Fireflies Transcribe 2: Going Long: The 20-year Journey of Being a CEO + Founder with BlackLine | SaaStr Software Community
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Fireflies Transcribe 2: Going Long: The 20-year Journey of Being a CEO + Founder with BlackLine | SaaStr Software Community

Neha Kulshreshtha
Neha Kulshreshtha

Fireflies transcribe creates recaps of the memorable podcasts, lectures, and video content in the technology, start-up, and entrepreneurship space.

Summary:

  • Having the right skills and values that don't mess up the cultural DNA of the company is critically important when it is time to hand over that mantle to someone else.
  • When were very small, you take incredible care of your customers. But when you have more than several thousand customers, that's no longer sustainable.
  • Having someone you trust to mentor you is important because it helps us to see what's good for the company instead of getting emotionally attached to a certain outcome.
  • It never pays to hide the shortcomings of a company.
  • Look for the opportunities in the black Swan of things. They're definitely there.

Video:

Transcript:

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00:00:05
Jason Lemkin
Excited to have one of our, all time, most beloved and upvoted speakers. CEO's back Theresa Tucker, founder, and CEO of black line. I did not know that much about BlackLine back in the day I should have, but I didn't. I, I am interested in anything about buy side, sell side accounting, financial, I didn't know much about BlackLine, but then I saw him in 2016, you'd filed to go public, something like that. And I immediately reached out. I said, well, countries, please come to SaaStr annual. The team said she really wants, she hasn't had a vacation in 15 years and she needs to go on a cruise and we're not allowing her to come. Okay, well maybe she's deserved it after him, 17 years, whatever she needs a cruise, but we begged her to come back. She came back in 2018 annual, which after this pandemic seems like 20 years ago or something, doesn't, it seems like a decade ago, but it was two half years ago.


00:00:58
Jason Lemkin
And, people's jaws dropped at this session. It's one of the, she was the number one rated speaker this year. People still watch it today talking about how everything is the same building unicorn, and yet it's different. Right. The difference is, and people love it, but the craziness, how to bootstrap, how to hire you. When you have no money, how to break the rules, how to be as a mother of starting something at the time. Right. There's a lot of things in this speech and it still resonates. I'm super happy to have Therese back. This'll be a very interesting time because after 19 years or something, you're moving upstairs to chairperson. Is that what happened next year? Yes. How do when it's only been 19 years?


00:01:46
Therese Tucker
I think there's a couple of ways to know. When, if you have an honest self-assessment, you can say I'm a little tired. I have been going full board 200% for a very long time, and I'm a little tired. When you also recognize that you don't really have the right skillset to take the company through its next phase, we believe that black line can have a billion in revenue. Our market's up big. I'm not a person who has scaled a SAS company before. Then, most importantly, it's when you find the right person. I hired Mark Huffman almost three years ago and he and I have worked together very closely during this past several years. I'm completely convinced that he's the right person, but having the right skills and having the values that don't mess up the cultural DNA of the company is critically important. When you think about, when is it time to hand it over hand over that mantle someone else.


00:03:00
Therese Tucker
Yep.


00:03:00
Jason Lemkin
Mark came from NetSuite, and has worked at scale, right.


00:03:06
Therese Tucker
Was there from 3 million to over a billion in revenue? Yeah. He's got the whole broad spectrum and he came in, it was so great. Jason, she came in and it was like, Oh, I see what's happening here. We had that problem at NetSuite. Here's how we handled it. He did that over and over because the needs of accompany. I mean, it's, when were very small, you take incredible care of your customers, right? I mean, I'll pick up the phone with any of them. When you have more than several thousand customers, that's no longer sustainable. How do you still deliver that quality in a way that, is efficient is cost efficient. But also still personal. I don't know. His skillset is completely well now I do. Cause I've learned, but his skill set, that's very different than mine. So super critical in that regards. Yep.


