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July 25, 2023 · 79 min read

Season 4, Ep. 19 – Founder to Founder: With Cullen Schwarz, CEO & Founder, DoneGood

After a stint in politics, Cullen Schwarz, CEO and Founder of DoneGood, realized that the best way regular people could influence policy was through spending. This led him to start DoneGood, the online marketplace that features companies dedicated to social good. On this week’s episode, he sits down with Teja to discuss the business, growing a good team of people, and everything in between.


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Teja (00:00:05):

Yo, what’s up y’all? Today we got a really cool episode for you guys. We interviewed Cullen Schwartz. He is the founder and CEO of a company called DoneGood. It’s a really cool company. They empower consumers basically to drive social change by making sure the companies that they enable, folks like us to buy from, are creating positive impacts in the world, beyond like, you know, their explicit business functions. And so, really interesting interview with a cool guy, and we talk about, you know, his business, his approach to his work, his approach to building his company, the growth that he’s had, in terms of thinking about productivity at his company, politics in the U.S., which may or may not be interesting for our international listeners, who knows. But yeah, it’s a really cool conversation. We think you’ll like it,  and at the time that you guys are hearing this, ’cause we recorded this probably, I don’t know, maybe one or two weeks before this one is out, they are in the final days of their crowdfunding drive. You can find that on The links will be in the show notes. This company is a cool one. You guys will love this one. He’s got great energy. You can feel the energy from his mission emanating off him. It’s cool. (THE FRONTIER THEME ENDS)

Cullen (00:01:26):

Denver’s more my speed, more, you know, I mean…

Teja (00:01:29):


Cullen (00:01:30):

That’s what I was saying. It’s like, you’ve got all the city stuff, all the concerts, and all the shows, and all the, you know, plays, and the arts, and things to do. Red Rocks. Yeah, I can Uber to and from my house, best venue in the world, you know. At the same time, I can be on a mountain trail in 20 minutes and forget that I live in a city. It’s really [the] best of both worlds.

Teja (00:01:50):

Are you into hiking? Like, are you a big hiker?

Cullen (00:01:52):

Well, I don’t know if I’d say I’m a big hiker. I hike, you know. I go, especially when I’m down here in Salida. My sister’s a former rafting guide, stand up paddleboard guide, so like, I can do river stuff with her. I work too damn much <laugh> at this company, so I can’t say, I’m not like, huge into any of it, but I do, you know, I do all of it. Yeah.

Teja (00:02:14):

Yeah. That’s cool. Man, I love like, I got into hiking, I guess, over the pandemic, like most people in the U.S. (Cullen: Yep.) So we hit like, a bunch of the fourteeners in Colorado, and that’s so fun. Like, I love just like, the vibe of waking up super early, the only thing open is like, the McDonald’s and like, freaking…where is it, Idaho Springs. (Cullen: Yeah, yeah.) You got like, a bunch of mountains close by on your way into Denver, you know? 

Cullen (00:02:44):

Totally. For those who don’t know, the fourteeners are, there are like, what is it, 50, about 52 maybe, about a deck of cards worth, (Teja: Yes.) of peaks in Colorado that are above 14,000 feet, and there’s none that are above 15,000 feet. So those 50, whatever, are the tallest, they’re the ones above 14,000. So doing a fourteener is a thing people like to do out here. I’ve done a few. I need to get one scheduled. You know, like I said, you know, so I’m not huge into it, but like, I feel like I should do one a summer, at least. You know what I mean? (Teja: Yes.) Like, I just was saying the other day like, “Alright, I really need to get my like, fourteener of the summer scheduled,” you know? (Teja: Yes.)

Cullen (00:03:22):

And you know, check another off the list. Some people have done all 50, whatever. I think there’s some that you can’t hike. You have to rock climb. So like, that’s it. Like, okay, I’m a guy, this is a perfect example, I’m a guy who does fourteeners. I’m not a guy who’s trying to do all of them. You know what I mean? (Teja: Totally.) I’m trying to do like, I’m not trying to do one every weekend, day of the year. Like, you know, yeah, one a summer. I’ll do one a summer. That sounds pretty good, you know <laugh>?

Teja (00:03:47):

<Laugh>. Totally. There was some dude that I saw, I was using like, the REI website. He like, freaking did a fourteener every day for like, a summer or something like this. Which is like, you’re just insane. It’s insane.

Cullen (00:03:58):

And that’s cool. I’m not that guy, you know? (Teja: <Laugh>.) I wanna do some other stuff. I wanna go to shows at Red Rocks and then like, you know, rest the next day. You know, I wanna have a mix of all the things to do in the Denver, Colorado period, you know?

Teja (00:04:13):

Yeah, no. I feel, and we’re building companies. Like, we’re trying to, you know, live our mission. Sometimes I kind of feel like people go too deep into that. I’m like, what are you doing like, for your job? Like, is your job climbing mountains? Which that’s a cool job, but I don’t know <laugh>.

Cullen (00:04:29):

Sure. Well, no, that’s the other thing. I mean, I do spend an inordinate amount of time working, too, you know? And I have tried to, I say I’m a recovering workaholic, you know, (Teja: Yeah.) because I worked in politics, which is, you know, you’re working on Capitol Hill, that’s like, you know, late nights and whatever, and then, during campaign season, if you go out, and you know, you’re working on a U.S. Senate race, working on a governor’s race, something like that, that’s all day every day. I mean, you’re killing yourself. You know, that’s what you’re signing up for. And then, you know, I stopped work in D.C. on a Friday, packed up my stuff over the weekend, drove to, originally, Boston, where we used to be headquartered on a Monday, and started work on a Tuesday.

Cullen (00:05:09):

So I, you know what I mean? I haven’t had too much time off, but in the last couple of years, I have, you know, well, one, I just kinda said, “If this requires me to kill myself, both like, financially and/or with work-life balance, then it’s not working.” You know what I mean? It’s like, well, I’m gonna do whatever I can to make this thing work. Well, you know, pay yourself nothing? Work all day every day and destroy yourself, you know? And which I think, I do believe reduces your creativity, your productivity, a lot more science on that, you know, will come out all the time. So I have, in the last couple years, tried to rebalance and say, one, you know, I pay myself somewhat more now. I’m still making less than I was eight years ago in my last job in D.C., but at least it’s less as a percentage as opposed to multiples. You know what I’m saying? (Teja: Yes, yes.)

Cullen (00:05:59):

And then with work-life balance up, I tried to, like I said, I tried to rebalance and work more normal schedules, practice a little more “self-care”, as they call it. I mean, you know, just being decent to yourself, and like I said, I try recognizing that. I think that does put you in an optimal, you know, you’re more productive, more creative. Now, maybe there’s a limit to that. Maybe I don’t go lay on the beach for three months and say, “Okay, but I’m gonna come back for a month,” (Teja: I’m balanced!) “and be stupid creative and productive in that month.” You know? I mean like, with everything, I’m sure that’s what they call a work-life balance, right? But trying to balance a little more and, you know, be sane so that I do have, yeah, some time to also…I mean, it’s your mental health. That’s real. I mean, being able to go do the fourteener hike or go to shows, I mean, going to shows at Red Rocks is part of my mental health plan. Like, I really, you know what I mean? And that said, yeah, I do work a lot, so I don’t do a fourteener every day, you know <laugh>?

Teja (00:06:55):

Man, so you’ve had such an interesting like, career and background that kind of brought you into entrepreneurship.

Cullen (00:07:03):

If you were there every day, I don’t know if it’s all as interesting as it sounds, but thanks. Yeah.

Teja (00:07:07):

Well, I think it’d be cool to kind of walk through like, so your time in politics and advocacy, and then how sort of that kind of work brought you to founding a company? You know, I’m curious specifically like, do you feel like it’s more leveraged to build the company than maybe even involving yourself in civic actions? Or do you not think of it that way? Like, I’m just curious about your mindset there.

Cullen (00:07:30):

Yeah. Well, if by leverage, you mean like, the power we have to create change, I think, (Teja: Yeah.) the reason I quit that political career to do what I do now, is because I believe, you know, you see this kind of stuff on our website. I believe it. I think it’s true that the dollars we spend, the consumer spending, is the world’s most powerful force for change, because we are in a supply and demand economy, and everything that consumers demand, we have total power. We can make capitalism, we can make market economies, whatever we want, because whatever we demand the market supplies. And so if we use our purchasing decisions to demand, right, like, okay, so what are consumers’ demands? Well, they demand these kinds of products, market supply, those kinds of products. Well, we demand, you know, kind of these price points, market figures out how to find those price points.

Cullen (00:08:12):

Well, if we demand, you know, more products that are made with living wage jobs, then there’ll be more living wage jobs, less poverty in the world. And if we demand products that are made in ways that fight climate change instead of cause it, the market supplies more fight against climate change. And it’s happening, you know, the CSR departments…the term “social enterprise”, “social impact” didn’t exist, you know, back when I was in college, right? Like, now that’s a thing you can study and get a degree in, right? Like, the explosion of the number of social enterprises over the last decade…there was a report, social enterprise census that just came out last year, says there’s now 11 million, and the World Economic Forum said this shows that like, this is one of the most important and impactful movements of our time, the social enterprise movement

Cullen (00:08:57):

And of course, so then the more we choose to support social enterprises, the more of them there are, the more of them will succeed, the more other businesses will follow suit, and then even major corporations are noticing this. Ten years ago, corporate social responsibility, well, at least certainly 15, 20 years ago, that wasn’t even…corporate social responsibility, ESG, you know, environment social and governance, and these kind of terms, that wasn’t a thing. It wasn’t on the radar. It was just “make money, maximum profit”. But now major corporations are seeing that, well, there is growing consumer demand, all kinds of research on this. Now more and more consumers, especially millennials, Gen Z, and then even now, Gen Z, they say are changing their Gen X parents’ mindsets on things, you know?

Cullen (00:09:40):

And so you can see in the polling and in the data that just more and more people understand that like, well, who I give my money to when I buy something, or for any reason, I’m helping them do more of whatever it is they do. Well, what are they doing? They got people locked in poverty, making stuff in some sweatshops somewhere, they’re causing climate change. I mean, I’m funding that. I’m funding that with my dollar, and so people thinking more about that, moving the purchases. So now you got, in 2011, less than 15% of the S&P 500 were issuing an annual corporate social responsibility report. Now, we’re basically almost to a hundred percent. It’s somewhere in the nineties, you know? They basically all are doing that. 

