The Bootstrapped Founder

"Imposter syndrome isn’t just a moment of self-doubt — it’s all-encompassing. It prevents founders from taking action, from taking a risk in the first place."

This week, Dr. Julie Gurner shares with me how high performers combat the challenges founders commonly face. She’s a performance coach and Doctor of Psychology. We’ll talk about dealing with imposter syndrome, burnout, how to deal with the avalanche of advice on Twitter, and why it is so hard for founders to cope with stress.

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You'll find my weekly article on my blog:

My book Zero to Sold:
My book The Embedded Entrepreneur:
My course Find Your Following:
  • (00:00) - How common is Impostor Syndrome?
  • (02:42) - How social media can impact your business
  • (08:00) - Vulnerability is not just a means of sharing negative feedback
  • (13:33) - Diversity & Building in Public
  • (17:54) - How to avoid falling into the Impostor Syndrome
  • (22:35) - The importance of taking incremental steps
  • (26:29) - Optimizing your business
  • (32:18) - The importance of meditation
  • (37:15) - The importance of having a routine that you enjoy
  • (44:02) - The problem with the word "expertise"
  • (47:43) - The importance of confidence in entrepreneurship
  • (51:07) - Incorporating philosophy into your own life

Creators & Guests

Arvid Kahl
Empowering founders with kindness. Building in Public. Sold my SaaS FeedbackPanda for life-changing $ in 2019, now sharing my journey & what I learned.
Dr. Julie Gurner
Executive Performance Coach. Doc of Psych. Compared to Wendy Rhoades of Billions via WSJ. "Crown Yourself." Newsletter:

What is The Bootstrapped Founder?

Arvid Kahl talks about starting and bootstrapping businesses, how to build an audience, and how to build in public.

Arvid Kahl: Hello everyone and
welcome to The Bootstrapped

Founder. Today, I'm talking to
Dr. Julie Gurner. She's a

performance coach and a doctor
of Psychology. We'll talk about

dealing with imposter syndrome,
burnout, how to deal with the

avalanche of advice on Twitter
and why it's so hard for

founders to cope with stress.
Here's Julie.

Our first interaction on Twitter
was a pretty interesting one, I

feel. I said that imposter
syndrome will never go away and

you vehemently disagree. And I
immediately thought, I liked

this person. And here we are
having a chat. So let's start

with the ever so controversial
imposter syndrome and in the

context of founders and
creators, what is it and how

common do you think it really

Dr. Julie Gurner: I think that
imposter syndrome can be common,

but I don't think that everyone
suffers from it. So when you do

say that, you know, you see on
the internet, it's very common

that people will say things
like, nobody knows what they're

doing. Everybody is just, you
know, and I don't really feel

like that's an accurate
representation of everyone. I

mean, I hope that your surgeon
knows what he's doing. I really

hope that your attorney knows
what he's doing or she and I

really do feel as though people
understand their seat of

expertise. And that it is, it's
fun to say, but most of the

individuals that I would say
that I work with, they do

understand their seat of
confidence. And the thing that's

fascinating about impostor
syndrome to me is that it

requires confidence to exist,
right? If you actually don't

know what you're doing, you're a
novice and that's perfectly

okay. If you're someone who is
intentionally deceptive, then

you perhaps are an imposter. But
imposter syndrome really

requires that you have the seat
of expertise. And that, you

know, you are somehow misaligned
with understanding or seeing

that seed of expertise. So, I
mean, I do believe that it

exists and that it is fairly
common, especially as people are

working their way forward when
you're talking about

entrepreneurs and creators and,
you know, early stage founders.

But as things move forward,
people begin to discover more

and more about what they can do,
about who they are, about what

their potential is. And you
know, from taking small risks,

they begin to develop a lot more
confidence. So I do think it

exists. I think it exists more
in earlier stages or with new

ventures or with new leaps. But
I don't think that it can never

go away. And I certainly don't
believe that, you know,

everybody suffers from it. So
that's my general take. And I'm

glad that we had that exchange
on Twitter because I think it

really gives opportunity for a
deeper dive and discussion on


Arvid Kahl: Yeah, what I found
very interesting in researching

this topic a bit more in
preparation for this. And

generally, because I wanted to
understand it better, is it's

not a recognized disorder,
right? It's not a disease. It's

not something that is
diagnoseable. But a lot of

people self diagnose it and
consider it as something that

they are afflicted by. And I
always wonder, is it just like,

a version of self doubt? Or is
it something that an extension

of that that goes deeper?

Dr. Julie Gurner: That's a great
question. I do think that there

are a lot of different possible
routes, right? I do think that

for some people, it is around
self doubt and confidence. I

think for other people, it can
be around things like, you know,

anxiety, stress, feeling and
being kind of hypersensitive to

you know, social judgment,
awareness and things like that.

I think also, at its core, for
most, it's around, it involves

some type of thinking pattern
that tends to be off of it that

they have an evaluation of what
an expert looks like. And it

varies from who they see
themselves being. So for

example, if you're a new
founder, you look around and you

say, oh, you know, this person
just raised their A or you know,

they're really successful, they
have really great traction. And

so we make these assumptions
about that person, that like,

oh, they knew exactly the path.
They, you know, had it all

mapped out in advance. So they
have some secret expertise and

that somehow they are falling
short of what their perception

of other people are, when in
fact, you know, most people,

whether on social media or
otherwise are presenting their

very best self. They're not
saying hi, my name is Tim and I

struggle with X, Y and Z. And I
really almost made a big mistake

last week and you should have
heard about that, you know, so

nobody starts off that way. We
all lead with our best foot

forward. And so it also creates
this mismatch between what we

perceive reality to be and what
it actually is.

