Stacking the Bricks Podcast EP31 - The Zen Koans of Business with Chariot Solutions
37 min

In this episode…

Over the last few weeks, I've been visiting podcasts all across the internet, talking with entrepreneurs and creative people just like you to talk about some of their favorites tidbits from my new book, The Tiny MBA. 

And today I'm sharing an episode from a live stream that I did with Ken Rimple and Becca Refford at Chariot Solutions, an enterprise tech consulting firm right here in Philadelphia. Chariot is a big force in the Philadelphia tech community, doing lots of great things for technologists in the region.

In today's episode, we riffed on a few of Ken and Becca's favorite nuggets from the book, including:

  • The power of slowing down to take a look for hidden C
  • The real reason self-promotion feels achy to you. 
  • And we explored a hidden theme of "wellness" in the book!

Also, a quick shout out to Hannah Litvin, the designer behind The Tiny MBA. In this episode, we talk a little bit about her designs and the design process that we went through together. 

If you're thinking about creating a book of our own, and are interested in hiring a designer, you should absolutely check her out:

If you're interested in my full backstory, you can and should go check out the full episode The Tech Cast youtube channel: 

But for here on the stacking, the bricks feed, I jumped straight to the part where we start talking about the lessons of the book.

I hope you enjoy this in depth conversation with Ken Rimple and Becker Refford from Chariot Solutions.


Alex Hillman Alex Hillman: What is up brick stackers! Welcome back to a brand-new episode of Stacking the Bricks. As always, I’m your host, Alex Hillman and this is another edition of The Tiny MBA Podcast Tour.

Over the last few weeks I’ve been visiting podcasts all across the internet, talking with entrepreneurs and creative people just like you who read an early-release copy of The Tiny MBA, and I wanted to get some of their favorites tidbits from the book, hear what they are and dig into them a little bit deeper together.

In episode 30, I sat down with Louis Nicholls from the Sales for Founders podcast to dig into some of his favorites.

Today I’m sharing an episode from a live stream that I did with my friends Ken Rimple and Becca Refford at Chariot Solutions. Chariot is an enterprise tech consulting firm right here in Philadelphia. They’re a big force in the Philadelphia tech community. They do lots of great things to support technologists in the region. We love their work!

As a quick aside, eight years ago, Ken actually interviewed me on the podcast predecessor of this live stream. And I relistened to the show from eight years ago and was kind of amazed at how many of the topics and themes that I was talking about eight years ago showed up in the book that we’re going to be talking about today.

So, what I was doing eight years ago doesn’t quite look the same as what I’m doing today, the core themes certainly haven’t changed.

Now in today’s episode, we riffed on a few of Ken and Becca’s favorite nuggets from The Tiny MBA, including the power of slowing down to take a look for hidden option C; the real reason self-promotion feels achy to you; and I answered Becca’s question, which was, “is there a hidden theme of wellness in this book?” And you’re going to have to tune in to find out what my answer was.

So, you should check out Becca and Ken on their live cast. Check out the Chariot Solutions Tech Cast at

One more quick shout out – to Hannah Litvin, the designer behind The Tiny MBA. In this episode, we talk a little bit about her designs and the design process that we went through together. So, if you’re thinking about creating a book for yourself and are interested in hiring a designer, you should absolutely check her out. It was a blast to work with her. I will link to her website in the show notes.

If you’re interested in my full backstory, you can and should go check out this full episode on the Tech Cast, but for here on Stacking the Bricks feed, I jumped straight to the part where we start talking about the lessons of the book and with that I hope you enjoy this in depth conversation with Ken Rimple and Becca Refford from Chariot Solutions.

Ken Rimple: Yeah. You kind of have the Zen Koan book of business. There’s little kernels of wisdom, hard one-kernels of wisdom. I’ve gone through a lot of these things as an employee of a lot of smaller companies. For example, one that jumps out to me and screams to me is partners and customers. That whole duality, you kind of need to play with both to some degree, but one can definitely manipulate the situation with the other if you’re not careful. If you go too deep into partnership, but you might change the way your business works and that may not necessarily be what your original goal was, but you’re on a ride.

