Sympathy, Empathy, and Solving Problems

What is exactly is the difference between empathy and sympathy and why should people building products care?

Pre-order Michele's book! 

Michele Hansen  00:00
Welcome back to Software Social. This episode is sponsored by the website monitoring tool, Oh Dear. Oh Dear does everything they can to help you avoid downtime like scheduled task monitoring, SSL certificate expiration notifications and more. But downtime happens. When it does, it's how you communicate in times of crisis that make the difference. Oh Dear makes it easy to keep your customers up to date during critical times. You can sign up for a 10 day free trial with no credit card required at
Colleen Schnettler  00:35
So Michele, do you have a, 
Michele Hansen  00:38
Colleen Schnettler  00:38
Good morning. Do you have a numbers update for us on your book?
Michele Hansen  00:43
I do. So my presale went live about a week and a half ago, when our episode with Sean went live. That was my deadline. And, I've sold 43 copies right now. Yeah, it's kind of exciting. Um, it's not all people I know, which is exciting.
Colleen Schnettler  01:06
That's very exciting.
Michele Hansen  01:08
I love how supportive people have been. And it also, it makes me, it's just reassuring that people I don't know are buying it. But yeah, so that puts it right now, just, and this is just the raw, you know, number of times $29, which is $1,247.
Colleen Schnettler  01:30
That's amazing. Congratulations.
Michele Hansen  01:33
Yeah. Thank you. And I got my first payout yesterday, which after, like, taxes, and everything else, was $912.
Colleen Schnettler  01:41
Michele Hansen  01:42
Which was kind of exciting, and gives me a little bit of budget to work with, with, like, you know, hiring a proofreader, and using some, like, layout tools, but, you know, so I was pulling these numbers, and because, you know, everybody loves numbers and whatnot. And I was thinking about it. So, so I got this, this message from someone yesterday, who had started reading the book, and it was actually someone I don't know. And if I can just kind of read what they, what they said. 

Colleen Schnettler  02:25
Yes, please.

Michele Hansen  02:26
And so I had a personal aha moment reading distinction between sympathetic, empathetic and solution based responses. My sympathetic conclusion based responses are leaving no space for empathetic, something I need to address. I'm an engineer and an architect by trade, and I'm looking to do a better job interviewing the humans attached to our work. But I'm also thinking about your book from the sense that a better balance of empathy will help me be a better teammate as well. And, like, getting that was so moving for me because it made me think about how, you know, I'm not writing this book for the money. Like, yes, the book needs to make money, because I've been working on it for four months now and have, you know, there's a lot of time I haven't spent working on Geocodio. Oh, like, I've been a pretty bad Geocodio employee the past couple of months, like, full honesty, right? So like, I have to, like, it has to have been, you know, worth my time. But like, I am not, I'm not motivated by that, like, I am motivated by this, by like, you know, like, I have this like, secret dream goal. Well, I mean, it's not a secret cuz I've, like, tweeted about it, but like, whatever. You know, Mathias sometimes says to me, he's like, I know you were thinking about something because you tweeted about it. And I’m like, oh, I forgot to, like, verbalize that. Anyway, um, I have this dream that through the process of learning this for interviewing, and, like, product development and marketing reasons, people will understand how to be more empathetic and use that in their daily lives. Like, everyone has a capacity for empathy. Everybody can learn it, not everybody is taught it or shown it so they don't really learn it. But everyone has a capacity for it. And, but also, like, very few people, you know, put like, be more empathetic, like, learn how to learn how to use empathy, like on their to do list every day. But they put write a landing page, get more customers, build a feature, like, reply to all of those customers and intercom like, those are the things that end up on a to do list. And so I have this like, kind of, I don't know, like, naive dream that like people will read this and apply these skills to the things they're already doing, but in doing so, learn how to be more empathetic in their daily life or you know, as a as a team member or whatnot. And just getting this message really, it was so motivating, but also so soul-nourishing because it really made me feel like, like the book has done what I wanted it to do. Like, this is what I set out to achieve and, like, this message makes me feel like the book is a success, regardless of how many copies it sells. Like, so it was just like, it was kind of a, it was kind of a, like a moment, like it was, it also sort of like if you're having this effect, like you can, like, stop rearranging it, like, you know, I feel like I've done a rewrite every week for, like, the past eight weeks. Yeah, time to time to ship the gosh darn thing.
