As a successful start-up founder, David Hauser felt mercilessly driven to create success through extreme measures. He joins us to talk about his drive to succeed and how he has applied an experimentation framework to his health and wellness.
In grade school, David realized that he had a learning disability. This realization lead to the fruition of two skills.
First, his drive to succeed was developed at an early age. He felt that everyone else was ahead of him and felt strongly about getting ahead.
I think I had this drive very early on; [the other students] were always ahead of me. So I always felt like no matter what I did, I was behind. I was the kid that wasn't smart enough, so it created this ongoing drive in my life to prove everyone wrong. Right, and now that I look back at this many years later, I can see how important that drive was to my success. Right, without that I would not have gotten to where I am today.
Second, this learning disability taught him how to learn. Outside of simple hard work with tutoring five days a week, he came to understand how he learned. He learns from seeing, doing, and listening to the teacher. He doesn't learn by taking notes and reading the textbook.
The drive he found while in grade school has never left him. The goal of catching up with and outperforming his classmates was an ever-present goal. Although to some extent, he wishes it would relent a little bit. He still compares himself to others as a measure of success.
Building A Company
He always knew that he wanted to be an entrepreneur. In fact, he went to Babson College because it offered a program focused on entrepreneurship. He had built several smaller businesses before college, so the idea of building businesses was not a new idea.
The idea for Grasshopper came from a need that he and a cofounder found in their own smaller businesses. They needed a phone system that made them sound like professionals, instead of just picking up their cell phones. The solution was based on solving their own needs.
The most interesting and best businesses I’ve ever seen come from a genuine pain point that I’m solving for myself more than even for others…it's something I'm solving for me today.
David and his cofounder had no experience with phones and no money to bring in a team. So, they just started taking action. The first piece of hardware they bought cost $250,000 but they had to convince the vendor to give them credit because they only had $150,000 in the bank. It took a lot of trial and error but they built a very successful business.
Just take “a” step forward. This is what I tell people all the time and you'll learn something, right. Maybe we would've failed at Telecom. Maybe the whole thing didn't work. But if we didn’t take the first step forward of starting to build something, nothing would have happened.
Having an idea for a business is great, but you have to take action for anything to actually happen.
An Education In Entrepreneurship
David attended Babson College to earn a degree in entrepreneurship. However, it may not be a completely learnable skillset.
I have a very controversial view on this. I firmly believe that you cannot teach entrepreneurship. I think it's something that is inherently within someone. It's a combination of being able to understand and take on risk; as well as calibrate that risk against the reward. And it's just not something you can teach. What you can, however, teach is a lot of the skills that make you a better entrepreneur.
Skills, like reading a balance sheet, hiring, firing, and being a manager, are all important to know. However, most people that graduate with this degree don't actually start their own businesses. Many end up working in an entrepreneurial role at a company.
Venture Capital Funding
Based on his frugal mindset, David has a different take on the extreme examples of venture capital funding. Grasshopper was 100% bootstrapped. David believes there are zero reasons to take on VC funding except in very rare markets. However, the media glorifies VC funding so many seek it out.
As an investor, he tells entrepreneurs that they should not take investments. Instead, go as long as possible without taking any money. With that, the economics of your company will make more sense because you need to make a profit.
‘The Frugality Problem'
David admits to a frugality problem. Although there are positives, there is a dark side to his frugality.
When you look at budgeting there are two approaches. Some feel that they need to increase income to solve the problem. Others feel that they need to decrease expenditures. The right answer is somewhere in between. However, David is on the side that wants to decrease expenses.
There is nothing wrong with decreasing expenses, but at some point, it may not be worth the time he puts into it.
Unstoppable: 4 Steps To Transform Your Life
Unstoppable: 4 Steps To Transform Your Life is dedicated to the desire for balance with your health and fitness. The book portrays a somewhat retroactive journal through his journey towards health. David admits to doing nothing halfway, so the book outlines some of the extreme measures he went through on his journey.
