March 12, 2023

Hot takes and techno-optimism from tech’s top power couple | Sriram and Aarthi

Brought to you by Vanta—Automate compliance. Simplify security | Dovetail—Bring your customer into every decision | LMNT—Zero-sugar hydration

Aarthi Ramamurthy and Sriram Krishnan are founders, angel investors, and product leaders who host the podcast Aarthi and Sriram’s Good Time Show. They have both held leadership roles at major technology companies including Meta, Twitter, Snap, Microsoft, and Netflix. In today’s episode, we dive into how and why to build your personal brand, how to deal with impostor syndrome, and stories from Aarthi’s time at Clubhouse and Sriram’s time working with Zuck. Aarthi and Sriram share their lessons from past failures, their experience building communities, and their techno-optimism, and Sriram offers his hot take on the Jobs to Be Done framework.


Where to find Sriram Krishnan and Aarthi Ramamurthy:

• Aarthi’s Twitter:

• Sriram’s Twitter:

• Good Time Show Twitter:

• Good Time Show website:


Where to find Lenny:

• Newsletter:

• Twitter:

• LinkedIn:



• Naval Ravikant on Twitter:

• Marc Andreessen on Twitter:

• Clubhouse:

• Eugene Wei’s Status as a Service:

• Kylie Jenner on Snapchat:

• The Rock on Instagram:

• Cristiano Ronaldo on Instagram:

• Charli D’Amelio on TikTok:

• Addison Rae on TikTok:

• The founder of TikTok’s speech:

• Naval’s network tweet:

• Y Combinator:

• How Duolingo reignited user growth:

• Hunter Walk on impostor syndrome:

• On Reviews:

• Jobs to Be Done framework:

• First-principles thinking:


In this episode, we cover:

(00:00) Sriram and Aarthi’s backgrounds

(04:16) How Sriram and Aarthi got Elon Musk on their podcast

(08:47) Reflections on Clubhouse and other social networks

(14:14) Why Aarthi and Sriram are optimistic about tech

(25:53) Why you should put yourself out there and build your personal brand

(27:09) Why you should build a network with authentic relationships, and how to do it

(28:56) Sriram’s curated communities

(31:20) What you need to get right when starting a community

(38:35) Why everyone who wants to should create content

(44:22) Why you shouldn’t try to project expertise when you’re still learning

(47:54) Dealing with impostor syndrome, and why you should lean into your strengths

(54:01) Transitioning to a role of authority

(57:30) What Sriram learned about effective management from Mark Zuckerberg

(1:01:20) The biggest failure Aarthi had, and why you shouldn’t fall for fads

(1:02:08) Sriram’s lesson from building mobile

(1:09:21) Why Sriram hates the Jobs to Be Done framework

(1:18:06) Advice for immigrants


Production and marketing by For inquiries about sponsoring the podcast, email

Get full access to Lenny's Newsletter at


Sriram Krishnan (00:00:00):

I hate Jobs-to-be-Done, I think it is a terrible framework, I think no successful company has ever been built on top of JTBD and if you pick JTBD, you're probably doomed and I'll give you an example. When you sign up for Instagram right now, when you sign up for Facebook for many, many years, Facebook knew that it needed to get you to 10 friends in 14 days. If you got your 10 friends in 14 days, you were probably going to use Facebook. So it'd be like, "Well, we're going to throw every tool we have at our disposal to get you to 10 friends and 14 days."


So if you signed up for Facebook for many, many years, you'll get this little thing called People You May Know. Then you'll have this person who just signed up for Facebook, you go, "Why I'm seeing this person?" It's not because you need a friend, because they need a friend. So what Facebook did was it made your experience slightly worse to make that person's experience slightly better. This was performing no job for you, it was trying to perform a job for them.

Lenny (00:00:49):

Welcome to Lenny's Podcast where I interview world-class product leaders and growth experts to learn from their hardware and experiences building and growing today's most successful products. Today for the first time ever, I've got two guests, Aarthi Ramamurthy and Sriram Krishnan, both former product managers who between them worked at basically every major tech company including Netflix, Meta, Snap, Twitter, Microsoft, even Clubhouse. Sriram is now a partner at a16z. They're actually married and both individually amazing. Together they host the Aarthi and Sriram Good Time Show, which started on Clubhouse, it's now on YouTube and famously they had Elon Musk on back in the day, which led to Clubhouse's crazy rocket ship growth, which we definitely touch on.


This episode is definitely the most fun conversation I have had yet on this podcast. We cover all kinds of areas, including this trend of techno optimism, building your network, creating content online and how to go about doing that, becoming a product leader, community building and a hilarious rant at the end about why the Jobs-to-be-Done framework does not work. I had such a good time chatting with these two and I know you'll enjoy this episode. With that, I bring you Aarthi and Sriram after a short word from our select sponsors.


This episode is brought to you by Vanta, helping you streamline your security compliance to accelerate growth. If your business stores any data in the cloud, then you've likely been asked or you're going to be asked about your SOC 2 compliance. SOC 2 is a way to prove your company is taking proper security measures to protect customer data and builds trust with customers and partners, especially those with serious security requirements. Also, if you want to sell to the enterprise, proving security is essential. SOC 2 can either open the door for bigger and better deals or it can put your business on hold.


If you don't have a SOC 2, there's a good chance you won't even get a seat at the table beginning. Getting a SOC 2 report can be a huge burden, especially for startups. It's time-consuming, tedious and expensive. Enter Vanta. Over 3,000 fast-growing companies use Vanta to automate up to 90% of the work involved with SOC 2. Vanta can get you ready for security audits in weeks instead of months, less than a third of the time that it usually takes. For a limited time, Lenny's Podcast listeners get $1,000 off Vanta. Just go to, that's to learn more and to claim your discount. Get started today.


This episode is brought to you by Dovetail, the customer insights platform for teams that gets you from data to insights fast, no matter the method. There's so much customer data to get through, from user interviews to NPS, sales calls, usability tests, support tickets, app reviews, it's a lot. And you know that if you're building something, hidden in that data are the insights that will lead you to building better products and that's where Dovetail can help. Dovetail allows you to quickly analyze customer data from any source and transform it into evidence-based insights that your whole team can access. If you're a product manager who needs insights to motivate your team, a designer validating your next big feature or researcher who needs to analyze fast, Dovetail is the collaborative insights platform your whole team can use. Go to to get started today for free. That's

[NEW_PARAGRAPH]Aarthi and Sriram, welcome to the podcast.

Aarthi Ramamurthy (00:04:20):

Thank you. Thanks so much for having us, Lenny. This is a bucket list thing because we are on Lenny's Podcast.

Sriram Krishnan (00:04:27):

I know. Longtime subscriber, listener and now here. Wow. I don't want to screw this up.

Aarthi Ramamurthy (00:04:36):

First time caller.

Sriram Krishnan (00:04:37):

Yeah, first time caller. Yeah, let's not screw this up.

Lenny (00:04:39):

You guys are hilarious. I appreciate it and feel very flattered. You two are the first duo on this podcast and I couldn't think of a better two people to start this podcast with. I have so much stuff I want to dig into. I think we're going to have a lot of fun, so again, thanks for joining me here.

Aarthi Ramamurthy (00:04:54):

It's awesome. Big fan. Yeah, honestly, this just... I'm excited.

Lenny (00:05:00):

So I don't know if you remember this, I was thinking about this story, back when you were doing the Good Time Show, you invited me on the Good Time Show and I was thinking, hesitating, like, "I don't know, that's kind of scary." And then the next day, Elon came on and then it just blew up and I was like, "Shit, I missed my chance." And then became really fancy people and I was like, "I'm not ever going to make it back on there." And so I look back at that as like, "Oh, I hesitated too long. That's a lesson."

Sriram Krishnan (00:05:22):

Well, the way you should interpret that is, "They couldn't get me on, so their backup choice was Elon. I would've been the main event and they were like, 'Well, oh, we couldn't get Lenny, we'll get... No, but seriously, we've been a huge fan and those are just the fun times. We used to do the show obviously on just Clubhouse and now we do the show on YouTube, wherever you can listen to our podcast. And a lot of people remember us for the Elon episode, but I will tell you this, it is often the folks who were working technology, who were not as famous, you're obviously very famous now, but who really connected with the audience. But you know what, that's why we have you back on the show now [inaudible 00:06:02].

Lenny (00:05:22):

There we go. It all worked out.

Aarthi Ramamurthy (00:06:01):

Opening act, yeah.

Lenny (00:06:07):

Speaking of Elon, I was always curious, how did you actually get him on the show? I remember that was back before he was very vocal in the world and he was hard to learn from and hear from. How did you actually pull that off?

Sriram Krishnan (00:06:18):

Well, I think it's actually similar to how a lot of good things in my career have happened, which is I just had a conversation on the internet. I have this whole thing where I do think a lot of people trying to get ahead in their career, especially in technology, should just write cold emails, cold DMs, notes, put out content, et cetera and that leads to good things.


In Elon's case actually, what wound up happening was a few years ago, he DMed me out of the blue. At the time, I was working at Twitter and I think he saw something I'd written and wanted something from the company and I think he went through the org chart and he DMed me. And I was like, "Well, I'd love to help you," and he sent me his phone number. And I called him and I was like, "Is this [inaudible 00:07:00] and we had a conversation and we built up a relationship after that. This was when Clubhouse first came on the scene and I was like, "Well, who do we get on?" and Elon hadn't done a lot of press appearances, I think he's done a lot more since then obviously, and I texted him and he was like, "I'm game," and the rest is history.

Lenny (00:07:20):

Amazing. I love that Elon just DMed you. Sriram-

Aarthi Ramamurthy (00:07:25):

Slid into his DMs [inaudible 00:07:25].

