Tough Decisions And Drones Wearing Fedoras

In this episode, Josh, Starr and Ben talk candidly about some tough decisions they've had to make during Covid-19. They also talk about things Honeybadger is doing to help its customers, testing Zoom alternatives, the new world of dating, and why they're optimistic for the future.

Show Notes:
Links:

Tuple

Full Transcript:
Josh:
I see we've got doom and gloom on the agenda today.

Starr:
Oh yeah. I put doom and gloom on the agenda.

Ben:
It's a good thing you had that reminder that there is doom and gloom, because otherwise we'd forget.

Starr:
I mean, we do tend to be a little bit flip. Or, by we, I mean me. So, you know-

Josh:
It's just my way, the jokes are my way of coping with the world.

Starr:
Yeah. Yeah. It's ... We're joking through the tears now. So in the past couple of episodes of FounderQuest, trademark, we kind of just were dealing with the fallout of having to be home, in quarantine, and all of that. Just sort of talking about how it's affected our work lives and stuff. We really hadn't, at that point, stopped to figure out exactly, okay, what does this mean in terms of our business? Because there is obviously an economic downturn in progress, and we don't really know how that's going to pan out. So yeah, that's what this podcast is going to be about. Since then, we sort of went into this seclusion, we had our first ever remote conclave. We'll talk a little bit about that, and the process we used for that, which actually turned out to be kind of awesome. Yeah. So we're still here, though, right? We're still shipping errors to people.

Josh:
We are.

Ben:
Yeah, we're still ...

Josh:
Yeah, well-

Ben:
Still catching errors.

Josh:
We missed a podcast last week for the first time in a while, I think.

Ben:
Yeah, I think the doom and gloom were hitting us, it was getting real.

Josh:
Yeah, it was hitting us last week. I don't know about you, you all, but I was just kind of too bummed out to really record.

Ben:
Yeah, I was kind of in the same boat. Since we had been talking about Covid the past couple of weeks, I was like, "You know what? I just don't want to record another podcast about Covid."

Josh:
Can we record another ... Yeah. Yeah.

Starr:
Yeah, I think everybody is kind of sick of it at this point. I know I am. I was ... Last night, I was sitting on the couch with my partner, and we were chatting. I was just like, I've got to think about something to talk about other than the state of the world, other than ... Like our kid, who we're with constantly now, because she's home from daycare. It was ... Food, like cooking was, I think, our savior then. We both like to cook, we've been actually eating very well, because who knows how long that's going to last, right? So you might as well enjoy life while you've got it.

Josh:
When you got all of this time on your hands.

Starr:
Yeah. Yeah. It's ...

Josh:
That's all you have to do.

Starr:
Yeah. It's weird. It's like there is certain tasks you can do with a kid. You can cook dinner with a kid, you know, underfoot. But you can't really record a podcast with a kid underfoot. You can't really write with a kid underfoot. I don't know. By underfoot, I mean climbing on top, and hitting you with the broom, and doing all that fun stuff that kids do.

Josh:
Yeah. You did, you recorded a ... Well, not recorded, but you all did a ... DIdn't you do a Zoom session with your daycare a few weeks back, or something like that?

Starr:
Oh my gosh, yes. We did.

Josh:
All the kids.

Starr:
It was cute. But let me tell you, I had a flipping panic attack doing IT support for that call. Because I had it all set up, the computer was hooked up to the TV, so that all the little kids would be big, so that it would be ... I don't know, I just though it would be nicer. I was like, "Okay, well, I'm just going to move this laptop up here," and in doing so, I jostled the HDMI cable, which caused the connection to the TV to go down. Then that, for some reason, that caused my computer to completely freeze up for like five minutes.

Josh:
Naturally.

Starr:
Yeah. Until it just magically popped back up like nothing had happened.

Josh:
Oh, did it come back, was everyone still there?

Starr:
No, they were gone.

Josh:
Oh, okay.

Starr:
Like, I don't know if it rebooted, I don't know if it just-

Josh:
Yeah, it dropped, and then, yeah, it just came back.

Starr:
I don't know if the screen just shut off. But I was trying to force power it down and everything. But it's just like, "Nope, sorry. We're on break."

