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Tony D’Urso is the host of The Tony D’Urso show on the VoiceAmerica Influencers channel. This show highlights successful entrepreneurs and humanitarian endeavors as well as the noteworthy career achievements of others. The Tony D’Urso Show was born from a combination of his previous two series, Revenue Chat Radio and The Spotlight with Tony D’Urso.
We discuss how Tony motivates himself and others to create opportunity, map values and a vision to business success, and how to do good for each other as we navigate an increasingly challenging business and world environment.
Hi, this is Tony D’Urso. So I am the host of the Tony D’Urso Show, which is the number one talk show on Voice America. And we’re getting about a million listeners a month. And here I am on the Disco Posse podcast with Eric Right. And I am pumped and ready and excited and delighted and honored all three to be on the show. Thank you so much, Eric. For heavy me on.
Tony, when you have professional broadcasters on, it makes my job easy. I could go home now. I could just sit down and I could let you go. Tony, I’d say the honor is mine in that I’ve been lucky enough through getting connected through the team at Kit Caster. They’re a fantastic bunch and they’ve connected me with a lot of amazing folks when they let me know that you are available. I went through the Tony DERs backlog and I am a student of Tony Deers right now. And you are a really fantastic conversationalist interviewer and just you you’re very good at digging into what matters when you get into conversation with folks.
So first of all, for folks that are brand new to you, if you want to give a quick bio, of course, this is fun. I always appreciate Tony D or so with the Apostrophe. However, Google does not like Apostrophe s for folks. Go to Tony D or so. Durso com, of course, and you can get the real links. But anyway, Tony, let’s share a little bit of your story first.
Eric, first of all, it’s so great to speak to a fan, someone that Binges, someone that’s Binged or Binges. However, the case may be on my shows. I really appreciate it because I really try very hard to curate and bring people to e your audience to you, because frankly and this is why I started. There’s so many good people out there. Eric, there’s so much advice, so many books and classes and webinars and seminars and lectures. And you and I and every single person on this Earth cannot listen to every single person.
Read everybody’s book, listen to everybody’s lecture, take everybody’s class. It’s impossible. There’s just not enough time in the life to do that. So what I do and what I specialize in is interviewing and speaking with people who are at the top of their category, whom I call I coined the term elite entrepreneurs. I have a book out on Amazon, which is the bestselling book, Elite Entrepreneurs. And these people give you an example. Wesley Snipes, the actor Kevin Herrington from Shark Tank, chef Hoffman from Priceline and Frank Shank.
Its make a Wish Foundation. And I call them elite Entrepreneurs. And I get their story and I bring that in curate to you. So whether you’re a startup or thinking about it or in a career and you want to hack your job or you’re a small business owner, there are people that talk about their journey and how they became successful. In every category you can imagine and literally every category that you need to know about in order to be successful at your job, your career, your business categories such as HR, photography, online sales, financing.
There’s so many niches or niches depending on where you are in the world, that’s really important for you to learn. So I bring this to people. One show, one show week. It’s now an hour show. I’ve been doing this for a little over five years. I’ve had a couple of shows, and now it’s one show called The Tony Dr Social, which I mentioned earlier, is the number one talk show on the entire Voice American Network for several years running on 14:00 a.m. Fm radio stations. And I get over a million listeners a month while you and your audience can listen on Spotify.
I heart and listen on Stitcher Apple podcasts and so forth. If you want all the shows, including the back early, early early shows, which I also call the embarrassing shows where I was winging it like, what do I do now? They’re at Tony Durso Com podcast, and that’s where you can get everything. And if you know somebody I’ve interviewed, you just put the name in the search and you’ll find it like Kevin Harrington. Just type in Harrington and Poof, there comes up this show, so that’s just a way to access it at Tony Durso Com podcast.
So I work to help people improve whatever their game or their job or their businesses. This is the premise that I started and I wrote up a map to success. I call The Vision Map, which is actually a new book coming out on Amazon. Not sure when it’s called Creating Your Vision, but I don’t know when that’s going to come out, maybe a month or so. The books written and it’s just going through its final process. And this is to help you go through all the process, because again, there’s so much.
Now let me give a little qualifier on that. Every single person I speak to is smart. You know, something, you’re knowledgeable about something. You can eventually figure this out, Eric, but it takes so long, it could take you so much time to really get good at your game. So if I bring experts who talk about their problems, their troubles and how they’ve had to work to make it successful, it really inspires, motivates and gives a lot of good tips. May or may not be a long answer to why I did what I did and how, but I’m happy to go into it a little bit more.
Well, the interesting thing is, like you said, you work with incredible people and their founders, their CEOs, their heads of marketing, their individual content creators, their sports enthusiasts, whatever it’s going to be. But the one thing that humans and generally suffer from, as we call it, the cursive knowledge, right. And you get so wrapped in your understanding of your own platform product, whatever, however, that you often can’t separate yourself from it and what you can bring in doing The Vision Map. And part of that process is that you come with sort of the unwashed eyes from the outside and say, well, describe to me what you do and almost like therapy, you can say, so what I’m hearing you say is that you there’s a problem that happens in the world.
And don’t you hate it when you go and bottle tops are always constantly sliding off of bottles. When you’re driving, we’ve created it allows you to they’re very specifically honing on what you’re hearing and what’s resonating to you out of this thing. And then it’s a real freeing thing to open up to a third party. And it’s hard. It’s very hard for those folks to do that because they’ll always say, like, who can know my product better than me? Well, maybe your customers. And the problem is they’ll never be honest with you because there’s a commercial relationship.
But I bring in Tony, and Tony sits and listens, and then he talks to the customer and he talks to my team. Okay. Now I’m on getting a real story, and it is a beautiful thing. I love your way of doing that. And, of course, like I said, it comes through in your content, in your conversations with people that you’re very good at, sort of pulling on the strings that really matter and getting to what’s very interesting, really, really quickly.
Thank you. Eric. As you were speaking, you gave me a great analogy. A concept came up of a dictionary. Yes. A dictionary, everyone. It’s got all the words, it’s got everything. So if you just give someone a dictionary and say, here you go. It’s like, how do you extrapolate what you need? How do you use what you need? How do you get to where you’re going? Is there anyone that has this problem? I don’t even know the problem that I have. So how do I even know that I have a problem or that I need to know about this or that?
Or leadership or quality or the seven bio hacks to success and so forth? I don’t even know that I need these things. But when you listen to the show, my show, for example, you’re getting people that have going through that journey and explain how that can help you. In a way, it’s not a sales thing that’s all done to help. And a great analogy, which I’ve been using lately is a diamond. Yes. Diamond, Derek, everyone is a diamond. Everyone here is good at something. You listening right now in the audience.
You’re good at something, you know something, whatever that may be. And so you are a kin, like a diamond. What? You know, I consider it a polished facet. A facet is like one little, tiny little surface of a diamond. When you Polish that, it shines, you right now you shining something. And when you learn a little bit about marketing, you’re polishing that facet. When you learn a little bit about how to write a book or how to communicate, you Polish that facet and so on and so forth.
And as you go through life, you’re learning and polishing those facets. And you as a diamond, you’re shining with what you know how you can help others, how you can improve your company, your product, your service, whatever you may be doing. So that’s what the show is designed to help make everyone better that way. And it’s considerate, like free mentorship. You’re being mentored by a millionaire, a billionaire. Most of my audience are you’re being mentored by them 1 hour a week, and you don’t know everything you’re going to learn until you go through it.
What I’ve really like I said in watching you and the diversity of folks that you speak with, and it’s something that I try to do as well and that you started off with, like, I’m going to go to who I know, and I know this area. My favorite things is that suddenly meeting somebody who is in a vastly different area than I’ve ever been before, taking that curiosity to them to just discover their thing, and you find, you know, there are things that map that make sense.
I’m a technologist, but I’m a cyclist. I’m a guitarist. I like these things. And as we you realize, like, well, they all have a beginning and end, a theme thing, a process of learning. Then you talk to somebody who has a sports person or a CEO or a race car driver, and in the end, it’s about mapping and understanding their motivation, what gets them going, what does. And like you said, I love this idea of I can’t go take an HBR course or read this long form book because I don’t have time.
But what I can do is I can put my headphones on while I’m going for a run on the treadmill or something, going for a walk or even just sitting in the background. And I can pull in an hour where you basically are like, blinket for an incredible business education, because it’s not just repeating the highlights of a book, your live pulling crucial information through conversation, and you can hear it. You can hear the way they speak to you. It’s not canned. It’s a unique skill to be able to pull someone through the conversation and let them still feel like they’re leading.
It’s a unique thing. It’s interesting to hear and how you’re able to do it.
Thank you. And there’s a lot of good surprises as well. One of my guests talks about how to make your brand stand out. You know how to make your brand stand out. There are some points that are so clear and so simple and so well explained that you’ll want to make changes in what you promote and better promote, how to make better changes or improvements to get your brand to stand out. Another thing is, do you know that you can literally not even a joke, not even an exaggeration?
You can literally predict the future and what’s going to happen in your industry? We go over that with one of my guests, the anticipatory organization. No, that’s not the right name, but the word anticipatory is in it, and it’s just app with Daniel Burris. And it’s just amazing when he explains how you literally can create this great knowledge base of what you can literally predict is going to happen in the future. And that makes all the difference in your decisions, in what you do in your business or your career.
So it’s things like that that we learn. And I’m just so glad that people like it and enjoy it. And I guess the million listeners and growing is a little bit of a testament to that.
Yeah, that’s part. I’d love to talk about your growth journey, Tony, because you get to be the one that’s always pulling people through their story. So I think it’s time to turn the microphones. And how did you go from first? I want to choose this as a format. I want to take this on because the first handful, you’re just trying to find your feet and see where it fits. But then the evolution of the way, like you said, you go back to the first show, you like you crane a little bit.
Sometimes you listen to the butt is part of the growth experience. So how did how did Tony decide it’s? I want to start trying this out and then make it a thing.
Well, I’ve spent 32 years in corporate America, and I’ve learned a lot about marketing, advertising, business, sales, etc. And in the year 2000, I formed a company and I did the fund raise. And I raised three point $25 million from friends and family in a six month period. And I assume the role of vice President, sales and marketing. And I did all the marketing and lead generation for the company. And I just continue to learn how to bring people to you. And the Internet was very embryonic at that point.
It was like, what do you do with it and how. But we started working with that, and that went very, very well. Now as an employee, you’re kind of pegged in your income a little bit. I mean, I’m making comfortable six figures, but there was only so much I could go. Unless you have stock options or other things like that, there’s always a ceiling. So in the year 2007, I had the opportunity to start a lead generation marketing company, be the CEO of it, and that kind of takes the limit of my income.
So I did that in 2007 really focused. And I made a lot of people a lot of money. And I generated a lot of people. And I learned a lot of basics hard. One basics on how to get people eyeballs or what have you to visit you to visit your website and so forth? Well, that went very well, Eric.
Ensuing seven years, I did that. There were four major industry regulations, protocols and changes that totally impacted how we did marketing, how we did lead generation and so forth. Give you an example. One money, I go into the office and one of my clients, I’m doing a million dollars a year in sales on just that client. I have multiple clients. Well, they canceled by what happened? Well, there’s a new federal regulation that came down. The attorneys got together, and they realized that the company, their company, could no longer accept marketing services the way that they were getting.
