Build Your SaaS

This week Jon and Justin are joined by Marcella Chamorro. Previously, she worked in startup marketing but has recently transitioned to coaching founders and teams. We discussed how startup founders and their team members can realize their full potential.

Here are some highlights:
  • (00:24) - Introducing Marcella
  • (03:08) - How do you define your coaching?
  • (05:15) - What do you see with rising stars?
  • (09:42) - Do you navigate team dynamics or individual work?
  • (14:45) - Any advice for founder's stress
  • (23:27) - Personal lives do come to work
  • (33:02) - The ability to have difficult conversations
  • (47:23) - A lot of value in speaking to someone who's not you
  • (50:44) - How can people reach out Marcella?

"I think people who choose to do coaching want to be really good at what they do and they want to have a really good life. They are looking to optimize their time on planet Earth."  – Marcella

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Creators & Guests

Jon Buda
Co-founder of
Justin Jackson
Co-founder of
Chris Enns
Owner of Lemon Productions
Marcella Chamorro
Mindset + performance coach for early-stage teams

What is Build Your SaaS?

Interested in building your own SaaS company? Follow the journey of as they bootstrap a podcast hosting startup.

buildyoursaas-153 v2

Jon: Hey everyone. Welcome to Build Your SaaS. This is the behind the scenes story of building a web app in 2023. I'm Jon Buda, a software engineer,

Justin: and I'm Justin Jackson. I do product and marketing, and today we have a guest!

Marcella: Marcella Chamorro. There you go!

Justin: Nice. Marcella, you and I have known each other from the internet for a while and uh, and Jon also knows you as well.

And, uh, you used to be in startup marketing. Actually, I'm trying to think of how I first, cuz you have a podcast, you've had a few podcasts on Transistor. Yes. How did we originally connect? Is that,

Marcella: I have no idea. You can't remember. This is a common question I get. Like, I've known you on the interwebs for so long.

Where did, how far back? Yeah, where did it happen? Um. When you had marketing, uh, for developers? Mm-hmm. Was that what it was called? I was already like, uh, reading all of your blogs and stuff like that. You pre, this is a website. Oh wow. Like all that stuff. Oh, cool. Um, I go way back Yeah. With your content, but I don't recall when I first, uh, got introduced to your content and then Yes.

I started podcasting. Was blogging for a long time. Always around like personal growth and development and from an operational standpoint was always in marketing. But, um, personal growth was always my thing. My podcasts were hosted on transistor. Mm-hmm. And about. Writing the ups and downs of the entrepreneurial and creative journey.

And then through that podcast, I interview you on that podcast. Yes. Had some other big names like James Clear, which everybody's like, how'd you get James Clear on your podcast? How did you get James? I still have no idea what I bugged him in his inbox until he said yes. And at some point he was like, you are so persistent that okay.

And I was like, great, let's do this. Um, I will say though, that that was. Most likely the most difficult interview I did because he's so media trained. Or at least it seemed to me. Yeah. Uh, it was hard to get like real with you. I could get like real,

Justin: yeah. Um, yeah. I've hung out with him in in person. He's like that in person as well.

He's, he's very put together. Yeah.

Marcella: So maybe it's not media training, maybe it's just that's just just who he is. Yeah. Um, and. It was, it was great podcasting. I met a lot of very cool people through the podcast, and one of them eventually offered me a full-time role just, uh, through being friends on the interwebs, just like me and you.

Um, ad Pinar and I worked at Coy in marketing for, for about a year. I was the first marketing hire there, head of marketing. It was a great time, but always the, the mental health and personal development. Side of me was just kept growing and growing, and I ended up migrating over to becoming a mindset coach, which is what I do now.

Justin: Yeah. So maybe let's start there. Let's describe that transition. So you're, you're doing this, this coaching. Wh how would you, uh, describe the work you're doing to other people? How do you, how do you define it?

Marcella: I want to be working with founders and. What I would describe as like rising stars within teams, because when I was at Cogsy and other startups like identified these, they were not founders, they were not heads of functions, but they were key team members who were just hungry and needing, wanting challenges, but also needing support.

Like nobody wants to swim in the deep end. Without knowing how to swim, like, you know what I mean? Like you really want to grow, but you need adequate support. And so that's the kind of person that I'm really excited about working with. And what I do with that kind of, uh, profile is mindset work. So there's a lot of limiting beliefs that are behind.

A lot of the challenges that we face, not just at work, but uh, in our personal lives. And so I've been trained in N L P, which is neurolinguistic programming and inter-family systems, kind of a dig, um, which. It's really fun for me. Like I used to hate being in meetings like when I'd see my calendar full of meetings coming from Coy, which is mostly, or default async.

Yeah. We never had meetings and now my calendar is packed and I love it. Like because they're transformative conversations. Do you know what I mean? Like every session that I have, I end the call and I just feel more energy than I did at the beginning. That's great. So yeah, it's, it's, it's a lot of fun for me.

I think it's something that I have been doing without knowing that I was doing it for years, just informally.

Justin: So did you have some experiences, like during your work when you were, you know, interacting with founders and then. Observing these rising stars, like were there some insights that you were gathering as you're working that you're like, you know what, there's something here that, oh, for sure.

Could you support, what are, what are some of those big issues? Let's start with, well, why don't we start with the rising stars? What are some of the, the big issues you saw there that you're like, I think I could help with? That piece.

Marcella: Yeah. I think w with my own team, um, and I always say like once my team, always my team, I have stay in close contact with everybody I've ever worked with.

