As I've repeatedly admitted, the inability to delegate earlier in my entrepreneurial journey was my achilles heel. I worked too hard, paid too little attention to my family, and generally wasn't happy.
The only saving grace I can muster is that it seems just about every independent business person goes through this. You either learn to successfully delegate, or you go get a job.
This is the focus of today's episode. It was sparked by several smart questions from Unemployable listeners:
- What challenges have you faced with learning to manage people?
- How do you prepare for transitioning from solo to bringing on outside contractors?
- How do you manage the hiring process in a virtual company, while making sure they are a culture fit?
Plus, we talk about dealing with an unsupportive spouse, raising money, and the movement in content marketing away from creating toward “documenting.”
Tune in for this and more with me and the elusive Robert Bruce. And if you're finding value in the show, please head over to iTunes and leave a rating or review.
The Show Notes
The Two Keys to Successful Delegation
Brian Clark: This episode of Unemployable is brought to you by StudioPress Sites, the innovative solution that gives you the ease of an all-in-one website builder with the flexible power of WordPress. It's perfect for bloggers, podcasters, and affiliate marketers, as well as those selling physical products, digital downloads, and membership programs. Check out all the amazing features today at StudioPress.com.
Voiceover: Welcome to Unemployable, the show for people who can get a job, they're just not inclined to take one, and that's putting it gently. In addition to this podcast, thousands of freelancers and entrepreneurs get actionable advice and other valuable resources from the weekly Unemployable email newsletter. Join us by registering for our free Profit Pillars course or choose to sign up for the newsletter only at no charge. Simply head over to Unemployable.com and take your business, and lifestyle, to the next level. That's Unemployable.com.
Brian Clark: Hey there, everyone. Welcome to Unemployable. I am your host, Brian Clark, founder and CEO of Rainmaker Digital. Founder of Copyblogger. Well-known malcontent. With my recurring co-host, Robert Bruce. Let's hear the golden tones. I love it when I get complimented on my voice, but I'm always thinking, “Yeah, but what about Robert Bruce?”
Robert Bruce: I think you might have a better voice for radio than I do.
Brian Clark: I don't believe that. No one believes that.
Robert Bruce: I think everyone believes it, and everyone knows it.
Brian Clark: Whatever, buddy. You're still not getting a raise.
Robert Bruce: Damn it. All right, I'm going to work on that. I'll be back. Brian, thanks for having me again. This is number two.
Brian Clark: Well, let's hope not.
Robert Bruce: This is two in a row, right? On air, anyway.
Brian Clark: Goodness. No, you're stuck, man. You're going to be here every week. Don't try to weasel out of it already. I mean, come on.
Robert Bruce: I was staring off into the distance the other day thinking about that.
Brian Clark: About weaseling out?
Robert Bruce: Yeah — how could I?
Brian Clark: This is what you fantasize about? “Man, how do I get out of this?” The hermit's dilemma.
Robert Bruce: That's right.
Brian Clark: “How do I not even appear in voice only, even though I haven't left the house in three or four days.”
Robert Bruce: Right, exactly. If you ever switch this to video, then I am out.
Brian Clark: I know your boundaries. I know your safe space.
Robert Bruce: Speaking of video, old Gardner fired up StudioPress Live over on Facebook Live for the first time. What do you think about doing something like that?
Brian Clark: I don't know. He did well. It was well-received. A lot of interaction, lots of engagement. People love that stuff. But I'm like you, if I don't have to show my face, it's a good day. We may do something with that. You'll have to shift to producer — much as you do with Gardner — because you don't want to be on camera. I don't know why. You're a handsome guy. The ladies love you.
Robert Bruce: No, I prefer the shadows. Lurking, skulking in the shadows.
Brian Clark: Definitely. That explains a lot of your detective fiction.
Robert Bruce: Yeah. Sorry, I brought that back this week on the blog.
Brian Clark: Nice post on Sherlock Holmes. A lot of people love the fact that you're always either drawing from history or fiction. Who is that playwright of yours that you love so much?
Robert Bruce: Probably number one would be Mamet.
Brian Clark: That's right, of course. You wrote a classic post using Mamet's advice. I don't remember exactly how it went, but it was a good one.
