Joe Stump on How to Break Out of a Comfort Zone

In Chapter 5 of 14 in his 2012 interview, Internet entrepreneur Joe Stump answers "What Is Your Comfort Zone and What Do You Do to Break Free of Living in It?"  To break free of his comfort zone - beer, women, and large scale web infrastructure - Stump finds ways that give him a window into new parts of the world he has yet to experience.  This starts at a young age when Joe reads encyclopedias for fun.  It continues into his adult years as Stump adventures into different cultures, foods, and places and incrementally takes steps to get him out of his comfort zone.  Joe Stump is a serial entrepreneur based in Portland, OR. He is CEO and co-founder of, a product management software company.  Previously he founded SimpleGeo, which was sold to Urban Airship in October 2011.  He advises several startups - including and ngmoco:) - as well as VC firm Freestyle Capital.  He earned a BBA in Computer Information Systems (CIS) from Eastern Michigan University. 


Erik Michielsen: What is your comfort zone and what do you do to break free of living in it?

Joe Stump: I'm a very simple man. I like three things: beer, women, and large-scale web infrastructure. So that’s my comfort zone. And to get out of that, I do a lot of things. I like to -- I do a lot of random reading. I’ve always -- even as a kid, I read encyclopedias for fun just because I liked learning about new weird things. So, I do a lot of that. I take in a lot of information that has nothing to do with what I do.

But I do that because it gives me a window into areas of the world that I may not ever be able to experience. And may not even really have any interest in experiencing. I also like to travel a lot. I think that that definitely gets people out of their comfort zone because you're usually experiencing new cultures, new language, new environments, new weather, new locales. So I'm a big fan of traveling. So, those are the main things.

I have a general rule that I’ll try anything once as long as it doesn’t represent severe possible danger to my body. But yeah, I think the world would be a lot better place if people had – if they were open-minded enough to just try it. Just try it. Trying that new cuisine that you’ve never tried, like, you know, Indian cuisine is a common example.

We're from the Midwest, right? You tell people that you went out and had – or sushi. Sushi in the Midwest, you might as well tell people that you're like eating babies for breakfast. Right? They're like, “Ugh! Oh God!” Like just try it. Millions of people eat sushi every day and they all live to tell about it. You're not going to die if you have one piece of sashimi. So, I think that’s a really good rule, too. Take incremental steps outside of your comfort zone and next thing you know, you’ve taken big strides outside of your comfort zone.