And they had a retool. So Meanwhile, out of business, and this happened with all my clients. Boom, boom, boom, boom, boom. And this is the fourth time I had a major impact to my business in seven years. And I got really tired of it, Eric. And I look for what could I control myself? What could I do no matter what, no matter what happens in the world as best as possible? And I kept hearing this word called podcast. I’m like, What’s this thing? Podcast. And when I found out, Eric, I was like, hey, I’m Italian.
I can do this. I can talk. I was smart. I got a mentor. I got a well known radio personality, Michael Benner, who’s a who’s who in Southern California. And he mentored me and gave me great tips. And to this day, still does on interviewing, presentation, radio and so forth. And I learned all that I could learn in a couple of weeks. I’m Italian. I do think as just boo, boo, boo, boo. I learned how to podcast, and I jumped on 1 hour live on blog talk radio.
And I’ll be kind to myself. I won’t use the word embarrassing, but I will say I learn things. I definitely learned things between that and being mentored. And I just but and I used my skill, my knowledge, my abilities of generating leads and people and getting people to know about something. I promoted myself. I became my best promoter, and I got tons and tons and tons of downloads and people listening to my show. It was a high rated show called Revenue Chat Radio. And then in my second year, I wrote a book, Easy Sales Procedures.
And I got invited to join Voice America. And I created a second show called The Spotlight with Tony Torso, so that I’m running two shows a week, and that was just a bit much. So I think in my third year of doing this, I merged both shows into the Tony or So show. And it’s Italian. There’s an Apostrophe there, but search engines Butcher have been butchering my name. So I just took the Apostrophe off. So I know it looks like a title, but that’s just how it is.
And then I became the number one show, Voice America, and have been number one for several years running, getting hundreds of thousands of downloads and listeners every month. And I’ve just grown and grown from there. And as I’ve grown in the show, I’ve picked up more and more. Let’s say well known household names, some I mentioned earlier, millionaires, billionaires and so forth. And I’ve just kept growing. And I love interviewing people who are at the top of their category.
One of the things that really stands out when you described your story that people may not even pick up. If I look at the timing that you started two significant ventures that were successful for in many ways throughout some of those challenging times. Like you started at the beginning of two fundamental country, in fact, international wide failures in the world in the 2000 dot com crash. Basically, you survived through one of the most challenging waves of business failure. And then in 2007, you began what was at that point, only Dr Michael Brewery and a handful of hedge fund folks understood what was about to happen in the world.
And we watch the financial collapse that happened globally. And yet through that, you persevered and were able to stay focused on what you were trying to achieve and survive those things. It’s not insignificant to to be able to weather that storm. And even you talk sort of I’m sure the timelines are always compressed, right? We talk about you losing a number of clients in a period of time because of regulatory changes. The whole marketing world really took a strong hit, but I imagine that you probably kept the lights on for quite a while.
And when most people just said, I’m not going to be able to take more failure, I want to get out now. Well, I feel like I’m on top of Tony, you you keep pushing what makes you tick. How did you do that and what’s your mindset as you go through that?
I have so many answers to that question, but let me start off simple. An Italian, there’s three steps to success if you want to save. One is keep at it. Number two is keep at it. Number three is keep at it. You don’t fail until you stop. Now, when you’re in the middle of it, you don’t really think of those words, and you don’t really think of that. But when you’re in the middle of it and things are crashing around, you, you’ve got to feed your family.
You’ve got to pay your bills. You got to put gas in the car. You’re propelled by this strong intention to survive, no matter what. It’s just you’re not going to let something affect you. And I’ve been beset in my podcasting with some serious, serious problems, but you would never know it because I refuse to give up. And I guess I’ve learned a lot from speaking to some of the most successful people in the world and learning from them. And they mentor me on that show. And they mentor you on that show on how they’ve made it.
And it sounds easy now that now that I can go and look back in the past, it sounds easy. But I did not fall off, roll out of bed or fall off a log or whatever the cliche goes. It was hard work. But the key thing, the foremost thing is you want to be successful, you have no choice to be successful. You’re going to solve this. And there there are problems. There are serious problems and challenges, even the podcasting. In fact, there’s a word in the diction.
Can you believe this, Eric? There’s a word in the dictionary. Most podcasters go, what, seven, 8910 episodes. I’ve run into them. It’s called Pod Fade. And two years ago, before the COVID madness of 2020. Before that, the year before. Blueberry said 75% of podcasters don’t make it into the second year. Well, it got even more worse than next year. So there’s a lot of problems and issues that beset podcasters. The key is monetization, and I teach that to my students. I teach them how to be successful, how to monetize, how to make income with what you’re doing.
And it’s work. It’s not like it’s roll up your sleeves and stuff like that. So thank you. And I would say the only reason and I’m successful is I just really refuse to give up.
And it comes through in your caring about, you know, that getting through the other side, because quite often this is the thing, right? I remember you hear the choose the Land Armstrong quote, A lot of people don’t like Lancasham. But put it aside, put his personal choice aside. But he said at one time, like, if you quit, no one else, everyone will know and no one will care, right? It’s the whole thing of like, it’s your choice of why you quit. And really, when it comes down to you, especially startups, there’s actually only two reasons that start ups fail.
If they run out of money or the founder quits, it’s purely economic or choice. There’s a lot of reasons why they run out of money. There’s a lot of reasons why that would occur. But one of the most common things, I didn’t realize there was a word for this. I’ve got a lot of friends who are like, fantastic people and they have great conversations. And I love talking with them. And I’m like, yeah, they’re like, we’re going to start a podcast. And like you said, or they all make it to episode ten, and then the wheels come off the bus because it’s it’s work.
You got to fit it in, you’ve got to do these things. And I know like I said, I just pressed publish as we’re recording on my hundred and 81st episode. The there was a gap in the middle where I think it was about 25 in and I was doing it with work and just kind of like doing it off the side of the desk and sort of aligning it to my work. And they said, look, there’s no way to measure whether it’s successful and it’s not impacting sales.
So we just don’t think we can back it. And I was like, okay. And I got busy myself. And I said, well, maybe I’ll just put it on hold. And then I went back about, I guess, about six weeks, seven weeks later, and I checked the itunes for it. I’m like, oh, somebody had asked me to show an old show. And so I went and I looked at it, and I saw the reviews there. And I was like, oh, good. Golly, people listen to it. Now.
I gotta keep going. I was suddenly reinvigorated him, like, okay, how do I fit it in? And like you said it was I was the only one that let it stop. So I’m like, get on the bloody horse. You fit it in. And so half an hour a week, I could fit it in. I thought, can I do this every other week? If I can do 30 to 40 minutes every other week? I mean, there’s no reason I can’t do it. And now, you know, three years in, I’m doing 1 hour a week.
And I’ve got a backlog because of, like I said, being inspired by folks like you, Tony, that taught me that, like, episode eight doesn’t happen without 179 episodes before it. You just got a muscle through. And sometimes you’ll have a show that you maybe struggle with, just, like, everything with work, everything. It’s not all great days and perfect ending. It’s a lot of gumption, if that’s of people sort of think of that as a word, right? It’s just you got to push through some stuff. But you got to know that on the other side of it, there’s worth in doing so.
And, you know, and that ties into this vision map that I’m coming out with because we talk about, okay, something happens. You’re blocked. You’re out of income, you’re out of money, you’re out of steam. There’s a regulation. You can’t talk anymore. I mean, there’s words that I am not allowed to say as a result of the madness of 2020 in the world shutting down. You can’t say certain words, which I accidentally said one of those words earlier, but I’m not going to say it again. But when these things happen, Eric, what keeps you going?
Why podcast? Why are you doing whatever you’re doing? Why are you selling Widgets or helping people with HR? Why are you a coach? Why are you doing whatever you’re doing? And in the vision map, it starts off with, well, what’s your vision? And I can give a whole training class on this, but basically, what is it you see yourself doing, like, with a D. What are you doing? You go into the future, you look back, and you got almost, like, creating a movie. Well, in the past two years, I did this.
I did this. I did this. This is my vision. Now, that’s really not a perfect definition, but I’m just trying to get the concepts more to it. I’m just being really fast and kind of slamming it together. But that’s a good way. Like, what am I doing in this venture? What am I doing? And then right below that the fuel cause that ventures like the vehicle, the car driving down the freeway. Well, what’s that fuel right underneath that adventure that’s making that happen is the purpose.
Why are you doing what you’re doing? And that’s who are you being with? A B. Why are you doing it? Who are you? And then below that, there’s like, seven, eight, nine steps. But just give you three. And below that is your long term accomplishment, your long term. What are you trying to do now? People call it a goal side, but I don’t use that word because the goal could be what I did today, this week, this month, three months from now, or this year, or it’s a ball in a net.
There’s so many definitions for goal. I just took it out of gowhat, are you looking to do long term? And that’s what you see yourself as having accomplished. Accomplished. I wrote this book. I did this lecture. I did this podcast. And when you put those three together and that’s your life, that’s your business. That’s your whatever. It helps propel you. Despite any bumps in the road or blockages, it’s very, very powerful. It only stops when you let go of it. But if you hold it like, I’m holding up a clenched hand now, I’m not going to let go of this.
And as long as you don’t let go of your dream, your goal, your purpose. So why you like to do it? You will be successful. And I’ll just say one last thing on that, Eric. The purpose is like, I’ll do this for free. I’ll get up every day in the morning, and I’ll do it. I’ll podcast every single day and talk to people. I love it. I love helping people. And it doesn’t matter if I get paid for it or not. I’m not joking, folks. That will propel you, and you will make money if you stick with it.
Very important. What I’ve just said, please, kind of. Soak this up and I’ll explain more in a book and there’ll be a class and all sorts of stuff. There’s a lot to it, just like, really fast. But this is years of experience.
It’s something that’s counterintuitive to a lot of people. The first thing they think is I need to immediately figure out how to pay for something. Like, how do I get paid to do this thing? And I said I’m a student of Tony and that I’ve taken on this thing of like, I love doing this.
Happen to have sponsors. I happen to have some other things that come through it, but I didn’t chase it down. They came, and that’s what makes it enjoyable is that I’m not out to try. And fill spots or whatever. There may be a point where I have that happen, but right now I’m doing it because I love it. And even if I get paid for it, it does make me love it more or less. I would do it for the love of the game. And like you said, you hit something very important.
And even the semantics of the way you describe what it is, a goal is something we all get busted by. A goal is a to do list with a three year timeline. And you know what we do with to do list defer the task to the next day because we didn’t have time for it today. Right? And the goals are years down the road. Oh, boy, is really easy to just defer it by another week or two. And then in mind.
We have a solution for that in the entire vision map and how it goes all the way down. There’s a whole methodology to it. But yes, and you know what? For who’s listed in the audience, you may or may not know. 2030 whatever. Years ago, companies had 10, 15, 20 year long goals and strategies. Can you imagine? I can diagnose people all day long talking about where you’re gonna go in 20 years. It’s out of mine. It’s preposterous. When I was doing podcasts, I had a two year goal, and I accomplish it.