Cullen (00:10:22):

Now, since this change is occurring, consumers have the power to accelerate the pace of that change. We are doing it. But then, so where DoneGood comes in, we’re, you know, Forbes called us the “Amazon for social good”. We’re the site where we’re just trying to make a quick, easy, you can shop for all sorts of kinds of products that you want, clothing, coffee, bedsheets, shampoo, you know, I mean, just, we’re working to build out as many companies and as many categories as quickly as we can. We’ve got like, 120 plus companies on the site now. We screen ’em all for social environmental impact, so you can just come and buy what you need and know that all these companies pay good wages. These companies use really eco-friendly practices, a lot of ’em are supporting other good causes with a portion of the purchases, like helping women escape forced sex trafficking, or donations to orphanages, or all sorts of other good things, too. So every dollar you spend in, you know, it fits with your beliefs, and you’re making the world better.

Teja (00:11:13):

So why do you think that like, or how do you think that consumers have sort of upped their understanding? Is it just access to information? Like, why are we more, you know, educated on these topics?

Cullen (00:11:26):

Well, yeah, I think there’s more information about it. I mean, I’ll date myself a little bit. I mean, I was an undergrad at the turn of the century, you know, like ‘99 to ‘03, and it was like, the ‘90s was like, the first wave of sweatshops, but kind of awareness and activism, (Teja: Right.) that was really, now people talk about like ethical, sustainable fashion. They try to, you know, frame it in the positive, and back then it was like, anti-sweatshop, right? So there was just, there was a lot of, the media did a good job of reporting, you know, in the ‘90s, all sorts of stories and exposes coming out, and then later, documentaries and things like this, where in the first part of the 20th century, it was all, you bought whatever you needed from people in your town.

Cullen (00:12:02):

And, you know, before, it was always, you trade with who’s around you. And then in the 20th century, we figured out mass production, and, you know, there’s even some, okay, you can crank out more stuff faster and cheaper. Like, yeah, okay. I mean, there’s some benefit. And then the world went that way, and then all of a sudden, right, because of the like, okay, well, companies make, huge companies are trying to maximize shareholder return every quarter, so how do we make it a little cheaper? How do we make it a little faster? (Teja: Right, right.) You start putting factories overseas where there’s not regulation and protection, and you’re paying people poverty wages, (Teja: Right.) and you know, doing terrible stuff to the environment, yeah. And in terms of, well, that’s super cheap and super fast, and just people…we didn’t know that all of a sudden, you know, there was more reporting about like, hey, so a lot of the stuff we buy in stores is made by people living in terrible conditions, working super long hours, six or seven days a week, and earning next to nothing, or literal human trafficking, modern day slavery.

Cullen (00:13:04):

And you, you know, just terrible stuff, and so that was an initial awakening. And you know, I think that’s just continued. There’s just more and more information about that, and I think it, yeah, just more consciousness about, right? It used to be sort of, well, in my non-economic dealings, right, well, I should volunteer, and donate, and march, and nowadays, you know, post on social media, and vote, and do all these other things. But in the economy, there was just this prevailing, “Well, that’s business,” you know? This mindset, the old Milton Friedman philosophy, businesses are supposed to maximize profit at all costs, just extract maximum profit, increase shareholder return. And you know, and I’m supposed to work wherever they pay me the most, and I’m supposed to buy whatever’s the cheapest.

Cullen (00:13:50):

You just, you know, here you’re a moral person, and over here in the economy, you just do whatever. But in the economy is where we spend most of our time. I mean, we’re working 40 hours a week, we spend a majority of our time here, and what decisions we make as business owners or decisions we make as consumers or investors, or even just where to work, you know, that actually probably has more impact on the world than the other stuff. I’m not saying don’t do the other stuff. You know what I mean? Nonprofit work is super important, a lot of amazing nonprofits doing really great things, and it just is the case. Americans donated $327 billion to charity last year, and we spent over $14 trillion buying stuff. So that just means that if 2% of the dollars we spend could help reduce poverty, could help fight climate change, could help make the world better in some way, 2% of the dollars we spend can do as much good as all the donations to all the nonprofits in the country.

Cullen (00:14:44):

So it’s just, people are just becoming more aware of the fact that, well, what I do in the economy makes a big difference, and I actually have a lot of power with the dollars I spend to change business behavior. And if you want to, you know, address climate change, is D.C. gonna do it? They haven’t. So what do you need to do? You need to change business behavior. How are you gonna do that? Chasing consumer dollars. I mean, that’s what gets people to change. You make the right thing to do the profitable thing to do. And, yeah, I think there’s just more awareness to that and more desire. Like, even one big thing that’s also, along with consumer spending that’s driving businesses to change, is attracting workers, millennials, Gen Z, in particular, are recognizing like, “Hey, my job’s not just my job.”

Cullen (00:15:23):

“It’s where I spend the majority of my time on earth. How do I wanna spend my time on it? Well, I want to do something meaningful and purposeful, and I don’t just wanna, you know, I don’t know, do whatever random thing that gets me some money. I’d like to do something that I feel good about doing,” you know? And so there’s just more of that. And then that does, that changes business behavior. That’s, you know, BlackRock, one of the world’s largest institutional investor, they said, you know, 2018, in a huge, you know, earth-shattering letter, it was like, “We can’t do business with companies that can’t articulate some kind of social mission, because you’ll have a hard time attracting consumer spending, attracting investment, because there’s more impact in investing people who wanna invest their dollars and stuff that they feel good about. And then there’s, but one of the big things that they mentioned, too, was also, it’s like, “You’re gonna have a hard time attracting talented workers, people who wanna work for your company. Especially as, you know, millennials and Gen Z become a bigger percentage of the workforce, ’cause they wanna work…that’s something that they believe in,” you know? So yeah, people are more aware and people are using their economic power. They just, they wanna know that their decisions are in line with their beliefs, you know?

Teja (00:16:28):

How did you kind of develop like, your value system, and how are you like, resisting the allure of growth at all costs in your business? The pull of investors maximizing enterprise value, like, how are you kinda able to stay true to your mission and like, your values?

Cullen (00:16:46):

Yeah, because we like, baked this stuff in from the start, so first, we’re incorporated as a public benefit corporation, which is like a traditional C-corp in most ways, and now, and it’s become more mainstream. So investors are more aware and comfortable with investing in that kind of company. It does also mean that we have a social mission baked into our charter, and that our responsibility to pursue that social mission is on par with our responsibility to earn investors return, right? And so that means if we could, we can make decisions that are not necessarily for maximizing the bottom line or maximizing shareholder return if it’s in pursuit of our social mission. Now, that said, we’ve also set all this up so that our social impact and business success are not in conflict, right, (Teja: Right.) and on purpose, right? ‘Cause that’s supposed to be the point.

Cullen (00:17:35):

So what’s our social mission? Driving consumer dollars to amazing brands that are paying living wages, and empowering people, and investing in communities, and doing goods for the environment. And how do we make money? What’s our business success? The same way, right? Like, these things are one in the same, because we don’t charge our brands anything up front, because we always wanna drive more value to them than they’re providing to us. That’s part of the point is to make them more successful, never have them paying for stuff if we’re not driving sales their way. And so we earn a percentage of the sales and then, okay, so cool. What’s our social mission? Driving sales to these businesses? How do we make money and be successful as a business? By driving those, you know, sales and earning a percentage. So we’ve tried to just make sure everything was set up that way. It’s all aligned. So now there’s no, you know, there not in conflict. We’re not trying to do good at the expense of our business. That’s the same thing.

Teja (00:18:30):

That’s cool. So in like, practice, they sound like tactical, operational decisions. You’re not actually having a trade off between like, that social mission and driving value. That’s cool.

Cullen (00:18:40):

Not really. And even, you know, we’ve been like, happy just to surround ourselves with investors who are impact investors who believe in the cause, and are in it for the right reasons, too, you know? You know, that’s maybe somewhere you have to like, you know, you wanna be a little discerning. But that’s also, I think the good thing about being a social enterprise is, you know, you have, on the one hand, you know, maybe that makes it tougher to raise from like, sort of traditional, I just want a super quick return, super short amount of time. On the other hand, there’s impact investors who specifically are looking to invest in companies like this. (Teja: Yes.) Or I mean, I mentioned talent, people wanting to work here. Like. it’s, I take it as a real compliment.

Cullen (00:19:18):

It’s really touching. Well, like, at our last job opening last summer, we had, you know, while kind of the news reports is, “Oh, companies are having a hard time finding people to work there,” we had 1,200 applicants, and we didn’t even like, I mean, I think we paid a hundred bucks on LinkedIn to put it out, and we did some other posting on job boards to reach diverse audiences, because that’s important to us. But like, we didn’t like, you know what I mean? (Teja: Yeah.) We email our email list, everybody, you know, a ton of applicants just from like, our email list, our customer base, people who are in our community. And so, you know, there’s those advantages, too, right? Consumers who want to shop with companies like yours, people who want to work at companies like yours, investors who wanna invest in companies like yours. So, yeah, I don’t know. Like I said, we just, we’ve tried to be kind of from the very start to set it all up, so that we would avoid, you know, issues like that.

Teja (00:20:12):

So how did you kind of like, develop like, this value set? Like, are your folks or your family like, very politically active or aware? Like, why are you this person?

Cullen (00:20:25):

Wasn’t that a good question? I don’t know, man. You, me, and my therapist could all jump on a call. We could unpack, you know, we could unpack stuff for a little while, I guess. My folks were teachers. They were special ed teachers. So I, you know, I don’t know. They were doing a job that’s, I think, trying to, you know, do something caring and good for the world. My dad then became a principal. My mom, you know, kindergarten, first grade teacher also as well, (Teja: Cool.) but so they were in education. You know, I don’t know. I think they probably tried to teach me to be a nice guy and be fair and want fairness to exist in the world or whatever. You know, I do remember when I was like, 13, the state legislature in Michigan tried to pass an anti, kind of anti-teacher, anti-teacher union bill.

Cullen (00:21:13):

It was like, you can’t go on strike. But also, it’s like they ripped away healthcare benefits that had been negotiated. You know, I mean, I’m like, at the negotiating table, a lot of times it’s like, “Okay, well, we won’t take the raise, or we’ll take a very small raise, but because we get the great benefits.” Well, and then one day the legislature just unilaterally says, “Okay, all that stuff that’s been negotiated over decades, eh, we don’t like it. It’s expensive. We’re taking it away.” Like, “Well, alright. You gonna give us the raises back that we gave up for all that?” You know what I mean? This was all negotiated, and they, you know, so it was really, well, seemed unjust and unfair. And you know, my folks were like, involved and  had various points, each of them were like, the union stewards at their building or whatever.

