I am so relieved to be writing this post because I’ve been scared for a really long time. It is complete BS when people jump up and cheer about their new company’s launch, telling you how great they feel. Because what’s really happening, to any sane entrepreneur, is that they are terrified.

Quistic is an online learning site where people can build skills to create stable, fulfilling careers. It’s the natural result of all the conversations and events we’ve had together on this blog.

Here’s what I want to happen: Every one of you should try a course, because I really think you’ll like it.

At first I panicked that I was not doing online courses the way everyone else does. But I received effusive feedback about how much people love my video seminars, and then I realized I know how to make online learning feel like a party instead of a lecture. That’s when I decided to make a company out of it.

When I was testing if Quistic would work as a company, I had some of my friends sell Quistic-style courses to their communities, and it went really well. I did this furtively, of course, because I’m scared to do anything in front of you that will fail. I know that’s lame. I know that rock star entrepreneurs say they embrace failure and failure is actually growth and all that. It’s just that they are not saying it while they’re failing. They’re saying it from their yacht in the Bahamas with their hot model wife crawling all over them.

And also, let me just add that entrepreneurship is so overly glorified that all those hot model wives also have their own startups. Apps, usually. Just something small, to talk about at cocktail parties. In Vail.

The time when I get mean is when I’m scared. That’s how I know I need to launch. Because any minute now I’m going to start naming names for all the apps of wives of investors I know.

But I can’t do that because if I’ve done anything right so far it’s been to become the queen of fundraising. And also, I’ve been the queen of hiring. Here’s what I did. I coach all these people who are totally amazing but for various reasons they are underemployed. I keep a running list of them in my head and I hired a bunch of them for this company. It’s been a great experience because I already know all their secrets because I coached them, and they already know all my secrets because they read my blog, so I have a company with no BS because we have nothing to hide.

Well, there has been a little bit of BS. The BS in my company is me making excuses for not launching our site. First, I told the team that we are making good money anyway, with products that do not require a consumer web site. This is true. And also, we’re doing online events with impressive companies, like this one with Philips. So we are making good headway with no web site.

So my co-workers left me alone about how we are not launching.

Then I told them we had to not launch because part of getting to the next round of funding is having steadily building revenue from all the courses I’ve been running as test cases. So we didn’t want to have too much revenue in September. “Trust me,” I told them. So they did.

Then, toward the middle of October there was sort of an intervention. It was as if I was not going to work and instead staying home shooting heroin. Except that really I was writing blog posts about not launching instead of launching. The team couldn’t take it any more.

Alex said, “I’ve seen a lot of startups launch and the ones that fail are crushed by the eccentric perfectionism of the CEO.”

Emily said, “I feel like I’m in a hostage situation.”

Cassie said, “I think you need me to call you each hour today to make sure that you’re on track to publish your launch post tomorrow.”

That last comment was particularly deflating because I’ve spent pretty much the last month calling Cassie every day making sure her sales will come through. I keep telling her she needs to take more responsibility for hitting weekly revenue goals.

So maybe the reason I’m finally announcing the site is so I can go back to being the person who tells everyone else they need to get their work done on time.

But I think the real reason I’m finally announcing this site is that everything I do is more fun when I do it with you. I came up with this company idea because of all the ways I tried to make money from my blog, the online courses were not only the most successful but they also made the most lasting difference among community members.

I have a grand idea that this community will lead the way for how to build skills and have fun in a career that does not destroy your life but rather makes it fulfilling. Our community has been forward thinking on a lot of levels, and I think online learning will be one of them.

So, here’s hoping I meet a lot of you in the classes. And here’s the link to my new company: Quistic.

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  1. Sarah M
    Sarah M says:

    Holy crap, you were brave, and you did it. It’s out there, it’s live for us!
    I stopped what I was doing when I was just randomly scanning my blogroll and noticed your new startup was on your site. All your readers have known you’ve been dodging this for a long time. The site is beautiful. I can’t wait to look more at it in depth.
    Sarah M

  2. Patti
    Patti says:

    Way to go, Penelope! I’ll be signing up. I’ve been reading your blog for years. Sometimes, I think you’re completely off your nut and sometimes you enrage me. But I’ve often found that my discomfort indicates that you’ve hit on a resonating truth.

    You are courageous and I wish you every success.

  3. arsinoe ferry
    arsinoe ferry says:

    CONGRATULATIONS! Love the name, love the clean and simple site design, love the concept. You are an inspiration!

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      Thanks so much. We worked really hard on the design so it means a lot to me that so many of you like it!