Arvid Kahl: Yeah, I always
consider social media to be the

place where other people present
their highlight reel, only the

best thing, right? And you
compare it to your full lived

experience, which is there's
obviously a discrepancy there

because you're missing the part
that they don't show unless they

are actively trying to balance
these things. A lot of people

who are building in public and I
really wish more people would do

this building their business in
public. They share the

vulnerability as well. They
share the losses, the failures

too in a kind of ex post facto
situation where they talk about

it as it has, like shown some
sort of consequence. And then

they deal with that, right? It's
not like in the trenches, often,

hopefully, people are busy on
actually doing the thing that

they want to do even if they're

Dr. Julie Gurner: Yeah. Well,
you know, it's interesting, you

and I would probably disagree on
building in public because I

feel as though building in
public is something that opens

you up to come more second
guessing, more hesitancy, more

social feedback. I think that
that is a double edged sword. I

think you can gain a lot of
support. But I also think that

it opens you up. I remember when
I was first beginning, people

would make all sorts of comments
about the types of work that I

was involved in. And, you know,
if I would have gone deep into

that or I would have kind of put
myself out there, I think that

you know, people smell blood in
the water and they love, love to

dive in. And it's a way of
feeling, I don't know if it's a

way of feeling superior. I mean,
or it is a way of kind of

asserting some type of power.
But on social media, I think

that you face a lot of
individuals who feel they know

best but have never built
anything in their life. And so

we listen to unreliable
reporters about what our product

should look like, what our
company should look like, how we

should operate. And I think we
do that all the time, sometimes

because they have a large
following, sometimes because you

know, they just say it with
great assertion and authority.

But I often feel like building
in public can be really

challenging for certain types of
people. And I also feel as

though when you do that, you
have to be very cautious about

how you do it, right? So sharing
the general like, this is what

I'm up to, this is what I'm
doing, very cool. But you will

rarely see people who are kind
of larger operators saying,

well, you know, I'm working on
this deal. And we're having this

conversation. And this is how
I'm approaching the negotiation.

And you know, the minutia and
the details are where people I

think can face incredible
criticism, start developing

hesitation. And ultimately, it
can be something that ends up

taking them in the wrong

Arvid Kahl: I actually fully
agree with you on this, like,

the idea of building in public
to me and many people are quite

naive. They think like, I have
to share everything. It's like

oversharing in many ways, right?
What you could do in social

media. What is also quite
harmful in many ways to the ego,

obviously, if you share
everything, people will always

find something to latch on to
and destroy, which is, I guess,

why we have to teach our
children to use social media

responsibly, right? To
understand the implication of

oversharing. But I think
founders, they have a sense of

what is too detailed. And it's
funny to actually see this in

the data. Because if you track
companies, over time as they

share, you will see that at a
certain point around $20,000 of

monthly recurring revenue, that
seems to be the switch, they

turn off the details. They share
only general direction at this

point because now all of a
sudden and that's something you

just alluded to, the details are
the potential points of

interference. Like if you share
the deal with that company,

somebody might just sweep in and
offer a better price, right? It

doesn't really matter if it's
just yet one more customer that

pays 10 bucks a month or
something people won't go into

that much of an effort to snatch
up customer. But if it's a five

figure deal, whoo, yeah, that's
not something you share until

after you actually close the

Dr. Julie Gurner: Absolutely!

Arvid Kahl: So there's a kind of
a modal change. People approach

building in public differently
after it actually is a risk to

the business to share. And I
would say that it is very

important to understand that
vulnerability is not just like a

means of just sharing everything
negative at the same time,

right? It can be an intentional
choice to be vulnerable with

this one thing and still not
disclose the other things that

you also struggle with, right?
It's not a one size fits all


Dr. Julie Gurner: I love that.
It's very tactical and it's

very, you know, you approach it
with a lot of intention. And I

think maybe that's the real
difference between sometimes

what you hear people saying and
what you see kind of people

doing which can sometimes be
very disruptive or challenging

for them.

Arvid Kahl: Yeah, generally I
think, you have to understand if

you are on social media as a
consumer, that what you see is

put there intentionally
everything, right? Even people

who share whatever comes to mind
do that with the intention of

building a brand that a person
that shares everything that

comes to mind, right? There's a
meta layer on top of this. Yeah,

I love the idea of making it
very clear that building in

public is yet another strategy
of talking to your audience to

your potential customers or your
founder peers or whatever. It's

something that I really think is
interesting because it gives

people the chance to get
feedback loops, right? You set

that yourself, you get feedback.
I can share a story here because

I wanted to, I almost wanted to
share interrupt you earlier with

it. But I don't do that. So
here's that story. I wrote my

second book in public. And it
was a very interesting thing

because I invited 500 people as
a beta reader for that book and

managing the feedback of 500
individuals that read your book

and comment on every section
that they may like or not like

or think needs a tiny little
change. There was like the worst

herding of cats that I ever had
to do in my life. It was

bizarrely complicated to just
understand is this something

that matters to me? But it
certainly matters to them, but

doesn't matter to me that they
thought this phrasing is a

little bit off. And the good
thing in this egard was that

quantity informed me as well. So
I used a tool called, which was
written by Rob Fitzpatrick, the

author behind the Mom Test,
which is an interesting book in

itself for customer feedback and
customer conversations. But he

built this tool because he
wanted to write other books. And

then he essentially you put your
manuscript and you invite people

into the tool. And they can mark
certain passages and say what

they didn't like about them. And
as an author, you see all of

this overlaid on top of each
other. So if you have 500

people, you see people like 10
people said this section is too

so. 100 people said, I don't
understand the section. You

really see the quantitative data
of what people think. And I

think that's the most
interesting part about building

in public, not the individual
feedback. But the quantitative,

like, how many people do talk
about this? Is this something

that really matters?

Dr. Julie Gurner: What I
absolutely love about that and

why is that nice is that it's an
incredible experiment. It's a

kind of, for somebody as
yourself who does talk about

this, you know, kind of upfront
and all the time, I found, you

know, I released that newsletter
Ultra Successful on substack.

And so when people give feedback
on that, I'm always fascinated

to know what resonates, what
doesn't, what do people want

more of, what do they want less
of? And oftentimes, I'll run it

by other people that I know and
say, hey, what do you think of

this? But the thing that has
been most challenging for me is

that I would love to have a heat
map. I would love to know where

do people spend the most time.
What are the areas that they are

really kind of absorbing? And so
with your books and kind of

putting things out in public, I
wonder also, you know, getting

500 people for feedback, if you
were able to expand sections, if

you were able to really kind of
go deep into some areas really

kind of bring them more of the
content that they wanted. And it

ended up kind of making the
entire thing better at the end

of the day.