Because what I really try to do with my teams is to find a win-win. Like how can, where do you want your career to go and, and your life to go? And then how can we find that intersection with whatever organization we're working with? Because if there's no win win one, one side is winning more than the other.

Do you know what I mean? And, and that's not how you feel your best and do your best work, you know? So I work with my own team members to find that intersection and the feedback that I got was like exuberant positive. Like they were so happy to work with me and so happy that I was interested in their own, their development.

Side by side, like with the organizations meeting its goals. And I don't, I mean, that can sometimes be difficult to find that win-win, but it's not impossible. And it's most likely easier than most people think. And, and I think that drives a lot of motivation. Yeah. For those rising stars who are hungry.

And also just providing like mentorship and that support. Um, a lot of times people just wanna be heard. Yeah. And. Even better if you're being heard by somebody who's been there, who's walked the path, right. That you want to eventually work on. Yeah, so like for example, one of the things that I, I did with everybody that I worked with is like, find me a job description of your ideal future.

Role. Like whether that's if, if you're a content manager, is that head of content or whatever, um, let's finally three and then like, let's put together your ideal one and then finally people who are in those roles and let's analyze their LinkedIns. Like what was their trajectory? What did they work, how did they work toward that?

Mm-hmm. And then how do we get you there? And so, um, I was doing that just as part of being a manager. But at the same time, like that really leads deep connections with your team because they know that you're looking out for them. Yeah. You know, so there's that. And then I think just the, the, I think this is a common belief that everything comes from the top.

Mm-hmm. You know, and I think that working in, in small teams, like in early stage teams, you really do get a sense for. How everything does come from leadership, you know, the good, the bad, the ugly. Um, and I was lucky enough in this role that I've mentioned to have a very, to experience a lovely work culture, like something so positive where maybe in past roles I've experienced what not to do.

And in this role I experienced a lot of what to do, what is, can really breed a and cultivate a tight knit work culture. Where people are empowered to bring their true selves to work, to work in a calm cadence and to be kind to each other without ignoring like the organization's goals. So, What I realized with that is that it is such a blessing to have that experience, not just like for my work life, but for everybody and this, this team, we were like 19 people.

That's a blessing for those 19 humans and their families and their friends and everybody who's experiencing someone who's showing up in the world, being able to do their best work but also feel their best. Like that ripple effect. Mm-hmm. Was very profound. Yeah. For me, um, And so I just wanted to do more of that.

How do we transform more cultures and more leaders in order to have that ripple effect? So I, I get a lot of energy from getting to that root cause, which is usually at the top if there are challenges, and then trying to spread that positive vibe out to, um, the rest of the team. Yeah, I think a lot of founders.

Do receive a lot of support. Like you hear founder coaches, founder coaches, like you hear that a lot. What about everybody else? Like, what about my rising stars? And what about the people who wanna be rising stars and they don't get that much support? So I feel, um, really strongly about that.

Jon: You, you mentioned you're working with teams or you were working with teams.

Are you, are you like diffusing situations between employees or are there tensions you're navigating or is it more on, on an individual level that you're.

Marcella: Working with, um, I think it's more on an individual level. I will work with, there's always tensions. I mean, humans like that. I think that's why human resources exists.

Like humans will be humans. We're, we're all very, so, very different and a lot of the times there's a big shift that happens between receiving feedback, let's say for one example and taking it personally. Mm-hmm. Versus reframing it as guidance and thinking like, I'm gonna keep that idea in my back pocket.

Like when you show up at work one way or the other, the outcome is so very different for the rest of your team, you know? So yes, a lot of diffusing tension, but once you diffuse attention one time, I think you're, you're building the muscle to then, In the future encounter situations that may be similar, where you are able to show up in a more positive way?

Justin: Yeah, I, there's a lot to dig into there and it, it's interesting because I think for Jon and I, we've, we've ha we've each experienced what it's like to be on a team and to be, you know, working as an employee and like, um, often really showing up, uh, in a. Maybe in a rising star kind of way of like, oh yeah, I got, mm-hmm I wanna do this, I wanna bring this.

And then, uh, sometimes feeling the resistance from the rest of the team or from the, the leadership or whatever. Um, I remember I was on this one team, I've been in nonprofits forever and like nonprofit people work crazy hard. And I started working at the software company and. My colleague pulled me over the, and I thought I was just like not working enough.

You know, I'm in the deep end. This is my first software, Jon, and my colleague pulled me aside one day and he's like, dude, you've got to stop working so hard. You are making us look bad. Like you're just doing too much. Just slow it down. Jon and I talked about this a lot in the early stages of transistor of like, um, A lot of what we've brought to transistor for ourselves and for our employees relates to struggles.

We've, we had frustrations we had on the flip side now that we're owners and I, I've actually, I've had a bunch of conversations with other, I've got quite a few founder friends and seems like there's this, uh, you know, the first part is really hard building a company. You know, you're building it. It's a struggle, struggle, struggle.

Lots of mental health struggles in that time because everything is, there's so little margin. You don't know if it, you're gonna make it. You're working evenings and weekends, you've got no money. And then when you make it, there's this kind of beautiful honeymoon where you've, you've made it and it's like, okay, we've got, now we've got the resources and now we can start to live the life we want.

And invariably, all my, all my friends that have started companies, Eventually get to this point where they get more frazzled, it's not as fun anymore. And it's just cuz there's just, once you hit a certain size, there's like all this stuff you gotta care about. Tax compliance, income tax regulations, insurance negotiations, legal issues, uh, you know, team issues.

