on this facade of success for other reasons, what it might not actually mean they’re successful. Right. So when I’m thinking about benchmarking success in business, you actually have a concept that you call like benchmarking year on happiness. Right. So, when I’m talking about success in business, we’re talking about happy or unhappy. So can you explain, I know that something you talked about in your book too, but explain this idea of like benchmarking your own happiness and how we can apply that to our lives.
Adii: Yeah. So I think, as a starting point in that Tim is scrolling through anyone’s Instagram feed and you ultimately get the curated bits of their life, right? So you can look at anyone that any role model that you would generally kind of look up to, and unless you were following them around 24/7, and even then, if they’re not being totally honest, they can totally hide their inner psychology and what, and how they feel and how tough things are for them. You’re mostly getting a curated version of other experiences. And I think that’s important to note might. So every single successful person, regardless, whether it’s in business or some kind of other modality, they have their struggles and they’re not because they say, we’re going to tell you about those things, because that doesn’t make for good marketing. And even in those kinds of very vulnerable role things, there’s also expenses. I’m not saying everything is disingenuous and inauthentic, but at least acknowledged the purpose of putting those stories out there. The purpose of the marketing is to try and get something else, which is not just telling the story. Right? So I think the first thing to acknowledge here is everyone goes through tough times and all of our kind of challenges and stuff, times just look slightly different.
Adii: So when we are looking at other people, then I think we neglect that. So we look at them and say, Oh, they’re shooting the lights out. Everything must be going so well, look at Adii, he just bought a new car, right? Why am I – I work double as hard as Adii does. And I haven’t bought a new car in 10 years. Right. So what it ultimately does is an unfortunately again, society with the kind of the internet being what it is. We’re constantly reminded of these things these days. Why do you only open up your phone? You go into any social platform and you start seeing like the kind of where other people are at versus where you’re at. Right. And I think that just creates that Delta of like items suddenly feel as good. But the challenge with that benchmark is whatever someone else is doing. That’s great for them. That doesn’t mean that thing is verbatim good for me too. Right. And hence why, again, like to the previous point, then if I was clear about what success actually meant to me, I could probably filter out much of that noise. Right. For example, like I did not care about fancy cars. So whenever I see someone that I aspire to the post fancy car, I don’t even think – it doesn’t even resonate. Right. It’s not something because I know that part, at least about my success. And I can say that as well. Like I’ve always known, maybe I do look at someone that launches a new software business in my space. And suddenly I have massive traction by the time I would like to invest, but iteration is yay high and I can’t afford it anymore. Right. That’s happened as well. And I’m like, how did they just do that? So I still get trapped there as well. All I know is generally that kind of sensation. That’s never made me feel good. Right. So hence why I said, like, I think we should focus more inward than we do outward and benchmark against ourselves. Right? Literally like in the same way, if you were a kind of athlete running a hundred new meters, it doesn’t really matter who you’re running against. You have a personal best and you only need to really kind of improve your own personal best. Right. It’s not about winning the race. It’s about improving that personal best.
Tim Jordan: Thanks so much sense. Sometimes I forget that I’m actually interviewing on a podcast. I feel like you’re just coaching me up here, which is great. Because this is so much stuff that I need to learn. It’s funny. I just wrote down this idea because look, I suck at Instagram. I suck at personal branding actually. Like a lot of people know who I am, but can’t find me. Right. It’s interesting. I think that I’ve had some resistance to trying to focus on Instagram because, and I hate just posting all the cool stuff because I feel like it’s a little bit fake. Right. So I literally made this note, like what if I changed my entire Instagram, where I only covered things like the struggles and the normal stuff and like the here’s trash on the floorboard of my car. And look, I spilled coffee on my desk and look, my kids are screaming at me, like, and I think that we forget that even the people that we follow, even the people that we look up to, like they’re humans too. And I think that when we don’t remember that it puts undue pressure on ourselves to “succeed” in a way that’s just not possible. And then we completely miss out on this chance to be happy because we have misjudged what happiness should be right, to your point. Very interesting. Amazing, man. I could talk to you for like six hours and just keep sharing this experience. And again, those of you who are listening, the reason that I think this is so valuable is because Adii has done it, like Adii has worked in this space. He understands e-commerce, he’s had multiple businesses, he’s made mistakes. He’s had successes like, and when someone can sit down after, in dog years, 90, 90 e-commerce years, like, and look at the ups and downs, not only yourself, Adii, but you’ve seen what other people have done, what other people have done well, what other people have done poorly. So for those of you listening, go back and listen to this episode again and take this seriously, take these notes, the notes that you’ve made as “gospel truth” in a lot of senses, because this is coming from someone that has a lot of experience, a lot of self-awareness. And I think this is all really, really good stuff to kind of absorb and fit into our lives. So we’re running out of time, Adii, but you’re standing on a stage you’re talking to, I don’t know, 40,000 e-commerce sellers. Is there any other last little piece of advice that you’d like to share, like before you drop the mic and walk off that will help at least one listener find not business success from a monetary value, but find happiness by running a business.
