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Entrepreneurship and ADHD with Jen Dzuira of Get Bullish (Part 1)


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entrepreneurship and adhd

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Entrepreneurship and ADHD

This is Part 1 of a 2-parter  – listen or read Part 2 here!

If you’ve got all the business ideas, tons of hustle and zero passion for your day job, today’s episode might be for you. Jen Dzuira, founder of GetBullish, has an interesting career trajectory, one that many of us can relate to. This week we’re talking about entrepreneurship and ADHD.

Highlights:

  • Get Bullish’s origin story (which did, in fact, happen on a napkin)
  • Other businesses Jen had leading up to Get Bullish
  • Advice for beginner entrepreneurs, including MVPs and why they save ADHD’ers

For a limited time, AWA listeners will receive 10% off at the Bullish Shop (one of my favorite online stores ever – seriously). To take advantage of this deal, visit shop.getbullish.com and use the code ADHDPODCAST at check-out. Offer expires at midnight on 3/17 and a minimum purchase of $25 is required.

On April 9-10, Jen will be hosting the 7th annual BullCon in Virgina Beach. The conference for career-focused feminists was incredibly helpful for me last year, and I’m excited to be speaking at this one! Learn more at bullishconference.com.

Where to folllow Jen:

getbullish.com
twitter.com/jendzuira
instagram.com/jenniderdzuira

Where to follow me:
adultingwithadhd.com
twitter.com/adhdadulting
instagram.com/adhdadulting
facebook.com/adhdadulting

Until next time, Happy Adulting!

 

TRANSCRIPT

Sarah:
This is The Adulting with ADHD podcast, self-empowerment for women with ADHD. If you’ve got all the business ideas, tons of hustle and zero passion for your day job, today’s episode might be for you. Our guest has an interesting career trajectory, one that many of us can definitely relate to. Allow me to introduce Jen Dzuira, founder of get bullish. Hello, Jen.

Jen:
Hi, there. Thank you for having me.

Sarah:
No problem. Firstly, thank you so much for being here. I don’t think there would be an Adulting with ADHD if there hadn’t have been a Get Bullish.

Jen:
Oh.

Sarah:
Yeah.

Jen:
That was just a little business blush right there.

Sarah:
Yeah, it’s really, really cool to have you here for multiple reasons. Let’s jump into Get Bullish. What is Get Bullish, and how did it get started and how has it evolved?

Jen:
On the 2000s, I had a bunch of weird jobs. I started by having a web development company that I ran for several years and tried to take that really big and it failed. When I say it failed, like it failed, like the sheriff locked the door to my office for nonpayment of rent, and then I had to walk through the window. Yeah, I was 23 when that happened. The sheriff locked my office, and I had some plants in there that just died because the sheriff …

Sarah:
Oh.

Jen:
I know. I think at 23 I was in no position to care for a plant anyway, but still it was devastating. I laugh as I say that, but I cried.

Sarah:
I bet.

Jen:
My company failed. My first company failed when I was very young. Then I moved to New York, and I had a bunch of weird jobs, which included nude art modeling, and standup comedy and various kinds of marketing things, which was sort of the direction I went from that web development company. Some of those things succeeded, some of them failed. I was very business like in my youth, so then I kind of had my youth after my business failed, so that was kind of fun.

Jen:
Somewhere in that decade I was doing some test prep tutoring, and then test prep writing. I got really into that world where I ultimately ended up working at, actually kind of a weird timely note, but Andrew Yang’s company, like [crosstalk 00:02:42].

Sarah:
Wow.

Jen:
Yeah, Andrew Young was my boss. He wasn’t the founder, but he was the CEO at the time that I was there.

Sarah:
Wow, that is super interesting.

Jen:
Yeah. Some reporters have found me on LinkedIn. I’m like, “No, I’m not going to dish on my former boss.” Anyway.

Sarah:
Right on, yeah.

Jen:
Andrew Yang was actually last boss I ever had. I never worked for a boss after that, so that’s kind of interesting I guess.