Robert Bruce: Yeah, he could easily be squared in with a noir-ish type writer. Really spare language. Very choppy dialogue. Kind of like how we talk. If you were to write out the sentence that I just said, it would be probably the worst sentence ever written. But somehow in conversation — in this format — it works out.
Brian Clark: You know who makes that kind of dialogue? All noir writers basically excel at that, but William Gibson can write that choppy, realistic dialogue. I've said before that he almost discouraged me from ever writing, because I was like, “I can't do that.” Until I realized I didn't have to do that.
Robert Bruce: Yeah, he's great. He's got to be in your top three, at least, if not number one, in terms of fiction.
Brian Clark: Well, I do admire the way he writes quite a bit. I don't know that he gets as much credit for that as his subject matter, obviously. But it was the subject matter, cyberpunk, that drew me in in the first place. Of course, the word geek in me noticed he's got incredible abilities for description and detail — another thing I struggle with — and dialogue.
Robert Bruce: Yeah, it's probably worth noting to your audience here that you're playing injured today … still. You're carrying it through though, still dealing with this sickness that's hanging around.
Brian Clark: Yeah, it's annoying. What is it, four weeks?
Robert Bruce: Yeah, that's no good.
Brian Clark: Not fun. But we're soldiering on. We did solicit some questions. As always, they were pretty high-quality. What have we got in the grab bag?
Dealing with an Unsupportive Spouse
Robert Bruce: All right, let's start with Twitter. Over on Twitter, Jim Samuel asked — this struck me as funny, maybe it wasn't, maybe it wasn't meant to be — “How do you deal with spouses who want you to get a job?” That's Jim Samuel, @jwsamuel. Thanks, Jim.
Brian Clark: I'd say I probably need more information on that one. Is it because the lights have been turned off and the kids are out begging for change to buy Wonder bread? Then yes, you should probably get a job. But there's another side of this. Even when people are doing well, you'll have a spouse — it could be the husband or the wife — that has a low tolerance for insecurity. In the sense that they perceive employment as secure, and even a small business that's doing well as potentially crashing at any moment.
Some people, I don't think are wired the way you need to be to realize that, number one, in most states — at-will employment: someone can fire you for no reason at all. Just because they don't like your shirt. They may not say it's because of your shirt. It could be your politics. They won't say it's because of your politics, but there's no criteria. They just can say, “Bye.” That's not security.
When you control the influx of either clients or customers and can extrapolate revenue from that — it may feel like you're walking a tightrope without a net, but you're actually more in control of what you're doing. I know we talked a little bit off air about the coming automation, the AI. It's not immigrants who are taking jobs, it's technology, and they're not coming back. If you're someone who runs your own show, you're actually in a better position against that threat as well.
Robert Bruce: So if you're not able to pay the bills, you need to — you're saying — listen to your wife.
Brian Clark: Well, yeah, or you're not going to have a wife.
Robert Bruce: Right, do you want your marriage, or do you want …
Brian Clark: Exactly. I've been very fortunate. At the very beginning when I was just dating my wife, she always had faith in me. I am like, “This is proof that she's a little crazy.” Then, when I left my real estate businesses in 2005 and eventually started Copyblogger — I did that two months after our second child was born. She was like, “Do what you got to do.” Now, I would say she's been handsomely rewarded for her faith, but it's still remarkable to me. She is amazing. I don't know many other spouses that would just say, “You got this. Let me know how it turns out.” But that's what I had. I feel very fortunate for that.
Robert Bruce: All right, let's jump over to Facebook. I can't believe you got — I actually have a tab open to Facebook, Brian, because of this link you sent me.
Brian Clark: You don't go over there, do you?
Robert Bruce: I don't have a Facebook account. I don't go over there. I don't like to open any Facebook pages. I don't want Zuckerberg in my sh*t. I don't want him doing anything. I don't want to be anywhere near that dude.
Brian Clark: I know. Can you believe I started using it more? It's only because …
Robert Bruce: Well, no, I get it.
Brian Clark: I'm only friends over there with people I actually know in real life, for the most part. I tried to friend people randomly to see if they were interesting, and that never works. I always end up unfriending them. They're spammers, they're offensive, or there's no value added to my life. I like talking to people I know over there because it's a better environment for that than Twitter, but otherwise …
Robert Bruce: Yeah, definitely more …
Brian Clark: I think I said in last week's Further that if Facebook disappeared, I think the world would improve exponentially.