00:04:09
Jason Lemkin
Let me just the first one, let me challenge you because one of the most honest things that I think founders don't, we don't talk about enough, but it's getting tired. It is, there's nothing harder than being a founder. CEO is there's nothing harder on planet earth. There's nothing it's a 24 seven. I do think that being a parent is maybe more important. Right. I actually think it's easier than being a founder CEO. You could challenge me. We could have a little fun, but you get these breaks as a parent, you get the, were talking about your one-year-old grandson, you get these breaks when things are the pressures lower, right. When you can just go enjoy yourself at Disneyland or whatever it is. As a founder CEO, it's always with you. Right. You have to find a way, so you've been doing this almost 20 years.


00:04:50
Jason Lemkin
What have you done to reinvent yourself or not get tired? Not get Burnett. Cause I think four to five years is when everyone hits a wall. Right. And this might be your fourth time. Right. As you're going to chairperson.


00:05:00
Therese Tucker
Oh, fourth time. I would say more like 20th time. Right. I mean, and in the early days those you hit the wall a lot more often. Yeah. I can remember going on walks with my husband and saying, I just don't think I can keep doing this. He would say, I think you're almost there. Just, just give it a few more months. Having someone who encourages you, especially if you have great mentors. Yeah. Those are super invaluable. Just people that can encourage, but also they have the wisdom of having done it. That's a big deal just to keep you going, okay. This is not all for not, I'm not going to be homeless when I'm 45. Right. I mean, that's kind of a, like, all right, I can keep doing this as long as it's got somewhere, it's going somewhere. So the encouragement piece. So.


00:05:58
Jason Lemkin
Your husband gave you of a kick to keep going or encouragement and then mentors it's. This is so key to breaking through that wall. Isn't it is getting mentors and, it's different than advisors. It's different than helper. It's different than people that will answer an email. It's someone who, what type of mentors did you find that have helped you at a different stage? Like what backgrounds and how much time did you get from them or what did you seek out from them?


00:06:20
Therese Tucker
It's interesting because there's not a lot of women in technology. All of my mentors are kind of, God bless them. I hope they don't mind me saying this middle-aged white guys. Okay. And, who had been very successful in business on their own, who were, not they're measured. They're wise. They're honest. Right? I mean, I have one particular board member who is still my mentor and, he, when we brought on private equity in 14, he would absolutely say to me, Oh, 13, sorry. He would absolutely say to me, when I would get all wound around the axle, like, look, they're being very reasonable. This is how private equity operates. Stop, essentially stop being so hysterical. Because I trusted him that allowed my relationship with the private equity people to be really healthy. Right. I mean, and other times he would say, no, you're right. Stick your guns.


00:07:31
Therese Tucker
I'd be like, okay, I'm digging in. Because I think this is the right thing. Having that, wise view that because so often we get down in the weeds, right. We can't really, and we get, I don't know about other people I'll get emotionally attached to a certain outcome or a certain approach. To really have somebody just say, what? You need to set that aside for the benefit of the company and having that person be someone you trust is phenomenal.


00:08:04
Jason Lemkin
I think w w many of us, certainly you and I both were so passionate about what we do, right? Sometimes our mistakes can come out of that passion, right? And when you go through like a private equity buyout or an M and a, or even an IPO, and you, all of a sudden, you have all these stakeholders that have no passion, right? They have belief and faith, but they don't have that passion. I've made some of my biggest, almost mistakes dealing with that w when they come into, when they butt heads. These two things, your passion in the private equity folks come in and now they kind of are telling you what to do. Their ideas are very, they're very nuts and bolts, and they're very spreadsheet oriented. And you're like, but that won't work. Without a mentor, I've said things, I shouldn't have said, I've gotten frustrated, I've expressed, but only out of passion, right.


00:08:50
Jason Lemkin
Only out of passion, but you that's one getting a mentor to ground. You, as you have more stakeholders is alone is high value. Isn't it.


