In this episode, I chat with David Senra, the creator of the Founders Podcast, which deconstructs history’s greatest founders. Basically, he reads an autobiography of a famous founder or high performer (like Michael Jordan or Jay-Z) and then does a podcast on it.
Currently, there are over 300 episodes to choose from. It has quickly become one of my favorite shows in the world.
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Let's do it. Broadcasting from around the world. You're listening to the first 100. A podcast on how founders acquired their first 100 paying customers. Here's your host, Hadi Rodwan. Good to have you on the show, David. How are you doing today? I'm fantastic. Thanks for having me. Amazing. Let me just start with a quick introduction for our listeners. David Senra is the creator of Founders Podcast, which deconstructs history's greatest founders. Basically he reads an autobiography of a famous founder or a high performer, like Michael Jordan. And then he does a podcast on it as simple as this. And currently he's over, I think, 280 episodes. Almost 300 now. Yeah. It's a lot of episodes to deconstruct the big guys, let's say. And I think it has become one of my favorite shows. I'm a big podcast listener. I think I have so far over 3000 hours of podcasts that I've listened to. And in this episode, what I wanted to do is I want to talk about a few things. One of them would be your podcast and how you built it. But also what have you learned from all of these autobiographies that you currently apply to your business because your podcast is your business. Yeah, it's an obsession disguised as a business. Amazing, yeah. You're big on the podcasting business. I've listened to a few of your interviews and you mentioned that it's probably still very early. It's at its nascent stage. probably it's going to be very big. So let's hope, let's hope people flock to the podcast. So I've been thinking about the podcast business. So it's funny that you say you've listened to thousands of hours of podcasts, still have I. And even before podcasts were a thing, I was completely obsessed with this idea that you could hear other people speaking. So like way before you had anything, there was like the invention of on-demand audio, which is what podcasting is. It's like, I would listen to just talk radio. I was just obsessed with hearing people speak and it could be about anything. give you about sports, politics, advice. I just thought it was fascinating. And then before, you know, a long time ago, you can only do that, you know, on like usually AM radio or some kind of normal radio. And then like the slow progression, so I was obsessed with audio even before there was, like the internet was really like as large as it is now. And so I remember the jump from like, oh my God, I could hear, I can only hear this when I was listening to the radio. And then the radio stations started streaming it online on their websites. It still wasn't on demand. You still had to show up Tuesdays at two o'clock or whatever time it was. But I was like, wow, I'm sitting on my computer and I can hear this. Like this is magic. And then once I saw a podcast where it's like, wait a minute, I can listen to this whenever I want. Like they release it. I can listen to it that day. I can listen to it five years from now. It just blew my mind. And so, it's about six years before I started my own podcast. The first episode of Founders was back in 2016. From 2010 to 2016. I was just obsessed. I listened all the time and primarily like, you know, educational things. I just could not believe how much you can learn. And the miracle of podcasting is like, it turns all the times, like the empty times in your life when like you're busy with something else, like your eyes are busy. So like I'm washing the dishes and I'm listening to a podcast, I'm taking a walk and I'm listening to a podcast, I'm commuting, I'm on a plane, whatever it is, like all that empty time. Now I can literally just put in my AirPods, search any subject in the world I don't want to listen to. or learn about and then just press play. Like that is an absolute fucking miracle to me. And so that is like to try that enthusiasm and passion that I have for the medium of podcasting. I try to bring it into like when I started making my own podcast. And so we were talking right before we started recording and you're like, thank you very much for making the podcast. You enjoy it. And I told you, I was like, first of all, I love hearing that. But every time somebody says that to me, I always say it's like, thank you for listening. Like this is what I'm able to work on every single day, this is what I can dedicate my life to, and I feel unbelievable lucky, like unbelievably lucky and grateful for that opportunity. And so as a result of just being steeped in thinking about podcasting way before I was a podcaster and now every day for five, six years, the business model of podcasts is very fascinating to me because I sit there and think about it, I analyze the business models of other shows, I think about the lessons that I'm learning in these biographies. And I think about like, what do I want founders to be in the future, right? And I realized after doing this for a while, it's like, oh, my view on this is like 180 degrees different from everybody else. Everybody else has the same thing, like, oh, you can't start a podcast. There's too many of them. It's too late. They're not going to grow anymore. In my opinion, it's completely opposite. It's like we're sitting at the very beginning of this giant technological revolution. To some degree, I study the beginning of industries for a living. And at the beginning of industries, it doesn't matter if it's the automobile industry in the 1900s, if it's a software industry, personal computing industry. any industry that's ever been invented, humans always say the same things. It's too late and the numbers can't possibly get any bigger. And if you're in an industry that's going to work, it's not too late and the numbers are going to get much, much larger. Amazing. So what inspired you to start a podcast? And if you were to pick one challenge and running it, what would that be? Okay, so here's the thing about podcasts. I just had a friend of mine. He's got a fairly large audience. Over half a million people. follow him on Twitter. And we were going back and forth through text and actually became friends with him through the podcast because he also likes founders as well. And he had this idea to start a podcast and we're going over it. And I was like, listen, the thing about podcasts is like, if you're not going to do it forever, don't do it at all. Because first of all, they're very hard to grow. But the reason that they can become valuable is if you don't quit and you actually have traction and momentum with your podcast is because they compound every single day, the amount of people following your public RSS feed, which is what a podcast runs on. it gets larger and larger and larger. Take Joe Rogan, for example. Right now, probably