Alex Hillman Alex Hillman: That’s right.

Ken Rimple: So, I mean, they were really great to go through. I spent a couple of hours going through this book and just nod my head a lot and then going, “oh yeah, I really should be doing this as opposed to that.”

It definitely has value to me already in it. It’s a kind of book you keep on your desk and flip through periodically I think, if you’re trying to keep yourself in the right mind frame.

Alex Hillman Alex Hillman: Yeah, I think you hit the nail on the head. I love the Zen Koan’s…you know, it’s a reference book, but not in the way people think of necessarily as a reference book. It’s the thing that you, you flipped to, you stick your finger on a random page or read it and you go, well, what does that mean to me today?

The book’s not how to do business. It’s how to think like a businessperson. It’s the stuff that comes out in the one-on-one conversations that I have with both brand new and aspiring entrepreneurs, but even people who are later in their business career who are maybe a little bit too close to the problem and kind of forgot the point. My point of the book is to kind of like bring you back and remind you why you got into business in the first place and what it really means to start and run and grow a business for the long-term.

Ken Rimple: As I’m reading this book, I’m thinking there are definitely habits that good successful business builders have. When you were getting started, what did you not know that you now practice on a regular basis, as a person running businesses?

Alex Hillman Alex Hillman: The first thing that comes to mind is - and this is a little bit counterintuitive - I’m not even sure if it’s said explicitly in the book, but it’s definitely implied, is slowing down. I think business culture and business narrative is about speed, speed, speed. Get it faster. Get it bigger. One of the lessons in the book that is so much of a lesson that it’s one of the pages that we also had illustrated is bigger isn’t better. Better is better. I could translate that to faster isn’t better. Better is better.

There are advantages to speed, no question, but I think there is an inherent reactiveness to a lot of business culture that I definitely felt early on, you see an opportunity and you feel like every opportunity is an opportunity worth jumping on. And so you want to be the first one that jumped on it, close that deal and figure out the rest later. When resources are scarce, that’s extra true because you really need those resources, whether that’s money to pay the rent, or if you’re in a situation where you have employees to pay, help them pay their rent. The need to go fast sometimes is juxtaposed against responsibilities and reality.

So, it’s complicated, but one of the things that I’ve learned over and over is that the fast answer can be the right answer. But, if you slow down just enough to kind of evaluate the situation, even just a little bit more than the knee jerk reaction, in the worst case scenario, all you find is that all you did was waste a couple of minutes. I’m not talking about like, wait a week, I’m talking about wait 30 minutes or an hour instead of sending that email back in 30 seconds, right?

That little bit of pause can be the thing that allows you to explore what I call a hidden option C. A lot of times the knee jerk reaction is, well it’s between this or that. And even when one of those is clearly a good option when you sort of zoom out, a lot of times, you’re like, well, maybe there’s still an even better option than the two or whatever were presented. Those hidden option C options in my experience are also where the most value can be created. I’m going to say created specifically rather than extracted. Hidden option C options tend to be the one where everyone involved gets the most, rather than one person getting measurably more than the other person.

The reason I think that’s so important, and this also comes back to speed and time, is because when you’re all focused on the deal that’s right in front of you, the opportunity that’s right in front of you, the goal that’s right in front of you. It’s really easy to miss what comes next or what comes three or four chess moves down the road. So, when I’m looking for a hidden option C, for me the best hidden option C is the one that gets everything done and makes everyone happy now AND sets up a future success.

If the thing I’m doing now is not also creating a better opportunity for me in the future or deepening the relationship with a prospect or a partner, or even if I don’t know exactly what that turns into, that type of long-term multi-step thinking is really where I think the long-term view of slowing down even just briefly starts to kick in.

Becca Refford: Okay. So, I actually want to talk about the book from a design standpoint, the content was awesome, but I also just liked the look and feel of it.

You mentioned that one really big graphical quote. So, you broke up these sorts of smaller truisms with these like beautiful typography pages. So I read on the technically write up that you teamed up with Hannah Litvin. Can you talk a little bit about that partnership there and like how that came to be?