00:09:01
Therese Tucker
Incredibly high value. I cannot under emphasize how great it is when you do have a really healthy relationship with your investors. Yeah. I mean, our private equity groups that were involved with blackLine, they added tremendous value. I mean, just, they helped me scale. They helped me grow. They help the company grow. They, they were, they earned their money. Yeah. Maybe not quite as much as they made, but they are in the lot.


00:09:36
Jason Lemkin
We always look back when you have a good outcome and feel like they had it easy. Right. At the time, maybe it didn't seem that way. I mean, they invested in one 2013. Right. Things were, we knew things were good again. Right. Because we could see it in the numbers, but there were no cloud IPO's none of this had come back box IPO shortly after, and people thought SAS was terrible. It was a dud. Right. They didn't know. In all fairness, maybe they didn't get quite it. Maybe they got a better deal than any of us thought, right. On either side of the table, that comment about trusting your investors. It's an interesting one. I certainly say the same thing. I made bad decisions as a founder when I didn't trust investors and I've, and as an investor, I've tried to do that too. Do you really know, did you have enough time, you did a private equity transaction where you sold the majority interest.


00:10:30
Jason Lemkin
Right. It's great to hear that, but do you really have that were really able to make that determination at the time that this was a trusting relationship that you had?


00:10:39
Therese Tucker
Well, one of the things that I did in the private, in the whole process was I decided that, I was going to be extraordinarily transparent about what I thought was good about the company and what I thought were its challenges. I, many times people are trying to put lipstick on a pig, right? They're trying to cover up everything that might be bad and, just present perfection. I knew from the beginning that I wanted to have, a very clear understanding on what was going to happen right after the documents signed. In order to do that, I showed all the warts, I highlighted the problems. I had in-depth discussions about the problems. Now we had 14 bitters for black lines. So.


00:11:35
Jason Lemkin
We had 14 offers.


00:11:37
Therese Tucker
Yeah. We had 14 offers, field offers. And so it was a real process. We did not, I did not have that level of conversations with all of them, but there were several that, immediately they had done their diligence. They, understood the business. They had called customers. I mean, there were a few out of those where I had those, a lot of in-depth conversations and it was like, carrying it down to, you're only going to date three guys until you figure out which one you want to marry. So, yeah, it was of a bachelor thing, but, once we did that and really spent a lot of time with those, just several, it was, a really good process. Even the ones that I did not pick, I still have good relationships with today.


00:12:33
Jason Lemkin
Your comment about it's I found that the very best founder CEOs, the very best ones are very transparent about their weaknesses and their gaps and the issues. Right. For a whole bunch of reasons, maybe it's honesty and passion. It's simpler to be transparent. Right. It inspires trust and confidence, but I, I think curious, you've had anything to add to the story, but I think for advice for folks, sometimes especially early stage founders want to hide things, right. They want to hide bad things. They want, they make up numbers. Like a lot of times I think, see things like quarterly MRR and churn, excluding big customers, like, yeah. Alright, bye. Turns low, but I lost BlackLine, but I parked from these far from black lines, Slack at Google, our churn is almost not existence. It's natural. Or even sometimes misleading how small you are to big customers.


00:13:24
Jason Lemkin
Right. That's natural. Like a big customer asks you for your balance sheet, your bootstrap, what's your balance sheet. Look like a black line. There there's nothing, my credit card statement. It never pays to hide. It, does it never pays does it,


00:13:35
Therese Tucker
It never pays. Most people hide it out of insecurity. Yeah. Right. So, and that is a failing in and of itself because if I can go to you and say, I have this great business, we have a huge market in front of us. By the way, we really stink in these four areas. Can you help us? Yeah, we're gonna, you're gonna respect that. You're going to teach me what and show me how to get through that. We're all gonna learn and be stronger as a result. If you've got that insecurity, like I've gotta look bigger. I've gotta look better. I've gotta look perfect. You never get overcome those things.