Sarah:
Nice.

Jen:
When I was at Manhattan GMAT and working for other companies in the test prep world, I was doing GMAT classes, yelling at Wall Street bankers about math, which is kind of, I might’ve peaked at that point, yelling at Wall Street Bankers about math.

Sarah:
Right.

Jen:
Super enjoyable. My take on I’m aggressive, I’m a coach, I’m coaching you to success. My take on that is very touchy feely to a Wall Street banker in general. It worked out well for everyone. I was like, “I’m a hard ass,” a football coach but for math, no. I’m very, very nice.

Sarah:
That’s awesome.

Jen:
A little side note, I’ve written about that in other articles, like this idea of if you are sort of a socialized female, you might have this idea that what you’re doing is really being aggressive, and standing up for yourself and really like hard-ass negotiating. Other people think that you’re adorable. Your barometer for where that line is or how to measure those things might be really different from other people’s. I always encourage people, even if you have no money, go to some kind of meetup in your town for investors. You’ll just meet different kinds of people, and you might not like them. You don’t have to like them, but just meet some other people and you’re like, “What I thought was hard ass negotiating is super not.”

Sarah:
Yes, I can attest to that too from my own experience where you go back and maybe you apologize or something. Hey, sorry I was a little rough in there. They’re like, “What are you talking about?”

Jen:
Right, and the reverse can also be true. If your parents are both Wall Street bankers, maybe your idea of being nice is not nice enough. There are knitting groups available for all genders. There was a men’s knitting group in Park Slope that popped up like 10 years ago. I remember thinking, “I want more of this. I just want more of all the interests for everyone.” Anyway. It’s good to, especially when you’re young and kind of just getting started in your career, it’s really good to meet groups of people who are very different from you and you don’t have to like them. Not everything is about friendship, or meeting new people or like identifying with things. Sometimes you just want the information. Even if it’s information about people you hate, that can be really helpful information. Anyway, back to my story.

Sarah:
Yeah.

Jen:
Okay. I was saying that I had all these weird jobs, and then I got into test prep and became pretty successful at that. I, in fact negotiated with Andrew Yang. Kind of a weird [inaudible 00:05:24]. Yeah, I know. That was a normal story until this year and now it’s a weird story. I became pretty successful. I was offering test prep books, designing curricula for other people to teach and doing all this cool stuff. I felt like I had really worked out some things about not only being an entrepreneur but also working in a company with an entrepreneurial mindset.

Jen:
I often tell people, “If you have this kind of you desire more freedom and flexibility and just the possibility of having a cool idea and running with it and being compensated for it, smaller companies can often a lot better for that because they have that kind of freedom.” You’re not in a salary band at a big company where there are 500 accountants who have the same classification that you do. You can’t suddenly start making twice as much as all of them because you’re in a salary band. There’s a specific structure to that company and how you progress in it. That works well for some people, but if that’s not you …

Jen:
when you’re in a small company, like if your job is receptionist but you have an amazing idea that’s going to make $1 million for the company, you could be making $200,000 as soon as that idea works or more. If you work in a smaller, more flexible company, even kind of those companies where the person who founded it is still there running it, like it’s their company, it belongs to them, they have the ability. If you just make them a lot of money, they’ll give you some of it. If not, go make some money for yourself.

Sarah:
Exactly, yeah.

Jen:
Yeah. It was around that time. I had these ideas, these things that I’m saying now, and I had no one to listen to them. I made some notes on a napkin. It was an actual napkin. I know that’s a stupid stereotype. That sounds like an origin story that a corporate board come up with. Let’s say she was on plane and there was a napkin.

Sarah:
I just snorted. Oh my God. Yeah, mine was on a napkin too.

Jen:
It’s a real thing.

Sarah:
It’s a thing.