But today, people listening to this or tomorrow they’ll go, two year goal. That’s weird, because with technology today, you can be a millionaire in two days. Yeah, you could be a millionaire in 24 hours. I’ve spoken to people that have done this sort of thing. It’s a whole new world. But the words, the definition, the basics are still the basics. So you can apply this, whether it’s six months to millionaire world or two months or ten days, whatever it is, these basics are still going to be applicable no matter what.
One thing I often hear people, they’ll say, like, hey, what do you think about becoming a YouTuber? And we kind of joke sometimes, but it’s a pejorative, a YouTuber. I’ve got kids of varying ages, and so I see different types of YouTube content all the time. I watch some myself, and I watch mostly to learn of how do they do this? What’s the way that they’re doing it? That’s keeping viewers up and retaining interest and just it’s neat to be a a student of it all the time.
And someone says to me like, oh, why don’t you become a YouTuber? I’m like, I don’t have the commitment or the time. It sounds like it’s just a thing. Like, you’re just firing a video. Like, I could sit here and I could unwrap Kinder eggs. And you see channels like this that have 12 million subscribers. Not because they spent 20 minutes unwrapping a Kindra because they spent an hour a day doing it, and then an hour a day doing editing and doing keyword research and then posting it for three years.
So someone says to me, you want to be a YouTuber so you don’t have the commitment.
I will tell you this about YouTube, and let me put it in a very political in whatever. I’ve been podcasting five and a half years. I started putting all my videos on YouTube, and in five years and I promote it. I spent a lot of money promoting, and I have a service that does social media promotion, by the way, I send visitors. So I spent a lot of money, a lot of time, a lot of energy. And literally I’ve spent thousands and thousands and thousands of people to my shows on YouTube through my promotion.
I have very large social media network. And in five years, Eric, I got under 50,000 total views on everything is like, what? And you know what’s it called subscriptions. They would go up by one or two and then down by three.
Upper one or two.
And down by three. And I’m like, this is being manipulated. So I went to Rumble. I went to Rumble, and in two or three weeks, I’ve got over five0 views on my shows. It’s not being manipulated. It’s like, oh, is that how this works? So you kind of have to learn as you go, because otherwise, if you want to be a YouTuber and I get what you’re saying, it’s like a full time job. And you got to spend thousands of dollars because only certain people are selected.
It appears. And I say that from experience, certain people are so selected that rise up and the and the rest aren’t. And if you don’t talk, to talk or walk to walk, it happens. And then you get, you know, you get these people who are paid. They’re paid money to go on YouTube and say bad things. And you can tell that they never heard the show. They don’t know anything of what you’re saying. And they say something bad that has nothing to do with the show.
You know that they’re called trolls, and, you know, they’re paid because they’re gone just to say something negative, but they have no idea what you said on the show. So how can you comment if you don’t know what was said? So you learn very fast that they’re paid and that their job is to discourage people from listening. So you’re gonna have that. You’re going to have that. And I think it’s unless YouTube wants you to be a rising star for their own reason. It’s something that you get on multiple other places, but it’s definitely not going to be the key for where you’re growing unless it’s the only platform you have.
Let me make this more simple. I’m going to exaggerate a little bit. There’s 22,376 social media platforms that you can be on, but you can’t get on 20,000 yourself and answer and post and comment. Pick the key ones, pick where you’re going. Is it going to be Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, whatever and work those. And I work and engage and speak with people on my key social media platforms. And I’ve got over 200,000 followers, but I’m not on $20,000. I’m really push hard on four or five social media platforms or less.
And that’s a good key to success because the you’re super deluding yourself. So if you’re thinking of getting onto YouTube because it sounds good, I understand. You know, I’ve tried TikTok on there on TikTok, and I realized very rapidly the amount of work and the effort. And it’s like, do I want to spend hours a day doing this or paying somebody big money to do this? You realize quickly where it’s going to go. So you should experiment. You should try. But when it’s all done, you’re going to get more bang for the buck, so to speak, by the key big social media platforms.
I mean, that goes to one of the important, both strategic and tactical pairings of being focused, you know, setting what your where you want to be. Right? Is it going to be a follower account, viewership, audience size, share, voice, whatever. There’s lots of different phrases we have. But if you go to ten places and try to grow, then you’ll have ten poorly grown audiences versus if you choose two or three at the most kind of thing and you stay focused on it, and you measure and adapt and put your efforts towards it.
It’s the easiest thing that people do, and we’re human by human behavior. It’s very easiest for just to go. Like squirrel, we see something, some new network comes up. People got all clubhouse crazy for a while. And I haven’t heard anybody use talk about club house in a month and a half now. But yet it was all like everybody was all over because it was the new hot thing. It’s not going away. It’s just that the buzz is gone. And so a lot of people maybe try to invest in it early, then they lose focus or effort and attention, and somebody else will keep succeeding on there because they’re going on bloody clubs every day, and that’s their thing.
They’re choosing that. But you can’t just go in and suddenly become a runaway hit, like success five years in the reason why, Tony, you’re at the point of being an overnight success with years of lead up, right? I always joke. I was in a band for a long time, and it said, every band you talk to, you see that big coming out thing where they played at the Grammys or whatever. And it was the first time and the they had a gold record and they are an overnight success.
And you’re like, I saw them 14 years ago in some Podunk bar playing to an audience of 40.
How embarrassing in the way.
You know, an overnight success is one of the worst things that we can aspire to be because it just takes away that there’s a grind and it’s what you need to do. But it’s true. It’s not just grind, but grind with purpose.
Yes. Yes. Yes. And I’ve learned a lot on marketing, lead generation social media. And I use what I’ve learned and now because I like to help. And I created a service where I do social media marketing for people, especially podcasters. And I, you know, one of my students last year hit 2 million downloads. Another another one of my clients had two and a half million downloads. So I’ve learned how to help and take all that we’ve just said in this interview and just shorten that time and how to get the real people listening to your show, because that’s what a lot of podcasters want, of course, to help them grow.
So I do that as a service. I just mentioned that because I’ve learned that from all my years of experience. And I really like to help podcasters and, you know, we all need to communicate. It’s such a great thing to be able to say what we want. And, yes, pick your platforms and stuff like that. Absolutely. And just grow with it. You know, I didn’t get over 100,000 followers on Twitter overnight. I just keep growing and engage and engage and engage and engage, and it just grows.
And I’d rather have 100,000 on Twitter than a thousand people on 20,000 different platform. So, in a way, pick where you’re going to put your effort is very, very key. Takeaway to this, and you can be successful in literally anything that you want to do. You know, based on some of these points that we talked about.
The other thing is beyond is persistence is fitting it in. We talked briefly about people would hear this and they say, oh, it’s an hour a week that I commit to it. Obviously, the truth is much more than an hour week because I have to do editing and research and whatnot I could choose not to, but for the quality that we want to get. You research your guests, you read their books, you’re putting a lot of other external effort. You’re a prolific creator as well. You’re an author of multiple books.
So, Tony, how do you prioritize and maintain you’ve probably got multiple streams of kind of content creation on the go at any time. Being creative is a real challenge to fit in.
It’s hard to schedule it right is you have to be very well again, it goes back to that vision and that purpose and your long term objectives that I mentioned earlier, once you get that clear and these words that I just said, yeah, these words are in the dictionary. You hear them all the time. Eric, you hear, you know, the word egg and milk and sugar and flour and salt and vanilla extract. You know, these words and others cream, but I challenge you to make me really delicious safe.
It’s a whole nother thing to put it together. You know, we joked earlier about it’s in all the words in the dictionary. But when you put it together, that’s what is great on getting people to express and communicate on our shows when we speak to experts, because it helps people put it all together. And there is a there’s a finesse to it that we’ve learned. And, you know, I actually lost one of the points. I actually lost one of the points that you were talking about.
I had a really important point to say, and I’ve never done this in five and a half years. But I’m going to say, can you please refresh me on what you were saying? This is a first. But you know what? We’re human, right?
I know. And that’s maintaining focus when you’re multi streams, especially in creative avenues.
It’s the purpose that keeps you going. That purpose that I was saying that gets you up whether you get paid or not. I work everything by a checklist. I have a checklist for getting my guest on promoting the show for this week. I have a checklist for different things that have to happen. And in the vision, a structure, I have a method of how to put something on your things to do list that comes from your well, I’ll give you the rest of points. It’s vision, its purpose.
It’s long term objective. And below that, how are you going to accomplish your long term objective? Well, you need a master plan. The master plan consists of two things, a strategy and tactical strategy is like, okay, well, you know, we want to capture that island because it’s the corridor, and we can control and keep the enemy out. If we capture that island, that’s sort of like a strategy in military terms. And the tactical is okay, well, what are we going to do to capture that island?
How are we going to take over? So you work out all these tactical steps. It accomplishes the strategy that accomplishes that long term objective, which is just about a year or two that you want to accomplish. All right. So you’ve got your tactical plan. I’m going to do this. I’m going to do this. We’re going to do this to take that Hill or that island. Well, now what comes below that is our what I call 30, 60, 90. And that’s your 30 60 or 90 days.
It’s like, this is where the rubber meets the road, Eric. Okay, well, I’ve got my strategy, my tactical. I’ve got my plan, my purpose, my vision. I need to make money. I need to make income. I’ve got this great plan, this great thing. How am I going to make income? It could be I’m going to do a mastermind at C. And I’m going to bring on ten people to do a mastermind. I’m going to charge them $10,000 each. And I’m going to promote that. And it’s going to take two months to put together.
So that’s why it’s 60 days or I’ve got a class that I’m going to do, and I’m going to do a webinar, but I need to do X and X and X and X and Y, and that could take three months to roll out. So you’ve got to have by the end of a couple of months making literally making income on that plan. No joke, no baloney. And you’ve got to work that out. Now, these plans, these words while they’re in the dictionary, they take some working.
A good vision map takes weeks to put together. But I’m going to explain that in one more second. So after your 30, 60, 90 day plan, now that plan goes into your daily Things to do list. And the daily Things to do list is on that plan. It’s not put guests in the car, go to the store, go buy a house, go read a book. That Things to Do List is specifically only and totally for that vision. And you keep it and you write it down, and you don’t ever take it off until you can scratch it off as done.
And if you have to break it down, you have to break it down. But I’m talking about the daily Things to do list, which is literally something that is literally accomplishable in one day. So what is that? How do you break that down? And you put that in one day, and when you’re done, I should show you mine. You just have a sheet after sheet of things crossed off on your list. And that’s what keeps you going, because you’re putting stuff on the list and you’re taking stuff off the list.
But you’re very structured. And it’s all done on paper, because on the computer, I know things fall off.
You’re preaching to the choir. On this one, I’m filled with lists.
And can you see this all crossed off? The camera just all crossed off. Just all crossed off. Just crossed off. Because on the computer, I got all the fancy expenses, and I’m not going to throw anybody under the bus. I got them all. Not all. There’s 260 more that come out every day. But I got these great programs that did this and flesh and color, flesh and light and interrupt you and say, this is time to do this and all these things. But when you’re working on your desktop, Eric, you have to clear it out of the way.
You’re doing something.
And it goes out of sight, out of mind. But on that piece of paper, it never, ever disappears until you cross it off. And that really is the your help fuel you to keep working and keep at it. That is very, very key to accomplish that, no matter what. And following that system will get you profitable really, really fast. And I’ll give you an example. I mean, again, it’s like, Tony, I’ve heard these words before, and Tony says, yeah, they’re in the dictionary. But get this, I had a student.