The journey started with doing what everyone said was the right thing to do, going to the gym. After a few hours without results, he decided to double down. He transformed from never running outside to running the Boston marathon in just 3.5 months. Now he does yoga six days a week, but six months ago he never did yoga.
This extreme mentality can bring both positives and negatives.
For me, I've seen a lot of positive results only when I direct it towards positive things. And I could easily direct that same extreme viewpoint and kinda going way overboard to the wrong things. And what's worked for me is directing it toward the right things.
At some point, he decided to apply A/B testing as an experimental framework for his life.
Creating The Framework
As you start to use the framework, you'll need to determine what matters most to you. Start to identify the issues, prioritize them, experiment, measure, and test. Once you have the results, integrate those positive changes into your life.
David encourages readers to start with small changes. As you start to see results, experiment with bigger changes.
Here are a few places to get started:
- Start going to bed earlier, around nine or ten p.m. You will wake up naturally when the sun rises.
- Don't eat within three hours of bed.
- Delete all social media from your phone.
- Cut news out of your life.
- Stop eating sugar.
At first, David followed all of the traditional guidelines to the extreme. He cut out all red meat, ate a super low-fat diet, and exercised for 30 hours a week. When this wasn't working, he decided to switch things up.
He tested 15 to 20 different diets after deciding that conventional wisdom wasn't working for him. The goal was to determine the link between the food he ate with how he felt afterward. Instead of just accepting that feeling bad after eating was a part of life, he decided to find a diet that changed the way he felt. In the end, the keto diet worked best for him.
One trick that helped him with eating was the steam oven. Instead of two minutes in the microwave, it takes 20 minutes to heat up a meal. With that time, he can take the opportunity to slow down before he eats the meal.
Although David has cut many foods out of his life, he is not saying that you have to cut everything out. Remember that control doesn't mean restriction, it means freedom from frustration. As you make your food choices, keep your end goal in mind.
Think about it. Understand the risks. And then if you want some fried food, go eat some fried food because you enjoy it. Right. Like, what good is it if you went through all of life saying ‘ah, I wished I had a slice of pizza' and then you die. That kinda sucks. But also understanding that when you eat that pizza there is an impact…but just take it on with your eyes open.
Related: When You Eat Matters
The Food Pyramid
The food pyramid is a misinformation campaign that has been passed down for decades. The food pyramid suggests that sugar is good and fat is bad. However, that is not necessarily true.
The determinations of the food pyramid have dominated the grocery store for decades. Food items strive to be low in fat and high in sugar. But this is not always the best diet for a person.
David hopes for a future food pyramid that is actually based in science and has two or three options to choose from. It could change our society's perception of what is “good food” versus “bad food.”
As you continue your health journey, supplementation is something to consider. However, it should be one of the last pieces of the puzzle. If you choose to take supplements, do not proceed at random. Instead, you should get blood testing done to determine what you need.
Supplementation goes a long way for sure because there are things that we just can’t do naturally.
David takes these supplements every day:
- Salt pills
- Fish oil
You can find the brands he uses on his website. Make sure to find a quality blood test to determine which supplements you may need to take. In general, a one-off test for a single nutrient, like D3, should cost between $15 and $20. A full panel would cost between $500 and $750 and you should expect to run these tests for 6 to 12 months. David uses Parsley Health to help cover the costs of testing.
If you decide to take supplements, then make sure to consult a doctor about the proper dosage and which supplements would be most useful for you.
How To Connect
The Hot Seat
An Inflection Point: A change of how he did not feel hungry anymore. The time he could walk out of work and realize that he accidentally skipped lunch because he wasn’t hungry.
Biggest Financial Mistake: Investing in restaurants, food, and related things has been the biggest mistake financially and emotionally.
The advice you would give your younger self: Make sure you go out there and do something. One step at a time.
What purchase have you made over the last 12 months has brought the most value to your life? The Ooler by Chilipad
New to FI? Be sure to check out Episode 100: Welcome To The FI Community!