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Donna Loughlin is the Founder of LMGPR known for her work with futurists and innovators. She has launched more than 500 companies taking them from stealth to market leaders since forming her agency in 2002.

She is also the host of BeforeItHappened, a leading narrative podcast featuring visionaries and the moments, events, and realizations that inspired them to change our lives for the better.

Donna and I talk about the origins of her story, how PR has fundamentally changed, and how roots in Silicon Valley are still strong and rich with lessons we can carry to the future of science and technology.

Check out Donna’s podcast Before it Happened here: https://www.beforeithappened.com/

Visit LMGPR here: https://www.lmgpr.com/ 

Transcript powered by HappyScribe

Welcome everybody to the show. This is Eric Wright. I’m the host for your DiscoPosse podcast. Thank you for listening, watching. Oh, that’s right. If you are listening now and you want to see this in video action, you can head on over to YouTube.Com/discopossepodcast and you can see it all as it happened, which was really cool. Nice new element for the listening podcast if you want to see the viewer side of it all. This is a great episode featuring Donna Laughlin, who is the founder of LMGPR, and she’s also the voice behind the “Before It Happened” podcast.

Donna is a fantastic storyteller. Fantastic, as she describes it, the PR SheDevil. Super cool. We get into the background to that, her own history in Silicon Valley. What drew her to the industry? Really, really enjoyable. And I think of the people in the industry that I know, do such a great job that I would trust my company to them. Donna is one of those folks, so she’s really really got a good sense of how to draw fantastic stories out of the human experience, especially with really wild like, way out of the curve technology companies. So, go check her out.

But in the meantime, speaking of checking out companies that are super cool, that I really adore, I want to give a shout out to the folks that do support this podcast, including a friend over at Veeam Software. They’ve got some really neat stuff going on, so you’ve got to check out new landing page. All you got to do is go to Vee.Am/discoposse. You will love what you see there. Very cool. Everything you need for your data protection needs, regardless of whether it’s on Prem in the cloud, cloud native wow and SAS stuff, even stuff like Microsoft Teams and your Office 365 and more coming. So you got to get over there and check it out. Definitely worthwhile. Vee.Am/discoposse. And when you talk about other things around, protecting yourself, protecting your identity, protecting your data in transit, I recommend that you should use a VPN, as do I. So if you want to try one out, I do recommend using ExpressVPN. I’m a customer. If you want to go, it’s very easy to do, go to tryexpressvpn.com/discoposse. And that’s an easy way to get hooked up there and make sure you protect yourself because there’s a lot of bad stuff going on out in the world.

And while you’re at it, don’t forget to enjoy a fantastic, tasty, delicious diabolical coffee. Go to Diabolicalcoffee.com and caffeinate your way to goodness. All right. This is Donna Laughlin. Enjoy the show.

Hi, everyone. This is Donna Laughlin from Silicon Valley, and this is the DiscoPosse Podcast. I’m the host of “Before It Happened”, and I’m a known for in the Silicon Valley as sometimes the PR SheDevil.

I love it. The PR SheDevil is officially the best title ever. So people always say they want to have founder beside the name, I’d say PR SheDevil is way cooler than founder. So, Donna, thank you very much for joining. I’m excited by the chance to chat today.

Yeah, absolutely. I’m so excited to be here. Thank you.

This is a beautiful thing where I love when you read a book and you’re interested in that book, and then that book references another book that you’ve already read, and then, you know, you’re like, this is it. I’m in my perfect space. When your name came to me as a potential guest, Donna, it was that moment where I said, wait a second. Storyteller, podcaster, Silicon Valley. This could be my last podcast. I have officially hit the perfect guest. So you’ve got a fantastic background in what you bring to the world. You have an amazing, I love your podcast style. So Donna, if you want to introduce yourself to the viewers and listeners, and then we’re going to jump into what the PR SheDevil does. And of course, we’ll talk about your podcast and much more.

The SheDevil is a little bit naughty, but a whole lot nice. For the last 20 years, I’ve had my PR agency called LMGPR, which stands for Leadership, Momentum and Growth, which is ultimately what I do working with emerging tech companies. Oftentimes there are two guys and a cat or two gals and a dog, and they have a great idea and looking to bring a company to market. Other times, the product is much further along and they’re gearing up for funding or for even an IPO. My role in collaborating with them is very hands on in developing the core messaging, the narrative to bring a product to market and not just the product, but also the company. And that means the texture and the fabric of who are the visionaries behind the company. And that’s what really ignites me. And that’s what my podcast is about, too, is the visionaries in the future that they imagine.

Well, in your intro, which I love, just beautifully well-produced, and I love that style. I’m sort of the free forum. It does not have time or capability to edit in such a beautiful way. But your idea of “Before It Happened” to the moment you really know how to go through this discussion and then pin down the thing that sometimes people don’t even realize. That’s actually the thing. It’s what makes a great author. If you read Steven Pressfield and you read about this whole style of PR and playwriting and screenwriting and everything and storytelling, it’s like that pinpoint moment that then you wrap in this fantastic, the run up, the conflict, like it’s all fundamentals. It seems effortless in the way you do it, which I know that means it’s absolutely not.

Do you remember when you were a child and you would be a story out, whether it be at school or with your parents or your grandparents, and you would sit in a circle and so ultimately was what I really wanted to achieve with “Before It Happened” was that, opportunity where you have this up close and personal kind of story time with somebody who’s actually changing how we live and work. And to do that, I couldn’t do a straight interview. I wanted to do kind of a narrative style. I’m a former news reporter, and so I would go out and interview, and I would come back and report. And so it is a slightly longer process, but the goal is to create something that is a little bit of a gift back to these individuals that have worked super hard in undaunting hours. And whether it is raising funding or finding, getting the patents approved and all the things that they do. I’m just in awe that this unstoppable spirit that we know that the entrepreneur has. But in my scenario, it’s these big idea creators. And I’m not a tinkerer. I’m more of a thinker. And I sit back and I look at in all respect and saying, wow, we can actually do this. We can drive an electric car. We can have a smart device in our home, and we can charge our vehicle to home with an electric motorcycle. All these things just are enchanting to me.

I think the key to any of the success of these technologies and these platforms and these websites, whatever they are, any business, is really about making it matter to the prospective customer. And when you’re the creator, when you’re the innovator, it’s very difficult to be that focused on it. They probably shouldn’t be. In fact, they should be like, I know amazing engineers who are creating fantastic systems, and they probably wouldn’t pass a touring test. I would never want to put them in charge of the website or the marketing or understanding the customer story and being able to emote that. And that’s really what it is. It’s not just writing down what we do. It is making someone care about what we’re going to achieve together and empowering them. It’s the hero’s journey. It’s all this stuff. And when paired with a great technology and being able to give them that capability to find their story, it needs to come from outside, I think, because when you’re close to it, when you’re inside, they can’t possibly be thinking that way. Like, it’s too hard, you’re way too introspective, and you have to be, to be this fanatical founder’s mindset of like, the world is wrong I’m gonna solve it this way.

Yeah. Well, too often I’ve experienced what I call ego engineering, which is my own term. There’s ego engineering, and then there’s innovation. There are true innovators that imagine the most amazing products and concepts that sometimes don’t even go to market. And then I’ve met over the years others who have a me-too product that’s not even a challenger product that have egos that are bigger than the sum of its parts. And those products usually don’t go very far. And those are typically not the ones that I work with. But in the land of unicorns, we see a lot of them. And I’m not going to name any, but we just know what’s the kind of the fashion anistas of the time. I really look for the acorns that ultimately can grow to be these majestic oaks, right. You’ve got to start some someplaceplace. And so to me, the unicorns. Unicorns are great. We all need them for financial purposes, and oftentimes we chase the unicorn, but planting seeds and developing something from scratch. Before a unicorn existed, they had to come from someplace. And you get people like, I love Guy Bras and how I built this. It’s one of my favorite podcasts, and it’s many people’s favorite podcasts, but he really profiles the unicorns. And I felt my sweet spot is working and collaborating and on my podcast showcasing the Acorns. In fact, I have an Acorn this week that’s actually going to IPO. That’s really exciting to see a company go from in the last seven years going from zero to hero.

It’s a beautiful thing, isn’t it, to see it come to fruition. Because it’s not a winning game. A lot of the statistics are not in favor of the business succeeding. There’s a lot of headwinds. There’s a lot of stuff. In looking back, what draws you to be able to coach them through that journey and bring them through that journey?

It really starts with listening. And so often we don’t listen and we respond, which is just human nature. It has nothing to do with being a reporter or in marketing. But, really listening and being able to extract the content. So when I first started out in my career, I would go out with another reporter. And his number one thing with me was, “watch me”. Don’t say anything. Just watch me. Watch me in action. And so that was his way of teaching me kind of the ropes of listening and being able to collect. Because the more you listen, I think the more people talk. And so it’s very important when I’m abstracting information from a scientist, an engineer, founders of a new product or company, and it’s really listening, but helping them also rediscover what they might have forgotten because they’ve been so busy on developing the product and meeting patent deadlines or getting funding. And so going back to that discovery phase, the same way I described sitting down and having a story hour is I literally take them to a process. What is a self discovery process, of going back to the roots of why do they even set out to create the product? What is their vision? And so oftentimes the company mission statement when the company is forging ahead. But if we go back to what was the vision that you had? Was there a dream? Was there a problem that you were solving? Was there a moment that you realized that you wanted to create a carbon footprint, energy saving, operational building device, which is a mouthful or an electric motorcycle or an electric tractor. Like, what really happened? And so really going through that discovery process and reigniting them as well to like, wow, you know what? I actually imagine you’re using a Disney word, but something that nobody else had. But, what is the problem? And then what is the solution to that problem? And really taking them back to that root? Because oftentimes they get so tangled up and all the other intricacies of things, they forget what their original origin was.

Yeah. And I think that the vision and the mission, the only people that can carry that so strongly are often the founding team, as much as you can create those early disciples, the first ten employees, the first 20 employees, even later on down the road, the folks that really built the idea, then they built the product to deliver the idea. The idea is still in them. But most people beyond that are product builders, not idea. Like, they’re not necessarily attached to the idea strongly. And this is where you have this funny thing. There’s like, a great book called The Founders Mentality. I think it’s by Bane and Company. They’re Boston based.

Great book. Read it.

Yeah. So, at my company’s engineering kickoff, I noticed we were in this weird sort of struggle of like where product was diverging from vision and we were struggling with where we were. Well, capital. Everything was going well, but you could tell there was tension in – should we build a feature or should we go back to the core? And I really saw this pull. So I showed it to our founder. And then when I got to the engineering kickoff, it was the most warm feeling I’ve ever had in my body and my mind as I walked in and I saw 200 seats, each with a copy of The Founders Mentality sitting on it.

Wow.

Because what we wanted to get to was this. Remember why we’re here. What we’re doing now is important, but what’s more important is why we are doing it. And it really allowed everybody to go back to the core of what was the reason we did this. And ten years, twelve years at any company’s age, it’s like having a teenager. They’re suddenly, like, forgetting that they were the kid that wore a Pokemon costume at age six and they want to be their own thing. And you realize you can’t forget your upbringing, you can’t forget what got you here.

I’ve been to some meetings where grown people wearing Pokemon costumes and hanging onto the dream.

That’s it. I love this idea of making sure that people stay true to that, because also that comes with culture, too, right? Like, culture is the way they behave when you’re not looking. It’s not the thing written behind the desk at the front, by the elevator.

Yeah. I was just going to say that. And also they know that founders’ passion does dictate culture, and as companies grow, sometimes they lose sight of that. So years ago, I was fortunate to work with Sun Microsystems and might not be a company a lot of people know, but it was a really innovative company back in the networking boom. And Sun had a building that was full of security experts that I was kind of told not to go to. It was literally because there was one company, but there was like these different think tanks under the Corporation. And so I was working with the corporate group, but I would wander around because I was like, oh, there’s distinguished engineers in each one of these groups. I wonder what they’re working on. Excuse me, they’re a little bit naughty. The curiosity seeker ended up finding out about the security group, which was amazing. And in that group, there are all these. And this is in the 90s. So this is before cybersecurity really took off. And I’m, like, poking around and I find out how the hardware group is actually creating something insecurity. The software group is creating something insecurity, but they don’t talk to each other. So I ended up kind of propelling and shaping, but ultimately became a security symposium, which brought them both the hardware and the software and a bunch of industry experts together. And being able to Daisy change the network, that’s just kind of indicative to the types of things I do on an ongoing basis is looking at who’s in your network and how do you actually get to reach your goal faster. So we had an analyst, and there was an investor’s day and all the who’s who and security over the years that as cybersecurity continued to grow and become part of the mainstream and the standard. I was fortunate to work with a company that ultimately came out of the basement of that building, and I didn’t know it until I went and sat down with the founders, and I found out we had a common connection. He was one of the top security innovators that was in the basement that I wasn’t allowed to go to. And that company recently was acquired, went through IPO and then acquired by McAfee. So looking back at that, where the company was, the vision of what they wanted to be and the roots that they had is exactly kind of that exploration process that I was describing.

If you put six people in the room, you have six different backgrounds, six different journeys, six different educational levels. Some could have completed College, some could have a PhD, others might have been high school graduates. Regional cultural differences on all those components are basically the makings of a great narrative recipe and is looking at all those components, and that’s indicative of the Silicon Valley. That’s very tried and true to other regions in the United States. But I think when you look at the entrepreneurial spirit. The entrepreneurial spirit doesn’t have any boundaries, really. It doesn’t have a gender. It doesn’t have an IQ. Well, maybe it has an IQ, but it doesn’t have a lot of things. It’s like really for the fearless person that really wants to break out of the mold. And one of the things that we keep reading about in the pandemic is people leaving their jobs and starting their own businesses. And I think that’s pretty exciting for the marketplace.

Well, this is the interesting thing, especially now because we hear about the great resignation, and we see things like the jobs numbers, and it’s tough to measure today what’s really going on. In fact, one of my guests I had not too long ago is Michelle Seiler Tucker, and she wrote a book called Exit Rich. She’s written a couple of books, actually, really fantastic person. She specializes in helping businesses to reach a point of growth towards a sale and make sure they can organize the business to be most effective through that process. So one of the things that she talked about is this sort of like false statistic that we all carry around, that 90% of startups fail. Well, in fact, according to the Small Business Administration, it’s actually the inverse, that companies that are larger than ten years old are more likely to fail than one that is in the first five years. So what we’ve been quoting this old statistic, and it carried through a generational change. And now that we’re finally going to catch up and we’re seeing now, of course, people are leaving, they’re realizing the technologies there to start from your desk, you can put together a website.

And so easy to do relative to what it was 30 years ago.

I hire and fire myself pretty frequently. There are days that I just can’t like, I just can’t deal with it. But that also reignites me to think, okay, what can I do better? What can I do smarter? What can I do faster? Do I need to hire people? Do I need to hire a consultant to help out with different gaps? But I’m excited about even in my own small town, and I live in San Jose, California, which is not small. It’s over a million people. But I live in a community, a subset of the community that does have its own little downtown, and it’s a little bit of a village. And I call it the Cotswell, although it’s not quite the Cotswold. But I see some new businesses coming in, and it’s really exciting. We lost some businesses and they’re in the pandemic. But one of the things that I thought was so amazing was the community came together for a children’s bookstore that was owned by two retired school teachers. And it’s a fabulous bookstore called Hugobee’s. And the community came together and helped raise over $200,000 for a bookstore. And Meanwhile, we have restaurants and other businesses that were struggling.

But the bookstore is such a pillar of education and Stem in the future. They have a bookwall for those who can’t afford to buy a book. It’s like give a book, take a book. People donate books. And so it’s just a part of the community. But that was pretty exciting to see in the bookstore is thriving, but they used to do all kinds of book sightings and book and Billings and all those things stopped. But on the same Street, I’m seeing other family based businesses, people that I’ve known in my community that had corporate jobs and a lot of jobs in tech that are opening up restaurants, and they’re opening up champagne bars and opening up kids’ clothing stores. And to me, that’s exciting to see that creativity come back into the community.

It’s a beautiful thing, and it’s like a forest that has suffered in an unexpected fire. But in fact, in a way, by nature’s course, is the best thing that can happen to it because it allows for regrowth. Strong regrowth. Right. And that’s really what I’m hoping is ahead, is that we can see these people that are the next generation where they’re like, yeah, we’ve got a good savings and we’ve always wanted to do this. And it’s just possible now, of course, I was just on with somebody very recently. They’re saying we’re putting together a central, like a meeting place for his company. We aren’t doing a traditional office, but it is literally so cheap to get real estate space now because those folks need money. The REITs are struggling. Everything around real estate is a real challenge right now, so they’re willing to let people come in. So now if you want to get retail space, it’s more accessible than it had been. And then you’re supporting a landlord. It’s a beautiful ecosystem. Watch, rebuild.

Yeah. Well, unfortunately, where I live, we live in some of the most fertile land, which was originally called the land of Hearts Delight and which ultimately became the Silicon Valley at the beginning. And so defense companies were here, then Hewlett Packard, and then later on, Apple and even IBM had a West Coast facility here and stone strewn away from the Facebook and the Google and all these companies, they say the land is fertile and so there’s always growth opportunities. But I laugh about that sometimes. I think, why do we put concrete on some of the most fertile land? And then it’s expensive because a three bedroom, two bath tracked home from the 70s, maybe built 70s, 80s. It’s going for 1.5 million. So I’m obsessed with home and garden. That’s my hobby. And then there’s a great Instagram site called Circa Home Circa. And I look at these beautiful farmhouses and these mid century houses and every place from Colorado to Ohio to Southern States, Alabama, Arkansas, all the way to Florida, and I go, what am I doing here?

I know.

Then I have to stand back and realize, okay, I have a purpose. I have a reason to still be here and not to be hybrid. But I applaud those who can’t be because I still feel that not quite like an Urban Rockwell stuck in a painting. But I still feel that the work that I’m doing is international because my clients are all over the world. But there’s still something kind of majestic and sometimes medicinal about the Valley. There’s a lot of things about it that I would edit out, but I try to select the things that are most compelling. And interestingly enough, I’m within miles from really fertile farmland and I work with an electric tractor company. And so to me, it’s kind of like back to my roots of growing up as a four H kid when the Valley was apricots and cherries and Walnut orchards. In fact, I live on a Walnut Orchard, which used to be a Walnut Orchard. So I think the fruits of the labor of what we choose to advocate as entrepreneurs, whether you’re a hair salon owner or bookstore, children’s bookstore, or you’re starting a tech company, or there’s a couple of kids that live in my town that have created the two brothers. They’re actually two twins and they have a cookie business. And they started during the pandemic because they were home with their extra time what to do. And so now they’re serving their gourmet cookies into restaurants. I think that’s brilliant.

That’s amazing. Yeah. No matter how much you will see the shifting in the makeup of the community and the population, it will still be at its core, what Silicon Valley? A lot of the history of Silicon Valley will continue even as you see more folks sort of decentralize real estate wise. We’ll see other up and coming areas. Austin, of course, is the next one, which is hilarious because then all the people in Austin are like, yeah, keep Austin weird. And they’re like, keep out of Austin like, we’re done. We want to stay weird and you’re not weird enough for a while.

