🧠 — a million white puzzle pieces.

Hi, I'm John and this is "The CEO's Brainpan" — my candid musings on leading a distributed-first, venture-backed startup, YEN.io. Subscribe [ brain.みんな ], , and then chill yo.

A Million White Pieces...

Hey. Folks.

So... have you ever tried putting together an all-white puzzle? Either you're a glutton for punishment or you accidentally started it and, for whatever reason, you can't stop.

I can't figure out which scenario I'm in though...


This one is called "White Hell"... appropriately.

... just kidding. As you'd expect, I know exactly what I'm doing (eeeeeep! not really...) — I intentionally chose to reboot the company and the product from scratch and so I (and the team) are the ones who willingly purchased "Crazy Puzzle 2000" and started putting it together.

Add the pressure of a (very) strict timebox and... you have one kickass party!

Okay. It's been crazy, for sure, but it's also been life-giving and here's why: When you have clarity around what you're supposed to do it gives you (temporary) super-powers, allowing you and propel yourself and the team to do the impossible. That's intoxicating, if I'm honest and clear purpose can give us not only great meaning to our lives but also an immense amount of joy, satisfaction, and even peace.

And those small breakthroughs can continue to push a company forward, step-by-step, piece-by-piece.

Because when you know what the end is supposed to look like it allows you to operate with great speed and intent and nothing speaks more to an early-stage founder's heart than that:

You're telling me that this track will allow me to go 1,000mph?! 👍🏼

That's how it kind of feels... but going that fast isn't always good for long-term health.

You see, the problem with going 1,000 miles per hour is that there are very obvious issues that arise immediately, the first of which is that no one is going to be able to pace with you. At all. Not even close. Because when you put on the Wartime CEO Hat, things change and the speed of which things are changing nauseates everyone who's not driving.

It's kind of like sitting in a Lyft (or Uber... if that's your thing...) and the driver is crazy-erratic, all over the place and it can be so bumpy and rough that you feel like you might vomit all over the perfectly-manicured hybrid vehicle that's saving the planet but that's about to get covered with whatever I ate for lunch.

The fact is that there is always collateral damage when you go at that pace and when you start down the track of a trying to solve the existential crisis that your company is facing it's going to get messy and some folks will not make it (either they self-select out of the shared Lyft ride or the leadership has to fire them).

I've already had to let some of my technical team go. It's the worst. The absolute, fucking, worst. The hard thing about hard things is that they are hard and nothing will ever make them easier. Ever.

But that's how you finish those types of puzzles. That's how you solve it so that you can survive long enough to get to the next, even bigger, puzzle to solve.

To infinity and bitcoin.

John Saddington
Chief Cartridge Blower (CEO of YEN.io)

The "i just woke up" read to get those neurons firing.
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This may require heavy use of your encephalon.
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