Ben:
Speaking of Zoom, I guess we could mention that we've been playing with alternatives this week, right? We use Zoom with our podcast, but we decided this week, with all of the security craziness around Zoom, we decided, "Let's try some other stuff that's out there." We tried Hangouts, and we tried Jitsi, and they're just not as good as Zoom, unfortunately.

Starr:
Yeah.

Josh:
So, I mean, Zoom got one thing, at least, right, which might be the cause of their security concerns. But it's very easy to use. It works well. So there is very low friction. But apparently, there is also very low friction for randos to join your call, and yell at you.

Starr:
Well, the video conferencing just works better. I'm sorry, but it's like, that's ... It seems like all the web based ones all have a similar ... I don't know, they all have a bit more glitchy-ness in terms of video and it's just kind of annoying.

Ben:
Yeah, that to me is it. Zoom is just, the video is better, period.

Starr:
And I wonder if that's because they're all... The web ones, I assume all use web RTC and that's probably just running Chrome's web RTC, I don't know, stuff under the hood. I can't believe even-

Josh:
Well, Ben set up a self hosted one that used web RTC.

Ben:
Yeah, I did see.

Josh:
And had pretty similar results.

Starr:
Yeah.

Ben:
Yeah, I found this awesome Terraform recipe for deploying a Jitsi instance, and it was great.

Josh:
That's cool.

Ben:
It was pretty awesome. But yeah, just the video quality just wasn't there. But hey, if we ever decide to do huge meet the Honey Badgers kind of thing with our customers, then that would be a good way to go, right?

Josh:
Yeah, that would.

Starr:
Oh totally. That'd be a great way to go. 

Starr:
Okay. So yeah, taking us back to last... I wish I had one of those harp sound effects for flashbacks.

Josh:
Yeah, we could throw that in.

Starr:
Yeah. So taking us back to last Friday, we did have a call that was... Normally we would be recording the podcast at 10:00 but instead we did a call because I had been looking at some numbers in preparation for our conclave and given the economic situation, I was feeling nervous about those numbers. And I think Ben had also been looking at numbers around that. And so we decided to have a serious business meeting instead of doing the podcast.

Starr:
And as a result of that, that was one of the shittiest days of my business career, guys, because we had to decide to postpone our new hire who we'd actually already made an offer to, had accepted, it was a done deal. And we had to walk back on that and postpone in as nice of a way possible, in a way that doesn't... We try not to leave them out to dry or anything, but we just couldn't go through with a hire. And so yeah, that really sucked.

Josh:
She was going to be starting, what, the end of this month?

Starr:
Yeah, I think so.

Josh:
It was going to be a little later, but we moved it up. We had moved it up due to the whole situation. Yeah, it sucked.

Ben:
Yeah. That was absolutely brutal. Brutal. Top negative thing I think that has happened since starting Honeybadger. Yeah, that was rough.

Josh:
Yeah. Ben had to be the one to break the news. Ben, you've pretty much driven the process, the hiring process. So yeah, Ben had to pull in on that one.

Ben:
Starr was gracious enough to offer to do that and take that one for me. But yeah, I had been the one that had done most interaction with all the candidates, so it seemed like it was more reasonable for me to do that. But like Star, you mentioned, we were looking at finances, we were getting ready to start our conclave on the following Monday and so we were getting ready for that. And so we decided to have that emergency meeting on Friday instead of doing our podcast. And talking through that, walking through that was just brutal as we looked at our finances.

Ben:
We're at this point, back to where we were in January. We've had enough cancellations or churn or whatever, what have you, people not signing up, all of the above, that now our revenue numbers are back where they were at January. And we do play the numbers pretty conservatively when it comes to money. We don't try to spend ahead of revenue and we had the budget for that hire, and now we don't, and that's just heartbreaking.

Starr:
Yeah, the budget can just go away like that, I guess. Sometimes things don't continue on like you expect them to. So we had to make that decision. Ultimately it was the right call because we had to protect our current employees and everything and I don't know, had we gone through with the hire, we would have been in a situation where down the road, even though we had savings and everything, we would have put ourselves in a situation where we would have probably not been able to keep her on after a while, and that seemed like even worse than just... It seemed like the kindest thing in the circumstances was just to take the hit now and just try and deal with it now.

