Oli Gardner is a cofounder of Unbounce, the premiere landing page software to help businesses convert more of their traffic into leads and business.
More than that, Oli is an internationally known speaker who travels the world teaching people about conversion optimization and marketing. He’s known for his epic content, such as the Noob Guide to Online Marketing which effectively launched Unbounce into the stratosphere.
We talk about that and more, including:
- What it’s like to start a company with 5 other cofounders
- Some of the trials Unbounce went through at the beginning
- How Oli has moved roles within the company and navigated that
- His love of whiteboards
John: Welcome back. Today I have with me Oli Gardner who is a co-founder of Unbounce which is a landing page software, SaaS company basically based up in Vancouver, Canada. So, I’ve known Oli for a number of years now, I’ve been connected with him online. I think we first met in person, I wanna say Moscow in 2011.
Oli: I think so, yeah.
John: We played pool together, I’m pretty sure you beat me pretty badly. It was fun and I remember we got Rand doing shots at that conference, so that was good times. So, Oli thanks for being on, I’m super happy to have you. If you wouldn’t mind, just introduce yourself a little bit, tell us your background, who you are, what you do, all that good stuff.
Oli: Sure. And thank you for having me on, John. Interesting, this is always hard for me to do. So, you’re pronouncing my name “Ollie”, and it’s probably because I have blonde hair and appearing Norwegian or something, but it’s “Oli” like Oliver. But it’s interesting because, in one of the first jobs I had in Canada when I moved over from Scotland, in my office, there was a woman in there, just two of us in a small office in a big place. And she called me Ollie, she’s actually from Norway. And she was very attractive and I was really shy. So, I didn’t correct her for six months.
And then one day, I finally said, “Do you know what, that’s not how it’s said.” And she’s like, “Why didn’t you tell me?” I was like, “I was scared.” So, it’s been like an ongoing thing. I feel I’ve grown as a person to be able to say it out loud. So, there is the deep inside of me. Yeah, I’m co-founder of Unbounce, yeah. I live in Vancouver, BC. And yeah, we started Unbounce eight years ago, we just had our eighth birthday.
John: Awesome, congratulations.
Oli: Thank you. Which is really weird, we were just talking about the fact that, get Credo was two…Credo was two years old. And time flies and time stands still. I think there are portions in that period that are really difficult, some that are easier, and they kind of come in waves.
John: Totally. So, yeah, that’s what I really want to chat about today. You know as I was saying before we started recording that I firmly believe that 90% of succeeding as an entrepreneur at least is managing your own psychology and pushing through those hard times. So, yeah, I wanna talk about kinda the story of Unbounce and the story of Oli as well, like you know going through that. Thank you for correcting me by the way. I feel kind of embarrassed now that I have known you for six years and I’ve never pronounced your name. That’s awesome.
So, yeah, why don’t you give us kind of the founding story I guess of Unbounce because you know you’re a co-founder so obviously, you have other founders, other co-founders as well. So, I’d love to hear a little bit about that, and yeah, and then I’d love to just hear your take on what are some of the challenges, you’ve gone through and some of your own as well, since you’ve changed roles multiple times. I know now you’re kind of an individual contributor. And before, you’re heading up marketing and…what’s going on there?
Oli: There are six co-founders which is kinda…
John: Wow, six?
Oli: Yeah. Which is, five is still active. But yeah, it’s a little insane, and it has benefits and negatives. The benefits I think far outweigh any possible negative. But we’ve all known each other, worked with one another on and off for 10 years prior to starting Unbounce. So nine years, at a start-up back in the day, like before the Dotcom crash and different businesses leading up to creating Unbounce. And we’d all had some, most of us had a connection with marketing, either working in or on the tech side people work…having to work and/or service marketers.
Nobody likes doing that so we created Unbounce for a double-sided kind of benefit. Marketers needed to be able to build landing pages and take control of their own work. And IT development, we free them up to not be building marketing landing pages. Because they don’t wanna to do that, they wanna build product. So, that’s kind of why we did it.
John: Which you realize that by the way, eight years ago, 2009 like you guys were way ahead of your time at that point.
Oli: There wasn’t really…I mean, landing pages existed, that’s why we knew we needed to do this, but in terms of companies offering this, there was one, ion interactive, but they were a bit more enterprise. And there was no one self-serve doing it. Although, exactly when we started, another company started.