00:14:19
Jason Lemkin
Yeah. Let's chat about something related. Just after 19 years of running BlackLine, you started in 2001, right. Which I think was a black Swan event, right. When the internet ended. Right. Today we have another black Swan event. I reflected on this. I found a micro. They happen about every five years. These black Swan events are not quite there. The individual ones don't seem to recur, right? This recession we're in now, it didn't happen to software. Did it? It happened to other categories. We all thought in March software would dip for a day. How do we, how do have you thought about dealing with black Swan events or even applying for them and contingencies, how do you get the team through these black Swan events?


00:14:59
Therese Tucker
Well, if it was precisely every five years, it'd be so much easier.


00:15:05
Jason Lemkin
That far off, but I'm with you. Yeah.


00:15:09
Therese Tucker
I think about, the one that really hit us was the, 2008 financial crisis. We just decided at the end of 2007, that were going to be SAS only going forward, which actually turned out to be a great decision. I would say there's a few things around this. Nimbleness is key. The ability to react and address customer needs and cut costs as you might have to, but that nimbleness, you can't just sit there paralyzed. You've gotta be able to address it and deal with it. A cash buffer is going to reduce stress for hard times. Now I've often said, I don't think it's a great idea to go out and raise a bunch of money, just for the sake of raising it. If you don't have to, because you give up control, you give up ownership, but having a little extra cash in the bank is such a blessing in hard times, because even at the scale that BlackLine's at now with this pandemic, we saw customers take a lot longer to pay period.


00:16:23
Jason Lemkin
Right?


00:16:25
Therese Tucker
Yeah. And I mean, completely understandable. Everybody's focused on cash because we don't know what the macro environment is going to do. Having a cash buffer is really very helpful when you have one of these events. Lastly, I would say, look for opportunities. Okay. I mean, we saw a couple in this last pandemic. One was, we saw an opportunity to build tremendous Goodwill with our customers. We did customer relief, we did additional customer training. We gave away free products. We worked with people to do a better job of closing their books remotely. We had all kinds of ways of building Goodwill with customers. We viewed that as a very valuable outcome. All right. Secondly, because we have a very healthy balance sheet, we viewed it as a tremendous opportunity to invest heavily in R and D where many of our smaller competitors pulled back. Right. Because they were very worried about where the future was going.


00:17:30
Therese Tucker
We said, great, let's double down. Let's make sure that we get some great product development done. Let's, let's increase our lead during this time because we have the resources to do that. Look for the opportunities in the black Swan events. They're definitely there.


00:17:47
Jason Lemkin
Let's dig in on just a couple of those points. One on the side, right? you guys, I, I should know more of the details we can chat about it, but when COVID hit, you provide a customer relief. If you need longer to pay, if you need more time, we'll give it to you. Right. Now that we're a ways into this and we can see what's happening. Public companies, Shopify just released their numbers. They went from a 14 day trial to 90 or longer, as long as you needed during the pandemic to Shopify. And they grew faster from it. We talk with Stewart Butterfield a while back, they had better conversions from free to pay because of extended it, zooms seen it. Right. We've learned that being hyper customer centric works, but sometimes it's scary because the sales team, the CS team, there is a theoretical impact on the spreadsheet.


00:18:33
Jason Lemkin
Isn't there for doing these things like theoretically it's scary. Right. Outside of going forward, any advice to founders that are struggling between that, those short-term impacts and the longer term gains.


00:18:46
Therese Tucker
We actually, I have just a world-class CFO and Mark Parton. And, he did all the modeling ahead of time. I mean, he modeled all the different ways that we could do relief. All right. Keep, we didn't necessarily, in every case, do it without any benefit besides Goodwill. For example, let's say that somebody was on a one-year contract and didn't want to handle it, have a price increase or needed to drop something. And, they would go back and go, okay, great. Let's see, let's make this a four year contract and, in exchange for this. Got it. He actually having a really savvy CFO to model what the impact is ahead of time to figure out, if you can't afford it, right. If you can't afford it's not scary. If you don't know, then yes, scary. We knew ahead of time going into this, what we could offer, what we should offer, how much, how many about 25% of our customers are in impacted industries like travel and entertainment and others.