Colleen Schnettler  05:57
That is wonderful. So what I just heard you say is, this book is secretly teaching us how to be better humans, wrapped up in a book about customer interviews.
Michele Hansen  06:09
Yes, wrapped up in a book about which features you should prioritize, and how to, you know, pick a pricing model based on what people's usage patterns are, and, like, how to understand what people want and write better landing pages. All that stuff they're already trying to do. But then yeah, there's, there's this kind of bigger message. Like, I feel like so much of good UX practice is good human being practice. 

Colleen Schnettler  06:35

Michele Hansen  06:36
Um, and, I mean, I, I really learned about empathy by doing interviews myself. So this, I mean, it's, it's, it's very personal for me in a way that, like, the book is, I don't know, it is very, very personal for me. And it's not just about showing empathy to other people. It's also about showing empathy to yourself, too, which is just as important.
Colleen Schnettler  07:06
So I have not read the book yet, unfortunately. Can you tell me briefly, what the difference is between empathy and sympathy that that writer wrote into you? Because we talk about it a lot, but we've never defined it, really.
Michele Hansen  07:22
Yeah, that's true. So empathy is when you, basically when you, when you try to understand the other person's context without judgment, and it doesn't mean that you agree with what they're saying. You're just trying to find the context behind what they're saying or what they're doing. Because, sort of, most of us, basically, we assume that our, there's this assumption that our actions make sense from our perspective. That is to say you wouldn't go out and do something if it didn't make sense to you, like, maybe very few people might, but like, for the most part, we have this underlying assumption that, that the things that we do make sense to us.  And so you're basically trying to find that internal context for why somebody does something, and then you reflect it back for them. So for example, if you came to me and started telling me about how, like, I don't, I don't know something you were struggling with, like, let's say, you felt like you were banging your head up against the keyboard all week on some, like, coding problem and it was really frustrating for you. An empathetic response to that would be man, that sounds really hard and like you were working really hard on it and it was super frustrating for you. A sympathetic response would be, oh, I'm sorry you went through that. So a sympathetic response creates distance between the person who is speaking and the person who has aired something, and that might not be a complaint or a frustration. It could be like something positive, but it creates distance. And sometimes it's called fake empathy. Like, I feel like this is what you see in a lot of, like, really bad public figures, celebrity apologies. It's like, I'm sorry, that offended you. It's like, no, that's wrong. Like, like, that's not, that's not actually apologizing. And then there's also kind of this other element that I feel like is this sort of, like, solution-based responses, which comes from a place of caring, and I think us as product builders, I know me, like, we really fall into this, is someone, like, if you came to me with some, some problem. If I just said, oh, well, have you tried this? Which, I'm trying to solve your problem, I'm showing care, right? Like, I wouldn't propose a solution to your problem if I didn't care about you and making that solution better. The problem is, is that it doesn't validate your experience and it doesn't acknowledge your experience. So, while it comes from a good place, it's not empathetic because it doesn't say, wow, like, that was really hard for you. Like it doesn't, it doesn't fake make you feel seen or heard. And it could end up being, through the course of a conversation, you end up explicitly asking me like, do you have any advice for how I could do this? Like, what should I try? I feel like I've tried all these other things. But an empathetic response starts with acknowledging what the other person has gone through. 
Colleen Schnettler  10:25
Okay. Okay 
Michele Hansen  10:26
And then also checking in with them, like, do you, do you want me to listen to you about this? Or do you want me to help you brainstorm ideas?
Colleen Schnettler  10:33
Michele Hansen  10:33
Like, so but I think that's, that's like one of those that really, like, it took me a while to wrap my head around that because the other thing about a solution response, especially in the context of a customer interview, or whatnot, is that you need all the context behind, behind why someone does something and why they went through something in order to really build something that solves the problem for them in a way that they understand and they're capable of grokking. Right? Because we need all of the context behind it, not just the functional context, but also sort of the emotional and social context of things in order to build a product that someone feels like is speaking to their experience and the problem they have. Does that make sense?