Alex Hillman Alex Hillman: I would love to, and I’m thrilled to get a chance to plug Hannah. This book would not exist without her work – point blank. I met Hannah, we’ve known each other on Twitter for many years now, but only recently, as recently as in the last 12 months met in person and we collaborated on a project at the end of last year, but that was a zine. We did a zine called Career Control that Hannah went out and interviewed a bunch of folks from the region who have created alternative career paths for themselves. Some of them are entrepreneurial, but not necessarily in fields that you would think of as entrepreneurial. Some of them are just people who have just gone a different way than you’re used to hearing about. That was the goal is to show people there’s more than one way to create a job for yourself, as I said before. So, Hannah did those interviews, but she also designed the zine herself and it came out so good.

When I started thinking seriously about turning the sort of core of this book into a book, I reached out and I was like, “I’ve got this idea, but sort of the packaging and presentation needs something. And I don’t know what, but I feel like you would do something really cool with this”. So, she said, yes. I was thrilled too and one of the first things that she pitched was taking some of the lessons and turning them into that sort of stylized topography for in the book, but also for stickers and postcards. So I’m imagining ones, like the “bigger isn’t better, better is better” as a sticker that you can put on your laptop or your notebook or something like that, which I think would be really, really dope.

So the visual concepts, 100% her. The other story I can tell about working with Hannah, which was just this really wonderful collaborative process, which you don’t always get, it was a lot of like really awesome, respectful, back and forth and she’d pitch ideas and help me sort of communicate not just what I liked, but why I liked it. It was a lot of really, really awesome co-creation.

The cover, which we did kind of last, she messaged me, and she goes, “what book covers do you want, what’s your Pinterest board of your favorite businesses books?” I went through, most of my favorite business books have not been written in the last 20 years. So I was sort of went back to the classics, the Dale Carnegie, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, and things like that. The classics and they all look kind of the same, and they also look super dated.

What I said to her was I would love to look like one of these books, but also kind of a parody of these, because the book is kind of, I mean it’s not a parody in that it’s meant to be funny, but it’s a genre parody of business books in a way. The cover can do that too. How do we take the How to Win Friends and Influence People book cover, and make it clearly a throwback, but also have some fun with it. So, I thought to myself, this is the worst creative direction you could possibly get!

She came back with this cover that is just so freaking cool! Apart from the typography, which I just think is just really, really rad up in the top corner here. The ‘the’ in The Tiny MBA is a, it’s like a sticker from a used bookstore and one of those little things that, especially on the physical book makes me smile.

We’ve gotten so many compliments on the typography choices and the design choices in the book. 100% of that credit goes to Hannah. She knocked it out of the park and is for hire. So, if you were publishing a want to do print stuff, hit her up. She’s fantastic and wonderful to work with.

Becca Refford: That’s awesome. I love that little touch of the sticker in the corner.

Alex Hillman Alex Hillman: And actually we can barely see it in the print version, but on the digital version, somebody that was doing an advanced release read sent me a screenshot, Hannah snuck a little Easter egg in here that I didn’t even see until somebody else pointed out.

If you zoom in on the ‘the’ in this little red Stripe, it says ‘30x500 value’ and 30by500, 30x500, is the name of the flagship course that Amy and I teach.

Ken Rimple: Oh, that’s awesome!

Alex Hillman Alex Hillman: I was like very, very clever and it’s again, it’s a tiny little touch and I was like, “you snuck an Easter egg past me!” I love it. It just totally made my day.

Becca Refford: That’s awesome!

Ken Rimple: And it’s great. Speaking of promotion, we’re glad you promoted Hannah, and it sounds like she’s super talented to work with. You have a nice little quote in the book, people avoid self-promotion too much or, are afraid to self-promote. What do you see as their biggest sticking point for that? Is it fear of the unknown?

Alex Hillman Alex Hillman:, I think there’s a few parts to it. I think people want to brag, is the truth. I think they feel a certain way about what will happen if they do. And so, there’s two things. One is, I think this is the most common is people fear putting themselves out there because as soon as you do, you open yourself up to everything. The good stuff and the bad stuff, which includes being told you’re being self-promotional, and that doesn’t feel good.