largest podcast in the world, somewhere around 14 million audience, somewhere around 14 million. The first time I saw his podcast was all the way back in 2010. And so if you look at the compounding nature of, there's actually a parallel in Zero to One, Peter Thiel's book, he talks about this, where he's like, where people in the technology industry make a drastic mistake is they over-optimize for growth at the expense of durability. And he's like, you need to grow, yes, but it's more important. that you optimize for durability over growth because all the future profits of a technology company are 10, 15, 20 years out, right? Microsoft made a lot of money in the 1970s. They make more per hour now than they did in the 1970s. And so you see this with podcasts where Joe Rogan will make more money and have more people listening to him and make more money this year than like the first like eight or nine years of his podcast combined. That's the compounding nature of it. And so the difficult part is Creating a podcast is not that difficult in the sense that as long as you're following like your true passion, we were talking about why you do this podcast right before we started recording, right? Like a perfect alignment, you said, listen, it's a side hustle, I'm running a company, I'm interested in podcasting, it's a way to talk to interesting people, to learn, you're going to find lessons through these conversations, you can apply to your work, it makes perfect sense. This is something you can do forever, right? The problem with what most people come into when they start a podcast, it's called podfading and there's other names on it. you know, 75, 80% of every single podcast that has ever been started, they stopped uploading because they're so difficult to grow. And so that's why I was giving my friend the advice, like, listen, if you're going to start this, you have to assume that you're going to do it forever. It may take five, six, seven years before you get the audience size that you want. That's exactly what happened to me. I started in 2016, started working on it every day, full time in 2018. The last like six months, there's been more listens than all of those years combined. And it just keeps growing and growing and growing. And so the podcast is... my favorite medium, but there is some, a barrier to entry in the sense that they're very hard to grow. They're so hard to grow that most people quit. And so therefore, if you can hold on and grow a loyal audience and a show that's actually good, then you do have what Warren Buffett would call like a moat because you just have this like strong relationship with your listeners. You're asking them every time they press play, you're asking for an hour, two hours, sometimes three hours of their time. That is not a small commitment. And then therefore, if people are willing to give you that much of their life, right? They're telling you with your actions. that what you're doing is valuable. And if they believe what you're doing is valuable, they're going to come back over and over and over again. But it's very, very hard to grow. You're absolutely right in this because a lot of people, they see the outliers in the podcast, the Joe Rogan's, the Tim Ferriss, and they see these guys are making a lot of money and they go into the podcast, they start a few episodes, they see it's hard. It's hard to produce. It's hard to find maybe guests. It's hard to find good content. and they quit. And I think that the ratio is 90%, whatever that statistics is. But what would you think is the mental characteristic that the podcaster needs to have? Because as you said, it might take a few years till you start having this tipping point. So there has to be some mental characteristic and which autobiography founder would you relate to in that case? Okay, so. The best advice, I think this applies to much more outside of just podcasting, but it definitely applies for me to deciding this is going to be my life's work. Charlie Munger has this great advice. It's like, if you want to excel in something, you have to move yourself into a field in which you have an intense interest in. He didn't say, you should kind of be interested in what you're doing or somewhat interested. He said, you should have an intense interest in. So I was fine. Of course I wanted to be successful podcasting way before I actually was, but there's no fucking way I'm quitting. I have an intense interest in this. So if that means it took six years, then it's gonna take six years. If it took 10 years, if I had to get a job just so I could podcast at night, that was gonna happen. There's just no possible way that I was quitting. Especially once I started Initial Traction, and once I was able to pay my bills with it, I was like, oh, this is the best job in the world for me. And now it's just skyrocketing even from there. So it's like, oh, I never even thought for once, never. It's like, oh, I should quit. Like, no. I just don't think that way because I found something. I was like, this is a miracle to me. I literally think it is a technological miracle. Anybody in the world, and you think about the technology behind podcasting, right? No one owns it. It's permissionless. Anybody in the world can have an on-demand radio station that comes on every single smartphone in the world. Like Google and Apple both have their default podcast apps, right? It's on every single phone in the world. You can talk about whatever you want. And if you can get listeners, people will listen and like you could build very strong relationships. that leads to all kinds of future opportunities. So I never thought of it in terms of, there was like a ton of times of stress obviously where I'm like, man, I think my show is way better. Like there should be way more people listening to it. Why is it so difficult to find a business model? Like, of course I went through all the struggles, but I never thought like, oh, I'm gonna stop doing this and do something else. And so the best autobiography that I would read out of the 300 autobiographies that I've read, if you can only read one, it would be this book that is incredibly hard to find now. I got it, I bought it back in 2018 for $6. And then I haven't shut up about it for years and so I've sold a ton of copies. And now I just looked it up and it's like $400. It's called, sometimes you can find it cheaper on other sites, it's on Amazon, but it's James Dyson's first autobiography. He just released another autobiography when he was like 70. That book is called Invention. That book's good too. It's nothing like his first autobiography, which is called Against the Odds, an autobiography by James Dyson. It came out like 20 something years ago. And the reason I think that's so fascinating is because that dude went through 14 years of intense struggle before he had the idea where he's like, why do vacuum cleaners that have bags get clogged? This sucks. I can build a better vacuum cleaner. To that idea to the point where he had improved on the technology, owned the patent, was able to manufacture and