My guest today is Stewart Butterfield, founder and CEO of Slack. Stewart’s 2014 essay “Why We Don’t Sell Saddles Here” had a massive impact on my own business journey, which made this discussion extra special. During our conversation, we discuss the concept of owner’s delusion, how to frame the boundaries between product and market, and the challenge of changing people’s mental models and behavior when introducing innovative products. I hope you enjoy my conversation with Stewart.
Before we transition to the episode, I also wanted to highlight our newest series Business Breakdowns. Each week, we do a deep dive into an individual business to understand what makes it tick. For more information go to joincolossus.com or search for and sign up to the Business Breakdowns feed on your preferred podcast player.
For the full show notes, transcript, and links to mentioned content, check out the episode page here.
This episode is brought to you by Dell Technologies. When you call a Dell Technologies Advisor, they’re focused on you - ready to give advice on everything from laptops to the cloud to keep your small business ready for what’s next. Call an advisor today at 877 ASK DELL, and do more with modern devices and Windows 10 Pro.
This episode is brought to you by LinkedIn Jobs. With LinkedIn, you get access to an active community of professionals with more than 722 million members worldwide. LinkedIn is the easiest place in the world to post a job and message qualified candidates. Getting started is easier than ever, and now you can do this all from your mobile device.
When your business is ready to make that next hire, find the right person with LinkedIn Jobs. And now, you can post a job for free. Just visit linkedin.com/fieldguide to post a job for free. Terms and conditions apply.
Founder's Field Guide is a property of Colossus, Inc. For more episodes of Founder's Field Guide, visit joincolossus.com/episodes.
Stay up to date on all our podcasts by signing up to Colossus Weekly, our quick dive every Sunday highlighting the top business and investing concepts from our podcasts and the best of what we read that week. Sign up here.
[00:02:51] - [First question] - Discussing his essay We Don’t Sell Saddles Here
[00:06:19] - Important contrast between innovation and the product
[00:06:46] - Who Do You Want Your Customers to Become?
[00:08:07] - His thoughts on marketing from both ends and how he’s gotten better at it
[00:10:45] - What across Slack’s history has been the most successful market messaging creation strategy
[00:13:43] - The 5K contest and how it taught him about the design unlock of limitations
[00:17:44] - How limitations and constraints can power and incentivize innovation
[00:21:21] - Why both of his attempts to build videogames ended up as consumer software
[00:27:55] - Whether or not there is still white space in digital communication software
[00:30:15] - The dynamic between effective communication and building communication tools
[00:34:02] - A future of digital-first companies and what that might look like
[00:40:15] - Leadership and Self-Deception and what self-deception means to him
[00:43:39] - Examples of self-deception he underwent that he was able to learn from
[00:46:59] - Mastery and its importance in the world of business
[00:48:59] - Why hippies and APIs may have a tighter correlation than we think
[00:54:01] - Whether or not technology is fundamentally amoral
[00:56:10] - Interesting and open questions about the future that remain unanswered
[00:58:33] - His current creative outlets that he engages with the most
[00:59:24] - Yahoo Resignation Letter and why he wrote it the way he did
[01:00:31] - Lessons for investors and builders that he’s learned from building Slack
[01:03:07] - The kindest thing that anyone has ever done for him
[01:04:27] - Why a philosophy primer would be beneficial for virtually everyone