Arvid Kahl: That's kind of why I
did it. And that's how it worked

as well. So the first script
was, I think, a quarter of the

size of the final version of the
book just because I was still

writing. It was the whole idea
like to have people involved in

the process. But the areas where
people said, great, this is

something I care about, those
were the areas that I spent way

more time on than the others.
And the consequence of this was

just, it's obvious in retrospect
but I wrote the book for the

people who wanted to read it the
way that they actually wanted to

read it. Like that was something
that I never considered as an

author, like you think, okay, I
have all these thoughts and I

can put them into this shape and
I deliver it to the people, but

that's really not what it is.
Like, you asked me what do you

want to know? They tell you
like, here are the three things

I really care about and then you
write about them. And then of

course, they will buy the book
like it's very much an audience

centric or a customer centric
approach to the conveying

information. It's weird that
this is not the norm. I feel

like when I look at fiction,
which is probably different, but

I read a lot of Brandon
Sanderson like the fiction books

that he writes a lot of fantasy
novels. And he has a beta reader

squad of like 20 people. And
then or yeah, probably less than

that and a couple of alpha
readers and then some obviously

editors and proofreaders. He has
a continuity team, which is

interesting, but doesn't matter.
You know, like, he doesn't have

that many people to read his
fantasy books. So I think if one

of the most prolific authors
that is selling millions of

books has a team of beta readers
this small, are we under

utilizing the capacity of your
audience to tell you what they

like and don't like before they
buy your book?

Dr. Julie Gurner: What I think
is fascinating is I read a lot

of philosophy. So we're very, I
was a philosophy minor in

college. And so I think about,
like there was an educational

philosopher called Paulo Freire
and his philosophy was, you

know, we all come in as teachers
thinking that people are empty

vessels to be filled. And that,
you know, that's how we approach

it right here I am to impart my
wisdom upon you. But in truth

every person sitting in your
audience brings their own unique

lens, experiences and you know,
into play. And so for me, when I

hear you tell that story, it
makes me think about all of the

people in your sphere or in the
sphere of the science fiction

writer who, you know, they are
coming together over this one

variable, but they're bringing
such diversity of perspectives

and interests and people to the
table that have unique

histories. And so where there is
overlap there, clearly, I think

he would assume would be large
scale overlap. And then, you

know, kind of where things are
not resonating may be very

individual. But I do see even on
social media, people have the

belief that, you know, I'm gonna
put something out there because

everyone's an empty vessel
willing to be filled. But if

you're able to see your audience
and other people out there as

unique as you are, you
understand that they have, you

know, criticisms and things that
they like and don't like and

things that resonate and don't
resonate. So I love the fact

that you think about that so

Arvid Kahl: Yeah, that's also
why I'm such a big fan of

building in public because
that's essentially the

formalized version of that,
right? It's sharing your story

with each other with your peers
who have definitely overlap.

Like, the whole thing about the
imposter syndrome thing that got

us talking was that this is, in
some capacity, a commonly shared

experience. People have self
doubt, right? No matter what you

call it, people particularly
founders doing a thing that has

never been done before in this
particular way, they will

wonder, am I the right person to
do this? And, oh, I feel like

this is too much or am I a
fraud, fraudulent? Like, is this

something that I'm just acting
like I'm doing this and I

shouldn't be? Like this kind of
talking about it in public in

the community, I feel is
enabling people to find common

ground to see other people
experiencing similar things and

thereby not feeling as bad about
their own emotional upheaval in

that moment, so.

Dr. Julie Gurner: It's
interesting because I think we

have to parse out moments of
doubt from imposter syndrome,

right? A syndrome is something
that is all encompasses a lot of

things. Whereas a moment of self
doubt, I think that people can

experience you know, you even
have a very large scale, you

know, person who has this moment
of self doubt before they sign

the contract, before they do a
particular adventure. But you

know, when you talk about
impostor syndrome, the thing

that is so damaging about it is
that it often prevents taking

the risk to begin with. It
prevents asking for the raise if

there's someone who works within
a startup. It prevents, you

know, kind of asking for more
equity. It prevents effective

negotiation. It prevents them
from being effective, I mean,

even in their own relationships,
right? So imposter syndrome,

when I think about that it's a
syndrome is really kind of much

more all encompassing than those
brief moments where someone

goes, yeah, I doubted myself for
a second there. And then I was

really back on pace. I mean,
that's how I would think about

healthy and effective
functioning is that people do

have moments of self doubt. But
then they kind of push at their

edges. They have a positive
experience and then they gain

increasing confidence. People
who have imposter syndrome often

will not take the chance to push
it that edge then they hesitate.

And you know, the thing about
hesitation is that it creates an

increasing lack of confidence,
right? It completely erodes your

ability to trust yourself.
Because then as you are

hesitating and not moving
forward, you watch your peers

moving forward and taking those
chances. And then they look even

more effective and you look even
less effective. So there are

kind of even if you aren't
comparing outward, you see

yourself stuck in the same
place. And sometimes, you know,

literally years will pass and
you have the same idea that you

wish you could bring to fruition
or the things that you wish you

could share and you're not doing
it. And then eventually, those

are the individuals who will,
you know, stuff that down into

the side and just kind of never
kind of move forward on that.