00:19:58
Therese Tucker
Okay. It is, our customers have had some real difficulties with this and we want them to be customers for the next 15, 20 years. This is just a short-term trade-off for that longer benefit.


00:20:14
Jason Lemkin
It's a good learning. To model it, thoughtfully, relate to one on the, you talked about having an extra cash buffer during tough times, which is advice a lot of folks will give. How did you do that as a bootstrap company though? Where are you getting this extra cash hitting up your long lost uncle or, where'd you get this rainy day fund when you were bootstrapped?


00:20:38
Therese Tucker
Oh my God. During the financial crisis, we, as I mentioned a minute ago, decided not to sell any more on-prem software. Now, the beautiful thing about on-prem software is you get a big chunk of money right. Upfront, and yeah. We also had to forego that one of the decisions that we made at that time to help bridge that was we build a year in advance for the SAS subscription. So that was a help with cash. Frankly, the reason I say it will reduce stress in hard times to have a cash buffer is because I had a lot of sleepless nights. Okay. I never had in the early days, the buffer that I wanted and, I'd probably look 15 years younger right now if I hadn't had those hard days in the beginning.


00:21:31
Jason Lemkin
Well, it's funny too two follow ups on that. My, my rule or my advice is to founders is figure out how much money you need, bootstrap venture, backed, whatever, do it on a spreadsheet you would carefully then be conservative, then add 25%. Yes. If you raise that extra 25% and then it's the right amount. I need $4 million. Well then raise five, I need 10 raise 12.5, that's the conservative version. It forces you to take that little bit of extra dilution, lose that little bit of control, but it's the right amount, right. That buffer.


00:22:01
Therese Tucker
Yeah. Or another way when we used to do sales forecast, I had a very wise board member who would say, cut it in half and take it out twice as long.


00:22:12
Jason Lemkin
That's conservative, but.


00:22:17
Therese Tucker
You know, that.


00:22:18
Jason Lemkin
Works for sales, right? Yeah. For how much to raise an extra bit. But yeah. Yeah, it's interesting on the, on not, the, on the, on learning this from not having the buffer, now that you think back for founders stay, I mean, SAS is so much hotter, right? There's so many more startups. I I'm the founder that I've invested in that maybe has been the most successful, almost bootstrap raised almost no money and was proud of it managed to become a billion dollar company being a majority owner. Raised after that and said, boy, I should have raised more earlier. It was the stress and it was not making the hires, especially the enterprise level hires. Right. Do you have any more nuanced views of, if you were doing BlackLine today, would you have invested more raised more versus today to go bigger to reduce the stress? Any thoughts because bootstrapping, isn't always a choice.


00:23:13
Jason Lemkin
It wasn't a choice for you in the early days you had no choice, right. Was a lifestyle decision.


00:23:19
Therese Tucker
Yeah, exactly. I love the fact that I retained an enormous ownership percentage of black line to this day, right. To this day, I'm still the largest shareholder, frankly, that would not have happened. Had I raised money much earlier.


00:23:41
Jason Lemkin
Right. You would have, especially then we've taken so much dilution. Right. So,


00:23:46
Therese Tucker
I'm, I am not displeased with that. Okay. That level of stress is not for everyone. Okay. I mean, it really isn't. I mean, just being able to, deal with that. Here's the other thing though, when people go to raise money, they put so much time and energy into the raising of the money. I mean the books and the travel. I mean, my God, I must have gone to, at one point, 200 offices along Sandhill road. Right. I mean, right. I mean, and, but the amount of energy that went into that, you should put that into building your business and making something that customers want to pay for. It's not like you can do them both at the same time and get the same results. Nobody has that kind of bandwidth. All right. If you've got the opportunity, if you can not take the money, wait as long as you can.