Colleen Schnettler  11:18
Yeah, it, it does. It's, it feels like a subtle difference, though. Like, when I try to understand your problem in your context, in your context, the sympathy for versus the empathy, like, it feels very subtle to me.
Michele Hansen  11:34
It is subtle, but like, um, I mean, it's, it's subtle. You know, it's the difference between, I'm sorry, that was hard for you and that was hard for you. Like, those are a subtle difference between them, but there is a huge difference between that and what someone would receive.
Colleen Schnettler  11:53
Yeah, I can see that.
Michele Hansen  11:55
And because when you say, I'm sorry, that happened to you, it emphasizes that it didn't happen to me.
Colleen Schnettler  12:01
Right, okay.
Michele Hansen  12:01
It actually, like, Brené Brown talks about this a lot. I'm sorry, that happened to you. It, it makes the other person feel more alone because it emphasizes that they are the only one who experienced that, and it makes them feel isolated. 
Colleen Schnettler  12:18
Michele Hansen  12:19
And she has a great way of responding, I'm sorry, of phrasing this, and I don't know if I'm doing it justice. But basically it creates that distance, and feeling alone and feeling like you're the only person who went through something is a really, really hard feeling, especially when you have just gone through something frustrating, and it doesn't have to be a big thing. It could just be, you know, the fact that I spent my week fighting with Grammarly, like, like that could be the problem we're discussing. And, but if you said oh, I'm sorry, you went through that, like, it reminds me that you didn't go through that. 
Colleen Schnettler  12:55
Hmm. Okay. 
Michele Hansen  12:57
And it was like, oh, yeah, that was like, maybe it was just me, like, maybe I was doing something wrong, like, am I using it wrong? Like is like, like, you know, it creates all of that doubt and feeling of sort of loneliness in it.
Colleen Schnettler  13:11
And so tell me the empathetic response again.
Michele Hansen  13:14
That sounds really hard.
Colleen Schnettler  13:15
That sounds really hard. Okay, right. So you're not, you're trying not to create that distance where they're an individual isolated,
Michele Hansen  13:23
Colleen Schnettler  13:24
And you're over here.
Michele Hansen  13:25
And it doesn’t start out with I, right? Like, the sympathetic response to start with, you know, like, I'm sorry, that offended you. 
Colleen Schnettler  13:33
Michele Hansen  13:34
Versus the difference between like, that offended you. Because when you say it that way, you're sort of asking for elaboration.
Colleen Schnettler  13:41
Right. Right.
Michele Hansen  13:42
Versus I'm sorry, I offended you just shuts it off. 
Colleen Schnettler  13:46
Wow, I say that all the time. I'm sorry, XYZ happened to you.
Michele Hansen  13:50
I said it all the time, too, then I started learning about this stuff. And I was like, I’m accidentally like, a jerk, and I didn't even realize it. But so many of us speak this way. And we learn the way we speak from the people around us. And if the people around you, when you were learning to speak, didn't speak empathetically, even if they're otherwise nice people. like, then it would make sense why you think this way and don't realize it.
Colleen Schnettler  14:15
Michele Hansen  14:16
Like, it's totally normal to not realize that what you have been saying is actually not empathetic. Like, like, it is a, it is a learned skill for many people. I mean, the people who have it built in are the people whose, you know, parents really made it a focus when they, when they had their kid. Like, but for most of us, it's kind of oh, I guess I should stop saying that. Like, I remember how at one point, like, when I was in my early 20s, I was at a job and somebody was like, you know, you really shouldn't say well, actually. Like, I don't know if you realize how you are coming across. Like, I know you don't mean anything by it, but like, it's, it's kind of like, and I was like, oh, crap, I do that all the time. Okay, like, mental note, like, mental dictionary update: stop. Like, so it doesn't, you know, it doesn't mean that you're not a nice person or that you're not an empathetic person or that you’re not, you don't have a capability for empathy, it simply means that you haven't learned it and all of the various implications of it and we can call learn.