sell them himself and own 100% of the company. There was 14 years of intense hell that he went through that's documented in that book. Give you like a preview of that. He had to build 5,127 prototypes before he got it right. He talks about there's days where all he did was fail at making prototypes, go in the house covered in dirt and lie in bed and cry. And there's so many times when you're reading that book, you're like, why is this guy not quitting? Like every time, he was given hundreds of opportunities, maybe thousands of opportunities over that 14 years to quit and he just refused to quit. And so that I find the book personally inspiring. I've already read it two or three times. I've done two episodes on it. The last time I did an episode, it was episode 200. What I decided is like this book is so important that every 100 episodes of Founders, I'm going to reread it and rerecord it. So I'm pushing up on 300 episodes very soon and episode 300 will be me rereading that book and making an entire new episode on it. That's how important I think that book is for entrepreneurs to read. If you go back in time, did you have any framework in mind in selecting the type of podcast you're following? podcaster would interview other founders like I'm doing today. You picked another route. You said, I'm going to go biographers, read them, analyze them, and share them. Is there a framework that you use to decide? Because it's a pivotal moment, right? You go this way or that way. You can always change, but the moment you are invested in one way, it's interesting to know if there's any framework that you've used. So in general, my personality is always trying to go the opposite direction of other people. I wanted to make a podcast where I could just work completely alone. And so even to this day, I pick the books I read, I record the podcast, I edit it. It's a one person, no one touches a podcast from time of what I'm going to read to reading, to doing the research, to making it, to publishing it. The only person that touches it is me. That appealed to me because it's almost like permissionless. I don't have to sync with other people's schedules. And then if you ask, who I feel is the greatest podcaster of all time is this guy named Dan Carlin. He's got this podcast called Hardcore History. And it's a solo podcast. It's just him talking to you about historical events. There's another podcast that influenced me that I'd listened to for years. And it's a, this comedian named Bill Burr. He's got this podcast called the Monday morning podcast. It was called the Monday morning podcast or it is called the Monday morning podcast because he releases an episode every Monday and he has for like maybe 15 years, he's like one of the first podcasters. In fact, when he was started the podcast, like the technology wasn't even there, he would call a number and record the episode on his cell phone and it'd be transmitted into a, like an audio file and put, and publish the podcast. So this is like. super early days. And I just thought the idea of like one person talking directly to you, that's has been in existence since the invention of language, right? It's just like that's very similar to how we usually we're speaking to one person to another. And so I like that format. And I just saw a bunch of other people already doing like it's very differentiation is extremely important in product success and building any kind of business, right? Podcasts is no different. Podcasts is just a business. And so I just liked the idea of like, well, I wanted to combine my passions. Like my main passions are entrepreneurship, reading history and podcasts. And if you think about like what founders is like, Oh, all those are just combined into one thing. And so I was listening to Tim Ferriss' podcast years ago and he interviewed this guy named Jocko Willink that was very fascinating, former Navy SEAL. And he talked about the book he was writing, which is called Extreme Ownership. And I read the book because of the podcast. And then I found out that Jaco had a podcast and I started listening to the Jago's podcast and it was essentially the format of founders. It's like he's sitting there. He had a cohost, but the cohost didn't really speak that much. And he's just reading and talking like every week he'd read a book. Or in some cases reread a book that was really important to him. And he'd talk about interesting parts that made him think and lessons, how it ties other things. And he did it for people that had military experience. So these were like autobiographies of people that experience combat. And I'm like, man, I find that interesting. I bought a bunch of the books, I learned even from the episodes I didn't buy the book. And so I was like, wow, I'm learning a lot. But like Jaco has 20 years, his passion is military. Like he knew when he was a kid that he was going to serve in the military. I knew when I was a kid I was going to be an entrepreneur. So I was like, I should do what Jaco's doing but for biographies and autobiographies of entrepreneurs. And so that's where I got the format. And then I was like, well, I don't really need a co-host. He has one, but the co-host, you know, speaks maybe 10% of the time. I was like, I'll just do, I'll just combine what I like about Dan Carlin's show and Bill and I'll take the format from Jaco and I'll apply it to this. And that's how I came up with the idea. That's a great framework. Can you share some of the most important insights or lessons from your favorite founders and how did you apply it to grow your podcast? So I try to break things. I think there's two ways that humans really remember things. And one is like through maxims or aphorisms like little short compressions of an idea or thought, something that's short enough that you can remember and like take it with you, right? And then also through stories. So... Some of my maxims that I learned in these books, like the first one, I think the most powerful maxim that I've learned from the history of entrepreneurship comes from this guy named Isidore Sharpe. Isidore Sharpe is the founder of Four Seasons. And he says in his autobiography, which is excellent, that excellence is the capacity to take pain. And in that book, you realize how difficult it was. When he started his first hotel, his goal was to make the world's first collection of five-star hotels. He didn't know anything about building a hotel when he started his first hotel. And so he details in that book how difficult it was and all the stuff he had to learn and all the pain he had to endure to get to the other side of that goal. And so he like condensed that beautifully in that idea of like excellence, the capacity to take pain. So knowing that is like, okay, well, there's gonna be times in whatever business that you're building where you're gonna feel like shit. Mark Hadrice says, this is the entrepreneurial emotional roller coaster where he's like, and when you're building a startup, you only feel two emotions, only two, euphoria and terror. One day, you're on top of the world, you