Cullen (00:21:53):

And so, I don’t know. I mean, I don’t know. I guess that had some kind of impact. I generally think, when I was working in politics, when I was working on Capitol Hill, we had a work retreat, and somebody said, or the person leading the exercises or whatever said, “Write down in one sentence, why you do this kinda work? Why are you in politics?” And I wrote, like, instantly, “Because people who work for a living deserve to have a decent life and deserve,” you know, those were the words I wrote. But, you know, it’s…or, you know, deserve to like, share in the wealth they’re created, and the fact that we have like, over 60% of people in the richest country on earth living paycheck to paycheck, so they can’t afford a $400 unexpected expense of $400.

Cullen (00:22:35):

That’s weird, man. That’s not just. (Teja: Yeah.) It’s not cool. It’s not fair. When you talk about having people who are earning real, like, poverty. I mean, the minimum wage in this country is poverty wage. Also overseas, where you’ve got even less regulational worker protection, and, you know, things like slavery is still, I’m touched on it a little. It’s called human trafficking now. We think that’s a sanitized term. Let’s call it what it is. It’s modern day slavery. It’s still a $150 billion a year industry. There’s more slaves on the planet now than at any time in human history. And like, you know, when you know those things, well shit, you know? I guess, “Oh boy, it sure would be nice if I could not participate in systems that supported that.” And I will tell you even more of the like, backstory, when I was an undergrad, I got involved in a group called United Students Against Sweatshops.

Cullen (00:23:26):

And so we would get our universities to put codes of conduct in their apparel contracts. So whatever company wanted to make the university’s licensed apparel, the hoodies with the logo on it, the university’s logo on it, and all the bookstores and everywhere else they saw it, those are…for a big university, that’s big money. That’s a big contract. (Teja: Right?) So the codes of conduct that we got our universities to put in those contracts said that if you wanna bid on them, then you need to be able to demonstrate you’re paying above poverty wages, that the working conditions are saved, no forced overtime over 50 hours a week. Just basic protection to say, “Okay, we, the customer in this case is the university. We don’t want our products made in sweatshop conditions. So you need to, we’re only gonna do business with companies who can demonstrate that they’re not doing that.”

Cullen (00:24:11):

And that was, so then I’m like, you know, 20, that was really exposure to the power of consumerism as a tool for activism and to make the world better. But you know, that’s both, again, voting’s important. Donate to nonprofits, volunteer, do all that stuff, and at the same time, this is neither of those, this is a different thing. This is a consumer just using market demand to impact people’s lives and make the world better. And I thought that’s what I really thought. Like, well, what if you had a couple million individuals doing this? And what if one day, like, we used market forces to, where businesses were competing to be more ethical, to advertise what good companies they were. You know what I mean? And then I actually wrote a paper about this in college, like, sort of the, you know, modest proposal or whatever, the grand vision was like, yeah, so if you could, the new utopian ideal for the next century, right?

Cullen (00:24:59):

Like, 20th century capitalism and communism fought, you know, that was the kinda story of the 20th century, and then with some fascism in there. But like, in the new century, well, what if we, you know, what if it didn’t matter anymore? Like, what if, so what if, in capitalism though, businesses were competing to be more ethical, and pay better wages, and to be better for the environment, and then one day, you know, all the businesses in the world are paying amazing wages, and maybe they’re all worker-owned co-ops, you know? And then, well, if that were the case, like, extreme global poverty would be a thing of the past if every business were doing that, and if every business in the world were as sustainable as the ones on DoneGood right now, well then climate change wouldn’t be a thing.

Cullen (00:25:47):

We’d blow those Paris core goals out of the water. You know what I mean? (Teja: Mmm <affirmative>.)  And so that then, okay, well after this, it’s pie in the sky, the day that every business is like this. Yeah, I don’t know how long that’ll take. Change seems to happen quick these days, but like, we’re on the way, you know what I mean? And every time we decide to work for a better company, or spend our money with a better company, or invest in better companies, then we just, we keep taking the steps toward that world. And that just seems to me, especially, so you know, we kind of touched on it. I worked for, you know, a decade or so in politics and D.C., and there were, you know…what I’m talking about, using consumer spending to move the market just seems like a faster, more plausible path for change than major stuff coming outta D.C. Look, I worked there for all that time.

Cullen (00:26:33):

Well, I think there’s a lot of good people that are trying really hard to do good work, and it’s like, it’s such incremental change. You know what I mean? (Teja: Right.) Yeah, I spent three years of my life finally getting a bill passed, and once it gets passed, it’s so watered down, and so we made one small area of the federal budget slightly less shitty, and that’s three years of my life. And look, it’s important. I’m glad there’s people down there with energy, young kids, you know, doing that. It’s important work. Somebody’s gotta do it. It’s noble, it’s a good cause, but it feels more like fighting the other side to an endless tire, the small incremental change. I just think the more plausible path for big sweeping changes, consumers shifting their spending, and because I said it’s working, it’s happening. And we should, we have the power to make it happen more quickly.

Teja (00:27:18):

Like, I mean, this was like, 10 years ago, but I interned for Deval Patrick, who’s the governor of Massachusetts. I worked in the constituent services desk, you know, so I’m handling all the, “Hey, there’s a power line down in my blah, blah, blah.” (Cullen: Of course.) “The snow people haven’t come,” you know? (Cullen: Yeah.) And like, you’re just like, kind of just like, fighting fires, you know? But to me, that’s like, it’s totally like, that’s real politics, but you kind of take a step back and you’re like, damn. If like, the government is dealing with just like, putting out like…how much of their bandwidth is dealing with this random stuff, and how much do they have leftover to like, enact like, you know, reform or change or drive an agenda, you know? It’s like, 20%, and then they’re running for reelection already. 

Cullen (00:28:04):

Well, I was just saying. So that’s (Teja: It’s crazy.) exactly right. That’s just what I was gonna say, and then you have, especially if you’re in the House, in the Senate, at least you have like, six year old terms, and you, you know, don’t have to be running for reelection quite all the time. (Teja: Yeah.) I mean you kind of are a little all the time, but you know, you’re really hitting it hard in your last years. In the House, you’re up every two years. You’re (Teja: That’s crazy.) never, nah. You are in cycle every time, and you know, there’s just the systemic stuff. I mean, I saw, I don’t know how many, too many people know about “call time”. Call time is dialing for dollars, and members of Congress, especially if you’re in the House, and especially if you’re in a competitive seat, I actually, you know, I worked for a member of Congress who basically was like, the staff was always trying to find him and fight him to get him to go to call time.

Cullen (00:28:46):

They’re literally just sitting there with a list, calling up rich people, asking for money, and the system, I mean, that’s what it is. (Teja: Yes.) And the system we have, you know, requires it, because this is how it can be. You gotta buy TV ads, and now, you know, or other digital ads, and you gotta get your message out. Well, to do that, you see, you have to go raise money. Well, to do that, you have to call rich people all day. And you know, he actually said he hated it. He didn’t wanna do it. He goes, you know, when I was a boy and dreamed of being in Congress, I didn’t know I was gonna be a glorified telemarketer. That’s the thing. You know, people are like, “Oh, all the politicians are crooks. They’re all dirty, they’re all…” I’m like, that wasn’t my experience. My experience, there’s a lot of really good people who got in this for the right reasons.

Cullen (00:29:24):

They’re trying to do good stuff, and we got a system. I mean, there ain’t, you know, it’s the system’s fault. There’s no other way to do it. You gotta, you have to raise so many millions of dollars, you know, so yeah. We need, you know, we need campaign finances for them, and we, you know, we need independent redistricting, so we have to have these gerrymandered house districts, and like, you know, there’s the systemic stuff that needs to change, but you’ve got certain people who benefit from the system, you know?

Cullen (00:29:49):

It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy, you know like, rich people wanna maintain. And look, I’ll also say, it wasn’t my experience that, you know, any of the people I worked for or that I saw, you know, other members were like, “Hey, I’ll vote for this if you give me money.” It’s not like that. But you’re just, you’re on the phone with ’em, and they get to tell you what they think, and you and me are on the phone with ’em, telling ’em what we think, right? It’s just access and being able to communicate your point of view in the way that other people don’t, and so people with money like that system. They get access, and they get special treatment, and so then you gotta raise money from those people. Well, are you for changing the system to reduce my access, right? Like, shit don’t change. And so, (Teja: Yes.) like, I think we need systemic reform. Well, there’s people fighting for that, and I just think between, if it’s a race between getting that or a race between us all moving our purchases to awesome companies, this is just faster, and more plausible, and easier, and better, and more effective, you know?

Teja (00:30:48):

Totally. Yeah. And for worse, I almost feel like companies today resemble like, they’re like, little tribes, you know? Most of your time, I mean, you mentioned it today, as well, like, how most of your time you spent that you’re awake with your work, and you know, like, (Cullen: Yeah.) That’s where your relationships are forged. It’s more like, the social influence, and I feel like you actually can drive change and find identity at work more so than even like, in your civic life, you know? Like, you’re voting for like, your council member, or for your school board, or for your, you know, rep, but you’re like, “Okay, I’m not gonna see this guy or girl. Like, I’m not,” you know? I may see them once at a thing, but you see like, your colleagues, and you can influence them, and you can support certain missions with your company. I definitely agree with you. I feel like companies have more power, I mean, for better or for worse than like, I mean, many aspects of government, you know, and driving change, and I don’t know how I feel about that. Maybe that’s what the framers intended, you know <laugh>?

Cullen (00:31:52):

Well, you know, to a degree, they intended things to need to move slowly and get broad-based support. (Teja: Yes.) So like, you know, a small number of people or one guy couldn’t, couldn’t just, you know, drastically change things. And I think that they also assumed more of the collegial, and yeah. You know what I mean? Just, you know, obviously they didn’t foresee this level of organization or this kind of media, you know what I mean? Like, obviously there’s a lot of stuff that just isn’t possible to foresee 250 years later, you know what I mean? And so now like, again, I just do wanna keep saying, I’m not one of these folks who then says like, “Oh, the whole system’s screwed. Don’t vote.” Please keep voting. (Teja: Yes.) Please keep staying involved. I still donate to candidates. You know what I mean?