      Penelope

  4. Tanya Monteiro
    Tanya Monteiro says:

    You nailed it. I’m deciding which I’ll do, You pushing through the fear helps me push through mine. C O N G R A T U L A T I O N s

  5. Denise H.
    Denise H. says:

    I’m so excited! For you and for everyone who gets to take these courses! I “attended” your “how to blog” ecourse a while back and it truly was part learning, part party and a great experience all around. I’ll be there for others, I’m sure (the website looks great!) May the adventure that follows be everything you hope for and I for one can’t wait to read about it as it unfolds : )

  6. Kat Alexander
    Kat Alexander says:

    So proud of you, Penelope!! Way to ship! I’ve been waiting anxiously to hear the news. Will it be an alpaca farm, producing the finest wool in North America? Or maybe a tulip company, with only the rarest bulbs for sale? When I read what you’ve decided, I thought, ‘of course!’ The simplest thing is the answer. Your writing course was phenomenal and worth every penny. I felt like I was Skyping with a cool older sister who was calling me out on my shit. So bravo to you! Looking forward to taking more courses and spreading the word.

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      Kat, I loved doing that course. Thank you for your encouragement. I’m looking forward to doing tons of fun courses now that it’s my official job!

      Penelope

  7. Stephanie
    Stephanie says:

    SO great to read about the terror that I am also experiencing as my husband and I embark on a new chapter of our entrepreneurial journey. It settles my stomach. A little. Quistic will be fabulous. Love the name.

  8. Priscilla P. Wood
    Priscilla P. Wood says:

    In a world full of entrepreneur-heroes I appreciate your honesty, entrepreneurship is scary shit.

    Also, I love the name and those photographs! Did Melissa take them? The food business picture is perfect! COngrats!

  9. Marissa Verson Harrison
    Marissa Verson Harrison says:

    Penelope,

    We’ve not met, but we’ve exchanged emails. Yes, you are an inspiration. I’ve taken one of your online courses (more like I paid for it, but missed it) and I forward new courses to many of my friends. I love that you’re a smart, funny, self-effacing Jew married to a pig farmer, living in Wisconsin admitting your daily struggles. I share the fear, perfectionism and openness to look in the mirror when “suggested” by those you trust. Congratulations! (BTW, I hate when people say “good luck with your new venture!” It feels like they really mean “we both know you’re unprepared, no good at XYZ and overly confident, snarky – good luck with that, mwwwhhhahahah.) I’d love some of your sage advice with fundraising when I try to overcome that fear in a few weeks. Once again, YEA for you!

  10. Rick Smith
    Rick Smith says:

    Cool stuff Penelope. Congrats. Funny, but launching is the same every time (I am on my third) – you feel like youre sent back to seventh grade with all the girls making fun of you.

    Best of luck. Let me know if I can ever be helpful.

    Rick

  11. Katie
    Katie says:

    I’m so excited for you! Just reading your brief description, I feel like I GET what Quistic is about. I’ve been reading your blogs for a few years now, taking your courses and even doing a coaching session (you’re kind of scary one-on-one, but in a thrilling way). All that, and I have to admit that I never really understood what Brazen Careerist was. But THIS makes total sense to me. It just fits and I feel very optimistic that it will be a success.

    Katie

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      Katie your comment makes me so happy. It’s taken me three years to think of a company that fits me. I wanted to launch another company so badly, and I spent a lot of time thinking about ideas that were not a good fit for me. So much of startup success is not so much the best idea, but the best idea for you.

      I hope this is the best idea for me.

      Penelope

      • Evelyn
        Evelyn says:

        Penelope.. Congratulations.. I have taken some of your courses and loved them.. I love your comment..”So much of startup success is not so much the best idea, but the best idea for you.” I think that works with anything..

        Looking forward to seeing the company evolve, succeed and take some courses.

  12. Mark W.
    Mark W. says:

    Congratulations Penelope!
    I couldn’t agree more with Alex – “I’ve seen a lot of startups launch and the ones that fail are crushed by the eccentric perfectionism of the CEO.”
    I err on the side of perfection. I’ve known it for a long time as I was labeled a perfectionist at a young age. So I’m always pretty much aware of it.
    I recently read a good article on Fast Company ( http://www.fastcompany.com/3018084/work-smart/why-were-more-creative-when-were-tired-and-9-other-surprising-facts-about-how-our ) which mentions perfectionism and how it makes it you less likable. I think I already knew it but didn’t know it had a name – The Pratfall Effect. The following from the article – “Those who never make mistakes are perceived as less likable than those who commit the occasional faux pas. Messing up draws people closer to you, makes you more human. Perfection creates distance and an unattractive air of invincibility. Those of us with flaws win every time.” However, it is important (at least to me) that the mistakes are occasional and not critical.