Sriram Krishnan (00:07:26):

The crazy part of that story was I had texted him saying, "You should come on the show," and he said, "Sure," and then he tweeted about it. And I will tell you that when Elon tweets about you and well, even maybe more so now, your phone just melts. And then for the entire afternoon, I had hundred thousands of people asking me what's going to happen, the Clubhouse people-

Aarthi Ramamurthy (00:07:46):

But also on Clubhouse, if you open the Clubhouse app that day, there were so many rooms that were trying to collect questions for us and help us prepare. There was so much pressure just scrolling through the hallway and trying to look through, it's like, "Oh my God, is this real? We are the people that they're talking about here. This is crazy." I don't know if you've listened to the actual thing, but it was pretty cool because we got to ask him questions we've always wanted to ask on like, "When do we get to Mars?" it was kind of fun. And then after that, again it was this, we got a bunch of people reaching out and being like, "You should have asked this question. You guys are not professional journalists." And we are like, "No, we're not. What gave it away?" We are just random two people who are just talking to this guy, so it was really fun.

Lenny (00:08:33):

Yeah, I remember that. I remember journalists were like, "They're not actually asking him hard questions. How dare they have him on, give him a platform to share things without any criticism?"

Aarthi Ramamurthy (00:08:39):

And we were like, "We are not those people that you think we are, that's just never been our job."

Lenny (00:08:46):

Yeah. I have so many questions that spiral from this discussion, but I want to ask one quick Clubhouse question. So Aarthi, you worked at Clubhouse for a while. Very tactically, I feel like they're really smart initially with their growth strategy of just getting fancy, smart people in there talking and pontificating. They had Naval and Marc Andreessen and then eventually, you want other people. And that was such a smart way to get people to get in there and want to get in there to listen to them, to engage with them. What's your take on that as just a growth strategy to get a social network bootstrapped? And then just generally, I guess any thoughts on the journey of Clubhouse? It's had a big rise, it's kind of [inaudible 00:09:22].

Aarthi Ramamurthy (00:09:21):

Yeah. I mean, all good questions here. I think growth strategy, that's a great way to acquire people right at the top of the funnel. Once you've done this a few times, you kind of see everything as a funnel and you're like, "Well, are you retaining people? Are you not? Is it top of the funnel impressions or do they stick around?" So I think having people like Marc Andreessen and people like Naval and they were not doing this out of any... they were really, really interested. When we got invited by Marc and Marc was like, "Check out... this was way before a16z even invested in it, was like, "This product is amazing. These folks are doing something really cool, this is going to be the future, it's amazing." So it gave them a platform to go speak out and live social audio just made a ton of sense. I will say, Clubhouse, I feel like they get this unfair attention and criticism. It's a what, three-year-old startup?

Lenny (00:10:17):


Aarthi Ramamurthy (00:10:18):

And I've done two startups. The second one I did, three years in, we still sort of were struggling and trying to figure out what we were doing. So I mean, I feel like founders just need some time to breathe in and figure out what to go do. So I'm bullish on Clubhouse, I think they'll figure it out and Paul and Rohan are great founders. They've been doing social stuff for over a decade plus and so they've got to figure it out. And I know that it's like, they get this thing on, "Oh, they were really hot during the pandemic. Is this a pandemic fad versus not?" I don't know, it's a product at the end of the day and you're going to have to find product market fit and I think they'll figure it out.

Sriram Krishnan (00:10:56):

Yeah. The broader question of how do social products acquire the users is super interesting. One of my favorite pieces written on this is Eugene Wei's Status as a Service. Eugene should absolutely be on your podcast someday. It's a 10,000 word piece, which is amazing and highly suggest people read it. But one of the key takeaways from that piece is the idea that when you have a new network, think of it as a new country, you want the high status people and high status mean they're interesting, people want to be where they are in some shape or form because they have money, they're smart, they're cool, they're good-looking, whatever it may be and you want to get them onto your network. And there's exactly an interesting corollary that they're often underserved by other existing platforms. And because if they're already well-served, they wouldn't want to move to you.


And Eugene doesn't talk about it, but if I look at say the history of all the three, four large social media companies, you've seen this pattern. For example, they've often each had a breakout set of stars who are unique to the platform. For example, if you look at say Snapchat, you had folks like Kylie Jenner who really broke out first. If you look at Instagram, I would think The Rock, Cristiano Ronaldo, a lot of others are organic to Instagram. But let's say you get to TikTok. One of the things you'll see is a lot of the folks from the Instagram world rarely move to TikTok and there's a couple of reasons. One, they didn't really need to because they were already popular on some of these other existing platforms, but two, TikTok actually took advantage of a different set of skillsets. People who are really good on video, people who could dance, be funny. And so you saw the rise of Charli D'Amelio and Addison and so many others who are different.


So every single time, I think you need to go after a set of people who are high status who are also underserved. So coming back to Clubhouse, I think one of the interesting things is I think these celebrities are super interesting, but what is more interesting for me is all the homegrown folks. I actually consider us as a part of that, we would not be here doing the show if it wasn't for Clubhouse. There are many folks who had that original launch using the platform, so I think for folks here who are thinking about social platforms, it's interesting about okay, you need interesting people from elsewhere, but you also need homegrown talent. And by the way, you are a perfect example of this phenomenon because you are Substack's homegrown talent and I think you bring a lot of value to Substack. And there are a lot of people with huge newsletters, et cetera, but I think your rise and your popularity is so tied to Substack now and that's actually a great example of all of this.

Lenny (00:13:25):

Yeah. It reminds me, the founder of who turned into TikTok has a great story. I think you've heard his talk about this, how the way he thought about it is there's all these successful people on Instagram, that's Europe, and the people you can convince to come to America are not the kings of Europe, but they're the peasants that are like, "Oh, we have a new opportunity to rise and become a king or a queen." And so those are the people you pull in, the people not doing well on another platform that want to do well versus the people already killing it.

Aarthi Ramamurthy (00:13:53):

Yeah, [inaudible 00:13:53].

Sriram Krishnan (00:13:53):

Lenny just called himself the king of Substack right there.

Aarthi Ramamurthy (00:13:55):

Yes, I know. You're the king, you're the king of Americas.

Sriram Krishnan (00:13:58):

I'm just trying to give you clippable moments on video.

Lenny (00:14:00):

I did just find out that I think I have the fourth-largest Substack newsletter on all of Substack which is ridiculous-

Aarthi Ramamurthy (00:14:05):

That's amazing, wow. That's amazing.

Lenny (00:14:05):

Their recent number.

Sriram Krishnan (00:14:08):

Yeah. Number three, number two, number one, Lenny is coming after you, better watch out.

Aarthi Ramamurthy (00:14:08):

Take them out.

Lenny (00:14:12):

Yeah. They're up there. So you mentioned the chat with Elon and how you're very tech positive and I think that's something that you two are at the forefront of, is this trend, I don't know if it's called techno-optimism or maybe there's another term for it and I'd love to hear just like why? Because I know that's important to you too, why that's important to you and just what is this movement of techno-optimism-

Aarthi Ramamurthy (00:14:32):

Let me take a small stab at it. Look, I think it's also very personal to our context and our upbringing. For us, Sriram and I came from a fairly middle class family in India, this city in India that most people here won't probably know. And we grew up really liking computers but didn't have access to a computer for a longest time. In both our cases, our parents bought us our first computers after saving money for it and it was a hard thing. And when we eventually got onto it and started learning to write code, we met each other online. We're dating ourselves now, but we met on Yahoo Messenger back in the day and we worked on this nerdy coding project, that's how we connected. So technology and computers have given us everything.


Our first jobs were at Microsoft, we built developer tools and platforms. If you were in our shoes, you would feel the same way too. Tech has given us so much. And so for us to come here all the way from India, through multiple cities, we lived in Seattle and then here, the Bay Area, I've started tech companies, it is a bit frustrating to see the other viewpoint because you can see how much it has uplifted people, careers, lives, but also just from what we've been able to work on, what we've seen our friends work on and ship and put out there, it has dramatically moved the needle. And so for us, we are the living testament of tech actually helping us and help us do better, so I don't even see the other viewpoint from like, why wouldn't you be optimistic about technology? I don't get it.

Sriram Krishnan (00:16:10):

Yeah. I think the personal part was really core. I think there's generally two schools of thought. One school of thought, I would broadly write up as things are getting worse, technology is making things worse and we should all do less, build less. And then the other school of thought, which I think I subscribe to, is technology is not perfect, the impact technology is definitely uneven, but pretty much most of the good things in the world over the last 100, 200 years are responsible for it. And we can have a whole long discussion about the evidence why and we have lots of very fancy sounding intellectual theories as to why, but at the heart of it is what Aarthi said, if it wasn't for tech, we wouldn't be here, we wouldn't be doing this.


I suspect a lot of folks who are listening to this wouldn't be able to listen to it, wouldn't have the opportunities they have or have the opportunities we have. It is a great level up. My dad pretty much had the same job for his entire life, essentially from age 25 till the time he retired and there was really no easy path out for him. And I imagine like, "Hey, if he was born 40 years later and he had a laptop and an internet connection and could get on GitHub, here are opportunities that would be just impossible, even 30, 40 years ago and that's all from technology." So I think that's at the heart of it, it's the best thing we have of getting ahead.

Lenny (00:17:21):

It's such a refreshing perspective on tech. In traditional media, all you ever hear about is all the problems that tech is causing and all the dangers and how we're all screwed. And so it's like you almost forget that there could be really positive stories about what's happening with tech and it feels like there's a small number of people that are doing this at scale and-

Sriram Krishnan (00:17:40):

Oh, yeah. I'll give you one small example. You made a joke about kings from Europe, et cetera. If we just go back 100 years, the piece of hardware that a king or a royalty would use or a rich person would use would be so different from what a peasant would use, but you know what? I suspect the phone that you and I have is probably the same phone that... actually I know it's the same phone that Elon Musk uses, the richest person in the world. I know a lot of folks in India who have very high end Android device, they have access to the same internet. You go to, doesn't know your net worth, it gives you the same results. Chat GPT doesn't know how rich you are. It may not like you, but it doesn't know how rich you are. If you just think of all these constructs, they're were just impossible technology. But anyway, that's a whole other conversation.

Lenny (00:18:24):

Yeah, I love that the richest people have the same phone as me and nothing they can do about it. Something else you two are really good at is building a network, building community, building personal brands. I know a lot of people listening are either often told, "You need to build a audience online, you build a brand, you got to build a network," and all these things. So I guess I'd love to know just what advice do you give people that come to you and like, "Hey, I want to build a personal brand, I want to build the network"? Just how to go about doing that, what's worked well for you two?