And there's just all of these gauges demanding our attention. Uh, Jon and I had a call yesterday and we were talking about this like, man, like we've just been feeling more frazzled lately. It's like, it's like everything in our inbox is just this other either a gauge we have to watch or an um, this like process that has to now be running in our brain.

Jon: Yeah. Someone asking something of us and Yeah. Yeah. I think the bigger we got we're not, and we're not big by any means, but it's just, there's more and more. There are more and more like tasks and things to do that they're just kind of running in your brain that are,

Marcella: they're not writing code and marketing.

Justin: Yeah. Yeah. And it and it, and it's not like, and there's the. Again, the other common, um, thing I hear from my friends who are founders are like, you know, there's this, the work that they want to do, like the work that they find fun. They wanted to build this company so that they could create a job that was fun for them.

But often the other stuff can crowd in and, and, uh, sometimes even like make you forget. I had one friend who has this amazingly, uh, Like a successful company and he was thinking about quitting because he, he was just like, I don't want to do this anymore. It's not fun. It's like, not only is it not fun, it's like I, uh, don't want to go to work anymore.

You know? Like I don't wanna show up. Do you have any insights on any of that? How can, on the founder side, What are some things, and I think one thing that is hard for founders is, uh, I mean maybe Jon and I haven't gotten enough coaching, but one thing that is hard on, on founders is that, uh, often the owner, like the big boss, doesn't get any empathy.

It's like, well, you got the company, you guys are doing well, you know, why are you complaining? And so we often end up talking to each other going, man, this is like all this pressure and responsibility and. Stuff is a lot. How can founders deal with all that? Do you, do you have any insights on it?

Jon: No, and yeah, and we don't, we obviously don't want that, like negativity, if you want to call it that, to like trickle down to the team.

Mm-hmm. To where the team's like, oh man, Jon and Justin are falling apart and we're, I mean, we're not, but you know, Don't want to get it to that

Marcella: point. Yeah. Yeah. You, you do have to create some sort of buffer. Right. And, and I think that's something, well, first I just wanted to say, I do hear that a lot.

Like I recently spoke to a founder who said to me like, but what about me? Mm-hmm. Nobody supports me. Yeah. And I, I get that. And like I said, a lot of times people just want to feel heard. Mm-hmm. Um, but what I will say about. Being that buffer and creating a buffer between you and the team, or you and each, it's, you don't want to pass along stress mm-hmm.

To other people. And I think in, we talk a lot about hard skills and soft skills and stuff like that, but nobody talks about like the, the ability to self-regulate. Mm-hmm. And to be able to chill the F out mm-hmm. Before you answer the slack message. Mm-hmm. You know? Um, and I think that, Coming from a place like, uh, my previous role, I, cuz I feel like I've mentioned the word Cogsy like 500 times in this chat already.

But like in my previous role that stuff didn't happen. But then, but now that I'm exposed to more people, um, and I did have a short stint at another company before deciding to become a coach. I realized that it is a lot more common than I thought that. People are exposed to very toxic, um, behaviors at work.

And so I was kind of in a bubble. And it sounds to me like for everything that I know of you two, that transistors also kind of this people first very calm bubble, but it, I forgot that ev outside the bubble, there's so many other people that are being impacted mm-hmm. By these, um, Bad work habits or communication habits and, and I think that the ability to self-regulate is something that can really transform a team.

Mm-hmm. Because you are able to once stop passing on your stress to other people with like snarky messages or pressure that is maybe uncalled for. Mm-hmm. Um, by just injecting a little bit of calm and, and kindness and giving yourself some space to breathe before. Yeah. But also, You are able to kind of think through how productive is this message?

Or is this task that I'm assigning, or whatever it is that you're doing, how productive is it to our North star or our, you know, r r goals? Mm-hmm. Or whatever that number or that whatever it is that you're working toward, like. What I'm doing, is it moving the needle or not? And if it's not, then I need to put it in somewhere

Justin: else.

I, there's a, there's a few thoughts I just had there. Um, I mean, one I, that the, what I've experienced in the past is that low margin businesses tend to have, More of that kind of toxic behavior where the, the owner is stressed cuz they can't pay their bills and they've got a million things and they're downloading that stress.

It all comes from the top onto the, onto the employees. Um, and you know, I've definitely been there that, that is um, uh, often my advice. To people when, now that, when people come to me, I'm like, if you can, you gotta get out of that situation because like that kind of downloading of stress and those low margin businesses rarely, uh, become healthier.

It's like it, the, they're, they're, they're kind of set and there's a reason they're having troubles and there's a reason the boss is always stressed and there's a reason they're taking it out on you. Um, the, I think the. The, just thinking about even Jon and I, that that one thing I can definitely see is.

Like, we had a series of where we, we, we decided to dive into sales tax compliance. And so Jon and I are like, okay, we're gonna do this. And we're like working on it. And then other stuff always comes up. It was like, oh, we gotta pay Ohio State tax and now we gotta, we have this issue over here with our regular accounting.

And then, uh, this came up and things keep coming up. And when we had this list of kind of like, I don't know what we could call these, but like stuff that, tasks that drag us down, that reduce our margin, our buffer in our own lives. I definitely got more snarky. Uh, and, um, no, not snarky, more like negative, spicy with the people around me.

Uh, so, and mostly like people at my co-working office and my family just like, ah, like. I just had a shit day where all I did was look into sales tax compliance and talk to a billion different people about it and pay, uh, expensive accounting people. And like it was just, yeah. And, and there's, and you have no answer still.