Cullen (00:32:36):

Like, it’s still important, ’cause if we pull out, especially, I see a lot of people who care about issues like climate change and economic equality like, kind of saying, “Ah, well my party’s not progressive enough,” or “This is all a bunch of B.S.,” or “I’m gonna vote, you know, third party,” and stuff. And it’s like, well, okay. Or they’re not gonna vote at all, but like then, you know, I come from Michigan. We’re talking 11,000 votes between Trump and Hillary in 2016. I think it was 70,000 across three states, and in Michigan that year, more people, there was an 11,000 difference, more than 11,000 showed up, and voted, and left “president” blank.

Teja (00:33:14):

That’s insane.

Cullen (00:33:15):

You know what I’m saying? So like, they just, they were like, “Ah, you know, I don’t know. I don’t like either of ’em, so I’m not gonna vote.” Okay, then you get Trump. You know what I mean? (Teja: Yeah.) So like, I just always, I wanna be careful. Look, I think the stuff I’m talking about, DoneGood, consumer spending, yeah, where you work, all these things, the impacts you can make in the economy are where more of your power lies and is it more effective? And at the same time, I don’t wanna be any part of causing the dissolution that also gets people who care about these issues to not vote. So I just always, I think we’re being both pretty clear about, I just want to be very clear (Teja: Totally.) that I’m not one of those people that says, “Ah, yeah, screw it. Don’t vote. Boycott the whole thing.” Well, then we start going backwards, you know?

Teja (00:33:59):

A hundred percent, and there’s more turnout among the older generations like, by default, and then things, yeah. So I’m curious. Like, I’m not educated on the subject matter, but I have like, tried to gain that like…what happens if we have like, really hard term limits and like, politics is a thing that you do for 5 to 10 years, and then you go into like, your normal life, you know? So you’re not like, you serve your country, you represent your, you know, neighbors, and then you go and you build a business, or you go contribute to the economy. Like, what’s your take on that?

Cullen (00:34:33):

Hey, by the way, if I could, I wanna answer that question, ‘cause I think that’s interesting. Could I do a shameless plug for our crowdfunding campaign here real quick, too? (Teja: Yes! Yes, please.) ‘Cause like that’s an important thing, (Teja: Yeah!) and I know that this is gonna air with about three days before, so I’ve kinda, you know, thinking, well, when can I bring this up in conversation? (Teja: No, no. Right now.) Instead I’m just gonna say, “Look, random plug,” yeah.

Teja (00:34:52):

I’m like, “Is he super anti-term limits?” No, go ahead, please. Let’s talk about your crowdfunded campaign.

Cullen (00:34:58):

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Let me get this in before I answer the question. (Teja: Yes.) Well, ’cause actually, I have mixed feelings about them, and I’ll tell you why, because I think there’s pros and cons. But, so we have a crowdfunding campaign going right now, and so, and it’s an equity crowdfunding campaign, which I don’t know if you know how many folks are familiar with that. Basically, you know, people are familiar with Kickstarter, that kind of crowdfunding, but that’s like, you give an organization some money and then maybe you get a free t-shirt or something like that. With equity crowdfunding, it allows people to actually buy stock in companies that are too small to be on like, corporate stock exchanges, you know what I mean? You could actually, and anyone could do it, and there used to be rules about accredited investors.

Cullen (00:35:37):

Essentially like, if you weren’t a public company, you kind of could only raise money for rich people. “Accredited investor” means rich, you know what I mean? (Teja: Yeah.) But then, that was the thing. I mean, you know, people were like, “Wait a sec. So I can give money to a company, a Kickstarter, but I couldn’t…I give ’em a hundred bucks and get a T-shirt, but I can’t buy a hundred dollars worth of stock? Like, why not?” You know what I mean? And so they changed the regulations in like, 2015, and so now there’s equity crowdfunding, as well. And so we’re having an equity crowdfunding campaign so people can actually invest in DoneGood. And [we’re] looking to raise money, so that we can grow the movement, grow the impact, grow our community, you know, invest in marketing so people can, more people know about us,  (Teja: Yeah, yeah.) and we appreciate opportunities like this, of course.

Cullen (00:36:16):

Totally adding more brands to the sites. There’s more selection and things like that, but we’ll also, like the Kickstarter type crowdfunding, you still, you also like, get, you know, get things. So we are just giving discounts and gift cards on our site for the investments, you know? So we figure like, you know, and even small investments really help like, even a hundred bucks, ’cause one, it adds up, but two, there’s goals on the crowdfunding site where if we get enough number of investors, and it doesn’t matter how much they invest, it’s just the number of people who invest, then the crowdfunding site like, gives you more promotion through their email list and on their homepage. And so then it like, basically like, you know, even like, a hundred dollar investment like, yields more promotion where we reach more people and raise more money from other people too.

Cullen (00:37:07):

So it really has a big impact. And so, you know, we say it, because every purchase on our site helps people, you know, lifting themselves out of poverty. It helps support businesses fighting climate change. Like, it’s something where the investment, if it were a donation to a nonprofit, it’d be a good, I think it’d be a good donation, but it’s an investment, and you get discounts on our site where you can save money. Anyway, you know, you get some money back, as you’re making purchases. So is the site

Teja (00:37:39):

You know, this is what I love about talking to like, founders, is you can feel like, for the good ones, like, their mission, like, the energy from their mission, like, emanating from them when they speak, and that’s really inspiring to people, (Cullen: Yeah.) you know? It’s really inspiring.

Cullen (00:37:56):

I appreciate you saying that, and the flip side is true too, right? Like, I’m dealing with, my computer busted before this, and I got some company that’s trying to charge me for something I don’t want, you know? Like, you get in the day-to-day, this and that, that’s happening this morning, you know what I’m saying? Like, you get in the day-to-day, and your to-do list, and all this like, it’s no matter what, it’s like, stuff is a grind, and a job, and there’s menial bullshit. (Teja: Oh, yeah.) You know? (Teja: I hate that shit.) But being able to come on podcasts is a time where I step back, (Teja: Yes.) and get to talk about why I think this is important, and the purpose, and yeah, this long-term, grandiose vision where every company in the world is doing great stuff in the world, as a utopian play, but like, yeah, okay. That’s, that’s the stuff, that drug that feeds my soul and reminds me, (Teja: Yes.) you know what I mean? Like, I bet you think it’s inspiring to other people. It’s inspiring to me, you know what I’m saying? Because it’s like, okay for a step, you know, these opportunities, and you have to make sure to take them proactively, yourself. But the podcast is an opportunity where I have to stop, breathe, slow down, remember the big picture and why would I do all this stuff. And then right, you know, after this podcast, now the rest of the day, even with this other garbage I’m dealing with, I’m feeling better and more energized. You know what I mean?

Teja (00:39:09):

A hundred percent, yeah. I feel fired up every time I like, am on the podcast and get to talk to folks. (Cullen: Yeah.) You know, it’s sweet. And that’s why we try to do ’em on Friday, so you have good vibes heading into the close of the week, (Cullen: Hell yeah.) and then you’re thinking about things over the weekend when you’re kind of chilling. You feel good or re-energized from Monday, you know? ‘Cause we’ve found like, if we do ’em on like, Tuesday or Wednesday, I mean, sometimes you have to, to work with people’s schedules, but it’s just, it’s like, it’s just a thing they gotta get off their list, you know? Which I get, you know? (Cullen: Yeah.) And the energy is just not, it doesn’t make their best self shine, in my view.

Cullen (00:39:47):

I think that’s really smart, ’cause yeah. Who doesn’t feel better on Friday? You know what I’m saying? And isn’t it interesting that it’s like, you know, these days are arbitrary, right? You know what I’m saying? (Teja: Yes.) It’s like, it’s all arbitrary constructs. Seven, you know, ‘cause the Bible said, you know, (Teja: Yes.) and we’re still doing seven, you know?

Teja (00:40:05):

Totally. The whole, the whole count thing is so arbitrary. It’s so arbitrary.

Cullen (00:40:09):

Completely arbitrary, you know? (Teja: Yes.) It really makes me realize, ’cause it’s like, “Oh, by Friday afternoon, yeah,” or you know, “Friday, people are more relaxed because it’s like, well I’m heading into the weekend. I don’t have to…” I mean, but on Tuesday, “No, this all has to happen, and I have to do this, and I’m the <incoherent mumble>.” But like, when you have something where you, “Oh, but I have a dentist appointment I have to go to.” I’ll be damned, the company didn’t die. (Teja: Yes.) You know what I’m saying? But if you don’t have that dentist appointment, you’re like, “I couldn’t possibly.” That’s, I guess when I talk about like, the reformed workaholism, is for like, eight years I wasn’t doing this, every quarter is the most important quarter, and the company might die, (Teja: Yes.) and you know what I mean? (Teja: Yes.) And like, okay, well at some point, after eight years, you have to, it can’t be that every quarter you have to work kind of all day, every day.

Cullen (00:40:57):

Like, at some point, you know, I mean, shit. Like, you know what I mean? You just, it can’t be that way and it, yeah. You know, so like, I mentioned my therapist, ‘cause I did, I started seeing a therapist two and a half years ago. (Teja: Right.) I always like to talk about it now, ’cause I, just because it’s been so good and like, realizing how much stress is self-inflicted and how you can still have the same ambitions and the same goals work on the same things, but you control. See like, I’m doing it right now as I say this, you know what I mean? (Teja: Yes.) It’s happening to me. (Teja: Yes.) I feel the change physically. (Teja: Yes.) You can change, you know, the tone with which you do any of this, instead of, you know, at 6:00 p.m., I’m like, “Oh, I should keep working more.”

Cullen (00:41:44):

“I don’t want to, but I should.” Look, you have a choice. Stop right now if you want. Go ahead, and it’ll probably be okay or say, “Nah, I’m good. I’m good for a couple more hours. I want to do this. I believe in this. And you know, I don’t necessarily like, want, in the immediate term, to do the work, but yes. Overall, I would like to, I want to do this thing. I don’t necessarily wanna do it right now, but I want to do it.” Like, I’m really trying to recognize that like, I don’t ever wanna do something I don’t want to do. That doesn’t mean I’m not doing anything uncomfortable or taxing in the moment. It’s saying, “Look, either decide you don’t wanna do this or know that you do.” You know what I mean? Know that it’s worth it, and you’re gonna keep doing it, and then you’re gonna stop at 8 p.m., and you’re gonna have some dinner, and then you’re gonna relax.