got a deal done, you have momentum, you feel, it's like a drug. People that are not entrepreneurs don't even understand that high. And it could be the next day, sometimes the same day, and you're like, oh my God, the company's going out of business, I feel like shit, or whatever the case is. And so eventually, over time, hopefully, your business kind of levels out, and you're not going back and forth, because I don't think it's really healthy to go back and forth through those extremes for an extended period of time. But that is very common in the history of entrepreneurship. And so I think just knowing, hey, this is perfectly normal, I gotta work my way through it. A lot of people find these feelings so uncomfortable that they quit. And so that leads me to my second maxim that I just use for founders. Like, I'm going to win because I'm not going to quit. That comes from, there's this great maxim called, by endurance we conquer. And there's this polar explorer named Ernest Shackleton. He was alive in like the late 1800s. And that was his family motto. There's a fantastic book by Alfred Lansing, I think is the guy's name. It's called Endurance. If you just put it into Google, you put Endurance, Ernest Shackleton, and the book will come up because the book's been around, you know. That book's probably 50 years old or something like that. And it's sold millions and millions of copies. And his whole thing was like, you're gonna be throwing up one challenge after another, same situation here. Like you're going to win just because you're gonna be default alive and you're going to survive. And so it says, by endurance we conquer. And so those are the things like, I knew it was gonna be painful, I knew it was gonna be really hard. And I knew I could win if I just hold on. And obviously this assumes that like you're getting better, you're trying to improve at your craft, you're studying, you're practicing. You know, those are kind of defaults, you know? But if you do those two things and you take the emotional part out of it, because you have a large part of being an entrepreneur and you see this in these biographies and autobiographies, it's like managing your own fucking brain. That is not easy. You could be your own worst enemy. You could make things, a problem you have, appear bigger than it is to the point where you get frightened or you make a bad decision. And so I think just managing your own psychosis is one of the most important steps. And so when I see every single person I've read about... is I assume is smarter than me, more accomplished than me, and yet one of the best things about reading their biographies and autobiographies is like you see really smart and driven people struggle and they just constantly work their way through it. And I find that very, very inspiring. Thank you for sharing this. Do you remember your early acquisition strategies that you implemented to get, let's say, your first 10,000 listeners? Is there any channel that has worked the best for you? Any tactics you can share with someone who's starting their podcast today? Yes. So first at the time I started, there was only like 250,000 active podcasts in the world. I think there's like three or four times that amount now. One of the benefits I had was that at the time I started, Apple podcasts had like essentially like a monopoly on podcasts listening. That's changed a little bit now with the growth of Spotify and others. But Apple Podcasts heavily emphasizes and weights the episode titles. And so a lot of my episode titles are like Steve Jobs, Warren Buffett, Phil Knight. Michael Jordan, whatever. These are super famous people that people wanna learn more about and they're searching. And so I got a lot, and this still continues to this day, I got a lot of listeners just from podcast SEO. And I shouldn't even call it SEO because I'm literally just titling what the podcast is about, right? And just so happens that these people are like Rockefeller. Like, you put an episode on Rockefeller that's gonna get a lot of downloads because people search about, these are some of the most famous people in history. So that just happened organically way before anything else. I got a little bit of traction. started getting like weird reviews, people were like really enthusiastic about it. And I think that also one of the keys there is like, it's not like there's no other podcasts like Founders, right? This is a very unusual format. And that plays to my benefit. When people find it, they like it, they'll usually stick around because like, oh, I can't get this anywhere else. But the biggest acquisition strategy I did was I was really obsessed with podcasts, like I said. And so when you're really obsessed with podcasts, you go look for other podcast players. Even though like I had an iPhone, Apple Podcast has come, you know, was on the iPhone for years and years. And so I downloaded this podcast player called Overcast. Overcast is on iPhone only, and it's like a labor of love. And it's made by a guy that clearly loves podcasting as a medium. He has a podcast. And so his name is Marco Arment. He invented, now other podcast apps have copied this strategy. It's a fantastic strategy. He was trying to figure out, how do I make money making a podcast app? And so he had done ads. So when you play a podcast, on the screen would be like a Google ad, right? He's like, these ads suck. They're like for weird things. sexual enhancement pills and who knows what's on the screen? These are weird things. And so he's like, this is stupid. I'm going to rip out Google ads and just make my own ad engine. And then he's thinking, well, who would buy ads on a podcast player? He's like, well, what's the biggest problem with making a podcast? Podcast discovery. He's like, oh, I'll just make ads for just podcasts. And so he invented that. And since I was a loyal listener and user of Overcast, as soon as that pops up, I'm like, oh, that's a freaking good idea. And so I start buying ads. And at the time, this doesn't work. I mean, you could still try to do it. But at the time, I was getting like, because it'll tell you like, okay, this is how me ads, he sells them on a monthly basis. This is like how many times your ad was viewed, how many times it was clicked. And if you view the ad and you tap it, it automatically takes it to your show and they could choose to follow or not. And he would tell you like how many people followed. And so at the time I was getting like new followers to my show, back then they call them subscribers, but now they call them followers for like a dollar. $2 a listener now when you run it because it's so popular. It's like especially the business section. It's like $15 $20 So it's weighed and there's so much more people are doing it And so like it's dynamic and so obviously like the more demand the more expensive it gets and so that got me like my first few Thousand listeners and then from there people are if they like it they're gonna this is a good thing about podcasts But applies to other things. It's just in our human nature if you