Jen:
Even more so, I feel like if this had happened, if this story had happened in 1999 I would’ve had an actual notepad in my purse. I think that napkin writing is more likely to happen the less people have paper. Anyway, I don’t know why I didn’t do it on my phone, but I didn’t. I had a napkin for a book I wanted to write called How to Make Money Without Becoming a Republican. I never wrote that book, but I have used that title for speeches. You can invite me places, and I will give that speech. A lot of what I talk about there is not just how to make money, like the making money side of that, but also a lot of people who are progressive have very conflicted feelings about money. They hate rich people. They’re literally posting like eat the rich on a sticker on their bicycle, but then they’re also like, “Why don’t I get paid for the things that I do?” You got to resolve those things in some way that works for you.

Jen:
I talk about, like there are plenty of people that I’m sure you do approve of. You can just Google. I used to use Toni Morrison as an example. Do you have a problem with Toni Morrison? You do not. Google Toni Morrison net worth. That’s the example that I used to use, but there are lots of other people who are just, think of anyone who’s making, is really famous and making art. If you Google them and their net worth, you’ll see a pretty big number. I’m sure you can find somebody who has a lot of money that you don’t hate.

Jen:
Even Bernie Sanders, if we’re going to go to people who might be [crosstalk 00:08:34] eat the rich, people who might be putting an eat the rich sticker on their bicycle. Bernie Sanders has a pretty high net worth. Do you think he’s using it to do something bad? I don’t think that you think that. You got to find that kind of wealthy role model for you. I think it would also be totally fine if you said there are no good billionaires, but it’s not a problem that Bernie Sanders has more than a million dollars to his name. That’s fine, so something along those lines. You say, “Okay, this would be fine.” I’ll stop when I get to over $1 million, but until then.

Jen:
Having money just magnifies who you already are. That’s not an original idea for me. A lot of people say that. Having money magnifies who you already are. I think that if you’re a good person, you would probably want to have more money. Also, I think that colors some of my ideas about doing business with people who are kind of terrible. If you’re going to do business with someone you don’t like, I once submitted a proposal to make a website for Philip Morris. I thought about it, it’s like the cigarette company. I was like, “Okay, so I think I should charge them triple and do something charitable with the rest of the money.” If someone terrible has money, I should have their money. The world would be better if I had their money. I never made a website for them or anything, but I’ve been playing with this thought for a long time.

Jen:
It’s sort of like if you are doing work with someone that you don’t approve of, are you helping them do bad things in the world? Then don’t, but if you’re just being a personal trainer for a terrible billionaire, should you be a personal trainer for a terrible billionaire? Okay, being someone’s personal trainer does not help them do bad things in the world. You’re not helping them dump oil in the ocean or something. You’re just helping them work out their abs, so you should absolutely have their money. You should take as much of their money as you can. The world is a better place if terrible billionaire’s personal trainer overcharges him.

Sarah:
Yeah.

Jen:
These are thoughts I have. I’m glad I didn’t make a website for a cigarette company, but I would absolutely help them work out their abs all day long.

Sarah:
Yeah, absolutely.

Jen:
Okay. Sory, this story has gotten a little long, but I hope you find it entertaining.

Sarah:
It’s appropriate for our podcast. It’s appropriate.

Jen:
Right. I am on the, I will get to the, yes.

Sarah:
Yes.

Jen:
I never wrote that book, but I went to a networking event, which is something I hardly ever do. I went to a networking event, and I met someone who was the editor-in-chief or the new editor of this women’s website that was about to launch, and she needed someone to write career content, and we eventually hooked up and made that work. I wrote this column called Bullish for a couple of years on another website that no longer exists, and eventually I made my own website and kind of move things over there. The first thing I did that really made Bullish kind of an organization or a business was to found the Bullish Conference in 2013, so it’s a conference for careers and business from a feminist point of view.

Jen:
We’re having our seventh conference right now in a couple of months, which is very exciting and it’s been going on a long time. Honestly, that’s a long time to do anything. I see a lot of conferences kind of come and go, so we’ve been at it. Bullish is a blog, it is a conference. There is now a membership society and there is an online retail store that sells over 5,000 different products. I actually just work in, my office is in the warehouse that also has all of the hilarious mugs, and pens, and socks and things.

