Scaling looks good on fish

Ari Meisel Featured Image

Not me.

Do you know what you miss out on when the singular focus of your company is scaling?

Life. You miss out on life.

So I’m getting out of the scaling business. It’s time.

My expertise helped many people and grew my business fast and well. I’m damn good at solving problems, and when my clients presented my team and me with complicated, intriguing dilemmas, we solved them. It felt terrific.

Did I help everyone who joined my group coaching program?

Absolutely not, and BTW don’t ever let anyone tell you that they are 100 percent successful either. In fact, don’t let the “purveyors of scale” trick you into thinking that:

Scaling is something other than making more money. It’s not. It’s making more money. We can create a taxonomy around the notion of growth that hits on deep, meaningful ideologies, but scaling intends to create more wealth in the end. Let’s all stop pretending it’s something grander. And instead of asking yourself if your idea will scale, ask yourself, “Will it be meaningful?”. Then proceed accordingly.

You’re doing “it” wrong No one has, sells, or promotes a universal approach that works seamlessly. We humans are unique and flawed. Our businesses are borne out of that individuality. The shit that works will speak clearly to us, not be prescribed by someone with a sexy pitch deck.

Instagram is Real Life. We live in a society that is enamored of illusion. And that sense of make-believe comes at us 24 hours a day. No one’s intermittent fasting regime is that successful. No one’s Lamborghini is without engine trouble. No one’s kids are that well behaved. When we compare someone’s virtual outside to our very real insides, it diminishes our self worth and establishes bizarre, unattainable points of reference.

The hustle is not time-consuming. Yes, it is. And I’m arguably the world’s most productive man. The hustle, which produces scale, comes with a hefty price that may be impossible to recoup — teaching your kid how to ride a bike — watching your Mom show your daughter how to crochet. Registering first-time voters or harvesting your first (and only) cucumber.

Authenticity is a marketable commodity. When anyone tries to tell you how real or humble or grateful they are, run. Actions are more valuable than intentions, so watch how thought leaders behave. Don’t just listen to what they say. No one should have to sell how real they are to you. Gross.

The most important metric of success is your bank balance. Again, I call bullshit. Did you teach someone on your team to do things they never thought possible? Was it possible to help a client unravel an entrenched idea and change course? How many people thanked you for your insights? Were your employees able to construct a life that included, rather than excluded, their families? These are all the hazy accomplishments that genuinely define success for me.

Now, I’m not here to crush sour grapes or castigate the “coaching space.” There are talented coaches out there who legitimately believe in what they are doing, have methods that work, and who can create community even during these maddening times. A hearty Mazel Tov to each of them. You know who you are.

But I am The Replaceable Founder, someone who has put into place systems and processes that have allowed my own company (and maybe yours as well) to grow quantitatively. The experiment worked. It is possible for the founder to step away from a business’s day-to-day operations and still scale. But the machine needs to be fed, and that requires too much tending.

I could have been on a plane every week (when we went places). I could have worked on all kinds of marketing strategies to get more followers. I could have hired more people. I could have sent out more email sequences. But you know what, I didn’t want to. Chasing the scaling dragon was just not that important to me.

So, I said, enough.

It’s the self-aware founder who realizes when an idea, albeit a terrific one, has run its course. It’s not a failure. It’s not quitting. It’s a eureka moment of grace that illuminates a core truth.

I want to be more human. Yes, me, the guy who has built a few hugely successful businesses around the notion of harnessing technology.

I don’t want to manage from afar. I can, but I’d rather have intimate relationships with fewer people.

I want to invest my energy into scenarios that are meaty and complex. When I’m deeply interested in the problems I’m trying to solve, I’m on fire, in a good way.

I want to be there for people in a substantive, committed way. I’ve been volunteering as an EMT up in the Hudson Valley. As a country EMT, I’m with the patients longer than a city EMT where hospitals are not so far away. It’s kind of remarkable the connection you can build with someone who is hurt on a thirty-minute ride to the nearest hospital. I can’t solve all their problems, clearly, but I can be there, and simply being there for someone is a woefully underrated pursuit. I want to change that. I want to get better at that.

I want to be more me.

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