There used to be shuttles daily from Silicon Valley to Austin back in the.com bubble. And so what I heard and speaking to someone, it was in Austin last week reporter is that people are living already 25, 30 miles outside the Tesla area because the housing is shooting up. So they once thought they could go there and get a home in the five to 800 range. And those houses are all been pushed up. So they’re moving out further, which is no different. It’s the ripple effect. But one of the things about change and the pandemic and economies, I mean, I started my business in 2001, which was not the best time to start. It was a great time to start for recruiting because there were a lot of people that were a lot of people on the market.

Yeah.

There were a lot of people that were at home not working but in terms of the economy. But to me it was a great time because either it was going to work or it wasn’t going to work. Being able to kind of stand back and look at the opportunity. We have to be agile and we have to make sure that we’re continuously going through that discovery process. And it’s not a one size fits all entrepreneurial T shirt that we go around wearing. We have a bad economy or we have some form of crisis or maybe there’s a personal crisis, whatever sea of change is happening. We need to be able to paddle out of that really quickly. I think 2020 was like, okay, we got through it. 2021 is like, okay, we got through a little better. We were paddling at 2022. I’d be like, okay, we’re canoeing. We’re going upstream. And I think that’s the part of the continuous kind of entrepreneurial spirit. If one has never owned and operated their own business, and whether it’s part time or full time, it could be at the farmer’s market or it could become an LLC Corporation doesn’t make any difference. You don’t really have a day off. That’s the one thing that people is the Mythbuster, I think, is that people think, oh, you have your own business. I have a friend who calls me constantly. She’s retired now. She’s been retired for quite a while at a nice pot of gold company. And she’s constantly said, let’s do this. And I’m like, it’s Wednesday at three. I’m working. It might be Saturday at three, and I might be working. I think that’s one of the other components. There’s a great book called The Entrepreneurs Faces by John Litman. And John Litman used to be a Wired reporter. He wrote for Mac Week and PC Week and then Mac Week. So he went from the one side to the other side. And then he wrote a bunch of books for IDEO, which is a design firm that was known very well in consumer electronic space, working with Apple and Dill and everybody else. But his book, The Entrepreneurs Faces, is really interesting because he looks at the different types of prototypes of entrepreneurs, and they’re not the obvious. So you’ll find a collaborator or you’ll find the visionary and the leader and all the different parallels. But what I like about it is I found that I’m a little bit of each one of the potential profiles and oftentimes as entrepreneurs. And this is why we need to keep a tribe. And the podcast that you created is really creating a community and a tribe for us to come together and share and collaborate and learn. By the way, listen, his listing is really good for us.

One of the names that comes up very often was the Entrepreneurs Organization. And it is exactly that. There’s like a very specific range. Generally, I think they need to be like 1 million in revenue or there’s a certain floor and a ceiling. So basically, it’s a great place for people that are in sort of this stage of business with that entire purpose. There are community of practice surrounded by people who are in exactly where you’re at, who are living the pain you’re living, and can teach you lessons that you need to learn, and they can share stories and share understanding and learn from each other. And when I talk to people that are members of EO, quite often, it’s their second run because they’ll have a successful exit at their company. And then they’ll start a new start up. In the moment that they hit this range, they go right back because they want to give back to this community. And that’s such a beautiful thing that people rarely see that side of entrepreneurship is that it is not. They think of it as like a lone Wolf, this sort of idea monger strategy creator, somebody that’s going out on their own and they’re a little bit odd.

And they’re going to put together a team like the Bad News Bears, and they’re going to create something that’s going to change the world. But in fact, the moment that you give them an opportunity to sit with another founder builder, anybody, there the excitement level for them to give something to that other person. It’s amazing to watch.

Yeah, that’s one of the things so exciting about accelerator programs that are designed to be a platform to help visionaries and entrepreneurs really think out of the box and push them to discover, is this the product to come to market? And recently I had Johnny Crowder of Cope Notes on my podcast. And one of the things I really liked about him is, yeah, he’s so impressive. He’s under 30, 29 still. And when I was 29, I wasn’t creating a company. I was working in editorial, and I had a great newsroom job. But he created a company out of going back what I was describing, a problem and a need. So he dealt and he continues to deal with his whole life, schizophrenia, ADHD, all types of personal challenges. But he turned that challenge into profit because by creating a platform that would allow him to send a hey, how are you doing today, Eric? I’m feeling really good, but I want some disco music would make me feel so much better. Anyway, he created this whole platform that would allow him to connect with his small group of his own personal community. But he realized going through an accelerated process that potentially could be his business, which he’s now created. And it’s called Cope Notes, and I love it. I subscribe to it. I’ve actually gave it to my daughter as part of her holiday gift. I’ve given it to some of my employees and a couple of my friends because throughout the day you get these little nice life coach kind of Cope Notes. And I was just checking to see if I had one now because I get them throughout the day and they’re inspirational. It’s kind of like that high five in the hallway or the water cooler conversation that we don’t have anymore.

Right. Especially now.

Right. But I just love the fact that you go from a place in his place of like, I don’t know how to deal with this, to like, oh, I bet there’s other people in the market that don’t know how to deal with this. So therefore, going through mentoring and accelerating, and I think that’s what’s great about. And I’ve gone to accelerator discussions throughout the US in different regions. And it’s the same spirit. Doesn’t make any difference in Chicago or if it’s in Austin or it’s in Atlanta, North Carolina, that same hunger and thirst. And I think if we all help each other in that coaching process, because I always tell people, you’re going to have some good days and you’re going to have some bad days, and you’re going to have some in between days and owning your own business.

Yes.

After 20 years. In fact, when I hit the 20 year anniversary mark, I just thought we were the right smack in the middle of the pandemic. And I don’t think anybody cares. Nobody knew. I do. I remember getting excited and telling some of my friends, they go, that’s nice. You got to have a party. I’m like, well, of course I’m not going to have a party. I said, I’m going to create a video and I’m going to create a podcast. That’s exactly what was really kind of a hallmark for me was, okay, I have 20 years of working and building and bringing companies and products to market. I had some stories that were not part of necessarily my business, but I’ve been carrying around in my back pocket great people that I met that weren’t my clients, that were in my network that had amazing stories, and then other people outside my network, as over time, it blossoms to that way. And to me, that’s really exciting, because that just means that there’s so much creativity and talent that’s out there that you and I bringing these types of discussions to market will hopefully excite somebody to go out and do something different.

Yeah, I applaud your format as well, because I really adore. I like well-produced podcasts. Like, I like tattoos. They’re amazing to look at, and I just don’t have the stomach to do it myself. So the moment I turned the first one on, I was like, it’s just like an NBC, ABC. It’s just beautifully done. It immediately draws you in. You did such a great job of putting a perfect hook, letting you in, and then the story plays out. And when you hear that, it’s so easy to listen to and just immerse yourself in. And it’s admirable because very few people have the ability to ask questions and lead a conversation that will fit back into that format. So you know that you have to think about how it’s going to work so that it’s the most compelling way to consume it. And it’s such a weird thing. And I’m nerding out a little bit harder than most people would just because I listen to so many different styles. I’ve listened to short form and I’m long form conversational because I hate editing.

Yeah, editing is an art of itself. When I first sat down and made a list, I said, well, if I do a podcast, which ultimately is going to write a book. And then I realized if I write a book, I’m going to be spending a lot of time by myself with a deadline, I’ll get to that. I’ve edited like 80 books in my career, but my book, yeah, it could wait. I’m going to do a podcast. But then I started looking at all the platforms, the turnkey platforms in the market, and then do it yourself, this and that. And I tried a few. I already record something to hear my voice. That’s great. But now how do I edit it? And what if I actually don’t want to do more of a narrative? Because being a former journalist, I like the narrative documentary style. And so even as a child, I could watch uncountless of film strips or video reels. And my father would get things from universities within Stanford and Berkeley and Santa Clara University. The libraries would get rid of things and he would bring them home because I would just kind of geek out on all these science and nature type of content.

So I love science and technology, and I love the deconstructing of things. I would say I’m kind of a weird girl. I like the sound of a piston engine. I love the smell of printer’s ink. I also like lavender and cinnamon. But I tell behind my father going to the local Metro airport to going to car shows and going to rock exhibits and all these things that science fairs and competing in science fairs. And those are the things that as a kid, four H working, doing four H projects as well. And I wanted the episodes to be a little bit like a science fair. Not everybody is a scientist or an innovator. I have book authors that cover those markets. And I also have a few episodes out. I have a formerly homeless teenager turned Baker extraordinaire and inspiration for generations of teens that we want off the street. That’s just an extraordinary story. So sometimes we just want to profile these amazing people. But that innovation of change in society, the ability to actually change, not just the light switch, but breathing light into other people’s life by facilitating change. And to me, that is that before it happened.

Like, what happened? Why did you become homeless? How did that happen? And how is that now changing the way your career, how your career is now able to change the lives of others. So ultimate before it happened Moment has multiple places that can reside, not just in the technologies. And that’s what I said. I could do a really geeky nerdy show and just have all the chic, geek hair. But I had other people that I had met, and I kind of look at it as being the hybrid world we work in. But it’s like a universal community is that when you start appealing the layers and you find these people and you find out really why they exist, and not only that they exist, but they’re eliminating their lives and changing people’s lives. And so I have said no a lot to people that solicit me for the show. And I’m sure you have to. And I’m like, well, I’m not really here to sell product as much as it is to ignite people, to maybe get out and do something different, like volunteer at the local senior center or this is a funny one.

New fire station coming into my town. I know I shouldn’t be so excited, but literally, it’s a beautiful fire station. It’s less than a quarter mile from me. And they painted this wonderful mural on the outside. And I told my daughter, I think I’m going to make cookies for the firemen. And she just says, mom, that’s kind of weird. I said, they’re in our community. I take pride in that. And I think that’s one of the things that we’ve all, in retrospect of the last couple of years of reconnecting with the simple things. Firemen have a really exhausting and important job in our community. It’s not a job I could do, but the fact that they’re doing that job allows me to be home safe and hopefully safer in my home, doing what I like to do. I think they deserve the cookies. And the funny thing is, I’m not even a Baker, so I might have to have somebody else make this cookie.

There’s a film called January Man as a film, a movie, whatever. I also date myself by the fact that I call them film still. And one of the lines from it, it was just this class thing is trying to explain to his fellow trying to explain to his girlfriend, like, you don’t understand. You will never understand me. He says, I run into effing burning buildings when other people are running out. That is what I do. I’m a fireman. And just like that, trying to explain and realizing the weight and the severity that they carry as a job. And it’s like, this is not just a volunteer gig to get some hours and some pay, like you’re signing up for something. I’m with you. I applaud all the folks that do that job because it’s not an easy one. It’s a high risk.

It is. And I fly. I used to go flying with my father when I was a kid and sit on crate boxes or books or whatever he can put on the plane. And then during the pandemic, I actually start spending more time at the airport. And one of the things I loved about it is there was some very small professional career and a very small hobbyist of women pilots so surrounded by men. And I see a woman at the airport, oh, it must be a good day. There’s a woman at the airport. Seldom do you see women at the airport. Usually they’re passengers. But I learned so much from their stories. Former commercial pilots, former military, former rescue Rangers, every type of you can imagine and listening to them and learning their stories and just amazing. And now the little travel that I do, I was just up in British Columbia and I went to CES in Las Vegas. I always had to peek into the cockpit because the little planes that I fly, the little Cessna 152, 172 Beechcraft, there’s still a lot going on. You cannot have ADHD and fly a plane.

Exactly. There’s a lot of gears and pulleys.

I have some amazing friends. And most of them, I would say the entrepreneur, I might get in trouble, but some of the deepest, sharpest kind of futurists that I work with, they all bet they have ADHD. The celebrity ones, Steve Jobs and Richard Branson, first thing they would admit. But they’re also so wicked brilliant. Like, you can jump out of the plane, but you can’t fly the plane. Right. And so I learned a lot of discovery and the flying, because when you look at the cockpit and you see all the steam dials and all the buttons and you’re not quite sure where to start, it’s very indicative to the entrepreneurial spirit. It’s like, where do I get started? And there is a process. When you fly a plane, you do need to know where to start. But when you’re an entrepreneur, I don’t think there really is a right or wrong answer of where you start. You can start just with the plan. I know people that start with a really detailed business plan. I know the people that my plan was on a napkin. I literally was on a napkin. And I just thought, but I have a friend who had told me three years before, you need to do this.

And I laughed and I said, no, maybe someday. And then when I actually saw the crack open in the window to bolt and leave the corporate world and create my own business, I never looked back. Do you think there’s a right where to start when you want to bolt out?

No. In fact, the small plane is probably the greatest analogy to it. Even more, it’s more like getting into the small plane, whereas somebody goes, have a good flight, Dr. Jones, you know, there’s a rough start ahead, but there’s no option. Actually, one of the most amazing podcast and interview moments I recently saw, it was Elon Musk was on the Lex Friedman podcast. And this is an interview skill that I show this moment to people and people think I’m an idiot because I keep saying you have to check this moment out. And it’s 30 seconds of silence. I said, do you understand? This is the moment he asks him. He says, Elon, what do you think about when you think about what can go wrong and why you shouldn’t, why you won’t be able to make it to Mars, and why we won’t be able to do something? And just the beauty of the silence. And he says, I can’t, I don’t there is no it’s just effort. We’ll get it done. But to give him the moment to just like air that out and sit in silence, it was beautiful. And that’s when you think about, should I do this?

You run it through your head and then you go, there’s no reason why I wouldn’t.

The thing I think is most interesting about Elon, and I’ve never met him. I’ve heard him speak. I’ve been in with maybe 50ft of him. He’s a lot taller than I thought he would be. That was one observation.

Yeah, it is funny. You normally see them just in pictures and realize he’s a gigantic fellow.

Yeah. Well, I don’t think Elon actually, he’s genuine to who he is and he doesn’t care. And so he’s going to go to Mars if he chooses to go to Mars and thinks that he’s done with Solver X and he’s done for Tesla. And I just kind of stand back. I worked years ago on one of his first projects, which was a digital media kind of platform, and it failed, but a lot of entrepreneurial things fail. And so you just keep on going. But I think he generally works on things that he’s passionate and believes in because you can’t have that much success and not believe in it. You just can’t go back to that core. And it’s like, well, what is that Core we all hear the stories about as a kid, he stood out and he was different. And I bet he was. He was probably that kid you didn’t want to sit behind because he’d probably pull your pigtails or something. But I think it’s interesting that I had a conversation a few weeks ago with the President of SETI, which is the center for Extraterrestrial. And it’s really interesting the stuff that they do and they have very high caliber scientists that are working to better our future by looking at the unobvious.

And I think that’s one of the things that scientists do. They don’t look at the obvious. They look at the unobvious. So where do we actually have things like in the ocean or in space or on Mars? These are the people that found the two new moons. They found the new species of crab a few years ago. And I think it’s really interesting that we have so much untapped in the universe is that there’s a race to go to other places, but there’s so much that we still have to discover here.

Right.

And I love to go to space because I would just like to experience that. But when I recently watched the movie “Don’t Look Up”, I thought I was curious about that type of stuff when I was a kid. When looking back at all the different moon launches and now we go to the moon, it’s like, oh, yeah, we went to the moon. I went and got a gallon of milk. But there was a time. And so I love the movie “Hidden Figures”, because that movie brought out a story of the going to the moon that we had heard before the back end story. And that’s the type of stuff that personally, again, excites me because everybody has a story. And when I was in College, we were told not to write our obituary as a journalism project, which is quite common. We were told to write our manifesto. And I thought that was great because that meant that we had to have a conviction to something, not what nice things people are going to say about us. And I would like people to say nice things about me someday. But I think ultimately it’s like, what do you stand for?

And what’s that conviction and that driving force that made you make a decision at some point that you’re chosen to do this? And that’s what I feel about my podcast is like, it started out as an idea and it’s kind of grown. And I have this amazing team that I work with. I have a writer that collaborates and crafts the narrative. And I have a producer. My daughter would say, mom, you’re a little high maintenance. And I’m like, yeah, you know, this was going to be done in the home office, and now I actually have a team. And then my social team, it’s evolved. But I feel that I have a personal, personal consciousness. And like, I’m going to say I want to give back to each one of my guests something that they’re going to feel good, that is going to be a historical document, almost like the old Encyclopedia Britannicas. Have anybody remember those? And my father would never invest in those. He says, that’s a waste of money. They’re going to be outdated in a few years. You’re going to be able to get everything online. My father would say that. And I’m like, but what’s online?

I had a typewriter. And so I forget my neighbor’s old editions, which is funny.

Yeah. You get the previous editions. You’re reading old things that don’t exist or that have been undiscovered.

Do you remember when things like Lexus Nexus was like new technology?

Right.

And I went to College, undergraduate and graduate school without Google. Most of the millennials went without Google. Gen X’s, no google. Baby boomers, definitely no. So how did we survive? I think we survived and our creativity and our unstoppable curiosity and whether people are conscious that we have it, it’s there. You just have to untap it.

Yeah. And I’ll say to bring together the value of what you do, we can talk all day about what Elon does and SpaceX does. And there’s fantastic things that get done. But in fact, what brings it to the most ears and eyes and makes them care about it to the point where they would make it successful. There was a Netflix documentary about the group of four who were like normies. Right. Just traditional citizens who were citizen space Flyers now. And so citizen astronaut suddenly has this story behind it. And it brought excitement to what was being done in the same way that hidden figures. If it had been done when it happened, imagine how much further the space race would be if we had that.

Yeah. Well, and I think that’s the importance of Stem education. I’m a huge advocate of Stem education. And I don’t know, I think growing up, we always had it, and then we took a bunch of stuff out of it, and particularly public schools started reducing programs, and maybe private schools had more programs than others, but we took so much out. It’s kind of like the food industry. Right. We’re going to take all the organic good stuff out and we’re going to put in all this homogenized substitute things, and then the taste goes away. And then we found out they’re bad or worse for our health, and then the original purity of a product. And I think that’s been the same thing with education and Stem education is that when I grew up, literally, I was told that there was boys math and there was girls. They had gender. Math. Math has a gender? And so I was thirsty and hungry to go in the harder math. But I was always told, I don’t need that. And I’ve talked to so many people that experience that as well. But because I was an honors student, I always bullied my way over to the boys math forgiven.

And then that’s changed, obviously. And I was really happy to see my daughter in school. Never had to deal with that. But we have a shortage of Stem professionals and particularly women. And so we can get kids excited about science and technology and engineering and the arts, because I think when you have a deep technical background, but you also have appreciation for arts and understanding of how the two intersect. Industrial designers working together with engineers have to work very similar to storytelling. They have to look and listen and then go apply. And I think it’s interesting how mechanical engineers and industrial engineers work together to create these ideas and bring them to market and particularly consumer electronics. We have to inspire kids to have that curiosity.

It’s a creative process. It’s an amazing thing. It’s funny. Looking back to my own. So when I was in high school, I took business English, which was like and typing. It was basically the idea that you would learn how to write a memorandum, and it was like learning traditional office lingo. And it was funny. I was born in 72, so this was at a point when I was in typing class, we were on IBM Selectric Typewriters, and it was me and 29 female students. And I was the weird one because at the time, it was seen as, like, working towards administrative work, and it was generally seen as focused on traditionally female roles. I was the odd one out, but then five years later, it was 50 50.