Robert Bruce: Maybe next time when you have me on here — Cal Newport wrote a great article.
Brian Clark: Oh yeah, I shared that one on Further as well.
Challenges in Learning to Manage People
Robert Bruce: The New York Times: “Quit Social Media, Your Career May Depend on It.” There's some good stuff. Anyway, yeah, back to it. We're back on Facebook. All of this grand talk about avoiding these evils, here we are on Facebook. Bobby Tewksbary asks, or states, “Would love to hear you discuss delegation. Was it natural for you, Brian? What challenges have you faced with learning to manage people?” It might be worth bringing up Jerod's comment underneath that. Jerod begs, “Please do not name names or use actual examples.”
Brian Clark: Oh, too bad for you, Jerod. Also, Chris Conner's question — it's like a sub-question — transitioning from solo to working with outside contractors. It's kind of the same issue. Scott Ellis mentions the hiring process in virtual companies. I think we can tackle all of them together.
Robert Bruce: Yeah.
Brian Clark: People who've been listening to Unemployable for a while know that delegation was my Kryptonite early on. It made me work too hard, or lack of delegation made me work too hard and be unhappy. Ultimately, I have to admit that when I say I walked away from those businesses in 2005, that was it. My inability to manage my people and resources in a systematic way was why I was so unhappy.
Robert Bruce: Obviously this is something that you're always kicking against, but back then, why do you think you could not delegate, in your own experience?
Brian Clark: Well, because you're in the business. It's the old E-Myth thing. Almost everyone I've talked to, especially on the show, you either go through that and you figure it out, or you end up quitting and going back to work for someone else because it's that bad if you don't get past it. If you're going to unpack it honestly, then I'd have to say that, “No one could do it as well as me.” That is fatal.
Robert Bruce: I think that's very human. Even someone in my situation, which is obviously different from yours — being employed — I still feel the same natural impulse. “I'll just get it done. It's so much easier.” Even when you have good people. But anyway, go on.
Brian Clark: Of course, if you took the time to explain one time to someone — hopefully one time — how to do something that is better suited for them than you, then that's actually the much smarter move. But your brain doesn't come to that conclusion for some reason. Some people seem much more attuned to delegation than others, yet I still find that founders, over and over again did the same thing. They made the same mistake.
Historically, it did not come easy to me, Bobby. It was bad. But I did see the light there after exiting those businesses and then starting Copyblogger. In fact, I swore that I would never do anything that wasn't my core competency. That I would never have employees. I would only partner with people and create other companies, but still be separate from it. I did that for a while until 2010 when we merged everything together and became what we are today, which I love.
But I could have never done that without the people that came along with me, notably Tony. I always talk about him from an operational standpoint. He's good at that and I'm not. That's part one of my rules for delegation. Do what you love, do what you're good at, and be ruthless about trying to wall yourself off from everything else. Now, I don't always succeed. Any time there's a legal issue with the company it comes straight to me, because I'm the best-qualified person to decide, “Okay, can this be dealt with with an email or a letter, or should we bring in outside counsel?” I think that just makes sense, to a certain degree.
Robert Bruce: In that particular example, for us, there's not enough to necessarily warrant either contracting or hiring an attorney for our legal stuff.
Brian Clark: I understand the business and the law enough to the point where I can evaluate what needs to be done. In other organizations, there may be someone else who is more appropriate for that than the CEO. But in my case, because I used to practice law, it just makes sense. I don't really mind that so much. But everything else I try to either collaborate on and then defer to the judgment of the better-qualified person, if it comes down to a disagreement, and then focus on what I do best. That's rule number one of delegation: don't do what you hate and don't do what you're bad at.
The second rule of delegation comes into play within the realm of what you love and what you're good at, yet you need to amplify yourself with your team. A good example of that would be what we call editorial at Rainmaker Digital, which is really marketing, SEO, sales, social — it's everything related to content and marketing, because that's what we do. We practice what we preach. In that area, I've taken a completely different approach, which I guess could be best summed up as mentoring.
When Sonia came on board early on when it was a very small company, I mentored her for a period of time — I don't recall how long it was — then I turned her loose. Then you came and we did the same thing. We had that working relationship where I did a lot of things with you at my side so that you could observe those things, and then you started doing those things and I checked your work. And then you arrive at the day and you're doing those things and it's pretty rare that I'm actually checking your work, even if I tell you I am. That's where you want to get to. You want to get there.
