Build Your Own Mentor (or Why One Hour of Mixergy Isn’t Enough)

Lots of people read, liked, and shared my post about Mixergy yesterday (thanks to @prague360, @brentcapello, @kicauan, @technophilis, @antest, @monocat, of course @AndrewWarner, and others for spreading the word). The outpouring of appreciation for Andrew’s work was voluminous and well deserved, and so I thought I’d add some extra thoughts that didn’t make it into the original post.

I knew about Mixergy long before I became a big fan. One of his interviews would get posted at Hacker News, I’d recognize the name and click through, then find a video to download and usually it would end there. I’m a copious podcast listener and one of the greatest moments in my podcast-listening life was when the iPhone OS 2.0 (3.0?) added a “2x” button to podcast playback. This lets me listen to twice as much audio in the same amount of time. But it doesn’t work for video. So Mixergy interviews, while they sounded nice, were already long and because videos can only play back at normal speed, it feels twice as long. This meant Mixergy was a curious footnote and nothing more.

I finally listened to one when I just couldn’t say no to the interviewee (I think it was Jeffrey Kalmikoff of skinnyCorp) and was pleasantly surprised. It was my first exposure to Andrew’s interview style and it was so much more deep and informative than anything I’d heard before. This made me much more ambivalent (no, it doesn’t mean apathetic) about the amount of content Andrew produces once I knew how great it was. But I couldn’t keep up with it and didn’t watch another video for almost 6 months.

The magical moment was when I was reading the HN comments for one interview, someone posted a link to the audio for the interview, and I eventually found that there’s an iTunes-subscribable feed of the audio of all the interviews. This meant I could listen fast and have each interview dropped onto my iPod every day. Since then (around Christmas) I’ve listened to every interview and I realized there’s something different about listening to all of them vs just one. Listening to any given interview will give you some good insights and exposure to one person’s ideas. Some are particularly useful for dealing with a specific topic (like Law 101 for Startups – btw Andrew, many, many entrepreneurs become paralyzed by legal uncertainty and the cost of finding good answers – this was 100x better than reading web pages about law that are either too general or untrustworthy) but usually you don’t get a life-changing experience from one interview, just some spectacular anecdotes.

Listening to 10, 30, or 50+ interviews gives a whole different perspective. You move from anecdotes to data. Andrew goes into such detail that you basically have raw data on a bunch of successful companies, kind of reading business case studies in MBA school. Nobody tells you what you have to do to be successful, but you can weigh your situation against the situation and decisions made by so many others. I’d imagine it’s like the value Paul Graham and YCombinator provide. YC has graduated hundreds of companies and so they have a statistical level of experience with software startups and product development. When pg or any of the YC partners give you advice, it’s not just based on brains or hunches, it’s shaped by more experiences than any single person could accumulate. As detailed as he is, Andrew doesn’t know his interviewees as well as YC knows their companies, but Mixergy is free and open to anyone who takes the time to listen.

For an investment of 30 minutes a day, you learn enough to bounce your own ideas off of a stable full of entrepreneurs. You sort of become your own mentor. If you have access to a real life startup mentor like Paul Graham or Dave Cohen (of TechStars), by all means, use them as much as you can, but if you are locationally challenged, not ready to dive into a startup, not connected, too young, etc, let Mixergy be your mentor. You can come up with reasonable excuses for not moving to Boulder or Mountain View, but if you can’t or won’t take the free, unlimited mentoring that’s available at Mixergy, you’ll be walking blind with only your own untested entrepreneurial instincts.


  1. says

    Andrew does some great work. What I find most useful is that there is a relatively small number of users in the chatroom during live interviews, and it gives live listeners an opportunity to ask questions to these entrepreneurs. I can’t think of any other source that gets you that close to successful startup owners.

  2. Craig says

    Agreed, I’ve been listening to Mixergy non-stop since I found it. Awesome source of great content.

  3. says

    Peter, absolutely in agreement with you here, particularly about the compounded benefit of listening to many instead of just one or few of Mixergy interviews. Andrew does amazing work and I can’t stop talking about him to anyone that I run into.


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