Colleen Schnettler  15:15
Okay. Yeah. Well, thank you for, for telling me about that. Like, that's really interesting. I didn't know that. I find that like, this whole thing, empathy and psychology, as I'm trying to, as I'm talking to people and trying to sell my product, I have found that it really, and I already knew this, but like, now I'm seeing it, it really makes a difference. Can I just tell you about this one issue, which I find so interesting?
Michele Hansen  15:42
Colleen Schnettler  15:43
Okay. So the way my product works is you upload files to the cloud, and then I provide you a dashboard where you can see all of those files. I have gotten several requests now from people to allow them to tag the files.
Michele Hansen  16:02
Oh, yeah, like Drew asked for that. Right?
Colleen Schnettler  16:04
Yeah. So I've been trying to figure out why people want to tag the files. He's not the only one who asked for it. Some other people have asked for it. The reason these people want to tag the files is because they want to be able to mass delete all of the files they've uploaded in a development environment. Why did they want to do that? From what I'm understanding, they want to do that so those files, like, because those aren't production files, they're not, like, cluttering up their dashboard. So when those people have asked me about this, I said, well, look, if you exceed your storage, because I don't have a mass delete function right now, and I don't have that, I'll just give you more storage. But nobody likes that answer. It's like, and so I think it's like a mental psychological thing where they want, like, a nice, clean dashboard. I don't know, I just find this really interesting, because I'm like, storage is cheap. I'll give you more storage until I implement this. But, but it's like, it's, like, as human beings, they really want, like, to segment stuff. I don't know, it's like mental. That's kind of the way I've been, I've been thinking about it. Like, as human beings, they don't want files that they don't need on their dashboard, even if they don't have to pay for them. But I'm like, I don't know. So, so that's just kind of been an interesting one for me. I'm like, but you literally like, I'm not gonna make you pay for those files. It's fine. They can just be there in outer space. But no one, yeah, that's an interesting one that keeps coming up.
Michele Hansen  17:25
Yeah, it sounds like they, like, that clutter is creating a certain like, 
Colleen Schnettler  17:33
Mental clutter or something psychological clutter.
Michele Hansen  17:36
Nervousness, or something. And then there's also this element of wanting to, like, mentally, like to mentally separate things like, I'm sort of, I'm reminded of one of my favorite economics papers called Mental Accounting by Richard Thaler, which is basically on how people like, they create different jobs for different bank accounts and investment accounts, and like, you know, for example, people might have one brokerage account that's just for, like, they have like fun money versus they have their serious 401k. Or like, some people have many different bank accounts for, you know, for different purposes. And it, there's, there's probably a broader term for this, but since I come from an econ background, that's, but like, people wanting to create these different mental categories, and basically, like, it's almost like they want to go, sort of, it's like mentally going to IKEA and buying one of those room divider shelves with all the different boxes you can slide boxes in and, like, being able to look at it and see that everything is in all of its little different categories and is in its place. And they know like, you know which things are in which box, and it looks all nice and organized from the outside.
Colleen Schnettler  18:51
Yeah, I am going to do it because I have found I use my own product for my clients, and I have found I desire the same thing. But I think you're absolutely right. Like, from a purely practical perspective, it doesn't matter. But from, like, a human organizational mental box perspective, like, it seems to make people happy.
Michele Hansen  19:11
Yeah, like, there's that functional perspective of it. But then there's the emotional perspective of feeling like everything is organized. And then I also wonder if there's a social element where like, maybe they're afraid one of their coworkers will use a file that was only for development, or because there's so many files and they're all in one list, someone will use the wrong file or, like, I wonder if there's any, any sort of elements around that going on?
Colleen Schnettler  19:41
Yeah. Could be. I didn't ask that. That's,
Michele Hansen  19:47
So when someone asks you for that, what did you say back to them, exactly?
Colleen Schnettler  19:52
Well, the first time someone asked me, I said, that's a great idea. I'm totally gonna do that. 
Michele Hansen  19:58
Okay. That’s an understandable response. 
Colleen Schnettler  19:59
I know you're over there thinking, like, have I taught you nothing, Colleen? You have taught me. That was before we were doing a podcast.