John: I remember hearing that, yeah.
Oli: Yeah. Performable, and eventually they…
John: So, you’re instantly head to head, right?
Oli: Yeah. Even though we were such leaders in the space, immediately it was…and that was good I think. Because of that early pressure and we went on to, I guess win that war and they pivoted and became something else. But it was definitely nice looking back to have that because we’re a bit more ready, we were ready for when the competition came in the future, which it did and there’s a lot more now. Yes. So like one of the big benefits of six co-founders is we could do anything we wanted. Like in terms of skill set, we had it all covered, we didn’t have to hire for a couple of years. The obvious downside is that you’re splitting the company in six, and not a more traditional one or two.
John: And you have six salaries to cover off the bat and all of that stuff or people in inside work, but yeah?
Oli: Yeah. Well, some people had a little bit of money and some were totally broke. It was a big risk for all of us starting this. Some people left an agency they’d built together, some had a bit of money in the bank. I did not. I’d just gone through something called the consumer proposal, which is like a halfway bankruptcy thing. So I was completely broke. So I took a small salary, three of us did, and the rest earned sweat equity. So some people have a bit more the company now, because of that. But once we could pay ourselves, it’s all equal, we all have the same salary. We have, since the day we all got paid, we have always earned the same salary.
John: To this day, you still do?
John: Cool, that’s awesome.
Oli: And yeah, it’s…sometimes it’s hard to remember back then, I mean it was so hard at the beginning but so exciting. You don’t mind working 16 hours a day, every day because you’re building this terrifying little baby. You don’t know if anyone’s going to want.
John: So, what was that shift like? I mean going from being just the co-founders to basically realizing like you’re finding product market fit and realizing this thing is gonna work. And then what was that shift, I guess what I’m interested, what I’m personally interested in these days is how do you go from…because Credo [SP] has kinda reached this point. Where it’s like it’s grown to the point where like I can’t manage it myself, I had a part-time employee that recently parted ways with. And so now I’m doing that job again.
And I hire for that position purposefully but like Credo was at such a point where like I can’t manage it all myself, right. What was it like making that shift from it, being the six of y’all to hiring, and what did that mean for relationships and roles and all of that good stuff?
Oli: We had a part time person initially as well, Sheldy. She…we worked with her in the past. She did like QA and support. And I believe she did it for free back then. She had another gig and she did this on the side for us, because she wanted to be involved. I think we paid her a little bit after a while…oh, we just gave her some stock. So that lasted maybe six months or so and that really helped because up to that point, we’re picking up the phone and so she really helped to take some of that burden away from us. And then our first full-time employee was a developer and then after that, a couple people for CS.
And really the people we hired early on, are some of them are like the biggest reason for some of our success I think. They’re still with us. I think our longest standing employee is almost six years and they really have shaped, helped shape the company and that’s what’s really cool. Because you have us, but then we have these senior leaders that have been with us a long time. And to see them continue kind of our vision for what the company should be is pretty incredible.
And we wouldn’t… Our success wouldn’t be what it is without some of the good decisions we made early on in our hiring. It’s interesting though thinking of like some of the hardest parts of the journey. The absolute hardest for me and I’ve only talked about this, I’ve talked of it twice. Once was on a podcast that was not released. So this is probably a first.
John: All right. That’s going to be my tagline for this episode by the way.
Oli: There was a point at the beginning, still the six of us, where we’ve raised very little money. At the beginning, it was friends and family. We raised like 50K total I think back then. We were under a million Canadian or the entirety of our fundraising.
Oli: But we got to the point where you know we were a couple months in, we couldn’t maintain the salaries, even though it was only the three of us getting a tiny amount of money. So the decision…I remember Rick, our CEO, we went for a beer. And it got to the point where, okay, we can’t afford this, you’re gonna have to fall on your sword. Well, someone’s gonna have to fall on their sword and go and get work elsewhere and actually not be part of the company for now, for an unknown period of time.
And it was determined that marketing was the thing that could be sacrificed because the product couldn’t stop being built. There’s some logic to that, it’s also who are you gonna sell this thing too if you’re not doing marketing.
John: Right, right. Chicken and egg.
