Today on The Startup Chat, Steli and Hiten talk about what we have learned from each other in 500 episodes.

After 500 episodes of the podcast, Steli and Hiten dive into what they’ve learned from hosting the podcast over the last 5 years.

In today’s episode of the show, Steli and Hiten talk about the very first episode of the show, what Hiten has learned from doing the podcast, why the podcast was started and much more.

Time Stamped Show Notes:

00:00 About today’s topic

00:12 Why this topic was chosen.

01:15 About the first episode of the show.

02:11 What Hiten has learned from doing the podcast.

03:50 How friendships should be natural.

04:56 The importance of friendships.

06:11 Why the podcast was started.

07:03 What the podcast has allowed the guys to do.

07:40 The nature of Steli and Hiten’s friendship.

09:14 A real gift of the podcast.

3 Key Points:

  • It’s been a wild ride.
  • We don’t talk about our personal lives as much as other things.
  • To me friendship should be natural.


Steli Efti: Hey everybody, this is Steli Efti.


Hiten Shah: And this is Hiten Shah.


Steli Efti: Today on The Startup Chat we’re going to talk about, today is a big day, the 500th episode of The Startup Chat. What we’re going to talk about is what we have learned from each other in over 500 conversation’s over five years now or so. So would you believe it? Who in the fuck would have ever known when we first grabbed the coffee and I told you we too have great chemistry, we should do a podcast together, and you said, “Sure, whatever you want, Steli,” who would have known that? That’s the first encounter would have led to this type of relationship, friendship, and this kind of podcast. If all of you that are like, “I wish I was at the coffee shop, and could have listened to how they came up with the idea and how they put it together.” You can, a lot of you don’t know this, but the very first episode, if you Google and then episode one you’re going to find the episode that we recorded right after walking out of that coffee shop where we basically came up with the name, what should it be, how long, why do we want this? Like that very first conversation we had about doing the podcast is recorded and published as the very first episode of The Startup Chat. So go and check that out, but who the fuck would have thought would have made it so long, to 500 episodes. Man, it’s been a wild ride. It’s been a wild ride. So today I thought it’d be fun to reminisce a little bit, to look back and to share a little bit of some things that stand out today, for us, in terms of what we have learned from each other, from doing a 500 episodes on The Startup Chat. So I’m going to put you on the spot. Since I had the idea for the episode, you’re going to be the first one that’s going to have to answer this. What’s the first thing that comes to your mind, if somebody, if you had coffee with some founder and that founder said, “Hey dude, you’ve been doing this podcast thing with Steli forever. What have you learned doing the podcast with Steli? What’s something that stands out to you?”


Hiten Shah: Yeah, yeah. Huh. What have I learned? I think talking to you and doing it in public basically, so like I’d say 99% of the time we’ve spent together has been essentially in … Sorry. [inaudible 00:02:56]. Or enough friends or whatever. You have your five friends, whatever we want to think about it. You got friends, for sure. Like your friendly guy. It’s taught me about friendship and what I mean by that is, we don’t talk about our own personal lives as much as we talk about things that are not our personal lives. Obviously sometimes on the podcast we talk about it, but usually it’s something that’s on our mind, some advice, something that we think the audience would find valuable. Just some topics we want to talk about. It’s very natural. To me a friendship should be natural and our friendship that has developed over time because we knew each other before we started this, but we didn’t really know each other and so in a way I’ve got to know you, but I’ve gotten to know you in the weirdest way possible. I’ve gotten to know you by talking to you, but not talking to you. If that makes sense? Right? I think that if you ask me, that’s the first thing that comes to mind, is like, it inspires me to think about friendship, in not necessarily a different way but in a way where it’s like, “Oh, there are a lot of different ways to have a friend or make a friend, or develop a friendship,” and this is one of them. I don’t have any other friend that I’ve developed a friendship with like this. Well a lot of other friends, the friendships are very similar in the way that they’ve developed. For example, and this is for everybody, basically. Wherever you go to college, you’re going to have some friends from college guaranteed, like guaranteed, even if it’s just one person. I have a crew from college, you could call it, and we’re just friends. That’s it. I don’t even know how many of us there is. Like if I start counting, I could probably count it solid dozen. But they’re friends. Like we never counted like that. We even have a picture from a dinner in college where we were all there. It’s some fancy dinner for one of our friend’s birthdays, and it’s like those are my friends, but it’s because we had proximity and somehow we got along. We bumped into each other in college. We didn’t know each other, most of us didn’t know each other before college. But this is different. I don’t know what this is. So there you go. It’s helped inspire a different type of friendship that I don’t even know how I could have predicted.


