Sunday, June 18, 2006

Supporting Ryan on his new path

Fell0w bootstrapper, Ryan Pitylak writes a heartfelt and contrite article about his spamming days and the new direction he is now charting. I have had a number of emails and conversations with bootstrappers expressing concern about Ryan's leadership of Bootstrap Student and involvement with our community. I will outline my thinking and decision.

When Ryan and I first met I was aware of his spamming activities and we had a very long discussion about them. It became very clear to me that the lawsuit was a wakeup call and caused serious self-examination. I believed him when he explained that he had learned his lesson and was serious about redirecting his energy toward an integrity-driven entrepreneurial path. I decided to actively support him. I felt that I and Bootstrap Austin could do so in a unique way - by having him serve his community. I asked him to help co-found the first Bootstrap Student chapter at UT.

I believe strongly that we are all allowed to make mistakes and should be supported when we learn from them and change our direction for good. I'm reminded of Sir Richard Branson's candid account in his autobiography, Losing My Virginity, about the time as a young bootstrapper when he illegally shipped records across the border to avoid tax. He was raided by the police and realized an incredibly valuable lesson: without his reputation, he had nothing. He resolved to never take short cuts or break the law, no matter how alluring or lucrative. Sir Richard's book is on the Bootstrap must-read list and also the subject of our next Bootstrap Book Club discussion. (We will have a podcast on the Boot Rap).

I'm very excited to support Ryan and I look forward to seeing how this new chapter unfolds, both in his individual bootstrapping adventures and continued involvement with the Bootstrap community. I will add that he has done a wonderful job along with his Bootstrap Student cofounder, Michael Griffin.

We are watching and supporting you Ryan - make us proud!


Ryan Pitylak said...

Thank you Bijoy. Your comments are very meaningful. Your analogy to Branson's tax evasion is a great example of how Branson was trying to accelerate his business without access to substantial capital. In bootstrapping, it can be seductive to avoid as many costs as possible (including necessary, legal, ones), because each additional dollar ends up in your pocket. However, this is a short-sighted and an individually-focused way of running a company. No company can exist over the long-term by playing by its own rules. No company can exist over the long-term without thinking about its impact on the rest of society.

I hope that this message will permeate through all discussions that I have with people. I hear from business owners of all caliber about the seductiveness of avoiding necessary costs, but I think that ultimately, all of the long-term business minds understand that this is not the way that business operates.

Bijoy, I really appreciate you standing behind me. It means a lot to me personally. I have been extremely happy to find that the influential business people in my life have been standing behind me. I think that like you, they understand that I have learned this valuable lesson.

I hope that my main contribution I can give back to bootstrap is to talk with my fellow bootstrappers about how to avoid this seductive mistake of avoiding necessary costs.

Steve Harper said...

I too support Ryan in his new direction and path.

We all do things in our lives that when judged aren't exactly kosher. The problem is most people continue to let history repeat itself...making one dumb decision or taking another stupid action after another. The lesson is never learned and the immediate embarassment doesn't seem nearly enough to anchor a true behaviorial change.

Ryan's situation is much different. He has been an excellent contributor to Bootstrap and I believe stands as a significant resource to us all.