Oli: Yeah. And that was heartbreaking, that was just soul destroying to think that might happen. And I accepted it and we told the team this is what we’re gonna do, and then I went home. And then I just…I was just like burn…I was just like, what I’m I gonna do? I can’t do this.
John: Had a few more beers and yeah.
Oli: Yeah. This is bullshit, we can’t go down this road. So, I’d have to talk to Rick to get more detail because I blank…I had blocked this from my memory for years. Like something reminded me. I was in Montreal hanging out with my friend Dan, runs our content, and the story came out organically. And it’s the first time I’d remembered it, that was two years ago. Because it was that kind of traumatic at the time. So I figured something out which I do not remember, some different math or different way of doing something that meant this didn’t have to happen.
Just some revelation. I came in and explained and was like, “Yeah you’re totally right. Okay, great we don’t have to do this.” So that was a massive relief because I don’t know what, I don’t know what I would’ve done, where we would be if that happened because our marketing was so fundamental to our success.
John: Yeah. Wow, so that sounds like, I mean, it’s kind of founder drama. But it’s also like you guys knew each other so well that you could have this conversation. And just be open about it and be like, “Hey, this is just the reality of what we have going on now. Right, this is what I think we need to do.” But you still had a voice in it. It wasn’t like the other five founders all got together and were like, “All right, Oli, you gotta go.” I still want to call you Ollie. Like “All right, Oli, you gotta go.” right. But you’re like, “This is what we think we need to do but like let’s keep talking about it.”
Oli: I think I was helped a little bit in that because it had just been Rick and I. And Carter who’s our Chief Product Officer, he actually said, “Are you kidding me, what are you thinking? Why are you okay with this?” Which kind of helped me go, “Okay…”
John: There were two of you?
Oli: Yeah, exactly. Like, “We can’t do this.” Because I was willing in the moment like, “Okay, I have to do this.” But I hadn’t thought it through enough. And I needed someone else to say, “Whoa” you know and to be on my side. Because it was nothing about me, it was just happened to be that marketing was the thing that could be put on hold but, yeah, but it couldn’t be. There’s no way.
John: Totally, yeah. You knew that it couldn’t be and you’re like, “Well, I guess this thing’s gonna go belly up right? And so like I gotta figure out something else.” And that’s the value of…I think this is something that I didn’t know that we’d get into in this chat. But the value of having a community around, like whether it’s your co-founders or like for me it’s a solo entrepreneur, I have mentors I can reach out too. Like people that have sold companies, people that are running companies. I have a coach.
I have fellow entrepreneurs that I’m working that you know are at the same phase as me like…and I’ve recently been going through some things and I have just pinged like 10 different people that I trust that have very different perspectives on it. And I’m like, “Point this out. Point out to me like where I’m wrong here.”
Oli: That’s really smart. We had some excellent advisors right from the start. Interestingly, we had five. We created an advisory panel board. And four of them put in a tiny amount of money as an investment, like 5K. One of them didn’t. Which was Rand Fishkin and not to discredit anyone else but he didn’t put any money in. But he has invested infinitely more time and guidance for us than anyone else even though they put in a little bit of money. So he’s been incredible for us, as was Moz because they’re kind of our big brother. They’re two hours south. They’re a couple years ahead of me in their trajectory but similar models. You just had Rand on, right?
John: He’s going to be on, yes. So he’ll be on a couple of weeks after I publish this one, yeah.
Oli: That should be an interesting conversation if you’re gonna get into the topic of him leaving Moz.
John: I’m sure that we will, we’ll chat about it now for sure. It’s gonna be, that will be interesting. We’re gonna talk about like segways as well into what I want to talk about next with.With Rand, what we’re gonna talk about is growing Moz through, like some of the things he’s done to grow Moz, to this point, that they’ve done. I mean, I say he’s done like he’s done so much. He does so much for so many people, he’s done so much for Credo as well. Without him, Credo might not be around.
You know just because of his support and support of Moz but we’re gonna talk about like growing Moz, especially through conferences. Because that’s been a big part of him out there speaking, will be which you know I’d love to learn about. But we’re still gonna get into the kind of like the stages, that Moz has gone through.
So I guess I’m interested with, bringing it back to Unbounce, what are some of the things that y’all have done, stuff that’s worked but also like what are some of the harder learned lessons?