00:24:52
Jason Lemkin
Yeah. Sometimes when I meet with a founder, that's early stage, but post revenue, one of the flags, the saddest things I hear is when they say it's like, well, we had three great months, but the last couple of months had been rough. I'm like why I've been fundraising? And I'm like, well, it's not an excuse. It's not an excuse. And, you're right. It's very distracting. Right. Especially if you're not hot. When, when you went to raise the private equity round, you had 13 offers. So it was easier. I mean, it was work, but they came to you. Right. You were established, but, okay. Two things I want to make sure we hit with the time we have, one is, recruiting and evangelizing in a, in maybe a more pedestrian space like accounting, I've done it. I've lived this life early and e-signatures and contracts, which is hot now.


00:25:40
Jason Lemkin
Back then, certainly wasn't, SAS alone wasn't even hot until a couple of years ago. Right. It was even hard to get folks to go to SAS instead of a consumer company, especially in Southern California until just a few years ago. Now we look at zoom and Slack and the kids all want to do business software. Right. Especially accounting. How do you, how do you get folks excited? Who do you recruit if you're not a hot company in a hot space, right. It's almost a two by two, are you a hot company? You can be a hot company in a boring space and still get people excited. Right. You almost have to be in that two by two to get the average mercenary hire, to want to join you. Right. You have to be a hot company in a hot, you have to be the Airbnb or the Slack at the right moment in time.


00:26:22
Jason Lemkin
So what have you learned here,


00:26:24
Therese Tucker
Wasn't that an interesting term that you just used the mercenary higher. Okay. Because that's not the guy that's going to be there when things do get tough. When you do need somebody to work on the weekends to fix a problem. Yeah. I would say we don't go after the mercenary hires. One of the benefits of being Southern California is that there are less, places for software engineers to work, but better weather. I think that we've always focused on, we want our employees to be long-term employees. You provide the great pay, the great benefits, the stock options, the great culture, a growth path of how they're going to learn and grow and get better. And a career path. I mean, by being a great employer, you don't attract the mercenary hires. You attract the younger talent and they stick around and they grow and they end up having enormous amounts of tribal knowledge that they can share with others.


00:27:32
Therese Tucker
And so that's been our approach. It's, it's, we've tried to stay away from the mercenary hires.


00:27:38
Jason Lemkin
Who for your East staff over time, your direct reports. You're very charismatic, but every CEO's distinctive, right. We all have distinctive styles. Who ha who have, what edge did you have? Who did you try to recruit to work directly for you selling accounting software? Right. It's it, maybe they're folks that just wanted to sell accounting software, but it's probably more right. They wanted to work for you.


00:28:00
Therese Tucker
I don't know about that either, but, after we did the, private equity in 2013, at the end of 13, one of the first things that I was tasked with doing was hiring a whole executive team, frankly, a CRO, a CMO, a CTO, a chief legal officer, a CFO.


00:28:24
Jason Lemkin
You had none of these for the first 12 years of the company. You had no C level officers. Not really.


00:28:30
Therese Tucker
I had people filling those roles, but they were not. They might've been the receptionist that I met at Starbucks or the barista.


00:28:40
Jason Lemkin
You were late to build out a traditional management team. Actually, you were very late, given your scale very late to build that team. Yeah.


00:28:48
Therese Tucker
We did and having the private equity there really helped with being able to recruit that team. Okay. And, but what's super interesting even about that. Now. I think they probably came for the options and the potential, and they've all done very well over time, which is great. I want them to, but what's really interesting is that even that team from four years ago, most of them are not here. Okay. Four or five years ago and Nope. Yes. We've, we've subsequently in 2018, we essentially rebuilt the executive team again. Okay. And, and it's super interesting because the group that gets you to 25 million is not necessarily the group that gets you to a hundred million.


00:29:41
Jason Lemkin
Year schedule, but then you needed a different set of skills to get to a billion and a hundred million. Right. Yeah. How do if someone it's that's such a it's, I mean, we all go as, it sounds like your first team, you maybe stuck with too long. Right. Which is a mistake. A lot of us make 12 years. I mean, not all of them, but you waited right. Then you learned, to stage appropriate. How do if someone can go the distance, what do you look for? Where do you look for whether they have the capabilities to run or whether they're hitting too many limits? How do where that line is? Do you have any insights to share?