We placed a week girls.

I know it was like heaven, one of the 29 at a target rich environment, but five years later, it evened out. And in other areas we still struggle and we have to. But I love this idea of, like, teach creativity as part of technology and empower them through that story, and they realize it’s a beautiful pairing of things. And so I have to applaud that you do it so well. Definitely a book in you, and I would love to read it. I’m cheating by listening to your podcast and getting the little snippets along the way.

Yeah, well, I’m kind of stuck in the middle of my book. Like, I was describing the bookings. I think I know what it’s going to be. I just need to find a discipline to sit down and do it and think once I do it, then I won’t look back. But I want to comment on your typing. So my mother said, Typing will be one of the best skills you ever have. And I’m like, Mom, I don’t want to type. I don’t want to learn to type. I’m not going to have a typing job. She said, you want to work in the newsroom, you better know how to type. She was right. And so I took typing in summer school because I didn’t want it to interfere with my regular academics. So I learned to type 125 up to 150 words a minute without error, because that ultimately got me the job interview that I could go in for because it used to be a typing test. There’s no keyboarding test anymore. And I know in editorial they don’t ask you to take a test, but it gave me that entry point to working in the newsroom.

And to be able the faster you type, the more stories you had given to you to set up in the word processor to then go to production. And then eventually I go, this is where I get a little naughty. I said, the she devil can be a little bit naughty. I would actually edit things where I would type and make them sound better, only without approval. So when you finally get that call to go into the managing Editor’s office because you’ve been known to be changing copy. But the much appreciated, thinking out of the box desire to do that was appreciated and got me promoted out of what I call the editorial pool, which is ultimately the secretarial pool, which was male and female, but predominantly female people just typing away. And yes, I feel very proud about that. That was a little bit of my naughtiness that got me to the next level. But I think one of the things that is fascinating about technology is now on my phone. I could literally write up a Press release, a pitch, do a presentation, pretty much my mobile office. And in the hybrid world, we have access to content 24 by seven, constantly.

I wake up and I try not to look straight at the world news because it’s a little bit disturbing, particularly today things I’ve seen, and I go, this is not how I want to wake up. I wake up to my lemon tree, literally. And I look at that, and sometimes there’s no lemons. But right now it’s prolifically, full of lemons. And I say, oh, life gives you lemons, right? You go to make lemonade. So it’s very symbolic. There’s no happy accident. I have a lemon tree there. But no two days are alike. And I think that’s the great thing about what I’ve chosen. My career is as a news reporter. No two days were like in public relations. No two days are alike. No two clients are alike. And that’s the kind of a common thread that I’ve seen is having that constant curiosity means I’m going to have a lot of diversity.

What’s given you success so far. And as a consumer of your stories, I gotta say, Donna, you do it well. That’s a magical thing, isn’t it? One quote I get, and although he’s somewhat obviously a controversial figure these days, but I enjoy some of the quotes as Dr. Jordan Peterson. And he says that creative people often create an incredible amount of value, rarely for themselves. And when you think of that pool, of how much creativity was in that pool and how few of them will exit that pool, it is amazing. So you deservedly made it outside of the pool. And I could say anybody that gets to work with you is doing well and will no doubt be pleased with the outcome. It’s been a real pleasure to share time with you, and I will definitely make sure that we’re going to have links to your podcast and to everything about you. What’s the best way if people do want to get a hold of you, Donna, how do they do that?

There’s a couple of ways. Probably my easiest business way is LinkedIn. It’s just Donna Loughlin and that’s L-O-U-G-H-L-I-N. “beforeithappenedshow” on Instagram and beforeithappened.com for the podcast. And my email is Donna@lmgpr.com, and you can use any of those avenues to get a hold of me and I’d be delighted to chat, mentor or share stories or if you think that you are a candidate for the show absolutely email me as well.

Well, I definitely think we got some folks that we can send your way and like I said maybe one day I’ll be lucky and I’ll be a founder myself and I’ll have a story to share and I’ll be there and it would be a pleasure to be on your show. So beautifully done. So congratulations on continued work that’s going on there.

Oh, thank you. Now do we get your disco music?

I know sadly there’s very little disco in my life. The hilarious thing is my name came from so I’m old enough that email is new, right? You and I remember those days. Potentially you remember when email started and I would move from place to place when I lived in Toronto. And every time I would move you would get to a location that didn’t have the same service provider. So we have to go from Bell to Rogers same as AT&T Verizon and every time I would move they would give you a new email address and it was like @rogers.com I was like, oh@bell.com and I moved back to a place that had Rogers I was like, perfect I’ll be Ericwright@rogers.com again. They’d be like, oh no, that one’s taken. No, I know it was my email address. They’re like, oh well you can’t reuse the email. No, it’s mine. And that was like AOL was beginning and so what I finally did was I bit the bullet and I was in a bunch of different bands and one of the bands I was in called the discoposse. We did extremely heavy versions of disco songs and it was kind of fun and so I thought I’m going to use that as my email domain because no one will take that.

It’s an awesome name. Well, my favorite disco song was the BeeGees’ “Staying Alive” the last couple of years. So I think that was a good one for all of us to dance to. Dancing into it. Well, thank you so much for having me, Eric, as a guest. Hopefully I’ve ignited some curiosities and people to do something great.

Most definitely. Most definitely. Thank you very much.

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Craig Goodwin is the Co-Founder and Chief Platform and Strategy Officer at Cyvatar, a technology-enabled cybersecurity as a service (CSaaS) provider.

He has over 15 years of experience leading security across both the public and private sectors, building holistic security functions that combine the range of security disciplines under a single effective function.

We talk about the method of delivering Cybersecurity-as-a-Service, the reason it’s more critical than ever, and also the approach of building leave-behind process and platforms to deliver the best customer experience. 

Check out Cyvatar.ai here:  https://cyvatar.ai 

Watch the Full Show Here

Transcript powered by Happy Scribe

Welcome, everybody. It’s Wednesday. Or at least it is if you’re catching this when it comes out fresh because this is the DiscoPosse podcast, your weekly leading technology startup podcast, and you’re about to get exposed to a fantastic conversation with Craig Goodwin, who’s of Cyvatar.ai. Now Craig is really fantastic. He’s co founder and he’s somebody who I really enjoyed because as a chief platform and chief strategy officer, he had this beautiful mix of having lived the life of doing the things around security and now brings them to how to deliver these as a platform, as a true cybersecurity, as a service.

Really great stuff. His methods, approach, just a very enjoyable discussion as well. Somebody I would love to spend a bunch of time chatting with. And speaking of spending a bunch of time chatting with. I got to tell you that the reason I get to spend a lot of time chatting with these amazing people is because of the amazing folks that actually make this podcast happen and supporting it. So I want to implore you to please do me a favor. Number one, go check it out because everything you need for your data protection need. You can get from our good friends at Veeam Software.

I’m a longtime friend, fan, and they are really cool and that they’re supporting the podcast and making sure that as they look to bring their own message to the market. I’m pretty pleased that I’ve been able to be a part of that featuring some of the great folks at Veeam as well. So go to vee.am/DiscoPosse. They just came off of AWS re:Invent. They got a really cool campaign. It’s a comic book download, so really cool. So go there. It’s actually the landing page. If you go to vee.am/DiscoPosse, you can get your very own AWS superhero comic book.

Please do that. Very cool. I absolutely recommend it. And also, of course, speaking of protecting, the one thing you want to make sure is not just protecting your data wherever it is by protecting it inflight. Protecting your network, protecting your identity. You can do this by using ExpressVPN. I’m a longtime user of ExpressVPN because I travel a bunch and as part of it, I want to make sure that I’ve got consistency of experience and safety while I’m traveling around and using other WiFi and other networks.

So please do try that. Go to tryexpressvpn.com/DiscoPosse. It really is just that easy. Oh, that’s right. And also, have a coffee company. I hope that you enjoy it. I do. And if you want to go check it out, it’s diabolicalcoffee.com. Not much more to say about that. Really, really good coffee. Go check it out.

Hi. My name is Craig Goodwin. I’m the co-founder of Cyvatar, and you’re listening to the DiscoPosse podcast.

So thank you, Craig, for joining. I’m definitely in excited mode in what we have a chance to talk about, because when I saw Cyvatar come up on the list. You’re actually on my companies to watch. And it’s a rare treat when we can dive into, I’ll say it’s funny. It’s like this burgeoning area around cybersecurity and offering it as a service and injecting ourselves earlier in the development and operational workflow. It’s new to the world, which is terrifying because it shouldn’t be. But this is why the opportunity is huge.

So I think the best thing we can do for folks that are new to you. Craig, if you want to give a quick bio and we’ll talk about Cyvatar and the challenges that you’re solving.

Absolutely. Pleasure to be here, Eric. And thanks for adding Cyvatar to that list. I’m sure it’s a long one given what you do, but I’m privileged to be a part of that. Sure. My name is Craig Goodwin. My background. I’ve been on the end user side of cybersecurity for about 18 years before that. I was in the intelligence services with the UK government and fell out of that when chief security officer was just becoming a thing, really. And then spent 18 years building, operating, running large scale cybersecurity businesses as an end user.

So companies like Monster Worldwide, Ferguson plc, CDK Global, which is a big automotive tech firm out in Chicago and then Fujitsu before finally co founding Cyvatar with my co founder, Corey White, who is based in Orange County in California. He’s also got a long history in cybersecurity, but from the other side of the house. So he’s been building and running cybersecurity vendors for 25 years, and I come from the end user side. So the first pitch of cyberattack is always that we’ve got both ends of the spectrum.

We’ve been there and done it from an end user perspective and also a vendor’s perspective. So we know what’s broken and we know what we need to fix to deliver better outcomes for customers and businesses globally.

I think this is really why I loved your sort of mix in the founding team. It’s a fundamental problem that we have in so many startups is that we attack it purely from the intellectual like this is sort of the scientific method, and we come at things and there are points when you have to have a very opinionated resolution to things. It’s often how we succeed, is you can’t just sort of do incremental change. You have to come in and say, this is the way that it’s going to work.

We have to remap some of the processes. But because you’ve come from the experiential side, the buying side. I used to do the customer deal as well for a couple of decades, and it allows me to approach technology in a way that I know well in a pure intellectual approach. Fantastic. But will this actually get adopted and used in the way that we would hope. Really, the thing that I want to focus on, Craig, is this idea that you’ve seen it in flight. You’ve seen it in play.

You’ve actually implemented solutions, and you know that it’s much more a human problem sometimes than a technology problem, especially in the area of security and cybersecurity. So how did that two sided approach influence your choice to start the company?

Yeah. When I met Corey a couple of years ago, at the kind of founding of Cyvatar, I was in that place where the industry is going crazy right now, particularly from the VC point of view, there are, I don’t know. It changes every day, four and a half thousand plus products out there or something crazy. So I was having a lot of VC friends. A lot of founder friends say to me, you should found a business. You should do something now that you’ll be able to get the funding.

You should take that knowledge that you’ve got as an end user and create something. And I’ve been thinking about it for 6, 12, 18 months, but I wanted to find the right, and it sounds like a bit of a cliche, right? But I wanted to find the right thing, the thing that actually solve the problem as an end user. I’d fought with it for 18 years, and the kind of problems that I found were that I bought pretty much every product that existed. You could say the Noah’s Ark of Cybersecurity, but two of everything.

And that was true. You’d go out and you’d convince yourself as a CSO that your number one objective was to convince the executive team or the board to give you more budget, and you do that. And I do that really well. And then with that budget, I go and buy some more products, but still wouldn’t get to secure. I still wouldn’t get to the actual outcome that I wanted as a chief security officer. No matter how many products I bought, I still found that I needed large internal teams or my own platforms that I built myself internally to actually do the hard part.

And the hard part was actually the fixing. Actually getting into the outcome of secure. And I found that 90% of the products on the market would point out my problems for me, but simply add to that list of things I had to do. Add to the problems that I had to fix and not actually fix or solve any of those problems. When me and Corey met, he told me about his idea for Cyvatar and as a service solution, I said, Well, look, I’ve done that internally, three or four times over.

I’ve built the platform that we need to build to allow that to be successful. I’ve been the end user side consuming that. So let’s join forces. Let’s bring those two components together. He’s been running services businesses for 18 to 25 years, so he knew that one-off services just didn’t cut it anymore. I’ve been running the end user side and knew that products didn’t do it. So then things combined just led to what Cyvatar has ultimately become, which is the ability to pull to your point people, process, and technology altogether into easy to consume subscriptions that mean you’re getting to an actual outcome rather than just finding more and more problems.

Well, I remember, the thing was ADT security or something. It was like something like a physical home security company that had a great set of commercials. And it was the whole thing of there’s monitoring. And then there’s us, right? And this whole thing of like a guy, a bank is getting robbed. And someone just looks at the guard says, “Aren’t you going to do something?” And he says, “hey, he’s robbing the bank”. This is monitoring. Obviously the first layer is always discovery doing that monitoring that observability, which is sort of the new catchphrase in the industry.

But then from that point, is being able to action on it, is the gap, rather than just basically saying, hey, there’s something going on. And now it’s your fault. Your just handing it off to an operator or developer. And this is a complex ecosystem in the organization. The CSO doesn’t have effective control over IT in the same way, because they generally report up, like directly to the CEO. They report up, if anything, possibly adjacent to a CIO, possibly through legal and procurement. More so than just operational IT.

And there’s really a lot of stuff that falls under that bucket. So while they could say, there’s my aspiration to achieve a secure workplace, a secure environment, this now has to cross into seven different divisions of IT and many, many other things.

Yeah, 100%. And I could talk about that for days. I think to unpick that a little bit. You’re absolutely right. I think the trend and it’s going to continue to be a trend is decentralization of the security function. I used to joke or half joke as I was building security functions, that my ultimate goal should be to not need a budget as a chief security officer, right? Because I shouldn’t need to protect the organization. It should be so ingrained into everything we do as a business to your point, the different departments that actually, they understand it.

And I build such a strong culture of security that they pay for out of their own budget. Craig doesn’t need a separate security budget. I’ve tried to do that at the businesses that I’ve always been at, which is to put the power in the hands of the developers, for example, right? Where they have the tools, the power to be secure by design as they build their products, as opposed to what doesn’t work, which is Craig’s team coming along and acting like the police, right?

Which is definite cliche in the industry. But it’s hurt us for many, many years as that kind of outsider type approach to security. And then the other thing you touched on, which is just incredibly important and a lot of people forget is the politics associated with it. Like, how do you drive behavioral change that first day shouldn’t be about looking at technology. It should be about going to buy a Starbucks card, so you can take all the executives that you’ve got to influence out for coffee and build those relationships. Right?

Because that is 100% the most important thing. And one of the things that we’ve done from Cyvatar is enable that. The platform that we’re building or the platform that we’ve built really enables that decentralization. It enables those workflows to be created across organizational bounds and put the power in the hands of the people that actually need to fix it, as opposed to just firing a load of vulnerabilities and alerts at the security team and expecting them to do the hard work in chasing up and getting things fixed and influencing people.

It becomes the challenge. I was at an organization, and this was in the 90s through the 2000s and the CSO didn’t exist. That function wasn’t there. It was at least rare in sort of the Canadian world, particularly, we’re such a friendly bunch. We didn’t need one. Right. And all of a sudden, we see a CSO show up. And this is right around the time that Sarbanes-Oxley also was implemented. So you had, first of all, a functional change in the organization that they were separating out this role of information security officer, and also everybody that had the CXO title was signing their name on a contract that put them personally liable for the outcomes of their organization.

And it really changed things. So immediately, the first thing that happened, as we do with security organizations is they hired a bunch of VPs of security, and then they hired a bunch of directors, which are basically sort of their very high titled interns. And they began crafting policy, crafting policy. Quick. We must craft policies. And it was almost like a Monty Python ask level of, quick a proclamation. And they would come and they would post it on the board, and they would email it out and send. And immediately you’d say, “Well, we can’t do this”.

And they’re like, oh, no worries. Then file for an exception. And then they built a system to file for exceptions. And they had created the sort of process spaghetti. And I was torn, right? Because with what’s going on, I recognize what you needed to do is we need to actually look as an organization. How are we going to attack this problem? How do we recognize the problem within a medium, this is like putting a government into a functional organization and where they don’t see the outcome, they don’t see the negative side effects.

They just simply have to come in and say, policy checkbox. And then as it made it further on the organization, we would just find ways to get through the audit safely. And that was the first phase. But then from there like we’ve seen it in action. We’ve seen real. No one wants their company name to show up in the news. And it’s like when somebody has their name show up in the news and the word embattled is in front of it, there’s certain things you never want to have.

And I’ve got good friends who are solar winds, and that was a tough one to watch them go through where the reputation attached to being exposed to a vulnerability carries for a long time and has a real commercial effect on them just as an example, right?

That was one thing where they’re in the news. So at first it was like, in 2009, it was probably happening all over the place, but it wasn’t in the news. Now there’s a really significant risk that it’s prevalent that this is active in the industry, like DarkSide did it. They created ransomware as a service. This is fantastic. But how do we attack the problem and make sure that we don’t end up in the news? But most importantly, that we aren’t vulnerable. That’s the real thing. Obviously, the news is bad, but let’s actually fix the problem.

So if the ransomware has a service, then what do we do to counteract that?

Yeah. And I think you hit the nail on the head and we could talk for hours about the compliance versus security debate. But I think actually, in a number of cases, compliance is damaged, what we would call real security. Because if you think about, you mentioned the top down approach. One of the things that all those compliance standards first say is, go and get the board approval, like, get your executive buy-in all that stuff, which makes it that very policy focused, like top down approach where we create mandates and then we try and force it into the organization and actually back to that decentralization conversation.

The most effective way I build security is from the ground up. That doesn’t mean negating the executive buy, and you need the budget. You need people to understand what your objectives are, but being very clear with your sponsorship, your leadership, about what is the objective. Do we actually want to be secure, or are we just ticking a box for compliance purposes? If your answer is we actually want to be secure, that’s a very different journey than creating a ton of policies. And that’s one of the fundamental principles when we started Cyvatar, was that there’s a ton of really quick and easy ways to go and get SOC 2 compliance, for example, like, I say, 27001 compliance and will help with the operational aspects of that.

But the majority of the small to medium sized businesses and other companies that we’re serving wants is to be actually protected from ransomware, is to be actually secure. And to your point, like solar winds prevent their name from being in the media because they’ve lost data or been hacked or been interrupted or whatever it might be. They actually want to be secure, and that then differentiates them from their competitors because they’re more secure. So what we’ve done with Cyvatar is build real security in and security that actually gets you secure, which is a big step change from a policy, creating something and telling everyone that they’ve got to do it.

This is real world. How do I prevent that from actually happening and moving to that prevention? Moving to that remediation is the key step that the majority of vendors in the market just don’t appreciate or don’t help customers to achieve right now. .