Michele Hansen  20:06
No, that was a starting point, and that's a perfectly understandable reaction to that. What did you start saying after that?
Colleen Schnettler  20:15
So the second request I got was via email. So I didn't really have the back and forth that I would have had when I'm talking to someone on the phone or on Slack. And, so this person, I asked them kind of what their use case was, and I also told them in the email that they, you know, I wasn't going to charge them for development files. So if storage became a problem, we could work something out until I had the, you know, a bulk delete API set up. And this person was looking to segment files so they could do a mass delete of the development files. And they also brought up they thought it would be great to be able to segment files, like via model. So you could have, here's all my avatar files over here, here's all my resumes over here, which would be really cool. I mean, that I can totally see the value because and then you're then in your admin, yeah, then in your admin dashboard, you could easily filter based on, you know, what your tag was. And it's really not hard to do, I just haven't done it. But I do like, I do like that idea. And that, to me, makes a lot of sense because I think people really like, like we just talked about, like, you like to have your stuff in the appropriate boxes.
Michele Hansen  21:34
I think it's hard sometimes when somebody proposes an idea that we get the value of because we would use it ourselves. It can be really hard to say, can you walk me through how you would use that? 
Colleen Schnettler  21:46
Yeah it is.
Michele Hansen  21:47
Like, because their reasons may be different. And we really, we need all of those reasons because the reasons I would do something might be different than the reasons why somebody else would do something. But when we understand something, it feels very unnatural to ask for clarification, even when we don't need it. But it's so reasonable. 
Colleen Schnettler  22:08
That's exactly what it is. It feels so weird, because I'm like, yeah, totally. That's a great freaking idea. Yeah, it is odd.
Michele Hansen  22:16
I sometimes feel like it's, I wonder if this comes from, like, conditioning in school where, like, I feel like the kid who asks a lot of questions is, you know, sort of branded as annoying. I was definitely that kid in math class. Like, I just always seemed to understand it two weeks after the test. And I wonder if it's like that fear that like, oh, God, like, am I going to be the person who asks questions. And then we have this like, sense that being the person who asks questions, even one that might be sort of a quote, unquote, like dumb question that's clarifying something. Get you like, like, I wonder if there's kind of this built in social conditioning around that, that makes us not want to ask those clarification questions. And we're like, okay, I think I can guess what they want, so I'm just not gonna ask further about that. But, but when we're building a product, you need to be able to, like, look in all the different nooks and crannies of how they're thinking.
Colleen Schnettler  23:08
Yeah, definitely. That definitely is valuable. To your point, you might use it one way, and they might want it for something totally different. So I really do think, like, throughout the course of this podcast, and since we've been spending a lot of time talking about customer interviews over the past several months, that I've gotten way better at it, because it's, it's my instinct, just to say, yeah, I totally agree, because I do totally agree. So why, I think for me, it's not like, I'm not I don't I'm not scared of asking clarifying questions. I think it's more like, I don't want to waste any more time. Like, I'm like, okay, cool. Let's not waste anyone's time, and let's just go do it. So I have, I do really think I've grown a lot in that, in that kind of sphere of pausing, slow down Colleen, because not really good at slowing down. And, you know, kind of dive into what they want and why they want it. So I think that's been good.
Michele Hansen  24:02
It can be kind of tough as like, I feel like we're both pretty enthusiastic and kind of like, like, have you ever been called bubbly?
Colleen Schnettler  24:11
Yeah, of course.
Michele Hansen  24:11
Yeah, I have been called bubbly, too. Yeah. So like, I like feel like enthusiastic people want to be like, yeah, that sounds awesome. Like, it's so, it's so counter,to like how I would interact with someone socially.
Colleen Schnettler  24:25
Yeah, I agree. So, so anyway, that was something, I was thinking about that when you were talking all about, you know, empathy and sympathy and psychology, is how much these kinds of factors play into product building. 