00:30:17
Therese Tucker
It would be very interesting because over the years, you can see when a particular area isn't functioning as it should. Yeah.


00:30:31
Jason Lemkin
The laggard area.


00:30:33
Therese Tucker
You have that conversation with the leader of that area. You say, Hey, this doesn't seem to be working quite, what are we going to do about that? And to a person, I knew that we had outgrown the executive when the answer was, do more of the same,


00:30:55
Jason Lemkin
Have the ideas. Now.


00:30:57
Therese Tucker
Didn't have, the ideas had reached the end of their creative road and, let's throw more bodies at it. Well, wow. We did that last year. It didn't quite work. What are we going to do instead? And so, and that's across all areas. So, and I've often said to my board, how do we know that you haven't outgrown me? All right. I've said that many times over the years, is it, am I a dinosaur care? And one of the things that they always said was, look, as long as you keep asking that question, then you're probably not. I mean, how do you need to grow lead better? see a little further, do something more creatively that will add value. How do I do those things? So it's truly, you kinda know that you've outgrown someone when, it's like, the definition of insanity, right? Keep doing the same thing and expecting different results.


00:32:00
Therese Tucker
Of course you don't get different results.


00:32:03
Jason Lemkin
Yeah. That's a powerful insight when they don't have ideas to get to the next level. When the answer is people just more bodies, that's a one last one on this, the one that I add to the list, but maybe you would disagree. I see as when I smell too much fear in the role, when I see that they don't believe, let's say I'm at 10 million this year, and the goal is 20 million next year. They just, even though they did an incredible job this year, getting you from three to 10, they don't believe they can do it. Right. As a leader, your job is to make them believe they can. If they don't believe it's impossible, isn't it?


00:32:38
Therese Tucker
Oh my goodness. As soon as you said that, Jason, I just flash back to a couple of conversations where people were fearful. Like I can't. Yeah. It, the smell of fear, that's a great way to put it. Yeah.


00:32:53
Jason Lemkin
I feel bad. When I smell that I want them to stay. They just need to be topped or, and be in a different role. It doesn't mean they're not great. Maybe they're their director, right. Or a more junior VP. That fear it's, I've never seen a cured. I've never seen that fear of the next year's number. You should have anxiety, but that's not fear. Anxiety is, I don't know if these five ideas will work, but I'm going to try it. They should work. Right. The last one I want to hit with you because it ties back to your SAS. Your first semester annual presentation was rules. What rules can do? You have to keep in break. You talked a lot about versions of this when you spoke about rules and now you see more companies go public, wait, we see zoom one founder. Right? I'm not even sure if BlackLine's one founder, did you have the co-founders or another one founder, Slack's a gaming company, right? MailChimp not only bootstrapped all the way to MailChimp we'll bootstrap to infinity.


00:33:46
Jason Lemkin
Right. A lot of these rules we have, we're seeing them broken more and more where you need to start companies. Right. The, I mean, forget you started in LA, which was hard enough, the Bayer, what is the barrier? Even maybe the Bay area is a way of thinking today. I don't, I don't know. So, what advice can you give folks what rules should be broken? Maybe what shouldn't any, any extra thoughts you want to add here about rules?


00:34:10
Therese Tucker
I always, I have never been a big fan of any rule, so, I've never been good at following rules, so, it's great to listen to everybody else. It's great to listen to this podcast and learn what you can, but at the end of the day, you've got to trust your own gut. You've got to believe in what you're trying to accomplish, and you've got to be all in on that. And so, you know, it's great. Like I said, it's great to spend your time listening to podcasts, but if you're not doing it while you're commuting, then you're not really focused on what you should be focused on. I mean, it's, don't and that goes along with the raising of the money, which we already talked about, right? Wait, as long as you can, and then know that it's going to be an enormous distraction and take up a lot of time and energy and that's going to hurt the business.