Cullen (00:42:25):

Okay, cool. I’m gonna. Like, there’s just no reason to do it with that cloud that you put over your own head. And I gotta tell you man, like, you know, finally in like, my early forties, I’m starting to…that’s why I like, maybe if I can talk about this stuff, there’s some kids in their twenties listening, and they start therapy and/or just are able to absorb some of this stuff, you know, with or without it, like, well I think therapy is always important. I think it’s good for everybody. I think everybody should do it, personally. That’s my recommendation. But even still, you know, just being able to recognize how much, how in control of your tone you are, you know, and you do all the same stuff, and you just decide what tone you’re keeping with yourself, and how you talk to yourself, and if you would ever talk to yourself, if you talk to a friend the way you talk to yourself. These things are like, I’m getting good at learning now Shit, man. Maybe some people can learn it in their twenties. They’ll just be a little ahead of the game.

Teja (00:43:16):

A hundred percent. Yeah, no, I’m totally with you. But I have so many thoughts on this subject. I mean, I totally agree and like, hear everything you’re saying, and I feel like these are lessons that you kind of learn. It’s hard to like, get them. You could intellectually understand them, but I kind of think you have to like, you just work through them and feel what it feels like. You know, it’s just…

Cullen (00:43:43):

Yeah. It’s about remembering them as often as you can and knowing (Teja: A hundred percent.) you ain’t always gonna remember it. It’s practice, (Teja: Yeah.) you know what I mean? And that’s the thing. Even as I say, I even try to get out of this kinda linear thinking where it’s like, well if someone learned in their twenties it’ll be better. It’s like, I don’t know, man. In my twenties, I was kind of just on fire. I didn’t mind being a workaholic. (Teja: A hundred percent.) So maybe it was fine that I was that way, you know what I mean? Maybe it’s better I learn these things now, due to practice on practice now. Now, instead of then, I don’t know. You know what I mean? It’s not even, there’s no linear sort of like, start, finish, and you try to get that, that’s another big thing, is right with this sort of stuff is like, I guess I would feel like enlightenment was one more thing to achieve and be good at, and then anytime I wasn’t was a failure, and it was something to talk negatively about myself.

Cullen (00:44:22):

So then that doesn’t help. That’s counterproductive, man. It’s like, listen, we’re human beings. There’s ups and downs, and yeah, you just try to remember the things that you have found to be helpful and help you feel peace, happiness, and like I said, productivity. I think I’m better now that I’m not working from 6:00-10:00 p.m. with a cloud over my head and instead say, “Listen, sometimes maybe you should stop. Stop at 6. You don’t have to do this right now. Get some rest. Get it in the morning or sometimes say, “No, that’s cool. Yeah. I’m gonna, I thank you for giving myself the choice, reminding myself I have a total choice right now, and yeah, no. It’s cool. I’m gonna do it later and just doing it with a lighter, in a lighter way,” you know what I mean? Like, oh, man.

Teja (00:45:11):

A hundred percent. Yeah. Like, I mean you mentioned like, shows so I imagine you’re into music, (Cullen: Yes.) and like, you know, and I often think like, your life has like, a rhythm to it, you know, which is like, a function of all the routines you have, you know, and it’s like, I try to keep the rhythm of my life like, within a basically balance that I can run it for a long time. ‘Cause I mean, I was the same way. I would work 12 hours in a day, and the next day, I am smoked. Like, you know what I mean? Like, you show up, you’re kind of, at least I would get kind of resentful. I’d be like, (Cullen: Yes.) why am I doing this? Why am I working this hard? Like, is this worth, like, I love the company, I love the mission, but you feel burnt out, and then you kind of, you have to, at least for me…same move if you’re working out. Like, I love working out, I love hiking, I love lifting weights, but then if you do that too much, the next day you’re like, “I don’t wanna go to the gym.”

Cullen (00:46:02):

Or if you wake up to an alarm after six hours of sleep to get that workout in, man, you just did something super unhealthy in order to do something healthy. But it’s in conflict, you know? (Teja: A hundred percent.) You know, some of these things, I even feel a little self-conscious, ‘cause it’s like, I come from like, you know, the American Midwest work ethic. Being a good worker is a good thing to be, and sort of like, sleeping is like, lazy. If you sleep late, you’re lazy. Like, as opposed to like, man, I think sleep is like, and you know, more and more science coming out, we could point to science now on this stuff. Like, it’s not some hippy dippy stuff. It’s like, science tells us like, sleep is like, I mean, I’m making up this number exactly, but you know, like, 80% of physical and mental health, man. 

Cullen (00:46:47):

Like, getting sleep…I try not to wake up to an alarm, you know, and I still, you know, I wake up, and yeah. I still wake up at 7:00 a.m., or whatever, if I go to bed on time or, you know what I mean? But so, you know what I mean? Like, ’cause that, waking up to that alarm when you’re in the middle of the sleep cycle, you’re groggy, or when you’re overworked, and you’re tired, even for lack asleep or just working too long hours, like, your brain is not in its most creative and most productive. So you’re, “Yeah, cool. I worked 12 hours at 60% instead of working six hours at a hundred percent.” You know what I mean? Like, you know, and so I do feel like, even like I said, there’s still that part of me that feels self-conscious about like, kind of the old school thing.

Cullen (00:47:26):

Like, “Ah, this guy’s lazy. This guy’s a hippie.” But like, I don’t care, man. And it’s true, like I said, and the science is backed and all this stuff. I just saw, just yesterday, I saw a thing that was like, people who take all their vacation days are twice as likely to get promoted. Yeah, you wanna know why? ‘Cause they’re getting refreshed, and they’re resetting, and it’s, I swear, like, the more, you know, I used to be all in the head, you know what I mean? Analytical thought, and strategizing, and da da da, figuring out the best thing. (Teja: Yeah.) I was a philosophy major. I dunno if I’m proud to mention that. I guess, so it’s like all here. But man, so much of life is being in that like, centered place where your soul feels right, you know? And then, and if you feel like that kind of rest and at ease like, the days I get eight hours of sleep, I tend to feel positive about my life.

Cullen (00:48:10):

Sometimes I’m like, “Oh I’m sad and everything sucks,” and I’m like, “Ah, yeah. You stayed out too late. You slept five and a half hours, dumbass.” You know what I mean? (Teja: A hundred percent.) So that goes into your work. Like, you know what I mean? Are you like, coming up with an awesome, new, off-the-wall idea that’s gonna make people laugh, and get ’em excited, and make ’em attracted to wanna work with your company or, you know, do business, you know, with your company or buy your products? Or are you like, phoning it in, ’cause you’re brand dead, ’cause you’re working too much? You know what I mean? And it just is true. It’s just real.

Teja (00:48:41):

So one thing that I think about is Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and Jeff Bezos. Like, we can comment on their business practices aside. There are lots of problems with those companies, but I think about like, they have 168 hours in their day, I mean, in their week. So do we, you know, but like, you know, so the maximum amount that we all have is like, 168 in a given week, but their decisions are way more leveraged. And so, you know, you can sleep zero hours a week, you’ll still get the same amount of time, but that doesn’t alone explain the differences in scale. You know, if you just, (Cullen: Of course.) right? And so to me, it’s like, everything that you can do to get better quality decision making is the key. And so, you know, it’s not even, for me at least, it’s not even about like, output. It’s like, how can I make better decisions? And I try to focus everything on that.

Cullen (00:49:37):

Better decisions, better ideas, (Teja: Yes.) more creative ideas, you know? (Teja: Yes.) And I get down on myself for that, too, ’cause it’s like, yeah, we wanna just do like, fun stuff, cool stuff, interesting stuff, creative stuff, and it’s hard, especially when you, you know, we have a small team, and so like, I was like, you know, telling my friend, “Oh, man. I should be doing more TikToks. Like, I’m doubting myself. I’m kicking myself, or I should just be doing, I should do…” And she’s like, “Man, I know, and at a big company, like, there’s people who, everyone has like, one job, and you have like 20,” you know what I mean? And so I try to like, grant myself some like, “Okay, that’s true.” And still, like, even among all the bullshit, like, this is where I said it’s like, “Oh, well, I don’t have time to just stop and try to be creative for an hour, because I got so much of my to-do list.”

Cullen (00:50:24):

But we scheduled this podcast a few weeks ago, and I’m taking an hour now to do this. So like, yes you can. You definitely can take an hour to just go for a walk and try to think of creative stuff or just get the team on the phone. We have a, we don’t do it enough, but we, I read this thing about Aerosmith, the band. (Teja: Yeah.) They had a regular meeting called the “dumb ideas meeting”. And the whole point was to say stuff that you like, you couldn’t provide good ideas or like, ideas you thought that you would do. It had to be dumb ideas that you didn’t think that you would do. Like, really crazy, off-the-wall stuff that sounds dumb. (Teja: That’s cool.) And yeah, 95% of the stuff in those meetings, we would never do, and they said, “Five percent, we would,” or it sparked a conversation, about another conversation, about another conversation that would get to something that they would be like, “That’s awesome.”

Cullen (00:51:08):

And it’s more creative, because they’re purposely trying to, it’s trying to have it be all outside the box. So we’ve tried to implement that, try to take more time to do that kind of stuff, ’cause that’s really like, what are people attracted to? Especially like, in the social media age or whatever. It’s like, you know, it’s not like the days of like, the Mad Men, sort of like, “Buy a fork, because it’s like da da da da da.” Like, people hate that shit. What do they want? They want funny memes, you know what I mean? They want funny memes. They want to know that this company is run by people I like. (Teja: Yes.) That’s it. You know what I’m saying? (Teja: Yes. A hundred percent.) And so like, you’re over here like, doing business and doing…checking off the to-do list and stuff. I don’t know yet. Are you having fun? Because if you are, other people are gonna have fun, and they’re gonna wanna be around your business, and that’s like, more true now than ever, you know?

Teja (00:52:00):

Yeah, I so believe that. And I mean, that’s something where like, you know, I was just talking to one of our sales folks, and I was like, “You know, dude? Like, sometimes you gotta stay at a nice ass hotel, even when you’re flying on business. Like, even if you’re using a company card, you should have to stay at a nice ass hotel,” because like, then you feel confident and like, proud of what you’re selling, and then you’re gonna like, that’s gonna emanate. But if you’re like, you know, I don’t know, like, sleeping somewhere shitty, you’re not gonna get a good night’s rest. You’re gonna be kind of embarrassed, maybe? You know? And like, I don’t know, say what we will about like, materialism in our culture. Like, that’s important. It’s important to feel confident about yourself, you know?