Then, of course, Jerod was the most recent mentoree, person I mentored, I don't know. Anyway, of course Jerod is amazing in his own right, you've seen this. Jerod today compared to Jerod five years ago — the dude runs a lot of stuff. I plucked him out of server support over in the hosting side of the business.
Robert Bruce: Yeah, his story is pretty incredible. There's no doubt.
Brian Clark: Those are my two rules. Never do what you hate or what you're bad at, and two, consider mentoring people. Not to replace yourself necessarily. To replace or amplify aspects of yourself, so that if you have an idea at three in the morning that requires execution, you have people in place such as yourself, such as Jerod, such as Sonia, who say, “Yeah, I get it,” and they run with it. That's amazing. That's why we were able to launch StudioPress Sites while I was almost in the hospital. Congrats to you, Robert. That's kudos for you.
Robert Bruce: One thing, as you're talking about this I am thinking, “Then what are the benefits of delegation when it's done right?” It's never complete, but when you've got a good thing going with delegation to people that you trust, what are the benefits to you, the person who is delegating?
Brian Clark: To remain at the big-picture level. To truly look as far ahead as possible, which we know isn't very far. I think you shared with me a Seth Godin article about the ridiculousness of a 10-year-plan but the wisdom of a 10-year commitment. That's a great way to summarize how it really works. You're committed to achieving your vision, but you have no idea — beyond your limited highway vision, going 80 miles an hour — of how that's actually going to play out.
I think that's another benefit of mentoring. It's not just about how well you write copy or how well you can execute. All of you understand the inherent agility that we have to have to stay relevant. That is more philosophical than anything, and you would probably not have picked that up if you didn't see me doing it with you. That, “Okay, we got to change this.”
Robert Bruce: Yeah, right.
Brian Clark: If the three of you weren't the right people, you wouldn't have been comfortable in the role. That's another part of mentoring that you figure out. You're right there with that person, evaluating them in a way that a job interview would never suffice.
Managing the Hiring Process in a Virtual Company
Robert Bruce: What do you think of that, too? I've seen this through the years for various people that I've worked for and with, and in a couple of different places — this idea of hiring fast and firing fast as opposed to agonizing over trying to find the right person. I think there's probably great examples of either or, but generally, what do you think about this idea in the context of delegation, of finding those people that you're able to delegate to?
Brian Clark: Yeah, that's a great question, because job interviews are worthless. I think you've seen the data. You need the right skillset and you got to feel like you can get along with someone. But when someone's saying all the right things in an hour, it's not really a good evaluation. We pretty much hire everyone on a contract basis first. That's the interview. You make it past that, and welcome aboard.
Robert Bruce: Largely based on a portfolio of some kind, right? Either website content or code-based?
Brian Clark: They all come from the audience. That's what I think answers Scott's question a little bit and making sure they're a culture fit. When you put out your philosophy of how marketing should work, how business should work, how products should be created, and the importance of the customers and the audience, you're putting that out there in a way that attracts like-minded people. Now, think of a traditional company that has their core values stapled to the wall in the break room. Do you really think that creates culture? It doesn't mean anything.
Robert Bruce: Right, if anything, it makes me want to go against it.
Brian Clark: That's you, but it's probably a lot of people that think that way as well. Yeah, I'm looking at some hiring decisions that are completely outside of my core competency. It's just going to come down to, “What have you done and do I think I can work with you?” Then, of course, it comes down to, “Does that actually turn out to be the case?” Which is why you should trust but verify. It's the best way when it comes to hiring.
Transitioning from Being Solo to Working with Outside Contractors
Brian Clark: Maybe that goes a little bit to Chris's sub-question about transitioning from solo to working with outsiders. Number one, think of yourself as a mentor, first and foremost. Don't think you're going to hire someone and they're just going to come in, understand everything completely, perfectly, and then that's it. In my experience, that doesn't work with anyone. Now, there are rare occasions when someone comes in, they get it, they own it, they change your life. Embrace that, but don't expect it.
Robert Bruce: All right, we got two more questions to get to, but before we do that, Jerod Morris pled on Facebook not to name names or use actual examples of failed delegation and, “Challenges you've had that you faced with learning to manage people.” Do you want to name any names or use actual examples? Jerod, obviously, is a person who comes to mind.
