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Founder Stories: Carl Thompson, stopping everything to find my next move

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The author of this article, Carl Thompson, is the current co-founder of Contento. Previously co-founder and CMO of TradeGecko, founder of Momentum Marketing and a few other companies in between.
Profile picture of Carl Thompson, co-founder of Contento

I'm a yes person. To my detriment and I've only recently realised saying yes to everything can actually be damaging to my goals.

I got so busy with different projects that I ran myself into the ground. Multiple client projects, running festivals and workshops, managing staff and clients, while trying to operate the back-end of the business, took its toll on me.

I snapped.

After a frustrating client call and some not so friendly emails, I lashed out a friend about a very trivial issue (we're still good friends).

I immediately 'voted myself off the island' and went for a walk.

I reached boiling point. Saying 'yes' to every job offer that came my way was stupid, in hindsight.

I knew what I was doing was not what I wanted. I never wanted to be an agency. The problem was; I had no idea what I actually wanted.

So I walked, and walked, and walked, all while listening to Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, by Greg McKeown on Audible. Which just happen to be next in my queue.

It couldn't have been better timing.

Essentialism helped me realise that the only way I can achieve my goals is to be ruthless in prioritising. I knew what I had to do.


I parted ways with my clients, stopped the various events I was part of and made all my staff redundant.

This decision was not taken lightly. I didn't have a plan, but I knew the only way my goal will become clear is to remove the clutter.

I decided I needed a sabbatical. This is how it went;
- Day 1; yoga, walk, gym, ponder
- Day 2; yoga, walk, gym, ponder
- Day 3; pull out a doc with an idea I had for another SaaS app.
- Day 4; start validating the concept
- Day 5; quit sabbatical
I really can't sit still for long...

After a few initial customer interviews, I realised that this had legs. I looked at the business model. It too had legs. I started thinking about the other facets of this idea; sales, marketing, support, partners etc.

It ticked all my boxes. I think I just found my 'next big thing'.

Over the course of the next 10 weeks, I dove deep into validation. What I found surprised me. I was getting great feedback. This was a real problem, and I believe I could solve it in a way that does not exist currently.

As my cashflow deteriorated, the urge to take on new contract jobs grew. But if I had learnt anything from this last burn out, it's that ruthless prioritization is necessary. "stay on track" I used to tell my self. "Saying 'no' doesn't mean you're a bad person".

The idea that I had written down in a Google doc months ago has now flourished into Contento. A platform that helps brands offer content to publishers. This week we launched version one, and brands and publishers are already registering and using the app.

Contento dashboard

It's been a hit so far. There's still a lot to test and prove out. But all signs are pointing to 'yes'.

I had to stop everything for me to find my next big project. It was hiding in plain sight all along, but I was never going to see it with a densely cluttered mind.

Removing clutter is now a theme that I practice on a daily basis. I now ruthlessly prioritize everything. From work to spending time with people. Everything needs to help move me forward to my new found goal of growing Contento.

If you're a busy person, you might find yourself in a similar predicament. Too much on because you want to help everyone. Sometimes you need to stop, clear your head, and look after yourself.

This article was delivered to you via Contento - a simple way to offer content to a network of publishers, including Mum's Garage.

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