Aarthi Ramamurthy (00:18:54):

Sriram has way more structured thoughts on this and honestly, he's way better at this than I've ever been. He's basically slowly corrupted me and brought me to the dark side. But what I have come to believe and this differs from what I used to believe is especially if you're working in a big company, you are one of the many thousands of employees in there. Generally what you get told is, "Hey, just ship really good products, put your head down, go to work. The products will speak for themselves. That's just how it's going to work. Don't do this whole personal branding and all of that stuff. It's such a distraction," and that's generally what you're told.


Most of my career I was like, "Yeah, of course that makes sense, that's kind of what you do." But I've come to realize that that is just not true and this might be a controversial opinion, but you have to get out there and build your own brand. You have to figure out what you stand for, what your core values are, what you believe in, what you think you want to do, what your next career trajectory is going to look like. All of that is just up to you. It's not up to the company to figure it out for you, it's not up to anybody else, it's just up to you.


And I think building a personal brand is looked down upon so much that people think of it as a dirty word. It's like, "No, you can't do that." "Oh, look at this person who's branding themselves," kind of thing. But I almost see it as what distinguishes you from everybody else and that is not so much saying something that you're not good at or touting yourself more, it's really about highlighting, "I'm really good at this thing and I want to talk about this thing and I want to do videos about it or write about it or tweet about it." Whatever is your forum, you have to put yourself out there.

Sriram Krishnan (00:20:43):

I mean this is probably one of the most important things that somebody can do and I spent... no, we spent years slowly climbing the corporate ranks. We were junior product managers, IC product managers, senior product managers, slowly climbed the ranks and ran teams, et cetera. And I spent years just thinking that all I need to do is put my head down, do my job really well and that was it. But then I looked around and I suspect a lot of listeners here probably have the same feeling that some sort of people were getting way more opportunities, some sort of people are way farther ahead even though I was mostly sure that somebody else was doing a better job and I was trying to understand why. And I think building a network, which I'll try and define because I think a lot of people have assumption of what it is, is at the heart of this. So building a network is very simply having relationships with human beings. And let's start off by saying first of all, these have to be authentic, genuine relationships.


One thing, it drives me crazy when somebody will come and say, "I'm here to network." I'm like, "I don't know what that word means." So all you're trying to do is have authentic, genuine relationship with people and expecting nothing in return, so that's great. And then people are like, "Oh, well that's awesome, but I'm a senior... for example, I was a senior PM at Microsoft for a bunch of time and then kind of similar at Facebook for a bunch of time, you're like, "Well, what does it mean? I'm here, I'm going to my meetings, I'm doing my day, its only so many hours." I'll be like, "Well, let's start off with go and meet every single peer that you have you don't directly meet with. Go get coffee with them and ask them, 'Hey.' Have no agenda. Just ask them what's going on in their life, who are they, what their life story is and then who are a couple of interesting people that you should meet with? Go talk to your manager and go talk to their peers."


Super important, by the way, your manager, peer relations are super important. Go have a coffee with them and they'd be like, "Great, I'm love to meet this person." Then when I joined at Facebook, I was notorious for being the person who sent a cold email to every single Facebook leader. And I'd be like, "Hey, I'm new here, I want to meet. Let's grab coffee," and everybody will say as everyone is a new person and always asking the same thing, which I'll be like, I show up, I'll tell them my story, I'll ask for their story. I'll be like, "What are you folks focused on? How can I help?" Again, no expectation of anything in return. And then I'll be like, "Who else should I talk to?"


You do this, you do two coffees a week and literally just ask me two hours a week, everyone has two hours a week, it'll start compounding over overtime and time. And then as the years go by, you keep in touch with the people you used to work with you, these folks will go to other places, five years, six years go by, you start in your mid-20s or late 20s and you know hundreds of people all over. And the important thing about this is that it is a resource in so many different places. For example, one, if you ever need help, you're trying to look for a new role or you're trying to be like, "Hey, I want to hire this person, who knows something about this person?" or, "I want a new role. Who's looking for something?" that network becomes your key resource.


Now what I think a lot of people don't do, it's just simple things. Number one is often people just have a great meeting with a peer and then they will never ever follow up. I'm sure a lot of us have the amazing first introduction email they never followed up, don't do that. I try and make it a point to make sure I always meet them once a year, once every six months. I'll just leave a note, "Hey, what's up?" And the other key part is expecting nothing in return. And generally people are very good at reading other people and if you go and being like, "Hey, I just want to meet you because I want a job or I'm here to network," whatever that means, they don't want to meet you. Just go and be very curious about who they are and try and help them. And you'll be surprised wherever you start, within a year, two years, you'll know hundreds of people who you can tap into, so I think that is super powerful. That's just building relationships.


The other part is brand building. Both Aarthi and I at different points in our career have gotten feedback in our job saying, "Oh, with Sriram and Aarthi, it's brand build too much, et cetera." I have learned that that is terrible feedback and to totally ignore that and if anybody hears anything like that, just totally ignore that. The things that work well for me and a lot of others is putting yourself out there and that can be anything. That can be like you make a presentation internally, you write tweets, you're prolific on GitHub, you make a YouTube video, it doesn't really matter, but put yourself out there because the internet rewards people being out there. And what happens when you put yourself out there? It's a Bat-Signal. It's telling people that, "Hey, I'm here, this is my body of work," and you know what the internet does? It'll send amazing people to you.


You'd be amazed how often somebody just have a random great Twitter thread with no followers and somebody super interesting will email them and that leads to amazing things happening, it encourages serendipity. So over the years, I wish I had listened less to people who said I should not do this and listened more to the people who said I should do this more.

Aarthi Ramamurthy (00:25:02):

I also think, Sriram keeps saying, "Expect nothing in return," I think the other way I see it is this is again an extension of optimism for us. Generally, we think people like to help each other out, that is just in their true nature. It's not meant to be transactional, it's not meant to be, "If I know them, they will somehow do something for me down the road," it's not that. Just the way we are all building communities and are a part of this broader community, the way we work is we all want to help each other and help them be successful. And if that is in your nature, it's hard to not feel like, "Yeah, of course I want to reach out to them. I want to see what I can do to help them. Maybe something good will happen, we'll collaborate on a project together," whatever. The core tenant being don't expect stuff in return, don't do it on a transactional basis, I think is really important.

Lenny (00:25:53):

What this reminds me of is Naval has this tweet that proved to be so true, which is don't network, instead create amazing things, create value, do good work and then people will want to network with you. And that's really stuck with me and it saves you from going to network events. Instead just go work hard, do awesome stuff and people are going to want to meet you.

Aarthi Ramamurthy (00:26:12):

I mean you will not believe the number of times I've shown up to some meetup or some founder thing or something and then somebody would come up and be like, "I'm here to network, what's your name?" And I'm like, "What? No, you can't do that. Not how that works."

Sriram Krishnan (00:26:26):

I actually say I disagree with Naval on this because often, when you're part of a large organization, it's really hard to do great work and get recognized for it. You're part of a team, which is great, but it's not the same as saying having a newsletter by yourself or having a piece of content by yourself. So when I was younger, I'd be like, "Great, I'm part of a large part-

Aarthi Ramamurthy (00:26:48):

I don't know, I mean you guys are saying the same thing, he's just saying create value and put it out there. I don't think it's-

Sriram Krishnan (00:26:53):

Yeah, I think the putting it out there part is super interesting. And also I would just say, don't wait to create amazing things. Often just the act of putting yourself out there can just spur amazing things in itself.

Lenny (00:27:05):

Yeah. And I think especially early in your career, you're not going to create amazing things immediately, so there's a lot of value to reaching out and meeting people. There's a couple of directions I want to go here. One is, so you gave this, I don't know, just mini masterclass on building a network and networking and things like that. I think what'll get people to rewind and listen to that again is I don't think people realize just how connected you two are. You're at the center of so many micro communities of the most incredible people. I don't know if you talk about this, but you run all these micro communities of incredible people in, I don't know, creator land and investors and product people and all these people and so it actually has worked. You may be the most networked person there is and I don't know if people know that.

Sriram Krishnan (00:27:47):

Oh, wow. Is that a good thing? I don't know. Is that-

Aarthi Ramamurthy (00:27:47):

It's a good thing.

Sriram Krishnan (00:27:51):

It's a good thing. Okay, I like that, I'll go with that.

Aarthi Ramamurthy (00:27:53):

I think the thing that, well at least with Sriram, outside of all of the masterclass stuff which I think he's particularly good at, I think the thing that Sriram, people don't realize about him is he's just inherently incredibly curious about people. He's just really just wants to know what somebody else does, who they are, what their story is. And this is not some like, "Oh, I'm going to spend 10 minutes letting them talk, I'm going to spend... he often never lets the other person talk, but when he does, he's truly-

Sriram Krishnan (00:27:53):

Hold on a second right there.

Aarthi Ramamurthy (00:28:26):

... but he is truly curious about who they are, what their story is. By now, we've known each other for 20-ish years and this is every dinner, every event, this is just how he's wired and so you just can't fake that in building out a network. He builds a network by just wanting to know who these people are.

Sriram Krishnan (00:28:49):

Thank you.

Lenny (00:28:50):

That's beautiful.

Sriram Krishnan (00:28:51):

The woman I married, ladies and gentlemen, right there. You marry the right person, everything else becomes [inaudible 00:28:56]. I haven't really talked about this before and I'll keep some of this slightly hidden, but I think the heart of it is I'm just curious about people, I'm just dumb about a lot of things. And I don't mean it as this false modesty way, I know a lot of folks are smarter than me. Lenny obviously is so much smarter than me at writing a Substack newsletter, it's just evident, Andrew Huberman is great at... Brian Armstrong great at building a crypto company, all these folks just evident. But what I realized is a lot of folks sometimes just want to be with other amazing peers. And one sort of hack I built over the years, I was like, "All right, let me just bring interesting people together."