And that's an incredibly
challenging burden to bear and a

way of seeing yourself that will
impact many other things in your


Arvid Kahl: It's quite a vicious
circle, right? Like this kind of

self denigration, what I found
in many people who I've talked

to many, many founders who
experienced something like this,

they feel isolated. They isolate
themselves from their peers who

are so much smarter, so much
better, so much faster than they

are. And then as a consequence
of that, they then feel unable

to accept praise and recognition
either because they feel like

they're not deserving of that
because compared to all these

other people, they don't make
the progress that they would

like to make. And that then
feeds back into this loop. Like

what would be a good way for a
founder to either completely

avoid falling into this thinking
loop or at least find a way out

of it? Do you have any

Dr. Julie Gurner: I think that
when I think about that, I think

about people you know they're
I'm not a big fan of push. I

talked about this a lot. I'm not
a big fan of push. I'm a really

big fan of pole. So I think that
there are only certain times

that you should really push
yourself. But I do think that if

you're in a situation where, you
know, kind of you're in the

loop, I think there are a couple
of things to do. One is to

challenge your assumptions
because often they are not based

in reality, right? Like, a lot
of times when a founder will

tell me something like, you
know, they are having these

sorts of doubts about themselves
that are more all encompassing,

I'll say, well, can you get and
usually they'll make self

statements that are somewhat
derogatory. And I'll say, well,

can you give me the evidence for
that? You know, I would love to

hear the evidence for that. So
somebody who is, for example,

absolutely incredible in their
technical skills telling me that

they cannot do X, Y, or Z or
they don't feel they're capable

of doing X, Y, and Z when
they've done something that is

far more complex. So, you know,
like, forcing yourself to look

at the evidence is sometimes I
think, really interesting. I

think limiting comparison is
also incredibly important, that

everybody's journey is going to
be different. And I know that's

a really cliche and terrible
thing to say, but it's true,

right? I mean, we see that. And
I think also the media gives us

a very false picture of what
success looks like. In fact, you

know, with founders, they always
look at the outliers. So they

look at people who are 20 and 30
years old, when in truth, you

know, the majority of founders
we know, statistically find

success in their 40s, right? So
you have a lot of time. And, you

know, you gather a lot of
expertise in that time. So I

would say you know, a few
things, challenge your thinking,

see if it's factually true
evidence, is this actually

accurate? Limiting comparisons,
I think is really important. And

also, this is one of those times
that I would say, push yourself

to do something that's at the
boundaries of what you think is

in your purview. You know, if it
feels like you're doubting

yourself a little bit, do it
anyway. And if it's at that edge

and you end up with a win,
that's going to start to build

your confidence a little bit.
It'll start to disprove some of

these theories you have about
yourself, but if you never take

the chance to disprove the
theory, you hold the theory. And

so you know, like, that's a very
challenging place to be because

then you you're locked, you
don't move. So oftentimes, you

know, set up a challenge for
yourself. You know, I'm going to

make this one call. I'm going to
get in front of this one person.

And it actually fulfill that
promise, it can be something

very small, but just move the
needle a little bit and prove

something different to yourself
because that begins to fuel

other motion.

Arvid Kahl: I like that,
incremental steps forwards. And

Dr. Julie Gurner: Oh, no.

then yeah, what I've noticed I
do the same way, I don't do big

Arvid Kahl: But I don't mean
this, like in a lazy way. I just

feel like I have more control
over small steps along the way,

things. I don't try not to do
big things because they, too

much work.

right? Small steps, cumulatively
building the bigger thing over

time. And it's always easier to
look back and see like the steps

from which you've come. And like
if you had only the big thing

and you look back and you see
nothing happened. I'm still

trying to work on this big
thing, right? It's kind of a

self sustaining way of small
iterative steps. That's how I

approach my work, too. But this
is apparently and I'm super glad

you mentioned that, like this
glorification of the outliers in

the space. I don't think that's
the only thing that is

glorified. Because if there is
one word in our community that I

detest, it's grind set. It's
this approach, like this hustle,

kind of 80 hour workweek
glorification that we see like

people who work, work, work,
work, work all the time. It's

like the work hard, not smart
kind of approach, which is super

strange. How can we prevent
ourselves from comparing

ourselves to these people that
glorify this and try to throw

yet one more hour at the project
instead of one more thought to

make it cost us 10 hours less?
How can we get there?

Dr. Julie Gurner: I think the
baseline I look at, well, what's

Arvid Kahl: I guess a lot of
people, a lot of founders would

effective, right? If you are not
sleeping, if you are in it, like

you're going to work. It's funny
because if you approach your

work when you are tired and I'm
sure many people in your

audience have done this, right?
You're so tired, you're trying

to pull in these longer hours.
And it literally takes you if

you have to even respond to an
email, it will take you 15

minutes to respond to an email
that if you were well rested,

well fed and on your game, that
email is three minutes max,

right? So by working tired, you
are literally extending your

working time. So the more you
can be well rested and kind of

take care of yourself, the more
effective your working hours

are. So the shorter they can
become in some ways, but I think

we have to be realistic. You're
not going to build a business.

There are like a lot of ways in
which I think it's important to

look at the realistic demands of
what a business requires. And

also know that you are the most
important asset of your

business. And you have to treat
it that way. If this was your

top engineer, you would treat
that person like gold or at

least most people do. So you
mean you are the driver of all

things. If you want to make the
most effective decisions, have

the most productive workday be
able to operate the fastest,

make the best kind of calls
moving ahead, you've got to be

in a certain zone. And so it
benefits you and your company to

operate within that zone. So
that's why I kind of I look at

things like I mean, I understand
people have to put in longer

hours than they'd like. And I
understand that it's going to

take more from you than you
probably want. And that

like to really optimize many
things in their business but are

sometimes it's going to be
boring and sometimes it will be

dry. But at the same time, being
able to say okay, I'm going to

make sure that I get at least
between seven and nine hours of

sleep. I'm going to make sure I
move my body at some point

throughout the day, go for a
walk, do something that you will

be able to respond to your
emails quicker. You'll be able

to get back to people faster.
You'll have better ideas about

strategies moving ahead. You'll
have a clearer head. We know

that when people are sleep
deprived, for example, at some

points, they can operate
similarly to intoxication. Like,

that's not how you build an
effective company. So you do I

mean, you want to give yourself
every single advantage you can

so why not leverage biology? I
think that that's an important

way to think about it and to
think about yourself too around,

you know, just being the most
important asset of your business

and how you want to care for that.

too stressed with recurring
things that are going on in the

business. Again, another vicious
cycle, right? But people are so

in so deep that they can't even
detach and look at the bird's

eye view for an hour because
they're always in the trenches.

I experienced that with my last
business with Feedback Panda,

that I fortunately sold right at
that point, right? It was great

that we had built a business to
the point where it was valuable

enough for people to want to buy
it. And I was the sole technical

founder in the business, we were
just, my girlfriend and I

essentially ran the business and
that we had 1000s of customers

and I was the technical person.
It was a anxiety inducing just

to wake up in the morning
because what might happen today.

Is it gonna break, right? And at
the same time we had the other

stress level of this is the only
valuable thing we have because

we both didn't have much money.
So all our essential wealth was

locked into this business that
if I didn't perform, might just

break away. And that was
incredibly stressful. And I

wonder, do you have any
strategies, actionable, tactical

strategies for people to get
distress and anxiety under

control, so they can zoom out
and start optimizing?