Josh:
Yeah. I mean, I think we're very conservative when it comes to this stuff, so yeah, I think we also want to make sure that we are taking care of our other employees too. We want to make sure that the people that we can employ, that we can employ them well and that they don't have to worry. Everyone's got a worry, but we'd like to reduce that worry or minimize that worry as much as we can.

Ben:
Yeah, I totally feel a responsibility. We have five employees and their families. It's not just us. There's a crowd of us now that we have to take care of.

Josh:
Yeah. So it was a real bummer. I had gotten into my head. I'd already made the, her coming on and being a part of the team, part of the way I was looking at the company. So it was already like losing one of our team members a little bit.

Starr:
Yeah, and she was so awesome too. That's a extra shitty thing. It wasn't just like we had found somebody who was adequate. I was really excited about working with her but...

Josh:
Yep. Well, I don't know, I think, like I was telling Ben, I think I'd been in a little bit of denial that this whole situation was going to affect us, at least affect us strongly. And it feels like over the last week or so, I've been kind of, you know the five stages of grief or whatever? I feel like I'm in the denial. I was in the denial phase and I don't know if I'm moving to anger or what. I guess we'll see. But yeah, it's a lot to happen in such a short period of time. Well, like 30 days or a little over 30 days that we've been dealing with this and we go from moving into an outlook of hiring a new person, we had some pretty cool events lined up and things for this year, and then to go to like conferences basically don't exist anymore and everyone's going out of business, yeah, it's a pretty...

Starr:
I feel like we should clarify that we're very much not going out of business.

Josh:
No.

Starr:
When we're talking about-

Josh:
Yeah, so...

Starr:
When we're talking about things affecting us, at this point we're talking about a decrease in new signups. Like they're still happening, they're just happening at a decreased rate, and also we don't have a ton of data. We don't know. This has been going on for a couple weeks, so we don't really know how it's going to pan out in terms of that. 

Josh:
It's like, all things considered, I think we're doing pretty well. I know people who are taking much harder of a hit than we are and it really sucks, and I hope we don't continue to see decline in growth like we are, but I think everyone's experiencing this to some extent by now. Like I can't image, unless you're maybe Zoom or Slack or Tuple, shout out, but unless you're just really lucky to be in one of those industries that are seeing a boom just from people from working from home, I cannot imagine you're not seeing a hit to your numbers at this point.

Josh:
I think we're probably in the same boat as everyone and all things considered, we're in a pretty good business. Our actual business is a pretty good business to be in right now, I think, because we're kind of one of the last things that people would cut. Like you don't cut your error tracking unless it's pretty dire.

Starr:
Yeah, we were talking about all the different ways we could capitalize on this grand human tragedy, right? Because right now, you really don't want churn. And what causes churn? Errors. There you go. So, I think we're just-

Josh:
Being the cutthroat capitalists that we are.

Starr:
I just think we should set email to blast and just go balls to the walls with it, right?

Ben:
Sadly, as we've learned, the other thing that causes churn is the whole cratering of the economy, so...

Josh:
Yeah.

Starr:
But mostly errors.

Ben:
Mostly errors.

Starr:
Mostly errors.

Ben:
If you had a lot of errors then the economy could crater even worse, so you don't want to have errors.

Starr:
That's true.

Josh:
Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Starr:
Right. But we have been affected by COVID in other ways, not just our revenue and not just the state of our minds, but also in how we do conclaves, so we talked about that before and how we get together, we meet at our secret vault, literally a bank vault in Olympia, Washington, and we chat.

Josh:
Not a good idea under the current circumstances.

Starr:
No, we don't.

Josh:
A vault is the last place that we all want to be together.

Starr:
Yeah, yeah, we are already worried about the limited air supply, now that's just too much of a risk, right?

Josh:
Yeah. Unless we have like some heavy duty filters in there.