I remember just real quick one of the first time I ever like heard your name and heard Unbounce’s name was when you published that like massive infographic with font size like 10 on Moz. And I remember looking at that, just being like, how could someone produce something like this? Like this is incredible. It’s like you basically taught people to portrait optimization in an infographic. And it was huge but yeah, take it away.
Oli: Yeah, that was the Noob Guide to Online Marketing. And it was basically a self-referential journey, zero to hero, whatever, of me becoming a marketer because I had never done it before. So the day we start the company, I will do marketing. I wrote that as I was learning all of this full stack marketing kind of approach and everything that I needed to know. Which it took a lot of time, I mean, yeah it was like…that info graphic was 15 million pixels, there was a 15,000-word post that went with it.
Because I’d done a post on Moz before because it’s such a great model because you put on Moz, and it’s anyone can do it. And if it’s good enough, it goes to the main blog and it blows up. And so I did the first one. Rand asked me to do a second, and I said, “Oh it’s gonna be epic.” Because I like to verbalize pressure for myself so that I’ll have to live up to it. And then did that, and it broke every…smashed every record on the Moz blog for years. And he was like, when I showed it to him, he was like, “Why? Why are you giving this to us? Why aren’t you keeping it on your own blog?” “Well, because our blog is tiny right now? And 10 people will see it.”
John: Right. No one is gonna see it, yeah.
Oli: Yeah. It took a bit of courage to do that, and a lot of belief that I could actually make something like that because it was part time for several months creating that. And that’s…a lot of people I think…and hopefully, that can inspire people to try things like that. Because sometimes I guess you’d be afraid, like, “How can I get permission to spend that long on something?” Obviously, I made that decision for myself being a co-founder all over but still pressure to make sure I was doing other things. There were two main things that really gave us our start.
There was that on the marketing side and then it’s how we chose some of our product direction. You know, more specifically, how we chose which other tools we would integrate with. And we chose MailChimp as our first one, which is very well aligned from a cultural perspective also the size of the company, and marketing it needs landing pages, email needed landing pages to go to. And yeah, and the way we did that was we took a wall and we put stickies of every single marketing tech company. Not one…I mean if you look at Scott Brinker’s diagram…
John: The Martech, yeah.
Oli: All of those.
John: But back in the day, it was significantly less crowded in the world?
Oli: Yeah, definitely. I think we did put 200 stickies on there, of platforms that we could integrate with, and then we gauge them using compete.dot com and Alexa, traffic was all we could go on. How bigger or smaller are they than us. So they’re 200 times us, they’re 10 times. They’re 0.5 times. So then we could look at it and go, “Okay, we don’t wanna go for the massive ones because they’re not gonna do anything with us. They don’t care. We’re gonna go for the ones who are still in rapid growth, have a cultural belief, core values and stuff that are similar to ours and we’ll go with those.” That’s kind of how we made the decisions and it worked brilliantly.
John: Interesting. So, you kind of thought of them as another set of customers? I mean especially in the in the B2B space, like higher value sort of accounts. If you’re actually dealing with them, you’re talking with them, customer success is talking with them and all that, then you don’t wanna to deal with people that are just like complete jerks, right? So it sounds like you actually work with the people that like you might actually want…you actually wanna hang out with, right? They’re not just gonna like pull the rug out from underneath you because of whatever reason?
Oli: Yeah, very much. And you see the truth in that as you go through doing co-marketing activities. Some companies whether it’s just how they’re structured, they won’t end up really pulling their weight. Whether it’s because they’re big and they don’t care, or whether it’s because people are hamstrung in the organization to not really do, like hit up their list or do this or that. But you quickly find partners who are willing to do the same stuff as you. That are willing to do cool marketing, they’ll put a funny video together or something as part of their thing. Like beyond lead sharing or things like that.
But they’ll share in creating something that’s excellent. And then you build like permanent relationships with those companies, which is wonderful. I think that’s the biggest joy I get from being a speaker are the relationships that I get to build with other speakers and the companies they come from.
John: Totally. Yeah. I think that’s one of the reasons I wanna talk with Rand about conferences as well but since your role now is, I mean, you’re basically like the evangelist, right. Your job now is to be out there speaking. And I think a lot of people undervalue those friendships and all that. When I look at the people that have been most, just my biggest supporters in my business, it’s almost all of them I met at conferences. There are a couple exceptions like I met Mike King just in Brooklyn because we moved there at the same time.