Steli Efti: Yeah, it’s pretty crazy. I’m not sure if there’s even … There’s definitely not many friendships have developed this way of that [crosstalk 00:05:48]. I think it’s crazy also because like when we started with a podcast, I think there were a mix of reasons why we wanted to do it. One very significant, one was that we connected very quickly, very deeply, and before we could rationally explain it there was an intuition that this is somebody that I could have a really deep friendship with, and I want to hang around with more and get to know better. But there’s no way that this will just happen casually by liking each other and saying, “Let’s grab coffee once in a while,” so that we knew, “Hey, like having a podcast will also help us spend a bit more time with each other because we have something, some common mission, some common commitment that allows us to do something that’s good for people.” We both really love helping people while we get to explore this, maybe intuition that early days that this dude is, there’s something here. Maybe there’s a real friendship here, but I don’t know how we would ever get to really explore it. It’s funny. Then the other thing that I’ll say is that in a weird way, our friendship goes so much deeper than the things we have discussed or experience together because we have spent such consistent time together, like almost to a tee, once a week, right? Once every week and over five years there’s a lot of life that happened during those weeks, highs and lows. There’s a little bit of personal problems, business problems, anything, you name it. I think the energy we have brought to each other, the commitment we’ve brought and also the care at times where we could help each other, really exceeds the things we’ve discussed. Both you and I, like I know this from you and I think you know this for me, we’re not just podcast friends, we’re not just like professional friendly. If you woke me up at 3:00 AM and you said Steli fly to San Francisco and I’m currently in Germany or anywhere, in Thailand, anywhere in the world, I would buy a ticket and I would fly the next day, like I would ask you why. It’d be like Hiten says he need to be in San Francisco. What’s the next flight I can be on? In a weird way, I know this from you. I think that also, we knowing how loyal-


Hiten Shah: I’ve said it to you-


Steli Efti: Yeah, you’ve said it. Yes, you have.


Hiten Shah: You just tell me.


Steli Efti: You have, you have.


Hiten Shah: Of course, yeah.


Steli Efti: It is rare to have people in your life that care about you that deeply. Finding friends later in life and building such a deep friendship, although we don’t live in the same city, we don’t work in the same company, we’re not neighbors or anything like that. We don’t have that close proximity. It’s been a real gift of the podcast to our lives, that has nothing to do with the audience or with podcasting in and of itself. That’s deep. All right. I mean you’re, as I suspected you, the first thing that came to your mind is obviously much more profound than anything I can say.


Hiten Shah: [crosstalk] got to kick it off with a bang.


Steli Efti: But I mean, I’ve learned an incredible amount from you and from talking to you. I think beyond just the influence that somebody has on you that is just exceptionally kind and somebody that is a true giver, which you are, and somebody that is really helping an insane amount of people. I know you’re annoyed when I’m giving you this face, which is part, that’s the only fun. The only positive I’m taking from this is that you don’t like people to praise you, which I’m doing. But when you, for anybody, like you spend time with somebody who’s very giving and that’s very kind and it will rub off on you. So I do think it has impacted me in many, many ways. But one thing that really, I think, have gotten significantly better through your influence is the thoughtfulness of the advice that I give to people. I think you really had a profound impact on me on thinking about how I give advice, where I give advice to. I think I’ve always been in the, it depends camp, but I think you would really deepen that philosophy. Who knows? I shrug a lot more like, “Huh, who knows? It depends, like every case is different.” I think I definitely, I have learned to try to be more thoughtful, more kind and more … I think just more kind in the way that I try to help people versus before I think I tended to be a lot more hardheaded. Like I had one type of advice I wanted to give and I’ve always tried to be very helpful. I’ve always been very giving, but I think you helped me be better in the type of advice I give, how thoughtful I give advice, and how also how many questions I ask before I think I have the minimum amount of context to maybe offer a question or offer and impulse to somebody that’s coming to me and ask for help or advice versus just hearing the minimum amount of words before I can jump in and tell them what to do. Which is something that I probably stepped into way more before. So I think the real level of thoughtfulness, especially when it comes to giving people good advice or helpful advice really had a tremendous impact on me and has really changed the way I approach it. The way I think about it. When I asked myself the question, what’s the number one thing I learned from Hiten? That was definitely very high up the list.