Starr:
Yeah, yeah. So in order to be wise and take heed our fine governor's admonition to stay home, we have decided to not do our conclave in person this quarter and instead try an online version, and we did that this past week, so every day, Monday through Thursday, we spent an hour and a half talking about a different aspect of the business, talked about finances and product and marketing and then did our typical quarterly plan, and I think the whole process went really well. I really enjoyed. I mean, it was a bummer not to be able to be in person and hang out with my fine co-founders, but it was quite nice, actually. I liked it.

Josh:
Yeah, I did too.

Starr:
And there's a couple things I liked about it specifically, which are, first of all, an hour and a half a day for four days, like you're approaching each topic sort of with a fresh mind and you've had a chance to sleep on the previous day's discussion, whereas in a normal conclave, we only talk about all this stuff basically towards the end of it. We're all really kind of tired and itching to get out of there, and so it's hard to give the things that you talk about later in the day the same level of attention.

Starr:
And then also just from sort of a, I don't know, logistical point of view, I liked what we did in terms of the way we have Zoom going in one window and in another window we had our sort of conclave document open in Notion, which allows collaborative editing, and I imagine you can do the same thing in Google Docs or whatever, but it essentially allowed us to... It's just kind of like a skeleton of a document. It just has the headings, and then as the meeting progressed, we just kind of filled it in. And it was really nice because as one person was talking, the other person, if they had something they wanted to add to that, you could add it as a little item in the list so then you didn't forget to say it.

Josh:
It felt more efficient.

Starr:
It did, and it's like we kind of have done that in our in-person meetings too, like I have had that document open, but it's just not as... Yeah, like when you're in a conference room talking, it's like you're not really in a good position to, I don't know, it discourages you from sort of looking at your screen and typing when somebody else is talking because you're ignoring them, but with this setup you're actually paying attention to them because they're right there.

Ben:
Yeah, I definitely agree with that. We have better note-taking and a better, I think, capturing of the things we've talked about because we were right there in Notion writing things down as we're talking about them, versus, like you said, it's uncomfortable and kind of awkward to be chatting with someone face-to-face and then look down at your keyboard and start typing whatever you were just talking about. The way that I set up my screen is I had the Zoom window right under my webcam, so I'm kind of looking at you and the camera at the same time, and then I had Notion right under that, so it was all in my same vertical line of view and so it was really easy for me to just look up and down quickly and I don't have to feel like I'm ignoring you when I'm typing something.

Starr:
That's a good idea. So once this crisis ends and we can go back to meeting in-person, I just want to suggest one way we could maybe keep some of that is that, so, we get a really big mirror, and we put it on the wall, and then we all sit on the same side of the conference table facing the mirror, and then that way yeah, that way we can look at each other and be typing at the same time.

Ben:
Or we could just not get together and just keep doing it on Zoom.

Josh:
We could do it, yeah.

Starr:
That's music to my introvert heart there.

Josh:
That's the real plan.

Starr:
To my introvert ears.

Ben:
We may like each other, but we don't really have to-

Starr:
We don't really like each other. I mean, not in-person like.

Josh:
In-person like, is that a new-

Ben:
It's a new level of relationship, right?

Josh:
It's the new like-like-

Ben:
Exactly.

Josh:
... it's in-person. I don't in-person like you, I just remote like you.

Ben:
I Zoom like you, but I don't really in-person like you, yeah.

Starr:
Yeah, are you willing to be exposed to somebody's droplets? No.

Josh:
Yeah.

Starr:
Nobody.

Ben:
I saw a tweet the other day, it was some woman, she said, "You know guys, now you have to learn how to court again because you can't just come up to me and say whatever, right? Now you have to actually come up with something to write to me. In fact, I think you need to start getting on that poetry right now."

Josh:
There some story I saw, I don't know, clickbait story I saw in passing recently, where a guy asked a girl out with his drone on the other building. It was a high rise or something, high rise apartments. That's getting pretty... yeah, clever.

Ben:
Pretty clever, yeah.

Starr:
Maybe it's just me, but I think both of those are terrible ideas. They're both of the sort of thing... I don't know, I just feel like you need to wear a fedora hat when you do either of those.