But like I literally met Tom Critchlow at a conference. I met you at a conference, I met Rand at a conference, I met Rob Bucci at a conference. Like just all these amazing people, I met them all at conferences.
Oli: Yeah. It’s completely changed my life, becoming a speaker. Like me now to me two and a half years ago, the jump is incredible. Just personally for how I feel I am as a person, my confidence, what I think I can do, how excited I am for the future. All are completely different because I’ve been doing that. And yeah, I have said these many times, you get to a certain age…unless, I’m an introvert, quite a big…I mean I’m ambivert. I’m in the middle. Certain places, on stage, I’m an extrovert. But in life, I’m typically an introvert. So when you’re an introvert in your 40s, you don’t meet that many new people.
You don’t make that many new friends but when you’re on the road with these other speakers who have a lot in common with you, and you go to speaker dinners and you hang out and you watch each other talk. Those relationships develop into something meaningful really quickly. And it’s amazing because they’re all amazing people.
John: Right. Totally.
Oli: Any advice I could give to a fan, it would be like, “You gotta get out there speaking ideally sooner than…” I waited four and a half…five years. I mean, I wasn’t ready before that. So, I can’t really say I should have done it earlier because I just wasn’t there.
John: That’s really interesting because you’ve, and this is something I wanted to talk about as well because you started off heading at marketing and I think you had another role as well and now you’re in this kind of evangelist role. So still a co-founder but you’ve kind of gone where like the company has needed to go, but it also sounds like you kind of gone where you personally like needed to go. Let’s get behind the scenes a little bit because I bet there were some like tough conversations that happened or that where you’re like, “I’m not happy just leading like marketing anymore.
Or we have this phenomenal person that could take over, right, and I wanna to do this other thing.” How did that work internally making those shifts? I guess for you personally and also like for the company broader?
Oli: Yeah it was fairly, I think maybe one of our…I’m going to make up the number, eighth higher or something, was Gia Lawdy [SP]. And brought her on to run marketing and she did an amazing job and that allowed me to step aside. So, I became creative director which is what I had done in a couple of roles prior to Unbounce. I’ve done many roles, from developer like hardcore back-end developer through front-end and design, interaction design usability. I have done kind of the full spectrum.
So, then I moved back to run the creative team. And let her build the marketing team because she’s better at that than I was. And yeah, so then after a while, I don’t like managing people. It doesn’t work with my personality. I’m good at aspects of it but I’m not good at being hard on people or I’m not good at managing my time to the point where I have enough time to deal with them properly.
John: Yeah, you’re a doer.
Oli: Yeah. Being an individual contributor which I’d never heard of the term before again, Rand was talking about it. And it suits me so well, and until you feel that and now I see other people in the company doing that. And I see how their shoulders relax and they feel comfortable doing something more specific to who they are and that’s a wonderful thing. And I didn’t know that was gonna happen, right. I went to become a speaker and then all of sudden, this is blowing up. I’m getting top rated, my first ever gig and then it just, I’m very competitive so I just push myself to try and be excellent at it. And I thought I’ll do this for a year. Why would I want to do it longer than that?
John: That’s gonna be exhausting, yeah.
Oli: I just thought for some reason totally irrational but I’d do it, I’d have done it and I do something else. But I absolutely love it, and as long as I have a new idea to talk about, I’ll continue to do it. Yeah.
John: I think that’s one of the coolest things about like watching you, kind of go through like over the last six years knowing each other and like seeing kind of your progression, and like I think you moved to Montreal for a little bit and then you moved back to Vancouver. And you’ve been through these different roles, and you’re constantly like doing new things. But, also at the same company, which you’re a co-founder of, right? Which is cool because most people will be like, “I’m tired of this now, I’m gonna move on to a new job.”
It’s been different as a founder because this is your baby. This is like, at least for this period of time, this is like your life’s work. Not to say you won’t have another company or whatever, but like it’s kind of your life’s work. And you can’t really, it’s hard to walk away from that.
Oli: Yeah. I’m in it to win for sure.
John: Yeah. Goes back to that competition thing, right?
Oli: Yeah. And I do feel very fortunate that I’ve been able to do that. I think I felt that several times in my career where I’ve been at companies. Like four of the founders worked at a gambling company called Bodog in Vancouver. It was an amazing company, it grew from like…I was employee 125, in like two years it’s 1200.