When it comes to differentiation, it’s funny, I lead them. I’m not going to compare you to anybody. I’m going to compare you against the industry at large, in that you’ve chosen to price by human rather than object. And this is interesting because quite often when we think about security services, developer services, all of these services, they’re effectively marked per application per object per cloud target, per whatever. There’s always some technical target. So let’s talk about that, Craig. The idea that you’re basically working at the human layer with technology and thus you price, I’ll say differently than most folks would expect.

Yeah. 100%. And that’s another indication of number one, kind of that really customer centric approach, making the experience for the customer a lot more streamlined. One of the things me and Corey are constantly looking at the industry or taking our experience and changing the way that things should be done and making it simpler when we thought about the customer consuming it for anyone that’s ever commissioned a penetration test, for example, that horrible booklet of, like, 20 pages you get from the provider that says, and it used to take me even with a security team, four weeks to fill in the technical data to have to gather this technical data, to even get the scoping document back for a penetration test. Right?

And that just can’t be the way it is. So what we wanted to do is number one, make it customer centric, number two, make it really easy to consume. So therefore, what we do is we use the number of employees in the organization as an indicative factor for the size and scale of the organization itself. Right. And that then allows us to build those subscriptions, build those solutions based on the size of the business and scale it effectively. For example, we’ve got customers who have 500.

They’re in the entertainment industry. They have 500 employees that never touch a computer, for example. Right? And we’ll work with our customers to figure out how that subscription works and how best to address it and make it more palatable for that customer themselves. We have other customers where some of their employees have got three or four different laptops. And in the old model, that means four or five different licenses, right? We want to deliver security, true security for the customer. So we’ve build all that complexity.

And we just say, let’s base it on head count. Let’s base it on head count of the organization. As you grow, we grow, and we’ll partner with you to deliver security, whatever that means for the size and scale of your organization.

When it comes to the mapping to importance of the business, it really is a human tally, right? Because the scale of the workforce is effectively a marker of the network effect of risk, because the more people you have, like you said, they’re specific. Some employees, they’ve got seven devices hanging off them. They’re much more active, their field work, so they may be sort of more exposed than others. But then back office folks, they log into the computer only to get their morning email. And then the rest of the stuff they’re doing is they’re scanning paper into systems.

It actually makes complete sense. And you start to think like, ‘Why hasn’t someone done this before?’

That’s my favorite thing. Like, my head gets a little bit bigger because I love it when we sit down with customers. And hopefully that’s an indicator of a good idea, because we sit down with a ton of customers and customers go, doesn’t that exist already? And they’re like, actually, no, no one’s done it like this before. No one’s done it the way that we’re doing now. The reason that we built what we built is because the business model exists elsewhere. The likes of Netflix and the B2C space, the likes of Trinette and others within the B2B space for HR.

Why would you not have that model for security? And that’s what we’ve built with Cyvatar. We always use the example of why would I bother building a HR function at this point and even our revolution? I wouldn’t. I’ll go and outsource it to Trinette because they’re better at it. It makes sense. It works for the scale of business and how we operate. I don’t want to be a HR professional, just like a lot of these businesses don’t want to be security professionals, right? They want someone who can do it for them and actually get to the outcomes of secure.

So that’s why we built the business model that we did for sure.

When you looked at, obviously, the first thing we have is we have team, the three T’s. Right? Team, TAM, technology, as they call it. Right? You’ve got your co founder. You have to address on the technology side, you both come at it from each angle and see if you got a good sense of where you in the technology stack will be able to attack a problem. When assigning TAM, this is really about choosing your first market. What is the ideal customer that you wanted to begin with? Because it literally could be anywhere from SMB up to global enterprise.

There’s a lot of potential. And if you’re a VC, of course, there are like trillions of TAMs. They want this Gartner Esker type of up and to the right quadrants everywhere. They want to see a lot of that stuff. But you, as a founder, you have to be pragmatic about your first market.

Yeah, 100%. And you’re right. There’s a ton of opportunity in terms of even larger enterprise organizations. I’ll talk about that in a second. But if you think about the absolute target market, it’s those Greenfield organizations that haven’t built a security function yet. And what that normally means is probably 500 employees or less in the technology space where the ROI, the return on investment, associated with the model that we’ve created is quite frankly, a no brainer. When you talk to customers and you spell out what it takes to build a security program these days, with the cost of talent, with the complexity of tools, with just everything that’s out there.

And back to that original point about the CTO, and the startup really wants to be focused on making their products great, not doing the cybersecurity stuff. You come in and you take that pain away. And the model from a Greenfield perspective, just makes absolute perfect sense. And even a lot of our customers have got a single contributor, the first CSO hired, like you mentioned before, or the first security person hired into the organization. Even then, what they’re not going to be able to do on day one is justify another ten resources.

And that’s relatively lucky, right? So to have a solution that enables them to be successful and deliver those outcomes as well in a cost effective way, that’s number one target. Right. And also to your point, from the vendor perspective, it’s just a massively underserved market. We talk to a lot of our partners who say anyone under two and a half thousand employees. Our VCs are telling us not to touch because the economics don’t make sense when you get to a certain scale and we throw the term democratization around.

But it’s true. We’re taking these best-of breed technologies that perhaps wouldn’t be accessible to that smaller end of the market and making them accessible, making them consumable because you don’t need those internal resources or expertise to get them in and operational quickly, which is what we’re able to do.

Yeah. It’s kind of funny. Like I’m in the tech space and I meet with large organizations all the time, and they have more developers at most North American banks than the vendors they buy from. So it’s really difficult to go in there and sort of say, all right, we’re going to do a ground up development of this service approach because they’re just like, well, we’re going to use you for six months, and then we’re going to take a team and make them shadow you and then build the thing you do.

So it’s actually often a dangerous thing, especially for a start up to go in with a great fundamental challenge solver because they’re just going to go in. Tech companies are the same way. Right? Large social networks are famous for this one, right? Where they’ll buy a company, buy a product for a year and then not renew. And you’re, like some people on the sales teams are like, I don’t understand, why didn’t they renew? Because they are filled with amazing technologists. And they just watched what you did for a year. That’s all they needed, they needed to be close enough.

I think one of the real differentiators that we’ve got is that we started as a platform player. Right?

So we’re not a product led company. We are true platform. And you see it, we all see it. There are many businesses out there that claim to be platform based organizations. The problem that you’ve got is particularly with the larger businesses. They’re tied to their own products as well. So if you’ve got a shitty antivirus product and then you go and build a platform, well, guess what, which antivirus products are going to be the one you use in that platform. Right? And that’s the problem. What you’ve started from is a very blank canvas that we’ve started from a point where we’re building the platform first.

And therefore, if you want to integrate with us, we will be picking the best-of breed technologies. We’ll have a selection. We’ve got three or four different partners in each of our solution areas, and our member services team is constantly assessing what’s the best out there, what’s going to get the best value for our customers? What’s the best solution? And the customers are subscribing to a flexible subscription, which means if one day AV number one is the best one on the market, we’ll install that. If next day AV number two completely outdoes them and gets to a better state of prevention than number one, we’ll change it out for them.

And that’s all part of that subscription. So it’s focused on the subscription outcome as opposed to the particular product or technology that you’re driving.

Yeah. One of my favorite platform stories. And like, I’m in product marketing, I know, it’s always like, you’re not a tool. You’re a platform. It seems like better marketing. But Dave McJanett, who’s the CEO of HashiCorp, and I said, I described to him and I said, it’s great because you effectively got all these layers and it ultimately makes a platform. And he goes, well, we describe as it, if you squint hard enough, it’s a platform. But it really is a separated set of tools that integrate very easily.

And it was funny that even he was unwilling to use the word platform for fear that it would have this connotation of something that is easy. It’ll be automatic, you have to buy one thing, and then you have to buy the other four things. Their goal was ultimately interoperability, which is, again, this is why I wanted to pick on this point with you, Craig, by being able to know that you’re looking for the best of capabilities, the best-of breed. And you are handling the integration since the interchange.

It means that I don’t, as a customer, have to get locked into going to antivirus A and looking for the best deal, because, effectively, they’re going to tell me why I need them, and then they’re going to suddenly become the one that wants everybody else to integrate with them. I want to have a platform approach where that I can think of it as a framework that I fit things into. And then it gives me the comfort that I can negotiate with those vendors now, because before, especially an antivirus vendor, it’s the easiest thing in the world.

We have 3000 endpoints. How exactly do you think you’re going to change that over? It’s one step away from, it would be a real shame if something were to happen to your car, now, wouldn’t it? Like that’s almost a Mafia-esque type of way. But I’ve worked in organizations where we’re like, I actually had 22,000 endpoints and yeah, we got it done because we threw humans at it. But it was a huge expense. It was a huge lift. It was a huge risk. So if I can offload that risk and that assessment of the right current set of platforms to you, that’s a huge win in my eyes of why I would say Cyvatar is like, all right, this is a true platform play.

Yeah. And you got two things, I think. Number one, you’re absolutely right. A lot of those businesses, like I said before, four and a half thousand products out there, like, what startup wants to come wade through all of that.

The periodic table of things.

All Eric’s product marketing. Who wants to go wade through that to find the one problem. Sorry, the one tool that’s actually going to fix your problem, right? No one can. No one does. Right? So, yeah, that’s number one. My own member services team are experts in the field, have been doing it for 100 plus years, whatever the combined number is, and they will pick the best-of breed, right? Agnostically and build them into the partner framework, build them into the platform. And like I say, we’re not afraid, right?

When partners aren’t performing or it’s not the best tool anymore. We have the capability and the wherewithal to change that out. Because we’re so customer focused, we want it to be about the customer and delivering the right outcome for the customer. The other big deal here, I think, is really important. We went on this evolution, I think you mentioned it earlier for inSecurity from technology, and then we’re definitely focusing on the people right now. But the process bit for me, is probably even more important than the people, right?

Because you can have the best cybersecurity experts in the world. You can have the best tools in the world. If you haven’t got the process that makes those things successful, you’re still ultimately going to fail. And what we’ve built with the platform that we call the operating system for cybersecurity is the process of security, what we call, we’ve got proprietary methodology that we call ICARM, which is installation, configuration, assessment, remediation and maintenance. So you go from all the way from installation of the tools, all the way from maintaining a full security program.

But essentially all it means is the process of security. Like, how do you get from a point where you have nothing or a very immature security function to the point where you’ve got something that’s functional operational and you’re maintaining the organization in a clean maintained state and the tools can be interchangeable. The people can be interchangeable. But that process remains constant. And that’s what we built in the platform. And that’s why I think we are so successful in such a short space of time in terms of getting those outcomes for our customers.

We’ve got that experience, we’ve got that knowledge. We built those processes into the fabric of what we do. And that’s why we’re driving this speed and easiness of security that just amazes people to the point where they don’t believe us sometimes, to the point where people go, how do you do that? And it’s because you’re taking that fundamental approach and you’re building the processes right.

And I don’t want to talk about people leaving the platform, but the subscription model opens the door to a sense of freedom in that they’re not locked in to you, which is a strong thing, right? It’s sort of illegal and functional lock in is difficult, and people don’t want to take on a new thing because there’s sort of a risk there. What’s the thing that, what they say to you, Okay, Craig, I like what you’re doing, but let’s just say for whatever reason, we have to change gears in six months, and I stopped my subscription.

What does that mean for my organization?

Yeah. So we built ‘cancel anytime’ into all of our solutions, just like any other subscription but don’t like using it so much. But back to the Netflix example. For as long as you’re getting value out of Netflix, you’ll continue to pay your subscription. And me and Corey, and the whole of Cyvatar, is not afraid of that model. We truly believe that with those process components, with the people components, with the way that we’re driving value for our customers, it challenges us to continue to continuously drive value across that lifecycle and that lifetime value of that customer.

And we’re not afraid of that challenge, right? We haven’t had anyone canceled yet, and I’m hoping we’re not going to in the future because we are driving that consistent value. We all know my favorite quote ever. I don’t know who said it, so I might just claim it as my own. Security is a condition to be managed. It’s not a problem to be fixed. And that is absolutely true. It’s not a one-off engagement. This is about growing with the customer, partnering with the customer, and being that continuous source of security for the business.

So the short answer is, Eric, as long as we continue to deliver value and the customers see value from it, we’re not scared of it, but we’ve built-in’ cancel anytime’ so that customers, if they really don’t see the value, can make that break.

And I love this idea that you talk about something to be continuously managed. This is not like a juice cleanse to suddenly make you healthy. Security is something you just sort of throw a tool at it, and then by magic, it’s fixed. It really and truly is an operation, because even if the choice is right today, it’s not to say that that particular product or some process that you’ve got won’t be suddenly vulnerable just because of a change in the ecosystem or change in process in a month or two months or six months.

So that’s why it does need to be the subscription and the service model really makes sense to me, because this is something that I want to make sure is maintained. And we think about maintenance as SNS on a contract, right? Like, oh, I can phone 1800. I’ve got a problem with something, but that’s really not what maintenance is about. Maintenance is about maintaining the health of the ecosystem, right?

Yeah. I love the hygiene and health analogies. I think they’re really helpful when you’re thinking about cyber hygiene and cyber security. It’s that continuous process. Corey always gives the example of, I don’t know whether this is true or not, but always gives the example of doing the dishes, right? Doing the washing up, you leave it for three or four days and you’ve got a massive pile and it’s a hell of a workload to get through. Whereas if you do little bits on a daily basis and you could do the same analogy a million times over, whether it’s automotive maintenance or whatever, it might be doing those little things and keeping up with it means that actually over time you’re continuously maintaining that state of hygiene.

You’re continuously maintaining that in a clean state, which makes your job much easier over time, means it doesn’t cost you as much. We talk about another good example is always the developers building code. And if you wait until a vulnerability or whatever is out in the wild, it costs you 50, 60 X, the cost that it would be to fix it while it’s in the development lifecycle. The same is true for general security across the board. Fix it while it’s being happened, build it in, make it a maintenance. Again, back to process.

Make the process continuous, and you’re in that position where you’re getting much more value out of your security program. Pentest is another great example of that. How many organizations just do a one -off pen test every year? How many times have I done a one-off pen test next year. They come back the year after and say, why is it the same as it was last year? Yeah, of course it is. And that pentest somehow makes you secure. But no one does anything about it. It shouldn’t be one-off, it should be continuous.

And in our threat and vulnerability management program, that’s what we’ve done. Yes, you get a pen test every year, but also you’re continuously scanned all year round because you might do your pentest on the coming Monday. But who’s to say six months before that, you didn’t have a vulnerability that’s been hanging around for the last six months. So, yeah, I can’t say enough about the ability to be continuous in that program. And that’s what subscription brings.

This is the funny thing, right? Like you said, compliance and security, while seeming to go in the same. There’s an ampersand between them, like it’s attached to most people’s resume in that way. But it truly is separated functions because compliance is the annual or the quarterly checkbox to make sure that you’ve passed a test. Security is an ongoing operational process to make sure that that’s happening. You said pentest is one that’s interesting because as we develop more active testing, it teaches us to make antifragile systems as well, much more than defensive.

But truly, I’m going to build a system so that it can withstand continuous penetration testing. Actually, at this one place I was at, we used a product and they would do, like, regular scans. So every night, it would go and scan all this stuff and it would wipe out half of our homegrown applications because it would just basically batter them like a denial of service. And then you’d have to restart all these services. And I was like, they said, well, can you stop scanning the system?

I’m like, no, can we start developing to be prepared for it? Like, it was funny that integrating, the tooling changed the practice of development.

Yeah, one of the things that I always liked. And I was talking to someone about it the other day. I was used to just talk about, security is another facet of quality, right? Developers, a lot of development organizations understand the concept of quality. They’re constantly scanning the code for quality. They want to create quality products and quality code. But security is somehow some kind of outlier from that. And when we started to take, and one of the tips I always gave to kind of CSO as they were going into large product based or application based organizations was borrow from what’s already there.

Like take the quality scoring mechanisms and just add security in as a facet of that, because they’re building quality code. They wouldn’t, for the life of them, send out bad quality code. So security is just another facet of that. You can’t build a quality application or product if it’s not also secure. So borrow from that language of the existing business instead of trying to be a special snowflake on the side.

Yeah. Now let’s talk about the Forbes Technology Council. So this is a rare opportunity to be invited in to be a part of this. You’re involved, which it’s a testament to, obviously, your history and your skills and your involvement in affecting the industry, not just purely from your product perspective. What do you feel is a real strong opportunity with something like what the Forbes Technology Council is able to do?

Well, like you said, the name Forbes is one of those things you grow up with, I think, isn’t it? You go through school and you think about Forbes and who do I want to talk to and what’s the goals for me? So, yes, incredibly privileged. I think it’s a great group of people. There’s a great online platform where we share ideas. And to your point, Cyvatar has always been for me, about fundamentally changing the way the industry operates, not just about creating a product, not just about solving a spot problem.

Like a lot of the current solutions do. It’s about fundamentally changing the way we consume. So I think both ways, number one, giving to the Forbes Technology Council, sharing my 18 years worth of CSO experience with other members, helping them to understand how you build security programs, how you do security effectively, what you should be focusing your investment on, but then backwards as well. We get a ton of feedback from those council members about what they want to see, because ultimately, one of the things that we built with Cyvatar is we wanted it to be a business tool as much as a technical security tool, right?

Our audience in startups, particularly is CFO sometimes, it’s CEOs, it’s cofounders, who are not necessarily the most technical savvy people. They want a business outcome, not a technical outcome. So taking feedback and you see a lot of security vendors will take feedback from the technical security communities, which is great and valid. And we do that as well. But also, there’s a massive advantage to taking feedback from senior technology leaders, senior business people who can say, you know what, Craig? I don’t want to see a cross-site scripting vulnerability in an application.

Quite frankly, I couldn’t care less. Tell me how and when it’s going to be fixed. Tell me what it really means to buy business. Tell me how much it’s going to cost me to sort it out. Tell me how I can solve it in the future. Those kind of things, those ROI business based conversations is what we want to solve as a business. And therefore, hearing that feedback, having the opportunity to share that with Forbes Technology Council. Senior technology leaders really benefits Cyvatar and really benefits the way we’re building the platform and the business.

So, yeah, it’s a fantastic opportunity. And I’m proud to be a part of it.

When you’re a certified CSO, which is quite often, the CSO, sadly, is a role that they’re like, it’s like the CIO, which at one point when I was in first getting into tech, CIO used to stand for career is over, right? It was just somebody from the business unit. They were just like, you’re the CIO now. And they’ve served their two years to ride off into the sunset as they headed to retirement. Now it’s an active function and then CSO sort of fell into the same thing, like somebody has to be a CSO.

You, you’re the CSO, right? Make sure no one picks up USB sticks and push them in their laptop. And there was a sudden, you’ve heard a wide eyed thing of like, how do I be an effective CSO? And it’s because it’s a burgeoning role. Certification is something that I think had been vastly missed. So what is the path to certification and what are ways that professionals can look at working towards that?

Yeah. Well, I think that particular qualification is interesting. I think more widely the question around kind of experience as a CSO, to your point being thrust into a role where you’re told to stop USBs being put in computers, for example, I think ultimately comes back to it. And a lot of the responsibility falls on the individual. I did a talk a number of years ago about challenging CSOs as to whether they really are CSOs or not. And what does it really mean to be a CSO? And quite frankly, I don’t have the answer.