Josh:
No, I mean you could wear the fedora, but she'd never know, or they'd never know. I think what you would probably want to do is put the fedora on your drone.

Starr:
Can I tell you all a funny story? It's kind of related to this.

Josh:
Sure.

Starr:
First of all, I'm sorry, it took a second for that to sink in because there was so much awesomeness it took a while to sink in. But yes, a fedora on a drone-

Josh:
A fedora on a drone, yeah.

Starr:
... that's the best thing. That's the best thing. As long as it's also vaping.

Josh:
Maybe that's our next product.

Starr:
There you go. So when I was in college I did an internship at Los Alamos, and they had all the people in dorm settings, in a dorm setup, right? And this one guy was really interested in this one girl, except the guy was a pretty typical nerdy, I don't know, 19 year old guy, didn't really have the best ideas around getting to know this girl. And so what he did is he bribed her roommate to let her into his room and then he stole her dresser, and then left a trail of clues about how she could find the dresser.

Josh:
This does not sound like it ends well.

Starr:
When she followed the trail of clues and found the dresser and he was waiting there with roses, and she was just livid because it was her dresser. Somebody's stolen her dresser with her clothes in it. So that's about the level of-

Josh:
It's not creepy if you take the entire dresser.

Starr:
There you go. So that's what I'm thinking of when I think of poetry, in terms of...

Josh:
Yeah, that's the next level.

Starr:
He would have written some poetry for her, I think.


Starr:
Yeah, so the conclave went great and, I don't know, I feel like we did a great job of planning, and I guess we should maybe talk about our general approach that we took for dealing with this economic situation; we've got this two stage situation, right? We've got this immediate pandemic, everybody's quarantined scenario, and then after that we've got this longer term economic downturn that's going to be prompted by the fact that as of this recording, 16 million people have filed for unemployment, and by the time you get this it's probably going to be 100 million or something, I don't know.

Starr:
And so we decided basically right now, for the duration of this crisis, one thing that we really need to keep an eye on is churn, right? Because if churn stays the same, we're good. Growth can go down, growth could even go to half of what it is, or quarter of what we've been dealing with, or growth could even go to zero and we'd be fine for a long, long time. Assuming churn stays about what it has been, assuming we don't have huge upticks in cancellations or downgrades, or stuff like that.

Starr:
So that's what we're focusing on, so we're going to be doing a couple of immediate measures, just little things to try and get that down in terms of like, "Okay, we're going to look at our credit card decline, churn, see if we can get that down any way." We're talking about options we can offer people who might have just straight up canceled their account to let them pause their account, or maybe do other things, stuff like that.

Josh:
Yeah. I think the overarching, the thing that we really ... I mean, if you just simplify it all, it just comes back to focus on your customer. So pretty much everything we talked about is just basically, how do we focus on helping our customers? Part of that is, that helps retention because the more we help our customers, hopefully the more that they can like Honeybadger and stick around. One of the other things we talked about was even, for the people that are really struggling, just cutting them a break. It's better for us and them. For us all to take a little hit and keep the customer, versus losing the customer entirely, and then they don't have error tracking and we don't have a customer.

Starr:
Honestly, it just seems like the decent thing to do too. If it's not costing us a ton of money to service those accounts, and companies are legitimately going through a really tough time, but they might emerge at the end of six months, why wouldn't we want to help people out in those circumstances? It's like, it's good business too because hopefully they'll still be a customer and they like us. I don't know, it just seems decent.

Ben:
It's just being a good human. That's how I've always run the business, is trying to be kind to our customers. And we've had customers come to us and say, "My revenue just went to zero. Can you cut me a break?" It's like, oh, yeah, you can totally use a service for free for six months. So that's I think just part of how we operate, like you said.

Starr:
Yeah. One of the more interesting things we talked about had to do with ... in addition to the churn avoidance stuff, we also talked about ways that we can grow revenue in this time. One interesting thing we've talked about was our pricing page and maybe our approach to pricing, and making our free plan more prominent. Because right now we have a free plan, it's just stuck down at the bottom. And it's funny because one of our competitors ... I think maybe Josh or somebody posted in Slack today, oh, yeah, they're offering this special discounted plan-

Starr:
... yeah, for companies impacted by this thing. Ben was like, "Yeah, that's not as nice as our normal free plan."