It also depends on the audience and who you’re doing it in front of. One of the things I always remind folks is consider who you’re promoting to. Are they people who already want to hear from you, people who have already seen your work, they’ve already found some way to notice and appreciate and want more? When that’s happening, it’s not self-promotion. I mean, it is self-promotion, but if you flip it around, it’s telling something to somebody who already wants to hear it.

And so, always consider the audience, I think is the theme through a lot of the book. It’s a theme through a lot of our work. I think that’s one of the fundamentals that people really, really get stuck on. If you were thinking about the audience in your self-promotion, how do you give them something? Even without asking for something in return, it gives you the opportunity to down the road, ask. Not demand, but ask, offer, things like that.

The second thing is I think a lot of people associate the word and the experience of self-promotion with things that you’ve seen other people do. Those other people very often are not good at self-promotion. So, people associate the worst behavior on the spectrum, with the whole spectrum. So again, for instance, it’s the person who jumps in a professional community chat room or a forum and all they’re doing is promoting their stuff, linking their stuff, selling their stuff, without ever just participating in the conversation as a person, as a peer.

It is incredible how little you need to do to crush the threshold where you can be calm up here and then when you have something to offer, people are excited. Like, the person who always shows up with good stuff has more good stuff for me. Fantastic! But people associate self-promotion with the laziest end of the spectrum again as the whole spectrum.

I think if you are always putting the audience’s best interests forward. And when you are offering a product, whether it’s free or paid, when you’ve got something to give that asks people to click a link to your article, or listen to your podcast, or watch your video, let alone buy your software or your course, or your book or whatever it is, if you haven’t placed an investment, you can’t make a withdrawal.

I think that if you have made those investments – and I can use the launch of this book as an example, I’ve done a lot of investing in a community. I’ve given away everything that I possibly can, not because I feel like it means I deserve anything, but it’s because I feel like if I’m not giving, if I’m not sharing, that’s kind of selfish and uncool. So, if I default to generosity, giving, teaching, sharing, as much as it’s scalable within the resources that I have, that buys me the opportunity to make an offer later.

The number of people that have bought this book in the last week whose names showed up or who emailed me that they were so excited for me and so excited to buy a book, or buy multiple copies and give them as gifts, that I haven’t talked to in a decade, but at some point 10 years ago, or eight years ago, we had a conversation and they were like, “yo, that was a good conversation”. Like I got something out of that, whether it’s they learned something, or they just felt that they felt connected with like 90 plus percent of my work and I think 90 plus percent of the work in business is that, it’s making people feel that you tried to connect with them. And hopefully in enough cases you actually make that connection.

The remaining 10%, 5% whatever’s left, that’s where commerce gets done, but it gets done with people who already want to do the work with you. That work is so much sweeter, let me tell you.

Becca Refford: Alright, so I want to transition this into like finance, money talk a little bit. I noticed a little bit of the overlap that Ken and I, the notes that we took, was about this concept of money psychology that you brought up a couple of times. Is that more tactical, how to think about using money for your business? Or is there kind of a touch of wellness in there too? Like what work will you take on versus how it will make you feel? Could you touch a little bit more on that?

Alex Hillman Alex Hillman: That is such a good question and really, really well framed. I think applying a wellness lens to it is not the terminology I would have thought of, but I think it’s actually better than anything that I was thinking.

The theme of the book, the subtitle of the book is ‘the long game of business’. I think implied in order to live a long life; you need to be healthy. In order for a business to live a long life; it needs to be healthy. And so in wellness look at the money psychology is absolutely the right one. There’s two lessons in here that come to mind that I think map well to the wellness lens.

One is the way a lot of folks handle and respond to money decisions, or even think about money as an opportunity or a tool. I think ties back to their own lived experience, which may include some form of trauma around money. A lot of people have really broken relationships with money and not just when money is scarce. When money is available, you have a broken relationship with money too. I think maybe the lesson in here, and one of the prompts in here is to ask yourself, why do you get paid?