So I bring them in, let's just say various kinds of online communities, they're probably over 100 at this point. And I say, "Okay. You trust me, you trust me and I make the rules." Everyone keeps some level of confidence, everyone is a peer, they're all accomplished in their own way, no one is rude or mean or goes off the rails. So I'm a party host, so I'm like, "Okay listen, nobody is going to get super crazy over here," but I'm also curating. I'm like, "Well, I need somebody super thoughtful, I need somebody who's a little controversial, I need somebody who's funny, I need somebody who's like the celebrity... I'm trying to put together, engineer the right vibe or the right atmosphere, but digitally, I'm very anti-social in person. And some of these just happen over time. You put together the group of people and they hang out online and over times, you have a very famous CEO becoming best friends with somebody in their early 20s who's just getting started just because they're in the same space together.


So I love creating those online spaces and I think it's something anybody here listening can do. Just take some of your favorite people, stick them in a WhatsApp group or a Telegram group or a Slack channel... which is by the way, Lenny's Slack, highly, highly recommend it. Lenny is great at that. But yours has hundreds of thousands of people and I think sometimes there's an intimacy from having smaller groups, like 5 people, 10 people like a shared space and then kick it off. And you'll be amazed of after a year or two, of how much intimacy and how much connection where sometimes people open up about losing their jobs or having a divorce or something really personal and intense just because of the shared trust. And I think there's something very heartwarming and fulfilling about being able to facilitate some of that.

Lenny (00:31:22):

I want to dig into that a little bit more. You've built these incredible communities and you talked about a couple, and Aarthi, I know you also built Facebook's early community products and Clubhouse. Obviously if you had to pick one or two things you got to get right with a new community that you're just forming, what do you think those two things are or one or two things?

Aarthi Ramamurthy (00:31:38):

Find the niche, start really small and find the niche. I think oftentimes I've seen other startup founders and I invest and advise in a lot of early stage companies. I went through Y Combinator, so I go back to YC as much as I can and go help out folks. But oftentimes I'll see people starting companies or founders coming in and being like, "I'm going to build this product that is going to cater to this community. I'm going to build this world's largest community off this kind of thing," and it almost starts at this super scaled version and then they set themselves up for failure.


You're almost better off doing these small, niche, non-scalable things to go find these oddball set of people who are doing this, who are really interested in this one thing and kind of scale from there and grow from there. And I think that's one big thing that when you're starting to build a community, don't start to build this super scaled community. Start with few people who are passionate about a particular problem and want to get together kind of thing. Start there. Two, I think people, and this might be a controversial thing, but I often think people don't think through monetization. If you're a community builder early on, start thinking about, if you're truly focused on this as a business, how would you actually make money off of it?


Oftentimes they hit some sort of scale and be like, "Crap, now what do I do? And then they're try all these options, they will have some churn and then they're like, "Oh no, but I thought this was a very sticky community." I'm like, "Yes, but it's not as sticky as this particular price tag." And so you have to start thinking through, if we hit a particular velocity, what is that going to look like? What are the things that I'm going to unlock. And think through monetization a little bit ahead of time before it comes in and becomes a crutch rather than a weapon that you can go leverage.

Sriram Krishnan (00:33:24):

But I want to say, Aarthi is kind of the creator of Facebook Stars and of so much of the thinking there and I can see her go super deep on this. Of course on everything she said, I have a slightly different framework. First of all, I really don't like the word community because the word community, the word networking, the word platform is a little abstract and it can mean a lot of things. And I like to think of things like a dinner party or church or things that seem more tangible and people know, "Okay, I know exactly what that is." So when I think of a community or starting one, I think first of all, it's a party. And you're first starting off, you're like, "All right, what is a vibe?"


For example and this is also true for every social media platform where if you can be a crazy, people are dancing on bars, having a great time, getting really drunk party or you can have a really formal dinner where everyone is seated, there is plates with name tags and there's a clinking of glasses and you have to dress up. And they're both fine, they're both fun in their own way, but you need to tell people, as the host, which one it is. And by the way, I think one of the things that Twitter didn't get right in the original days which some of the other apps did, it never told people what kind of party it was. It like, "Are we going to Michelin star restaurant where sit down or it's a sports bar after the Super Bowl and you can go crazy?" And if you don't do that, people make up their own rules. That's number one.


The second part is as the host, you have to curate the original set of people and you need a mix, this is super important. I think sometimes people do this thing where they either optimize for "interesting famous people" or they get the most talkative lot of people. And I actually read a bunch of books on hosting great dinner parties, I actually have some interesting suggestions there and it'll say like, "Well, you need a mix." For example, in any organization, let's say you're the VP that everyone knows about, but that VP doesn't have the time to maybe participate on a WhatsApp channel or a Slack channel and chit-chat all the time or show up for everything. And then maybe you need the really boisterous young BD exec who's out and about and meeting everybody. You need that person, you need somebody who's quiet and thoughtful. You need to merge different kinds of energy and that's almost an alchemy and that's more art than science. You have to start there.


Third I think is as the host, you have to have a sixth sense of how is a community feeling at any given point in time? Are two people dominating the conversation? That person hasn't said anything in a while. One of the things I like to when somebody joins a group or one of these places, I try and get them into a question which they will feel happy about because you know what happens the very first time you walk into a party? You look around, you're like, "I don't know anybody here. Oh gosh, okay. I know this one person and I'm going to go talk to them," and you just feel nervous. I'm trying to break that. For example, if you walk in a place and you didn't know anybody, Lenny is actually very good at being social, but I'd be like, "Hey. Lenny has one of the most popular things on Substack and he just wrote [inaudible 00:36:04]. I'm just giving you an opening, you to feel comfortable and that's another part.


The third part I love is rituals and religions do a great job of this, which is do something every month. There's a little group I hosted some of my friends and during all of COVID, we did a Zoom meeting every Tuesday evening. And that was a ritual, it had nothing, it's just Zoom meeting with a bunch of friends, people can share-

Aarthi Ramamurthy (00:36:23):

And people would just bring their glass of wine or bring their kids in and there's no structured agenda. But people started looking forward to it through the pandemic and stuff and we would be like, "Oh my God, it's Tuesday. You know this evening, we are going to go do this thing." And it was a really great way to go build that community and I totally agree with that.

Sriram Krishnan (00:36:43):

Yeah, well Lenny has done an amazing job on it on his Slack, I see it.

Lenny (00:36:46):

You're so sweet.

Sriram Krishnan (00:36:47):

The other interesting tension and challenge is how to grow it because I think there are... Interesting point, a four person dinner, very different from an eight person dinner, very different from a 20 person thing where people hang out, very different from, once you start getting hundreds of thousands, the things you're willing to share, worrying about being judged. So I'm always trying to create more intimate different spaces and that's a whole other topic. So I think if you're trying to start a community though, I would say picking the right people, setting the tone, being really part of it yourself, that's most of it.

Lenny (00:37:21):

Amazing. There's so many little nuggets of advice there. I feel like we could do a whole other episode on just community building strategy. Today's episode is brought to you by LMNT. I just recently discovered the stuff, actually from another podcast and it is such sweet, salty goodness. LMNT is a tasty electrolyte drink mix with a science-backed electrolyte ratio. And unlike most electrolyte drinks, there's no sugar, coloring, artificial ingredients, gluten or any other BS. Getting enough electrolytes helps prevent and eliminate headaches, muscle cramps, fatigue, sleeplessness and other common symptoms of electrolyte deficiency.


LMNT is the exclusive hydration partner to Team USA Weightlifting and many other Olympic athletes, also dozens of NBA and NFL teams and players rely on LMNT to stay hydrated, along with Navy SEAL teams, FBI sniper teams and the Marines. You can try LMNT totally risk-free. If you don't like it, you can share it with a salty friend and they'll give you your money back, no questions asked. To give it a shot, go to and you'll get a free sample pack with any purchase, which includes one packet of every flavor. My favorite is Watermelon Salt. You won't find this offer publicly available, so you have to head to to take advantage of this offer, stay salty.


I want to go back to a topic we touched on that I think is really interesting which is building a brand and putting content out and that kind of thing. I think a lot of times people hear that, like a first-year PM and they're like, "Yes, I'm going to start tweeting." And then it's such cringey useless stuff and nobody needs to hear from them because they haven't done anything. And I guess I'd be curious for your take on, at what point should people start to put things out? How do you know if this is cringey and nobody wants to hear this stuff like, "Great PM-ship," these very cliche things come out. There's like hundreds of Twitter accounts, people are just tweeting these things like, "All right." How do you think about that [inaudible 00:39:14].

Sriram Krishnan (00:39:14):

I actually disagree with you and I actually think everyone should... well disclaimer, I work for firm which has invested in Twitter, but I swear that's not why I'm saying this, people have heard me say this for years-

Lenny (00:39:24):

And Substack.

Sriram Krishnan (00:39:25):

Yup. Everyone should tweet or everyone should post on YouTube or post Instagram and it doesn't matter how young you are. Because I actually disagree with the few things, which actually is a great point which I think a lot of people feel this, one is that you need to have hit a certain bar of accomplishment or interestingness to say something, strongly disagree with that. Second, that things are cringey. I don't think anything is cringey, I strongly disagree with that too. And I think these are both interesting-

Lenny (00:39:51):

Aarthi's face is great.

Aarthi Ramamurthy (00:39:53):

Wait, I feel like Sriram's bar is so low for-

Sriram Krishnan (00:39:55):

Dude, no, this is really important because I think what stops a lot of people is, I've had probably 100 plus conversations where somebody who's incredibly accomplished will come to me and they'll be like, "Hey, I want to get on Twitter, I want write content or I want to Substack or I want to do a podcast." I'm like, "Great." They're like, "But I don't know what to say, I look dumb, I don't want to get judged." But I'm like, "No, you're so accomplished," and it is the fear of being judged that so often stops people. So whenever I hear that word cringe, I'm like, "No, no, no, that's actually fine, you're fine. You'll figure it out," and here's why I say that.


Number one is what the most important thing and even, listen, if you just remember one thing from this whole thing is just get started and do something every single day. And this sounds so basic, like Aarthi and I have is a running joke where it's like it's diet and exercise is what we say. It's like we are talking to people about how do you get healthy and you have the 100 different things you can do or podcasts you can listen to, but most of it's like, "Well, diet and exercise." And with creating content, diet and exercise, you just write a piece of content every single day because what's going to happen is it builds muscle, it gets you familiar with the medium and you start understanding what works in that medium and what doesn't and you start building reps.