  13. Chel Hamilton
    Chel Hamilton says:

    Love this!!! Both the new venture and the launch-fear-intervention story. :-) I get so stuck in pre-launch I always end up scrapping it and creating something new instead, then repeating. Like the damn shampoo instructions.

    Maybe you can make a course for that? ;-)

    Xox!

  14. karelys
    karelys says:

    “Quistic is an online learning site where people can build skills to create stable, fulfilling careers.”

    The moment I read this my heart skipped a beat and I just realized how genius you are.

    I love it.

    ps. probably my favorite thing to discover about you (and this is totally unrelated to the comment above) is how warm you are. It was hard to see at first but with time I can totally feel it.

  15. Kelsey Langley
    Kelsey Langley says:

    Good for you, Penelope! I can’t imagine the bravery it takes to put this out there. The site looks great! I feel like Quistic might be an extension of some of your blog posts… which is great because I’m always so sad to reach the end of your posts.

  16. p
    p says:

    Congratulations, I can’t wait to try some courses. Also, I love that you hired Cassie. She seems amazing and I loved your story about coaching her.

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      I love the story of Cassie, too. I have a 7:30 am call with her every morning, and each time we do it I think that I’m watching the story of Cassie unfold, day by day and it’s a treat. I hoping to share more of that here on the blog.

      Penelope

  17. zan
    zan says:

    beautiful, elegant, classy, navigable site. and the content is contemporary, practical, accessible. you (and your team) have done well…now, relax and get to work!

  18. Summer
    Summer says:

    Congratulations! This is incredibly exciting for me. I work as a contract labor designer/project manager, I’m in my late twenties and I feel stuck a lot of the time. I don’t want to go back to school and acquire more debt. I want to know how to elevate my career, make strategic choices to thrive and don’t have the resources.
    Thanks for your hard work on this!

  19. mh
    mh says:

    Great name. We’re already debating, because I live with nosy people who read over my shoulder. (ahem. yes, you.)

    Q-istic? Like art-istic?
    quis-tick? Like Quick – stick some ideas in me?
    quis-tick? Like a quest?

    Good looking web site — many best wishes on the launch.
    Super great.

  20. MissPerfektBlog
    MissPerfektBlog says:

    Love that page, what a great idea. Already found a seminar I wanna take.
    How come you increased ur prices. Do you charge per day and as the seminar is longer you charge more?

  21. Adriana Zoder
    Adriana Zoder says:

    I wish you all the best. So exciting! I can’t wait to take a couple of those courses. I need to settle down with a few projects right now and then I will be there. :) See you in class.

  22. Scott Cofer
    Scott Cofer says:

    Congrats Penelope! I took a look at the site and it looks like a natural extension of your blog. Very nicely laid out.

    I’ve learned a lot from you over the last year or so … actually you’re one of the few bloggers I subscribe to. I always get valuable information from your posts, and your genuine delivery is much appreciated.

    Best of luck with the launch, and hopefully you’ll see me soon as a course customer!

    Regards,
    Scott

  23. Lilian Mahoukou
    Lilian Mahoukou says:

    Congratulations! This is a brilliant concept, coming up at a perfect time. The current economic and societal trends push us to think differently and to leverage new ways to connect. Will definitely spread the word around me!

  24. Teresa D
    Teresa D says:

    Outstanding! I have recently signed up for your blogging course, so I’m not quite ready to sign on for another one. It would be great to have the option of signing up for the new sites mailing list so you can have reminders sent to you when new classes are starting or just a general update on your courses. Love the new site!

  25. carmen
    carmen says:

    I also have to say this is perfect for people in my situation. There’s a couple missing ingredients in my knowledge base when it comes to figuring out goals. And it’s not a crippling investment, like more college education would be. It’s like a boost in the right places.

  26. Craig
    Craig says:

    Congrats, huge win and I love the approach. Site looks great from a design/UX standpoint as well. Since you are attacking online learning a little differently, I’d love to see an example class (maybe a 3-5 min clip?) and sure others would as well. Especially those who don’t know you like your readers do.

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      Thanks for the suggestion, Craig. I think this is something we really need. Stay tuned for that…

      Generally, it’s such a treat to get suggestions from you guys. It’s hard to notice everything when you are in the thick of it. You guys are a great source of ideas. I really appreciate it.

      Penelope

  27. Michael Feeley
    Michael Feeley says:

    FANTASTIC! Congratulations and full celebration to you Penelope and your team.

    The site looks great — easy to get around and clear. Elegant, simple, creative learning is what I see. Courses are fascinating and I look forward to getting involved.

    Where do you get your photos from? Original stuff and they pull you right in.

    Utterly love the location shot of Quistic from above!

    Looking forward to learning. You’ve done a great job…so much pleasure looking at your new business.

    My very best – Michael

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