Michele Hansen  24:41
Yeah and building an intuitive product that, that makes sense to people. Like it's, it's really hard to build something that's intuitive because it requires understanding the user’s mental model of how something works, and you can't understand their mental model unless you have, you know, really, you know, poked through every nook and cranny of how they think about it. And also seeing what are the similarities at scale across many different customers. You can't just build it for one particular person, right? Like this, I think this is like, do we want to do we want to do more definitions? Because now I'm excited to get into definitions between Human Centered Design versus activities under design. But if we are, we are feeling good on definition today, then,
Colleen Schnettler  25:29
I don't know what those are. Yeah, go ahead.
Michele Hansen  25:32
So like, you probably hear people talk about human-centered design, right?
Colleen Schnettler  25:37
I mean, no, but okay, I believe you, so not me. 
Michele Hansen  25:40
So like humans, I feel like this kind of came really into it, like, especially in, in tech in the past, like, I don't know, 10,10-15 years, like, you like, think about the human behind it. And like, this is where a lot of like, agile stories come from, is like, as an administrator, I would like to be able to update the billing page, whenever we get a new credit card, like, like, those kinds of stories that if you've worked in the corporate world, you have seen the ads of so and so like, those kind of stories. And like, creating personas, and maybe there's like a picture of a person, and there's their age, and there's like, you know, like, all of those kinds of things that's very, like human-centered designs, and you're designing for people and understanding what those people need. Then there's activity-centered design, which is designing for things that people might be trying to accomplish, but not for specific people, if that makes sense. So it's like, so if you're thinking, I just used an example of like, a billing administrator. The human-centered design approach with a persona might be you know, this is Susan, and she lives in Iowa, she has been working in insurance for 20 years, she has a dog named Charlie, like she prefers to use her iPad on the weekends, but during the week, she uses Windows like, it's like that kind of stuff. Activity-centered design would be like, when billing administrators are going through this process, they want to be able to, you know, these are the different kinds of things they're thinking about, these are the different functions that they need to be able to do. Here are the different things they might be feeling. Like, do they want to be updating a credit card? Like, how does that make them feel, like, is that, is that enjoyable for them? Is that frustrating? Like, are there other people they're working with on this? Do they need to go get a p-card from someone else? Like, what is this entire process they're going through that is independent of them as a specific person and independent of the product? And then how does the product help them get through that entire activity, either easier, faster, or cheaper.  I feel like I just dropped like, 
Colleen Schnettler  27:54
There's a lot. 
Michele Hansen  27:54
A lot. 
Colleen Schnettler  27:55
I'm gonna have to re-listen to that one. 
Michele Hansen  27:56
But basically, 
Colleen Schnettler  27:57
So what's the,
Michele Hansen  27:58
Activity-centered is kind of the approach that I take. And that's the, the approach in the book is designing a process that exists regardless of the person and regardless of the process. 
Colleen Schnettler  28:10
Michele Hansen  28:10
The product, I think I messed that up.
Colleen Schnettler  28:13
Okay, so which one is better? Do you have all the answers, Michele? Tell us.
Michele Hansen  28:18
I am not going to throw bombs in the design world here. I mean, you know, there's, there's value in designing for specific people, right, and, and specific types of people, especially when you're talking about accessibility and whatnot. But fundamentally, you know, like, activity center design is okay, what it, what is the thing that someone's trying to accomplish? For example, 500 years ago, you may have solved, you know, entertain me at home, when I'm alone on a Saturday night with cards or dice, right. And now you might solve it with Netflix. But that fundamental process that you're going through to not be bored when you're in your house on the weekend, like, that process and that desire is relatively constant, which is the thing about activity-centered design approaches is that you're looking at a process that is consistent over time, because you're speaking to sort of broader, underlying goals. And this types of products, someone might use the different functional and social and emotional things that might be important to them are different, but the overall process is the same. And so this is what I think about a lot when we're like thinking about the process that someone is going through and designing something that's intuitive for them and building that mental model is understanding, okay, why do they need to be able to tag things and why do they need to be able to mass delete these things, and what is this overall thing they're trying to do? And it sounds like it's sort of, to feel like all of their files are organized and they can find things when they want to, and that desire to be organized is a relatively consistent desire.
Colleen Schnettler  30:03
Yeah, I think one of the things, one of the phrases we use at work is to surprise and delight the user. And I feel like this falls into the surprise and delight category. Like it's not necessary, but it's delightful. 