Dr. Julie Gurner: I think that
you have to build in time for

what is important, right? So you
know, they say that, you know,

your calendar reflects your
priorities. So what are the top

priorities in your business? And
I think sometimes what I ended

up seeing are that people spend
so much time in the fires that

they aren't doing the things
that actually push the business

forward. And it's because you
feel like, you know, I'll do

that later. I don't have the
time, you know. So you know, Kim

Scott talks about this as well,
she's great, who wrote Radical

Candor. You know, she talked
about, you know, building in

strategy time or think time. And
I'm a really big fan of that,

that like, if you are a founder,
part of your job is really

thinking about the strategy
moving ahead and building

processes so that things begin
to operate more smoothly if you

can do it. And so, you know,
along with funding and all these

other things that are also your
responsibility, but you will

never have time to see a clear
path forward if you do not

create the time to do that
strategizing, to do that type of

work. So I will always advise
people to say, look, give

yourself if you can 30 minutes
to an hour to just work on

strategy, work on the things
that will push the levers that

will push the business forward.
And to make that sacred time

you're not responding to
messages, you are not on email,

you do not have 40 tabs open,
you know, like you actually kind

of shut down those
notifications. And you say, all

right and you put something in
that slot, right? Like, I'm

gonna think about customer
acquisition strategies and I'm

gonna put that on my Tuesday
hour slot. On Wednesday, I'm

going to think about, I don't
know, building something with

onboarding or whatever wherever
stage you're at and you know,

depending. So it is really
important that you spend that

time and that you make it
deliberate and that you make it

planful and that you take it so
that you can push things

forward, whatever stage that
you're at. And if you're

somebody who is, you know, kind
of further along, making sure

that you're finding ways of, you
know, I think about founders as

a journey of pulling yourself
away from these kind of roll up

your sleeves aspects of the
business increasingly so as you

move forward. And so to me, I
see founders who every six

months, their job looks
different. You know, it always

looks different as they move
forward. And finally, you know,

you get people who now they're
finally at the point where

they're making, just making the
large scale strategic decisions

and worrying about funding and
you know, some of the very

30,000 foot view places and you
finally get to a point where it

feels a lot better. You deal
with problems and other things.

But I mean, that's a nice place
to be at and it's earned. So I

think in the earlier stages
building in that time is

incredibly important.

Arvid Kahl: Do you see a lot of
mindfulness and self reflection

routines and founders who are
tackling these things? Because

I've been journaling for quite a
while, particularly in those

moments where it was very
stressful. I took 30 minutes,

just train of thought
journaling. And that really

helped me just like clearing my
mind allowing for, you know, my

thoughts to figure out their
place. Is this something that

you see?

Dr. Julie Gurner: It's not
something that I see commonly. I

wish I saw it more. So I think
that you have, that was a great

practice that you incorporated.
I do encourage people as they're

moving along, I call it like,
just like playing tape. Like,

you know, if you're playing a
sport, you always look back on

the plays, whether they're
successful or they're not so

successful. And you say, okay,
what did I do right here? And

how can I repeat that? And what
did I do that wasn't really so

fantastic? How could I run this
better? How could I have done

that in a better way? Not that
you sit in it. I never want

anyone sitting in problems or,
you know all of those things,

but to kind of notice it and to
be intentional so that you're

not repeating the same mistake
over and over again. But at the

same time, also looking at the
great things and saying, like,

hey, why did that meeting with
so and so go so well, this time?

And it was because oh, it's
because I asked about this or I

connected with, you know, this
person around that. And it

really like changed how we
interacted with each other or

positioning. Whatever it happens
to be, I wish people were a bit

more intentional. I think that,
you know, your example is a

really good one. If you have
that kind of awareness and

you're able to say, okay, this
has been a really stressful

moment. I'm going to kind of map
that out and write that down.

But I don't see it as often as
one might anticipate. I think

they're so busy. They don't
think I can stop for a moment.

Arvid Kahl: Yeah, that's exactly
the problem, right? Because it's

a matter of priorities, like
people, I feel any kind of self

care for the longest time before
I met Danielle, my co founder

and partner which she's the best
person I've ever met.

Fortunately, she introduced me
to what I would have described

as esoteric stuff at some point,
right? I would like anything

that was written with
spirituality or self reflection

meditation, I was like, yeah,
yeah, that's for those other

people. And I'm not a regular
practitioner of this at all. I

situationally, I use it, but I
found it to be an actual tool.

And that like understanding that
it is a tool for the mind that

all of a sudden fit the concept
well into my engineering brain,

right? Because I'm thinking of
tools and algorithms and

strategies. And understanding
that a meditation state can be a

reflection tool or journaling is
essentially the Empty Trash

button of your mind. Like,
putting it into a way of

understanding it from an
engineer's perspective, all of a

sudden open it up to me. And
that reprioritize it in my mind

because I understood that if I
take care of this, my mind, then

what my fingers type becomes
better, right? And what comes

out of this, the code, the
product, the relationship with

the customers, the amount of
money that we make, whatever the

goal of the business might be,
that is a direct consequence of

me spending time on the very
first thing, which is the brain.

So it's this reframing issue for
many people. They don't

understand what it actually
means and in which context they

can integrate it into their busy
founder lives.

Dr. Julie Gurner: No, you're
right. And I think that people

have to kind of approach this in
ways that resonate for them. You

know, a client that I had, who
was incredibly hard driving

incredibly, like, successful guy
would always take an hour every

day to walk around New York City
with a cup of coffee, right?

Like that was his ritual. That
was how he meditated, you know,

if you're gonna say meditation,
but he would just, you know,

take that moment, take that
walk, walk around the city,

think, not be attached to his
phone in it like that was the

way in which he grounded himself
and really, like kind of got rid

of all the other stressors. So I
think people have to find a way

that works for them and not
everyone's going to connect with

everything. I think sometimes we
try to do that, like people will

say, oh, this is my morning
routine and it's like, meditate

and I do this and I do that and
it's like this five step morning

routine. If it works for you to
just have a cup of coffee, take

a break, read the paper, if it
works for you to just go for a

walk, whatever works for you.
You know, do that thing because

I can guarantee you that you
know a lot of people who reached

these really high levels don't
have those morning routines.