He’s doing five or six five health products sales a month on Amazon. Five. Okay, bye. Okay. And I worked with him on just a vision map, and in the second month, he was up to twelve sales a day. I was just working on the vision map, so that’s the power of it. Five a month or twelve a day. I mean, he was just rocketed that fast, but it’s really just getting that focus in. And there’s an ebook available at Tony Durso Com books, and that’s been reedited updated, and it’s coming out on a paperback on Amazon soon.
But right now you could get to ebook, and it’s got most of the information, but not all, but it’s a really great. So based on that, you’re smart, you can figure out the rest.
Well, let me tell you what I really respect, but what you just described Tony is that you didn’t tell me about a guy that you went to a million dollars a month in sales. So these are really easy to fall on. They’re compelling. That’s how those Instagram ads work. Like, hey, look at this. This is my Mazarati. And I got this because I’m selling you health pills. And I apologize if I’m being campy in the description. That’s not meant to detract from anybody that does anything. I know I run a coffee store, I’ve got a coffee brand.
I literally have got my coffee behind me. But like you described Tony, that fellow went from five sales a month to twelve a day. That’s how it goes. I started a coffee store, and I said, let me see if we can do this. The technology is there to do it easily. I chose a brand, I chose some things to get together. And I went from, you know, ten in the first month that I sold to today. While we’ve been talking, I’ve gotten three notifications of sales.
Like, it’s not going to be hundreds. There are days when I don’t sell any other. But the fact is that, like you said, when I if it starts here, it starts with three a day. Gm rolled one car off the line at one point. Everybody has to think that way. This is possible. What matters is the fact that you put this into a place. You create a system that works for your mind and your lifestyle, and this is why we need guidance. This is why I love your approach, because this is not how to read this book.
And you’ll be rich in 30 days. It’s like, now read this book and you’ll have you’ll have a system that you’ve got that can bring you to whatever you need to be so that you are where you want to be in X years.
It’s so true you know, I’ve interviewed five, 6700 people. Now I’ve lost count because for a year or two, I was doing two interviews per show. So it’s probably five or 600 700 well known people. And I can tell you literally and honestly, I can tell you. And and our listener here in the audience, every single person had a story and had to work at what they got to be successful. Only one person in some 700 million years and billionaires had his life handed to him. That was how rare it was.
And I think kind of walked another person kind of, like, was well assured through. But every other person I spoke to a guy who homeless, he was on the street and he became a millionaire. I mean, what a great story. I’ve spoken to people that their parents put him to school to do this, and then they turn around and do something else and become super successful at something that the parents despised, you know, not despised that it was a bad thing, but just the parents, you know, I want you to be a lawyer.
I want you to be a do. I want to do this instead. And the parents like, oh, I’m not talking to you again or whatever. I’ve amazing story, really, really amazing. So if you in the audience, if you think things are tough, if you think you have to work for things, let me tell you, you are right. Things don’t necessarily go for you. It doesn’t always go easy. In fact, one out of 700 what’s that percentage? This is real world. That’s how everyone else had to work and become who they became.
And so that’s why we were saying it doesn’t fall off a log, and you really got to work at it. And it’s that purpose. That reason why you’re doing it that keeps you going, whether you make money or not. But if you stay on it, you’ll very, very soon make money, of course, because today we need money to buy our food and put gas in our car. So that’s how it works.
And even when you give a relative comparison that’s relatable to somebody, that’s why, like five a month to twelve a day, this is achievable, because if you compare yourself against somebody, that’s one of the Sharks on shark tank versus somebody that’s walking up and they’ve got a story and they’ve got to leap of faith. They’re bringing something. They’re going to try this right. You don’t want to try and relate to the shark. You want to relate to the person that’s on the other side, there’s a famous story is a fellow named Delores.
And he had gone because he was really struggling. He was very successful by any right. It started his own massive network, had had successful exits from startups. It was an investor in doing incredible work, and yet was wrought with grief about his lack of success. And they said, like, he went to therapy, and in the end, they sort of uncovered. They said, Why is it that you feel that you’re not successful? So my College roommate has always outdone me. And they said, well, how is it possible that you’ve got all these things?
Who was your College roommate is Elon Musk? Well, perhaps you need to lower your bar. So even successful people this. So this thing that he’s aiming for is big. It’s Elon Musk. You know what I’m going to do? And I tell people that are listening right now you’re thinking about doing a thing, right? In your first book, putting a blog together, starting a podcast, then find the person that did five a month and find out how they get up to twelve a day like that’s. It like, this is inspire yourself with an attainable path.
Like you got to obviously aim. I always help you. Like, you don’t want to just say like, I’m going to be on better today tomorrow than I was today. I should compound interest is pretty decent if you do that every day. But that’s why, again, I appreciate your choice of selections, right?
Yes. Eric, unless you’ve got somebody putting in mega money behind you. Yeah. You go to Shark Tank and sell your coffee, you may walk away when everything’s done with ten to 15% to 20% of your company. I don’t know. You’ve got now a boss telling you what to do and your original resident. You may no longer be your original recipe after a while, but, yeah, you make money. So now people also refer to that as selling their soul. So now what? So you’ve got money? Are you happy?
I know this is going to rub people the wrong way, but money does not equal happiness of accomplishing your purpose, and your vision equals happiness. And when you do that, money follows it’s just to flip around. Money is not happy. I have a dollar in my pocket that doesn’t make me happy. I’m talking to successful people, and I’m sharing that with the world and getting millions of listeners. That makes me overjoyed that’s it.
Right. And this is an important thing for people to do. And like I said, there’s so many things are possible. I often say is a bit of a visual joke. Right? I’m a big fan of guys. I’ve got a friend who’s a magician, and he’s a lot more than magician, but it just has to be. It does. And that was a joke. So I watched him do simple things, like just a simple card fan. It’s something that visually. So if you’re watching on YouTube, you get to see this, right?
It seems like the smallest thing in the world, it’s unexciting. But what makes it easy to do is that I’ve done this probably for, like, half an hour a day for six months, like, just every day. I just muck around. And so the first time you do it you can barely get them to stay together. You drop the cards. It’s a whole thing. But now, six months into mucking around with this thing while I’m sitting on meetings or whatever, and I’ve got idle time. I don’t know how to not do a fan of cars.
I can’t do it in a bad way. So my muscle memory for this and my muscle memory for being able to jump into a task. And now I’ve got a system in my head. I know I can do this. This is why your map is so important, because it’s like, once you build that muscle, you understand the structure, then you just simply just apply it to the situation. And that’s what people really get stuck on. They’re like, you know, how does somebody become a great coach?
And yet they weren’t a star athlete. Happens all the time. They’re athletic, but they don’t have to be, you know, the athlete in order to be successful at it. You just look for the ways you find how to unlock the power, and then you unlock it for somebody else, which is pretty amazing.
That’s a good way to say it, because it’s like two different ways. Like, do you listen, do you read a book or watch a video by a person who’s not a well known chef? But yet you watch their video and you go, Well, do you need to be a chef to say this tastes good or this doesn’t taste good, so there’s a balance there. So, yeah, an Olympic athlete isn’t necessarily a gold medalist, is not necessarily the only person that can train other gold medalists and so on and so forth.
But someone that understands the basics in the games and what it takes to apply oneself to be successful in that endeavor. Absolutely correct.
Bill Belichick looks like he would struggle getting up of long flight of stairs. Like, yeah, he’s brought Tom Brady and his team to victory. And I shouldn’t joke. Obviously, Bill Belichick in fantastic shape, but he was not an athlete or he was not a top level elite athletes necessarily. Right. It is amazing. And that’s what people needed her to humble their humble their goals in a bit and humble their understanding of the world. And that’s really it to write. When I look you’re five years in, you talk about 500 people that you’ve interviewed.
If you start at the beginning and said, I’m going to interview 500 people in five years, it would be very easy to get off that bus fast, because you’re going to say there’s no way that I’m going to be able to pull this off. You start to think. But if you say, like, I want to have a successful show, I want to be able to find people who have never met and have interesting conversations and learn something with them and be able to pull a story out of them in 40 minutes easily.
And I will learn how to do that. I want to learn these lessons and applies into my own life. And then while you’re doing that, suddenly 500 people go by and you realize you’ve done it. And it’s fantastic. It’s an admirable thing you’ve done. Is that on the other side of it? Now, that’s the other thing, I guess. Tony, how do people talk about gratitude and this thing, like, how do you sort of check where you’re at as you go through this on the bigger picture stuff?
Like, I know we have checklist and we have other things. But how do you sort of about a six month point or just right now, how do you look back and say it’s been an okay year or I’ve achieved something, but I’d like to be better at this.
Well, I may shock you. I don’t look at things that way. I’ve learned. I’ve learned. And it’s only because you ask because it’s not a topic I discuss or talk about. And it’s a topic that I joke around and say it’s against the law. And there’s a I say that.
When you’re on the right path to helping others and and doing the right thing, you start developing your morals, your goals. And as you go along that path, you start realizing that God provides everything for you and that your success is determined by God. The more you follow what God’s will and plan is, the more doors open. And the way I look at it is doors are opening for me. And people love my show. And my show grows because God provides that. I know it sounds. I don’t want to say any incorrect or wrong words.
It’s a unique concept, and it’s a concept that you’re not allowed to talk about, because right now people say the universe. Well, that’s an innate, non thinking, nonintelligent rock or dust that doesn’t give you your life that didn’t create you. I walk outside and there’s a patch of dirt outside my house, and I look at it every day for ten years, and I’m still waiting for a chicken to spontaneously combust in the fair. It doesn’t happen. The world, you know, this whole falsity of, you know, where things came from.
It’s just a confusion. It’s just a lie God provides. There is a guy that made you this amazing, great soul. And the more you realize that, the more you realize that that bigger picture, the bigger the picture becomes. And and then you realize the more that door is open or closed, because God wants you to go down a certain path God is providing. God is allowing God is directing. Now you have free will. If something goes wrong and it keeps going wrong and you don’t care, you want to keep at it, keep at it.
And then later, you find that it was a total mess up. You lost your money, you had all this problem. God allows you to learn whatever you want to learn. But when the doors are open, that’s because he’s trying to direct you down a certain path. Now, what I’m saying has taken me so many years to understand. It goes over people’s head, and it actually hits against people trained other ways. So that’s why I actually say it’s not something we’re allowed to talk about. But because you ask the question, I am compelled to give you the true, honest answer.
And the more sorry, the more you reflect or think about God, the more things start to open up. And it’s a process, just like growing your business from five sales a month to twelve sales a day. It’s a whole process, but the more you think about it, just a little reflection time, not meditation. I don’t know what meditation is. Still, to this day, I wrote it. I don’t know what it is, but just start thinking about God. Focus on God, and it just starts opening up in its it’s not even magic.
It’s just life. It’s just work. So I just wanted to say that and answer your question that things are rolling for me, because this is what God wants me to do. God wants me to connect people to successful people and help them grow. And the more I work on that, the easier. In a way, it gets sort of like the muscle memory. I can jump on a show and interview anybody because I understand millionaires, billionaires, and elite people. I’ll interview presidents, heads of States. It just doesn’t matter because I understand that now.