Michele Hansen  30:19
You just used the phrase ‘at work’. Does that mean when you are working? Or?
Colleen Schnettler  30:26
Oh, just when I'm, just this company that I've been contracting for for a while likes to use that phrase.
Michele Hansen  30:31
Okay, gotcha.
Colleen Schnettler  30:32
So this to me feels,
Michele Hansen  30:34
I didn't know if you’d suddenly gone off and gotten a full time job without telling me.
Colleen Schnettler  30:39
Well, I'll tell you if I do that. I may be considering that. That's like a whole ‘nother podcast episode. I feel like we don't have enough time to dive into that.
Michele Hansen  30:50
We'll do that in a future episode.
Colleen Schnettler  30:52
Colleen's life decisions. But yeah, so, this feature, I feel like, is delightful. And when we talk about like design, you know, in the context, you were just saying, I think it does fit into the, the latter category.
Michele Hansen  31:10
Yeah. And I can, I can understand how someone, or you might even, or probably, I feel like if we had talked about this, like, six months or a year ago, the reaction kind of would be like, this feels like we're really splitting hairs over something that's super obvious, and why don't I just go build it?
Colleen Schnettler  31:29
Well, yeah,
Michele Hansen  31:30
Which, I think it's a very understandable reaction.
Colleen Schnettler  31:34
Yeah, I mean, I think the problem I'm having, and I know everyone in my position has this problem. It's just, there's just not enough time to do all these things. Like, one part of me wants to take like six months and just do all the things, right? And then the other part of me wants to balance my life with building this business, and is trying to be patient with, with my constraints as a human. So I know, you know, everyone has those, that struggle, everyone who's working and trying to do this. But yeah, I'd love to add all these things. Like, I want to do all the things of course I do.
Michele Hansen  32:10
Speaking of which, building the business, we started this episode with my numbers update. Do you want to give us a little numbers update before we go?
Colleen Schnettler  32:31
So I do want to tell a little story about this. Storytime. So, someone who's kind of a prominent bootstrapper had a tweet the other day about how for his SaaS, he just implemented file uploading using some JavaScript library, and it took him like, I don't know, like a day. So not an insignificant amount of time, but not a huge amount of time. It's a long time if you're a developer to take all day. But I saw, so, like, I saw his tweet, and I was like, oh, like, why didn't he use Simple File Upload? Like, clearly my product is crap. Okay, so this happened at like 9am. So then, like, later in the day, this just happened a couple days ago, I went to see if I had any new signups. And as you know, like, I've been pretty flat for like two or three weeks now, signups have been pretty flat. So, in one day, I got $325 boost in my MRR. One day.
Michele Hansen  33:19
Colleen Schnettler  33:20
That has never happened in the history of my product, like ever. I was like, whoa.
Michele Hansen  33:25
So did someone Tweet it, like, add it to that thread, or, like what happened?
Colleen Schnettler  33:29
No, no one added it to the thread. And I didn't add it to the thread because he was clearly looking for a non-paid solution. So it seems like it wasn't that he hated my product or it was bad, he just wasn't looking for this kind of solution I was offering. I don't really know what happened. But a whole bunch of people signed up.
Michele Hansen  33:50
These two things happened on the same day, and you don't have any conclusively linking them, but it feels suspicious that they wouldn't be linked.
Colleen Schnettler  34:00
It's super weird, right? 
Michele Hansen  34:01
Colleen Schnettler  34:02
Um, so I am trying to like, I'm just really starting to try and get into, like, Google Analytics and understand that. Anyway, so that was, my point of that story is like, you know, this is, we're never bored. I'm never bored, right? Like one day, I'm like, this thing is miserable. The next day, I'm like, I'm the most brilliant person in the world. Like, it's never, it's never boring. I guess my point of that story was it's all over the place. I'm all over the place with, with this product. And some days I feel like it's just not, not as good as it should be. Some days I feel like I'm charging too much. And then other days I have, like I realized I have, there's all this power in this thing I built that no one is utilizing. So that's something I really want to spend some time getting some content going out there and spend some time, like, showing people why it's more powerful than, than, you know, other solutions they've been using.