You know who never works out in my opinion? Is somebody who'll think for weeks, build up an amazing tweetstorm, blog post, newsletter, whatever it may be and then stops because the effort is so high. So I'm like, "One, do something every single day." The second part of it is, I actually think you don't have to talk about what you accomplish, you only have to talk about you. And by the way, this is going to sound very froufrou, but you are the best you out there. So for example-

Aarthi Ramamurthy (00:41:33):

Wow, okay.

Lenny (00:41:36):

[inaudible 00:41:36].

Sriram Krishnan (00:41:36):

... let's say you are a 21-year-old PM, fresh out of school, first year... by the way, we were all that. I was a 21-year-old PM at one time, Lenny would've been too, lots of others. First you'll see a lot of people who have been through journey and there are others like you. Second is you just talk about your journey, talk about what you're doing, talk about what you're learning. Because what often you're trying to do when you're creating content is to build a relationship with people. So when Charli D'Amelio dances on TikTok, she's not saying she's a professional dancer, she's saying, "I'm relatable, I'm just like somebody you would be friends with next door, I'm just like you." And so then people start connecting with you on that front, if you're authentic and you're doing a good job, and so everybody listening to this should be able to create content.

Aarthi Ramamurthy (00:42:17):

Okay, so the only place where I disagree, I think this is all right, but this is a bit like, we are Asian, we have this very Asian parent thinking, there are no participation trophies, so if it is cringey, you should at least acknowledge that it is cringey. I think at the end of the day, you have to persevere, I think I give a lot more words to people who are just persevering and showing up every day, but I do think there should be a level of self-awareness for people where it's like, "Man, this is not great. I'm not getting any traction. I need to improve on things and keep building on it," as opposed to being like, "I am the best me ever," and just keep putting out garbage, don't do that. Improve on stuff because there is such a thing as bad content-

Sriram Krishnan (00:43:03):

I agree with you, but I think when people mean cringey... okay, I'll see this. What people think they say cringey, it's like our peer group thinks that this content is too basic-

Aarthi Ramamurthy (00:43:11):

But everybody has that, whether you say it out loud or not.

Sriram Krishnan (00:43:15):

Well, I'll give you a story. So I spent years, I'd be like, "I'm a PM leader, I run organization, I should write smart PM things. I should write the kinds of things that Lenny writes." For example, I'll say that, "Lenny's Post the other week from Duolingo is... I was so jealous. I was like, "Man, this is the kind of content... I would be like, "It's amazing, banger post." But the problem was when you start doing that, you start censoring yourself. And I'll say, I've written a lot of posts over the years and I'll try and sound smart, I have a great intellectual framework in some of this work, but you know what my most popular post and tweetstorm of all time is? It is how to write a cold email.


And when I wrote that tweetstorm, I was like, "Man, I'm going to sound so dumb," because Lenny doesn't need to know how to write a cold email and neither does the VCs I work with, everyone knows that. But the thing is, what is obvious to you and may seem cringey to your peers is definitely not obvious to a lot of people and they will connect to you, they will relate to you. When somebody says like, "Well, is it too basic? How do I get started with my job?" I'm like, "No, there's a lot of people who this is not obvious to," and I'll just put myself out there and what's the worst thing? Somebody thinks you're moron? That's fine. You put some new piece of content out there the next day and they'll fix it or you can just ignore that.

Lenny (00:44:23):

I think there's a lot of really good nuggets here. I think the only area maybe we disagree and we should move on, but this is [inaudible 00:44:29].

Sriram Krishnan (00:44:30):

Listen to me, Lenny, come on. Your podcast is too friendly otherwise, let's listen.

Lenny (00:44:34):

My feeling is I think for helping you do better work kind of content, like entertainment anyone could do no problem, you could be awesome at it, is I feel like you need to do something in your career first before you can start speaking to, "Here's things I've learned and here's what works and here's what doesn't work." I think I wouldn't spend a lot of time sharing all your wisdom before you've done a thing and been successful in some way.

Sriram Krishnan (00:44:53):

Yeah. I actually think you make a very interesting point, which is I think a lot of people online LARP, live action role-play, as somebody else which is like you trying to project a persona or a career point that you are not at and you know it, we know it, you probably admit you know it-

Aarthi Ramamurthy (00:45:14):

And also for that kind of content, everyone can tell. I think it just comes off as not authentic. I mean I feel like the universe figures itself out over time, but I do think there is a level of, just because Sriram thinks no content is cringey does not mean people all feel that way. You can't just magically just wipe that out. I feel like everyone just feels that way, whether or not you say it out loud. I do think there is a process of iteration and acknowledging that, "Yeah, okay, this is bad, but I'm going to put this out there anyway and we'll just keep working on this," and coming back to it.


I really appreciate people who would just do that and just keep coming back to it every day and like Rocky style, chip away at things. I really have appreciation for those folks because it's hard. I've realized over time that everyone is deeply feeling as if they're imposters and we talked about this. Imposter syndrome is so real, it is so gut-wrenchingly real that it's not just every one person, it's most people I think. So to be able to overcome that threshold and look at your amazing peers and your seniors and everybody else and then still be able to put yourself out there, I think we have to really appreciate that and help them go iterate and just get better over time.

Sriram Krishnan (00:46:27):

Yeah, I agree. One tiny story before we wrap on this topic, which is I was talking to somebody who's four or five years into their career as a PM and they'd written this post on LinkedIn which is full of cringey content, by the way. Okay, let me say it, LinkedIn has a lot of cringey PM content-

Aarthi Ramamurthy (00:46:27):

Wow, look at Sriram.

Sriram Krishnan (00:46:42):

... I'm sorry LinkedIn folks. And it was one of the things about how do you set product strategy as an organization and I was like, I called them, I was like, "Dude, come on. You're four years into your role, nobody believes that you actually are driving this from a place of actually really knowing it. And that is fine if you're learning, but you are trying to project this person you're not." But the thing which I was talking to him, I was like, "I know you've done this amazing deep dive on this other niche topic. You've gone out, you read all the posts, go write about that because you are an expert legitimately in something you think is niche, as opposed to a fake expert on this other thing you want to be."


He went and wrote this follow-up post on something very niche and that went really popular because the truth is, there's not a lot of great content out there, especially great content from people who actually done the thing. You'd be surprised how niche you can be, but if you actually done the work, talk to a people, aggregated some posts, people come seek you out and you don't have to do it. So anyway, so lots of LARPing, lots of cringey LinkedIn content for sure.

Lenny (00:47:43):

Just to close this out, I 100% agree with the idea that people should be just trying stuff, writing, sharing stuff on Twitter, LinkedIn, just get it out of there, don't be afraid because that's how you start down this road. I was going to go in a different direction, but you mentioned imposter syndrome and I'm curious, have you two dealt with imposter syndrome and-

Aarthi Ramamurthy (00:48:01):

Oh, yeah. We have and I still, I don't know about Sriram. Sriram comes off as so much more confident and has so much gravitas that nobody ever thinks of it, but we both do, we both deeply have imposter syndrome. Every single day, anything we do, we look at ourselves, we are creators, we have this show on YouTube and then we look around at everybody else who have millions of subscribers and followers and everything and we are like, "Why are we creators? This is not a thing. We should not be doing this stuff. I just think people haven't been honest with us on how much we suck." It's like you have these loops in your head and then every once in a while, you'll see a comment being like, "This was amazing. I just had to stop doing what I was doing to listen to this whole thing. It was so valuable for me." And you're like, "Oh, okay. We are not all the bad. That's, I think, okay."


So we go through this a lot. For the longest time, I had really severe imposter syndrome through school, college, getting into Microsoft. Even after I got through the Microsoft, which we were one of the youngest product managers there, I still was like, "Oh, someday they're going to figure out that this was all... they'll know the real me and they'll be like, 'Oh man, we made this mistake with her.'" And it was just such a real crippling thing for me. Even now I feel like maybe it's not 100% true, but I can kind of see the gradients there, so very real thing.

Sriram Krishnan (00:49:27):

Yeah, it's so true. I have a hack or a technique of how to get over imposter syndrome. But I'll just say, and this is just if folks here feel it, every new job I've been in, I have always felt that I didn't deserve to be there and I mean I genuinely. When I joined Microsoft, I was a young student, I was like, "I don't know anything. These folks are professional, they've been doing this job for years." When I moved to the US I said, "Look, my accent is super intense, I'm Indian, these folks have been doing this for many years, they have very different lifestyles, I don't know what I'm doing here." When I move to Silicon Valley, I got no hired by probably four or five different companies and one of them told me, "You work for Microsoft so you can't really cut it in Silicon Valley because you're from Seattle," which I'll never forget.


And I look at the person from LinkedIn from time to time, I'm very typically like, "Well, I've cut it now," and I'm very petty that way. And then of course and then when I start running large organizations, several hundred people or more, I was like, "I've never done this before." I'm in a meeting, everyone is looking to me, "Do they know that I've not done this before? Because I haven't done this before and can they tell?" And it's every step of the way. So it just pushes every step of the way and in the beginning, it was quite crippling, but over time, you build things to help you. And I think for those listening, if you feel this way, the thing I've learned to do is you have to retreat to a place where you feel real mastery of. So for example, when I was at Microsoft, I was like, "Well, I don't speak the language very well, English," and I had an accent, et cetera, but I knew that I was the most online developer person out there.


I knew every single online community, I was very plugged into open source, so in every meeting when the topic would come to, "Hey, what is happening with Ruby on Rails?" I was like, "I know this better than everybody else," and I learned to put together a presentation. Because then you start with the base of something that you feel super comfortable in and you build from that. And what you realize when you build from that is you are like, "Oh, actually you know what? People really respect that and they react to that." And I also learned not to do other things. For example, for them for years where I would listen to people from a certain academic background or I'll be like, "I wish I could do slide decks like they could," or, "I wish I could have these intentional... but I was like, "That doesn't really matter. You just need to come from a place where you are confident you've done the work."