And we mm-hmm. And of the day, and there's like no resolution. That's the most frustrating, is that, yeah. Is that, you know, Jon and I are at our best when I think on two lines. We have this vision of like, we're gonna build an amazing product and experience for customers. And we were just totally aligned on that and on the same side, even when we had no money, we're like, and we're gonna build a better life for us.

Like that's the goal. Oh, a hundred percent. And. Yeah. Uh, whenever either of those gauges for us personally as founders goes down, like whenever it's like we're not able to do the work that really fires us up. Like we're just doing too much of this draining work, um, that, that we, we definitely aren't doing as well.

When, and this has actually been a, a bigger struggle, I think, especially now that we have more people on the team, cuz everybody has their own. Motivations and in some way, Jon and I's motivation is like we just want to keep this business really simple and giving us a really great life and giving me the ability to go snowboarding when I want.

And if Jon wants to go for a two hour run in the middle of the day, he can't. Like we, like we've built this lifestyle. That was really great. And now, you know, we've got, uh, three other people on the team and they've got their own motivations. You know, they've got their own things that they're trying to do in their lives.

And I sometimes it's like a struggle to figure out like, how are we gonna balance all of this? Like, and there's the other dynamic of like, Jon and I still have to maintain a good relationship too. So there's all of these levels and. Honestly, sometimes it's just overwhelming sometimes. Sometimes I just feel like, yeah, huh, I don't know how we're gonna do, how we're going to, how we're gonna get back to this being simple.

And, uh, luckily

Jon: Justin and I don't really get into fights or arguments.

Marcella: I can't see anybody arguing with you too.

Justin: We've had a, we have a few, but we've mostly been able to resolve that. Yeah, we were talking about this yesterday too, but like during the pandemic, we didn't do a retreat. For two years, we really noticed it like we're, our relationship isn't as strong when we don't do at least one time where we both get away.

And this year it just kind of like our typical time just kind of got away from us. Yeah. There's all these things and it's just like sometimes it can just managing all these levels. And then there's also just the, the aspect of, so those are the levels for work. And then whatever we've got going on at home or in our personal lives, it, we're also bringing that to work.

But, you know, not, not, uh, usually not sharing too

Marcella: much, right. With a mask on, but it's behind the mask. You know what I mean? Like, you, you do show up as your work self at work, but the other stuff is you're still carrying it. And I think a lot of the. All these challenges that you face, that everybody faces is it's all about rebounding from them.

Because like, we're always gonna be facing small challenges. Like right now it might be, I, I don't wanna deal with the sales tax admin stuff, like I wanna be doing product marketing. So how, how do I reframe this, um, if I have to do it? Or do I have to, like, what is my obstacle, what are my options? Uh, and I think that's why.

It's really healthy to have somebody else to talk through these things with because I, for example, don't have a co-founder to talk to. So I pay a coach, um, to, that. I can talk to I for, like, if I believe in coaching, I'm paying for a coach, so I have my own coach that I'm able to talk to, and it helps me untangle my own challenges and reframe them and find solutions.

That I didn't know were there because it's, it's impossible to see your own strengths and weaknesses in 2020. Like you can't see your own blind spots, but somebody else can see them sometimes very easily. Um, and maybe UKs can do that for each other, but that's also a very sensitive relationship where you don't wanna be calling somebody out all the time.

Um, It's sometimes it's very nice to have an objective and non partial third party who can say, Hey, Justin, like there's some options here. If you wanna feel better about this sales tax situation that you've got going on, how can we reframe this? Um, or find another solution like maybe outsourcing. I don't know.

Yeah. But, um, no, I

Justin: think, I think that's like, I think coaching would be something we would be, we would be open to. Um, because it, it does help having a co-founder. Like there's thing, it's nice to, um, and actually the reminder I need to have sometimes is I, because we're in different cities, sometimes it is just easy for me to struggle on my own.

And yesterday I had this feeling of like, I can just, Ask Jon if you can do a phone call. And then I was able to call and express some feelings and um, and uh, you know, that was a really healthy. Thing. And uh, probably we probably don't take advantage of that enough. But again, I'm,

Jon: I'm also not, to Marcel's point, I'm not

Justin: impartial.

Yes. And, and that's, yeah. I think the impartial part would be that that part is super valuable. Yeah. Having somebody else. But I think also

Marcella: you mentioned bringing, like bringing your personal life. And, and everything that's going on in all other aspects of your life to work right, is because when I truly believe that when you feel your best, you do your best work period.

Like it's very difficult to do your best work when you're feeling underwater, when you're feeling stressed, pressured, et cetera. Um, and so when you have somebody external to talk to, you can talk about that stuff. You don't necessarily have to talk about work. A lot of the. The people that I speak to, my coaching partners, what, what I notice is that when work is going well, we talk about other aspects of their life.

Mm. And that those are also very valid topics. Like work is not everything. It's, it's not nearly everything. So if somebody wants to talk to me about, um, creating healthy habits or improving their interpersonal relationships, whatever it is, sometimes I speak to people about having patience while they wait for something that they really want in their life.

There's been a lot of layoffs. Um, or it could be a romantic partner, whatever it is that they're waiting for. Um, Patience is a big theme in my sessions. For some reason, people are bringing that to me. And what I notice is that that's what happens when work is going really well. When work is not going well.

Work is the number one thing they want to talk about. Um, because when you're sitting at a desk from, you know, eight to five, nine to five, whatever it is, and you're rec on the receiving end of snarky comments or you know, feedback that maybe isn't snarky, but maybe you're not trained. To take it well or not personally?

