Stacking the Bricks Podcast EP7 - Part two of "The Life-changing Magic of Shipping"
21 min

In this episode…

Want a different result than you've been getting? Then you need a different approach.

Enjoy part two of our 2-part conversation to learn the revolutionary approach that Japanese organizing expert Marie Kondo teaches for tidying, and how those lessons apply to your startup, too. Bonus: life (and business) wisdom from ancient Chinese philosophers, 500-year-old French noblemen, and the Bible.

If this is your first episode of Stacking the Bricks, we'd recommend going back to Episode 6 to listen to the first'll help set the stage for this episode. But...if you don't mind your listening to be a bit more of a jigsaw puzzle then by all means...keep listening. :)

Get BOTH parts, all of the background on this show and all of the show notes in one place:

Links mentioned in this episode


Amy Hoy Amy Hoy: Because people are resistant to getting rid of stuff. People are resistant to starting over their product business too, but they are working from what they have and saying, “I don’t want to lose” this versus thinking about what they want, what they want to create and how they want their lives to be.

Alex Hillman Alex Hillman: What’s up my friends! It is Alex Hillman, your co-host for Stacking the Bricks and we’re back with part two of an episode about tidying? Or philosophy? Or business? I’m not even really sure anymore.

If you missed the last episode – maybe the first time you’re tuning in at all, you’re probably gonna want to go back to listen to episode six, where Amy and I are talking about this amazing book that she’s been reading and it’s given some really sort of interesting and unexpected insights into the work that we do and how sort of our work connects to the world around us.

In this part we’re gonna get down to a little more nitty gritty, maybe some more concrete examples that you can relate to. So, if you really like philosophy and history of business perhaps, definitely go back and listen to part one. It’ll also help set the stage for this episode.

If you don’t mind your story as a little more of a jigsaw puzzle, go ahead and continue to listen to part two, but I’ll let you get right into it and enjoy this episode.

One of the things that we hear after the bootcamp historically has been, “I can never read the internet the same way again.”

Amy Hoy Amy Hoy: Exactly!

Alex Hillman Alex Hillman: It’s almost – I like to describe it like if you go to the optometrist and they flip through the different lenses and progressively your vision gets better. Each exercise that you go through, it’s like putting on a prescription that’s closer to the one you’re supposed to be wearing, or maybe just simply cleaning the dirt off the glasses so you can see what’s right in front of you?

Amy Hoy Amy Hoy: Yeah, they don’t give you a pair of glasses and then try to adjust them after they’ve made them.

Alex Hillman Alex Hillman: Right. No, you go to find the clarity first and you say, “Okay, this is what clarity looks like. We can achieve this with consistency.” Ah, that’s really cool!

Amy Hoy Amy Hoy: But also now I look at everything in my house and I’m like, “Does that make me happy? No. Do I absolutely have to have it? No, let’s get rid of it.” it’s changed the way I look at my things and I’m also making sure I use my things more that I like.

I think the same thing is true of understanding – not just appreciating, but understanding, like you’re saying, seeing clarity.

She says that we should be choosing what we want to keep not we want to get rid of, she flipped it on its head just like we do.

Alex Hillman Alex Hillman: Ooh, I like that!

Amy Hoy Amy Hoy: Yeah, because people are resistant to getting rid of stuff. People are resistant to starting over their product business too, but they are working from what they have and saying, “I don’t want to lose this” versus thinking about what they want, what they want to create and how they want their lives to be.

Alex Hillman Alex Hillman: Love that!

Amy Hoy Amy Hoy: Yeah, she is brilliant and I just love how this applies to basically everything!

She attacks – in her polite, refined, no nonsense Japanese way – stares down the people who give bad advice and the people who love it, but in a gentle way.

Alex Hillman Alex Hillman: Yet another reason why I understand why you’re enjoying her so much!

Amy Hoy Amy Hoy: Yeah! She’s awesome. She’s quoting general advice, “Don’t aim for perfection. Start off slowly and discard just one item a day.”