They really don't. They do what
works for them. Some of them are

not getting up early at all, you
know, because they don't have to

anymore. And maybe other people
on their behalf are getting up

early. And that's really a nice
place to be at. So I do think

that sometimes we were trying so
hard to find the things that

work that we're trying to fit
into a box, that isn't the right

box for us. And we have to
really create our own that's

going to work for us, that's
going to make us feel great and

is going to put us in our best
place. Because when you're

trying to fit into these other
people's boxes and it doesn't

feel right and it doesn't feel
good, that's another way of

making yourself feel terrible
about yourself, right? Like, oh,

you know, all these people are
talking about cold baths. And I

hate that. And personally, I
hate that, honestly. I don't

really think that it's a test of
mental strength to stand in an

uncomfortable shower. I mean, I
can't do uncomfortable things.

So I mean, there's a lot of
things that you can choose to

do. But to not put that kind of
pressure on yourself to do the

things that work for you. And
you know, everyone's going to

find their own way. When you
look at people, whether it's

Steve Jobs or anyone else that
people tend to idolize, the

thing they all have in common is
that they are, you know, kind of

relentlessly themselves. I mean,
they don't fit in other people's

boxes and that's what makes them
stand out. So if you want to be

that kind of person in the
future and maybe not your family

life, but if you want to be that
kind of person in your future,

you know, an innovator, a kind
of a large scale, successful

founder, recognize that all of
them do it by being themselves

and really like drilling down in
that. And I hope that people

feel free to do that, too.

Arvid Kahl: Yeah, that would be
wonderful if people would

understand that it's not the
exact thing that these idolized

celebrities are doing. But the
fact that they found a thing for

themselves that works and then
they made a process out of it.

That's the thing you should
imitate. When we're thinking of

Steve Jobs, that is a great
example, I feel. Like his whole

turtleneck and jeans thing.
Obviously, you're not going to

be a better founder if you wear
a turtleneck and jeans. You

might because it might be almost
a meme at this point. But the

fact that he found such a
productivity shortcut in his

life that this is good enough
for me. I can now take care of

other things. That's the thing
to imitate, right? And it starts

with meal prep, that's the thing
that people do, right? Or just

having a routine that involves
something that you would like to

do enjoy anyway, which I do a
lot of thinking while I walk my

little puppy dog. And every
morning, she needs to get up for

some reason. And then at seven,
we need to go out because

otherwise she's gonna yell at
me, might just as well. And then

on the wall, I get to think
about what my day is going to be

like, what are the things that I
would like to talk about today?

What am I writing about, right?
Like, am I having a

conversation? And what would I
like to bring up? So that is the

routine that just comes out of
my own reality that is very

subjective. And I don't think
somebody else should get a dog

and take a walk with her or him
just to come up with things,

right? It's the unique situation
out of which these processes

arise. And that's the thing, the
quantifiable stuff is what

people want to see, right? They
want to see, oh, I need to do

this to get this result. And
that is already dangerous with

productivity advice on Twitter,
but it gets extremely dangerous

with mental health advice, which
is why again, harkening back to

our initial conversation, these
topics, they are so potentially

destructive to what people
experienced in their own lives

and how they deal with it. And I
think it's really because all

advice is essentially anecdotal,
right? Like what we have in our

lives is what we experience. And
we come up with all kinds of

justifications and reasoning for
why this happened and how it

happened. And then we share that
and other people think, okay,

that's the truth out there. So
maybe let's talk about advice a

little bit, maybe in the mental
health space. Is it dangerous to

even talk about this stuff at
all? Like, do you have this

feeling too because sometimes
it's just like, oh, should I

talk about this?

Dr. Julie Gurner: How so are you
thinking about that? Could you

give me more detail?

Arvid Kahl: Well, let's just say
I talk about dealing with

burnout, which is something that
I have been experiencing twice

in my life. Once, while I was
working for a venture capital

funded business in San
Francisco, great work, like

super enjoyable. We had a ping
pong table and everything. But

it was kind of work 6 days a
week, 12 hours a day. And that

got me to a point where I stood
outside the building that we

were in talking to people crying
on the street. That was where I

was. And I felt, huh, that may
be a bit too much. In that

moment, it's like wait, am I
just doing my job and crying at

the same time? Is that where I
want to be? And then I

experienced again, like during
Feedback Panda at the end of it

because I was the only person
all the responsibility and we

had a lot of integration
problems with all the providers

that we were trying to support.
There was a lot of stress there,

but I noticed it that I was
getting into that state again

and then I took the necessary
steps to help facilitate the

sale of the business, let's just
say that. So now I could talk a

lot about burnouts from my
perspective. But all I could

talk about was, again, my
perspective, my two instances of

this particular event. So I'm
asking you as an expert, should

I talk about this? Is it
something that helps people? Or

is me talking about my unique
perspective actually dangerous

to what they might be
experiencing right now?

Dr. Julie Gurner: I think
there's two parts to your your

question, really, to me. And one
is that I think that sharing

that is as beneficial as I think
it's beneficial in that people

will understand that it's not
just them, right? When I'm

feeling some of these things. I
think also in burnout,

specifically, a lot of people
don't recognize it's happening

until it's already at a very
advanced place. So you're

standing outside crying and you
recognize like, this is not a

healthy thing. This is really
not where I want to be. You

know, the early symptoms are
kind of stages of burnout is

like, first, you start to get
more cynical, right? Your

attitude changes about your
work. So like, there's all these

like little tweak things that
like, you start to, if you can

be aware of them, you can
notice, but I think it's helpful

for people to periodically be
open and candid about the things

that they've experienced if
they're at a place. And this is

a terrible qualifier. But if
they're at a place where they

can be vulnerable with their
experiences, right? I mean,

vulnerability is really only
accepted once you've gotten to a

certain place, you know and
that's a terrible truth. But to

me, it's something that I see is
that, hey, if you are a

interviewing for a tech job and
you talk about all the times

you've been burned out, it's not
going to work out well for you.

It may be true, it may be
vulnerable. But if you're a

founder and you've had an exit
and you're somebody who is in a

place where you can now talk
about that and it doesn't, you

know, there's no kind of
negative blowback to that, I

think the sad thing about some
of these discussions is that

oftentimes, it's positioned by
the wrong people as weakness.

And that can hurt you in areas.
Like if your whole, I feel like

you've talked a lot about some
of these mental health struggles

and then you go to raise
funding, for example, you know,

that isn't, I mean, as much as
people will say the right words,

oftentimes, that does impact how
people perceive you. And it does

impact some of those things. So
I try not to be unrealistic

about that and say, well, the
world should just change. And

while I believe that that may be
true, the world hasn't changed

and you have to operate within
it. So thinking about how you do

talk about that is important,
what position you're in to be

able to discuss these things.
And I think that can be useful.