Josh:
Yeah. That's the real thing, our free plan is better than a lot of the starting in paid tiers of our competitors. So we probably should do a little bit of a better job at promoting that.

Starr:
Yeah. So we'll just put that first and we'll call it the stimulus plan.

Ben:
And then with an asterisk, by the way, this is our normal free plan.

Starr:
It's just a little showbiz. A little showbiz never hurt anybody. That's what marketing's about, right? You got to call out your strengths.

Josh:
Yeah. It is nice to be in a position to help people out first, even if it's like ... We've helped out a few projects that are dealing with Covid response. We've also helped out a few customers who are inundated right now with extra traffic because they happen to be in one of those segments that is just overwhelmed, like a food delivery, for example. So we've been able to work with people to cut them breaks on data rates and stuff. That feels good.

Ben:
And in general, just being kind during this time. We had one customer this week who accidentally sent us eight million error notifications and they're on one of our smaller plans. They're like, holy cow, it's going to cost us thousands of dollars. It's like, no, don't worry about it. It's no big deal. If you found the problem, you fixed it, it's okay. They don't need that stress in their lives right now.

Josh:
Please don't do it.

Ben:
Yeah. Please don't do that.

Josh:
Please don't do it again.

Ben:
It's not an invitation. That's just how we roll at Honeybadger. But one thing I thought of last night, speaking of sleeping on things between conclave days, we talked about our plans yesterday in our final day of the conclave and I was thinking about it last night. And this morning it's like, talking about ... because we were talking about, what can we do to try to increase revenue and come out stronger at the end of this time? Maybe six months from now, four months from now, how are we going to be better positioned? And yesterday was kind of a down day for me. I was just concerned about our revenues and concerned about the economy, concerned about what's going to happen in the next six months.

Josh:
Same here.

Ben:
And the thing that occurred to me was like, you know what? I should just relax a bit because there's really nothing dramatic that we can do. We can't control the situation in any way, right? We can't stop the pain that the greater economy is feeling. We can't prevent a lot of our customers from having that same pain, right? So there's nothing we can ... oh, we're going to have this new marketing initiative that's going to get X new customers or increase revenue by X percent. This is our plan and that's our goal. It's like, yeah, well, that's just not going to work right now. So just relax, take it easy. Don't put such pressure on yourself to come up with solutions for all the world's problems, or even just our problem. Sorry.

Ben:
Yeah.

Josh:
That's sounding like acceptance, Ben.

Ben:
Oh, maybe. Maybe I am coming to a... There's this fear-

Josh:
I'm jumping between acceptance and screaming terror. But-

Ben:
There's this sort of-

Josh:
... it's spiking like the market right now,

Starr:
There's a kind of mindset that I know that I've had in the past and I think it's a very American sort of Hollywood mindset. It's like that movie with the Rock and the earthquakes. What was that?

Josh:
I think I've seen one of those.

Starr:
Do you know what that movie's called? Aftershock? I don't know, it's about an earthquake and its aftershocks.

Josh:
One of those end of the world movies though, right?

Starr:
Yeah. It's one of the ones where San Francisco is just calved off of the United States and falls into the ocean and everything and as the earth is shattering apart, the Rock is jumping onto helicopters and stuff. And it's like, that's not real. When that happens, you're not going to be an action hero. If California goes in the ocean, and you're in California, you're going in the ocean unless you just get really lucky.

Starr:
And so I feel like there's this tendency, it's like, okay there's this recession, there's all this stuff happening. I've got to figure out my escape from it where I'm going to be super clever. And it's like, maybe you will. Maybe you'll escape from it. If you do, I would almost venture to say it's probably more due to luck than anything else because there's a hundred other people as clever as you are trying to do the same thing that came up with just as good of plans who aren't going to get lucky. So I don't know. I think acceptance is an okay thing to have.

Ben:
It's a noble goal.

Starr:
It is. Everybody should be reading Epictetus. I'm just saying all my listeners should. My listeners, because, you know: my podcast.