Let’s say you’ve got a job you even like and make a good living and that money comes into your bank account twice a month if you’re on salary, if you’re an entrepreneur are, whatever schedule you have set up for yourself. Let’s say you’re making a living that makes you happy. If I were to pose a challenge, “hey, you’ve got to go make $5,000 in the next seven days”, reflect on the emotional response to how it feels to be told you’ve got to go make five grand and whether that’s a positive or a negative response or whatever that breaks down as, I think those are really good clues to how you make business decisions more broadly. How you view an opportunity or a deal. We kind of live in a culture in a society where it’s really easy to be abstracted away from that and if you plan to be successful in business, I don’t think you can live abstracted from that for very long.

So again, all of that is I think very much rooted in the way you think isn’t right or wrong, it just might not be the healthiest way to think about it. But step one is bringing some awareness to whatever the way you think about money is and acknowledging that that might not be the default for everybody. Even if it is a default for a lot of people, that it might not be the best thing for you or the long-term of your business.

Ken Rimple: Page four of the book, you talk about passion and not necessarily being an input. Some people think, I don’t want to say people because everyone is different, but some people think that starting a business should be absolutely passionate about what you’re starting. But talk more about passion being an output, as opposed to an input.

Alex Hillman Alex Hillman: This one’s really interesting through the lens of creative people who are my main audience. I’ve spent more time interacting with creative people that I have with a corporate audience, for instance. And so there’s a couple of different ways to look at this and it’s been kind of interesting to watch them be read through those two different perspectives because this book is a little bit of a mirror or worst shock test, depending on who you are and where you are. It shows up a little bit differently for you and I think that’s kind of cool.

So I’ll speak for the creative folks first. Creative people, often part of their creation process, has generated some element of passion or joy in their life and the things they’ve done for work or to earn an income, maybe haven’t, how many musicians work as servers of baristas to make enough money? They don’t give a crap about the job. The job allows them to play music and make music because that’s what they are passionate about and I have so much respect for that lifestyle and it is hard and it is work. All of it is work. However, I also think that people get confused about turning their passion into a business. And specifically, when they start turning the passion into a business and the business part doesn’t work so well, that can potentially undermine the happiness.

But the other side of it is it’s the idea that of, “well, if I’m going to own the business, why would the business that I own not be the thing that I’m already passionate about?”. There’s some wisdom out there that says starting a business is hard and the only way you’re going to push through it as if you’re passionate about it. So you’ve got to go in with the thing you’re passionate about it because you’ll do it long enough to actually…and yes, that is a path that leaves a lot of things up to luck and privilege and opportunity and things like that.

A different way to look at it is why are you passionate about that creative thing? Why are you passionate about music? Well, part of it might be because you love just making it, but I’d be willing to bet that a part of it is because you put in the time to get good at it. You weren’t good at it on day one, no one is a magical guitar player on, like, there are very few prodigies. There are way more people who maybe have an aptitude and then the support infrastructure. And then the lapsing of time to be getting good. It’s the reason you are passionate about it is because you took the time to practice and get good at it. And the feedback loop of practice, get good at it, practice get good at it, practice get good at is the source of passion.

I believe that firmly - the healthy version of passion, because you can also kill in passion. That passion is not very good. So, I think if people would, again, introspect on why are you passionate about the creative thing and realize that it is the practice, growth feedback loop? You can create a business in something you are not necessarily passionate about, but that you maybe at the very least have a desire to learn. If you are not passionate about it initially, that is okay and normal. And I think people give up in the first couple of weeks that they’re not passionate about it, and that is throwing away opportunities because in those first couple of weeks, the odds of you having enough of that practice growth feedback loop to feel passionate about something, very, very low.

One of the books that I reference in The Tiny MBA is a book called Badass by Kathy Sierra, her and her partner created the Head First books for O’Reilly 20 years ago. Kathy was a sort of a secret mentor of mine early in my career. Later, I feel fortunate enough to have, gotten to know her. It’s a rare experience of meeting a hero and them actually being as wonderful as you hoped they would be. Kathy’s book Badass is one of the most important books I’ve ever read in my career, and if you don’t buy my book, buy that one. If you buy both, that’s better, but if you don’t buy mine buy Badass. It is also a unique book, both in style and content and context, but she talks a lot about that growth arc. For her it’s the perspective of when you were a designer or a creator for your user, right? Your user’s not passionate about using your software, your users not passionate about reading my book. It doesn’t matter how good I am at pitching it.