Yeah. It hijacks your, um, your experience and then you take work home with you. So both sides need a lot of attention and care. Um, And that's really hard to do. Like I can't imagine you calling Jon and being like, so this is going on with my son and sometimes I do, I don't know what to do. Okay. But Jon, do you wanna receive that call every day?

Like, I don't, not every

Justin: day, but yeah. No, I mean, I, I go to therapy every month and that definitely is, uh, that's just a standing, I just have a standing date. And to your point, I have to today excited to your point, like if whatever's not going well is the thing I'll talk about. And then, uh, ironically, if everything else is going well, it's only then that I'll talk about like internal stuff.

Like every, there's no fires anywhere else. It's like, okay, now I can talk about like whatever. It's on my mind. Yeah. Mar Marcella,

Jon: you, you mentioned that like if things are going well at work, people will talk about other issues. Mm-hmm. And if things aren't not going well at work, they'll talk about work.

But do you find. A lot of times that if things are not going well at work, there might be like the underlying issue is that things are also not going well in the rest of their life and it's affecting it and like they kind of play off each

Marcella: other. I haven't experienced that they play off each other. What I have experienced or the patterns that I have noticed is that there's, the root cause is usually the same.

So that's why I, I really enjoy working on mindset because when you dig into like the mindset and what is happening, I, I, I think in like three modalities, there's some people are more visual. Like let's say you, you think of a memory and you have a visual of it. You might have an, have an auditory component of that memory, but then you also have like a physical kinesthetic.

Um, modality for that memory. So I'm thinking about, you know, I went skiing when I was 11 and I can see the snow, I can hear the crunching of the snow under my boot, but I can also smell the chapstick that I was like constantly reapplying because my lips were super chapped. So when you work, when you're going through any challenge, whether it's at, you know, uh, work or other aspects of your life, these three modalities are always.

At play, there's something either you're saying to yourself and that's auditory or you're seeing something like, you know, I walk into a a party and I feel social anxiety and what am I hearing in my own head? What am I seeing in my own head? Or what am I feeling am might be like nerves in my stomach or whatever.

So when you diffuse and you work with those three mm-hmm. Everything is able to self-regulate and you can kind of show up as your best self. Yeah. But those three modalities are present at work and in the other areas of your life. So to me, it's all around. I work in those three. Yeah. That's why I enjoy that.

Yeah. Because I can apply it to different areas.

Justin: And that's what I mean, like if you get, uh, if, if. If there's something that triggers me that's related to an experience I had when I was 12, that trigger could show up at work. It could show up on Twitter, it could show up at home, it could show up with friends.

Like those things, you know, they, the number of times my, my kids like, look at me and they're like, dad. Is something upsetting you on Twitter? And I'll be like, no. And they're like, uh, I don't think so. I think so. You, you get like this when you're like, I'm sorry, who you,

Marcella: who you fight with on

Justin: Twitter. I mean, it's true.

Like, and some of those triggers are not even, they're just related to. Hurts or traumas or stuff that happened when I was a kid, right? It, it's all the same stuff. It shows up kind of no matter where you are. It, it honestly makes sense that we would need, uh, we would need to process. Our, our work selves, our personal selves, our family, it's all the same self, but like in some sort of coaching or therapy or whatever, you gotta process all that stuff, you know?

And it's often related to the si, same issues, but it shows up in different ways of like, uh, I mean, there has been times where like, Jon and I were, I was feeling like something with Jon and my wife is just like, just call him. I'm like, I don't know. I don't wanna, and then she's like, just call him. And then I'll like put it off and then I'll call.

And then it is just like, and it all, the feeling I had was, had nothing to do with Jon. It was just me being like, I think Jon's like upset with me or doesn't like me, or whatever. And. And I just call and then all of a sudden it's like, oh, well every things are fine. But the problem is we just hadn't talked in like four weeks or something.

Yeah. We just hadn't talked in four weeks. And so, um, yeah, it's interesting how that stuff, uh, a lot of those same issues just keep showing up, you know, in different places.

Marcella: You mentioned something that there's this other skill that we talked about, self-regulation. There's another one, which is the ability to have difficult conversations.

And that doesn't mean that, that it's going to be a mean conversation or a, a, a nasty conversation. It just means it's, it's gonna be uncomfortable. It, it can be maybe for one person more than the other, but a lot of the times we have to have these difficult conversations to get to this other side. Like you probably felt a lot of resistance before picking up the phone and talking to Jon.

Yeah. And so within teams, that's also really important. To be able to give feedback or receive feedback or to say, Hey, I noticed during that call that X, Y, Z, um, I even have once received a Slack message from a co-founder at a company where I was working saying like, Hey, I noticed you looked sad on our team wide call.

Is everything okay? Mm-hmm. And I was like, wow. I never would've sent that message to somebody. You know, I'd be like, I'm gonna respect, maybe they're tired. Maybe something happened, maybe, I don't know. Um, but that kind of respectful distance, you know, it was a question I could have said, no, I'm fine. I didn't though.

I was like, actually, Yeah, I had a conversation with this person and, and I was feeling upset about it, but I'm gonna talk to them. Great idea. Let me know how it goes. And then I had that conversation and then everything was fine. So, um, a lot of the times when we let things fester because we're, we're experiencing that resistance to having that conversation, first of all, that's a signal.

