Below the Line with James Beshara

#0 — Intro: Why “Below The Line”

An episode of Below the Line with James Beshara

By James Beshara
“The most exciting new podcast in the startup world.” - Eric Ries, Founder and NYTimes Best-Selling Author

Below the Line — Observing what’s really there.

Should we “aim as high as possible” or “detach from results”? Should I be content where I am or always strive for “better”? We now know a lot about the field of sports psychology — but what can the best creators, founders, leaders, and research tell us about the nascent field of creator psychology? What are the real stories behind the men and women leading the world forward?

Subscribe to Below The Line to find out.
More places to listen

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#17 — Kevin Rose — The Man Who’s Seen It All
Kevin Rose is one of the most recognizable individuals in the startup world. As a founder, he and his team created the news aggregation site Digg, which became a household name, putting him on magazine covers around the world and creating an iconic brand in Silicon Valley — but it wasn’t a story that ended in champagne and ringing an IPO bell... As an investor, his list of angel investments is next to impossible to beat: Twitter, Facebook, Square, and NextDoor to name a few.  He also was podcasting back in 2004 when the world was still just learning how to pronounce the word iPod... so suffice it to say, if he is into it, there’s a very likely chance it’s about to become a very big deal. He is not only incredibly honest and open about his successes and failures, but he’s enthusiastically trying to get others to share just as openly.  We go below the line on what it’s like to build something to hundreds of millions of dollars to then see it crumble, on how we tend to overcorrect after failure, the necessary side of experiences that help us mature, spouses and their integral part in the equation as an entrepreneur, and more. Enjoy this episode with the incomparable Kevin Rose.
1:43:48
July 16, 2019
#16 — Hiten Shah — Knowledge Bombs
My favorite thing about being a founder is the ability to make your own decisions and have to live with them, and thus have to learn from them. I am constantly introspective about my thoughts: What am I thinking? Where did it come from?  The desire to be “liked” is probably the most selfish thing in the world. You want to be really mindful of the problems you are creating, when things that were working stop working and being able to identify those things much earlier when running a business.
2:21:01
July 9, 2019
#15 — Eric Ries (Pt 2) — Changing The Way Startups Are Built
Eric Ries, NY Times best-selling author, and startup sage comes back to the podcast for part 2 of our conversation we started in episode 3. We cover everything from sustainable productivity of teams, unleashing creativity, and about his (insanely) audacious company that is 8 years into their “beginning” with the Long Term Stock Exchange. It’s one of the most interesting companies out there — and for a man that’s dedicated to changing the way startups are built, it’s no surprise that he’s taken on the task of building a better stock exchange. Enjoy this conversation with the one and only, Eric Ries.
1:22:20
July 3, 2019
#14 — Alex Snodgrass — Food For Thought
Alex Snodgrass, aka The Defined Dish, has built a social media following that would make any brand jealous, with over hundreds of thousands of followers engaging around her simple and incredibly tasty whole30 and paleo dish recipes every day. She has all the social media (and in real life) love that creates a pretty pristine Above the Line version of her business. But a simple ingredient that made the conversation with this creator such an interesting one was her honesty on what it’s really like to be a social media “influencer”. We talk about everything from the fact that 2 years in (and with little traction), deciding if it was still worth doing, simplification being a key to success, anxiety attacks and the importance of investing in mental health — and in the midst of naturally being a people-pleaser, and having a spouse, two daughters, employees and hundreds of thousands of people that would want some of her time requires something simple and powerful: a checklist of things that helps remind her daily what she needs to do for herself. It’s a special episode of Below The Line with Alex today — we hope you enjoy it. About the host: James Beshara is an angel investor, advisor, founder, and general startup-helper in San Francisco, California. He has started three companies, sold one (Tilt; acq by Airbnb), and angel invested in multiple billion-dollar startups in his career. And now he's talking openly and honestly with leaders about what's going on "below the line" in their lives and careers that has made them the people that the are; the 90% of the story you don't read about or hear about anywhere else. If you have any questions, feel free to email us at askbelowtheline@gmail.com and follow us on twitter @belowthelinepodcast or follow James @JamesBeshara. "Below the Line with James Beshara" is brought to you by Straight Up Podcasts, LLC.
54:10
June 27, 2019
#13 — Matt MacInnis — A Beautiful Mind(set)