Here on this show, I don’t expect anyone to be passionate about this book until this book has them do a thing and then get a result. Then maybe they’re passionate about this book if I’m lucky. Kathy talks about that from a sort of scientific, neuroscientific perspective and the opportunities business to find passion in something new. Honestly, I think to stay in business for a long term, I’ve been in business for 15 years because every couple of months I’ve got something new that on the surface seems boring, but I practice it, I get good enough at it to say “it was actually kind of fun”. And if you can get addicted to that process, I think that is way more valuable than wanting to go into things.

If you’re filtering only for things you are already passionate about, you’re leaving so much good opportunity, not just the business opportunity for sure, but also opportunity for yourself on the table.

Becca Refford: So a lot of the red thread I’m hearing is personal reflection and also reflection about your business. I know there was a line in there that was like, “take your business back quarterly, figure out what’s not working, but also figure out what’s not all the way working and maybe there are pieces that are working”.

So, you do that on a somewhat regular basis. And I’m just interested in hearing, what does that process look like for you? Is it a spreadsheet? Is it just a shower thought? I just want to hear what that personal process is.

Alex Hillman Alex Hillman: I think mine’s a little more on the shower thought end of the spectrum, I’m not live by the spreadsheet, metrics kind of guy. I was in a really great talk last night with Erica Hall, who is a design researcher who wrote a book called Just Enough Research. It’s really, really wonderful. And she was talking a lot about sort of the difference between quantitative data and qualitative data.

I definitely have a bias in favor of qualitative data. My process is definitely more experiential. It’s not so much a reactive thing, as you’re saying, it’s more of a, how did that go? What’s the thing I would do the better. I think like my, my default mode, I mean I’ll do it when I get off this call is, “that was a lot of fun. I enjoy talking to those folks, what can I do better for the next one? What would I want to change?”

If I’m smart, I’ll write it down. But at the very least, like giving myself that moment of pause and reflection, even when something went really well – and this has been a blast by the way. Even when something goes really well to say, “cool. Well, what’s the one thing I’d want to tune or tweak just a little bit better next time? And is there anything I can do to set future me up for a win?”

I think that’s a big part of my sort of guiding philosophy is, if I’m doing something now I want future me to look back and be like, thanks, buddy! Cultivating that habit as a habit takes a long time, but it can also be deeply creative, which means it’s not like, “ I wish we had like, you know, 50% more people tuning in”. I don’t really care about that. I care about, did it reach the people that I wanted it to reach? Did they get something out of it? Is there something that I learned that I want to practice more? That sort of thing. I think that’s just a good, healthy way to walk away from a lot of things.

How many times do you walk away from a conversation and you’re like, “oh, stupid! All the things I should have said!” I try really hard to not do that so much. And it’s hard to not do that to yourself, but I try and like take that silly little monster in my brain that wants to do that and give them a different job, which is if you’re going to be a pain in my butt, find a thing that we can actually make a little better, and we’ll do that next time. Okay. That’s the relationship with the little monster in my brain. And now you all think I’m completely crazy!

Ken Rimple: No, it’s about right, inner critic and it’s always something you want to try to redirect.

Hey, speaking of that, I have one more topic I want to bring up, but before I do just for anyone, and I hope everyone wants to go out and get the book, I really enjoyed it. It’s at Tiny.MBA. And you’re in your opening phase here, so there’s a 33% off discount.

I thought one of the interesting things you have in the book on page 72 is extreme excitement - aka “irrational exuberance” - is an unreliable, emotional state to make business decisions. I pull back from that a lot of what you’re saying, I think to people, is find a way to make emotions, value them, respect that they’re there, but don’t let emotions run away with things like money decisions and business decisions and partner decisions and what you want your money to be and things like that. I just wanted to point that out.