What lovely words to ease the hearts of those who lack confidence in their ability to tidy! Lovely words, to ease the hearts. I feel like it’s something she’s saying with a grimace on her face!

Alex Hillman Alex Hillman: Yeah, that’s definitely out the side of her mouth.

Amy Hoy Amy Hoy: That’s the Japanese version of, “Oh, bless you heart!”

She talks about booby traps. She says, “A booby trap lies within the term storage.” Basically, she says it’s the thing that you can apply so that you think that you don’t have to change.

Alex Hillman Alex Hillman: It’s the Band-Aid, it’s the pivot.

Amy Hoy Amy Hoy: Yeah. Fast and easy advice is rarely the good advice is what I’m taking away from my life in general, but also this book.

The whole point of this book is that you can change it, which I also find really refreshing. So, you don’t have to manage it forever. The word manage is so terrible when people there in their user interface, descriptions, talk about managing user accounts or something. It’s just, who wants to manage something? No one wants to manage it. Management means a lifetime commitment of drudgery – and I think that’s true of business as well.

Alex Hillman Alex Hillman: Yeah. I always say like very few things and people also want to be managed. So what you’re effectively doing, I mean, if we’re talking about messiness, if you’re trying to manage entropy, entropy does not want to be managed by virtue of being entropy.

Amy Hoy Amy Hoy: I wish that this had video, we had video right now because in my hands right now that I had pulled from my bookcase, which I found that I had two copies, probably three, because they actually went through my bookcases and handled my books. It’s one of my favorite books ever - Management of the Absurd.

Alex Hillman Alex Hillman: Okay. Serious?

Amy Hoy Amy Hoy: Yes. Not even joking, can you hear the pages?

Alex Hillman Alex Hillman: Yeah. Yes. I believe you!

Amy Hoy Amy Hoy: Since I have extra copies, I’ll give you one!

Alex Hillman Alex Hillman: I would love to!

Amy Hoy Amy Hoy: It’s really great! He basically says he can’t eliminate it, so you have to cope with it, but the thing is you can eliminate a lot of things instead of coping with them for life.

Alex Hillman Alex Hillman: Right. Which common theme between that and our tidying book.

Amy Hoy Amy Hoy: Yeah, business too, I think. So, she writes – again with the mindset stuff – which I love, and I love that this is such a huge part of her book. Instead of just telling people, “Of course you can do it.” She just tackles it head on.

She writes, “Have you ever told yourself, ‘I’m just no good at tidying’ or ‘it’s not worth trying. I was born untidy’. Many people carry this type of negative self-image for years, but it is swept away the instant they experience their own perfectly clean space. Unbelievable as it may sound, you only have to experience a state of perfect order once to be able to maintain it.”

Alex Hillman Alex Hillman: So this is like our students who, whether it’s the first subscriber, the first purchase or whatever, that moment of “I made that. I did that”. Like a minute ago I hadn’t, and now I have, and now everything’s different.

Amy Hoy Amy Hoy: Before that happens – and there’s a bunch of them – there’s like a bunch of moments like that. There’s like the first reader, the first person you don’t knows sharing it, the first sign up, the first trial, the first purchase and on and on. But before you worried about all kinds of things because it’s abstract and then after you realize is how much of that stress and struggle was pointless because you have experienced the result – if that makes sense.

Alex Hillman Alex Hillman: And that there is no way for future you to tell past you. You have to go through it.

Amy Hoy Amy Hoy: No. And once you have been able to work on your own terms to manage your own product, to set the terms and not have it interfered with, or boohooed by a client or a boss, you don’t have to struggle against those structures and people reward you for it.

You cannot understand how different that is than the regular daily work most of us have done most of our lives and we’ve asked our students, right. I was like, “How does it feel? And they always are just so effusive and then I always like to follow up with, “Would you have believed me if I had told you that before you did it?” And they’ve always said, “No,” you can’t understand until you’ve done it and experienced it. You have to trust us that on the other side is something amazing.