So if you folks are listening and you feel imposter syndrome, next time you walk into a meeting, just think about, "Okay, this is a place where I know I spend so many nights and weekends," and it can be super tiny, it can be one little button, one customer, but you've done the work, you've had multiple conversations, it is [inaudible 00:51:54]. And you start from there, you talk about that and you build out from that and you will feel comfortable. So I've done that in pretty much every role now and I still catch myself doing-

Aarthi Ramamurthy (00:52:03):

Yeah, I think for me, when I was a first time founder, I definitely felt that way and there was all this, at that time, which was conventional wisdom. Nobody we knew at that time were founders, it's not our friend circle, they all worked in medium to big companies. My family, nobody has ever been a founder, entrepreneur, it's not a thing. And so when I started this I was like, "Oh my God, I'm making a mistake." But then you read all these people tweeting or writing posts, being like, "If you're a founder you'll be really good at fundraising. Best founders learn how to... I sucked at fundraising. I was so bad at it. It was just like, "Oh, you have to be able to tell your story."


I tried. I email like 250 founders, took 85 meetings and 50 plus second meetings and then got 30 checks. This was my seed round which took eight months to close or something and I was like, "Oh my God, I'm so bad at this. I should just give up right now." And then I started building this startup and I was like, "Actually I'm really, really good at understanding customer acquisition and really trying to find creative ways to cheaply acquire customers." And I kind of started putting together playbooks on it, what I can go do there and I tried this, I tried this, then I started talking to few for our own investors and I'm like, "I don't know if your portfolio companies are finding this useful, but I tried these tactics." And they were like, "Oh my God, I'd never heard of that."


And so I realized that that's the one place I could be really good at and I can grow my business in a really profitable way very quickly. And then investors started talking to me about other companies and all of that stuff and it became a thing and that helped me get more confidence over time. It was like, who cares if I can't do these other things? I can do these few things and this is really, really important to build a sustainable business and I think I can do that. And that for me kind of helped me get over it. It's not anyone telling me, "Don't worry, you'll be good at it," that never helped, it was just I had to do it myself to figure it out.

Lenny (00:54:02):

It's interesting both of your pieces of advice is find the thing you're actually good at and then just lean into that as much as possible. That's something I learned from an executive coach I worked with once that you have strengths, you have weaknesses, you can accomplish almost all the things you want accomplish through the lens of the strengths without using those weaknesses as much and that really was pretty transformative.

Sriram Krishnan (00:54:21):

That's actually such a profound point and I wish somebody had told me that earlier in my career because early in my career, I would get all this advice like, "Oh, Sriram is too loud and too boisterous." And the thing is, nobody I know has ever become successful by trying to fix their weaknesses, it's just impossible. The only way you succeed is one, you might need to mitigate some of them, especially if they're really, really holding you back. But you have to lean into your strengths, which is a weird thing because I think when we do performance feedback, it's feedback and so much time we are like, "Well, these are all the good things and then let's talk about the ways you know can improve."


It's almost the flip time and I think if you're doing performance feedback, you'll be like, "Well, these are things you're really good at, let's make you even much better at that. Let's make you fly faster, run harder, close the deal, write better code." Oh yeah, and some people are mad at you for these things. You should watch it and maybe fix some if it's really bad, but that's not what's going to pull you ahead. It's the superpowers that's going to really pull you ahead, so let's focus on that.

Lenny (00:55:15):

Yeah. The way I think about that is the weaknesses can't be liabilities, you can't just get on stage and melt and explode, but you don't have to be amazing. As long as you can email really well, write documents really well, communicate in other ways if that's a strength. One last trick while we're on this topic, I was just reading Hunter Walk's blog and he shared a cool trick for imposter syndrome where you just have to ask yourself, "Am I so good at pretending that people don't see what's actually happening? Am I actually that good to being this imposter? Probably not, the people can tell," and it's really unlikely you're actually an imposter.

Sriram Krishnan (00:55:46):

Also, by the way, the reality is and this a cliche is people are just not thinking about you.

Lenny (00:55:51):


Aarthi Ramamurthy (00:55:52):

That's true. Yeah, you're giving other people too much credit that they're focused on somebody else. Everyone is so busy focusing on themselves and their own insecurities and fear and just living life. And think about ourselves, when was the last time we thought about somebody else and were like, "That person, probably an imposter"? We just don't have the time for it.

Sriram Krishnan (00:55:52):

Yeah, I've been thinking about me this whole time.

Aarthi Ramamurthy (00:55:52):

I am not surprised.

Lenny (00:56:20):

You guys are hilarious. There's something I actually along these lines I was going to ask about. I remember, Sriram, when you were just getting out of the companies you worked at, you made this point that you were an IC and you were in these meetings where people are reviewing your work and they're making decisions and you're the person presenting. And then all of a sudden, you're the person reviewing all their work and making the decisions and no one trained you to be that person where you're like, "Oh my God, I'm that person they're all looking for for all these answers?" And I'm curious just how you worked through that and what advice you'd have for people that are maybe going through that transition?

Sriram Krishnan (00:56:49):

Yeah, it's a good question. First of all, it's kind of a jarring change because you realize, "Well, I have power, but I'm also called upon to do a bunch of things," because no meeting, let's call it an exec review, let's say and you're the exec they're presenting too. It doesn't really matter what your title is. All of a sudden, you're having to do a bunch of things. You're making decisions, but you're also providing feedback, sometimes explicitly, sometimes implicitly.


You might piss off somebody by naming somebody and not naming the other person, you might piss off somebody by not inviting them to the meeting. You might have to feel like, "Well, I really want to overrule this person, but if I do, they might get mad at me." And there are so many different things which you have to keep in your head as well as like, "Is this the right path for the team, for the company," or whatever the situation is and it can be really overwhelming. And I learned a lot of how to do great exec reviews from my time at Facebook, from Zuck and from Andrew Bosworth. Andrew Bosworth, Boz, has some great posts on his site,, about how to do reviews and-

Lenny (00:57:40):

I'm trying to get him on this podcast by the way.

Aarthi Ramamurthy (00:57:42):

Oh, that sounds good. He's great.

Sriram Krishnan (00:57:43):

He's great, he's fantastic. Let me know when you have him, I have some questions I want to get you to ask him. But Boz had a few ways of thinking. First of all, let's start with Zuck. Thing I loved about Zuck's exec reviews was that it was clear when you walked into the room that you are talking to one of the most powerful people on the planet. But what he did which not a lot of other people in this position do, is he would tell you what the rules of engagement were for every meeting or [inaudible 00:58:08]. He'd be like, "Look, I'm going to give you a spectrum of A, how much I care about this topic. Everything from I don't care, I don't know why you're talking to me, do I care kind of care little? I kind of care so I'm happy you're getting this update, do I really want you to do this? But you know what, if you overrule me, that's fine. All the way to I'm the founder, I'm the CEO, just do this." But he will make it clear where he stood on the spectrum.


The second thing he would make clear is why he believed the things he did. For example, the very first time I pitched him on what is the Facebook Audience Network which grew into probably one of the largest ad networks on mobile, he had all these sort of ideas, he was like, "We shouldn't do an ad network because," and he had all these opinions on, "Well, mobile ads all look terrible, they are spammy, X, Y and Z." But he was really good at articulating those to you and also saying, "Well, if you can prove me wrong on these legs of my logic tree, I will let you overrule me, unless I have a strong opinion." So when you walk in a meeting, you're like, "Well, I know the framework, I know what the dance is, do you convince him?" Or maybe there's no shot to convince him and that's fine. He's the CEO and that's fine too.


So I really learnt that it's so important to clarify for your team the framework you're operating in with you. And it's also maybe a clarifying function for yourself as so how do you actually feel about this and why do you feel like that? That's number one. The second part of it is inside a meeting, there's a few things I think you need to do which is clarify what kind of meeting is it. Is it just an update? "Great. We're just going to get an update? I'm going to listen to you, I'm going to applaud you for a job well done, I'm going to send you on your way." Or is it a decision in which case, what are the pros, cons, et cetera? There are some real big failure modes where one kind of meeting slides into another kind of meeting where somebody is like, "Why are we doing that? Is that a thing?"

[NEW_PARAGRAPH]And then somebody will start fighting on and people are like, "Oh gosh, we shouldn't have brought this topic at all." And everyone listening to this has probably been to one of those meetings. There's also something else which teams sometimes like to do, which is they'd be like, "Hey, we have a hard problem. We don't know what to do." They're trying to kind of push the responsibility of the [inaudible 01:00:02] from them to you which may be fine, but you should be like, "Hey, are you saying that you can't make up your mind and you want me to make up your mind for you?" You want to be very explicit because often I've seen this when there are hard decisions, teams are like, "The exec feels strongly, we don't want to know what to do," and they kind of want to push the accountability to you and here, we watch out for that a lot.


There are a lot of hygiene things we think are very important. For example, send out a pre-read before, make sure it's the right people in the room, not everybody, but not missing out key people. Make sure you're paying complete attention, make sure everyone gets a chance to talk which by the way, I was really bad at. And those things go a really long way. Oh, and one final thing, have a regular rhythm to those, so you're doing this every month, et cetera. What I hate, I stole this line from Gokul Rajaram, is the phrase, "Hero meetings." All of us have been this which is there's a big thing, there's a big review, it's probably a go/no-go, maybe it's career limiting, maybe it'll get our team funded and everyone is stressed out. You spent two weeks working on a deck and the first 20 minutes of conversation goes totally sideways because the exec thought of something. Every one of us has been one of those. Those are bad.


The way to fix that is to have a regular check in, so you have meeting every single week and becomes like you're not spending weeks, it a muscle, it's a rhythm of what you do and those are reason. Sorry, I went on a bit of a speech there.

Lenny (01:01:21):

What I was thinking about is you two have worked at basically all the big consumer companies and coming back to imposter syndrome briefly, what's the worst product you've built or the biggest failure you've each built and what did you learn?

Aarthi Ramamurthy (01:01:34):

Oh, man. At a startup, I tried all kinds of things. We kind of grasp at straws and build whatever. And also I think I fell victim to, a lot of startups do this where they'll see some theme that has become a meme with investors and they'll be like, "I'm going to go build that company. I'm just going to take that technology, adopt it." You're kind of start of seeing that with AI now where it's like everything is now an AI company. Of course everyone has incorporated AI part of it is you get it, you kind of want to be in the game and be cool, but if it doesn't really fit with your product hypothesis and thesis and what your customers are asking for, don't fall for that fad.