And the kind of on the back end
of that, the thing that I do

find can be very destructive are
people with zero expertise who

give advice about how to manage
this or deal with it. You find

people who have absolutely no
training, absolutely no kind of

and they speak with great
authority about you know, just

do these two things and you'll
be fine. And so someone will

again, look at that and say,
well, I'm doing those things and

like, I still feel terrible.
What's wrong with me? You know,

like, so there's a dynamic that
I think we have to manage a

little bit around that and who
you see as an authority. It's

wild because in the world today,
everyone believes they're an

authority on everything. And
that's a challenge. But at the

same time, people take it
seriously. And I'm always

surprised that they do, right?
Like, one week, you're an

epidemiologist. The next week,
you're an economist. The next

week, you know, you can treat
burnout and you know all about

psychology and the next week,
you're a, you know, markets

expert. So it's wonderful. But
you know, be careful about who

you trust for information and
look to see if that person

actually has the expertise to be
giving you advice.

Arvid Kahl: Yeah, the last years
have been wild. Yeah, that's

interesting. Expertise also
seems to be something that has

kind of lost some of its actual
value and strength as a word,

right? Like and that's in one
way is actually quite nice that

you can follow people's journey
towards expertise as they are

building it, right? It doesn't
make them an expert yet, but

it's kind of an expert in the
making. But you still need to,

you know, have some and you
initially when we talked about

imposter syndrome, you said you
want your surgeon to be able to

operate well, right? You want
the driver of your car to be

able to know the rules of
traffic, like there's certain

jobs where you need this
baseline level of expertise or

otherwise it becomes dangerous,
like obviously, 100% agreed

there. But yeah, you're right.
People shift their expertise a

lot. And this might be related
to the whole T shaped kind of

person thing as well, right?
Where it's, you now have to both

have a very, a skill set in one
particular issue, but you also

have to be a generalist and
others. And I think there's some

kind of, it's probably not a
Dunning-Kruger like effect, but

something where people over
estimate their ability in the

fields they're not an expert in
because they have some ability

in their field of expertise.

Dr. Julie Gurner: There is
something called the halo

effect, right?

Arvid Kahl: Yes

Dr. Julie Gurner: You know,
like, which is fantastic, where

you know, you have someone, a
great example, to me that always

makes me chuckle is to see, you
know, people who, you know, are

actors who now are social policy
experts, right? Like you play

pretend for a living and you are
now an expert in social policy,

which is, I think it's, you
know, it's amazing because the

leverage works because of the
people's willingness to follow

them into that space. And, you
know, I tweeted the other day,

you know, the interesting thing
and I think the great thing

about confidence is that people
will follow your lead. You know,

if you appear confident and you
speak confidently, most people

will buy it 100%. And that can
work for you and against you,

depending on if you're
legitimate in your space. But

that works with actors, you
know, in Congress, sometimes

they are not as capable as maybe
others could be in those

particular areas. It works for,
you know, people who are signal

authority on Twitter oftentimes,
and some people do have genuine

expertise that you want to
follow. I mean, there's some

incredible VCs that share their
wisdom on Twitter. There are

incredible founders on Twitter
and credible people in their

space there. I think it's a
real, it's an incredible

platform that I'm excited to be
a part of. But I think we also

see this odd effect where, you
know, somebody is a thought

leader. And if you really think
about, you know, where is their

expertise, it's challenging to
find, but they do say things in

very light kind of ways that get
social engagement. And you know,

good for them. I'm glad that
they're able to kind of build

from that people recognize the
gifts that they have. But in

general, in psychology, one
thing we know is that people

overestimate their
attractiveness and they

overestimate their intelligence.
And both things help our self

esteem. And so I'm all for it. I
would rather people be a bit

more confident and feel a bit
better about themselves than go

the other direction because I
think the other direction is

where it really begins to impact
our lives negatively. If you

feel that you're smarter than
you actually are, that's only

going to benefit you for the
most part. I mean, there are

probably things here and there
where it doesn't. But the

general rule is it would trend
more positively than feeling

that you're less than you
actually are almost across the


Arvid Kahl: I guess a little bit
of confidence certainly is

helpful, particularly when
you're tackling things like

entrepreneurship, right? Like
you can be, I guess, neutrally

confident and go do the job that
somebody pays you to do and

you'll figure it out. But if
you're throwing yourself into a

field, an industry that you may
not have the most experience in

just yet, but you're trying to
figure it out, you have to be

confident that you can at least
handle it, right?

Dr. Julie Gurner: Yes, that is
the key. I think to a lot of

entrepreneurship is not the
confidence in your particular

area of operation. But the
confidence that no matter what

comes you can figure it out.
That is absolutely locked,

solid, essential. I think also
being like a self learner being

autodidactic, right? Like being
willing to teach yourself what

you need to know. You are on
your own. And I think that the

confidence to figure it out is
just a foundational element of

the best people who end up
moving forward. It's fantastic.

Arvid Kahl: Yeah, it's
definitely something that I

think I develop this early
because I'm an only child and I

got a lot of positive
reinforcement in my life, right?

It's one of those things where
my family, my parents, my

grandparents, they were always
like pushing me towards

challenges because they knew
that would help me not only get

better at what I was doing, but
also learning how to deal with

failure and rejection and build
up self esteem and resilience in

spite of failing and being
rejected, right? That always has

helped me. And it's kind of it's
almost sad to think that this is

not a universal experience in
childhood, right?

Dr. Julie Gurner: Well, I do
think that one of the things I

know that people like to kind of
have negative conversations

about education or schooling but
one thing that I really like

about schooling is it does show
you what you're good at and what

you're not. And you get that
comparison point very quickly.

You know, if you are really,
really solid at one thing,

you're gonna notice it even if
and you'll see where you're

outstanding compared to your
peers. Sometimes that's an

athletics. Sometimes it's in a
certain subject matter. You'll

also be able to be sparked in
things that you love. And so I

do think that there's great
benefit to it. I think, you

know, sometimes education is
what you make it and the

individuals who sit in that
classroom, for some people, it

will be their first exposure to
certain ideas. And those ideas I

think are important. You know,
we were talking about Steve Jobs

and I believe he was talking
about going to a calligraphy

class. And that's how he ended
up bringing the fonts into

development in his own company.
So there are things about even

the arts and others that we
don't really think about that

can inform how we work. And it's
why it's one of the reasons for

example, why I recommend if you
are a founder, if you are

someone in business, follow
people who are not like you.