Ben:
Well, speaking of reading: a couple of episodes ago I mentioned that I had just finished reading Sphere by Michael Crichton. And I was like, maybe that wasn't the best book to read being quarantined and locked into a house kind of thing. I was like, ha ha.

Josh:
Yeah. So what are you reading now?

Ben:
I just finished Andromeda Strain.

Starr:
Oh my gosh.

Ben:
Yeah, also not recommended to read during a quarantine big virus infection.

Starr:
What is going on with you guys?

Josh:
Why are you doing this to yourself, Ben?

Ben:
I had this queue in my library, because they do eBook checkouts and so you just got to read them when they come up. You can't determine when the book arrives and it just so happened those two came up at this time. I was like, "Ugh."

Starr:
It's cause nobody else wanted them. Everyone else was returning them.

Josh:
Yeah. I don't know. I read there's a trend of people reading those right now.

Ben:
Oh yeah?

Josh:
Yeah. I don't know if we talked about that on the podcast or if it was in person somehow or other but, yeah. I don't know. It's a good opportunity to really experience the visceral... It's much more visceral.

Ben:
That's true. On the flip side, I recently read Stillness is the Key. I recommended that to my wife and she started reading it after coronavirus really started getting bad and she said that was a fantastic book to read during the quarantine or isolation time.

Starr:
Oh good.

Ben:
I can recommend that one. I started rereading that. What do you recommend?

Starr:
Maybe we can link to that in the show notes. We can also maybe link to the Epictetus, Discourses and Fragments, which is like, it's got its problems, but it was written 2000 years ago. If you can overlook those, it's a pretty good book about this stuff. So in addition to books I've really been enjoying listening to Chopin. I'm not usually a super classical musicy person, but Chopin is a Polish, I think, pianist who did all these piano pieces that sound like basically they're in the score of every World War II movie. Here's the scene: you're in Paris, the bombs are falling, these historical, beautiful churches are getting blown apart, in slow motion with no sound. And it's just a piano song in the background. That sort of summarizes it.

Starr:
So that's Chopin, that song. And so I've been listening to this, walking around my neighborhood in Seattle as everybody's got their face masks on and it's like nothing's open. The sun's coming down beautifully. Just thinking about the... I don't know, it captures this moment of how sort of beautiful and at the same time completely screwed up everything is. It's really good. I've enjoyed that.

Josh:
I'm totally going to listen to Chopin on my next trip to the grocery store.

Starr:
You should.

Josh:
Although I heard you're not supposed to have your headphones in just in case you bump into someone or something like that. So maybe I'll leave the noise cancellation off and put a little sound in.

Starr:
Well, if you don't have the noise cancellation, how are you going to filter out the germs that get into your ears?

Josh:
Are we to the doom and gloom yet?

Starr:
Oh, I thought that was the whole thing.

Josh:
Or is that what we've been doing?

Starr:
I don't know. We could...

Ben:
Oh, I thought we'd done the whole arc. We started the doom and gloom we went down into the trough of misery and now we're up at the final resolution where everyone is happy. It's Act Three, everything is wrapped up and it's a happily ever after.

Josh:
Are you happy, Ben?

Ben:
I'm so happy.

Josh:
As a single little tear...

Starr:
A single tear rolls down.

Ben:
As the film goes to black and white and I look out the window.

Josh:
Yeah. Well, you know, we'll all make it through this. We're all in it together and I think, all things considered, we've still got it pretty good, I think.

Starr:
Oh yeah.

Ben:
Heck yeah.

Starr:
And I'll totally share my 25 pound bag of lentils with you guys, because I don't really like lentils anyway, but I bought it for some reason.

Ben:
Yeah, things hurt. If you think about it, things are fantastic. Out of all the employees and family at Honeybadger, none of us are sick or have gotten sick. We did have one trip to the ER recently, but that was resolved and everyone's healthy and well there. We have plenty of food and water and our houses are nice and comfy. The sun shining outside. The weather's beautiful here in the Northwest.