[NEW_PARAGRAPH]And I did stuff where I totally fell for the fad. I think I had a consumer electronics e-commerce, like a machine learning model where we rent and then recommend the right things to go buy. But then we were like, "Oh, Uber is doing this whole UberX thing where it was people having their cars and they could do this thing." And at that time, I think this whole shared ownership of stuff became such a big thing and I was like, "Oh, I'm going to do that exact thing where it's like it's less-

Lenny (01:02:51):

[inaudible 01:02:51].

Aarthi Ramamurthy (01:02:51):

At that time, we were partnering with Best Buy and we were like, "Well, we should do this other side product," which is people's own stuff that they could put up on the site. Total disaster because there is a lot totally different company logistics, everything. You could build it out as a different business, but we had a small team which was heavily focused on this business, was already doing pretty well and then we had to fork all of that effort to go build this other thing which required different skillset, different fulfillment technology and all of that. And so we were like, "Okay, disaster." So we pull the plug on it many months in, but we should have done it a lot sooner.

Lenny (01:03:26):

What you learn from that experience other than pulling the plug sooner?

Aarthi Ramamurthy (01:03:30):

Yeah, don't fall for fads. It's do the thing that your customers are asking for and are willing to pay for. Or not even what your customers are asking for, but if you have something that is working, don't get distracted. It's very easy to be like, "I'm going to build this five other things and it's all going to accrue value." And I literally talked to another founder last week where they're like, "But I'm building this consumer thing, but I'm also going to do this SDK so I can go partner with these other companies and do this B2B thing." And I'm like, "But you are four people. Why are you doing that? That's crazy." "But imagine catering to 10X the market." I'm like, "Well, but you're going from a consumer payments thing to something like Stripe and that's a very different business, so do you want to go do that and go have that trade-off conversation?" So that was one big learning. At Netflix, we tried this out, we knew it was an experiment. This was before Netflix was cool like 10, 11 years ago, where [inaudible 01:04:27].

Lenny (01:04:27):

Like DVD place?

Aarthi Ramamurthy (01:04:28):

Yeah. So my job was to build the streaming player software that goes-

Lenny (01:04:34):

No big deal.

Aarthi Ramamurthy (01:04:36):

Yeah. My job was to go partner with Samsung and Sony and Panasonic and build a software, the SDK that goes into TVs and set-top boxes and Blu-ray players. This is before international, Netflix and original content like House of Cards and all of that, but one of the experiments we tried back then was Netflix 3D. Total disaster [inaudible 01:04:57].

Lenny (01:04:36):

Like on 3D TVs? That was another fad issue. Oh, no.

Aarthi Ramamurthy (01:05:02):

Exactly, yeah. But we had a lot of OEMs who were like, "3D is going to be really big and you have to go invest in that." So I spent months trying to do this left eye, right eye codec and trying to make this whole thing work with these odd glasses, sitting in your living room trying to do 3D content, which is really hard. I think we tried seven movie titles over, imported it over to 3D and they're like, "I don't think this is such a great experience," and we ended up pulling the plug on it. We knew it was an experiment going in, we knew there was a good exit criteria, but it was kind of a failure.

Lenny (01:05:35):

Sriram, I bet you're going to have a really good one?

Sriram Krishnan (01:05:37):

All my products were huge successes, so I have nothing.

Lenny (01:05:40):

Okay, [inaudible 01:05:40] other way it's going to go.

Sriram Krishnan (01:05:41):

Yeah, what are you talking about? No, I'll say part of the very first thing I worked on and it's complicated because I love the team and I think we did some great work, was we work on something called Visual Studio for Devices. And the idea was-

Lenny (01:05:52):

What was it? Wishlist for what?

Sriram Krishnan (01:05:54):

Oh, sorry. Visual Studio for Devices. This was in 2005-

Lenny (01:05:58):

Oh, like coding on your phone?

Aarthi Ramamurthy (01:05:59):

No, no.

Sriram Krishnan (01:05:59):

Well, coding for your phone. And the idea was this was before iPhone it, this was the era of Windows Mobile Pocket PCs and Windows Mobile smartphones, so-

Aarthi Ramamurthy (01:06:08):

Man, the kids listening to this like, "What's he talking about? What was before iPhone?"

Sriram Krishnan (01:06:14):

Yeah. And this was 2005/2006, so right before the iPhone came out, the two years and we were fresh out of school, both of us worked on this. And there was basically an ID, Visual Studio, and we had an extension where you could write code on a slimmed down version of the .NET Framework and you would run apps on these small phones and these small Pocket PCs. And the team was fantastic, we're all still friends and without that, we wouldn't have our jobs or careers, so that's not the point. The point is we all knew these phones were terrible and slow and awful, but what we were told all the time was, "Listen, nobody can change this because the carriers control this market. They determined what software goes on a phone, goes on a device, so this entire ecosystem is all about competing with Blackberry."


In fact, the codename for Windows Mobile 5.0 was Crossbow and kind of a little secret which I think is kind of public now, Crossbow was a weed killer, it killed blackberries. And so the whole idea was how do you kind go after the enterprise market Blackberry and work with the carriers? And then in 2007, Steve Jobs comes out and says, "I have three launches for you, actually it's one thing." I remember texting my manager, I was like, "You have to see this keynote," because it was so obvious that this thing was going to change everybody. And everyone in Microsoft was like, "No, it's the carriers who have all the control. They will never let these devices [inaudible 01:07:32]. But actually, it turns out that's not true.


I learned two lessons from that. One is the market is bigger than all of you. You can work with the amazing team, you can work with the A plus team, A plus company, but if the market shifts, you can't overcome a bad market or a bad space. The second part is at the heart of it, if you feel some product is bad and if you feel like this new thing, it's just better to use and you can just feel it instinctly, you have to follow the instinct. Because I remember being like, "Yeah, the iPhone is cool, it feels so much better, but okay, maybe they're right, maybe it is the-

Aarthi Ramamurthy (01:08:04):

All these people are so much more senior than us, clearly they've put so much more thought into this, clearly what do I know kind of thing. And you realize that now, I think over, what, we've done product for 15, 16 years now, and we look at it and go, "We now have these patterns to go match against." We know when something is better, when something is working, when something feels like it's intuitive, you follow that intuition now then and not try and fight it and be like, "But here are all these things where this is not going to get there," kind of thing. It just doesn't work that way, the market ultimately wins.

Sriram Krishnan (01:08:40):

And I think when you're younger, you should really trust your instincts. And instincts can mean, "I just hear people talking about this other thing a lot," or, "I hear that other company's name come up a lot," or, "I tried this thing and... And you may not have the framework to articulate it and you may not trust your instincts, but there's something there and you should learn to listen to that voice. You're like, "Why is that? Why are we talking about it? Maybe they're doing better marketing, maybe their CEO is better on Twitter or they have Lenny Rachitsky as an angel investor or they advertise on your podcast," there we go. I tried to get a plug in there, Lenny. But you have to listen to your instinct because there's usually something there to follow.

Lenny (01:09:22):

I only have two more questions, one is you mentioned framework. I know you have strong opinions on a very specific framework, Jobs-to-be-Done and I know you're not a fan. What do you want to share about why you don't like Jobs-to-be-Done as a framework?

Sriram Krishnan (01:09:37):

All right, I knew you were going to ask me this and I was thinking how do I be kind of balanced in-

Aarthi Ramamurthy (01:09:46):


Sriram Krishnan (01:09:47):

No, balanced and give measured answer and say, "Well, every framework has good and bad ways and there are good things and bad things," and I could probably given one of those answers. No, I actually think the more fun thing to do is I'm going to say I hate Jobs-to-be-Done, I think it's a terrible framework, I think no successful company has ever been built on top of JTBD and if you pick JTBD, you're probably doomed and here's why. Let's go back to the canonical example. And there's nothing Clayton Christensen who was a legend, amazing, the milkshake, what is the idea of being the milkshake? You are a person, you go into a commute and you're like, "Hey, I'm going to get this milkshake because it's the exact right quantity and save me on my commute." But they changed it up and all of a sudden, boom, it was not serving the job and look into the thing that actually it is serving the customer for.


I'll tell you that's not how actual real companies work because in real companies there are so many different parameters. For example, maybe it is really, really hard to go build that milkshake. Maybe there's another person who opens up across the street who builds a better milkshake than you do. Maybe the cup configuration in the car changes, maybe the supply chain for milkshake changes. But in my world, let me make this more concrete, when you work in social media, there are often so many other agents in the system where you can't focus on one person's equation. I'll give you an example. When you sign up for Instagram right now, when you sign up for Facebook for many, many years, Facebook knew that it needed to get you to 10 friends in 14 days.


If you got your 10 friends in 14 days, you were probably going to use Facebook. So it'd be like, "Well, we're going to throw every tool we have at our disposal to get you to 10 friends and 14 days." So if you signed up for Facebook for many, many years, you'll get this little thing called People You May Know. Then you'll have this person who just signed up for Facebook, you go, "Why I'm seeing this person?" It's not because you need a friend, because they need a friend. So what Facebook did was it made your experience slightly worse to make that person's experience slightly better. This was performing no job for you, it was trying to perform a job for them. Was the right trade-off or not? I don't know. We had this problem at Twitter. The single best product launched for the last five years at Twitter was the introduction of the algorithmic ranking and-

Aarthi Ramamurthy (01:11:53):

God, hearsay. Oh my God.

Sriram Krishnan (01:11:53):

... and it saved the company and power users hated it. They're like, "I know how to control my timeline, I know who to follow," et cetera, et cetera. It turns out though, this is not built for power users. It was really built for a regular person when they sign up for Twitter to be able to give them a great experience because we knew the power users, they already have. And by the way, TikTok really great example of that. So how do you make the trade-off? Do you pick power users or do you pick a regular person? What is the trade-off between them? Jobs-to-be-Done does not tell you that.