Alex Hillman Alex Hillman: Not just us, but the other people who have done it. Actually done it.

Amy Hoy Amy Hoy: Yes, absolutely.

Alex Hillman Alex Hillman: Not the false profits who have not, or worse don’t know, don’t even realize that they did.

Amy Hoy Amy Hoy: I mean, you can talk about our results, yours and mine, which are pretty amazing, but what’s really amazing is the results of our students. They’ve earned much more off 30x500 than we have, which I think is exactly the way it’s supposed to be.

Alex Hillman Alex Hillman: Agreed! That was the goal.

Amy Hoy Amy Hoy: Until you do the right thing in the right order, you’re just going to struggle because the struggling is a symptom. It’s a product of doing things in the wrong order. I mean, granted not everything is easy forever after you do things right. But as my favorite Buddhist says, “It doesn’t mean you won’t shut down, but that you can no longer shut down ignorance.” Then when you start having these symptoms again, you’re like, “This means I’m doing something wrong and I know how to fix it. I just got distracted and started doing things automatically and I’m just going to make it conscious again and fix it.” I mean, even you and I have that sometimes.

Alex Hillman Alex Hillman: I think the biggest shift that comes with repetition, when she spoke about putting it into practice is an increased level of trust in yourself that you didn’t blow it up forever, that you didn’t screw it up irreparably. That you have not done such a terrible mistake that you can’t go back and figure out what you did wrong and make it right.

Amy Hoy Amy Hoy: Absolutely. And once you have made a terrible mistake that you were then able to go back and make right, they hold a lot less fear.

Alex Hillman Alex Hillman: It’s true. It’s very true.

Amy Hoy Amy Hoy: Like that time I launched 30x500 the wrong way and I sold one seat in 48 hours! Oh, that was scary! I fixed it by the way, I relaunched it properly and sold out and no one even said, “Amy, you just took it offline and launches again.” No one even noticed.

Alex Hillman Alex Hillman: A million fears could have been going through your head. We’ve been through this with our students countless times.

Amy Hoy Amy Hoy: But I strongly suspected that there would be no problem, but I couldn’t know until I did it and so I was like, well, these fears have zero information value, so I’m just going to do it anyway. Then it sold out and I was happy!

Alex Hillman Alex Hillman: And you know what’s funny is we reference that story a lot when people are going through a similar, like, “I screwed up, what do I do? I have to go back to square one” and we say, “No, just redo the thing that you screwed up.” That’s it. You tell them the story and they go really? And I still like to the point that you’re making here; I don’t think they believe you. It’s not that they have any reason not to trust you, it’s that they go…

Amy Hoy Amy Hoy: They don’t think I’m lying, exactly. They think that it doesn’t apply to them, which is one of the many reasons we focused on telling more student stories recently because they seem more accessible.

Alex Hillman Alex Hillman: And also the whole, “Doesn’t apply to me” ties back to what you were saying before, you know, we’ve got, got SAS from the better part of…

Amy Hoy Amy Hoy: 500 years ago.

Alex Hillman Alex Hillman: 500 hundred years ago saying the exact same thing. These are human feelings. We don’t change. People don’t change. The fears you have today are exactly like the fears of the people before you and the people who’ve started businesses that are much bigger than that yours and mine and most of the people that we know.

Amy Hoy Amy Hoy: It’s so true. What was it that I say to students that they hate/love so much about human failures are eternal? Is that what I say? Human failures are eternal where everybody has the same failures at heart, because people are like, “Well, Amy, doesn’t it always boil down to uncertainty?” Something must be wrong with the system if it always boils down to one of these three things, and then I’m like “Human failure is eternal”. “Life is suffering”, smart man said that once. Yeah, I just dropped the Buddha on it.

You know who else had something to say about, if you do the wrong thing, it’s a lot of extra work? The Bible. How does the quote go? Hold on, please…oh yes. “Consider the lilies how they grow. They toil not, they spin not. And yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.” They’re all like “Stop struggling bitches!”