I don’t think anyone does. The answer no one likes is it depends. But what that means is when you start that job, you need to fundamentally understand why the role was created and what the executive and the business expects you to do and make sure that’s compatible with what your skill set is. And that’s what needs to happen more in the industry. It’s the same with, I always say, ton of CSOs will join a role and won’t have had a budget conversation for the first twelve months.

They just plow on, on the understanding they’re going to be allowed unlimited products and tools, right? Getting those things upfront, what is my role to our conversation about compliance versus security? All right, you’re hiring me as a CSO, but does that mean you just want us to get top two compliance if it does. And you’re happy to take that you approach that in a very different way than a role that says, actually, I want you to be the technical knowhow, I want you to work with the development teams to embed security into the development lifecycle.

Or I want you to be the strategic leader that is the figurehead for security across our business and drive sales cycles by being better at cybersecurity. All those roles are roles of the CSO, but in different organizations of different maturities and different expectations, and you’re ultimately setting yourself up for failure. If you don’t have that conversation up front with the executive team, with the business. It’s a long way of saying it depends. But as long as you’re clear up front what your role actually means, that’s the only way you’re going to be successful.

Yeah. And I think that’s the ideal thing, even like the CISSP, if you look at the foundations that it tests, it’s very wide range. And it’s everything from physical security to low level programming, understanding all the way up to much more high through technical cloud and networking. It shows you what it takes to really be a security leader in an organization or CSO. It is much more than just one aspect of it. And quite often it’s counter to what we’d expect if we make things more difficult.

If we make things technically challenging, that’s not always securing the environment, it could influence poor practices, because if you make everything super complex and people are just going to write it down, they’re going to write down their passwords. They’re going to do things that will then move against the policy setting, and it becomes, you’re effectively working against yourself by coming with this top down of you will not pass approach.

Well, the advice I’ve always given to anyone kind of early in their career or moving through their career that wants to ultimately become CSO in the end, is wider rather than deeper. It’s becoming more and more a business role. It’s becoming more and more about strategic leadership, about business leadership. There’s been a trend in many large organizations where CSOs aren’t coming from technical backgrounds anymore. You’ve seen people come from the risk function or the project management function or the program management function into CSO roles. And for me personally, I think that’s a really positive thing, bringing people in with that wider business experience.

That wider kind of programmatic experience and strategic leadership, I think, is really important because you get that separated agnostic view like boys and their toys tend to get excited about security technology and AI and all that kind of stuff, whereas someone that takes a business centric approach and says, what’s most important for the business, what is it we’re trying to protect? What is my job here? Like, all of those things contribute to being much more successful than diving in and going, oh, I need to buy this product.

So I think that’s really important. Back to SIT phase, it’s incredibly wise. I think it’s a great certification that you have, out of all the ones that exist to get you that kind of width in terms of understanding when you’re ready to do that. But I think as your career progresses, you want to know a little about a lot of different things. I’m no technical expert. I have technical people who do that for me. You can’t do everything. And it’s about having a little of a lot. I think as you grow up as a CSO.

In the world of tech, especially community is incredibly important, and the ability for people to find a peer group. We’ve talked about the Forbes Tech Council, which I primarily is savant at the C-suite. There’s a lot of folks that are there that they can really look at the leadership level. There’s others that go further down in New York. But then you’ve got the bottom up, sort of the SANS and even the BSides and those types of conference opportunities. What is if you’re saying, as a Cyvatar founder, what’s your community of practice that you feel is effective in helping your team both empower as well as to stay close to what’s really going on out in the world?

Yeah. I think it massively differs depending on the team. Right. So for me and Corey as co-founders, it’s entrepreneurial organizations. It’s learning from other founders, people that have been there and done it. And actually, one of the things that I’m really passionate about is not in cybersecurity. I’ve got some great friends who are founders in cybersecurity, which is fantastic. But you’ll see from the way that we’ve built the business, we haven’t learned from cyber, we’ve learned from other business models, and we brought that into the immature space that is cybersecurity.

So therefore, when we’re learning from other businesses, subscription based businesses like ourselves or SAAS businesses or whatever. So me and Corey have been very conscious to take those learnings from other areas. And the other thing to remember is we read a lot of books. We listen to a lot of audiobooks, get ideas from those things, but don’t prescribe to one single thing. There’s millions of different ideas from different theories and different books all come together to create a strong business model. So I would say, for me and Corey, that’s important.

But then, obviously, like our member services team, they’re heavily embedded in the ethical world of security. It’s their job to know what the best products are on behalf of our customers. So they’re absolutely interacting in the black hats of the world, the cybersecurity conferences of the world where they can hear have their ear to the ground so that ultimately our customers don’t need to do that themselves. And we’re taking that burden away from them. And then we encourage everyone. One of the things that we have all done in the business is go through a course called Scaling Up, which is a methodology for building businesses.

And we’ve been really open with the whole team from the beginning. It would be easy just to have me and Corey do that because we’re building the business. But actually, we wanted everyone to understand that methodology. The Rockefeller methodology for building a business. We wanted everyone to know what that meant, how it operated, so that as we grow, we can be completely transparent with the whole team. And everyone understands that they play a part in it. Everyone understands that they’re a part of the growth of the business. We do KPI stand up calls every day where everyone sees what the business is doing.

Are we failing in certain areas? How do we change that? And we have those open conversations with the team where everyone shares the learning and we build the business together. And me and Corey think that that visibility is incredibly key. So to your point, there’s definitely external communities, but there’s also internal communities where we bring all of that together and we grow as one team.

And I think this is also a testament to your approach in that when I choose a vendor, why we say the three T’s begins with team, I have to depend that the company that I’m buying from has viability, and it’s really difficult, right? If you’re like, they look around and know that, I’ve got twelve series A technology companies that look exciting and you know that they are close enough in their messaging and in the end, in four years or six years, there will be three series D company. But I have to lay that bet.

And your approach is beautiful, right? It’s differentiated because this means that trust that you will grow with me as an organization, as a customer versus like, yeah, we got a widget problem, I get to solve your widget problem. That’s fantastic. There are pure specific problems to solve, but being consultative and not just looking at like, all right, I’m just looking to get the CRC and get bought by Accenture like, whatever the thing is, not that that couldn’t happen, but you’re looking at growth. You’re looking at building a foundation on which you can grow with customers.

And again, like I said, the weird thing is I called on the pricing and the subscription model early because it’s such a rare treat that, you know, that the sense of freedom gives you the ability to be free to adopt. It’s such a funny thing, but it’s a welcome change, especially in the world right now, where we have to be able to adapt. We don’t know what four months from now is going to look like, and just that sense that you could buy as you need grow in a consultative approach, learn from experts who are, their economy of scale is knowledge scale.

I can’t possibly, with an 800 person organization or 4000 person organization, trust that I can hire 25 people that I’m going to send to conferences every week and make sure they’re on top of things and that they’re doing their bloody job. That’s why I love the approach.

100%. And I think that’s why it’s so important for us. If you look at me and Corey, you look at many VC funded businesses, ostensibly, you have a very technical founding team. You have a team that is focused on product building the widget, whatever it is. And that is what the team is really highly focused on. They’re very good at doing that. And then you get a ton of sales people who go out and push that with you and push that product, right? Our business is fundamentally built on the experience of the customer, where we add value is in that people and process space, it’s not necessarily what we’ve got some solid technology in the platform.

It’s not product led, and therefore it’s really important to us that the customer and the customer’s experience is at the heart of everything that we do. And that means that we approach it slightly differently. That means that all of our team members are highly skilled in what they do, highly skilled in making the customer experience incredible. And second to none, not necessarily highly experienced in selling a widget. Right?

Which is not what we’ve built the business to do. And to your point about cancel anytime we fail, we fail as a business. If the customers aren’t seeing the value and the fundamental value proposition that we deliver, so that’s where our heart is at. That’s where we focus. The business is all about that experience.

Yeah, because there’s nothing worse when you buy a product and you just look concerned. It’s always the matrix is the same and look like I said, I’m in product marketing. I know the dance we do. You’re going to have a three column thing and most people will land in the middle. You want to edge them towards the far right. You want to put them in the enterprise plus, or we call it platinum or unobtainium. We call it some exciting new thing, and it’s always like basic bronze, iron, cobalt, whatever. We try and make it like no one buys that thing.

But the fact that you’ve got a freemium entry point all the way up through effectively scaling on consultative additions to what you’re doing. You’re using a human based counter on the engagement level. Like I said, it’s a refreshing change. And I was excited by the approach, and I’ll be excited to have you on when we announced your series D as well. So mark your calendars, kids. You’ve got a lot of really good stuff coming ahead. I’m sure.

Yeah, we’re super excited as well. Thanks for having me on, Eric. Yeah, I think you mentioned it there. We want to take that consultative approach. We’re not afraid to say customers, don’t buy this. It’s too advanced for you right now. Don’t go buy APT protection against AI threats when you’ve got, you haven’t done your basics of building a threat and vulnerability management program yet. You don’t know what assets you’ve got. So we take customers through that journey. We don’t sell them something they don’t need, and we really help them to build a program that’s strong enough for where they are in their maturity in their growth phase.

But then, from a Cyvatar perspective, we grant super quick. Really excited to be on this journey. I say to the whole team, we want to enjoy the ride as much as the destination, if not more. So we’re having a great time doing it. Team is incredible. Customers are incredible. And yeah, looking forward to updating you on series B, C, and D, hopefully.

Definitely a lot of good stuff. And as far as the building approach, too, this is something we can actually, I’d love to have you back on, and we can dive into the founding team relationship of a technical founder and a nontechnical, is always such a, it sounds almost like a pejorative, but in that you’re not purely technical as a founder. It’s such an interesting mix and finding that match, it’s kind of hilarious. I’m sure when we look back on it, it’s always like chapter one of every book where you’re like, here is Craig.

And then he was sitting in a coffee shop in San Francisco.

It was a pub in San Francisco instead. I said, it super fast. The story of Cyvatar is just, the founding story is an incredible one because there were so many factors that might not have led to it happening. I lost my father a month before RSA in San Francisco. I nearly didn’t go. I was very tired at the end of a long week, and I nearly didn’t grab a beer with Corey. All those things just capitulated. And I eventually did. And the rest is history. Corey would say it was the universe.

I’m English, so I’d say it was luck, but whichever one it was worked out in the end, and like I say, the rest is history. But yeah, there’s a good story for a book there one day.

Yeah. And it’s hilarious that when you look back on it, you realize how many of those opportune moments that really, truly like I said, it’s luck of occurrence and somebody else as well. I literally just went into an Apple event and I happened to be sitting next to somebody. And next thing, they were backing my start up that I had never thought I was going to build four months later. It’s like just by the happenstance of sitting in a seat, never know what can occur. But it’s much more than the luck of the moments.

It’s the gumption and the choice of the team to put the time and work into it. So it’s pretty amazing see it come together. Good stuff. So, Craig, if people want to reach out to you and get connected, what’s the best way to do that?

I love the social media. I’m all over it, Eric. So hit me up on LinkedIn. I’m on Twitter or obviously Cyvatar.ai for Cyvatar stuff, but I’m pretty easy to find online, so feel free to reach out.

Excellent. Well, thank you very much, Craig. It’s been a real pleasure. And there you go, folks. The links will be down in the show notes and such. And yeah, this was great. And sure enough, just like I said, history always tells you that if I say I’m going to have technical problems, we had technical problems. But we got through it. And this was a really great conversation. Thank you very much.

Daniel Cooper spent the best part of two decades reviving and reinventing businesses across the globe, one line of code at a time. He believes that the future of work is both human and machine working together to free employees from boring and manual responsibilities.

Our very fun conversation dives into both how the human and technology aspects of business operations can be improved, how to design for growth, and it’s also just a great discussion that you will thorooughly enjoy.

Check out Daniel on LinkedIn here: https://www.linkedin.com/in/daniel-cooper-03422a42

Check out Lolly.co here: https://lolly.co 

Transcript powered by Happy Scribe

Welcome to the show. My name is Eric Wright. I’m your host for the DiscoPosse Podcast.

And in this particular episode, which is a great conversation with Daniel Cooper.

Daniel is the founder of Lolly.Co. And they are solving problems that you have. You may not even realize that you’re sort of in the throes of facing around business automation and process automation, and they solve very human problems and very technical problems and merge them together. Super cool The Lightning Fast Path to Productivity and Automation in Business.

In fact, actually, Daniel is the author of a book called Upgrade. Which the tagline is, The Lightning Fast Path to Productivity and Automation in Business.

But more than anything, Daniel’s just a fantastic human. I really had a great time in this conversation.

In the meantime, in order to make sure that you want to talk about ultimate protection, ultimate preparation for your business, got to give a shout out to my sponsors, which include the amazing, amazing folks over at Veeam Software. And I say this because they got you covered. Whether it’s everything you need for your data prediction needs in the Cloud, On Premises, virtualized workloads, bare metal workloads, Cloud-Native workloads.

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They got a really cool campaign going around. We got reinvent coming up, lots of cool stuff. So go check it out, vee.am/DiscoPosse. Oh, right on. Speaking of protection, don’t just protect your data at rest and data in flight.

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And ultimately, as you think about places where you need to protect your information, we’re continuously facing the onslaught of digital identity theft and lots of stuff that’s threatening to your livelihood and your personal information. So let’s keep it at bay and go to tryexpressvpn.com./DiscoPosse.

It gives you a little bit of a taste. You get a bonus, actually. You get a free month I think or something like that. But anyways, they’ll hook you up, go do it.

Oh, right. And diabolical coffee. I love diabolical. That’s even hard to say. I love it. I should have come up with an easier name to say diabolicalcoffee.com. There. I said it.

All right. This is Daniel Cooper. Enjoy.

This is Daniel Cooper from Lolly Co and you’re listening to the DiscoPosse Podcast.

It always sounds so much nicer with the Cambridge tones to the. I need to get you to voice over all my intros from now on, Daniel.

So thank you very much, Daniel. I’m excited because this is near and dear to me. It’s stuff that I work with both in my direct day to day work, and I do start up advisory and I help a lot of folks out. And I’ve been a long time fan of automating my day away whenever possible so that I could get to stuff as meaningful, really kind of push away the Monday and stuff and especially in the area that you do, which is a lot of like you automate a lot of things and you help to guide folks through that journey.

You are founder, you’re an author. You are prolific in your content creation and your activities. So for folks that are brand new to you, Daniel, if you want to give a quick introduction, a bio, we’ll talk about Lolly Co and we’ll talk about the book because I’m excited. You’ve got the book that’s coming out it’ll be, as the time this launches will be almost exactly the time. So we’ll have links, of course, to Upgrade, which is going to be fantastic. I’m looking forward to being clicking the buy button the moment it’s published.

Excellent. Well, welcome one and all again to the DiscoPosse Podcast. I’m very flattered, actually, that I can be here talking to everyone today. It’s fantastic. So I’m the founder of Lolly Co. We are BPA or a business process automation company. It’s a really boring term. I didn’t come up with it. Some really boring person, a big consultancy firm probably came up with it. But what we really do day in, day out is two things. We help companies understand their business processes and the holes, the air gaps, the inefficiencies.

We help them recraft those in a meaningful way where everybody is on board. And then what we do beyond that is actually then look to automate away the really boring, mundane day to day stuff that no one really likes to do. So I don’t think I could be more succinct than that. But as you said, I do have a book coming out, which is exciting. It feels like I’ve been doing it forever.

It’s always good when the podcast always forgets to turn off his ringer. There you go. I apologize for the background noise there kids.

Yeah. What you don’t know is I just rang Eric there just to throw him off. Okay, cool. So as I was saying, what was I saying? Oh, the book. Oh, yeah. Ironic thing. It’s taking me longer to edit the book than it did to write it. Because you get this, you finished it. We’re done it’s all done. And then you have a quick realization. You should edit it because you start to think what was at the beginning of the book and was it the same tone at the end and you start to worry.

Okay, I’ll do an edit and then it gets left to the bottom of the path. So the edit process seems to be much longer. So there is the book, of course, and you will hear me and see me on other wonderful podcasts. Not as wonderful as this one, but there are others. So that is a very quick overview.

I can speak from experience, even in doing middle sort of length books and short form, like 25 to 40 page publishing myself. Good golly. It is humbling. How much, like you think, I had one book that I did. It was about 55 pages, and I rage wrote it. I literally just spent a weekend and I just hammered out 55 pages of content. And then I spent, as you said, three weeks paring it down and overthinking every word and finding the right ways to fit it altogether. And anybody that tells you that they say, everybody says you’ve got a book in you.

Most people do. But what they can’t do is get it out of them. And what they most certainly can’t do is get it edited in a reasonable amount of time and get it to the market.

It’s funny how it works. I made the classic mistake from the very beginning, being an engineer where I said, well, how many words do I think I could write a day? And let’s be really conservative on that. And just back of an app, I can three months. I could do this whole thing in three months flat. And here we are, maybe 20 months later. But I’m looking forward to it. So I hope that the extra time that I’ve spent on it beyond the potentially naive three months that I first envisage it will mean it’s a better book. But we shall see.

The important thing of what the content of the book is in fact, that you’re pouring yourself into this and a lot of lived experience, a lot of work that you’ve done in the field solving this. It’s very certainly. This is why writing the book is often more difficult because you spend so much time and effort doing these things and getting people through this process to then go back and document it. Just like with anything with any systems process we have, documentation is the last bloody thing we do, right?

We kind of master the art of doing the thing and then you say, well, what if I had to hand this off to somebody? Then you go back and you sort of document the process. So it’s ironic I would say that in looking at business process automation and all of these things, it is really and truly humbling what happens when you have to write it down and actually assess what the process looks like to then automate it.

Yeah, absolutely. There’s a reason why when we’re going through education that they don’t just get used to do the thing and say, right, next thing. There’s a whole method to education, and it typically revolves around your reading, your writing. There’s a lot of repetition, and it’s the form of writing things down that seems to take quite easily with us. For most of us, I’d say, actually, when it comes to memory. I know for me I’ve always had a thing, for example. So I seem to do okay, because I have a really good way of memorizing stuff and studying, always had a method to study.

I suppose that’s where I am now, right where I have a method and a process for everything. But I think it’s a really important point, like you bring up. That is the funny thing. With all processes, as soon as you start writing down a standard operating procedure or if it’s going to be a flow chart for a process map and you start to expose it inefficiencies and things you hadn’t thought of and the what ifs and if else and all of the wonderful complications that is life.

I think this is the one when it comes to process automation, especially just like what even seems like a mundane thing. It’s so simple when you do it all the time, you very easily forget. Which is why automation is such an important part of being successful in just about anything, because it’s not just about the speed which you can do it with automation, people get confused. They think that that’s actually the outcome. The outcome is consistency of outcome and understanding the repeatability of the process. Right. I really find that the first thing people think of is that, well, I’m just going to make this thing go faster.

Well, you can make bad things go faster, too. It makes you stop and actually measure out because I used to do this all the time. I would like write server build documentation. So I’ve got to build servers and I would do probably two or three a week. So I get rather good at it. And I wrote the documentation, which I never read because I thought I knew better than the documentation. And then what would happen is because I’m human. The next time I would build it, I would have the document sitting on the table beside me.