Starr:
And to be honest, Pacific Northwest, not a bad place to ride this out, because from what I understand, the hospitals in Seattle at least never got to capacity, unlike say, New York or wherever. People, despite some issues, I think people for the most part have been taking it seriously, and I'm really proud of Seattleites and everything for doing it. And people are trying to... yeah, I think...

Josh:
Yeah.

Ben:
Yeah, so I think overall, yes, I am actually very happy. Counting your blessings is amazing. Last night I read something, it's like, just list the 10 things you're thankful for. And so I started listing that, and of course I got past 10 pretty quickly, right? And I just kept going. It's like, yeah, that feels pretty good. So yeah, life is good.

Josh:
Yeah. Yeah, and I think that longterm, if we make it through this with the business, even with the businesses intact, I don't want to say it doesn't get worse than this, but this is pretty heavy to make it through this and come out the other side. Like, this is experience that we're getting right now.

Starr:
It might be a little too early to start talking that way, Josh. I just don't want to-

Josh:
Yeah.

Starr:
I've got a real...

Josh:
I'm not saying... yeah.

Starr:
You know about those old stories about the gods punishing Hubris?

Josh:
Listen, we were born in the great recession, Dar.

Starr:
Okay, then.

Josh:
You made a joke of being forged in the darkness. We were made for this.

Starr:
That's funny. You and I have made the same joke like five times.

Josh:
I know.

Starr:
This week at each other... We're both going insane.

Ben:
So while, I agree. It is a bit premature to say there's a happy ending because yeah, we're still in the thick of it, right? And we will be-

Josh:
I wasn't saying there's a happy ending. I'm just... yeah.

Starr:
But I'm ever the optimist. I'm optimistic there will be a happy ending, and I think that's what you were saying, is like, yes, we will survive. We will get through it, and one of the things I think is-

Josh:
We will hopefully be stronger.

Starr:
Yeah. And I just love frankly, having co-founders. I'm glad I'm not alone. I'm glad I have the two of you to go through this process, to be supportive.

Josh:
Yeah.

Starr:
So thanks. I'm glad.

Josh:
Likewise.

Starr:
I feel the same way. Yeah. I'm optimistic too. I kind of have this... my optimism is often misunderstood, I feel. My optimism doesn't always take the form of like, this is going to be... like everything's going to be okay and work out in the end. My optimism takes the form of like, it may or may not work out. We'll do our best. Even if it doesn't work out, we'll be fine. Sometimes things don't work out. So, I really hope the Honeybadger is going to work out. I'm going to do everything I can to make sure it does. Ultimately, you know, once we've done everything we can, everything that's in our power, that's all we can do, and you know, we'll be good.

Josh:
I'm pretty sure there's been social studies done that you have to be irrationally optimistic in order to even start a business. So yeah, we're there.

Ben:
We're there. Yeah.

Starr:
All right. Yeah. Let's... forced optimism. Let's have institutionalized optimism with Honeybadger.

Ben:
Just put that in a bottle and sell it.

Starr:
Yeah, let's write that in our policy. Can we put that in our policies?

Ben:
Just like, we value optimism.

Starr:
Notify our employees that they are required to be optimistic.

Ben:
You must be optimistic.

Starr:
For eight hours, or however many hours, 30 hours a week they're on the clock.

Ben:
Instead of having a performance improvement plan as part of HR policies, we will have an optimism improvement plan.

Starr:
Ah, well maybe we should sign off. I feel like we're getting to time. We've kind of rambled a bit, and...

Josh:
Yeah, I think this was in the bag.

Starr:
All right. Well, it was great talking with you all, and please go and give us a review if you're bored, because you have nothing to do all day in your apartment. If you want to write for us, you know, for similar reasons, we're still accepting... we're still working with authors, great, great content, Ruby and Elixir, and maybe we might branch out and do some react tutorials, like not as the main, just like as a little test. So if you're like-

Josh:
Maybe some node?

Starr:
Maybe some no, like if you're really top notch at those and you want to write for us, check out our Write For Us page. You can go to our blog and in the top nav, there's a little link that says Write For Us, and that will tell you how to get in touch with me, and what you need to provide. And yeah, so that's it. Everybody stay safe, and talk to you next week.


Copyright 2019 Honeybadger Industries LLC