Brian Clark: There's Jerod, and then there's you, and then there's Sonia.
Robert Bruce: I don't think that's right.
Brian Clark: All of you have succeeded.
Robert Bruce: I mean, Sonia and Jerod, absolutely.
Brian Clark: And failed.
Robert Bruce: I would disagree with one of the three.
Brian Clark: Would you?
Robert Bruce: Obviously Sonia and Jerod.
Brian Clark: How convenient.
Robert Bruce: Well, it's just, facts are facts.
Brian Clark: No, I like it when you guys screw up. Honestly. I'm being honest. It doesn't happen very often, but when you do, it's a test of my leadership skills to be calm and just step in and say, “Now, see here, you don't want to do that because … And here's what you do instead.” Three things. “Here's what you did. That wasn't right because … Here's what you do instead.” The only time I would ever get mad at anyone is if I have to say that exact thing twice. I've been very fortunate with you guys that that doesn't happen.
When Is the Right Time to Raise Money?
Robert Bruce: Tod Eason asks, “When, Brian, is the right time to think about raising money?”
Brian Clark: See, Tod Eason is a friend of mine from college. He's a money guy. He knows we're hardcore bootstrappers. Once again, we have been trolled on Facebook by people we know are trolls.
Robert Bruce: Tod, you're banned. Oh wait, this isn't my Facebook account.
Brian Clark: Tod is … I'm going to block him. No, Tod's a great guy. Tod made a fortune during the .com days. I may even have him on Unemployable, because he's got an interesting story. You know the producer model or the impresario, that's Tod. Tod started a company called CultureMap in Houston and ended up selling that, getting out of it. He's an interesting guy. Here's my response to Tod on Facebook itself to expedite things. He says, “When is the right time to think about raising money?” I say, “When you realize your idea is not good enough to spread on its own.” I trolled him back.
Robert Bruce: Nice. You guys got this internal inside joke thing going on. You're going to have to …
Brian Clark: Oh yeah. That's the only reason to be on Facebook, is to do your inside jokes and confuse everyone.
Movement Toward Content Documentation Rather than Creation
Robert Bruce: Publicly. All right, Bob Sands, you're next, man. Bob Sands asks, or states, “There seems to be a renewed interest by some on hustling and putting content out there no matter what. Curious to know your views on this new paradigm in content marketing of ‘Document, Don't Create.'”
Brian Clark: First of all, I just wrote about 8,000 words on a deliberate content marketing strategy that, I think, is probably a little more deliberate than that idea. But, I will have to say, I was not familiar with the “Document, Don't Create” that Bob's referencing. You actually had some background on that. Tell us what he's talking about.
Robert Bruce: I caught this from Mr. Vaynerchuk. I happened to catch it a few weeks ago, maybe a month ago he started talking about this. He's simply framed very well an idea that's been around for a long time. I think he was continually being asked the same type of question, which was, “I just don't have time to create content,” so to speak, “I just can't do it.” Here, Gary is one of these guys that's like, “You need to be seven, eight, nine, 10, 11, 12 pieces of original content for each social network, plus your own site, plus this, plus that.”
A normal human being thinks that's insane, and may be right. He reframed this concept with “Document, Don't Create.” It's basically, “Okay, you don't have time. Don't create original content. Document your process of coming up.” That also solves an interesting problem, too. He's talked before about the idea of, “I don't want to see a 21-year-old life coach on Instagram or on Facebook having a ‘life coaching business' who's somebody who's never lived. Instead of going that route, why don't you document your whole process? The documentation of the birth, growth, and hopefully continued growth of your business is — number one, it's great TV. It's great entertainment. Number two, it's extremely educational.”
Brian Clark: It's a reality show, right?
Robert Bruce: It's a reality show, which is what he's doing directly with DailyVee.
Brian Clark: Absolutely. Gary's doing a great job with it. When you told me that, the first thing I thought of was Austin Kleon and Show Your Work. That's the same concept. Even going back further, and …
Robert Bruce: Further what, Further.net?