Oli: Got crazy near the end but at the beginning, we had such a strict and amazing hiring process which we learned from. It was just an incredible, incredible team. And so many startups and great companies have come out of the team that was there in Vancouver.
Oli: Yeah. In that role, I was afforded the freedom to kind of do that, mainly because I asked or told people I wanted different. Because in tech and marketing, people usually last 18 months to two years, and then they move on. Especially the beginning of your career. So I was kind of like microcosm of the job, I had six roles in that company. One of which, Rick was my boss at the time, he was creative director and I was an interaction designer. And his boss posted a job posting for a usability expert. I saw it and I was really interested in it and I was like, “No, no, no, this is not happening.”
I literally sprinted through the office, barged into his room in the middle of a meeting. And he’s like, “What do you want?” Like, “We need to talk.” And he’s like, “Okay.” They were wrapping up, so he’s like, “All right guys leave.” So I close the door and he’s like, “What is it?”, I said, “That job posting.” “Yeah”, “Take it down, that’s mine.” And he said, “Okay, all right, you got two minutes. Tell me why?” So, I sold him on these things. He’s like, “All right, job is yours.” So then I had to go back to Rick and say, “Hey, by the way, I don’t work for you anymore.” Or at least I’m not doing that job anymore. You know sometimes you have to just…
John: You need to hire an interaction designer.
Oli: Yeah. So sometimes you just have to do those things. And as I was doing that, I’d play video highlights of usability tests for our C.E.O. and he got so angry at the one I showed him. And he was just like, “Argh, this is awful.” His sidekick there said, “All right, hire as many people as you want.” Like after five minutes of watching a video because he was so distressed the bad experience people were having. And which was trying to place a bet on the sports book. Which is obviously money, so he was probably stressed by this and sometimes it’s just those things, asking, telling people, “I’m gonna do this.” Showing people what’s wrong.
John: Then it was ballsy to take that video to like the CEO and see sweed [SP] and say like, “Our system is broken, you’re literally not making as much money as you could.” Most people would kind of try to…I’m sure your…I don’t like the word political necessarily. But like you didn’t come in to be like, “We’re fucked.” But you’re like, “This is what’s going on, like this is what the research says.” And gave it to him straight up.
Oli: Yeah totally. And I think that’s what made me think, “Okay, conversion optimization.” I get that, I’ve been doing it already. It just wasn’t called that, so I’m gonna bring that into the marketing concepts at Unbounce. And I guess I’ve always been…it’s funny, we put on international CRO day two years ago.
John: I remember that.
Oli: An all day event. last year it was just CRO day, and it was a smaller thing. And I was really disappointed because the first time, it was so much work but it was an amazing experience. Next year, a bit lackluster, but more focused but it just didn’t feel impressive. And that’s an ego thing, the hashtag wasn’t blowing up like it did the time before. These little vanity metrics, but they’re sometimes important because I wasn’t inspired by what had happened. So Nadia who ran it took that on board and this year, it’s a full week. We’re gonna do CRO week and it’s not been announced yet but…
John: When is that gonna be?
Oli: I think it’s in November…hang on, we have the domain not launched yet. Yeah, GoDaddy. But then we made the decision to throw away CRO because none of us really like it anymore. We don’t like the R, everyone…all of the optimizers now, its conversion optimization. It’s not conversion rate optimization. And also CRO is Croatia. So we don’t need that anymore. It’s just gonna be marketing optimization week I think. Because I love optimization but it’s more than conversion rate, it’s everything. It’s everything in your marketing, it’s everything in life, I love MacGyvering.
That’s like taking whatever you have in the room to solve a problem. Living your life thinking like an optimizer I think is the fastest way for someone to become a better marketer and a better business person. Whether it’s things in the real world that you see are broken or in your marketing, whatever it is.
John: There’s no excuse to say like, “I wish I had this.” Like if you wish you had it, go make it happen. When I first moved into this house, we moved in this house, I got my own office, I was like, I didn’t have room for a whiteboard before. And I was like, “The first thing I’m doing is I’m buying a whiteboard. I’m putting it up because that’s how I think.” Yeah, I’ll diagram it out in Lucidchart or something like that, but then I’m like no, the way I actually do it is like I go write it on the board. It might stay there for a week or two weeks and I’ll take a photo and lose it in my phone, do something else up there.