Cullen (00:52:40):

Well, and having the clean, comfortable bed, so you get eight hours of sleep, (Teja: Yes.) you know what I mean? So yeah. That’s the thing with all this, and actually, I’m gonna tie this back to DoneGood a little bit, (Teja: Yeah.) ‘cause I mean look. I mean, it’s always easy to say this stuff in a podcast, and I will also say, I don’t think I’ve done a good enough job of creating the space for creativity, and not just doing the to-do list, and then doing this, going through the motions of the same things we always do, ‘cause (Teja: It’s hard.) it’s kinda the easiest thing. So like, (Teja: Yeah.) I also want to like, commiserate with other entrepreneurs out there, ’cause that’s another thing. Like, you see other companies that entrepreneurs on social media, you hear ’em on podcasts. Yeah, yeah, of course. Like, we’re having, you know, we have tough times.

Cullen (00:53:20):

All this stuff I’m saying, this is stuff that I try to say to myself, and I would like to be better at, and I also…see, I used to talk to myself and say, “Yeah, why aren’t you doing that? You suck at that.” Now I can say, “Wait a sec. I think I’m like, 70% good at it, first of all. Maybe you can just like, you know, I mean like <laugh>, and then if you’d like to get 30% better, cool. Start today. Just, you know, try to do better.” That’s the first thing. Second thing is like, yeah, man. I think I really, I was into the…what did the…struggle porn. (Teja: Yes.) I saw that in, I don’t know what, some startup newsletter, some entrepreneur newsletter.

Teja (00:53:56):

It’s all bullshit. That’s my belief. It’s like, it’s both the like, Instagram, like, “Look at my Lamborghini,” and also like, “Look at how hard I’m working. I’m not eating, and I’m on like,” I dunno. I don’t even know what the dosage of Adderall is, but “I’m on this insane dose of stimulants.” Like, neither is good, you know? So I, yeah. Yeah. It’s crazy.

Cullen (00:54:16):

And in my case, it was, “Look, how awesome. I didn’t pay myself the first year, and then I paid myself like, $35 grand the next couple years.” And like, you know. Like, I get it. You know, you’re trying to keep all the money in the company, you really want the company to be successful, and like, there’s a balance on that like, with everything. Yeah, look, I don’t wanna, I’m fine to take a pay cut from what I used to be making to make this work and make it be as successful as possible, and like you’re saying, I mean the equivalent of the hotel, I mean, I was house sitting, and then I was living with a 75 year old couple, and then I lived with some college kids in a college house for 600 bucks a month in Boston, and like, you know what I mean?

Cullen (00:54:50):

Like, at what point does that, you know, that grind make you kind of like, tired? There’s the tired from not getting enough sleep, then there’s the tired from like, a couple years of you like, doing that kind of stuff, and not being in just like, a decent housing environment, you know what I mean, and how much does that affect your work? I had a guy, so we got into an incubator program when we first started out, you know, and we had a mentor there, and he said, “There’s no honor in the struggle.” (Teja: <Laugh>.) And again, my Midwest sort of, you know, Protestant upbringing was like, “What do you mean there’s no honor in struggle? Of course there’s honor in struggle. My grandpa fought in World War II, and my dad put himself through school.”

Cullen (00:55:31):

“There’s honor in struggle.” And what I like, had taken him to mean now, over the years, as I’ve kind of more comprehended what he’s saying, and now, or at least, how I think about struggle now is like, if there is a goal that you definitely wanna achieve, and you see that there’s some short, unavoidable, short-term struggle in between, and then you make a conscious choice like, “Yeah, that’s worth it to me. I’m gonna go through that struggle in order to achieve that goal.” I think there’s honor in that. I mean, I don’t want to give up every goal I’ve ever had if there’s any struggle. No, I don’t want that. And at the same time, what you risk doing, and I think what I was doing, is then you say, “Okay, well, see, in that case, there’s honor in struggle, therefore there’s always honor in struggle, and look at me. Look how honorable I am.”

Cullen (00:56:17):

You are almost, even if at least subconsciously, keeping struggle on yourself, ’cause then, you get to show how honorable you are. You know what I mean? You know, the honor is if you have to go through that struggle, sure, but if you can achieve that same goal without that struggle, that’s, I mean, this stuff from like, society or something, it’s like, “Oh, well then that’s cutting corners or avoiding struggle.” If you can avoid the struggle, you should, you know what I mean? The goal should be effortlessness. The goal should be, you know, feeling good, and being comfortable, and still then achieving these goals, but there has to be struggle. And sometimes, saying “No, that struggle is not worth that goal,” is a fair thing to decide, consciously.

Cullen (00:57:04):

Now you say, “Well, could that lead to a cop out?” It could, but don’t let it. That’s the other thing I used to do is like, “Well, but if I start thinking about self-care too much, it could make me cop out and just be a lazy piece of shit.” Okay, (Teja: Yeah.) so don’t. You know what, (Teja: Yeah.) there is a place between, and when I turn off my mind, (Teja: Yes.) but well, what’s the difference between self-care and laziness? Or what’s the difference between not heaping struggle on myself, but also not avoiding struggle. The difference, I can feel the difference in every given situation. If I turn my mind off, get in that center place like I was talking about, and say, “Okay, I need to lay down in my bed for like, 20 minutes. That’s gonna make me more productive if I do that.” Cool, that’s good self-care.

Cullen (00:57:40):

And when I’m still there after 40, you know, be honest with yourself and be like, “Alright, that was good. You should probably get up now,” you know what I mean? Like, but I don’t always worry about like, well, if I go down too much with this whole self-care stuff or this whole like, avoidance struggle stuff, then what if it makes me lazy? Okay. So don’t let it do that. Let it, you know what I’m saying? Just be reasonable with yourself, and I know what that feels like. I can’t, you know, think it in theory, in future hypothetical situations. I can feel it every day in each situation, you know what I mean? So that’s been helpful. That’s been helpful for me.

Teja (00:58:13):

I have like, two lines about this stuff. I mean, I’m similar to you, where…you know like, my parents are immigrants, like, you know, there’s a strong work ethic culturally, and you know, they came from like, basically like, some shitty villages, you know what I mean? And so like, they just, they grind hard, and so they’re always like, “Work your ass off,” but I’m like, “But guys, like, you have to make like, intelligent decisions to get ahead. You can’t just like, put your nose in the grindstone. You have to do certain, especially in the modern economy, you know?” So I definitely think about that, but a part of me thinks, sorry to keep going, but it’s like, sometimes…

Cullen (00:58:53):

No, please, please. Come on, are you kidding? I’ve talked a lot. (Teja: <Laugh>.) You could have a couple minutes.

Teja (00:58:57):

The overemphasis on struggle sometimes, and I’m an unashamed, greedy capitalist, but sometimes I do think like, the overemphasis on struggle is like, a mechanism to keep people locked into work in a way that violates their own identity, and it’s like, (Cullen: Yes.) it’s good for people who want to exploit people to portray a glory in struggle. It is good. Like, (Cullen: Exactly.) however you feel about hard work, it’s good.

Cullen (00:59:33):

Could not agree more.

Teja (00:59:34):

Yeah, and so like, that’s one thing I believe, but then also, another thing I believe, is that I see my parents, I see how hard I’ve worked, and I’m pretty happy with like, where the business has come. Obviously, we have big goals for the future, but it’s like, I’m pretty happy at things, and I do see like, you know, one of my beliefs is like, hard work creates competence, competence creates confidence, competence creates results, and then results over time like, creates momentum. Like, that’s how you build a business. Like, it all starts with hard work. And so it’s like, how do you balance the two?

Cullen (01:00:09):

Maybe, (Teja: Yeah.) I don’t know. (Teja: Maybe.) I mean, it comes back to, I think another way to say what, a lot of what we’re saying is like, is the hard work the point, is the struggle the point, or is the goal the point? And then I’ll do the work that is necessary, ’cause I wanna achieve that goal, but if I can reduce the amount of work it takes, I will, ’cause the goal is the goal, the struggle isn’t the goal, you know? I can say it sounds obvious when you say it out loud, but I think like, ingrained in our culture is this at least subconscious idea, and I think you’re absolutely right about like, when I hear people compliment other people as like, being a good worker, yeah, that sounds like some capitalist shit to me.

Cullen (01:00:51):

Like, yeah. Who wants you to, you know, compliment yourself for like, working hard, and working overtime, and working yourself to the bone? The guy who makes money when you work harder, you know what I mean? (Teja: Yeah.) Like, (Teja: Yes, yes.) I couldn’t agree with you more. There’s a reason that this has permeated our culture, you know, because, yeah. There’s economic benefit to some of having the whole society be like, “Yeah, gutting it out and working myself super hard makes me a good person.” Like, yikes. I don’t know.

Teja (01:01:20):

But then, you know, I think about like, okay, like fitness, let’s say, as a metaphor, working out as a metaphor. Like, you do wanna expose your body to like, controlled stress, ’cause then you grow, you know, or like, learning an instrument. You learn an instrument, and you’re really bad at it at first. Then you’re like, if you measure like, your heart rate variability, your stress levels are through the roof as you’re learning like, “Fuck. How come I can’t play “Hello My Sunshine” on the fucking uke? Like, why? This seems so easy.” You know, you go through that stress, then you get it after a couple YouTube videos, and you’re like, “Ah, fuck. Okay, I got this song.” (Cullen: Yeah.) To me, it’s like, you know, I feel like that’s a healthy balance of like, you want some stress, and then you want enough recovery, and then that’s the rhythm of like, a productive life is like, you know, (Cullen: Yeah.) you wanna work hard, accomplish goals, like you said, recover, keep going. And then like, I don’t know, after 20 years, you’ve done some cool ass shit, you know? Like, it’s cool.

Cullen (01:02:16):

Yeah, yeah, yeah. No, of course. That’s what I mean, like, none of this to say, “Don’t have the goals,” it’s just to remember that the…or ambition. It’s just to remember that the goals are the point (Teja: Yes.) and not the struggle. (Teja: Yes.) And that’s the right, it’s like, I wanna be really good at playing guitar, (Teja: Yes.) so I’m gonna practice. And then, but the other thing, it’s funny you mentioned the working out analogy, ’cause that’s what I use with my team all the time. I talk about like, you know, we wanna hit goals, we wanna be ambitious, and we want to, yeah, you know, work hard to meet them, but we want to do it in a way where it’s like, beating your workout goal, right? Like, I don’t know. I’m gonna run three miles faster than I did before.