Hiten Shah: Thank you. I’m trying to get better at that every day and at the same time, sometimes go through bouts of not wanting to give anyone advice because I don’t think they want to hear it. So, that’s great. I’m in one of those bouts right now, but that’s cool. I need to do another podcast I guess. The thing that comes to mind for me as you were talking is I think there’s two related things that are important in life to feel, and they’re very related. One is this feeling of gratitude. I think something a little deeper than that a friend reminded me of is, and she studies this stuff and did some research on it and all that, is this idea of a feeling, how lucky am I? I got to say like the amount of gratitude and that idea of how lucky am I that I feel that you have is incredible, and it’s definitely rubbed off on me a lot. I feel like I gravitate towards those things myself. But like the level at which you bring that out in every conversation, it’s not even positivity. I think positivity is like ruined for most people. But it’s this feeling of like how lucky am I? And you embody that feeling, and that is even more powerful than gratitude because gratitude is one of those things where it’s like you can be grateful and you can remember to be grateful, but remembering just how lucky you are, is so much more powerful because it’s this idea that if you believe it, that you bump into the world and luck shows up. I mean it’s way deeper than that, but that’s like one way to think about it. So I would say that every time I talk to you, that’s what you embody it, and it reminds me of that. Every time, of just this feeling of like how lucky am I? It’s not like even like how lucky am I to talk to you or how lucky am I to be on the podcast? No, I’m talking about literally just in life, how lucky I am, that reminder. Somehow you remind me of that constantly and that’s such a good thing.


Steli Efti: Holy fuck. Wow. All right. I don’t know what to say. This is so good. I’m like, let’s wrap this episode up right here. This is amazing.


Hiten Shah: Let’s do that then. Let’s do it. Let’s wrap it up.


Steli Efti: Okay, so for people that are like, “Wait a second, I just listened to a 10 minute love fest?” Maybe, maybe not. I don’t know if you took something from it, but-


Hiten Shah: You did, yes, it’s 500 episodes, and we get to do that.


Steli Efti: We get to do that. On top of it, I mean I think this, in a weird way, if you step behind, this is something that anybody that’s listening to us should be doing more. Who did you pass 500 episodes with? Maybe it is-


Hiten Shah: That’s true.


Steli Efti: Maybe it’s your significant other. Maybe it is a family member. Maybe it is your co-founder that you just went through the five hundreds, whatever, fundraising call or the second year anniversary, whatever it is. Think about the people that you’ve been through the trenches with, that you have been in it for the long haul that you’ve experienced things with, that you’ve really accomplished something with. Not just the people that have been in your life for a minute, but the people that you’ve done things with and work with and invested with an experience with for a long time. Maybe today’s a good day to send them an email and tell them what you learned from them, or what you appreciate about them, or what it has meant for you to go through this with them. It sure is not going to make the world a worse place and this [crosstalk 00:16:10], we know each other really well. We have said nice things to each other on the podcast and off. We say a lot of nice things to each other off the podcast as well, but it’s still, I heard things like the last one that I never realized, never knew, and now a treasure in my heart forever.


Hiten Shah: So there you go.


Steli Efti: There you go. I think this is it for us for this episode. Onto the next 500 ones.


Hiten Shah: Let’s do it.


Steli Efti: Let’s do it.