find a movie like an album podcast, what a book, you're going to tell other people about it. And so that is the largest driver, the largest driver growth of podcasts is obviously going on other podcasts. If you can, you know, Joe Rogan's made how many people, very successful podcasters just because he's got such a large platform and that's how people discover these people that have podcasts. But from there, it's all like word of mouth. And so you start out with that small base and then they tell people and then, you know, everybody tells at least one person or two people and like that just grows and grows and grows over time. So that was my first and it's like the title of your show. That would be my answer right there. Overcast ads back in like 2017, maybe 2018. I bet you it's probably 2017. Thank you for sharing this insight. Well, yeah, I tried it. You said it's 15, $20 per listener. So it's extremely expensive today. If you lost today all your podcast episodes and you're left with three episodes that you can go live with, if you were to recreate three episodes. which one have really impacted you personally? That's a good question. So not which ones are the most popular, right? Which ones have impacted me personally? Okay, so the most inspiring autobiography that I've ever read, I think it's episode 117. Let me just double check. It's the founder of Hyundai, it's a guy named, yep, it's 117. The founder of Hyundai is this guy named Chang Ju Young. So he was the son of a poor farmer. He was so poor that he had to eat tree bark. in the winter to survive. He had to go to the bathroom in buckets and they used their human waste to grow their crops. And he's writing the autobiography when he's like 90 and he's the richest man in Korea. What that guy had to live through is so unfathomable to most people's human existence. And not only did he endure it and survive it, but he went up thriving in that crazy environment and just refused to quit. His nickname was the bulldozer. fantastic. That podcast, I mean to this day, I made that podcast, let's see, what did it say? I bet you that podcast is almost three years old. And I still get people that send me that, when they discover that, send me messages about that podcast. So that's number one. Another book or another podcast I think is particularly impactful is episode 168. It's about an autobiography called Driven, an autobiography by Larry Miller. The reason that's interesting is because that will surprise many people. It's a cautionary tale. Larry Miller was the richest entrepreneur in Utah. He owned 93 separate companies. He owned the Utah Jazz. They said the average Utah citizen couldn't go one week without spending money at one of his businesses. He lived in a 30,000 square foot house overlooking, like on a mountain overlooking the city he lived in. And he's writing the book and he essentially says, do the opposite of what I did. He's like, all I did was work. So at the expense of just being extremely rich and work all the time, he said I was a bad husband. He was a bad father, didn't take care of his health, didn't have any fun. And so he is literally dying and he's died at a relatively young age while the book is being written and his body is just like, you know, shutting down there from like chop off parts of them. It's like a very grotesque thing. He was so scared of growing up without money that he overcompensated and just couldn't stop accumulating more and more money. And yet you have one of the most successful entrepreneurs ever live and he's dying and he's saying, hey, my life is a cautionary tale. That is a line in the book. That's a crazy thing. Like imagine having that much money and getting to the end of your life and he knows he's dying and saying, I didn't even have any fun. And then the crazy part is he has a co-author that's helping with the book. Larry dies. The book's still not done. So the last like two chapters are written by the co-author and the co-author is interviewing his wife and she goes, we're sad that he died. We miss him, but it's not like he was here when he was alive. That's crazy. So I think like you have to learn from that experience because we're very prone to make to over optimize our professional life at the detriment of our personal life. Now realizing they were humans and humans really want the same, we all want the same things. And so you just have to be careful with that, especially driven type A people, entrepreneurs are full of them. You know what I mean? Like me and you are the same way, we're way more similar than we are dissimilar. And so just realizing it's like, oh, they're prone to this, making this mistake, so am I. Those are the two that usually pop to mind. The third one actually, so everybody knows about Rockefeller, right? And When people study Rockefeller, the most well-known biography of Rockefeller is Titan. Titan's a fantastic book, right? It's probably sold in millions of copies. It's like 700 pages long. It's probably 25 years old. I read that. When I read it for the second time, I went in the bibliography, which is where I find a lot of books, to see what books they read for their source material. And so then I found episode 254. It's called John Dee, The Founding Father of the Rockefellers. This biography, I don't know anybody else that's read it. Now people have read it because of the show. Like most of the books I put out there that are hard to find, usually if you don't buy them when the show comes out, it's very like, people buy a lot of books. So the price goes up and up because there's a limited amount of copies. And so I just looked the other day and it's like, now like a hundred bucks. I think I paid like 20 for it. And the reason I like this book is because it's very condensed. It's not a 700 page biography of Rockefeller. It's like 250 pages, but it's all about the strategy of how he built his business. And there's a lot of those ideas in there that I'm trying to use for my business. And it's just like hyper-focused about how that guy thought about what he was building. And so that's just one of my favorite episodes that I've ever done. And one of my favorite books because it's just about what we're interested in. You're heavily interested in like, how the hell do you find your first hundred customers? Like I'm interested in that too. Like what was their early life like? What happens to your early life is going to affect your personality and your personality is going to affect the way you think about building your business. And so that book is heavy on. who he was as a young person and why he approached building his business the way he did and more importantly how he did it. And so I think it's absolutely fantastic book to read. Thank you for sharing all three biographies. If you were to think of one episode about a founder that you've worked on and you think people should have listened to it more because it's very valuable, which one would you pick? So I don't know. Because I don't really pay attention to that. One thing is some podcasters, friends who have a bunch of