Let me tell you this. If you go order a package from Amazon right now, five years ago or three years ago, you would've gotten an email, it'll tell you what is that package, what is in it and when it's showing up doorstep. Last couple of years, it doesn't, why? Because Amazon doesn't want Google to have that data inside Gmail system. So it is, for very, very valid competitive reasons, made your experience worse because that's the right thing do for a company. So real life and real product is all about these trade-offs and whenever I've seen people trot out JTBD, it's a tell that they actually haven't dealt with a trade-off, where you have to make one person's life slightly worse in one situation for some other interesting dynamic. Okay, I'll stop with my mini speech [inaudible 01:13:02].

Lenny (01:13:02):

This is my favorite part of the podcast so far. I'm hoping people listen to the end here because this is-

Aarthi Ramamurthy (01:13:07):

Yeah, I think JTPD, the problem with that is it's just too idealistic. And most frameworks are, but this one just takes it up a notch where it's like it's almost meant for people who are so naive about product building and especially product building at scale. I think it might work for the V1 or just a hypothesis that you're trying to go test out, where it's like, "What is the core value that we are trying to serve for this user," kind of thing. But really V2, V3, it kind of falls apart because you have these super hard trade-offs that you have to make and every company goes through that. So it's almost a little too idealistic in its thinking. I think that's the biggest problem with it.

Sriram Krishnan (01:13:44):

Yeah, and look, I was being a bit bombastic obviously and it does have some [inaudible 01:13:48].

Lenny (01:13:47):

We're going to edit this part out. This is [inaudible 01:13:49].

Sriram Krishnan (01:13:50):

Yeah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. It's may be useful in some niche case which nobody has ever heard about-

Aarthi Ramamurthy (01:13:55):

For milkshakes.

Sriram Krishnan (01:13:55):

Right, for milkshakes. Yeah, if you're starting a milkshake company, go for it. But I'll say, so people have good [inaudible 01:14:01] what is the alternate, would involve not JTBD, how do we actually figure this out? And I think a much better way and I really understand the early Facebook years, which is systems thinking. Think of all the players in the system, think of all of their incentives and how they interact with each other. So in that milkshake example, your car, the person, the competitor across the road, the supply chain, the profit margin of each person, the podcast they have to listen to, what is each person's incentives that you're trying to drive and look at how they all work together.


So for example, so then when you look at the algorithmic rankings case, sure it kind of deprioritized a certain set of people, but it prioritized the other set of people and you could then have a much more rational discussion about whether that trade-off is worth it. Maybe it is, maybe it's not, but it's a much better discussion that, "Well, that person wanted milkshake, we're not giving them milkshake," what do you do? That doesn't help you at all. And yes, it may be a good tool in ways that I absolutely have not seen so far, but-

Aarthi Ramamurthy (01:14:55):

Yeah, also the other tool I think I really like is first principles thinking. Everyone throws it out there, it's kind of become this cliche now, but really think about it as if your product didn't exist and if you had to start over from scratch, would you build it the exact same way for these set of customers? How would you think about it? Oftentimes people hyper-focused on competition and what other company is doing. That almost never matters. Other companies are probably looking at you and going, "What are these guys doing?" And you have to look at it as all of these systems, as Sriram said, but also really think about it as if you had to do this all over again, how would you do this? Is this the right way or are you just inheriting decisions over time and just trying to make incremental changes and trade-offs and stuff like that? I like that way more than trying to think of it as a job that a customer hires you to go do. It just sounds like really naive.

Sriram Krishnan (01:15:51):

It makes you sound smart, I think. But I'll give you an example. Sorry, I have to-

Aarthi Ramamurthy (01:15:55):

Stop. You just gave so many examples.

Sriram Krishnan (01:15:55):

No, one last thing.

Lenny (01:15:55):

Examples is good. Let's do one more example.

Sriram Krishnan (01:16:00):

One last example, okay. One of my favorite posts from Lenny in the recent times, I don't know when this episode going to go out, is the Duolingo growth post. I've been sharing it all the time, it's exactly one of the best posts I've seen recently. What is the job that people are hiring Duolingo to go do? Help teach them a new language, right? That sounds about right, some version of that. But if you look at that post, what actually saved the company?


So they tried dozens of different things, found their North Star metric, the current user retention rate, then they tried leaderboards, realized why leaderboards don't work. Then ultimately, it is streaks that worked up. Tell me how do you use Jobs-to-be-Done to get to a world where, "Hey, we really going to show these fire emojis and you need to kind of get that fire emoji every day. Because what it's really getting at is the sense of [inaudible 01:16:45] so there is no JTBD brainstorming offsite that'll ever get you there. What I've seen quickly, is almost always when you get a great product breakthrough like that, it comes from one person usually having a product intuition about something, about the psychological thing the product delivers and systems thinking. Those are the only two places I've ever seen it up. Okay, I'll stop now.

Lenny (01:17:08):

No, that example is amazing. I was going to talk about how I've actually found it a little useful in my life, but I think that's just going to keep us going-

Aarthi Ramamurthy (01:17:16):

I was just going to ask you, are you now convinced Lenny, because Sriram has spent 45,000 minutes just trying to tell you why you should not be using JTBD-

Sriram Krishnan (01:17:24):

I'm just going to get canceled by Lenny's audience. Lenny's audience is like, "This is a reasonable podcast." They're like, "I now hate this guy." [inaudible 01:17:30].

Lenny (01:17:30):

It. I think the JTBD industrial complex is going to come after you.

Sriram Krishnan (01:17:35):

It's all mafia.

Aarthi Ramamurthy (01:17:36):

I think if you see a bunch of mass unsubscribes, I just want to say this is not on Lenny, this is on Sriram.

Lenny (01:17:41):

[inaudible 01:17:41] from your podcast.

Sriram Krishnan (01:17:43):

Yeah, I'm going to get attacked by a bunch of people who are really good at holding offsites and framework thinking.

Lenny (01:17:50):

Yeah. I find it useful in specific cases, not as a scaled product development process, I think which you've run into or just the whole company is run by Job-to-be-Done. One paper was like, "What is the job?" And you're like, "The job is to get them to open that up three times more each day." Yeah. Okay, I know you guys have to run so I have one more question. I have this saying in my family that whenever we do something well, I'm like, "We're making it in America," because we also immigrated from the Ukraine. And as immigrants, you talked about your story of coming to America and clearly making it. You're both at the center of, I don't know, what's happening in tech, which is also at the center of the world in many ways. I'm curious what advice you would give to immigrants and people that have moved here recently or even a while ago, just how to make it and be successful in the US, especially in tech?

Aarthi Ramamurthy (01:18:38):

Some of it Sriram covered before, it's put yourself out there, don't be afraid to put yourself out there. Oftentimes, for us, it took us a decade plus to feel comfortable doing that because we came in, we look different, we sound different, we have strong accents, the number of times I got told at both startups and before then, "Oh my God, your accent, it's so difficult, I can't hear you," or, "I don't understand what you're saying." I got told before fundraising that nobody will be able to invest in my company because the accent is too strong. You already have these virtual barriers in your own head and then you have people coming and telling you actively that you are different and you can't succeed.


Now if I had to do it all over again, I almost think these differences are what sets us apart and makes us unique. And you can do really interesting things with them because you are going to a place where you are rare and that's, I think, a really good thing. So you should sharpen that rareness and do really interesting things with it, whatever that might be. We have this show called Good Time Show, it's Aarthi and Sriram's Good Time Show and we focus a lot on outsiders being insiders or how you started out as... For us, we are quintessential examples of that where we're outsiders to tech, to Silicon Valley, to being in this world and we kind of "made it" to being here. And we often talk about what it takes to do that and whatever your version of being outsider and becoming an insider means. And for us, part of it is not being afraid to put yourself out there, power of cold emails, networking and being really proactive about that. What would you add to that or how do you think about it?

Sriram Krishnan (01:20:25):

I think everything Aarthi said, I don't have much to add. I'll just say if you're listening to this and you're immigrant, A, you're in the right place, B, you're listening to this podcast, reading this newsletter which is probably not your day-to-day today job, so you're already doing something right, so you're going to make it. You're already putting yourself out, you're doing the right things, you're going to make it.

Lenny (01:20:42):

What a beautiful way to end it. Two final questions, where can folks find you online, the Good Time Show, when you on Twitter, wherever? And then how can listeners be useful to you too?

Sriram Krishnan (01:20:51):

They can find us online on JTBD sucks... No, sorry. That's my alt account. Well, we are on pretty much every platform. We are That's kind of a home for our podcast, our show, so go subscribe there, but you can find us everywhere. We are on YouTube at again, Aarthi and Sriram, you can find us on Spotify podcast, wherever you get your daily milkshake/podcast and also on Twitter @aarthir and sriramk.

Lenny (01:21:24):


Aarthi Ramamurthy (01:21:25):

And how can people be useful [inaudible 01:21:26].

Lenny (01:21:26):


Sriram Krishnan (01:21:28):

I would say, this is going to sound like a cliche, but my job is fantastic in a way where if people are building amazing things, I benefit. Because if you build amazing things, odds are you're going to build a great company and then odds are that I'll have the chance to maybe invest or one of my partners will have the chance to invest and hopefully you make a bunch of money out of it. So just go out there and build things, tell me about the things you're building and also just reach out-

Aarthi Ramamurthy (01:21:55):

Yeah, just reach out, say hi.

Sriram Krishnan (01:21:58):

Okay, let me put it, if you listen to this, send me a DM, send us a DM and send us an email and we will respond and-

Aarthi Ramamurthy (01:22:04):

If it is JTPD hate, just send it to him, not me. Just keep me out of it. But for everything else, if it's a nice note especially, send it to me, I will read it.

Sriram Krishnan (01:22:12):


Lenny (01:22:13):

All right. I hope you're ready for some DMs, both of you. Thank you again for being here. You've set the bar high for our first duo guest. Thank you again and goodbye everyone.

Aarthi Ramamurthy (01:22:24):

Thank you.

Sriram Krishnan (01:22:24):

Thank you.

Lenny (01:22:27):

Thank you so much for listening. If you found this valuable, you can subscribe to the show on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or your favorite podcast app. Also, please consider giving us a rating or a leaving review as that really helps other listeners find the podcast. You can find all past episodes or learn more about the show at See you in the next episode.