Follow artists, follow people
who are in real estate, follow

people who are doing all these
things because there is

something about ambitious people
and their ideas and how they

approach the world that you can
ingest that may make you think

differently and will make you
better. And if you're only

surrounded by this small
ecosystem of founders or the

small ecosystem in your
particular profession or world,

it's very detrimental. And it
will keep you small, I think, in

some ways because it's hard to
do something different when

you're surrounded by the same.

Arvid Kahl: Yep! Oh, 100%. I've
incorporated that into my own

life because I felt that I'm
strongest where I'm

intersectional between the
things that I'm good at and

other things that are slightly
adjacent, some a little bit of

overlap, right? But then as
needs to be there can be

completely alien. But it has to
be just a little bit. And at

that point, I find something
that I didn't realize is mind

blowing in many ways. Examples
would be probably, I have a lot

of newsletters in my inbox. And
not all of them. A few of them

really are about
entrepreneurship or software

engineering. Most of them are
about pasta. I'm a fan. Cooking,

like professional cooking with
all that kind of stuff,

historical financial system
analysis and I think aerospace

engineering. Like I'm trying to
find fields where my technical

interests, my intellectual
interests, and my culinary

interests, they all are kind of
intersecting with what I already

know something about, right?
Content creation and software

engineering and
entrepreneurship. And it is

often in tiny little phrases and
tiny little thoughts that come

in, in these completely
different kinds of information

channels that I find thoughts.
Oh, wow, here's something that I

can take from my own experience
into this other field and help

people there right now. It's
these sometimes really nice

little things. Practical example
would be people in the culinary

field, they have problems like
keeping an inventory of their I

don't know, spices or something,
right? And here I am having

built inventory software systems
and having understood like

optimization algorithms and I
can tell them, well, if you

really want to stack them
efficiently, here is the

knapsack problem, a mathematical
problem that is optimizing for

space in any given container,
right? I can transfer my

knowledge from one field that is
totally normal here, completely

unheard of over there. And I can
give people a way to improve

their own lives just by being in
two fields at the same time.

Dr. Julie Gurner: It's amazing!
I think cross pollination to me

is, it's just, it's brilliant.
It's thought provoking. It's

often where you get ideas that
catapult you above your peers

because you don't like there's
nothing kind of I think more sad

sometimes, like, let's just say
that you're in marketing and all

you do is you know, you're on
marketing forums, talking to

marketing people, go to
marketing conferences. Like,

yeah, there are some skills and
tactical things that you might

learn. But if you really want to
think about marketing

differently, like what about
looking at, I don't know, Lil

Nas, the rap artist to like blew
up and, you know, is known as

being an incredible self
promoter. What can you learn

from that? What can you learn
from, you know, Melissa Hobley,

who's a great marketer works at,
I think, Tinder now, CMO is

incredible, but has campaigns
that are really, you know, get

people talking and are kind of
controversial and like, where

can you pull in like things from
dating apps, things from

artists, things from you know?
You really, I think, if you

stick into tech too deeply and
that's one thing I love about

New York City, for example, is
that so many different people

doing so many different things
are everywhere. It is not an

echo chamber. Aside from about
New York City, I think

everybody's kind of an echo
chamber in that way. But you

know, you get to capitalize on
people who are creative and

people who are very engaged and
deeply passionate about what

they do. And you can always pull
lessons from that if you listen

and if you're open. And to me, I
think that sometimes those are

the most interesting,
challenging areas where you walk

away from those conversations
and you think, how can I

integrate this into what I do?
It's also why I think philosophy

has been so beneficial, you
know, to my own work and why,

you know, the history of kind of
things that I've done have been

so informative to my own work.
We often draw from things that

are not necessarily things
others might anticipate.

Arvid Kahl: Yeah, definitely.
It's the reason why we are

talking right now, right? We had
a disagreement and I thought,

this is awesome. I'm going to
follow this person. And I need

people who don't just agree with
me in my life. Otherwise, how

could I grow, right? It's a very
selfish thought. But in that, it

allows me to expose myself and
through whatever I'm talking

about other people to thoughts
that they might not have had

before, right? That they might
not have access to because their

little bubble might also keep
them from getting access to

those kinds of people and you
are one of these people for me.

I am extremely fortunate to have
met you and to now be able to

follow you, have this wonderful
conversation with you. And I

think more people should follow
you as well. So where would you

like people to go if they wanted
to follow you and interact?

Dr. Julie Gurner: That's a great
lead in. Thank you so much.

People can follow me on Twitter
@drgurner and certainly

subscribe to my newsletter at
Ultra Successful at

Arvid Kahl: That is a good
choice. Well, I think people

should definitely do that. And I
am very, very fortunate to have

had this conversation with you.
Thank you for sharing all your

insights and your knowledge and
these wonderful thoughts on just

how people can be their better
selves and stay, you know,

healthy and part of their
communities in ways that are

empowering all of us at the same
time. So thank you so much for

being on today. That was a
wonderful, wonderful

Dr. Julie Gurner: Thank you so
much for having me. I really

appreciate it. You know, it was
a fantastic exchange for me as

well. I think that on Twitter,
sometimes we are so quick to

dismiss other people if they
disagree. And you and I had

like, we just went back and
forth a few times just kind of

saying, well, how do you think
about this? How do you think

about this? And we really, I
left the conversation with a lot


of respect for your openness and
for your candor and for the fact

that you know, we don't always
have to disagree. And that's all

right. So I look forward to
learning more from you as we

continue to both use the
platform. So thanks for having

Arvid Kahl: Thanks so much. I
very much respect that and you

me on.

as well. Thank you.

Dr. Julie Gurner: Thank you!

Arvid Kahl: And that's it for
today. Thank you for listening

to The Bootstrapped Founder. You
can find me on Twitter

@arvidkahl. You'll find my
books, my Twitter course there

as well. If you want to support
me and the show, please

subscribe to my YouTube channel,
get to the podcast in your

podcast player of choice and
leave a rating and a review by

going to

Any of this, will help the show.
So thank you very much for

listening and have a wonderful
day. Bye bye.