00:35:10
Therese Tucker
Again, wait, you'll have more ownership, more control. Don't, one of the things that's great about entrepreneurs in general is that they identify a need that is not being addressed commercially right now, if, and you will get many people that poo-pooed your idea in early days, talked to, sorry to hear that. Yeah. Well, we would talk to VCs and they would be like, what is that? And who cares? Right. It would be like, no, this is really important to company's financials. They'd be like, yeah, no, ? so I think it's really important to, hear what the experts have to say, but the reason you're an entrepreneur is because you have an idea about something that nobody else has actually developed and you can't listen to their rules or their poo-pooing if you ever want to get anywhere. In fact, if you do, you should just go get a paycheck somewhere.


00:36:17
Jason Lemkin
You probably should write. It's easier at the end of the day, we're actually the best job of all is to be the number two or number three. That's the best job of all. You get a lot of the benefits without the next level of stress of the founders, CEO, right? That's the smart play on to be the SVP or the COO, Theresa's has been great. There any last thoughts we should hit or that you want to share?


00:36:42
Therese Tucker
Nope, I think, well, I will say this. I think that actually having a successful enterprise is really the epitome of the American dream, right? To build something out of nothing and to build it into this vibrant enterprise that has employees that make livings and are joyful and customers that are happy, that is about the most satisfying thing that you could possibly do. That's true, whether there's a pandemic or a black Swan event or whatever. So, words of encouragement to the people that are really trying to do something hard, it's hard, but it's so wildly enriching when you get through it.


00:37:25
Jason Lemkin
It's a great inspiration. We're coming up on 20 years of doing this right at black line and the reward of building an enterprise, right. In this society of providing thousands of jobs and have the story not ending. Right. How long do you want black line to go on for another a hundred years, 20 years, 50 years, a hundred years,


00:37:41
Therese Tucker
At least another 30.


00:37:45
Jason Lemkin
That's a good reminder. And, I I'm personally, I remain haunted of selling both my startups, right. It, it has pros and cons. Right. But, but the benefits that they lack there, they last forever. Don't they, as long as your, if your enterprise grows, then the reason we did it is as relevant to you 20 years on as it was in 2001, right. That is the takeaway, right? So keep go long, right? If you can go long, right.


00:38:11
Therese Tucker
And, and I'm having a blast right now, mentoring some gen Z women tech founders, it's a ball, right. To just see the up and coming generation who are fierce about doing some cool things, very fun.


00:38:26
Jason Lemkin
Are we? And I know we're almost over, but since you brought up the mentoring of the next generation of women, how are we doing? Are we doing any better than years ago when you were at Saster? Are we making progress? I sometimes even worry, w we've lost during the pandemic because there's less serendipity. Right. There's more a flight to nowness to known brands and known people. Are you optimistic that we're doing better on inclusion? Are you optimistic and 10 years from, for my daughter, for your grandson, how you feeling, how are we doing? How are we trending?


00:38:58
Therese Tucker
You know, I am optimistic. I am probably more optimistic about the younger generation. I see millennials have a lot of angst, which is, difficult. The gen Z is, they've also lived through some incredibly difficult times, right? I mean, if you think about millennials, they've had nine 11, they've had the financial crisis, they've had the pandemic. I mean, life is difficult. Gen Z years tend to be super fierce. They're not more optimistic. They're just fierce about what they're going to accomplish. And, that gives me great optimism.


00:39:38
Jason Lemkin
Okay. Well, thank you, Theresa. This is great. We're, we're super grateful. Any way Saster can help you, or anytime you want to come back and join us in any capacity, we are here for you and thanks and congratulations on the first, almost 20 years. No matter what I want to check in 2040, and we'll chat and we'll look back and we'll see what we learned back. The black line will be here, but it may be a very different company than right. It may be very different, right? W will be won't. It may not even be SAS. We don't know. We'll find out.

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