But it’s God’s gift that he gave me. God gives gift. My gift. I’m Italian. I can talk, right? I appreciate it. I can communicate. Not because we’re not allowed really too much to say things about religion or talk about it. But I had to answer your question.
I appreciate your candor, Tony. It’s one thing that is it’s a difficult topic. And even for folks that maybe struggle with, you know, I’ve had a lot of Don W long and I spoke a couple times. You actually been on the show come times we talked. Even where folks, if they have to map it to spirituality, whatever the hell they want to describe it, it’s just even the stoic philosophers often talked about is there are certain things that are beyond our control, and that’s what we have to just we have to look to what we can affect.
And like you said, be good, be ethical, do things that help people give. And in the end, what comes back, opportunity through that means. Right. But it’s inspiring when you hear folks that are committed to it and that live the you know, they walk the walk. I suppose it’s sort of the phrase that people say and it starts slow.
It’s not like fast immediately all of a sudden, you know, the world opens up or sun down. No, it’s slow. It can be fast, but it’s slow. It’s just a little bit. It’s like, you know, and I’m not really trying. I don’t push religion or or anything or any type of worship, but just start thinking about it a little bit, and it just starts making more and more sense. And I guess that’s what I’m trying to allude to. So whether it great, you or incorrect still true.
You are an intelligent being. You weren’t made by a piece of rock.
And and like I said, this has been really inspiring. Tony, your ethic and your effort and your expertise come together in every discussion, and it’s been a real blessing and an honor to spend time with you today. Tony Dorso Com, of course, we’ll have links in the show notes. I’ll make sure that people get out there. And because your book is going to be hopefully hitting Amazon Brown the time this goes out, depending on timing. If it has not, anybody wants to drop me an email, I’ll actually have.
Or if you’re on the YouTube version of this, drop a comment and the first ten folks that they need to if they’re having commercial problems with getting to this, any financial risk issues, I will happily fund and make sure that ten people deserve this book. And so I’m going to make sure to reach out to me just hit me up on email. And like I said, I’ll make sure that we put a few copies and some hands and educate more people, give them an opportunity.
Because that’s really what it is. Thank you, Eric. And when you get it on YouTube, I will send thousands and thousands of people to it. And we just hope we get through the YouTube.
Whatever it is to get through the algorithm. Yeah. Well, I tell you what, I had a funny situation where I had a really incredible individual, John McAfee. He was on my show last year in April, and John was just an incredible human. And we immediately went right into some really challenging topics that are algorithmically a problem for stuff. And at the time, I was only publishing audio only. So it just goes up with, like, an audio gram. So it’s the audio on YouTube. So literally nobody goes to YouTube to listen.
They like to watch. Now that I’ve published the video version, you get a couple of thousand views per episode. It’s a little bit better. But I thought to myself, I’ve got the video of this, and this was even before John had recently passed. And I thought, I’d love to put it up there because it was just such a really a dynamic discussion. I thought, good golly, I can’t, because if I put fresh content up there, that’s got a lot of hot button things. And next thing you know, oh, DiscoPosse is on the wrong side of cancel because of a problem.
So I chose with John’s passing, I just choose at a respect that I shouldn’t. You know, come along and it’s your content.
You own it. And there’s places like Bit Shoot and Rumble that I don’t talk about anything controversial. I really, really try hard not to. I don’t even swear on my shows.
It’s funny that we started talking about that, too, at the very beginning.
But why it gets censored on YouTube? Because they obviously somebody. Some they pick and choose who they want to promote. Real simple. I send 20,000 visitors to YouTube, and I get, like, two views. It’s like, what? So they’re choosing who they want to see the show. It’s just no sensor. But I’ll send 20,000 people to Rumble. I get a zillion views. So you just put it out on a couple of places and monitor.
Yeah, it’s definitely it’s a county world. We’ll see. I think we’ll see a lot of change in the coming months as this stuff. Sort of. It comes to the point where they’re going to have some regulatory stuff to deal with around it. But we’ll see. But anyway, Tony, thank you very much. And like I said, for folks, go to TonyDurso.com, check out the show, get the podcast on. They’re really, really great lessons. And, of course, get the book. And like I said, Tony, your prolific author, lots of other books, non business books as well.
So you’ve got great fiction work as well that you do so really cool. Thank very much.
Thank you. The honor is mine. Thank you so much for having me on DiscoPosse. I loved it. Thank you.
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Evan Cummack is the CEO of Fin, a company aiming to shape the future of work, founded by former Facebook VP Sam Lessin and Venmo Co-Founder Andrew Kortina.
Prior to Fin, Evan was a General Manager at Twilio where he joined in 2011 as one of the company’s early employees and helped to shape the company’s unique “middle out” sales strategy.
Savvy Peterson is making the future less scary building communities & scaling empathy through her work at the Savvy Millennial.
We discuss the core platform and approach by Fin, how optimizing team performance has been able to reshape organizations and customer experience, plus how the community and customer engagement has proven to be fundamental to the growth of the platform and company.
Thank you Evan and Savvy for such a dynamic and informative conversation!
Hi, I’m Evan Cummack and I’m the CEO of Fin.com. I joined the company, though I’m not a founder, which is somewhat unusual. Not company really store doing that ground in December after spending time doing what I love around ten years in building Twillio with products many people will. Now we can talk a little bit. The text in my environment says good friend. When I joined in, I go over with her marketing community.
But what they’re doing at Fin, I’m actually.
As we talked with the.
Great the author behind.
All right. Now I have the community building of things in it is so much joy, so much really do go check it out.
This is a great conversation. This is like the ultimate combination of my favorite show. I just wish I had 3 hours now to be able to arrange a human right then I think it’s really important to me is the same for of work that you’re doing with an big shout out. And it’s very near and dear to me, I in product marketing better and helping out sales organization, helping out as a startup advisor and no early processes and a tea and a hold of it your new thing and commit.
It also particularly interesting. Help communal size the world and make sure that going from place to place that nurturing goes beyond the aspirin wall. Get increased retention increased, highly recommended. So try express even punishes forward. Just tell us and check it out. You know what and analytics to find in a challenge. They have one for everything we leave for your database in the house on this go to V s Forward positive platform of soul science or what you got tenuous what you need.
Load discovery and need it all.
Go check it out.
When I say in a more about human, you jump into the things that humans are going in front.
Make sure of a computer all day the most devil it confidentially to. And now let’s get into the good stuff data and this er conversation log. This is evil Mac understand workflows that are being performed. Enjoy.
Understand where the strengths and weaknesses are in the team and the technology that they’re using and the tools that they have available to them. And in the actual workflow or process definitions that they are carrying out in our early stages, we’ve had a lot of success with what I would refer to as customer operations teams, teams that do things like customer support inside sales, back office, customer contact, like accounts receivable and accounts payable. So really, teams that are working on heavily workflow driven job types and where you tend to have more than one person doing roughly the same job.
The tough part about running these teams is quite often you’re just trying to just keep up and search out the metrics that are important to measure in growth. And they’re so laser focused on getting content out and doing audience building that it’s very easy to lose track of how much inefficiencies are happening in that human workflow that can really drastically change conversions and success rates and stuff, especially I’m speaking purely on the digital marketing side, and I’ve seen this. The first thing you do is you think I need to fix this one problem.
Well, there’s a tool that does that really well. And then you add that to the toolkit and they’re like, oh, let’s connect it with Zapier to this other thing. And then we’ll connect it through 14 other workflow processes to another back end system. And then you got to tie it to Salesforce. Yeah. I feel the tool chain problem, it’s the fastest thing we run to is more bloody tools.
That’s true. It’s a good thing in the sense that there is this kind of explosion of SAS software as a service. You think back to the beginning of sort of enterprise software, I guess you could say I was in the 70s and through the 80s and 90s, in order to really sell successfully an enterprise software product, you would be selling top down for sure. You would have a sales team. The IBM sales team was very famous for their practices and rituals. If you got into a company, you could essentially sell that company, being all of your product line extension.
See, a certain company might be a Microsoft shop, and that would mean they would have SharePoint, and they would use Office, and they would use Windows, and it would be Microsoft everywhere. And with this explosion of SAS, it’s kind of cool in the sense that now you can have two people in a dorm room come up with not just a social network idea, but an enterprise software idea, which is pretty neat, and they actually can get it in the hands of sometimes people working at very large companies.
The downside of that is I think you could call it a downside as the It Department or as someone who’s leading an operations team. You may not even know the full portfolio of tools that your team is using. And you certainly almost certainly don’t know how they’re actually using those tools to achieve different business outcomes. One thing that we see a lot with our customers is they spend a lot of money on software or new software as a result of a promise from some vendor and actually find that it doesn’t change the overall efficiency or the overall outcomes at all for their team.
Now we try to focus on highlighting opportunities for improvement rather than just sort of know of changes that didn’t do anything. But we do see that a lot. I think that’s kind of testament to your point there. Yeah. Sorry.
I was just going to say to Echo that, Evan, one of the unique things that one of our community members and customers pointed out to us was everyone looks to tools to make teams work faster and to make processes faster. But that’s only one way to improve margins. If you can make the user experience for the people using those tools better and make those improvements, you can have that same impact on margin. And it’s working at the intersection of both those things. Both the tooling and the humans allow Sin to optimize both, which is pretty powerful.
The human optimization story is one that is it’s so strange that there are so few people targeting this. I mean, obviously, we have to look at integration and feeling back in systems and being data driven. But it’s like you said, the marriage of the two things of data driven, workflow driven and human integration to those things sort of a famous thing as a well known cyclist, Lance Armstrong, maybe not happily known to some people, but they created the ultimate time trial bicycle. It was the best thing ever that did in the wind tunnel test.
It could potentially shave off about 30 seconds on a 1 hour time trial, which is the difference between getting to the Olympics and not. And they put him out there, and at the end of the hour, he was a minute longer and his hips were ravaged by a change in Ergonomics. And so the scientifically best thing, in fact, wasn’t the best. And they had to go back and say, okay, it was actually just better than the old bike. And this is the tooling problem of, like the most optimized tool chain is only as good if the human is able to use it and leverage it and get all of that value in.
So, yes, I mean, and it is interesting that we spend so much money on software and then so much money on humans. Humans are, for most companies now, the most expensive resource. One thing I want to sort of touch on before we go too much further is this idea of when you say sort of optimizing humans, I think there’s a negative connotation that comes up with that. And I just want to be clear, our goal is, let’s put it this way, our customers seem to have three goals.
One is actually employee happiness. Retaining employees or to flip it on its head. Losing employees is extremely expensive. So even taking the sort of humanistic aspect out of it. People want to keep employees happy. And then, of course, customers want to do it for reasons other than that, just because of the basic empathy and basic humanity, people want employees to be happy. The second thing is they want to achieve good outcomes. So if you’re if you’re a consumer, and I assume everyone who’s listening is in some ways a consumer, you know, there’s nothing more frustrating than when you have, let’s say, customer service interaction with a company and the company has gone out of their way to make it.