Cullen (01:02:56):

That’s fun. It’s fun stress, you know what I’m saying? And if you don’t hit it, but you got close, you don’t like, kill yourself, think you’re an awful person, you go back the next day and you do it again, and the act of getting close was still like, awesome. You know what I’m saying? So like, you know, it’s like, that kind of stress is the kind that, and that’s, when I say about the tone, it’s like, I still wanna have the goals and like, lofty, look, I mean, lofty goals. I’m saying we want millions of people moving billions of dollars through our site to thousands of social enterprises until the day that every business in the world is ultra sustainable, and (Teja: Yes.) paying amazingly good wages, and competing to be better, in order to get consumer demand, and we’ve completely changed the economic systems of the world.

Cullen (01:03:40):

So I think my goals (Teja: Yes.) are lofty and ambitious, and do I wanna work with ’em like, I’m, you know, like, drudgery like I’m working in the mines, or do I wanna work like I’m trying to beat a workout goal, and you know what I mean? And enjoying that process. And if I come to a pace where it’s like, “Oh, we’re gonna have to struggle for three days, all day, every day.” Nope. We figure out a technical workaround. Oh no, there’s an app for that that makes us not…get the damn app. Make it easier. You know what I mean?

Teja (01:04:10):

Totally. So, I’m so in agreement, but like, I remember in like, the early years of the business, I would like, I mean, I would work my ass off, and basically everybody around me would also be suffering. I’m like, “We have to work. This is existential. Like, what are you doing?” (Cullen: Yeah.) “What are you doing leaving your desk? Like, go use the bathroom at your desk.” I mean, I was like, (Cullen: Yeah.) that’s how I was, you know? Because the mission is important to you, and you’re thinking, “Okay, I have a responsibility of people’s paychecks and delivering on them, and to accomplish that, I have to make sure the business succeeds.” And so it’s like, this whole kind of loop where you’re just reinforcing this pattern, right? And I’ve totally been there. And then, but then, I don’t know, like, you sort of like, kind of level up in the business or like, mentally, spiritually, you know? I’m also a big fan of therapy and also working with like, talented people that like, are able to be like, “Hey, dude. We all like, wanna work hard, but like, maybe we should sell into the vision versus being like, ‘Hey, stay chained to your desk 14 hours a day.’”

Teja (01:05:11):

And I have found personally that like, when you talk about, “Hey, we’re here to do X, Y, and Z.” You know, in our case, we’re here to make hiring simple, efficient, and human, right? And so four developers, four companies. And so like, we wanna get as many people hired as possible, get them paid well, get fucking companies scaled. That’s why we exist. And that was so (Cullen: Of course.) compelling, you know, to people versus like, “Hey, you worked 11 hours today. Why didn’t you work 12? Why didn’t you work for…” you know what I mean? And shit’s, it’s…

Cullen (01:05:42):

“What are you, taking a break?” (Teja: Yeah, a hundred percent.) And then it’s like, “If you take a break, I guess you don’t believe in the vision.” I mean, that’s the thing. I look at ways, especially in the early years where it was like, well, yeah. I mean, it’s all because I think what we’re doing is good. I think we’re working on the most important thing in the world. I mean, that’s what I think. That’s why I did this, right? Because like, that’s why I quit my career to do this, of all things, ‘cause I think like, yeah, if you had a platform that could, you know, funnel huge amounts of consumer demand, that changes economies, that changes the world. That’s what we’re working on. And so, but at the same time, all this other stuff that I’ve said I’ve come to learn about, you know, productivity and taking care of yourself, whatever, like, yeah.

Cullen (01:06:22):

If you’re then like, running people into the ground, it’s all about the drudgery, and then, you know, you’re not as creative, you’re not as on fire. Well, you realize how, yeah. You’re breathing stress into the team. I mean, you’ve won, (Teja: Yes.) you are taking, you’re looking stressed yourself, and you’re breathing into your team, and you’re making your team less effective. What if your team is working 9, 10 hours, but also they took a couple hour break in the middle of the day, and they’re super productive, and super excited, and super on fire, and generating more creative shit? Like, it’s just gonna be like, the energy is the most important thing. Like, your energy, you know, like, you’re gonna be down sometimes. You’re gonna be drudged; you’ll feel drudgery sometimes, but the more that you can stay on fire, and upbeat, and excited, and the more your team stays energized, and upbeat, and excited. And for that, breaks are needed, and vacations are needed, and like, you know what I mean? I mean, it’s like, that’s why I say I’m, you know, back to being a recovering workaholic, ’cause it’s like, it’s just not, “Well, the more I do…how much I believe in this cause is measured by how many hours I’m working on it.” No. No, it’s not. It’s what’s the goal, and what’s the best way to get to the goal, and having some balance, and especially when it’s a marathon. I’ve been doing it eight years; it’s marathon, not track. (Teja: Yes, yes.) And so, trying to create the energy, and have more space to be creative, and having things feel good like, matters.

Teja (01:07:54):

By the way, this is not an advertisement for WHOOP, but do you wear any like, health wearables, or have you ever tried any health wearables?

Cullen (01:08:02):

Mm-hmm <affirmative>. Well, I count my steps on my phone, you know what I’m saying? Ten thousand steps, I should get 10,000 steps every day. You know, that’s one thing, ‘cause that, movement is good for my mental health, too. Like, it’s like, sleep, number one, movement, number two. I learned that during Covid, and you said you took up hiking, and I took up running around the park by my house. I never ran before. I kind of thought running is boring. I like to play a sport or a game, chase a ball. That’s fun. Running for nothing…but like, during Covid, I was like, I don’t feel right if I’m in my house, and I get like, 1,500 steps in a day. So, yeah.

Teja (01:08:37):

Yeah, so I mean, there are a couple wearables on the market. They all kind of basically do the same stuff. Apple Watch is one of them, but with these wearables, they basically monitor like, your daily stress level, and it takes like, a composite measure by looking at like, your heart rate variability, which is like, again, a measure of like, how fluidly your heart moves through different like, rhythms and beats, and that’s the way that they measure stress. And so, for a long time, I would like, look at like, what did I do that day at work, and like, what’s like, my stress level? And I would use that as a way to basically like, be like, “Okay, this is where I feel low stress and highly productive. This is where I feel high stress,” and like, I’m like…okay, if it’s like, if I’m like, pitching or like, I’m selling, like, maybe that’ll be a little bit higher stress. That’s natural.

Teja (01:09:25):

But like, if it’s a task that’s tedious that I’m doing, just ’cause I like, haven’t delegated it or something, like…I’ve usually used this tool to monitor my own levels of recovery to like, “Hey, I’m off today. Maybe I shouldn’t make any high stakes decisions.” And I will say like, I see it show up in the business, (Cullen: Yeah.) for sure, like, in terms of just my efficacy, and you know, you can track how much sleep you get, deep REM, all that stuff. It’s like, you can go too deep into this, like, too analytical, but I basically just use it to be like, check in with myself. How am I doing? What’s my recovery like? And what do I wanna kind of push today? And that’s kind of, it’s really changed sort of how I approach everything from sleep, diet, workout, like, everything.

Cullen (01:10:14):

That’s really interesting, and that makes total sense, ‘cause I do think that’s a big part of it, too. Like, whether, you talked about like, recognizing you’re not in a good mind frame, so like, not making that big business decision. You don’t have to. I think it’s also like, talking with your partner or having that fight with your partner, right? It’s like, (Teja: A hundred percent these.) these things, and that’s what I talk about, that your energy and how you feel, that frames whatever, the decision making, the communicating with your colleagues, or you know, whatever conversation you’re about to have. And you know like, if you feel good, and you’re in that better frame of mind, it’s all gonna go better, and I used to worry a lot about like, “Well, I’m gonna have this conversation with someone. What words am I gonna use?” (Teja: Wow.) “What am I gonna say, and what are the points I’m gonna make?” And I’m like, you know, if you are in a good frame of mind, and that good energy, that good emotional state, that higher that like higher (Teja: Higher vibrations, yeah.) vibration.

Cullen (01:11:09):

You know what I mean? The words are going to be just fine. It’s not gonna matter, ‘cause the other person’s gonna feel that you are calm, and you have their best interest in mind, also, and you’re trying to work something out, and the words don’t matter. And it’s almost like, worrying about the words like, well, look, it’s all from a good place. I want to be a good, and constructive, and positive communicator, and I wanna make sure that I’m using my “I feel” language or like, whatever the hell, you know what I mean? (Teja: Yeah <laugh>.) But then, worrying about that stresses you out, and then you’re not in this good spot to have the conversation in the first place. So it’s like, the things that put you in a worse energy and lower form consciousness, because now I’m stressed about like, “Oh, I gotta remember to say all these things.” You know, like, ugh.

Teja (01:11:52):

You know, growing up, it’s like, my parents would be like, okay, if you got a B, they’d be like, “What the fuck is wrong with you? Like, we should have left you in India.” That’s like, how I grew up, right? And so that’s your internal monologue, and so when you’re at work, and let’s say something is not performing to spec, you’re not hitting KPIs, it’s like, that would be my default way to approach a conversation. Like, “Hey, what the fuck are you doing? Like, you think this is acceptable?” And that’s just, that’s like, how I would operate, right? (Cullen: Yeah.) And like, then you kind of mature, maybe you have a couple of years working, and you’re like, “Hey, that’s probably not a good way to speak to people.” And that’s just me, right? And so like, I mean, it took…basically I’m in this group of other business leaders, and like, we’ll simulate crucial conversations, ‘cause I find that most business leaders, most people that have high drive, generally have these types of internal monologues.

Teja (01:12:41):

Like, you can’t really go through the suffering without this like, fire in you to like, get your mission done, get your goals done. [It] takes a lot, right? (Cullen: Yeah.) And it seems so high-performance athlete, and so, but I think like, achieving the next level, requires, as you say, like, taking the pressure off yourself a little bit and like, taking the pressure off of others, in a way that like, generates their best self. And so that’s been a huge learning area for me over the last (Cullen: Totally, man.) two, three years, you know?

Cullen (01:13:18):

Yep. I could not agree more. And then I just, I did like…I remember now, a long time ago, I said, “I can connect this back to DoneGood,” so I’m gonna do that now. (Teja: Yeah.) It’s the same with like, conscious consumerism where, you know, making sure that the dollars you spend are marrying your beliefs and doing good for the world. That’s also like, an exhausting practice, right? And I mean, even beyond just how we’re spending our money, it’s like, all the things, right? Like, well, am I recycling? Am I composting? Am I taking public transportation instead of driving the car? Like, there are any infinite number of things we could be doing in any given day to make the world better. And then I had some like, drive like that when I was young, too, and I was like, “Yeah, man.”