Sarah:
That is quite the evolution from a column and a website. That’s pretty [crosstalk 00:11:54].

Jen:
Yeah, it is. I feel like it ties into one of the things I talk about a lot, which is the MVP or minimum viable product methodology for starting. Those words come out of your mouth, and it just is like Silicon Valley douchebag, the minimum viable product methodology. Yeah. The MVP method is about starting a business without going and making some huge ass thing that nobody wants. Making a huge ass thing that nobody wants is especially devastating if you’re the kind of person who has trouble finishing projects and making a huge ass thing in the first place. Yes. You don’t want to like go off in secret and be like, “I will make the company,” or whatever the thing is.

Sarah:
Right.

Jen:
The best thing to do, so here’s the MVP in a nutshell. MVP in a nutshell is before you make anything and invest your time and money, find the audience that you think needs, and wants and can afford the thing. It doesn’t have to be software. MVP people are always talking about software, but here’s a normal business. I want to have a juice bar, right? Juice bar. Okay, so I say, “I am really interested in juicing” maybe because you’re interested in detox, you’re interested in veganism or whatever. You have some reason you’re interested in juicing. You’re the juice person. Instead of opening the fucking juice bar, and signing a fucking lease and buying a commercial juicer, you know how much money all that stuff costs? You got a bunch of vegetables going bad because no one … There are a lot of risks in a juice business.

Sarah:
Right.

Jen:
Juice sounds simple, but no, this is a complicated business. Instead, what you’re going to do is you’re going to talk to the people that you think will be buying your juice. If you don’t know how to do that, then don’t start a business. That means you could survey people in the neighborhood. It could be a list serve, some kind of online forum for people in the neighborhood. You could stand outside the store you were thinking of renting and just survey people walking by. There are a lot of ways you could figure this out. You could maybe go to a vegan restaurant and talk to the people with the permission of the owners maybe or just stand outside. Talk to the people who go to the vegan restaurant and say, “Hey, do you think there’s a lack of juice places in this town?”, some way that you could talk to these people who were supposed to be your customers.

Jen:
You want to get information from them like, “Okay, do you think there’s a lack of juice? Do you want juice? Would you buy more juice? Do you have money to afford juice?” These are all the things I want to know and if so, why? Maybe the people in your town who want to buy juice are brides trying to lose weight for their wedding. It’s not really what you had in mind, but like who wants the juice. Whatever the information is, you want to know that. Maybe they’re executives in their offices and they don’t want to go to the juice bar because they have better things to do than wait around for juice. They want the juice brought to them because they’re so important.

Sarah:
Juice delivery, yeah.

Jen:
You never know, but you have to find those people and talk to them because if you can’t reach them to ask them a question, how are you going to reach them to sell them anything? You want to find this audience of people. The juice bar example actually makes that sound kind of hard, but with some other businesses it’s actually a lot easier because you can just find them online. If your idea is I’m going to make websites for real estate agents, you can just email them. The idea here is you’re not selling anything yet. The idea here is you’re going to ask them what their needs are, and eventually what they’d be willing to spend and all that stuff. A good way to get people talking, so it’s not so much like you’re asking for a favor, is to ask them about things they’re annoyed with or frustrated with, like do you have a website, but it sucks? Tell me about that. Tell me about these scam artists who made it for you.

Sarah:
Yeah, right.

Jen:
Can you believe the juice over here? It’s so expensive. Asking people to kind of complain about their current situation is usually a good way to get them to talk. It’s also fine. You can offer people, like you can make a type form, like an online survey. Offer people a $5 Starbucks gift card if necessary, depending on what the issue is. Basically, you need to talk to a bunch of people and don’t give them your idea. Don’t say like, “What do you think about a juice bar right here?” No, you’re going to say, “Hey, do you have a hard time finding vegan options? What do you wish those vegan options were? What time of day would you like to purchase them?”