Michele Hansen  34:58
You seem really fired up. 
Colleen Schnettler  35:00
I am. I, I've just had like, a, it's been, like, a really good week. I mean, from a work perspective. And although I didn't get to spend the time, you know, I got, okay. I don't have a lot of time to spend on the product the next month or so, so I'm just taking it in little bits, right. And so this week, it's a tiny thing, but someone pointed out to me, and I think this also plays into psychology. Okay, so my marketing site is built in Tailwind UI. My application site is built off of Bootstrap. Bootstrap and Tailwind are not friends. I can't just throw Tailwind into my Bootstrap site.
Michele Hansen  35:37
If it makes you feel better, the Geocodio dashboard was on Bootstrap, and the Geocodio marketing website was on Railwind for, like, a really long time, like, like, you, like, we were on the like, 2013 version of Bootstrap for, like, a very long time. And it wasn't until like maybe six months or a year ago that we actually got them both on Tailwind. So you're not the only one. Okay, so back to yours.
Colleen Schnettler  36:06
So this. Okay, so if you are on my marketing site, and you click through to sign up to get the free trial, here's the thing that happens. The nav bars are different.
Michele Hansen  36:17
Colleen Schnettler  36:18
Yeah, it's not good, and someone pointed it out to me. They were like, oh, I had to click back and forth a few times to make sure it was still the same application. And I was like, oh, my goodness. And so I can't, but it was like, it was, so it's just this visual thing. But this he pointed out, he was like, you know, that's, that made me think I was at the wrong place, it might make me close the window.
Michele Hansen  36:40
Yeah it might make them think something was wrong, or, like, they accidentally got led off to another site that wasn't the right one. And like, maybe it's, like, phishing or something, like.
Colleen Schnettler  36:50
Exactly, that's exactly what this guy said. And I was like, oh, my gosh. And so, so my, my Simple File Upload technical accomplishment this week, was basically like, and because I can't, my application is pretty complicated. I can't just pull out Bootstrap and drop in Tailwind. That's gonna take me forever. So I actually, like, just stole, stole is the wrong word. I grabbed some of the Tailwind styles and just over, you know, and overrode my Bootstrap styles just for the navbar. So anyway, the point is, now the nav bars look the same. And it's like, it sounds like a small thing. But like, I think the mental block for, if you sign up and I drop you to a totally different site, you're like, wait, what? 
Michele Hansen  37:29
Like, yeah, it's like, something is, like, the brain is a little bit like, danger, something is different.
Colleen Schnettler  37:34
Yeah, exactly. So, so another, so it was another big CSS week for me, which is not my forte, but I got it. 
Michele Hansen  37:41
I wrote JavaScript this week, which is not my forte.
Colleen Schnettler  37:46
Oh, jack of all trades. 
Michele Hansen  37:48
Well, we wrote stuff that, that's not our forte, and you're going back and forth between feeling like it's amazing and you've built something super powerful. And then, also feeling like it's, really has a long way to go, and is it ever going to get there, which, honestly, is how I feel, like, I feel the exact same way about my book. Like, every day, it's like, oh, my God, this is a hot mess. And then I'm like, actually, this is amazing and I should just publish it now. Like, I think that's, I think that's just like part of building something, whether it's a book or you know, software. I mean, yeah.
Colleen Schnettler  38:31
And honestly, I think it's part of the fun. Like, I honestly do, like I, it makes it interesting. Like, I've worked jobs that are really boring, and they're really boring. Like, this is way more exciting.

Michele Hansen  38:52
I think that’s the thing I love about being an entrepreneur is that it's always different. And sometimes it's different in ways that are super boring and require a lot of paperwork. And sometimes it's different in ways that are like, super awesome, and exciting. But the fact that it is so different all the time is, is what makes it fun and makes me feel like I get to, like, feel lucky that I get to do this as my job.  On that note, perhaps we should sign off for this week. Thank you so much for listening. If you enjoyed this episode, please leave us a review on iTunes or tweet at us. We love hearing what you think about it. Have a good one.

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