podcasters, some of them are really into the metrics. And they think about, oh, what percentage of my show are people watching or listening to? The data for podcasts is not great, but you do get some. Some platforms will tell you, listen to an average 70% of your show, or there's so many downloads. I just do things on what I'm most enthusiastic about. So I don't really pay attention to that. So I don't know if like. really which ones performed the best. I will say that one of the ones that I'm most proud of that I recently made is maybe a way to think about that is especially for anybody building a business on the internet. I just read Jeff Bezos's shareholder letters for the third time. And so episode 282 is Jeff Bezos's shareholder letters. I've done like third podcasts I've done as shareholder letters actually. And I listened to that whole, I listened to every single episode before it comes out in like from start to finish. And I'm really proud of that episode. And I think there's a lot of information in that episode that will be valuable to people building businesses now because essentially Jeff was like, he's writing, if you really think about it, it's like the best description of Jeff Bezos to shareholder letters is like, if you read his shareholder letters, you get a crash course in running a high growth internet business from someone who mastered it before any of the playbooks were written. And he's remarkably consistent, starting with the first shareholder letter in 1997 to the last one in 2021. And it's just like, he's constantly executing on this set of ideas that he has in his mind that he's explaining to you. you know, thinking the person that's reading that letter is the potential investor. But now as a result of documenting, you know, 20 years of shareholder letters or whatever the number is, it's like a Bible for, or like a religious text almost for entrepreneurs, you know, that everybody can access for free. You can read a shareholder list for free online. That's crazy. And if you want to hear like how I connect it to other entrepreneurs and the way I think about it, you can just listen to episode 282. I would listen to episode 282 and read the shareholders' letters, but I'm sure there's people that have just listened to episode 282 and not read the shareholders' letters and still get a ton of value out of it. You have read hundreds of biographies. And you consume a lot of content. You're an avid reader. And the beautiful thing is you remember a lot of things vividly and you take amazing notes. What has been one productivity hack that you used to consume so much information? So I don't believe in productivity hacks. I believe that the hard way is the right way. And so a lot of people come to me and they're like, hey, how do I start a podcast? I want to grow a podcast, but I want to do a lot of work. And I'm like, don't. You're trying to look for the short, everybody wants to look for a shortcut. It's like you need to run in the opposite direction of what everybody else does. So what I would say is one of the most important things that impacted the way I live my life is this episode 212. It's this 600 page biography of Michael Jordan that I read. I was a fan of Michael Jordan when I was a kid. But this is like I spent 20, 25 hours reading that book. And I was shocked at how important practice was to his professional development, how much he talked about it over and over again, how much he said he'd rather miss a game than miss practice. And he didn't want to miss a game either, right? There's a story in the book where he goes to play in the Olympics in 1992 in Barcelona, and he doesn't want to go. He's been playing in the playoffs, he's been winning finals, his body's beat up. But it's like, you know what, these are the best basketball players in the world. And he's like, I want to see what their practice habits are like. He's talking about his fellow members of his basketball team, his dream team. And there's a line in the book that gives me chills. He says, he realized he just worked and practiced so much more than everybody else says, so he says they're deceiving themselves about what the game requires. And that one line changed my life. Cause I'm like, if David, you say you want to make the world's greatest podcast on the history of entrepreneurship, are you deceiving yourself about what that means? Like how much fucking work that you have to put in to do this? Like, are you willing to do it? And I think I've demonstrated through my actions that I am. I've read almost 300 books, it's over 100,000 pages. You're talking about tens of thousands of hours. Like I don't think anybody has done more reading and research for a podcast on the history of entrepreneurship than I have, right? And so the difference is the productivity hack is like, okay, reading the book is one thing, but then what I do is like my schedule is like the first few hours of the day, I'm reading whatever book I'm working on for the next episode, right? After that, take a break, usually hang out with my wife, my son, maybe go to lunch, something like that. And then... I will go and I will reread past highlights. And so I use that, I have like 20, now over 20,000 highlights I think, in this app called Readwise, where I store all of my highlights and notes, but I also do it just by walking past my bookshelf and picking up a book here. I have a couple on the table right here, I'll show this to you. And so what the books will look like, I know no one else can see, but you can. It's like, you know, there is what? 50, 100 Post-it notes in here. And so when you open it up, you just go to a page and you could see, okay. This is all the highlights I make and all the notes that I leave for whatever came to my mind while I was reading the book. And so what happens is like this book, the Ralph Lauren book, which is actually a really popular episode I just did, that this one, I can pick it up and if I sit with the book in 30 minutes, I can quote unquote, reread the book because I'm reading all my highlights and reading the notes from the first time I read it and it like immediately goes back into your mind. And so I don't have a, everybody was like, oh, what's your hack? You must have a good memory. Yeah, I promise you, you tell my wife that I have a good memory, she'd laugh at you. She's like, he has a bad memory. He just freaking reads and rereads this stuff over and over again. And I don't think there's a shortcut other than, hey, I'm willing to put in more reps and more time than anybody else. And that is actually like a competitive advantage over a long period of time, as opposed to for every one person who's willing to do that much work, there's a hundred that wants to make kind of easier way to do it. And for those hundred people chasing the easy but crappier way. right, the easier but less optimal way and me willing to put in the hard way, I'm going to beat them over a long period of time. Because it's not two times as good, it's five times, 10 times as good and it compounds every single year. So the point of, if