So you have all this multichannel communications and you can reach them 24/7. And they put a whole bunch of work into technology. But once you finally reach a human being, if that person isn’t actually empowered to do anything different than what you could have done yourself, it’s very frustrating. So the second major goal there is kind of improving outcomes by actually understanding the work of the humans and how it maps to outcomes. And then the third is efficiency, which is what we’ve really been talking about.
Efficiency is an interesting one, because it does actually map to happiness. Everyone wants to be good at their job. And we often find that our customers will say we had an extraneous task that we didn’t know about. So we had to find a workflow for issuing a refund or changing a flight or doing whatever it was. And there was this final step in the process that would take everyone five extra minutes or two extra minutes or 30 seconds, whatever it was. And what we now know is that it wasn’t impacting outcomes, it wasn’t changing NPS scores, promoter scores, or customer satisfaction.
And so then they’ll remove that. And that creates efficiency. It means that as a human, you can get through more work in the day. But it also means that the work that you’re doing as a human is more meaningful. It’s more meaningful to the outcome of the business. You’re spending less time on tasks that perhaps could be done by software. And so, yeah, I want to make sure we’re not just talking about this from a sort of robot perspective, essentially.
Yeah. I apologize. I probably took a right to an immediate problem that I face on an hourly basis, but it’s true. This is all of that stuff is being done in service of a metric. And unfortunately, that seems like it’s a negative connotation, even when we say that. But the truth is, is generating a positive outcome for the business and for the businesses customers. And it’s really easy to sort of, as John Dora says, not measure what matters, right? We measure sometimes the vanity metric, and then we start to build processes and optimize towards the incorrect metric.
And it takes away from the happiness and ability to be empathetic to the consumer of whatever your services and software. And it it becomes sort of snowball effect of just doing all the wrong things. And then what do we do? We look and we say, well, the people are the problem, are the tools are the problem. Not realizing that there was challenges in the way we were putting it together. And if we looked at the right measurement, then we could do that. But no one knows what that is.
Like I said, when I look at kind of the things you’re doing, not just in the technology, but also in coaching and giving the ability for people to empower employees to do more effective things. Right. This is a big gap, and people just think they’re going to throw another tool at it and solve that problem. Yeah.
Another interesting aspect of this is like measurement is not new, and especially when you think about, well, everyone’s measured in their job. Right. I’m measured in my job on sort of high level things like revenue and employee happiness and things, but everyone ultimately is measured in their job in some ways. You know, what find technology and similar technologies do is actually bring a certain level of objectiveness to that, especially when you have people working from home, for example, rather than just looking at very crude metrics, like, how many of a certain task did a person get through, you would be able to look and see what’s the complexity of the work that they’re doing, and how do they have the best training?
Are they doing things really well? A lot of times customers will say we taught everyone to do a certain work for in a certain way. What we discovered is that our employees will actually show us the best way to do it, and then we can use that to go and show others, and then that results in things like promotion and people being treated the way that they actually deserve to be based on their merits. But, yes, it’s the whole idea is basically that people spend a whole bunch of money on software, a whole bunch of money on humans.
And then when the two come together, it’s like, well, what so what happens?
They just mush them together. It’s got to work. Right.
And they do measure it. But it’s sort of a little bit old fashioned, I guess, in a sense, the way that we measure things, typically, we don’t have to do samples anymore. You can actually just measure an entire population. And that’s kind of what we’ve gotten used to, I guess, with cloud computing and how we do instrumentation of software. With a product like Data Dog, you literally understand every single thing that’s happening in your cluster of software. You don’t just sample one machine, and it’s kind of a similar thing.
And again, the idea is to figure out at a macro level how the team is working, other improvements that can be made. There adjustments to process training, so on and so forth.
And on the end product experience because I know you also do work around sort of adoption and feature successes. And how does that come into play? Because I know there’s engineering teams all over the world, and this is one of the biggest gaps is like we we write up our bloody good user stories and we think we’re good at that. And then we put it in, and then we run it, if we’re lucky, through some previews and get good feedback sessions, and then we push it out to the world.
And then six months later, you call it successful. But again, lack of a real true measurement of what success is is holding folks from building the next thing or the next capabilities with data that can help inform the decision.
So this is actually really good opportunity to, especially for the more technical folks in the audience, kind of break down the distinction between in and every other product analytics product out there. If you are the creator of a software, as a service application, or really any website or web application, you have pretty powerful tools available to you in order to understand your users. So there’s tools like Heap analytics, which we use ourselves and is a phenomenal product that will as a product maker, you can really understand how people interact with your product.
What find that’s different is we are a cross product. So by using the web browser itself, we are able to understand not just how a user interacts with one piece of software, but actually how they interact with multiple pieces of software to get a job done. So maybe they’re using a ticketing system and a knowledge base and a CRM and an ERP system, and they may consult all of those systems every time there’s a request to issue a refund. Let’s say that’s always an easy example.
And what it does is it will actually tell you how that user interacts across all of those pieces of software and not just that user, actually, but how the entire team interacts across all those pieces of software. And so our customer is actually in that scenario, not the product in disk or the Salesforce or the knowledge based product company. It’s the enterprise that is paying for all four of those pieces of software. So it’s kind of an interesting thing where if you are an enterprise and you’re buying a piece of software like a SAS application, is a good chance that the SAS vendor actually knows more about your users than you do.
And sometimes they will expose, like an analytics offering. But by definition, just due to the way that the security model and other things work on the web, they can really only tell you about how people interact with that one product. And there are very few sort of complex workflows in an enterprise setting that exists entirely in one product, despite the fact that Salesforce and these other vendors would love it if we used all of their full suite of things, it tends to be. And I think it’s a good thing that as an enterprise today, you can buy best and breed across the Bolt.
So you can say, I want the best and breed ticketing system, I want the best and breed CRM, I want the best and breed outreach system. And with then we’ll actually be able to show you how those are being used together. The sort of technology paradigm that enables that is because we assume and it’s fairly accurate to what we see in the wild that 99% of enterprises are doing all of this stuff in the browser now. And so you have a standard declarative syntax and sort of unencrypted.
It’s sort of a semantic structured way of introspecting user interfaces. People tried this in the past with computer vision and various other things, never really took off. Lots of very high integration costs, unreliable data, lots of other challenges. But by just looking in the browser and asking our customers up front, what things are you interested in? We’re actually able to track cross application, and that’s kind of the defining paradigm of and this is why this is near and dear to most people that are listing.
Because this is part of the problem. As you said, evidence like, we’ve got trusted vendors and amazing partners with folks, but they are obviously going to be opinionated in the way that they’re able to deliver data, insight and different ways to interact with their data. And they could never be as good as interacting with the adjacent system. And look, companies get acquired, we buy new products. It’s very easy to get outside. We’d love to say that I’m going to use one cloud and one Sass and one CRM.
And life is fantastic, but too old to believe that that going to happen again. I’ve made a career out of proving that that’s not the case, but happy to let people just believe it as I coach them through the pain.
I think to the earlier discussion, oftentimes it leaders won’t even know the full suite of applications that’s being used or how it’s being used. One thing we see really often from customers is they discover how products like Gmail and Google Docs are being used in their workflows, which they didn’t understand before. And sometimes products like that could present a risk of data leakage. But sometimes they’ll be like, oh, actually, that just means we’re not providing if everyone’s building their own knowledge base in a Google Doc, we should probably figure out why.
We should probably figure out why our knowledge base isn’t good enough. And yeah, I think the notion that you have this discrete, fixed set of tools that your employees will use is people even go online to use Calculators and Google Translate and all of this kind of stuff. So I think those days are probably, for the most part, over it’s.
Also, like, what I really appreciate is that you lead. And when we look at in analytics as a site like those big stories are there, and you see what the ultimate goals are, and then you get into and this is how we do it, right. And this is how we’re differentiated, and we’ve come to that one. Savvy, I know this is one that will be near and dear to you of very easy to approach this as a fantastic technology solution. But if we don’t glue it to a story that actually matters to both the buyer and the user, because the other thing, too, is that we’re selling to the top still, ultimately.
But the day to day consumer that can easily become the problem for you as a vendor, they’ve got to get how you’re not wrecking their lives as well. How do we really pull all that together?
We conversation like every day, by the way, we talk about it.
Yes, it’s a very hot topic. It’s in and a very important topic because it all comes from transparency and communication. And the reality is there are a lot more customer service agents and frontline workers using our products. Then there are executives using our products, and that’s the nature of how teams are distributed. So if we’re not effectively communicating with our largest user base, we’re really missing an opportunity for community building. It’s been super enlightening and quite honestly, delightful interviewing many of our customers for voice of customer work and actually getting to see fin video capture from users around the world and seeing not just how they learn how to work smarter and more efficiently from a process perspective together, but also learning from each other and quite literally, how they handle challenging cases.
And when you have a video and you’re able to go back and annotate moments of crisis, for example, or moments of confusion, an anecdote becomes an actionable objective across the company, and you’re able to improve things and pass that message up to the product team to improve the overall user experience or whatever that is. And it’s so beautiful to see how literally team members will compile highlight reels of their fin clips to help comentor their other teams, both when they do great and also when they goof up so that other people can learn from a mistake and not make it when they move forward.
We also have customers who take fin clips and edit them down together from longer, more constructive meetings for board updates and anecdotes like that. And there are ways to use the product not only to capture and measure overall efficiency, but to actually make the team itself more efficient. And man, when you see a community educating themselves on how best to use your product, it’s a pretty good feeling as someone a part of the team.
Yeah, I missed that. Actually. You’re talking about Eric, like the user, like the in use experience, let’s say. So the individual people, the team members that whose computer this is writing on, they are empowered to centred on and off and that type of thing, but they’re also empowered to annotate their workflows to. So maybe there’s a particular page or a particular web form or a particular piece of the process that’s super cumbersome, like where there’s a lot of copying and pasting involved or whatever it is. They can actually say to the administrators of the It team, this part of the process sucks.
So they can kind of do that from within the software. And then you’ll see that aggregated and find out where the major pain points are. So I guess you could say and I realize that Savvy was talking we sort of didn’t really talk about, like, the the product functionality, but there’s kind of really three pillars. There one would be the aggregated data, and it really is like structured data. It allows you to see process execution at a structured data level. The second is clips which have been mentioned, which is the ability to Zoom in on any process execution and actually see what happened on screen.
That’s something where there’s a lot of Privacy involved. And so there’s kind of tight controls around when that may not be used. And then the third is kind of what I mentioned, which is, well, actually there’s a fourth and a third 36. But the third would be that sort of that ability for the users to take part in the process of continuous improvement by actually human annotating their work and saying commenting on what works and what doesn’t.
Basically, it’s funny. When I heard Fin clips and you described it, Savvy, I was like, alright, we’re going to tap on to this one a little bit. This is neat. And you immediately jumped into something that’s an interesting I say it was a couple of years ago. I think we fought a lot harder when we heard of a thing like this going on. Like, my behavior is being recorded and it sort of throws to that very Big Brother ish fee. But I think we’ve reached an understanding that if it’s being done for the purpose of improving my life through my function in my work, people are are good with like they know where the boundaries are.
They know where the edges are. They understand there’s always going to be folks that will be a little bit worried about anything that they’re being monitored on. But at the same time, if you’re going on Facebook to complain about something monitoring you, I’ve got bad news.