Have the conversation. Your wife was right. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. I'm glad you said that. Yeah. But, um, but second of all, it's like, what did you think is the worst? What are we imagining is going to happen again? We go to those three modalities. Like when you think, call Jon, or there's this stuff going around, I'm feeling something about Jon.

Are you, are you hearing something that like he, you know, he, he might be feeling a certain way. Are you seeing something like, for example, when I think about like cold pitching my coaching, I imagine a face of somebody receiving the call, the email and being like, Ugh. You know, like I imagine a cringe face and so I don't, I shy away from that activity.


Justin: interesting. For me, it's all in the heart. It's just like, I just feel something inside like, oh, I don't think we're okay. You know, like, it, it's, it's more of a wanna hug you both right now. Yeah. Like,

Jon: you don't, you don't want me to confirm your suspicions

Justin: or something. I mean, if you did, it would probably still be fine cuz then we are at least facing it.

I often feel those things, I think. And then, um, uh, yeah, the, the, the answer is usually just like, uh, confronting it, more connection. Don't ignore it. You have to be careful

Marcella: about it. Right. There, there are ways to have those conversations where they can go really wrong. Yeah, and I think, do you have some tips?

There's this book called I Do Have You Read Radical Candor? It's a great book. Radical Candor is, I can summarize it really quick for you. Um, there's two things that are important. One, you have to care personally about the person. And you have to be able to challenge them directly. Mm-hmm. So, but when you cha, like when you challenge somebody directly, there's two ways that it can go wrong, which you can be, you can be obnoxiously aggressive, which I have worked with somebody who is very aggressive and abrasive for seemingly no reason.

Um, and that is obviously not a situation you wanna be in. And then there is like ruinous empathy because what that is, is I'm gonna avoid. Having this conversation because I want, you know, I don't wanna hurt your feelings, or I don't want to risk our relationship by offending you, so I'm just gonna avoid the discomfort.

And then, but if that happens, then the team's work suffers because there's no honesty there. And then there's this, the third one, which is like, you can be. Insincere, but in a manipulative way. Like, I want you to like me, so I'm not gonna tell you, I'm not gonna be straight with you because I don't wanna, it's not that I don't wanna avoid the conflict, it's that I want you to like me and so I'm manipulating you a little bit.

So you wanna avoid those three. I think most teams. That I, um, I'm involved with if fall under that second, like that ruinous empathy or, I don't wanna hurt your feelings. So how can you show somebody that you do care personally, but you want to help them grow by sharing X, Y, z? Yeah. Feedback or guidance or whatever.

I think the last place

Jon: I was working at before Transistor, there was a lot of that. There was like, Everyone seemingly wanted to get along, and then there was like back channels, slack, just people talking shit about everyone. Mm-hmm.

Marcella: Yeah. When there's a meeting after the meeting, that's, that's no bueno.

Yeah, yeah,

Justin: yeah. Yeah. The, the, the tricky part about a lot of this is that there's tension on all on in different directions. Uh, for example, uh, I remember I, I was at a young age, I was given some. Uh, leadership positions and, you know, I'm feeling good about myself. I'm feeling like, okay, I'm the leader here.

And then I would go to someone with some, some feedback, and I felt like I was being sincere. I felt like, you know, I cared about the other person, all these things, but it turns out that my insight was wrong. Meaning like, uh, you know, here's the issue that I want to talk about, but I was just wrong about the issue and that.

Is also possible. Like you can have somebody coming to you with all the Right, they, they've checked all the boxes, but um, I get this on Twitter a lot. Like people come to me going like, man, you seem like really upset. I'm like, No, I'm not. I'm fine. Well, no, I can tell you're upset right now. It's like, I'm actually fine.

Well, if you were fine, you know, and it's like, well do

Marcella: a lot of fighting on Twitter, Justin, what's going on?

Justin: But this is the thing, this is the thing is like the, uh, the point of view. Is, is plays into this, right? Mm-hmm. There are bosses mm-hmm. That just have the wrong point of view. They're not, not every boss is gonna be right all the time.

And so, uh, you know, you can go to someone and give them feedback and they, and they might be feeling like, well, this is my boss. They're giving me the, the radical candor approach. They did everything right. But in the back of their minds, they're like, but is he right? I don't know. Like, it's hard to know. In real life, I find all that stuff more messy, right?

Like the, there, there's, um, especially, you know, it could just be, uh, I've got different values than you. Y you know, the boss might think, well, your, I don't know. I, I'm, I, I'm speaking generally, but your, your, your behavior is unacceptable. But it turns out, There's just a, they just have different values and it's not

Marcella: like, I mean, I think if you're getting that feedback, you're kind of fucked.

Like yes, your behavior's unacceptable. I'm, I'm talking more like, um, you know, metrics, data driven, like something where you can, I would imagine that if, if there's a leader that I'm working with that, that they are. Willing to have the person that they're giving feedback to be able to give them their own perspective and point of view back and just be clear and kind, you know?

Cause I do think in the words of Brene Brown, I'm her biggest fangirl. Clear is kind, yes. Like just be clear and if you disagree, say it, um, in a very respectful way and give your reasons for that. And like that way it can be a conversation. But I, I get it at the end of the day, boss's boss. And if you ha, but you can get to the point where you say, okay, I disagree for this, this, this reason, but I'm happy to try out your approach and see what happens.

And we can, I hate the term, but circle back, you know, um, hopefully those, those conversations will make the work better. And at the end of the day will drive the business forward because at the end of the, you don't want somebody who just says yes, like a yes man, A yes woman, and just does whatever the CEO wants.