there's a hypothetical another David out there with another Founders podcast and he's trying to cut corners, you know, in that manner this year and he's still doing it next year and the year after, five, 10 years from now, which is where I really think about it, it's like, we're not even going to be in the same league. The amount of information that I have remembered and synthesized and practiced compared to that other hypothetical David, it's like we're not making the product. We might be in the same genre, but the product is not the same. And the listener will pick up on the difference in the product. That's actually a good idea from Paul Graham's essays. He's got this great essay called Hackers and Painters. He's also got a book called Hackers and Painters, but the essay Hackers and Painters, you can read for free online. And he talks about the people that are best in their craft, the Leonardo da Vinci's, the Michael Jordan's. He says, relentless this wins. They just go in, they put in so much more effort into things that other people ignore. And those, in aggregate, those unseen details become visible. Even if the listener or the viewer or the watcher, whatever, they may not understand why they're drawn to it because they didn't see all the work. It's all the work that the listener doesn't see. For every one hour of audio that I would create, there's at least 20 hours of reading and research and practice that they don't see. And so that's why where I think people pick up on it, where like they start listening, it's like, this is different, there's like a lot of stuff here. And then the way another advantage I have is like, if I'm making a podcast on Ralph Lauren, or Michael Jordan, or Steve Jobs, I don't just talk about them. I talk about how they think, I think about founders as one giant 400 hour conversation on the history of entrepreneurship. It just happens to be divided into episodes because it makes it easier for the listeners to consume. But it's the same thing, it's like, we're just having one conversation and then we're gonna pick up that conversation the next episode. And so, In every single episode, I'll talk about 10, 15 other past founders and like, oh, they did this or they had an idea or they disagreed or whatever the case is. And so I think what happens over time is like, I'm just doing so much more work and building this web that the overall product quality is going to be very hard to compete with. You remind me on a famous saying that says practice makes perfect. And one of the mentors for me, they told me that it's not that practice makes perfect. It's perfect practice. makes perfect. So you need even when you practice to be doing things in a disciplined way perfectly. And that reminds me as well, Kobe Bryant was relentless when it comes to practice. And I think in one of his interviews, he was saying that he used to practice twice as much as other people because he used to wake up earlier. And that left a mark for me. If you want to be ahead of your own competition, irrespective of the industry, you have to outwork them. There is some luck there, but you have to outwork them. Well again, if you're taking Charlie Munger's advice, and Charlie Munger is one of the wisest people I've ever come across, right, way smarter than I am, and he just says, hey, if you're not working in an area where you have an intense interest, then find a way to work to move yourself into an area where you have intense interest. Just that one piece of advice will take care of most of your problems, because if you have an intense interest, you're going to be, it's not like you have to get out of bed and be like, oh, I don't feel like going, like you're compelled to do this work. No one has to say, David, tap me on the shoulder, it's time to read now. You should, shouldn't you be reading? It's like, no, the book's already in my hand because I'm into it, I love reading. It's my lifelong habit since I started reading, I don't even know how old it was, maybe four or five years old, however old you are when you read, or you learn to read. It's like I've never stopped. It's the only unbroken habit I've ever had in my entire life. So it's like, this is what I should be doing because this is what I'd be doing anyways. If you were to be transported in time and... you want to be a mentee of one of the founders in all of these autobiographies, who would you shadow? Edwin Land. This is crazy because he's like one of the best entrepreneurs to ever do it and very few people even know who he is. Edwin Land was the founder of Polaroid, but he's also Steve Jobs' hero. And so what was very fascinating is I feel Steve Jobs, he's got a good argument to be the greatest entrepreneur of all time. And what was crazy to me is like, I'm reading a bunch of biographies of Steve Jobs and he keeps bringing up this guy, Edwin Land. He says that Edwin Land's his hero. When Steve Jobs was in his 20s, he met Edwin Land. Edwin Land was in his 70s and he said that meeting was like visiting a shrine. Like it was a religious experience for Steve. I was like, that's a crazy way to think about these things. And then I started, I was like, oh, I gotta read about this guy. So I started reading every other book I can find of Edwin Land. I'm like, oh my God, all these ideas that I thought were Steve and the way he built Apple, he actually got them. for Edwin Land, he would just repeat them. And so that's why he's saying, hey, you guys should study him. He says, kids shouldn't try to be like a professional athlete or an astronaut. They should try to be him, meaning Edwin Land. And so he's just one of the smartest people I've ever come across, one of the most gifted entrepreneurs. And he's affected my life in one way, because he had this personal motto that he used to direct his career that now I've used to direct mine. And he says, my personal motto is very, it's unique to me. It may not work for anybody else, but it's this. And he says, Don't do anything somebody else can do. So his whole point is like, if somebody else is already doing it, then you need to find a different way or create a different product. Don't just go around copying other people. And that had a heavy influence of me deciding what to work on. I was like, well, I don't think anybody else can do founders podcasts like I can do it. So therefore I'm just gonna use Edwin Lantz personal model as like a guide to like build the podcast the way I wanna build it. And I think it's a very like helpful framework to use or to think about. It's like, well, can somebody else do what I'm doing? And if so, like what is unique to me? that I can make my life's work. And the more differentiated it is, and assuming other people could value out of it, like you could build wealth and a career on that. And then he's got another thing where he thinks people do not concentrate enough. And he's constantly talking about the power of focus. Like stop multitasking, focus on your product, focus on your work, just put in much time and energy into it. That's another idea that I use where the biggest contrast