Brian Clark: My Further, the psychological research that shows that if you really want to master a topic, teach it to someone else. If I'm reading books that are aimed at enhancing my own personal development and then I share that with others, I'm actually internalizing that more than if I read the book again. This goes way back to — think of Darren Rowse. Darren Rowse was at the very beginning of commercial blogging, and he was about two steps ahead of his own audience on his own journey. That was exactly correct. Document is create in the sense that, “Here's where I got to today, and hopefully it brings you along faster, because I know you're three steps behind me.” Then you become an authority, you become a leader.
Robert Bruce: Documenting is creating content, showing your work is creating content.
Brian Clark: This is the essence of how every personal brand is created by sharing what you know today. Then you wake up three years later and you're not only a subject-matter expert, you've got an audience that thinks you're the bomb.
Robert Bruce: Yeah. You brought this up — I'm horrible with dates, I think it was last week — the realization you saw in data that the interviews you were doing on this very show were doing much better than the original content monologues that you were creating for episodes of this show. That fit in here to this concept?
Brian Clark: That, I think, goes to my point of it's an important aspect, I'm finding. Unemployable — when you and I have our conversations, people get a glimpse into how things work behind-the-scenes. When I interview people, we get a glimpse into their experience, their journey. Generally, I love having the more conversational thing than just asking questions, so people get a glimpse into how I feel or experienced that aspect in my own journey. I think this is an important part.
I would be hesitant for it to be the only thing, but then again, you and I, we write over on Copyblogger and we try to teach people things that are more empirical. It's not just behind-the-scenes, how the sausage is made, or however you want to think about it. It's more, “These are eternal truths that have powered our business.” In that sense, even that worldview, that point of view, is fueled by personal experience. I think there's a lot to this, but I don't think “document” alone will work for everyone. I think you have to educate your prospect to the point that they're ready to do business with you. Purely documenting has the potential for spilling over into egocentrism. I think that's important to watch for.
Robert Bruce: Yeah, and that's to Bob's point here, the middle of this question, “Just putting content out there no matter what.” That's definitely not what you want to do. However …
Brian Clark: That's not strategic, so I differ there.
Robert Bruce: Not strategic. Okay, for instance, Gardner's StudioPress Live thing. That's at StudioPress.Blog/Live, for those interested. It's a potentially valuable thing for those who are interested, but it's also very low-fi. There's not a huge amount of production value. It's Q & A, which is an insanely-popular format. But within that, he's able to ask all of these direct questions from people that want to hear from him.
I would put it on the documenting side of this thing, but it's also very valuable. So like you said, Brian, coupled with strategic thinking and content that is complimentary to that that leads to your business goals. I think it is a really good way to do it. Bottom line though, you said it, documenting, ultimately, is creating. Showing your work, ultimately, is creating. I keep that in mind as well. Don't be afraid of the low-fi stuff, either.
Brian Clark: That's a hell of a way to end the show, Robert Bruce. I'd like to thank you for showing up for two weeks in a row. Don't think it's going to end.
Robert Bruce: That's it, right?
Brian Clark: That's it.
Robert Bruce: Oh, okay, all right. I will be here whenever you need me.
Brian Clark: See how great this job is? You want to keep going. We've been going 35 minutes here, and you're like …
Robert Bruce: It's been that, wow.
Brian Clark: Yeah.
Robert Bruce: I think we got a new thing here, Mr. Clark.
Brian Clark: I think we do. All right, everyone, thank you for listening in, sticking with us. Please leave us a rating or a review over at iTunes. You can get there, to exactly where you need to go, even on a mobile device, by typing in Unemployable.com/iTunes. We appreciate your feedback. I didn't get around to soliciting questions from you guys directly. I will do that this week.
Robert Bruce: Yeah, how do you want to do that, Brian? The easiest way for people to ask questions for upcoming episodes? Where should people go?
Brian Clark: Let's commit to something. I'll put it in the newsletter. Now, I had Unemployable.com/Ask, but that was the record audio type thing. I don't know, maybe people will like that option. I like it when I can hear their voice and whatnot. Okay, I'm going to commit to this. Unemployable.com/Ask will contain an audio option and a form option if you just want to write in your question. How about that?
Robert Bruce: Perfect. Unemployable.com/Ask.
Brian Clark: I think I need to un-gate that, because it used to be only for registered members. Let's put it out there.
Robert Bruce: Perfect.
Brian Clark: All right, man, I appreciate it. To all of you out there struggling or succeeding — I hope — with your own delegation efforts, keep going.