I would skip five out of the 40 steps because I just thought I knew them already. And in the end, when we go and do a back check, you realize, like, oh, yeah, I forgot to do this thing. But then when I was forced to actually automate the process, it made me go, oh, good golly. I realized I was doing four steps that I didn’t even include in the documentation that I just get off the top of my head. And by forcing me to get rid of me, it really helps my growth of understanding that I am the bottleneck.

Yeah, absolutely. That’s the thing I think, especially with founders and leaders of companies. It isn’t just founders, and it isn’t just C-Suite. Everyone’s a mini founder, everyone’s a mini leader. Everyone has their own Kingdom within a company, no matter how small. But often you will be the bottleneck. And it can be a real problem. Absolutely.

And the thing is, companies that scale have repeatability and almost a quality assurance guarantee. So by that, what I mean is if you look at, let’s say pizza, right? Domino’s Pizza, Margherita pizza from Domino’s is the same no matter where you order it from. A Big Mac is a Big Mac. Whether you’re in Germany, the UK or Alabama, is exactly the same thing. And those companies are able to scale massively because of the processes involved. They can just chuck the book of someone and say, cool, here you go. Have at it.

And that’s the important part, right. But often we’re too busy being busy to bother process mapping or bother writing a standard operating procedure. But it slows us down. And your exact example is a really good one, because especially if you’re building a server, there’s a lot of complexity there. You have to install the OS. You have to install loads of stuff on top of it. You might require, I don’t know, it could be any type of stack, right? With a server, and it takes you to miss one thing and then to find the one thing, you have to do a load of console commands to find it, digging about trying to work out scratching your head.

And actually, you’ve just wasted a huge amount of time, probably twice as much in that one instance, if you’ve written the SOP and how many times have we all done that? I know I’ve done it. So it is important, but I think it can feel really frustrating when you are a super busy person. When you have to write these processes out, that it slows you down.

Yeah. The concept of slow down to speed up became something I didn’t learn until I was also, I’ll say intermediate or senior in my function at work. And maybe this is something I’d love to get your thoughts on, Daniel. Is is this a human behavior thing? Like how many 23 year olds really dig the idea of process automation versus they want to be the ones that are effectively carrying the baton. Like, is there a weird sense of ownership that changes as you evolve in your understanding of your impact at an office, at work or whatever?

Actually, it doesn’t really matter the age. I encounter these people quite a lot. What you’re seeing is resistance from people. Resistance is a funny emotion, and your brain can come of all types of reasons why you shouldn’t be doing something or why it shouldn’t be done this way. You hear it a lot with, we’ve always done it this way. It’s a really common one, and it can happen in any age that someone is. So you can find someone in mid 50s or someone early 20s. They’re all saying the same thing.

A lot of people find it difficult to let go, even if they’re completely stressed out and they’re completely overrun with work because that is their own mini system they don’t want to give it up because they feel that they’ll actually be almost a spare part and a spare wheel when it’s hard for people sometimes to actually let go of it and trust in their employer. They’re not just going to get automated and let go immediately. But this is a big misconception about what we do.

People presume the way they take their jobs. So it’s a really important part of what we do that we have to reassure people saying, look, we just want to take away the boring stuff so you can do more of the stuff you actually want to do, right? Do you really want to be typing that into a spreadsheet every single day? That’s quite boring, but it’s very common. It’s the short answer.

And this is, we’ll always have jobs because we’ll always have humans, right. In this process, it’s a strange dichotomy of the sense of control. The belief that by doing it by hand, that by touching the process, by being involved in it, that you are controlling it. But in fact, it’s the reverse.

Yeah. And humans are funny with this because we find it very difficult to project forwards or really backwards in time and understand the concept of change. So we’re very good at living in the present. Something for us to be very good at. A good example of this is, I don’t know if you have kids, but whenever my wife was pregnant, it seemed like it was a million miles away when she was going to have the baby and you turn around the baby is due next week, and then you have a mad panic trying to get all your stuff done really quick.

But it’s the same thing when it comes to trying to look at projecting time and saying, ‘Where am I going to be in the future, and what would technology be, and what’s going to happen? And you get really worried about being replaced. There is a lot of talk about people being replaced by technologies and people no longer having roles. But this isn’t the first time we’ve seen this. This has happened number of times in history. Have you ever heard of the Luddites? There’s a term.

Yes. I love this term. For folks that are fresh to this, if you want to walk through the story of it as well. It’s important.

Yeah. So we use Luddite, as I suppose, like a negative term now when we say to people there.

Yeah, it’s a bit of a pejorative. It’s okay, though. I call myself a Luddite, too, so I figure I’m okay to say it.

Exactly. I do this all the time. You Luddites. But no, I don’t, really. But the point with the Luddites. There was a point in history where mills and especially wool and weaving, was like a big industry in the UK, throughout the north, in the middle of the country. And what ended up happening and farming as well as part of this Luddite rising. And what happened was they started to introduce machinery that would allow them to mass produce and people started. Some people started getting laid off and people’s hours and people became very worried. But bearing in mind at this point that type of employment would see people working for twelve or 14 hours a day and getting paid terrible wages and sleeping in awful conditions.

I want to put that in there for a prerequisite for this whole thing and what happened? They think he may actually have been a fantasy character called General, I think it was. I want to say Luddite, but I don’t know. Something along the lines. Anyway, General Luddite was his name and there was a whole mass uprising where they were burning factories and there were riots and in the end, they had to get the army involved and quell the whole uprising and it was really quite serious and it was causing mass disruption in the entirety of the country.

The ironic thing to the story is that when you turn around and look at two or three years later, there are more jobs than originally getting put away because they then needed people to actually be at the docks, loading the chips. They needed people in these factories actually working with these machines, bringing the wool in, bringing the textiles out. So actually it was very, very successful and led a whole other jobs you wouldn’t expect to see farm hands, 30 farm hands and a farm now would be extremely rare.

I would imagine that the US is just like the UK, where you might have a family who have a farm and they may have acres and acres and acres of land, but they have machines now that are handling this. But other jobs come up. The invisible hand of the economy comes in and creates new roles for us. Who would have thought that Eric Wright would be making and creating servers and worrying about has he or has he not installed Apache configurations correctly. Right?

That’s not something we worry about at the time. We were worried that the Wright family were being replaced by a weaving mill. So I would say to people who are worried about that type of thing, it’s not an instant thing. We’re not just going to suddenly be replaced tomorrow. And at the same time, new jobs will emerge.

So I shouldn’t have been smashing that loom out in my backyard then yesterday. It was probably a poor, poor choice. The trope, the sort of fear holds much stronger because it’s an emotional sense of some kind of perceived or potential loss. The idea that you’re automating your job away, it’s very difficult for people to see the potential for growth more than the potential for loss. And in fact, if you look at even the research work done by Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky famously in the book Thinking, Fast and Slow, it’s much easier to sell something if it’s based on averting loss than it is in providing gain.

Even if the gain was significantly greater, we, as humans were attached to the removal of risk more so then and then this is what happens that if I say I’m going to automate looming, whatever it is server building and you’re going to get a better job, there’s no understanding of it like there’s no perception of the real gain. And so we grasp onto this old thing. Meanwhile, as you said, what happens? The factories now have higher throughput as a result of that, that means they need more people on the line, more people in the office.

They’re actually now training people to be maintenance people for the new robots, et cetera. And it ultimately burns and spawns this brand new whole ecosystem that had never existed because all these people were doing 12 to 15 hours days.

That’s right.

In physical labor.

Yeah. Can we say now that our working lives on average are better than they were in the Victorian times? 100%. Right. We’re no longer living in, there’s no concept something called a workhouse.

That’s right.

That no longer exists. And luckily, our ten year olds don’t have to go and work in the factory and risk losing fingers because this type of work is no longer required and we don’t have to be so forceful on manual labor. So it’s a really important point, I think, though, really, what we all should be concentrating on like you say is how can we actually now move forward and move on to things that we prefer to do and then the things that are more creative?

The great thing about humans is we’re great generalists.

Right.

We might not be excellent or something. For instance, I might be able to play chess. I am unlikely to beat Deep Blue at chess. That’s just not going to happen. But the thing about it is I could teach someone else and they can pick up very quickly now to teach a brand new piece of machine learning how to play chess is actually really hard. As you know, we’ve got to get huge volumes of data to do this.

We’re great being generals was machine learning AI is terrible at being general. Absolutely awful. It just takes so much data and so much learning. Obviously, they are made to be more precise when they do this. But you can’t just take a machine that is capable of beating me in Super Mario Brothers and have it then instantly starts in translations from French to Germany. It just won’t work. It’s impossible. So that’s the advantage that we have. We’re able to move much quicker. So I think that there are many things that machines won’t get to for a very, very long time.

It brings up a really good point and we have been lucky enough to have a lot of folks in this area of both AI and as they call AGI. So artificial intelligence, which is generally viewed as like what we call narrow AI, where it’s very specific in that it’s task, like you said, even Tesla’s self driving, computing and the LiDAR and all that work. It could do all this fantastic stuff, but it wouldn’t be able to tell you what song to put on the radio next. There’s no understanding of that capability, and I’m pretty glad that it doesn’t.

I want it to be particularly good at the driving bit. I’ll put in another system to deal with my music textures that I want for my ride. And then there’s AGI, which is this when everybody says artificial general intelligence and robots replacing us immediately. The cover of the video from Irobot comes into your mind, and you think of some machine that’s going to eventually gun you down in the street.

Yeah.

But the use of individual specific tools that are very targeted that each in and of themselves can rid you of bottlenecks, or at least speed you to the next bottleneck. This is a fantastic time to be in the world of process automation, is it not?

Yeah, it is. We’re doing some great stuff in the entire industry when I say, not just us here at Lolly Co, but really, what’s happening with all of these very narrow focus piece of automation or AMI or machine learning is the equivalent of when the wheel was invented, did one specific thing, a wheel can’t do the washing up, it can only be a wheel. It can only do this one very specific thing. I’m certainly not claiming that the work we do is as important or as groundbreaking as inventing the wheel, certainly not.

But at the same time, I think the point stands that it is really narrow focused stuff. So the code that we write and the automation that we create can specifically do one thing, and it is absolutely determined in that direction and cannot escape the confines of that. It’s just too hard to do. I think when you look at, if we think about how we learn as children, it’s incredible when you see a two or three year old learning about animals and you could show them just images of a zebra on a screen and then show them a toy zebra, which is almost cartoon like, and they’ll instantly recognize it.

Even though it’s a completely different concept and that’s really clever. A machine would really struggle with that very much. So we just have a certain makeup in our minds, and I’m certainly not someone who, I don’t study the brain, so I can’t tell you the specifics ins and outs of it. But at the same time, I’m always amazed at the way children learn, and it’s very hard to replace that machine. But yes, there’s some really cool things happening in automation, and it’s a very exciting time.

On the subject of children’s learning, another thing is sort of relative comparisons that you don’t often put together. I have a two year old little girl. I’ve got four kids and my youngest is two, and she’s a blast because she says me the other day because she’s two and doesn’t have that many words yet that she puts together. And she says, quack quack tape. And I have no idea what she is talking about at this point. I’m like, Is it a cartoon? Is it a book?

Whatever she’s pointing up at a shell filled with 100 things and just quack, quack tape. It takes me a while to eventually, I keep moving my finger around until it points at a roll of tape, which I am like, Ah, tape, quack quack tape. And I look and this dark gray, ah duck tape. So she, in hearing, say duct tape, hears duck, quack quack and from that point forward. Right. It’s that associative capability. That’s a very human thing. And then as you now look again across a broad range of systems and tasks, that is also a thing that in the simplest possible form. A two year old can say tape I can look at, hey, I’m doing this stuff with prospecting that’s generating a spreadsheet, and I take the spreadsheet and I load it into the sales force.

And then the sales force, I’m exporting a report and that report then goes into some demand generation system. And I’m like, why didn’t we just avoid the route through sales force? When you start to look at the associate of work that happens to an object or to a process? This is where the beauty of humans in the automation and process mapping is where it’s like, critical, because if you just look at any single thing and said, here’s the thing to the left and the thing to the right. And here’s the thing I’m looking at.

You lose the totality of the system and the understanding of the human process. And in the end, you say, like, oh, it’s because my salesperson has an iPad and it only has this goofy mobile app, and that’s why we ship it over here. You’re like, oh. So we’ve been doing this thing manually for however long, just because my sales rep is in Iowa, and he only has an iPad.

Yeah, this is it. This is exactly why process mapping and working our way through these processes to find inefficiencies at some point, because we are generalists. Because each of those steps is going to kind of work, it’s going to get to the end result. But none of us have purely focused on each individual step, making sure it’s absolutely perfect. So this is the flaw that we have as humans being such generalist, is that they have the saying “taf” is an American saying or just parts in UK, “jack of all trades, master of none”.

Right.

That’s a great example of what we do at work every single day. No offense to anyone who’s been in their career for 40 or 50 years and they say, ‘Actually, I think you’re rather, I am the master of my trade.” But what I mean by it is the inefficiencies in what we do when we’re completing tasks, we know where the inputs are. We know what the outputs are. We don’t really ask many questions between that. We ask ourselves, for instance, have I got enough input? And often then they have a whole conversation, whoever is passing this input to anyone.

And yeah, we’ve had a big conversation. You don’t even think to actually document that. So they have the expectation of what they need to pass you next time. So we’d have to waste a whole conversation about it and then the output, we don’t really even ask the person passing output to, is that enough? We’re just happy to have further conversations. Their is a whole waste here going on. And you’d be amazed, some of the stuff I’ve seen. I’ve seen people in a financial firm have an invoice paid the lady from accounts receivable would then actually enter it into a spreadsheet.

She would then print it off or walk upstairs to a lady in another department and put it on her desk. Who would then take that and make a summary and email to send to the management every day. Why?

And they’d have a nice conversation while they were doing it. Great.

But this is the thing about being generalist is that business founders, C-Suite level, will be obsessed with finding the inefficiencies and shaving things off as they should be. Right. Because it’s money we’re just burning. We can just take money and set it on fire. But it has much better, much more fun rather than doing it this way. But people who are just generous day and day out. We don’t really think about these things all too much because, well, that’s how we’ve always done things, isn’t it?

And that’s the normalization deviance in jobs that none of us really pick up on for a very long time. Unless you’re a process nerd like me.

Yeah, I’ve often been the one, I used to always get in trouble because I’d be like so I got a quick question, why do we do it this way? And at one point, when I was young, I ended up working in a union shop, and I’m anti union for myself because I was never going to work in a mine or somewhere where my safety was at risk and the union was the only thing to save me from it. But it was funny that I would sort of think to myself, what if I could do this faster so that I could basically have 45 minutes of each hour free?

I only need to produce 150 parts. If I keep at this pace and cadence, then I can go and I can actually, what if I turn it to the right? And I started to always think about these things and someone would come along and go, okay, Eric, this is cute. But just do what you’re supposed to do. No more, no less.

In every part of our job process, especially when we are. There are so many people that are part of a machine. It’s a handoff of processes. There are people like you said, that person at one desk who is receiving a thing, typing into a spreadsheet, printing it out. They may not care as much, so they just don’t have the need to put attention to what if I just emailed this? What if I just scanned it and emailed it upstairs instead of trotting about up the elevator? They’re just thinking I’ve been told I need to do this every day and I’m going to do it.

Yes. Exactly. Right.

And I think a lot of time as well. If when people do have those ideas, they will try to report that to middle management and middle management would just say, ‘Get back to your job’, because the middle management is just too busy to deal with it. They are all so too busy. But this is the great irony. Middle management is so busy because they’ve got no processes either, and they’re just drowning in work. They’ve got no time to be dealing with this renegade who wants to potentially turn their machines at a 30 degree angle just to see if it’s going to be slightly better.

And I think that is an inherent problem. So when you’re talking about doing improving processes, we push for always, there’s a whole workshop around it. And we pull people into a whole workshop for days on end. It sounds terrific and really boring. We try not to make it that way because often people need permission from the very top to say, We’re going to change this. We’re changing the processes. We want you involved, which is another important point. You can’t just change the processes. It’s like doing a kidney transplant checking the donor is a match.

Bad idea. We’ll have employees with pitchforks and flaming torches outside the office the next day. So it’s important you get the match there and that they are willing to do it. But it’s important that everyone is involved. And it’s incredible, actually, where you find what I refer to as normalization deviance between a senior doing their role and a junior as well. There’s huge differences in the way they do things that people often don’t realize.

Now when it comes to your ideal, the person that comes to you or that should come to you and say, I need Lolly Co. What’s sort of an ideal persona and an organization that’s probably at the right stage where they need to come and get some help?

Sure. So I can tell you who we can’t help. First of all, we can’t help small startups people just start the business. And the reason for that is not we don’t want to. I’d have to help everyone. But the reason is because when you haven’t actually discovered what your process would possibly even look like, it’s actually just mental kind of a waste of time. You’re just doing it for fun. And that’s just a waste of your time. But also when companies get too big, actually, I think then the layers get so deep that if it’s not already inbuilt by then, I’m not sure there’s any way to really help them, because normalization deviances are so set in that it’s going to take some severe actions to deal with that.

So we deal with companies who are hitting a weird glass ceiling. So they’ve got a point and they’re probably doing a few million dollars, and every day they’re going to work and they’re just grinding and grinding and grinding and they’ve got no time to do anything else but from that. And then if their wife or husband says to them, hey, let’s go on a holiday. No way. There’s no time for that. And we need to hire some more people, but no time to interview people. So we’re just going to start hiring, just hire some people.

Let’s not worry about it, we’ll sort that out later, which is a horrific mistake. And this is the problem and they cannot seem to get escape velocity to the next stage, the next stage being probably beyond $10 million at this point. Those are the people that we help where it just feels so stressful just in their day to day running, and we help them completely break it all down. See the wood for the trees, because in their brain, it’s just so fuzzy. Right.

They’ve got all these processes they know they should be doing feels very foggy. They’re not quite sure how things should work. They probably got a couple of people working there. If they left, they would be in huge trouble.

Yes. And thank you as well for sort of setting the floor and the ceiling as well on the ideal client, because we often get hung in this problem where people say, oh, this is great process automation. I’m starting up a brand new email list and I’m putting together a Shopify store, and I want to see about optimizing the process. You’re like, what’s your average sales? We’re doing about three or four sales a week.

Just do that work. Don’t worry.

Just keep going.

Just earn the money. They’re like that until it becomes a problem, then start dealing with it, right?

Yeah, it is.

So we can often get into the analysis, paralysis and process planning of. I personally, I love to dig into the conceptual optimization because I do it as a day to day gig. I work in systems all the time, and I’ve always looked for that, but at the same time, it’s hard to remember. Sometimes I don’t need to worry about the specific location of my water bottles because of the speed at which I can navigate behind the dining room table into the credenza to get them.

Okay. This is not the place I should be spending my optimization efforts. How about on the thing why I keep forgetting to pay the credit card bill.

Yeah.

There’s an optimization I can solve.

