Protect the Hustle
Protect The Hustle

B-Side: Hardship, cancer, and the operational struggle

On this episode of the B-Sides, Patrick Campbell talks to the ProfitWell crew about overcoming adversity.

This episode might reference ProfitWell and ProfitWell Recur, which following the acquisition by Paddle is now Paddle Studios. Some information may be out of date.

Please message us at if you have any questions or comments!

Building a company is easy... right?

Building a company takes an extraordinary amount of grit, because you're literally willing something from nothing. On top of all that - life happens, meaning you're going to get plenty of unavoidable roadblocks of all sizes thrown your way. 

If the "struggle is real", then the question becomes - how do you best set yourself up for success when these hardships come your way? That's what we explore on this week's episode of Protect the Hustle.

Topics covered in this episode:

  • There is no perfect formula for building a business
  • Hardships and how to navigate them
  • Examples from the ProfitWell Crew
  • Using operational redundancies
  • Building the right team
  • Getting through hardship by doing what you love

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00:00:00:20 - 00:00:17:08

Ben Hillman

Building a company is easy and fun. Hiring a great team is simple. Your customers never complain. Nothing ever goes wrong. And all you have to do is follow the best practices and you'll be on your way to business. Success.

00:00:18:01 - 00:00:38:11

Patrick Campbell

Hold up. This couldn't be further from the truth. Running a company takes an extraordinary amount of grant. Hiring is probably going to be one of the hardest things that you do in your career. People complain somewhat consistently and things go wrong all the time. You're stuck outside for what looks like presumably 2 hours.

00:00:38:12 - 00:00:43:11

Erin Phinney

What I delivered was not what they were looking for. And this woman, she's spitting on me.

00:00:43:14 - 00:00:45:07

Patrick Campbell

Working 4 hours of sleep like I have.

00:00:45:10 - 00:00:46:02

John Mangini

I broke my heart.

00:00:46:06 - 00:00:48:11

Patrick Campbell

I was in the hospital. I broke my leg.

00:00:48:20 - 00:00:50:06

John Arcanti

I had a cold. I actually.

00:00:51:08 - 00:01:01:23

Patrick Campbell

It's how you deal with these hardships that separates the great operators from the ones that falter. Because when it comes to building a company, some things are an act of will. And that's what we're talking about in today's numbers.

00:01:03:05 - 00:01:23:09

Ben Hillman

From profit. Well, recur. It's Protect the Hustle, a show about those who are in the trenches actually doing the work. On today's show, Patrick Campbell talks about hardship and what you need to do to get through it. And a quick note, if you share this episode on Twitter with the hashtag, protect it. We'll hook you up with some nice profit.

00:01:23:09 - 00:01:26:03

Ben Hillman

Well, swag.

00:01:28:03 - 00:01:56:03

Patrick Campbell

Building a company is incredibly difficult. It's not difficult in the sense of your inventing nuclear fusion, although some companies definitely are inventing nuclear fusion. But it's difficult in the sense that it requires an extraordinary amount of effort, an extraordinary amount of work. Because when you think about what you're doing with a company and it doesn't matter if you're selling coffee or if you're building a tech startup or you're building that nuclear fusion reactor, everything that you're doing is literally wheeling something into existence.

00:01:56:08 - 00:02:26:09

Patrick Campbell

You were going from a state of literally nothing for the state of something, and that something has so much inertia holding it back that it's your job as the operator, as the founder, as an executive, to basically take that idea from germination to growing it in a way that it can build momentum and actually solve the problem that you're trying to solve.

00:02:26:18 - 00:02:54:13

Patrick Campbell

The problem is, though, is that you can't do this alone. So what you end up doing is you have to take a group of people, sometimes ten people, sometimes 50 people, sometimes 100 people, sometimes a thousand people, and quite literally try to will them forward in the same exact direction when everything in their psyches is telling them to go into a whole myriad of directions in order to understand their own goals In the context of the company goal.

00:02:56:02 - 00:03:06:22

Patrick Campbell

On top of all this happens, life is going to continue to happen around you. It's going to happen to you, is going to happen to your team. It's going to happen to everyone in between. And just listen to what's happened to the profit will accrue in the past couple of years.

00:03:08:17 - 00:03:18:09

John Mangini

When I was in grad school, I was in a car crash and I broke my heart right in order to graduate grad school on time. You have to go to China for ten days. And they were.

00:03:18:16 - 00:03:19:07

Patrick Campbell

Like, Look, we.

00:03:19:07 - 00:03:27:22

John Mangini

Can't put you on a plane on crutches. I ended up going to China, ended up on the great Wall, on crutches in the snow, which was quite dangerous.

00:03:29:03 - 00:03:50:03

Erin Phinney

I was working at a barn out in western Mass for a Sunday brunch wedding. The sister of the bride. She asked me to take the cake topper off the wedding cake. 45 minutes later, the other sister came up to me and started berating me in front of all the guests, screaming about this cake topper. I'm very proud of myself to this day because I was like, I can't speak to you in this moment.