That’s a whole entirely different story. I’ll actually use a customer quote to answer this because I think one of the CEOs that we work with, Scott Moran, go to sums it up really well. And the way that he introduced Fin to his team was, I want us all to get on the same page and I want us to turn that page together. And so his analytics as CEO are also available. The company can see how he spends his time. He doesn’t record his video, because that is a bit of a Privacy issue in this particular circumstance.
But anyone can log in to Fin and see exactly how much time he’s been spending on Slack or an email or in their CRM or whatever API that we’re pulling from and gathering data from. For them, it is really about that transparency and also emphasizing catching someone in the act of doing something good. And I think that this is just a cultural thing in general. When we look at measurement, often the tone around it is always I don’t want to get caught, but we need to reframe that and talk about replicating top performers and showing ways where you could have really gone above and beyond.
And people across the organization can see that, even without you having to be your own advocate for that. So I think there’s a level of equality and democratization that happens through leveraging a tool like this when it’s done in a consensual, non creepy for the greater good.
To me, the bigger the biggest, I don’t know, maybe thing to note here is this is an employee interaction. And so this has been happening for hundreds of years, and to a certain extent, it’s I think, at least better to have this type of thing be objective, to have it be based on the truth rather than based on who’s the loudest, who’s the best advocate for themselves. As Savvy mentioned, who’s having a bear with the boss on a Friday afternoon. It’s like, okay, well, we know that like I said, employees have been or their work at least, has been observed and measured for many, many years, going back to time and motion studies and the Industrial Revolution.
This is just sort of a way of making things more objective. And, you know, arguably, I think if you start looking at people’s real output and what they deliver, it actually gives people sometimes more freedom to with how they can spend their time. So that would be one thought.
The audience of folks that are doing this, they’re already way close to the hard part is that we may have some folks that are listing that are not specifically in process driven work, and they aren’t close to teams that are doing this. And so it may seem a little bit foreign to them that this kind of work goes on. But like you said, even like this has been going on for far more than just decades. This is stuff that’s been going on, and it’s part of like you said, I worked with folks that did scanning of documents for a large financial services company, and it was boxes come in, it goes in, they’ve got SLAs, they’ve got all these things.
And the favorite thing you can do was go down and say, oh, hey, How’s it going, Sarah, what’s up? She’s like, they want to complain about what’s going on. I don’t get it. I’ve got to put the box here, and I got to put the paper here, and I do this thing, and then I click here, and then I’ve got to exit the system, download this file, put it up here. And you’re like, why do you have to do that? And that requires me going down and having a chat with Sarah to understand that that’s what she’s doing.
And I say this. I know the names because I literally sat down all I’m like, hey, Sarah, what’s up?
Oh, Eric, you wouldn’t believe this, right? And then in taking that back to the systems team, they’re like, why does she shut down the application? And it now opens up the opportunity to think about how are they using the system that the designer maybe didn’t have? Or the designer didn’t understand the impact of the total workflow. And then in the end, she’s measured by an SLA. She understands that that’s just part of the deal. If we could close the gap a little further to what you’re talking about, Evan, massive improvement for Sarah’s life, much more so than anybody else.
And she’d be pretty pleased about knowing that things would get better.
Yeah. I also think it’s just in terms of macro trends and sort of societal trends, the notion of using data to improve ourselves, as obviously come a lot more into the fold in the seven last ten years with the Apple Watch and wearables. And I think I’m a big tennis player. I code through videos, me, and we examine it. And it’s very hard for you better at anything without sort of collecting data I think we use for net in. Obviously, the investments that that I would like to make over time would be one where people working on more creative, less process driven work also can get a lot of value out of a product like this.
I would love to know, for example, how my day to day behaviors compared to the highest performing series a CEO startups. And are there things that I’m doing better or worse and sort of benchmarking against industry? I don’t see any reason that they can’t be done. And in fact, we sort of do that every day with our wearables and whatever else where we are. We have a thin Woop team. If you’re familiar with Woop wearable, what do you look at each other and say, who’s doing the most, who worked out the most yesterday or whatever it is?
So I don’t see this as being remarkably different to that in the long run. It’s really just using data to get better.
Yeah. Something that we almost should encourage that very thing. Here’s another example of and make a fun part of a real lifestyle thing that people do. It’s good to bring it together. Say what’s some of the biggest challenges that you kind of very rapidly see fall down as a result of early adoption of fine. I’m curious, what are the quick wins that you find that people really, really dig about what you’re doing?
So I think there’s kind of two things, and the actual sales team wouldn’t like either of these examples. But I think one is there’s a level of operating confidence, and for anyone who’s ever run a team before, you know that there’s a really horrible feeling of not knowing what’s going on. And it appears, I think your ability as a leader to make good decisions and even just to feel confident. So I think the first thing that tends to happen is leadership all of a sudden can know what’s going on.
Feel confident, know that if they make changes, if they pull the various levers that are available to them as an operator, that they will know what the impact of those changes are. And again, that’s one the sales seem probably won’t like because it’s hard to fall on that feeling of safety. But I do think it’s actually really important, I think, as an extension to that, being able to demonstrate return on investment. So one thing that we hear all the time from what you might call shared service teams or staff teams or back office teams, is it’s very difficult for them to actually demonstrate their value to the business and how they’re spending money.
And so the actual specific problems that customers set out to solve can be very different from one another. But one thing that does sort of come through a lot is the example that I used earlier of I had this conversation with a customer yesterday where they said we provide prewritten sample text to or it wasn’t a customer support team, but it was like some sort of inside sales team, and we provide them with these pre written macros essentially, that they will put into emails with customers.
They’re running an experiment to see what would happen if they changed the macro. They’re like, oh, will the macro start performing better? What they actually found is that less than 1% of people use them before the changes, a less than one people use, and less than one was going to people use them after the changes. And everyone actually have all their own macros written out that they were copying and pasting from other places. And so there’s typically just one big thing like that that someone finds out in the first few days where it’s like they’ve been, you know, optimizing and sort of trying to squeeze the most out of sub tool that they’re providing.
And it turns out that the team’s not even using it. So there’s always something like that that comes up very quickly. And then you have customers that have used the product for years, and the types of problems that they set out to solve can be extremely detailed to the point of sort of thinking about what the impact is of having to use additional key strokes and things like that where you get into real optimization stuff.
Yeah. You can really tighten the measurement once you understand where the opportunities are to be able to both measure and ultimately, hopefully to improve it goes. I tell you that story of sales cadences and communication cadences is hilarious because I’ve run into that exact thing of feeding the system. And then you say how you take a look, and none of the sales teams are using the workflows that we’ve defined. And then somebody said, well, that’s because they’re using it because in Salesforce you can do it natively.
Like nobody’s using the Salesforce email at all. They just take it from Outlook and they drag it over, if you’re lucky, and plug it into their thing is.
Right. And I think one of the things that you would use Pen for there is to find out, okay, what is everyone doing on average? And then what are our highest performers doing? Maybe this notion that we are maybe there’s box that we’re trying to squeeze you run into is actually not the right one. And, you know, maybe we should give people more degrees of freedom here, or we should encourage people to do it a specific way, but a different, specific way.
Yeah. I worked with one organization and their top performing advisor basically ran his own the group like a start up within the organization. And he was constantly at odds with a lot of the process, folks, because they say, you can’t do this. You’ve got to use this tool in this product and use these workflows. And he’s like, you understand, we have the largest amount of assets under management. As a team, we have the highest customers per rep of any other team in the organization. I don’t think you want to real us in.
I think you want to let other people see how we’re doing it. And it was so funny that the greater good wasn’t actually the greater good in that case. And but if you don’t measure, if you don’t look for that opportunity, we fall into the unfortunate trap of let’s just make it generic. And then it’s easy to map out.
So you can imagine how hard that has become now with people being distributed as well. It’s like you can’t even take those one or two super top performers and kind of look over their shoulder. So that’s been a big tail on for us as we’ve grown, but really perfect.
Yeah. Perfect example. It comes down to Granularity. I think the thing that we hear most from customers early on is our Granularity provided some sort of insight they didn’t have before that’s immediately. Actionable that has positive impact on the team or the bottom line or both, or their tooling, the ability to really pull out the magnifying glass and understand exactly what actions drive the best performance on the team, and also customer satisfaction on the outside, if your team is happy, or if those people are getting a great experience, even if the handle time is a couple seconds longer, maybe that’s a process we need to adapt and see how it affects everything else.
So what are some of your favorite moments that have come as a result to some of those the first time people like, oh, I just realized something they can do.
We were just talking about this yesterday. There’s two types there’s. That one I mentioned, which happens all the time, which is there’s some tool that we didn’t even know about. And people are wasting a huge amount of time on it, actually. And maybe this is the sort of technologist didn’t knee a little bit, that the more Granular stuff is much more interesting. So going back to the macros example, right. A lot of CRMs and ticket management systems support systems and disk, so on and so forth will tell you how often macros are being used and how they’re being used on certain certain types of tickets.
But within you. And this is again, it’s not sort of out of the box, but because everything is HTML, we kind of just provide a syntax by which we can define any rule that you want, anything that you’re trying to figure out. And so we’re able to work with customers, for example, on the macro thing, to say, how often are these being edited after they’re inserted? And that’s something where classically like a CRM or a ticket management system won’t go down to that level of detail.
But for a certain customer, that may be really important, let’s say that you have some sort of regulatory burden. And so it’s really important that you don’t say the wrong thing. So it’s really important that especially when we have a lot of find customers, it’s really important you don’t say the wrong thing is really important. You do say a very specific thing. And so being able to say, okay, how many times does this paragraph actually make its way out of this response or something like that?
I tend to get more of a kick out of those more mature use cases, but I also understand that they’re less impressive. On the surface. I understand you have some other examples that she likes here as well.
I think I’m really delighted by the super simple fixes, because they affirm that it’s often not the human that’s doing a bad job. In any case, it’s the process or the flow or the tool that’s failing them or their internet connection is bad or whatever it is. And one of my favorites was so it was actually a customer of one of our customers, and they were acting as a remote sales team for them. And they discovered the CEO of the company that they were supporting had asked the team to copy and paste the company logo into every single customer service email, because then desk doesn’t support logos in their emails.
And this act was costing the team 20% of their overall team utilization, so they were able to identify this and stop doing it immediately next day. Increase team utilization by 20%, which is just an incredible light switch where oh, my goodness, why wouldn’t we want to fix that? Also, I’m sure everyone hated copying and pasting those logos. And this goes back a little bit to what we were talking about earlier, where nobody wants to do busy work, nobody wants to do the most boring part of their job.
And if there’s a way to identify that and make it easier and better for everyone, including the end customer, who probably doesn’t care if there’s a logo in the bottom of the Zen desk email the wind for we all can work better.
But it’s rot for opportunity for errors and individualization of those workflows. It’s very, very easy to fall like I used to do even just like a server builds. And I got into automation one because I’m lazy and I hate doing things over and over again. And also because I’ve got real problems. I would write the build Doc, I would write the 42 steps to do it, and then I would skip nine of them every. I would always end up just blasting by them because I thought I knew better.
And there’s nobody doing a check on me because they’re like, oh, Eric wrote the document, so obviously he’s doing it right. And then if you did go back and check, you realize I missed a bunch of things. And then when I did process design, it was the first thing I did. I said, I need someone to watch me while I do this because I’m going to do the thing that I do, and I’m going to skip steps. I need you to tell me when I’m skipping them.
