Reboot Podcast Episode #67 – The Energy of Our Emotions – with Ben Rubin & Dan Harris

The Reboot podcast showcases the heart and soul, the wins and losses, the ups and downs of startup leadership. On the show, Entrepreneurs, CEO’s, and Startup Leaders discuss with Jerry Colonna the emotional and psychological challenges they face daily as leaders.

Episode 67 // September 7, 2017


Ben Rubin

Ben Rubin

Co-Founder and CEO of 10% Happier

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Dan Harris

Dan Harris

10% Happier Co-Founder and ABC News Anchor

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Episode Description

Ben Rubin and Dan Harris have found themselves as unlikely co-founders in 10% Happier, which came together when Ben’s previous company Change Collective underwent a successful pivot. At the time, Ben stared down his biggest fears of failure – that of creating another “smoking black hole” – only to shift the company, raise money and relaunch the product all in a short two-month span, pulling off what their investor Matt Harris called “a triple Lindy.” Almost two years later, 10% Happier is among the top mindfulness meditation apps.

In this episode, Ben and Dan open up to Jerry about what it’s like being co-founders. They shed light on how their mutual anxieties affect their relationship and their company.

Ben Rubin on Twitter   |  Dan Harris on Twitter   | 1-month access code to 10% Happier

Show Highlights

Top Quotes:

“My worry about creating another smoking black hole was preventing me from seeing the better direction for quite a while.” – Ben Rubin

“I actually am happy to have somebody in my orbit to whom I can outsource some of that anxiety.” – Dan Harris

“One of the things that happens in a relationship is that we unconsciously choose someone that’s ideal for us to work through our issues with. This is true not only of romantic relationships but it’s also true of co-founder relationships.” – Jerry Colonna

“The consequence of failure is existential.” – Jerry Colonna

“Ben and I will talk a lot about the fact that he views leadership as a kind of service.” – Dan Harris

“One of my favorite leadership quotes is from Lao Tzu: “Leader is best, who when the work is done, the people say, ‘We did this ourselves.” In my view and in my observation, that’s how organizations scale humanely.”  – Jerry Colonna

“Your anxiety latches to me and then we’re anxious together, and then I can spin that right back out into a group of people in Boston who otherwise would have had a great day.” – Ben Rubin

“There’s another way in which your leadership is actually manifesting itself. …it’s the phenomena of emotional Wi-Fi.” – Jerry Colonna

“…an interesting replication of family dynamic known as a company in which your emotional state starts to have an emotional impact on the other people in the company.” – Jerry Colonna

“Part of the unintended oftentimes unrecognized responsibility of a leader is to actually be aware of their own emotional state.” – Jerry Colonna

“That feeling, when the anxiety comes up — how do you guys handle that? What do you do?”  – Jerry Colonna

“What happens is experience, data point, emotional state, conclusion, storyline, conclusion. Not necessarily true, not necessarily false. Just a storyline.” – Jerry Colonna

“What benefit do you derive from going to the anxious place? I wanna hear from, from the childhood survival strategy that said, “When it doubt, get anxious.”” – Jerry Colonna

“What’s my job as a leader? Get my feelings under control, pause, create some space and not pass the baton of the anxiety.” – Jerry Colonna

“When it’s a particularly tough moment or we’re tired, we’ll play that anxiety ping pong, and then I’ll pass it on to the rest of the team as a bonus.” – Ben Rubin

“The emotional Wi-Fi knows no end.” – Jerry Colonna

“I will go look for something to be anxious about because you know, if I’m not anxious about something, we’re not making any progress.” – Ben Rubin

“Sometimes we use the habit of anxiety to actually create forward momentum.” – Jerry Colonna

“We use the habit of anxiety to create what we perceived to be motion, and I joke that we often confuse motion for meaning.” – Jerry Colonna

“We do get excited about things and we do things out of passion and interest. It still feels like if you really wanna do the Triple Lindy, you got to be back against the wall.” – Ben Rubin

“Anxiety is energy with a story attached to it.” – Jerry Colonna

“Something that I encourage all of our organizations to do is “red, yellow, green.” … before we start a meeting, we just identify what state we’re in — red, yellow or green.” – Jerry Colonna

“It’s pure, secular, direct mindfulness. It’s “How am I actually doing?”” – Jerry Colonna

“The worst cases of emotional Wi-Fi are when we’re both in red or yellow and, and it’s not acknowledged then it just sort of spreads.” – Ben Rubin