Adii: Yeah. I would say probably two things there. The first is if you’re an e-commerce already, you know that there’s a absolute rising tide that is lifting all boats. And I think that opportunity makes a lot of sense. Right. Hence why I’m calling my new software startup in that space again, because I think there is just this organic kind of when in the sales, and make sense as a kind of your business space to bullet. The one question I would ask everyone is to actually sit down and go back to kind of, what are the things that kind of, what are your highest values as an individual? And then question yourself in terms of, if I make a success of this e-commerce business, do I actually get there right. Acknowledging that there might be so many different other paths that potentially gets you to their outcomes. So that’s probably the first question that I would kind of ask there. And then the second thing is if that’s a yes. If that’s a hell yes. And you say Adii, yes. I love the space. Totally committed. I’m in this for the long haul. I’m not just here for the fly by night, kind of hoping to make millions in a week. Then I’d probably say you’re building an e-commerce business, really spend time on the fundamentals in your business. I think we’ve seen so much growth in e-commerce and it’s plastered over many of the cracks in businesses, right. Where it’s been, you’ve been able to top up literally top of funnel. These are in the cost efficient manner and you don’t have to be that profitable. You don’t even have to be that clear about whether I am actually profitable on these sales or this channel or this partnership. So truly getting those fundamentals, the unsexy back office type stuff in your business, make sure those fundamentals are healthy because I think that’s what sets you up for medium to long term success, sustainability and profitability in your e-commerce business.
Tim Jordan: Amen. All right. The final question I ask everybody, you’ve been in this entrepreneurial world a lot. You’ve had to learn a lot. I suspect that you listened to other wise individuals in the form of books. So if you had to go, you’ve already mentioned one, we talked about shoe dogs. If you had to go to your bookshelf right now and pull off a book that has made the largest, the single largest impact on your life, when it comes to business, what book would that be that you’d recommend and why?
Adii: Yeah. Easy choice. Siddhartha by Herman Hesse it’s a story about a journey and I wouldn’t give the whole book away. It’s a short read for most people. I think you’ve covered it in like two or three hours, even if you’re a slow reader. But it’s the journey of Siddhartha. And I think what is interesting there is talking about the psychology of journeys, right? I think any entrepreneur, any ambitious person is always on a journey. But just how Siddhartha psychology and he’s experienced in the moment changes and where that journey leads them. I think it is fascinating. It was an absolute eye opener for me a couple of years ago when I’d read it the first time I heard it a second time. I highly recommend it.
Tim Jordan: Awesome. Well, I’ve made notes of it. I’m going to order it. And I will read it. I’ve never heard of that. It’s one of the coolest questions on this podcast, because I think everybody’s going to talk about the same six books and I hear about stuff I didn’t even know existed. So it’s amazing. All right, Adii, thank you so much for sharing your time and wisdom. I know you’re a busy guy. You’ve got Cogsly about to drop. But I, and I’m sure the listeners also appreciate you taking the time to share some of this with us. For those of you that are listening, if you found this valuable, make sure to leave a review on whatever podcast platform you’re listening on, and then also go and follow Adii. Adii, if people wanted to follow you. I know they can find you on LinkedIn. Where else can they find you?
Adii: Yeah, probably the place that I’m most active is Twitter. That’s Adii. That’s my username on Twitter or my personal site, which is adii.me.
Tim Jordan: Gotcha. And go to cogsy.com, cogsy.com. It’s in a kind of beta launch beta testing, as we’re interviewing this and launching here in a very short period of time. And if you guys go and just check out the website and Adii’s sees traffic, he’ll get like a little adrenaline spikes. Oh. People are coming to Cogsy Yeah. And then he’ll cook you and market to you, and you’ll end up buying a software. So that’s all great. All right, Adii, thank you so much for being on. Thank you for those of you that are loyal listeners. I love you. I appreciate you. And I love the messages that you guys send me, encouraging me, because the way I see it as I’m kind of right in the middle of all this with you, and I think that we can all succeed together. So, thank you guys. See you on the next episode.