Alex Hillman Alex Hillman: I think you’re right in that as a theme across a lot of things and a lot of ways and a lot of different ways, no matter whether you are self-employed or you work for somebody else, we’ve normalized busy-ness whether it’s a piece busy or making busy or whatever it is, we’ve normalized it or in the worst cases, we’ve kind of fetishized it, you know, hustle culture and all super not into it.

That is not to say you should not or will not have to work hard – you absolutely will. Nor does it mean you should love your work so much that you do it all the time and don’t take any breaks. That’s no good either. “Everything in moderation, including moderation” is a quote that I love to go by. But I think at the heart of it, if I can have one impact on the business world is to, remind folks that the work is a means to an end. That there’s other factors that I think are, or more importantly, must be in play in order for things to really be enduring for them to be sustainable.

That does not preclude things from growth or even high growth. I’m not opposed to growth. Growth is not a bad thing, but the only real thing in this world that grows for the sake of growing - cancer, right? The things that grow for growth’s sake, we see what damage they do, versus things that grow in response to the things that we want to see more of happen.

If the only thing we optimize for is money, the only thing we will get is more money and at what cost, right? So, more money is not a bad thing. Money is great. Money creates all kinds of opportunities in itself, but if it’s other costs, that’s how we get into the mess that we’ve been in.

I want folks to sort of look at themselves more holistically, look at the system that you participate in more holistically and realize that you can succeed without being a net negative. I think there’s a lot of feeling that business have created a lot of the net negatives that we’re seeing in the world. And that’s true, but I think that that’s because we’ve seen an optimization towards a set of defaults that we just kind of lost the plot somewhere.

If we can bring the plot back to creating…one of my favorite analogies is “you have to put on your oxygen mask so that you can help other people”. That thing we’ve heard a million times on an airplane, they say it “put on your oxygen mask before you help other people”, but I always kind of intentionally reframe it as, “so you can help other people”, you putting on your own oxygen mask means that you can continue helping more people. And if the outcome of that is in, that case more lives are saved, or in this case, your business makes more money, that’s a phenomenal outcome, but if we build a good business infrastructure, then we should be able to optimize for better human outcomes, better cultural outcomes, better societal outcomes, and still make more money as a byproduct.

I hope that folks who read this realize that you can create a business without being a terrible person, without extracting things from the world, and if you do, I’ll say thank you in advance.

Ken Rimple: Alex Hillman has written The Tiny MBA. It’s a great book, about 130 pages, what’s the number?

Alex Hillman Alex Hillman: It’s about 130 pages. If you read it, cover to cover, you can read it in about 30 minutes, although as most people have noted, there’s at least a few pages that’ll make you stop and think and want to write something in the liner.

So hopefully it takes you a little bit longer, but yeah, it’s, it’s a short read. Hopefully you can, if you enjoy reading and it brings up one or two things for you, set a calendar reminder, do it again in three or six months or at the end of the year, whatever it is. This is one that I hope that if it’s good for you once, going back to it again and again, will always stir up something new.

Ken Rimple: Alex is the creator of the Indy Hall coworking space. He’s also one of the two founders of We’ve had a pleasure talking to you today.

Becca Refford: Absolutely.

Alex Hillman Alex Hillman: Likewise. Likewise. Thank you for awesome questions. Thank you for sharing your audience and your audiences time today and stay safe with whatever’s left of this storm.

If you enjoyed that episode, and I hope you did, I’ve got a couple of quick things before you go. The first of course is making sure that you have your very own copy of The Tiny MBA. If you haven’t ordered it, I’d love it if you did, and you can grab a paperback or ebook at Tiny.MBA.

I also hope you’re subscribed to this show. We’re going to be releasing more episodes like this one with other creators and entrepreneurs, just like you and I’m going to be talking with them about their favorite lessons in The Tiny MBA, learning what’s going on in their world and sharing it all with you. You can search for that by looking for Stacking the Bricks wherever you get podcasts.

And one last thing, check out the Stacking the Bricks website, we’ve got a great newsletter with new articles coming out every week or two following a lot of the same topics and themes that we talk about right here on the show. You can do that by going to

I hope you have a great rest of your day and don’t forget to keep on stacking those bricks!

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