Jen:
You want to ask questions that are don’t give away what your idea is because your idea is subject to change. Find out what people actually want, and then just cheat and give them the thing that they said. The thing that you thought of might not be the thing that they want, and the whole point of the MVP method is, do you want to express yourself or do you want to have a business that succeeds? Sometimes those two things are different.

Sarah:
Right.

Jen:
You see a lot of businesses that are about like self-expression, like people who have a boutique named after themself. It’s literally just their name on the sign.

Sarah:
Yeah.

Jen:
Sometimes it works. That’s why we see them. They must be working if they’re there, but a lot of times it doesn’t work. People have this business. It’s all about them, and it’s about their self-expression and the way they want to do it. Then they have no idea how to even find a customer, so I’m saying do the exact opposite. Talk to the people who are your actual potential customers, and who you are able to reach and who have some money who to afford the thing, find out what they actually want or even better need and just give them exactly that thing. Then the idea there is you’re going to iterate until you get it right. At first you might just give them a small version of the thing. Say you say, “Hey, I’m going to do a mobile juice business. I’m going to get a space in a commercial kitchen for one hour every two days,” whatever.

Jen:
You’re going to find some legal way to do this that you’re going to rent kitchen space from an existing business to make some juice, and you’re going to deliver it to people in their offices at lunchtime. You have a business that only operates from 12:00 to 2:00 p.m. Monday through Friday where you deliver juice, and you take your orders over email because you’re just getting started, and the people who are working with you understand that it’s a trial. It’s a beta, so do that. Yeah. You tell them, be transparent about it. You don’t need a fancy website yet. Say, “Hey, we’re doing a trial of our juice delivery service. Would you like to sign up?” Don’t ask people if they like the idea. Because they want to support you, they’re nice, they’ll say yes. Ask them to actually buy something.

Jen:
Say, “Hey, it’s $50 for the week, and we’re going to bring you fresh squeezed juice at your office. Will you sign up? See if people actually buy it. If they don’t just say, “Hey, it’s cool. No harm done because I’m just trying different things. Is there something else that you would have bought? Is the idea that you only wanted a physical juice location, or you don’t like to drink juice at work, or you don’t like deliveries, or you like to go out for lunch? What’s too expensive? Tell me.” Just keep iterating till you have an idea that works. I feel like starting anything, here’s maybe a note apropos to this podcast. Starting anything is harder than you think it’s going to be.

Jen:
You have an idea and then you’re like, “Oh.” The classic advice is like, “Take your to-do list items and break them into smaller to-do list items.” Right, now you have 75 things on your to-do list. You’re like, “Maybe I should put them in categories or should I put them in order?” Unclear.

Sarah:
Right, yeah. That’s what I love about the MVP, is it’s so freeing. You don’t have to come up with [inaudible 00:18:22] reinvent the wheel, or come up with something.

Jen:
No. Don’t do any branding till people give you money. You’ve got three people in town who are paying you to bring them juice at their office every day. Okay, now you can name your business and make a website now. Then ask those people if they have any friends, so on and so forth. Now you can start. You don’t need to do any of that stuff until the kind of like starting a business. Should I be an LLC? Jesus Christ, you should sell some damn juice. You don’t need to think about this. Get someone to give you money first. Find something that people actually want, someone who’s not like your friend who’s just being nice. Find someone whose need you are fulfilling and they’re like, “Fuck, yes, I’ve always wanted this. They’re giving you the money.” Then you have a business and then you can think about all this other stuff.

Sarah:
Stay tuned for part two of my discussion with Jen, which will drop in the next episode two weeks from now. In the meantime, Jen has graciously offered us a 10% off discount at her store. You would use the promo code ADHD Podcast, and it’s for purchases of $25 and up. That promotion will be going until March 17th so head on over to GetBullish.com and check out her awesome selection of all kinds of great stuff. I’ve been using that store for years. It’s books, planners, stuff for the house, you name it. All of it’s very clever and stylish and yeah, if I were you, I’d take advantage of that discount before it expires. Until next time, happy adulting.

 

Listen to or read part 2 here!

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