Cullen (01:14:05):

“Like, there are people suffering in the world. Like, what am I doing going on a vacation? What am I doing going to a show?” (Teja: A hundred percent.) You know what I mean? And it’s like, it’s the same kind of thing with that, right? It’s like, okay, so I want there to be less suffering in the world, therefore, I’m gonna kill myself. I’m gonna pay. I’m gonna make sure I suffer, you know? (Teja: Yes.) Now, on the other hand, then could I make that be a cop out, and then I never worry about other people and never worry about suffering? Yes, you could. And just like, with everything else then like, where’s that sort of that centered place where I feel like, okay, I’m gonna be that positive, and I’m going to, yeah, I mean, I think like, music is important for people’s souls also.

Cullen (01:14:45):

We need to like, try to make it so that more people are able to access the arts and access music, because that actually, I used to kind of be against the arts when I was young, too. It’s like, “Look, man. I know it’s all cool, but like, people are starving and it’s like, man, you know?” But yeah, I mean the stuff that feeds people’s souls that then makes them be more in that positive, you know what I mean? Like, what are the things, we talk about the things that inspire me to be good in the world, and like, man. Some of that stuff is the more abstract stuff. It is music, it is songs, it’s, you know what I mean, things that like, where you feel like, yeah. I wanna be a force for good in the world, you know?

Cullen (01:15:21):

And then, down to like, you’re spending, I mean, it is…look, I drive a car sometimes. I fly on a plane sometimes, you know what I mean? (Teja: Yeah.) And so do I think it would be, “Hey, that’s carbon emission, so everybody should stop flying on planes,” and yet, I think one of the things that like, if I could kind of fund one superfluous thing, it might be making every kid in America in high school take a trip abroad, because what helps generate more empathy and connection with other peoples and less fear of the other than like, being somewhere? So then, it’s like, instead of just saying, “Everyone, stop doing anything that has any carbon emissions,” how do we make these things that, plus how can we make, the show, the concert, what if we make it so that, I mean, they’re doing this stuff with technology now.

Cullen (01:16:03):

What if we make it so that the arena is capturing the heat and the energy of the motion and the dance floor to power the thing? And you can make that a zero waste thing, and a portion of all the tickets are helping local nonprofits. Like, you can set these things up, where instead of telling people don’t do things that feed your soul, don’t do things that make you happy, it’s…oh, I got 20%. What, you know, can we create flywheels  in the stream of those things? I’m telling everyone to just, I mean, look, some reason we should change your behavior. Don’t like, you know, don’t leave a ton of trash in the woods. Like, be mindful of your carbon emissions. You know, I mean, I think that that’s all good, and so change behavior to some degree.

Cullen (01:16:46):

And then the things, can we put the like, a flywheel in people’s existing streams of behavior, so that you can go see that band, and that event has [a] net positive impact on the world? Isn’t that a better strategy for creating good, long term? That’s the thing is like, how do we make the things that people already want to do, generate positive impacts overall. And so it’s the same thing with our purchases, right? It’s like, we tell people like, “Don’t buy anything.” You know what I mean? Like, “Don’t buy things,” but people probably are still gonna, and like, what if we can create that flywheel where it’s like, ’cause you know, if you don’t buy anything, the economy collapses, right? Like, we need people who are earning living wages, doing things, right?

Cullen (01:17:32):

And so it’s not about not buying anything. It’s about buying a reasonable amount of things, and when you are like, “Wow, this purchase is helping to create the systemic changes in the economy we need.” If you’re gonna solve climate change, we need systemic change. It’s not about like, “Ah, I’m gonna sit on the carpet on this one thing.” It’s about, we need businesses, radically different kinds of businesses, and they exist, and there’s a movement of them. We need to support those, and so that’s what we’re doing, right? Trying to create the flywheel and people’s existing stream. You like drinking coffee? Cool. We have some that is fair trade, LGBTQ-owned, right? You wanna dress, you know, if you’re living in society and going to work, if you’re not doing the van by the river thing, then like, eh, you probably got a nice dressing suit.

Cullen (01:18:15):

Cool. We have like, a zero waste facility. Women earning living wages and being able to bring their kids to work, so they don’t, you know, they don’t have to separate the family, things like this. I mean, these companies are doing amazing things, and then we try to like, help people understand, don’t feel overwhelmed. I know not a hundred percent of your purchases are gonna be on DoneGood or from a secondhand store. First of all, they don’t have to be on DoneGood. They can be from a secondhand store, they can be from other things, but like, even look, it’s the real world. I’m pretty good about, of all people, I’m pretty good about not buying stuff on Amazon. Last time I was at my sister’s house, I left my computer charger there. It was her fault.

Cullen (01:18:53):

She pulled it in half; it was a two parter thing. I grabbed the one half, left the other. So I just wanna say it was her fault, but I forgot that charger. Anyway, I called three places in Denver. They don’t have it. I gotta order it on Amazon. For me to be able to power my computer to keep fighting Amazon, well, I gotta order a thing from Amazon, you know what I’m saying? Or I have little kids in my life, they’re like, what do they want for Christmas? They want some plastic from China. I go to Target, or if I forget, and I only have a few days left, maybe on Amazon. Like, it’s not about being perfect. I talked about before how 2% of our spending, right, 2% of our spending equals all the donations to all the nonprofits in the country.

Cullen (01:19:31):

So it’s just like, if you’re moving 20% of your spending, you’re doing 10x, 10x better than what we need everybody to do. And then, yeah, maybe you do it 50%, maybe you do at 80%, and then you start to realize, I don’t need Amazon as much as I think, and like, but if you still, I don’t care. You know what I mean? It’s not about perfection, ‘cause I think people with all this stuff, we like, think, well, it’s too hard. It’s too hard to do it all. Okay, then don’t do it all. Do 40%, man. Like, 40% is a huge impact, and then you find it’s like beating that workout goal. You find like, I can do 50%, and that feels good, (Teja: Yes.) and then 60%. So (Teja: Yes.) like, I think we beat ourselves up over the stuff we’re not doing, or that unsustainable thing that we did, or like, “Oh, shit. I left the car running.”

Cullen (01:20:13):

You know what I’m saying? Like, that was carbon emissions, and it’s like, it gets so exhausting for people. They feel like they can’t do it, or they get too tired and give up or, so it’s like, look man, just do some. Just move some of your purchases, again, to DoneGood. Obviously, we appreciate it. [It] helps us stay alive, or the second hand stores, or what you can do, or buy less. As you know, we don’t need as much stuff as we think. That’s true, too. And like I said, I think that’s all a balance, because I really want this movement of social enterprise to succeed. I think the world depends, the hope of the world to me, it’s why I do this, depends on them succeeding, so don’t buy nothing.

Cullen (01:20:53):

We need ’em to succeed, you know? And so it’s just doing, all of this stuff is like, and I guess it’s back to the tone, like we were talking about. It’s feeling good about what you’re doing, the progress you’re making, (Teja: Yes.) setting that workout role to do a little better, as opposed to, “Ugh, I suck. I’m beating my, you know like, I did this bad thing, I did that bad thing.” Like, okay. Shit, man. You’re not gonna be able to do everything. It’s infinite, and you’re a human being, so you’re gonna have some carbon emissions. The only way to have zero emissions, you know, is to (Teja: Yeah.) off yourself. But like, why are we saving the planet? So it can be a place where people can be happy, right? Like, the planet’s gonna be fine, the rock’s gonna be here. I dunno if you saw David Attenborough’s recent documentary, but like, these like, it’s Chernobyl, 30 years later. The plants are back, foxes are running free, like, there’s been mass extinction events. Nothing ever goes, it doesn’t go fully extinct. Just most of these go extinct, and then a new evolutionary path comes up. The plants and living things here are gonna be fine. We’re talking about can we keep this a place where humans can live and be happy with less suffering? Isn’t that the goal? Anyway, alright.

Teja (01:21:57):

That’s awesome, dude. Yeah. Okay, where can people find DoneGood on the interwebs? Where can people find you on the interwebs?

Cullen (01:22:05):

Thank you. Yes, thank you for asking the plug questions., you know, D-O-N-E-G-O-O-D, just the words “done”, “good”, “.com”. That’s our site, and then, the crowdfunding campaign I mentioned, again, go to That’s the crowdfunding site that we’re raising on. And again, even small donations are a huge help, because they help us hit goals that get us to, first of all, I should say, small investments help, because they help us hit goals that get us more promotion to the crowdfunding site. And I think, I mean, if this is airing, we’re taping it a little bit ahead. I think this is airing [with] about three days left in our crowdfunding campaign or so. So it’s like, you know, not to be all advertising or anything, but go today, do it now. (Teja: Yeah.)

Cullen (01:22:50):

I’m saying you wanna do it like, ‘cause you’ll forget, and there’ll be like, there’s only a few days left in the thing. That’s Again, I think it’s…or “offerings”. I really should have known that before I got on here, but, or you can just go to and search “DoneGood” in the search bar. You’ll find us there. So we really appreciate the investments there. They all help us to do a little more good for the world, grow our community, help more people make more purchases that fight climate change. Every purchase helps someone lift themselves out of poverty, so we think it’s, you know, like I said, we think it’s a good cause if you were donating a hundred bucks, but it’s an investment, and it gets you discounts on our site, too.

Cullen (01:23:34):

So anyway, to do that, like you said though, if all your audience, most of your audience is entrepreneurs, like, they get like, well, yeah, I mean, I’m trying to plug my thing, you know? (Teja: Oh, yeah.) And when we do stuff, too, I always try to like, I just try to like, say straight up like, “Okay, yeah, you’re an entrepreneur. (THE FRONTIER THEME FADES IN) Like, go ahead, here’s your opportunity to just do the shameless plug, man. Like, it’s cool. Tell us about your thing. That’s why you’re here, you know?” (Teja: Yes.) I guess that’s some of that Midwest Protestant stuff too, that like, “Oh, well, I’m talking about myself and my thing too much.” So, yeah, “This is why you’re here, man. Sell it.”

Teja (01:24:07):

A hundred percent. That is your obligation and your right as a founder of a company. So it’s both, you know?

Faith, via previous recording (01:24:13):

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