Alex Hillman Alex Hillman: Bible verses by Amy Hoy! Our up and coming, spin off podcast where you just dissect Bible studies!

Amy Hoy Amy Hoy: Wisdom is eternal I think. And the context, according to the, the context is do not worry and the proceeding line is, granted not in the hold on while I can get The King James version, which is more beautiful. “If he then be not able to do that thing, which is leased. Why take ye thought for the rest?” Which is a little impenetrable, I guess it means in the “English” version is “If you cannot do even a little thing, why even worry about other matters.” Okay. Maybe that one’s not as applicable. All right. We got a little off…

Alex Hillman Alex Hillman: Yeah, let’s bring this back to center.

Amy Hoy Amy Hoy: Leave the field full of lilies’ and bring it back to start ups and your house being messy.

Alex Hillman Alex Hillman: That’s the weirdest hour in a while!

Amy Hoy Amy Hoy: Gosh. I love it! It’s why I read everything. So Marie also wrote – and I think this is the key of the whole thing – “The drastic change in self-perception, the belief that you can do anything if you set your mind to it transforms behavior and lifestyles.” And what she doesn’t say is no amount of reading or hearing that you can do anything will actually persuade you. In fact, it will probably make you feel terrible because you’ll have that fixed mindset fear that “What if I don’t live up to that advice?” The only way to know is to do it. And when you do it, it releases all of this amazing, pent up sense of momentum, the tiniest little success you have will spur future successes that will give you the energy like you’re loading your boiler full of coal, but you know, it’s a green energy.

Alex Hillman Alex Hillman: So the point here is really that we can sit here for an hour, five days a week if we wanted to and pump out advice and suggestions and tips and how to’s and all of those things and they don’t actually matter.

Amy Hoy Amy Hoy: No.

Alex Hillman Alex Hillman: What matters is people choosing something that they actually want and maybe like you were saying with taking the action, the physical touch of picking up an object and going “Does this bring joy to my life?” So, picking a thing to do in your life and with equal intent saying, “I’m going to do this.” Not, “I’d like to do this”, or “This is a thing I think I’m going to do.” But with the same level of intent that this is going to make my life better, this is going to help me achieve a goal – and not just any goal, like this is going to help me achieve a very specific goal that I know that I want, whether that’s the ability to travel or the ability to just not have money be a reason you don’t do things – that’s a big one for me.

But like when you make everything about that goal and everything I touch, I can say with the same intent in my head, is this going to help make sure that money isn’t the reason I don’t do something? And I can say, yeah, yeah, let’s do that. Rock and roll!

Amy Hoy Amy Hoy: I also think that her whole point about how once you have experienced perfect order, that it becomes effortless to maintain, is that you can’t know how good that will feel.

You have to have faith that you will get there once, and then that will transform you and I think that it really does.

Once you have experienced once the feeling of doing something good for yourself that helps others. In this context, once you have ONCE gone out and forgotten about all of your ego and all of your concerns about, “Is what I have to say good enough? It’s nothing that isn’t out there already. Who am I to teach people?” And you literally just find someone who needs help and you help them instead of worrying about what it says about you – you focus on them. That changes things.

So it’s not just, you want to clean house and so you discard everything. Literally the act of picking up one item and saying, “Oh, this sparks joy, and I’m going to put it where I can enjoy it now, or this doesn’t.”

She says, you have to thank it and let it go. It’s very animistic. Thank it for what it brought into your life and let it go. That reinforces that you are a person who values yourself, if that makes sense.

Alex Hillman Alex Hillman: Yeah, totally makes sense.

Amy Hoy Amy Hoy: Every little act gives you self-worth of the good kind and, not the toxic kind of fixed mindset and you’re proving to yourself bit by bit you can do it by proof rather than talking it up. And Safari does that and our focus on the customer does that for you.

Alex Hillman Alex Hillman: How can we send people to a next action here Amy? Other than going out and reading this book, which we can put in the show notes. What do you think we should have people thinking about doing next?