And then why did you hire them for? You want experts that are willing to and able to give you their opinions and their perspectives so that. With more cards on the table, then you can see what's, what's what. Mm-hmm. Right. I don't know. Yeah. I guess maybe that's just my perspective, but the majority of people I work with share that.


Justin: Yeah. Yeah. The I, I also like, um, Mel Robbins, she has the. Connection over correction. Um, idea, which, uh, just resonates with me cuz it's like, am I seeking to connect or am I seeking to correct? Like, is somebody wrong on the internet or am I just trying to connect with other people and, you know, Drive the conversation forward or, uh, move the work forward or whatever.

Uh, I think it does in practice. It actually does get messier than, than, mm-hmm. Like the, the human messiness you alluded to earlier. Uh, I'm trying to think of, oh, I, I had a per, like a work situation where I'm in charge of product. Someone who was just deploying stuff without any, Checks, like they were just deciding to de deploy stuff.

And one day they just decided, decided to change the font on the whole, in the whole app. And it was actually affecting users, like things didn't look right or whatever. And um, and I remember I got upset about it, I said, I, I went to them directly, said, Hey, you know, we've gotta talk about this. We have a process and you keep not going through the process and it's actually affecting things for other people.

And, um, he was not responsive. And then when I brought it to the leadership, they basically said, well, you guys are stressing us out. You, so you figure it out yourselves, and there's just a lot of mess in there, right? It's like there's. Lots to figure out. And at the, at the end of the day, this particular person, like the way it netted out was they just weren't right.

This wasn't the right position for them. They kept getting bored and so they kept doing all these things on their own cuz they were bored. And then eventually they, the. Company realized they had to go right. But there's mess in that. There's mess and, and it took years for it to shake out. That's just how it happens, you know, like that's just, that's the, figuring those things out in the, in a moment is so hard because there's so many variables.

It's hard to know what's going on, you know? Yeah. If you knew that

Jon: that person was bored earlier, you probably could have fixed the

Marcella: situation. I think if that person. Has the ability to have a difficult conversation and be able to be honest and say, I'm bored. Mm-hmm. Yeah. So there was a lot being kind of.

Push under the rug. I, I was in a work situation recently where, um, I was, it was like day five of not being paid on time, like day I was late five days, and when I, I was constantly reaching out and hearing crickets. Like, Hey, what's going on? Anything needed on my end, like, happy to help, blah, blah. Trying to keep it very positive.

And when I finally got in touch, um, or got a response, it was a very abrasive and aggressive response. And when I said like, you know, I'm, payment is essential to my family. I have children and whatever, and I received l o l oh, I was like, Yeah. Not the right position for me. Let's go folks. Yeah. Ride out, you know?

Yeah. Um, so I think in a lot of those situations where you do hit like a wall, Some, something has to give. In this case, I was like, I'm removing myself from this organization as quickly as possible. Yeah, yeah, yeah. But, um, what I did get there was a lot of content and a lot of realization of like, empathy for people who are in this situation and do not have the privilege to be able to decide to do something else.

Mm-hmm. Right away it has to stay. Mm-hmm. So, um, in those situations where things just goes wrong, I do try to say like, all right, what is, what is here for me? What is here for me? What can I, what did I contribute to this mess? What red flags did I not see, um, or not pay attention to? What did I contribute?

And then how can I avoid that in the future? And how can I, how can I level up? Yeah. Like me, you know?


Justin: know, you know, one thing I keep thinking about as you're speaking is, and even Jon and I thinking about some of the conversations we've had lately, which is. If, if part of the root problem or the challenge for us is like, wow, there's just so many things we've, we have to keep track of.

There, there's really only a few options, right? We can simplify, like we can just do less things. We can make dec like we've just decided we're not gonna do enterprise sales because it just adds too much to our team. So, okay, we're just gonna do less. The second thing we can do is get help. So like the, the, in the same way that.

You know, now Jon and I are like, maybe we should just this sales tax thing. Every time we look at it, it really bums us out. Maybe we just need, if it's something we have to do, maybe we just need to get help. And I think in the same way that when you're, um, a founder of a company or leading a company, Just the, the weight of everything can just feel overwhelming, including, like you're, you told the story of the CEO reaching out to you in Slack saying, Hey, is everything okay?

It's like, there's some days where I think, you know, Jon and I feel like we could be that person. And then there's other days it's like, fuck me. Like I can't, I, I could barely take care of myself right now, you know? Yeah. Um, and, and I think the answer to the overwhelm is just, well, How can you create margin?

And maybe it's to like hire someone like you or like just get some help so that, you know, we're not the only ones playing that role on a team. Yep.

Marcella: And I also think, like, to your point, like every obstacle or every, every challenge has interference. And how can you face that interference? How can you get over that interference?

There's a bunch of solutions. There's all these options that maybe you just need help shining a light on them, you know? And in, in this case it might be getting help or whatever, but I also know that on some teams there's more of a sense of calm and overwhelmed and, and less overwhelmed because they have a bigger team in terms of like admin stuff.

So yeah, there are. There's different ways to solve all kinds of challenges. What happens is when you're in your own head a lot, you can't see the, you can't see it, you know, um, you just get too bogged down and this sucks, this sucks, this sucks. I don't wanna do this.

Jon: It's almost, yeah, I mean, it is, it is almost like not having, that's the

Marcella: auditory, not

Jon: having, maybe that's difficult conversation with someone where Yeah, you're just putting it off and putting it off.