Matt MacInnis is a founder and investor in Silicon Valley, and he’s widely seen as one of the best personal angel investors out there — combining his experience as a founder (and knowing what made his investors actually helpful and others unhelpful) with the insight into what spaces and products are on the rise. That’s his day job though. He is a profoundly deep thinker, an articulate leader, but most importantly, he’s honest. He’s seen all the ups and all the downs a founder can see, so you throw experience into that equation, and you’ve got a hell of a conversation. Some of our favorite quotes from the episode: "It is perfectly acceptable to go start a company with insane odds against you. If you understand the outcome will be beautiful, no matter what, thats the mindset you need to approach it with and it will be beautiful." "I could not be where I am today without the hard experiences I had to go through, and it sucked… but they were necessary." "That was the last time I put another person in the slot of alpha, on a pedestal, someone to emulate…" on his experience with Steve Jobs "You look around and think that everyone else has it figured it out — and they don't…and I am the first to admit that I’m faking it too." “I knew where I was strong and I knew where I wasn't, and I was fighting that instead of accepting it.” “When I sit down across from an entrepreneur…and they really want me to invest, and its not one I can invest in…They’re not answering “should Matt be an investor” while they're trying to answer “can I get Matt to invest in this?” — and these are vastly different questions.” “Don't win job offers. Go see if you test positive for that particular company or role and let “no” be as beautiful as yes because its the right thing. We are not as interested in truth as we are desire...”
1:38:27
June 20, 2019
#12 — Diana Chapman — Coaching Towards Consciousness
Diana Chapman is a best-selling author — her book “the 15 commitments of conscious leadership” is one of my all-time favorites — She is also an advisor and executive coach who has worked with over 1,000 organizational leaders, as well as a founding partner of Concious Leadership Group. Her incredibly powerful book has a great subtitle — “A new paradigm for sustainable success”... with the key phrase being sustainable success. Today I get a chance to talk with her about so many different topics, but they almost all lead back to that phrase. Check out this episode to learn more.
1:42:00
June 18, 2019
#11 — Sahil Lavingia — Solo Journey
Sahil Lavingia is the CEO and Founder of Gumroad, a platform to help creators create more through simple e-commerce and audience tools. He is also known for insightful and refreshing points of view on Twitter and Medium. To round it out, he’s also a designer, painter in addition to being a technology CEO and writer. Sahil and I have had similar paths in creation, from tech to design to art, as well as being a founder that has seen almost everything. From being employee #2 at Pinterest to starting his own company, to coverage in just about every magazine, every investor in Silicon Valley wanted to be a part of what he was building to layoffs, then more layoffs, to then being the only person running his company, bordering on depression for a long stretch of time, and now back to a tight-knit team and a business that will bring in over $5m in revenue this year, profitable and actually growing faster than ever. In addition to the experience he’s had, he’s begun to articulate what it has been like as a creator, and his tweets and essays on the topic, up there with Justin Kan, Eric Ries and a handful of other guests have given people some of the most realistic glimpses of what it’s truly like, and I can’t wait for you to hear this behemoth of an episode.
3:05:16
June 11, 2019
#10 — Ryan Hoover — Products of our Environment
 Ryan Hoover is the founder and CEO of ProductHunt — the most popular way to discover new products and services on the web. In 2016, ProductHunt was acquired by AngelList, the worlds’ most popular way to invest in startups. It was a match made in heaven, but it’s hard to say the path to that point wasn’t fraught with its share of challenges.  Ryan is one of the most popular voices when it comes to new services, and we cover the new trends he’s tracking, his love of podcasting, the “grass is only greener” version of the story for a venture-backed founder, and the differences he has noticed in his career from being an employee to founder to founder within a larger organization.  Email James questions at askbelowtheline@gmail.com or follow us on Twitter (twitter.com/gobelowtheline). "Below the Line with James Beshara" is brought to you by Straight Up Podcasts LLC.
1:25:00
June 4, 2019
#Check-In — Peter Carnochan and James
Peter Carnochan is my guest today. Peter is a psychologist, psychoanalyst, and executive coach here in San Francisco — he is also my executive coach. He was first introduced to me in 2014 by Alexis Ohanian, the co-founder or Reddit, who said I needed to meet his executive coach... and that I might benefit from chatting with him. 4 plus years later, I chat with Peter just about every other week, and this conversation isn’t unlike many I’ve had before with Peter — going from tactical topics to expansive philosophical ones and back. We’re going to do check-in episodes together every few weeks where he checks in on the project of this podcast, talks about his favorite take aways (from the perspective of being one of the most highly regarded executive coaches in Silicon Valley), as well as the Below The Line journey of what’s going on in creating this podcast.  You’ll see why I love chatting with this brilliant guy during this episode, and hear our top takeaways from previous episodes. May is Mental Health Awareness month as well, and at the very end, you’ll hear us touch on that from both the creator and human aspect, and I chat about some of the best advice I’ve ever heard on the topic.  Email James questions at askbelowtheline@gmail.com  Follow us on Twitter (twitter.com/gobelowtheline).  "Below the Line with James Beshara" is brought to you by Straight Up Podcasts 