00:03:50:15 - 00:03:54:03

Erin Phinney

I was like, Let's go to the back of house and we'll talk about it.

00:03:55:09 - 00:04:12:19

John Arcanti

I had a call. I actually got it from a food truck. I wouldn't wish it upon my worst enemy. The pain wouldn't stop. It was like four and a half days. There were other symptoms, too, other than the pain. But it was. I won't go into those details here because they're pretty gross and gruesome. But I'm fine now.

00:04:12:19 - 00:04:29:05

Patrick Campbell

And here I'm alive. Life is full of hardship and it's going to hit you at varying degrees, although it's certainly not a contest. But the funny thing about the hardships of life throws at you is that you need to make sure that it doesn't define who you are, but that it is put in the context of the rest of your life.

00:04:29:15 - 00:04:48:18

Patrick Campbell

This is something I've learned personally. It's the reason I'm sitting in front of Tufts Medical Center right now is because I've had cancer twice now, and the second time I had cancer, it hit me and probably the most inconvenient time. We were a couple of years into building a well, and the first time you have cancer, you go through this whole rigmarole around, Am I going to die?

00:04:48:19 - 00:05:07:13

Patrick Campbell

How am I going to figure this out? Is this going to take over my life? And then the second time it hits, it's just the fuckery of, oh my gosh, is this happening all over again? What is this mean? Because all of the statistics don't really turn out that well. The second time you face something like this. Hardship is one of those things that is going to be a fact of life.

00:05:07:13 - 00:05:26:23

Patrick Campbell

It's going to be something that you've faced and it's going to be something that you have to deal with. The point I'm trying to make isn't that this is going to be easy when you face that hardship, especially in the context of trying to do something in your life. The point is, is that that effort comes from a place of where there's a will, there's a way, because after all, some things are an act of will.

00:05:26:23 - 00:06:04:22

Patrick Campbell

And when you're building a company and you're facing hardships and you're facing friction, all things are essentially inactive. When your how do you make this a little bit easier? How do you make this a little bit less difficult for when you're building what is three big things that you can focus on? And the first one is a little bit dry, but it's also extremely effective, and that's by using operational redundancy a proper well, we have these docs called If I Die Docs, which are basically heavy documentation around a particular role for a particular part of the organization so that if God forbid, someone is no longer in their position, the next person who can come

00:06:04:22 - 00:06:31:19

Patrick Campbell

in can essentially make sure that they push things forward by not starting from zero. After all, starting from zero is extremely difficult. And if they can start from one, it's just that much easier. We also do heavy documentation throughout every part of the organization using products like Tetra and also Asana to make sure that everyone's on the same page, or at least somewhat on the same page so we can push everyone in a similar, if not the exact same direction.

00:06:32:03 - 00:06:52:07

Patrick Campbell

Next step, you've got to make sure you have the right team and the right people around you when it comes to winning something from nothing. Ultimately, success and failure isn't going to be on one person's shoulders. It's going to come from everyone moving incrementally in a similar, if not the exact same direction. Finally, you have to love what you do.

00:06:52:07 - 00:07:18:21

Patrick Campbell

And I understand that sounds ambiguous and cliche, but it's extremely important because if you're building anything that's worth building hardships, roadblocks and friction are just par for the course. Life is going to continue to throw them at you. And if you don't love what you do, if you don't have that energy or that emotion, to push through those things that are going to be holding you back, then that first sign of friction, that first sign of hardship, the first sign of just existence is going to basically force you to quit.

00:07:19:05 - 00:07:39:18

Patrick Campbell

And that's why some things are such an act of will. And you get that build need to have that emotional investment. You need to love what you're actually focused on. Whenever I'm facing hardship or whenever I'm emotionally tested in building something or doing something that's taking an incredible amount of effort, I find respite in the words of Teddy Roosevelt.

00:07:39:18 - 00:08:08:23

Ben Hillman

I wish to preach not the doctrine of ignoble ease, but the doctrine of the strenuous life, the life of toil and effort of labor and strife to preach that highest form of success, which comes not to the person who desires mere easy peace, but to the person who does not shrink from danger, from hardship or from bitter toil, and who, out of these wins, the splendid ultimate triumph.

00:08:08:23 - 00:08:34:09

Patrick Campbell

Where, in other words, some things are an act of will a protect the hustle listeners. Patrick here. If you enjoyed this episode, you got value from it. We want to hear from you. Share the struggles and the hardships that you've gone through in your operational and entrepreneurial journeys by hashtagging Protect it on Twitter and LinkedIn.

00:08:34:09 - 00:08:57:05

Ben Hillman

Protect the Hustle is produced by Dan Callahan and Ben Hillman with help from Robert Byrne and Aliza Chang, written and produced by Patrick Campbell. This week's episode is brought to you by zero zero, enables engineering, product and marketing teams to design data driven communications for personalized customer experiences. Get Broadcom.