Yeah, I think it’s all about, as well, trying to work out the symptoms. You might have many symptoms. You might have a broken arm, but you might as well have a paper cut. But let’s not worry about the paper cut for now. It might be easy to solve, but really not worry about that. You have a broken arm. Let’s deal with that one first. So one of the very first things we do when we meet founders and C-Suite level is we just say to them, tell us where it hurts right now, the first thing comes to your mind, what’s the problem?

And they’ll tell you straight away because they know where the fires are and it’s really quite painful. So when we process workshop stuff, we won’t really cover every single thing. It’s impossible. We’ll map a huge amount of processes at first, but we prioritize pain over everything else. What’s the most painful stuff? What are the processes that we hate to do? And we all vote on them silently. Everyone votes anonymously. So there can be no politicized agenda to anything. And we solve those problems first. When we come to do all this, it’s really important, because often things will go overlooked.

But then when you dive into it. We had someone the other day and they’re a great company. They produce content en masse. So if you need content right on your website, you go to this company and they use Google Drive in the background for all of their stuff. Well, the problem is they write four and a half million words a month, 3000 articles. Have my calculator ready just to calculate this. And we worked out that every time they produce an article, they need to file in the right place.

Now it sounds really simple. You just drag and drop it to the right folder. How long can that take? Right?

They have to set all the permissions up and add the writer, and they have to add the client, and then they have to move it from what they said was a production folder to the client folder, go into the client folder, find the ID, move it into there. Then they have to remove the writer, bring out the editor, then add the client and we’ve gone through the stages. So how long does each one take? And then they said in total it’s at eleven minutes. Eleven minutes for 3000 times a month? Are you kidding me?

That’s an important piece, right? It is the scaling of the minutes turn into months. If you’re at any kind of scale.

And the staff and the employees are saying, it’s just kind of an annoying thing to do. And then we went through it. I said, ‘Guys, this is 450 hours a month’. What’s the minimum wage in the States? Or are you in the state of New York?

New Jersey. I think it’s $15 an hour somewhere in that area.

Wow. $6,750 a month. Is that right? Yeah.

A month, $6,750 a month. That’s a lot of money over the course of a year or two or three, and then it solves really simply, we’ll just dive into the API and we’ll just do it all automatically off the back of the client code. Job done. It seems insane when we turn around and say, well, look, actually, it’s costing $200,000 every three years. Why don’t we just spend whatever it is, 15, $20,000 to automate the entire thing? So they don’t have to look at anymore. For founders, they’re back flipping and, oh, my God, look at all this saving, and it’s right.

But it’s these types of details that we miss in our processes. So the company of any type of size, they’re going to be missing these things because they’re not looking at a granular level of processes. But also, we’re not even starting to say, how much time does this one task take here? It’s one small piece. And adding all those bits up, and it can be an absolute game changer.

The other thing that’s good, and that you’re approaching it via a workshop of everybody that’s involved in the process. It means that you can test because sometimes, not every optimization results in a positive result. Right?

They quite often we can believe we could say, oh, I’m going to shave eleven minutes off of this thing just to pull that minute duration example. But in the end, some things actually can be a negative result, or it ultimately can move to the next bottleneck. And it’s very interesting that if you don’t involve, like you said, everybody along the process flow, then the boss just says at the end of it, they’re going to get the support and say, excellent. I’ll have $200,000 off of my books in 18 months, and that’s all that they see.

And then the workers then ultimately, maybe they don’t actually free that time up. They spend it on other things. So you have to look and say, what do we do now with this time? Where do we apply? Do you actually get that time?

It’s a really good point. It’s a really good point. And it’s one that really people should focus on once they do save the time is where are they going to reapply this? Where they’re going to refocus it? My opinion is always back toward the customer. So how can we increase customer support? How can we make build those relationships in a better, more meaningful way with our clients and customers to make them really love what we do that’s only going to benefit everyone. What it shouldn’t be is more busy work.

That’s just a really bad move. But it can happen. Sure, in our workshops that in some processes you don’t find, because just to be clear, there’s two types of time that are involved when we’re looking at a process. And one is the individual steps. How long these take, this is the completion time. But there’s also what we call the cycle time. And the cycle time really means from the very input to the output. What was the time? It might be that we have an action point where we have to email something to a client and we have to wait for it to be returned.

It might take two or three days for the client to return it. So suddenly your cycle time might be four days. So improving that can also be a really big benefit. But actually you don’t gain anything financial off the back of that. That’s quite obvious to begin with. It can actually improve things much later on down the line because it helps your sales cycle, and it also helps your reputation and your net promoter scoring all this wonderful stuff which leads to further sales. But it’s a really important point that you bring up.

Sometimes we just make automated things for the sake of automating them because, oh, isn’t it cool that it now works like this and there was actually no real benefit. And it’s something that concerned us for a long time when we were doing these workshops. So we have to try and focus all of our internal staff here at Lolly Co into making those savings for a client, because really, it could end up being a bit of a pointless and fruitless endeavor.

So we have to on our side, do what we call the Lolly Co promise to our clients that if we do a process workshop for them and they pay whatever money is, let’s just say $10,000 that we make a ten X return on that for them via a planned automation. And if we don’t find the ten X in saving, then the whole thing is free. And if it’s free, then the consultants don’t. Their bonuses get affected. Right.

So suddenly, everyone’s really quite keen to make sure the client finds the savings, which is the best way to go.

Yeah. As you said, it’s an interesting thing of even when we look at the often savings is really revenue in disguise. Right.

So we looked at that example where we just, $6,750 a month that we’re saving and any good CFO could probably find a way to hide that in a good tax return. Right.

Like they could get rid of that and not really have it be meaningful. But what they couldn’t do by that means is take that 450 hours of labor and that’s a full time person, and I can put them. So basically, I’ve literally got ten weeks of human labor at an average startup work week. Let’s say 45 hours. I could start another startup with that person. Right. Like I could put them onto another task. I could have them doing other things. It is not simply of like free time do more things.

It’s do more effective things, which ultimately are revenue affecting, that’s the real goal of this. It’s not just to cut down the number of minutes I’m spending on this stuff and incrementally shave off dollars. It’s very much about doing meaningful things with the time and money that you’re getting back because of this process.

Yeah, absolutely. Otherwise it ends up like a private equity firm. Private equity firms have an awful reputation with business owners. It’s going to come in and they’re going to rip my business apart. They’re going to get rid of everybody and then we’re all going to hate them. The funny thing about it is that when you read between the lines of a joke, there’s some truth in there and not being nasty to anyone who has a private equity firm, but that’s their job right? Is to buy companies, repackage and sell them. And often that’s really finding cost saving measures.

And that’s not what we’re about. We’re not about. Whilst we want to find you the cost saving measures and improve your bottom line, the key to it is that I fundamentally believe that pushing all of this new time towards client and customer contact, you’re going to make so much more money and that’s the absolute secret to it. I always say, when was the last time, have you phoned your bank recently, Eric?

Mistakenly, I was stuck having to do it. It was a horrifying experience. Thanks for the PTSD.

That’s all right. So it’ll be the same reason in the UK. Imagine where dial one for this, two for this. It’s ridiculous and you can’t actually speak to someone and it’s all robotic. It’s not machine learning. It’s just recorded voices and horrible stuff and they’re always asking you in three words, describe what your problem is and you find yourself just shouting down the phone trying to describe it. But my example is, wouldn’t it be nice to phone the bank and speak to a human or even have a bank manager? Imagine that.

They don’t exist in the UK. I think it used to be that way. You’d have a local bank manager, whoever it was Sarah, Bob, Dave, whatever. And you could speak to that person and they would know you, your business, know your wife’s name, your husband’s name and you could have an actual relationship. And their purpose was to help you and win more business for the bank by having that relationship. And that’s just gone now. And I always question why, what is everyone doing at the bank?

I’m sure they’re all shuffling money in the background and dipping in and out of the market in the futures. And who knows what. But the point of it is the retail area of banking is just useless now and we don’t want our businesses to go that way. We should be talking to clients more. I know that my business is built that way.

Now, it’s actually a very apropos mention you had about the retail banking sector. I’ve noticed a sudden thing recently at my particular bank. Of course, let’s take the last 18 months with COVID. That kind of blew out anybody’s plans for how to do in person experiences. Well, for a while. But even at that, what I found was that when I go to the branch that actually, at least in the United States now, they’re open seven days a week. But let’s say, 10, 12 years ago, when ATMs became a thing or ABM, depending on what you call them.

The goal was to ultimately replace a teller with a machine like that was to move people over, and they would actually make it punitive to use the human. They would charge you a fee to go to the in branch and do a deposit. And they started by walking people to the machine and doing it at the machine, and it was seen punishing and punitive. And then we all thought as well. Well, that means that they’re going to close the branch, they’re going to get rid of people, whatever. And they did. They really and truly did do that for a long time.

But now on the other side of this, they’ve realized they’re now competing with digital, non brick banks, and they’re increasing the human experience again. But for non optimal stuff where you have to sign forms, deal with things that are longer term and sit down for loan applications. And they’re I think, rediscovering that there are very human processes that need to occur, and they can now do it because that person isn’t going sign sign, stamp stamp to put $100 into an account.

They just slide it into the machine and they say, great. Daniel, what about your mortgage? Right. What are the options you’ve got available? And they can now actually embrace very human experiences that are needed to give back. And then they realize the benefits of the automation at the same time.

Yeah, absolutely. I think the capitalism is great in that often what people would perceive as their strength is actually their competitor, seeing as their weakness, and they can pick up on it very quickly. And that’s certainly been the case with retail banking, where suddenly these new online banks have emerged where they don’t have any physical locations, so they don’t have the overheads. So they can accelerate faster and at the same time they can just out maneuver them every single turn. And it’s of no surprise. And also being a technology guy, I’m sure that you and I can. If we start thinking about what’s happening in the back room of the servers and the machines that banks have got, imagine the technical debt that they’ve got there, the horrors of that.

A lot of people sweating and nodding along right now.

Yeah. God, I would hate that. I know obviously there are, I’m trying to think. I don’t know why my mind’s gone blank. What’s the program language invented by the US Navy in the 60s? That a lot of the medical and banking industry is still using.

1 second.

People just screaming into their phones.

Yeah, apologies to my mechanical keyboard. 1 second. Bear with me. This doesn’t normally happen on live show.

What I enjoy about this is just this experience, right? That when you want to think about the stuff that makes all this occur, it’s still incredible. The technical debt. At this point, it’s like credit default swaps on technical debt. We’ve got debt upon debt and selling insurance on the debt.

The lady’s name who came at the language is Grace Hopper. And it’s COBOL.

Yes. Okay. Yeah.

They’ve got old school tape machines running away in the background because they can’t pull it off of this because it’s so vital to the infrastructure, they’d have to turn everything off at some point and they’re terrified. I mean, imagine trying to explain to the head of HSBC. Okay. So we need to move away from COBOL. And they said, what’s COBOL? I’ll start from the beginning. This is the problem because as IT people, I don’t know about you. But if everyone’s ever got a printer problem, I’m the first one people ring.

And I just say to them, listen. I don’t know what’s wrong with your printer.

When I worked at an insurance company in tech, I would get people like, oh, hey, got a quick question for you. So I got this, like, weird tooth problem. I can’t help you. Like, is it covered? Can I get my kids braces counted as a bunch of filling visits? I can’t help you with that. I can tell you that what the system runs on and how many servers there are and what data center they’re in.

You got a feel for these engineers at these banks who are dealing with this. But this is what allows all the new banks to outmaneuver them. You get to start from a clean slate. You can hire a load of people who are ex banking engineers and developers and say, what would you do if there was a clean slate and have all its horrific technical debt and then give you all these wonderful ideas and spill all this information for they’ll be desperate to tell people wherever they were.

Not just HSBC. Should be mean about HSBC. It could be any company. But the point of it is that they’re excited and it’s new and they can outmaneuver everyone very quickly. I think they’ve done a really good job. We use a very modern online bank and we went to them for two reasons. One because they just make it really easy. If you want to open a new account, there you go. Instantly done. Or do you want a new card? There’s a virtual one. We can send a new physical one.

I don’t need a physical one. No need. So I can have as many virtual ones as I want. But the great thing is that I had a really good API as well. We could look into the API of the traditional banks. That is a mission. They really don’t want to give it to you as well. And the documentation is awful. So for us, that was a real game changer. And it’s just nice there to be able to in app or on platform. But I asked them for help, and they’re there and you have got phone support if you need it.

And I need to ask for a million and one robots to get to someone. So it’s great. And it’s a really smart way of setting it up. It’s just a really good example of, I hate to use the term, but digital transformation in an industry where people are just replaced overnight, and I don’t think actually, the retail banks, they saw it coming. I thought they thought it was just for kids, and nobody have banking license. That’s what they used to say.

Yeah. And there’s an interesting as they go through the switch. It’s a painful period of resistance on both sides until eventually. And it’s like, sort of like the crypto thing, right. Everybody’s, like, all the traditional banking sector, like, no crypto. Crypto is naughty, naughty. And they get very angry about it and they’re fighting and they’re going to their government, and they’re sort of petitioning to get it done until all of a sudden, that very same bank suddenly offers a crypto option. And suddenly they’re like, we’re the first in the industry of the major banks to be able to do this.

And they’re very proud of it. And like, twelve months ago, I saw you lobbying in front of Congress to regulate the stuff, and now that you do it, you’re super proud of it. And you’re looking to rapidly advance without regulation. Like, you don’t need regulation. We got this. We’ve got to figured. As we see those newcomers come to the industry with first principles approaches and just saying like, yeah, I don’t have the legacy. I don’t have anything. I’m just going to come at it. I’m going to solve the specific problem, and then the big machines, they play some catch up.

It’s actually a beautiful sort of dance. You see it when it does come to fruition to the side, it’s a painful period of transition. But, we get there.

Crypto is a funny one because I think I speak to people about crypto. And I think a lot of people still in their 30s and 40s are still saying, is it going to be a big thing? I’m trying to convince my dad about crypto. Good luck.

It’s never going to work this Dogecoin, no. Bitcoin, no. No one’s going to bother with that. That’s silly. But the thing about it is, is that actually, I fundamentally believe we are so early in this whole journey with cryptocurrency. And for those who aren’t really listening, the equivalent here is in the 90s or the late 90s, early noughties, if you could, noughties is such a British term. Apologies.

It’s actually perfect because we don’t have a term for it.

It’s awful. But anyway, in the early noughties, imagine if you got it better than Amazon. The money you’d have to put all your money into it. But the difference here with cryptocurrencies isn’t you’re buying the next Amazon. You’re not buying the next Tesla. What you’re buying is a protocol. So if you don’t know what protocol is http or https, this is an Internet protocol. You couldn’t have invested into that if you don’t wanted to. It was designed to be semi decentralized. You just can’t invest into that.

But the thing about it is, is here with this new protocol, you can. People are going to build some incredible and they are already building some incredible things on top of the Ethereum network. And I think that it is going to absolutely explode. I will bet my house on it. I’m not confident that we are seeing what will be the next massive, massive technological change that any of us have ever seen. I think it is the equivalent of it is bigger than the Internet.

The funny thing is, I’ll say the Luddites of the crypto world, right? People are saying like, no, don’t get involved in it. It’s volatile. And I’ll say just like any investing, especially that’s very speculative. You have to basically bet money you don’t want that you could lose. And so as a joke, when I was going to, I go to Las Vegas, usually for a lot of conferences. And every time I go, I’m going to take a little bit of money. And I’m going to just say that I can afford to lose this money.

And I’ll put it in some slot machines and just have some fun while I’m there for a few days and it goes up and down and I win. Sometimes I lose most of the time. I’m pretty sure I don’t average it out because I don’t want to know. But I didn’t go to one event, and I thought to myself, I had $400 a year Mark to throw away. Let me buy $400 in Bitcoin. And that at this point is worth about $6,000 because I said, why not?

I’ve literally done no other major investing in it. But it moved around and it went down to $100, then up to $1000, then down to $800. And everybody keeps saying, this is it. This is the peak or this is we’re heading to zero. And in the end, it is speculative. It is wild but.

This isn’t the thing we’re actually doing. The thing we’re doing is we’re setting the protocol for the future. It’s just that we’re attaching a value to it in the interim.

Yeah. I mean, look, I could be wrong. It’s heavily documented on this podcast, so I hope I’m not. There are too many people now who are contributing to the networks. I think for it to go backwards, I think it has passed a point of no return. That is for sure. But also when we look at how early we are on this. How hard is it at a moment to go into a local burger joint and buy a burger with Bitcoin? It’s not easy. It’s pretty hard, actually. How hard is it for you to transfer me, I don’t know, .1 of a Bitcoin right now?

Some people say, oh, it’s quite easy. Is it, though? Let’s be honest. Is it as easy as doing it in a bank account? No, it’s not. So I think once we hit that point and there’s mass adoption, I don’t think there’s much escaping it actually. It will just take over. And people are already now starting to countries where they’re seeing high inflation and runaway numbers are starting to switch to Bitcoin. Yet the actual take up we’re seeing for the amount of adults in the Western world who are using it is very low. We’re talking single digit percentile.

Right.

Yeah. How many people in the US use the US dollar? Everybody.

That’s right. Well, this is the funny thing as a North American. So I’m Canadian living in the United States, and I’m the first to point out the real arrogance that we have as North Americans and talking about the world meaning North America. Right.

And we talk about interact systems and all these different systems of transfer. And meanwhile, while we weren’t looking 30 years ago or 20 years ago, we’re fighting over trying to get some kind of in person system of something or other. There is a system called M-PESA. And this was a way that people in nations, it was predominantly in African nations, where they could literally through a text, could just say, here’s my M-PESA account, and they could transfer money. And you could buy a burner phone because they don’t have banks.

So there was this world of the unbanked, as they called them. And they, suddenly, all of these vendors in people who are in India and Pakistan and regions where they just didn’t have access to banks. They suddenly could sell some kind of thing to somebody through a mobile transaction without a bank. And it was amazing that this was broadly accepted and like hundreds of thousands, potentially to millions of users of the system. And meanwhile, in North America, they’re like, we’ll be the first to market with this something.

And you’re like, I think they’ve solved that problem over here.

Yeah. It’s incredible, isn’t it? It’s all about the belief in the currency. Right.

We all stop believing that the US dollar is worth anything. Suddenly it’s in big trouble. And that goes for any currency. But it’s quite interesting that the movements we’re seeing in cryptocurrency and the adoption of Bitcoin across many different countries. And it’s interesting to see as well now. I think if you’d have looked back five, seven years ago, if China had outlawed Bitcoin mining, I think the likelihood then is that it would have ended the experiment. But now they’ve ended Bitcoin mining and everything seems to be okay, which is interesting. Right.

And now we’re seeing networks like Ethereum instead of moving to go from proof of work to proof of stake, which is a massive change. And it’s a really interesting point. And I think that we are on the cusp of some serious things happening here. And we are not that far away from seeing ease of access to the currencies. If you want to call them currencies. And ease of use for everyone, technology wise. Then leading something very big happening. It’s close, I feel, but we shall see.

Well, I’ll be the one to circle back on what we came here for. Right.

Is that interacting with these systems of record and systems of money and systems of transfer, there is no physical option. You are systemized or you are not participating. Right. And it talks about the strength and the need of optimization and automation, because without it, you just simply can’t participate in this world in this new world.

