In today’s episode of The Startup Chat, Steli and Hiten talk about how reinvention causes everything to thrive.

People or companies might seek to reinvent themselves or change the way they do things, and most of the time, this can be a good thing. However, a lot of the times, people think that for you to reinvent yourself, something has to be destroyed. While this is true in some cases, it doesn’t always have to be.

In this week’s episode, Steli and Hiten talk about reinvention versus destruction, one beautiful thing about the USA, how reinvention can cause hardship and much more.

Time Stamped Show Notes:

00:00 About today’s topic.

00:31 Why this topic was chosen.

01:07 Reinvention versus destruction.

02:24 One beautiful thing about the USA.

04:01 How reinvention can cause hardship.

05:13 How more American companies go through reinvention.

05:47 Why Hiten wrote this tweet.

06:01 How America has always been about reinvention.

06:23 What destruction is about.

07:19 What causes things to survive and thrive.

3 Key Points:

  • I don’t think destruction is always required for reinvention.
  • Reinvention is such an interesting concept.
  • It is not easy to reinvent yourself.


Steli Efti : Hey everybody, this is Steli Efti.


Hiten Shah: And this is Hiten Shah. And today on The Startup Chat, we’re going to talk about something I… Popped in my head and I tweeted. And the statement is, “Reinvention is what causes everything to thrive.” And for me, just to lay it out real quick, this comes from the fact that many folks think about destruction, or destroying things, in order to build them up again, or start fresh. And I feel like that’s a very… Has a lot of negative connotations and can probably bring up a lot of things that prevent people from thinking about how to change and adapt. I truly do believe that is how you thrive. And when I think about it like that, I think the right word is reinvention, versus destruction, or versus tearing things down. Because I don’t think, that is always required for reinvention. Maybe it is sometimes, but our worldview, I believe, which is healthier, should be oriented around, at least my worldview, I prefer being oriented around reinventing the things I’m working on. My business, my product, my marketing, my sales, whatever. Myself. Over thinking of it as rebirth, which is what a lot of other folks sometimes call some of this stuff. So anyway, I know you wanted to talk about it Steli, because you saw it amongst the things I tweeted recently.


Steli Efti : This is one of the new format that we’ve established this year, which is, Hiten tweet episode, which is when I see a tweet of yours and I’m like, “I wonder why he tweeted that. This interesting thing. Let’s talk about it.” Which is what we would do if we met up for coffee today, I’d be like, “I saw this tweet of yours. What was up with that? That’s an interesting thought.” I think reinvention is just such an interesting concept. See, I thought about it very differently, because I didn’t have the context. But to me, one thing that I’ve always been explaining to Europeans, about one of the greatest things about the US to me, and the US has a lot of bad things about it, and I talk about that as well with people, but the one beautiful thing that I find in the US to be more true than in any other place that I’ve ever lived or visited, is this belief in the individual, and the belief in the power of reinvention for the individual, right?


Hiten Shah: Yes.


Steli Efti : So you can be anything and everything you want to be. And there’s no expiration date to that.


Hiten Shah: Right.


Steli Efti : There is none. You could be 60 years old, your whole life you were an accountant and you now want to be an actor. America is just going to go, Go for it, buddy.


Hiten Shah: Yeah why not? Go for it.


Steli Efti : Pack up your shit, drive to LA and go for it. Right?


Hiten Shah: Give it a shot.


Steli Efti : Give it a shot.


Hiten Shah: Absolutely


Steli Efti : No other place on earth. Not a single other place on earth…


Hiten Shah: Embraces that.


Steli Efti : Is embracing that. Every other place on earth in one version or another, would tell the 50 or 60 year old person, “Shut the fuck up, sit down and be an accountant like you’ll be for the rest of your life. You can’t do it. It’s too late. You can’t do it.” And to me, that is one of the most powerful ideas that America has ever produced. It’s the idea, that the individual can be anything and everything they want to be. And there’s no exception. And there’s no expiration date to that. You can reinvent yourself in your eighties, go for it, buddy. We believe in you. That obviously can cause a lot of hardship, right? Because, it is not easy to reinvent yourself. And it’s not, everybody is on equal footing in terms of talent, looks, whatever, background to accomplish anything they want in life, obviously, right? There’s a lot of heartbreak that comes with that idea, right? Which is a lot of heartbreak that comes with the idea of greatness in general, right? You want to be great. You’ve got to have your heart broken. More so than settling to whatever you can easily attain, but that’s such a powerful idea to me, a beautiful idea to me. So when I hear reinvention, I always think about this powerful American idea of, you can change your life, you can reinvent who you are, your identity, your life, at any given point in time, you just have to decide, and it’s within your power. And that potentially is also part of the power of a lot of American companies that have been around for a very long time, where I don’t know if this is true, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s also true on a corporate level where there’s more American iconic company stories, where a company went through multiple stages of complete reinvention and rejuvenation. Just becoming a completely different company because it was bold enough to believe it could become a completely different thing. And so that’s kind of the fascinating, but now let me ask you, was there a specific conversation or thing you read, or something that triggered the tweet, or was it just something because of the news, because of what’s going on with a collective current energy around tearing down and destroying current systems of the past, that make you think destruction, no, reinvention?


Hiten Shah: Yes.


Steli Efti : What was it that caused the tweet?