1:49:36
May 28, 2019
#8 — Ryan Caldbeck — Talking Allowed
Ryan Caldbeck and his co-founder Rory Eakin founded what has become one of the most innovative investment platforms I’ve ever seen with their award-winning company, CircleUp. In short, they use machine learning analysis to find and fund amazing companies in the consumer packaged goods space, companies like Halo Top, Rebbl, Smarty Pants vitamins — and we actually share some of those companies like Halo Top. But, being the founder of an innovative investment approach that is hitting its stride is only the above-the-line version of Ryan's story. Last year, Ryan started sharing what his entrepreneurial experiences have really been like. His open and candid writing on twitter is shared within founder circles more than any other writing, because in a world of posturing and BS, he has begun to turn the tide on with something as simple as honesty— something the entrepreneurial world is craving. We talk about what he’s shared, what he thinks a lot about, where we can do better, what it’s really like to go through a “Pivot” with a capital P. He does it all with a contagious sense ownership and accountability, which is why I think he is a major force in evolving the conversation of what it’s like to be a founder. Email James questions at askbelowtheline@gmail.com Follow us on Twitter (twitter.com/gobelowtheline). "Below the Line with James Beshara" is brought to you by Straight Up Podcasts LLC
1:29:02
May 22, 2019
#7 — Hannah Willson — Leading Within The Org
Hannah Willson is an executive, a mom, and has made the jump from large public company to the world of fast-moving startups — and she’s one of my neighbors. This podcast is an exercise of going below the line with founders, leaders, creators of all kinds, and for any startups that make a dent in the universe, even employee 100 shoulders the weight of attempting to create something special.  Hannah was most recently the VP of Sales (often the most stressful department in a startup) at Rainforest QA, one of the fastest growing startups in the Bay Area, and we talk about everything from balancing being a mother, wife, friend, and an executive, how the things that can make you great at sales can often hold you back as a sales _leader_, the stories that have helped shape who she has become, and the recently acquired habit of meditation; among other things. So let’s get into it with my good friend and one of the most respected executives in San Francisco. And for those looking forward to what crazy drink we shared this episode... you’re out of luck, because I forgot to do that this time...  Email James questions at askbelowtheline@gmail.com or follow us on Twitter (twitter.com/gobelowtheline). "Below the Line with James Beshara" is brought to you by Straight Up Podcasts LLC
1:15:11
May 16, 2019
#6 — Corby Davidson — The Entertainer
Corby Davidson is a radio personality from James’ hometown of Dallas, Texas. At age 23, Davidson knew he wanted to “do what Howard Stern does,” and eventually became the award-winning co-host of one of the country’s most-listened to radio station. Corby and James discuss what it’s been like to pursue this career type, the stories that have shaped him as an individual, and after thousands of interviews, what makes for a great interviewer. Enjoy this episode of ‘Below the Line’ with one of James’ childhood heroes, one of the most popular sports radio hosts out there, and last but not least... simply one of the most entertaining people to ever sit behind a mic.  Email James questions at askbelowtheline@gmail.com Follow us on Twitter (twitter.com/gobelowtheline). "Below the Line with James Beshara" is brought to you by Straight Up Podcasts LLC
1:17:00
May 7, 2019
#5 — Max Roser — Going Below The (Global) Line
Bill Gates refers to him as his “favorite economist” for the work he does with his organizaiton “Our World in Data” (www.ourworldindata.org). Today’s guest is Max Roser — and he and his team have influenced several best-selling books, countless news articles, and spurred some of the most important discussions in recent years with his simple premise for a website: what can the data of our world tell us about where we came from and where we’re headed?   We cover everything from Max’s background and the founding of “Our World in Data”, to the long-term trends that have really surprised him and his team, to being one of the first non-profits to go through Y Combinator (and how beneficial it can be for non-profits to learn from how Silicon Valley operates).  Join us as we dive into these topics with Max in what I hope will be one of many episodes we get to have with him.  If you have any questions, feel free to email us at askbelowtheline@gmail.com and follow us on twitter @ twitter.com/gobelowtheline or follow James @ twitter.com/JamesBeshara "Below the Line with James Beshara" is brought to you by Straight Up Podcasts, LLC