between when I have my nose in these books and I'm studying how these people conduct their lives. It's like they're supremely focused. And then when you take your nose out of the book and you look around and you open up Twitter or you just see what other people are doing, it's like, oh, the people I'm reading about are like super focused. And the people out in the world that are, they're out in the world with me are not focused at all. They're just jumping from one thing to one thing to another thing to another thing. So I'm like, oh, I'm gonna be like the people in the book. I don't wanna be like these people. And so I try to have superhuman levels of focus. And a large way of doing that is just saying no. It's like I've said no to doing anything else besides Founders Podcast. I'm not starting another company. I'm not becoming an investor, I'm not starting a fund, I'm not doing any of that. I'm going to keep doing what I'm doing and I'm gonna focus on it because no one else in the world can do what I'm doing. Those combination of those ideas is why I would choose Ebernland. Who's your hero and why? Mm. I'm still thinking. Take your time. Ha ha. I have a few heroes for different reasons, but if there's one person that I would try to be the most like, out of the 300 people, or almost 300 people I've studied for the podcast so far, the only person that has come close to mastering life, in my opinion, is this guy named Ed Thorpe. He wrote this autobiography called A Man for All Markets. The reason I like Ed Thorpe is because almost every single person that I study on the podcast, they have over-optimized their professional life to the detriment of other areas of their life. Maybe it's their personal life, maybe it's their health, maybe it's their enjoyment of life in general. It's crazy how obsessed they can be. Edwin Land is like, he had the perfect balance. So I call him my personal blueprint. I think this is episode 222. And the way I view his life is like, he did a balance between a couple of things. Like one, he picked work that was intellectually stimulating that he could be good at that could generate wealth, right? But once he had more money he could spend, he didn't continue to sell, take his time away from other areas of his life just to make more money that he'll never spend. It didn't make any sense to him, right? He was also a good father. That's rare because you're giving up, like you're putting so much time into your work that you can't be a good father, you can't be a good spouse if you don't spend time with them. And usually all their time is spent on their work. So he had work that was insulated, stimulating that he could be really good at that can make him wealthy. He was a good father. He was a good husband. He took over his health. The guy just did an interview with Tim Ferriss. He's like 90 years old and he looks like he's 65. So he would dedicate time every day to exercise and to making sure that he's eating healthy. He said, for every one hour I spend in the gym, That's one less day that I'll spend in the hospital when I'm later in life, right? And then he treated life like the adventure it was, or that adventure that it is. And he went and he made sure he was having fun. He was chasing things that were not professional, that were not personal, but were just things he enjoyed. Sometimes that's writing a book. Sometimes that's making the world's first wearable computer with Claude Shannon. Sometimes that's inventing a way to count cards in Blackjack to get an edge. Like he just did things that were interesting. He traveled the world. And so those five things where it's like you have work that you're insolent, you're simulating, you can build wealth that you enjoy, you're a good husband and father, you take care of your health, and you have fun, and then more importantly, you know when enough is enough. And that part five, when enough is enough, is the part where I think most people, that's more of like a cautionary tale in these biographies. They never know when enough is enough. Yeah, you're absolutely right. That's one of the problems with being obsessive with your business. You have to take away from something else. Rarely do I see someone who has done this type of balance. If you were to acquire the following skills, from which founders would you like to learn? The tenacity and drive of? That'd be Chung Ju Young, the guy I mentioned earlier, the founder of Hyundai. They call him the bulldozer. He's tenacity personified. The discipline of? It's a good. Michael Jordan. The sales skills of? Ooh, that's a good one. The sales skills. They're all really gifted. I think to be a really good entrepreneur, you have to, like, you're selling your plans all the time. You're selling your employees on your plans. You're selling your customers. You're selling your shareholders. Oh, Steve Jobs. Steve Jobs was one of the world's master salesmen. The decision-making of? Rockefeller. He's probably the best strategist that I've ever come across. The leadership of? Shackleton. Shackleton's one of history's greatest leaders. He somehow, I'm not ruining the book by any means, but. He finds himself, his crew is stranded in ice in the Antarctic. It's like a harrowing, like a year and a half trying to get home and not one, he doesn't lose one person. He is one of history's greatest leaders by far. And finally, the obsession of? I think that would be Edwin Land too, because he started this idea and he invented the instant photography in 1940 something. It took him 30 years before that he was able to develop the technology to actually get the finished product. of what he saw in his mind. And that is, you see something, you pull out your camera, you take a picture and out comes a full color photograph of that. At the very beginning, it was like sepia, black and white, and like the quality wasn't there. He had this dogged determination to like he wanted what was in his mind to be in his hand in reality. I would say Edwin Lam. David, I can go all day with these questions, but I want to be respectful of your time. What's next for David? I'm going to continue to find biographies of remarkable people that I'm excited to learn about. I'm going to continue to read them every day and then every week I'm going to put my thoughts together of what I feel are like the most important things from the book and the lessons that I want to remember and I'm going to record them so other people can benefit from all these thousands and thousands of hours of doing this very comprehensive study of the history of entrepreneurship. And I hope to do that. for as long as I live. David, amazing. Thank you for your time and tactics. I urge all the listeners to go to any platform and download or subscribe to the Founders Podcast because it's not enough this episode where he shared. There's plenty of interesting things that you can just pick from the time he spent reading and analyzing these biographies. Thank you, David. Thank you for inviting me and I appreciate that endorsement very much. Have a great evening. Thank you.