Meanwhile, there's other stuff happening and piling on top of that. It's kind of the same with like all these. Tasks we, Justin and I need to do we, yeah, we put 'em off. But there's other stuff that comes up and now that's on top of the other thing. Yeah. Before you know it, it's like, oh wow. We're not like, we have all this other stuff we wanna do for the product that is really fun and amazing.

Yeah. And is maybe getting like pushed back or slowed down a bit because of Yeah.

Marcella: Other things. You know? And what's interesting is that I always feel like a magician because like in my sessions when I mention because people can't see their own. Stuff very clearly. Mm-hmm. And I can, because I'm just sitting on the outside, I get to like present like all these mag magical solutions.

I'm like, have you considered blah? And they're like, Oh, fuck. That is, that's genius. Yeah. And I'm like,

Justin: just the outside

Marcella: perspective. Exactly. So I, I'm not, I'm not anything special. Like, yes, I'm trained in all this stuff and I will always continue training, but like a lot of the value in having somebody to speak to is just that they're not you.

Yeah. You know what I mean? Totally. So, yes. Um, it's a very special seat to be able to sit in. Um, sometimes feels like a little bit like miraculous because I'm like, I just signed up. I just. Click the zoom link and here I am, we're having this conversation and now all this, this person's challenges is just completely, I don't wanna say solved, but like, just so clear.

And now action steps are lined up and then two weeks later they come back and they're like, went great. So what do we work on next? I'm like, great, let's do something new. You know? Um, and, and to be able to help people with that is, is pretty badass.

Justin: Yeah. Sounds awesome. I think we're gonna have to have you come back because.

The, we, we got into, it feels like we just scratched the surface of a lot of the things that you cover and Yeah, you're, you're, uh, you're welcome back anytime. If people have been listening, I would love to. And they want to get ahold of you cuz they wanna work with you. They wanna get some coaching, um, either, either for their team or as founders.

How can they

Marcella: reach out? They can reach, so m a r c e l l My newsletter self-work is there. And, and what, what

Jon: type of people are you generally looking for? Like any, anyone. Is, anyone that's. Wants to work through some work

Marcella: life stuff. I will never turn somebody away that needs support.

Um, like I work with entrepreneurs who don't have teams, for example. Mm-hmm. They're just solopreneurs. Um, but, and, and I, I definitely always have to like, vibe with the person. If I can't imagine myself having a very amicable conversation for many hours and enjoying it, I probably shouldn't, should not coach them.

Mm-hmm. Um, but that being said, I get the most energy and like exuberant feedback from working with when I am able to work with a team. And it's always optional cuz you can't force somebody to do coaching. But if you give somebody the option to do it, they usually do say yes. I would say like maybe like 90 to 95% of the people say yes and they really enjoy it.

Um, Always wanna come back for more, which is like my barometer for enjoyment Yeah. Of coaching. And what I love about that is that you get to the root cause. You, you, you're able to. Support the organization at all these different levels, but um, also when teams are not up for it. I do, I do talk to individuals.

Um, usually like those rising stars need a lot of support and they're hungry and I think people who choose to do coaching wanna be really good at what they do and they wanna have a really good life. Like they are looking to optimize their time on planet Earth. I don't see people who don't care too much.

Signing up for coaching, you know, just like I play basketball, but you know, for fun versus I wanna be Michael Jordan and I'm gonna work with all the different coaches and I'm going to work on every single aspect of my game. Um, two very different profiles. People who sign up for coaching really want to, uh, improve how they show up at work and also other areas of their life.

I mean, there are people who just coach moms. That's not me, but like, it applies to every aspect of your life. If you wanna get really good, you, you need a lot of support and push, um, to

Justin: get there. Yeah. And that outside perspective, like you said. Yeah,

Jon: that's an easy thing to forget. I mean, I was, you know, I grew up in, in sports and swimming and, and like a good coach makes, I mean, it makes like, Such a difference.

I mean, I've had bad coaches, I have good coaches, and it just like is night and day.

Marcella: Yeah. Think about your life and think about the people who have really made you feel like they saw your potential and that they really believed in your potential. I. Like really thought, Justin, Jon, you can do amazing things.

I know you can. Mm-hmm. And those people probably f like framed and, and built the majority of like your self worth because I think back to teachers and things like that. And so like, if I can be that for people, um, that's incredibly powerful. So like I said, I'll never turn somebody away. After, like the vibe filter.

But um, I do think that my startup experience gives me a lot of like leverage in that area where I can be extra helpful. Yeah. Do you know

Justin: what I mean? Yeah. I highly recommend Marcella's newsletter. I. I read every time you said one. I read it. I find it it helpful. Thank you. Like every time I, uh, a new one comes in, it's very helpful.

And if you're looking for a place to start, that's a great place to start. Um, just really great stuff. Thanks so much Marcella, for being here. This was awesome. Yeah, thank you very much. This is great.

Marcella: Thanks for having me guys. This is awesome. And I love seeing you, both of you. Yeah, like if I could, I'd give you a little, little, little hugs.

Justin: All right. Well that was a great conversation. Jon, why don't we thank the people who support us on Patreon? Yeah, thanks

Jon: as always. To everyone, we have:

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Justin: Giiiiiiiiiiunta. You know, I've been, uh, Juta and I have been interacting on Mastodon. Oh yeah. Hmm. Yeah. Interesting.

Folks can follow him at d Thanks everyone. We'd love to hear what you thought of this episode. Shoot us, uh, DM or a message on any of the places and we will. Talk to you next time we do an episode. Bye.