1:12:00
May 2, 2019
#4 — Kathryn McCarron — Cage-Free Entrepreneurship
Kathryn McCarron is a San Francisco-based fashion designer and founder of her namesake ethical cashmere line, featured in stores from Bergdorf Goodman to Neiman Marcus to Lord & Taylor, from New York to South Korea... From being featured in New York Fashion Week at 25 to the cover of Cosmo, she is as humble as she is amazing, and I’m really excited to have the honor to chat with her today. Go to KathrynMcCarron.com to check out her work and see the above-the-line version. If you have any questions, feel free to email us at askbelowtheline@gmail.com and follow us on twitter @ twitter.com/gobelowtheline or follow James @ twitter.com/JamesBeshara "Below the Line with James Beshara" is brought to you by Straight Up Podcasts, LLC
1:22:40
April 30, 2019
#3 — Eric Ries — Psychological Journey
Eric Ries, New York Times best-selling author and CEO/Co-Founder of one of the most ambitious ideas on the planet right now (Long Term Stock Exchange) talks about the movement he started with his best-seller The Lean Startup and why the narratives need to change when it comes to building companies. He also shares his personal approach to starting companies now that he's 20 years into it, how to receive feedback, and how weak points can be hidden strengths if you detach from the story of how things should be going in your head.  If you have any questions, feel free to email us at askbelowtheline@gmail.com and follow us on twitter @ twitter.com/gobelowtheline or follow James @ twitter.com/JamesBeshara "Below the Line with James Beshara" is brought to you by Straight Up Podcasts, LLC
1:31:10
April 16, 2019
#2 — Mike Maples — The Original
Mike Maples is one of the original seed investing gangstas. Seriously. He was the first investor in Twitter, along with investments in other world-changing companies like Cruise, Lyft, Okta, Twitch, and more back when “seed investor” was barely a term.  He is consistently named as one of the best investors in Silicon Valley and is also "the man who taught me how to invest" according to Tim Ferris, and beyond his brilliance as an investor, he might also be the nicest guy in Silicon Valley. Listen in as he shares his stories from his childhood, what's really causing the growth of inequality in our country, and a bit about a concept I had never heard about called "scissor statements" that is borderline terrifying.  If you have any questions, feel free to email us at askbelowtheline@gmail.com and follow us on twitter @ twitter.com/gobelowtheline or follow James @ twitter.com/JamesBeshara "Below the Line with James Beshara" is brought to you by Straight Up Podcasts, LLC
1:58:45
April 4, 2019
#1 — Justin Kan — The Philosopher CEO
Justin Kan is the exceptionally talented Silicon Valley founder and investor that’s co-founded companies like Twitch, SocialCam, Exec, and Atrium (with over $1bn in exits). He is also a former partner of the famed accelerator Y Combinator and a personal investor in dozens more startups.  Today’s conversation covers everything from his near death experience that shaped his life to how to increase your baseline happiness (heads up: it has nothing to do with selling your company).   Email James questions at askbelowtheline@gmail.com Follow us on Twitter @ twitter.com/gobelowtheline — “Below the Line with James Beshara" is brought to you by Straight Up Podcasts LLC.
1:07:41
April 4, 2019
#0 — Intro: Why “Below The Line”
What is the optimal psychological approach to your career each day. Is it “aim as high as possible” or is it “detach from results?” Is it to be content where you are or to always strive for “better”? We now know a lot about the field of sports psychology — but what can the best research tell us about the nascent field of business psychology? We know mental health is a serious issue for founders and creators, but how can we avoid the mental health traps that await us when setting out to create, lead, and impact?  What began as an idea for a compilation and potential book of interviews from the best founders, leaders, and researchers on the optimal psychological approaches for pursuing careers, leading companies, and life in general has now turned into this podcast... And it is a chance for you to listen in on my interviews with everyone from the founders of billion-dollar companies, to legendary investors, to New York Times best-sellers, to philosophers, spiritual leaders, and people researching the science behind finding flow in your work and decision making.  About the host: James Beshara is an angel investor, advisor, founder, and general startup-helper in San Francisco, California. He has started three companies, sold one (Tilt; acq by Airbnb), and angel invested in multiple billion-dollar startups in his career. And now he's talking openly and honestly with others about what's going on "below the line" in their worlds... the things that have made them who they are and the things they *really* think about each day — the 90% of the story you don't read about or hear about anywhere else.  If you have any questions, feel free to email us at askbelowtheline@gmail.com and follow us on twitter @ twitter.com/gobelowtheline or follow James @ twitter.com/JamesBeshara "Below the Line with James Beshara" is brought to you by Straight Up Podcasts, LLC
23:02
March 28, 2019
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