Amy Hoy Amy Hoy: My favorite exercise that you ever designed, so Alex wrote this great blog post about a technique he uses. It’s like get all those drafts out of your blog drafts list. So, you don’t even have to read that whole blog post, though you totally can.

You’re a professional. You do something for a living. People ask your advice and assistance and opinion on something. You write them back emails, and you just do this in and out because that’s what we do in our jobs. We don’t look at these things and handle them and ask, “Does this spark joy for me? Does it help me or someone else? Can I turn this into something greater?”

So take an email question that someone sent you, Twitter, you saw on a blog post comment or whatever, that you felt moved to answer. Take that question and anonymize it if necessary and your answer and turn it into a blog post and put it out there for other people to learn from.

Alex Hillman Alex Hillman: Go ahead and share it with the person who asked the question too say, “Hey, I saw you post this question. You sort of inspired me to write down my answer. I hope this is helpful to you.”

Amy Hoy Amy Hoy: Even if you already answered it, you can say “By the way, wanted to let you know, your question, I thought would be helpful to others and so I took out your identifying information and put it online to help people.”

Alex Hillman Alex Hillman: People really like feeling like they’re a part of something bigger and so when you go that extra mile and say, “Hey, I can help you. Also your question and my answer together are going to help more people.” You should have brought them into your little moment of joy, which I think it’s just like a multiplier effect.

Amy Hoy Amy Hoy: Literally everyone wins, and it feels good. And you don’t have to sit there and look at the empty blog post form and go, “Well, what can I write about what hasn’t been said? What do people want to hear from me? If anything? Does anyone want to hear from me? But it’s already been said, and I can’t say it better” and you know, blah, blah, blah. “It’s common sense. Everybody knows that, blah, blah, blah.”

But you’re talking about your worth and your value. Forget it. Focus on someone else for once and it takes away all that stress.

Alex Hillman Alex Hillman: It also takes away ort of the preachiness of the, “I have a thing to say”.

Amy Hoy Amy Hoy: Truth.

Alex Hillman Alex Hillman: Right, and it’s just like, “I’m just here to tell you, tell you what I did and if it helps, it helps. If it helps you achieve a goal, then again, I’m happy to be able to share that with you.”

Amy Hoy Amy Hoy: I like that.

Alex Hillman Alex Hillman: So that’s a good note to end on and we’ve got lots more coming up real soon as we continue shipping, building the new product. There’s so much stuff from this book that I think we may actually be able to fold in just as more navigational examples for the new 30x500 as well.

Amy Hoy Amy Hoy: Absolutely. I’ve really only quoted the first 20% of the book. I’ve read further and further on she has a brilliant structure to even the act of discarding things. It’s really awesome and I’ll share more about it in the future, and it’s a really good book. If your house is messy, I highly recommend it.

Alex Hillman Alex Hillman: Cool! All right. Well then let’s take off for the day and we will see each other later!

Amy Hoy Amy Hoy: Awesome. Later guys!

Alex Hillman Alex Hillman: Before you go, though, I have a suggestion for you. Subscribe to this podcast.

Now I know that sounds more like a command than a suggestion, but hear me out. Whatever your favorite podcast app is, you can go search for Stacking Bricks almost anywhere, including Google, I suppose, iTunes. I like to use overcast for listening to podcasts, whatever.

Once you’ve got our podcast, Stacking Bricks open, click the little subscribe button. Why? Well, because over the next month podcast subscribers are going to start getting an exclusive listen to some behind the scenes conversations between Amy and I, as we’re building the very next version of our bootstrapping course, 30x500.

Now, these are going to be very real conversations between us as business partners. Not staged for effect in any way, trust me. And you’re going to get a glimpse into the very process that we teach in action.

You’ve got to subscribe to get it. So go ahead and do that. I’ll let the music play for a little bit longer while, you know, you go ahead and finish that up.

Got it? You subscribed yet? Good. Sweet!

Thanks for much for listening and we’ll see you guys again next time!

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