Hiten Shah: I think you brought it up in a way about America. I don’t think America’s ever been about destruction. I think it’s always been about reinvention. You’re trying to reinvent things, and people are trying to reinvent things. Part of it, is this idea that nothing is permanent. And we think a lot when we think about permanent, and impermanent to be about destruction, but that would mean that everything that came before something didn’t matter. In a way destruction is about things that don’t matter anymore. And that’s the general feel when you think about that word. While reinvention is about, to do it again. We get to do a better. To do it differently. So in a way it’s about language. I think in terms of what’s going on in the world, and that thought, it’s very unrelated for me in the sense of like, I think there’s destruction and I think there’s good reason for that. At the same time, what are we really aiming for? We want to reinvent a lot of things. I mean that’s what all this destruction is about. So I never really thought about it that much. The focus for me was more on the thriving part. Which is like, what causes things to survive and thrive? And what’s the pattern? And I think reinvention is the pattern, nothing else. So coming out of the civil unrest, in America, what’s going to happen? Well, if something is to change, there are many things that are going to have to be reinvented. And that, your guess is as good as mine, whether that’s actually going to happen or not. And so all this destruction needs to have reinvention at the forefront of it. And at the current moment, it doesn’t feel like it does. And we’re just starting to come to a place where it might, but the way things work out usually in the world is like, there’s a lot of noise and nothing changes. And so this is more about, how do you change for the better, how do you thrive? And I think the word I got to was just simply put, it’s about reinventing things, because they can be done better, now that we know better. Even if the way they were done in the past, we thought was good enough. Once we realized it’s not, what do we get to do? And I think your sentiment about America is really needed right now, because that is America. America is the country where you as an individual, get to reinvent yourself. But so do people, groups of people and so do companies, organizations, and thus, so does the world.


Steli Efti : What do you think causes reinvention more? Is it unhappiness or pain or is it inspiration? Maybe let’s move away just for a moment, away from the individual and think about companies, startups, founders, right? When you’re on a certain path with your company, the companies that have successfully reinvented themselves, what’s the formula? What is the trigger? What causes that? Is it just an inspiration, a grasping for something new? Or is it, a running away from the old, or sensing that the old is coming to an end or something like that? What has caused the best reinventions to happen, or when you have reinvented yourself or any of your businesses, what triggered it?


Hiten Shah: Awareness. You don’t get to reinvent anything unless you have awareness. Individually, you’re, self-aware. Organizationally, you become organizationally self-aware as a organization, which means evaluating things that you’re doing, not just letting them be, and making sure that if they’re broken or if they can be done better, you find a path, you find a way to do them better. So if your business is struggling right now, reinventing it, is what you need to do. I look at all the restaurants that are actually thriving right now, they’ve all re reinvented themselves. It’s probably the most impactful example I can have right now. For every restaurant that needs to reopen or wants to reopen, if they haven’t already reinvented themselves, they’re going to have to reinvent themselves. They’re going to have to reinvent core aspects of doing business, whether it’s as simple as temperature checks of employees, all the way to ways to actually deal with the increased costs, without necessarily to straight up passing it on to the customer. All those things require reinvention. I think we are now at a place, with a couple of different things that have happened, and maybe more, that the opportunity is reinvention. We actually get to reinvent so much more than I think we know we’re going to have to, or get to, in the coming weeks, days, months, years, maybe even decades. This is not a simple thing that has happened to us. This is not a straightforward thing with a straightforward solution, whether it’s the pandemic or the unrest. And I personally call it, civil unrest. That’s what I think is happening, and now it’s global. Which is blowing my mind, that it’s global. Not because of the topic, or the severity of it, none of that. That’s cool, I get that, and I mean` that’s not cool, but I get it. What I mean is, it’s global. Wow. That’s when you know, there’s just a lot that probably could be changed, because it isn’t localized. This kind of unrest when it happens in America, apparently it goes global. That hasn’t been the case for almost anything I can recall. I’m not a historian. I don’t know.


Steli Efti : I don’t think so.


Hiten Shah: But wow. Right? And that’s what got me. It’s one thing to be like, “Okay, there’s a bunch of stuff happening in America.” It’s another thing to be like, “Well, it’s happening in France now. It’s happening in England. It’s happening everywhere.” So I think we have a lot of opportunity going forward, but we should think of it more as reinvention, not destruction. We’re not trying to destroy anything. We need to reinvent the way we think about things, and the way we do a lot of things.


Steli Efti : Beautiful. Especially, I don’t know why, but especially during this episode, you’ve spoken more poetically, even [inaudible] the usually, but it’s such a beautiful, important, I think, thought, to share with people, asking yourself, “What needs reinvention? What can I reinvent? What can I participate in, in terms of the change I want to see?” And trying to all do our parts of moving away from the thing we want to tear down and kill, and are unhappy about, and want to critique and throw things at, to what is the awesome thing we want to build? If there ever was an opportunity to reinvent things on a global scale, to invent things to shake things up, seems to be right now, the time seems to be now. So what do we want to do with that opportunity? I think that’s the big question.


Hiten Shah: I couldn’t agree more. I mean, that’s where we’re at. I mean, we don’t have a choice.


Steli Efti : Yeah. It’s going to happen. So the question is just, “What are we going to make happen?”


Hiten Shah: Right.


Steli Efti : Yeah. My man, all right, we’ll wrap this up at this point, and we’ll hear all of you very soon.


Hiten Shah: Bye.