That’s right. Exactly.

I mean for us, it was a question of do as a company. Do we want to have some holdings in cryptocurrencies? The answer was yes. Can I be bothered every single month to go and got to do all the buy the currency, by the theorem, we’re going to stake? I can’t be bothered. So instead we just automated it. One of the reasons why we have the API from our bank is that we can do that. So we have the API from the cryptocurrency brokerage, and then we have the same from our bank just automated.

So every month, two and a half percent of profits are just tucked away in cryptocurrency. And it’s enough of a small bet where if we’re wrong, it’s not going to kill us. Right. We could have said that was booze money that we just didn’t spend.

Yes. Effectively. It’s interest rate loss on a credit card, right?

Yeah. Never mind. But at the same time, if we’re right and it does as I believe, go possibly 100 fold from here, then we are very right. So it’s worth doing. But you’re right.

Yeah. It’s all about automating that process and how you can do that. So I think that for many, banking and finance is a really good area to look at. An assistant you can automate with persistence and processes. There’s a really good book that I believe is called Profit First, by Mike Michalowicz. Apologies to Mike if I said his second name. But it’s a good book, and it’s quite a good book for business owners in that he really pushes for paying yourself first and understanding what profit you want out of a company before then you start adding on Opex to operate your expenditure and staff, because often as you say, we’ll just find the staff to be busy. Right.

Like a tank full of gas, the gas will expand to fill the void, it’s the same thing with money and companies. You have to be really careful with it. But what was interesting about his point first is that when money hits your first account, it should be split automatically in other accounts, so that’s things like Opex, taxes, payroll, all these things. And for us, it was a pain to do, because every single transaction, multiple transactions, and then you have to be reconciliation inside of your accounting systems to optimize and automate the whole thing so much easier to deal with. Right.

And then you kind of have a bit of safety, the fact that’s happening. I think that’s a great example of the type of thing you can be doing and really just ties back to cryptocurrencies banking. That whole thing.

Yeah. It’s a beautiful world when you can focus on what humans must do and what humans do well.

And this is the potential for automation and optimization, because first you must automate the process, then you can optimize it, and it begins by documenting, understanding, and then effectively you begin to attach a value to it and not just a value in that process. But where you can just as we talked before, that $6,750 a month. It’s not just a value of $6,750 a month. It’s the 450 hours. Well, I could not get rid of a staff member, but I could put them on automating my crypto buys with my CFO, right?

Like we can then suddenly put them on almost a gig work. In fact, this is something that I’ve adopted now because I’m using a virtual assistant firm, but rather than just like, 40 hours a month or 60 hours a month virtual assistant, I have what’s called a pod. It’s a company called Level 9 virtual actually had Joe Rare, who’s the founder, on the podcast. And I just get 40 hours a month, and it’s just their project teams. And so it makes me go like, okay, what’s the thing that I can toss at them and it’d be about 15 hours of work, and they’re just functionally solving this problem for me.

And the more that I think about using that effectively, the more I think about new things I’m doing and mapping it to the way I can hand it off. And rather than me just knocking it out for 40 hours a month of doing busy work. It’s fundamentally changed the way that I think about what could it be doing at home instead of this task or whatever. And it changed me, as a result.

You have to document. You have to create the SOPs to send to them. Right?

Otherwise, they’re not going to know what they’re doing. But isn’t it interesting that when you’re working like this, of how much representation that is of the remote working industry and companies that struggle to move to remote, I absolutely fundamentally believe, is because they cannot write SOPs. They just don’t want to. And there’s a real lack of trust of employees. So if you can’t write an SOP, good luck being remote. And I think a lot of companies really struggled with it, and that’s why they’re trying to force people back to the office. Unsuccessfully, I might add.

And it was conversely, too, when someone said, like, oh, I’ve been a remote worker for well over a decade, and so it wasn’t shocking to me that I was remote. What was shocking was that my entire team was and they had an unfortunate belief that their productivity was measured by the number of meetings they had in a day. And all of a sudden I had a calendar that looked like a losing game of Tetris, and it just didn’t make sense to me. I’m like, this is the same teams that I was remote from before. They kept busy in the office, I guess this way.

But I was doing the thing that I was doing and interacting with them when needed. All of a sudden there was this unfortunate need to fill every hour, and so I’ve tossed them. I’m like, okay, wait till you have to get bloody productive work done. And you’ve got a meeting every other half hour.

Yeah.

There’s no productivity in that.

No, absolutely not. A lot of companies don’t measure this, and it’s all about utilization, which should be measured. Most companies, you can find a way to do this. It allows us here to have unlimited holidays. What holidays you want? I don’t care, as long as we don’t all take them on the same day. But the point of it is you can take whatever holiday you want because we have a utilization rate of target of 80%. So what it works out to is 6.4 hours a day on average, that you need to hit utilization above.

It doesn’t matter if you do it at 02:00 a.m. Or one in the afternoon. Doesn’t matter if actually, you can’t really be bothered on a Friday. So you might do on a Saturday. That’s not what’s important. The important is the output and the quality. And for us, that’s number one. And it’s worth looking at those types of KPIs that can indicate to accompany their performance and looking to leverage off of those details. Not just as you say. Do people look busy as a real middle management thing, right? Just look busy.

And a real culture of presence, which unfortunately, was the sense that that was productivity, that you were physically in the office for 9 hours a day and then commuting and the fact that you suddenly could be at home, enjoying your family, having breakfast with your family instead of having it on the subway. Just imagine how many amazingly happy people haven’t had to listen to mind the gap, please. Every day. It’s out of their vocabulary. Now it’s beautiful because they’ve got back time. And I tell you, it was speaking of get back time, I know.

If you got a few extra, just a few more minutes, Daniel, there’s one thing.

I’ve got lots of time I can happily talk to you for as long as you and I can bare it.

Perfect.

Till one of us passes out.

We’ve talked about sort of the ideal scale customer, large organizations. But you do mention in a lot of your work about sort of the side hustle, the individual creator in adopting some of these processes and policies. What’s the potential for an individual creator or whatever they are, an entrepreneur, a single person business to learn from what you’re doing, especially with what’s coming up in the book?

Sure. I think a really good example you gave earlier on was this VA company. What were they called?

Level 9 Virtual.

Level 9. It’s a really good example, because what it allows you to do is you can rely on Level 9 to do good hiring and find good people, smart people who are dedicated to going to get the work done, which means you no longer have to do that. So as long as you can write the SOPs and you can work out what you want to do, you can actually push up and pull down your staffing as and when you need it. But if you’re starting from a clean slate, although I’m saying, look, just get on with it and just do it.

Yeah, do that, of course, make the money. But then quickly you can start to realize, hang on a minute. There’s a system and there’s a processor that I can start to pull together and you can keep it really cheap. At first, you can start to use off the shelf automation tools like Zapier, which is one of everyone’s favorite tools. Or IFTTT to start to automate small things that are just going to make your life a lot easier and doing things on these lines just to get you started.

The key to it is, I believe, is if you can try and up your hourly fee, if that’s what you’re charging, or if you’re making red buttons, whatever it is, working out a way that you could be more productive doing the thing that earns you money and less of the admin, the better. Right.

But you can only do that and scale it by using more humans. You’re not going to be able to just automate everything. That’s impossible. It can’t be you and a load of robots, not going to happen. Which is a shame. That would be brilliant. Trust me.

Especially get those Boston Dynamics ones, they can do parkour. If they could do that and then file my taxes would be spectacular.

Yeah, exactly. I think you have to scale. And that is by hiring employees. And that is by getting stuff. But you can start with VAs and do it like that. But you need to reduce your admin quite severely. So a really good example of this is let’s say we had to hire recently and we were hiring for more consultants, basically. And I know that as soon as we put the ads out. It just goes bananas. We receive, through our context, we receive 650 applications for two positions. We use automation software for HR.

There’s a few different systems out there for HR that you can use for this, and you can set the whole thing up so you can use minimal input on it. It’s that type of thing that you need to do at first. Your time is just not sucks in one direction. When you’re just starting out because you have to keep the wolf from the door, you’ve got to pay the bills. It may be that this isn’t a side hustle. Actually, you’ve gone out and done this because the company working for let you go because they have financial difficulties, might be decided to go on your own anyway.

But finding more time, as I keep saying, to actually bring home the bacon is the absolute vital piece.

Yeah. And when we think about the algorithmic problem, on the other side of a lot of that work, there’s the pure selection process. We talk about this process called the optimal stopping problem. Right.

And that’s the average number of people that you would in person interview. But then you’ve got to first go through 650 CVs and figure out which one might be a fit. Then you sort of cut it down. By the time you get into it, you’re effectively going to hire the 7th person you meet because of the way optimal stopping works. But you’ve mostly done that because you’re so sick and bloody tired of the process because you’ve been peeling through 650 CVs trying to find differentiation. And that’s the reason why we fail at the hiring because we spent three weeks in preselection and then you have to get an offer out versus just like grab a person and sit down and have a chat with them and all of a sudden. Okay. They’re a good fit. Perfect.

I mean, the thing here is if anyone is now sponsored to build their business thinking, I need to hire my first employee. I can tell you that from my side, I will 100% hire the first 100 people in the company. Without exception. Hiring is the hardest thing you will do. It’s the hardest thing to get right. But you do need a process for it. It cannot just be, oh, well, I’ll just have a conversation with a person, and if I think they’re a good fit, they’re a good fit, and we’ll just hire them.

It cannot be that way because you cannot take the risk. If an employee leaves or any company, the average that you lose from that from having to train the next person, fit all the holes and all this other stuff is actually a year and a half worth of their actual wage. That’s a huge amount of money.

Wow.

And there’s a lot of knowledge that departs with that person. You can’t risk that. And also, if you hire the wrong person, they could potentially damage the business and your reputation. So it’s vital. So you have to set up a system for us. There are two interviews. There is a video pre interview that they submit to us, and there’s a psychometric test. And if you skip one of those points, we won’t hire you, and we purposely make it tricky. There are Hoops to jump through.

So.

If you don’t bother sending us the video at first, you try on another. We just went to it. If you talk to an interview late. I’m sorry. No.

And you have to put these boundaries in. You have to try and hire. You can take some shortcuts that we do with the HR automation. But what is really automating is, it’s like a drag and drop can ban board, right? You drag the thing across and it enables the person saying, hey, good news. You’re out through to the next stage, but you can’t shortcut looking at the CVs. It’s the boring bit, but you’ve got to do it.

Yeah. Especially now that’s the expectation that you can avoid the systems and yet still participate in them. That’s also a real tragic human behavioral problem where I don’t want to do the work that I don’t feel is meaningful. But I want the job on the other side of it. Like this may seem like an odd process that I’m going to ask you to do is like a psychometric test. People are like this really helps us just by a handful of questions really tells you how you approach a problem.

So then the in person interview is what I put you beside me at a consultants, at a client call. That’s the real thing you want to test. But you can’t test that unless you have very, there’s early up front, which is super easy to do.

Yeah. And also at the same time, from the other end of the spectrum is you’ve got someone who’s looking for a job. They really don’t want to work in your company. If they’re going to fail, they don’t want that. They don’t want to have that horrible feeling of you having to let them go or them failing at it. That would be absolutely crushing for them. So they want to find a position that suits them as much as you want to find someone who suits you. So there’s already a meeting of minds on this, but it is important that you put the effort and realize that there are just some things not that you can’t automate them.

I’m absolutely certain that we could scan the CVs for keywords and only pull those ones through, automatically invite them to interviews. But every CV is so different and so nuanced that I want to check it because it’s so important. It’s something that I think should not be automated. There’s a difference, right? I could do, but I won’t because it shouldn’t be automated. Yet moving money between bank accounts. I’ll automate that because it’s really binary. It’s true or it’s false. But when you look at the CV, it’s not as black and white as that.

It’s more nuanced. And there’s more of a gray area. You need to appreciate that, right? It might be that someone’s changed industries and they’ve got a massive amount of history and an adjacent interest to you and to us that will work perfectly for you yet the keyword you’re looking for, isn’t there. It could well be that. So it’s really important that that happens. And I think if there’s anything for a new business owner to take into account is be mindful of the things you do automate and the things that you choose not to do.

Often you hear this thing of do something. Just scaling something isn’t the key, right? Do what can’t be scaled. That’s really important. HR is a great example of that. So just be mindful about what you are trying to automate.

Yeah. And it’s funny, too. There’s so much nuance in the actual person behind the qualifications I’ve actually seen in my own organization plenty of times where people come in and they call it BDR, sort of like the, we call them the Dialing For Dollars kids, right. They get a huge set of qualified leads, ring them up, find out, get them a book a meeting. You compensated by how many meetings you get and such. And it’s almost in tech, it’s like help desk, in a way. That it seems like a mundane thing, but it’s actually critical to the business.

But I remembered when I got into tech the first time I was a shoe repairman. I was actually a cobbler, and I got into tech with no background of schooling, but was able to find somebody who said, let’s go through a test here. Let’s take a look at the system. And what would you do here? And I was studying. I was doing the work, but I didn’t have accreditation for it. And then I was able to get through to process. So we have these BDRs to come in.

And four of them I know directly, have now founded companies that are at, each of them are at series B, so it wasn’t even like they just winged it and started a Shopify store. They legitimately have grown venture capital back companies, and we hired them to dial for dollars. And in doing so, we put them through the system very quickly. They accelerated us, and then we helped them to kind of move on to what was appropriate for them. But just by their resume, probably not a one of them would have been marked for anything special.

It’s kind of bizarre.

Yeah. It’s so important. Hiring is a really tricky one. This is why our very first stage is they sent us a video, so they sent us a loom.com video, first of all. Because for us, we can’t teach personality, but we can teach skills. This is really important, especially in consulting.

Yeah. So talk about irony that you’ve chosen Loom. And our Luddite mentions earlier on here that I’m at a point in my life now where every job I get, I won’t have sent my CV. And it was funny the last time we were going to hire for somebody, I was changing roles and the HR team were like, can you do us a favor? Can you send us your resume? Because it appears we don’t have it. I was like, yeah, I guess I actually never sent it because I met the person who was going to hire me.

And I got introduced to the founders, and I went through all these interviews and then we signed contracts. But there was no, like, go to the website and upload your Doc file. It was all done by referral. And most likely, I’m far enough in my career that that’s how every future job will be gotten. These looms of the world are fantastic because it can get you to that type of discovery. And then the CV is simply just backing the decision.

Yeah, absolutely. For us, I think, especially if we look at the engineers at our end, it doesn’t actually matter the education.

Sure. If you’ve got a PhD in machine learning, I mean, that’s probably going to get you somewhere. But at the same time, if you have almost no qualifications except you’re just a talented programmer, you’re still good. And this is the wonderful thing about living in this age that we live in now is that I think that you could learn anything you want on the Internet. Now, that’s what’s fantastic from whether or not you want to start automating stuff for your business or whether or not you want to learn, I don’t know, Russian or Chinese or the opposite way, if you want to learn English.

It’s all there for you to be able to do. You just got to go out there and start doing it. And for those people who would worry about the future of jobs and technology, and what would they do. Reskilling is unlimited for free on the Internet. YouTube is a wonderful place. khanacademy.com. Great, right? Not many adults our age, suppose would’ve come across Khan Academy. It’s basically a free platform to learn.

Fantastic platform.

Yeah. Like science and mathematics based stuff. I spent a long time on Khan Academy when I had a whole thing into machine learning a couple of years ago when I was trying to really work out as many of the intricacies as I could and came across the reality of, okay, you just need to be really good at math.

The barrier to entry is how much you like math, for sure. Right.

Because with machine learning, especially, you start to go, okay. Wow. That’s really cool. Look what I’ve done.

And you think, well, how does that work? And then you look a bit deep because for those who haven’t done it with Python, which is the program language. You can basically load up packages, if it is the best word to use for, I suppose, which will allow you straight out of the box to feed it. What isn’t not easy, but for someone who is an engineer or developer, it doesn’t feel onerous or massively complex, and it will just spit it out at the other end and you say, wow, that’s so cool. Look what we did.

And aren’t we smart? And then someone says, well, maybe we want to do it in a slightly different way and we’d have to probably remake this package that we use. And how does that work? And go, okay, this is extreme.

Yeah, the Khan models are fantastic. And then the moment you have to reshape the Khan, you’re like, oh, good golly. This is not good.

Okay. Advanced Calculus day one.

I now realize I used to always joke. Somebody actually tweeted for a long time, and it was something that was like 4,222 days that I have not needed the Pythagorean theorem in life. That calculus and differential mathematics, I’m like, I probably should have hung around that class a little longer now when it comes to machine learning.

Yeah. I don’t think machine learning is a funny one. It’s one of those things that you see a lot of new software that comes out and VC circles are always out. It’s AI powered and all this stuff. And a lot of the time you have to read between the lines on this stuff and AI and machine learning in most cases probably just not needed. It might just need a couple of if-this-then-that type of logical conditions in it. There’s a lot that can be done in business and business process automation without that type of stuff.

If you really, really want to get into the weeds and start doing stuff like that, then you can. But will the benefit outweigh the cost? I’m unsure on that because by the time you finished it, the business has already moved on. And there’s a whole other process now that wouldn’t even look like it did originally. Right. And your years down the line, probably not worth it.

Yes. For us, the curiosity of the method is more important for the future of the use of that method. But, yeah, spending all your effort on it can be a painful thing. Well, this has been fantastic, Daniel. I could definitely do this all day. And for people that do want to be able to tap into what you and the team are doing with Lolly, what’s the best way that they can reach out and find out more? And of course, we’ll have links because the book, it is called Upgrade, the Lightning Fast Path to Productivity and Automation in Business by the one and only, Daniel Cooper.

So that will be coming out any moments now. By the time folks are listening to this, it will be published. So I’ll have links to the Amazon links and such. But Lolly.Co and where do we find you if they want to reach out?

Sure. So as you said, it’s, Lolly.Co, the website. You can reach on Twitter @imdanielcooper or you’re more than welcome to shoot Me an email if you want at danielcooper@lolly.co.

Excellent. Perfect.

Well, Daniel, it’s been a real pleasure. Thank you very much. And, folks, there you go. Automate the good stuff and automate the mundane stuff and you’ll realize it’s a fantastic world waits on the other side where you can enjoy Bitcoin. You can enjoy all sorts of exciting stuff you can invest your time in. You can’t spend time on Khan Academy when you’re wasting it away printing Out Spreadsheets.

That’s right. I’m going to go and have a non automated dinner now.

There you go. Thanks very much.

All right. Thanks.

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Ted Harrington is a best-selling auther of a book called HACKABLE: How to Do Application Security Right, and an Executive Partner at Independent Security Evaluators (ISE).

ISE is a company of ethical hackers most commonly known for our work hacking cars, medical devices, web applications, and password managers and they’ve helped hundreds of companies fix tens of thousands of security vulnerabilities, including Google, Amazon, and Netflix.

We discuss the challenges of security in every day tech, enterprise and personal infosec practices we can all embrace easily, and why it’s so easy to slip on security but equally easy to prevent hacking.

Follow Ted at https://tedharrington.com and check out ISE at https://ise.io