But like that’s how I think, so the people are like, “It would be great if I had a whiteboard.” It’s like, you have a credit card. You have Amazon. They cost $19 on Amazon like go get them.
Oli: I’m exactly the same, I’m a white board nerd. All my talks are designed in a giant white board. Everything I do I need a white board, I totally understand what you’re talking about. And I have white boards everywhere. I have one in my new photo studio I built in our basement, where also my office. And the way I designed it, you may have seen on Facebook, I designed it…I wanted to do it in the sun. We have a deck out back and I wanted to be able to work outside. So I said to Nicole, “What do you think about if I build this thing on the side of the deck?” And she said, “That looks hideous. That will ruin the deck.”
I was like, “Okay, well how can I construct something that can be taken down?” So, basically, I constructed a stand that can be bolted on but can be taken off, so all you see are two screws. That’s the only thing you see. I put it on and then and I have these hooks. And I mount the white board on it, and I love it, just MacGyvering. It’s just like how can I make this thing, it’s awesome. So now, I can get outside this. Another whiteboard in Nicole’s office is my old one and I have a mini one I take in my bag when I travel.
John: No way, wow.
Oli: I love white boards.
John: I love it, I love it. That’s awesome. I mean that’s just the concept like moving on forward, like, “Hey, I want this.” You know build it. She’s like, “That looks awful.” You’re like, “Okay, I can make it better now.” Right? But like you initially shipped it and you could realize like I actually do want this up here. I actually am gonna use it and then now how do I make it permanent or like removable or whatever to fit your needs. I think that’s what building a company is about too, like you’ve done in your career, move from step to step to step and you know, no step is the final end.
I think that’s one of the most important takeaways of this conversation is, there’s no like final in there. People get so hung up on like, “But what if like, what if I don’t like it? Or what if it’s the wrong button color?” When I first start it’s like, and I hate it when people talk about testing but, I know you do too. I’m sure we could talk another 30 minutes on that. But people are so afraid of doing it wrong from the start and it’s completely not about that. Careers aren’t about that, life isn’t about that, businesses aren’t about that. Right? Like Ship something, you can always change it. There are very, very few things in life you cannot change. And I think you are evidence of that and Unbounce is evidence of that.
Oli: Yeah, and that’s the discovery process. I mean I could have just done it and she would have been very disappointed and I would have had to take it down. But just like one question, I drew a sketch on a whiteboard of a whiteboard stand that I was going to build on this thing. And I said, “What do you think?” “Ugly as hell.” One question was all it took to make me think, “Okay, now I have to go design something.”
John: What if I did this?
Oli: Yeah. And then I brought it back and I said, “What if it’s like that, and this is all you see?” She was like, “Totally.”
John: Acceptable, that’s awesome. I love it.
Oli: So all it took.
John: I love it. Well, Oli, thank you so much for this conversation. I know I’ve learned a ton, I’m sure it’s gonna be super valuable. Where can people find you, find you online? And where are you speaking this fall? This will probably be published end of October or so.
Oli: Twitter is the fastest way to reach me, Oli Gardner on Twitter. And you can e-mail me, firstname.lastname@example.org. But yeah, Twitter is usually where I respond the most quickly because I have that guilt of not letting…my inbox is terrible. But on Twitter, I don’t like seeing an unresponded.
John: Yeah, notifications zero.
Oli: So where am I speaking next? I’m off to Europe a couple of times. Dublin on the 2nd of November. I got a little bit of break now which is nice, because half my time I spend it advising the marketing team which is nice, I can settle into that. And as a speaker coach which is like one of new things. I want Unbounce to be the first company people go to when they’re trying to get a speaker of any kind.
John: Nice, love it
Oli: Yeah, then Prague, Bucharest, Ottawa, and SF.
John: Okay. Fantastic. Well, I will also get that list from you and you know put links if people wanna come and join you there. Yeah. Thank you so much for your time. I really appreciate it and best of luck with the speaking gigs and Unbounce and hopefully I’ll see you at one of those soon enough.
Oli: Definitely. Thanks for having me on, it was a pleasure and best of luck with Credo as well.
John: Thank you, appreciate it, speak to you soon.