And it was a fantastic move for me to be able to have. In that case, it was really almost like pair programming for process building. And this is why I like what you’re doing. You can systematize some of those capabilities now to make sure we capture it.
We actually haven’t really thought about that a lot in the sense of using the process definition to then ensure that someone is actually following it in a certain way. There’s definitely interesting use cases for that. Yeah. I myself being part of teams that like hopefully not every day, but sometimes and especially maybe like in an incident scenario or see something with the pressures on, you have to perform a series of steps from a run book in a certain order. We haven’t thought too much about that, but that is interesting.
One thing, though, that is very similar, which is a big market for us or something that a lot of our customers do is figuring out which processes to automate and how to automate them. Rpa robotic process automation is a big industry now very suddenly, but it can actually be quite hard to know what exactly to tell those systems to do. And so folks do use find for that. My perception of that, I guess, is that it’s actually a good thing to Savage point that you have these.
I do not believe that RPA, for example, is going to result in massive layoffs of knowledge workers. It just doesn’t make sense. We will find more useful things for those people to do. Companies are not going to massively increase their margin and expect no additional competition or anything like that. So I do think that we will just find, like, more human, more interesting, more competitively advantageous work for those folks to do. But if there are aspects of their job that they’re doing today that are so predictable, so repetitive that they can be moved to RPA, I think that’s interesting.
And something worth at least looking at. And with thin it’s like you’re not thinking about necessarily replacing an entire person. Maybe it’s just like that one part of their job, which is just incredibly repetitive. Maybe it’s very important that it gets done uniformly, as you mentioned, and we will actually give you like, here is the process, here’s how it gets done, and you can then go ahead and use one of the many RPA tools out there to make it happen.
And this also comes to the idea of the I mean, I work in a tech vendor, and we have we have two personas, the buyer and the user, which we hope to begin the champion. But the important thing is you have to make sure there’s this feedback loop, both from you to each of those communities as well as between them. And it’s a huge empowering thing when you can do that. So this is also savvy. You probably have a lot to pull into this one of where do you really see organizational improvement?
Because you’ve introduced a way in which they can feedback to you, and they say, hey, we’re using Fin. We’re doing this thing. And now I’m actually going to care about what my boss says. They interact differently now because they know they have a chance to feedback to improve the system or just to be involved in the process.
I love that you just brought that up. And it touches on a little bit what I was mentioning earlier. Considering that we do, in most cases, provide video recording for our community and our customers, we actually quite literally get to see how they do this, which is pretty sweet. And these teams. I mean, I’m happy to share in the comments of this podcast. One of the links. If anyone’s curious, there are some really fun short clips that illustrate exactly how this happens. But because people know that a great moment or a big save is going to be captured or their goof is going to be captured, they really disassociate from the super emotional part of it.
And it’s like players on a sports team rather than an individual getting scolded by their mom. If that makes sense. And the idea is we want the whole team to work better together. And everyone knows that if they goof up, it’s not something to brush under the rug. It’s get in front of it. This is a learning moment and a teaching moment, and this is an opportunity for us to play around with it. It’s also an opportunity for us to learn how to improve the product because they will capture that feedback.
And the customers do bug reporting for themselves. They help us find ways to improve our product offering and interesting pieces, too. I mean, to your point, yes, we’re directly selling to the buyers. But Fin becomes a part of the onboarding process for new employees that most of our customers. So there is a lot of championing that needs to happen and a lot of communication around the transparency that’s provided and how the tool is for good and not for menace. So, yeah, it’s a big part of how we think about our messaging.
We were in the midst of a very exciting rebrand at Sam dot com maybe live by the time this goes live. Hopefully I live if it looks sexy when you go to find com we succeed in if it doesn’t. Well, it’s coming. That said, we’ve really been talking about this messaging a lot because we want to make sure that that user knows that a we’re thinking of them, that we don’t just see them as a transactional piece of data. And that also that we’re communicating to them about the true benefits of fin so that they even know how to interface with their manager or with those executives to learn how to contribute and how to make the team more successful across the board.
I could see it right now like TikTok, but for process automation, fine. You got a I love that.
And you’re talking to the right marketing minds to make that happen. Evans, Grimacing, Right now.
And Meanwhile, I the GNZ release.
It’s coming to this. It also goes to have very strong technical background. Evan, So as a CEO, you’re a technical CEO. Obviously, there’s more than just tech is not your entirety of your skill set, but you’re very product aware. And so when you’re looking at these sort of feedback loops and then building the business as well as the platform, how does your technical background influence how you kind of gauge the future of the organization?
It’s an interesting question. I was sort of a self taught engineer as a kid, and I actually have never worked as a software engineer in a professional setting. I’ve always been sort of an an flurry roles, mostly product management, lots of sales engineering and solution architecture, customer facing stuff. You know, I think there’s probably a couple of things there that are interesting, and actually it’s almost like more product management, I guess. But we talk a lot about this internally, just sort of how do you distinguish between listening to what customers are asking for and sort of actually interpreting what customers problems are?
And there’s a real difference. Obviously, people will tell you they want a faster horse is sort of the old example. And I think that’s probably the biggest part of it is just sort of being able to comprehend, okay, someone has a certain problem that they’re trying to solve. How how timely is this problem? Is this actually a fundamental technological or business issue, or is this just something that is a side effect of some crappy broken way that we do things right now due to the technology right there’s, technologies that come and go, and they have various limitations to them.
But some of those limitations aren’t fundamental. They’re just sort of, you know, that they will go away eventually. A good example there. We get a lot of customers that talk to us today about, like, hey, can we do desktop application support? And our approach to this day is being not really. I mean, we’ve played with it. We’ve toyed with the idea of maybe doing SDKs for Dotnet and maybe letting people pump in sort of complex analytics from their own applications. But at a certain point, you have to make a bit and just say, HTML is everywhere.
It’s going to be increasingly everywhere. You have progressive web applications coming on various platforms. You have even on iOS with Swift UI. It’s not HTML. But at least Apple has embraced this idea of kind of declarative user interface specification rather than building things programmatically with oriented programming. So it seems as though, like, okay, this is a bit that we’re making, and it’s smarter for us just to focus here. And if there’s ten of the largest enterprise customers that we’re not going to be able to service for the next five years, that’s fine.
Five years from now will be way ahead of everyone else in this area in which we are focused.
So given the choice between should I rate for Salesforce or should I rate for cable?
Exactly. But it’s really easy, though, especially when you start hiring sales people. This is an interesting topic that I feel quite strongly about which they do actually believe. Sales people should be the advocate for the customer in an almost direct proxy manner. So if the customer is asking for CEBL, the sales person should be asking for CEBL. They should be, like banging on the desk and demanding CEBL support. I think actually a healthy way for sales team to operate. It then comes down to, how does the product team and the engineering team actually take all of that feedback in turn it into a road map?
And how do you message back to the sales team to help them sell around those types of limitations? But I think trying to train your sales team to go into a customer and say, don’t worry about SB. That’s the wrong approach. The sales person should be the unequivocal advocate for the customer, whatever language it is that the customer is using. And then the product team should be the one that’s really turning that around and making decisions from it.
Yeah, it’s a really great point, and one that we often lose that the salesperson is selling in both directions, and it’s tough for people to get that. It’s not sure if it’s purely transactional and certain things are, but I really do appreciate that that’s how you approach it, because I believe that’s the way it should be. Like you said, you should be have people saying, look, we need this feature, and then you get to ask why, and then you get to get involved in the process of customer interviews, and then you say, okay, maybe through that additional discovery, you find an opportunity, or you find that the opportunity wasn’t there.
Hey, maybe a faster horse would be just fine for some people. We can give them a faster horse while we develop the car.
That’s true, too. But I think in general, you lose Fidelity if you discourage your salespeople from just bringing you complete transparent information. Now, of course, you want as a product leader to be talking directly to the customers and more importantly, like listening directly to the customers. But it’s not going to scale as well as there’s always going to be some respect of bringing in feedback from sales, too. And I just think if you discourage or shame or judge the requests that are coming in to the point where they get pre processed into a voice that the sales people assume you might be more willing to hear that you lose Fidelity.
You make worse decisions, basically.
And as the last point I’ll hit, because I know we’re coming up on time, and I could go for hours chatting with both of you on a lot of different things. How do you embrace challenge in that, especially when there’s feedback? That may not be as a five star review, but how do you take that through the community and then bring it back to the product and ultimately make this idea of, like, be a better company, be a better, you know, provider to your team and to your customers, and then, you know, ultimately embrace the customer experience to allow them to feel that they can make those comments.
One thing is very important to just tell the truth. So if you don’t have a feature, just tell the truth. And I think a lot of problem start when you don’t do that. I think, you know, product market fit is a really interesting phenomenon when it happens. And I think that a strong indicator of product market fit is actually that customers are telling you the product doesn’t do what you want. And what I mean by that is it means that you have the best product for them, even though it doesn’t do what they want.
So when you go from especially when you change technology paradigms, let’s say you mentioned CBE and Salesforce. I’m sure the first version of Salesforce had 120th or less of the features. That the most mature version of CB Head, but it had something different, which was it ran in the browser, and that was a huge ran in the cloud. And that was a huge thing. I’m sure all those early customers, all they did was like, I need that feature. I need that feature. I need that feature.
I need that feature. But the only reason they bought even bother to have that conversation with you is because the thing you’ve done is so important to them. So you actually do have product market fair. And the way, you know, is because they’re willing to use your products, even though it doesn’t do all of those things. And so it’s kind of counterintuitive. But one of the ways to recognize the product market fair is because all these feature requests are so relentless. And so it may feel discouraging, and it may feel like, oh, man, we can’t do anything for anyone but what it’s actually signifying.
Because if you were, you know, some new desktop CRM, you would never get those questions. People would just be like, it doesn’t do what I want, and people already does. So screw it. I’m not going to bother having that conversation. Right? Yeah, it feels discouraging. And you can feel like you’re getting beaten up. I can feel like we can’t solve any problems for anyone sometimes. But there’s a reason that people are asking, which is that they like something that you’re doing a lot. And so they’re willing to figure out how to make collective sacrifices and how to fit the roadmap together with their roadmap.
And I think it is that it’s just like I said, be honest, it doesn’t do that today. Here’s what we would need to sort of figure out in order to make it do that, or we don’t see that as being something that really fits into our plan. Here’s why. Here’s how we plan to solve the same problem using different techniques and just be very transparent as a cherry on top of that.
To me, it’s a little bit like PR and Piers compare any feedback is good feedback depending on the ones that you filter it through. And not that every piece of feedback can be actionable immediately and shouldn’t necessarily deter the product roadmap. But we keep an open line of communication with all of our customers. And since we have the unique advantage of having thin clips, we do have customers regularly send in moments that their frontline team have experienced, where the products could use improvement or where something maybe wasn’t working as expected or discussing something that they wish it did in that moment.
And it provides us context. It’s similar to bug reporting when you can see exactly how in the flow of something would be advantageous. It’s not just hypothetically how old this improvement or this release change our product trajectory and the clients that were able to serve better. You can really experience what that’s like for the user and watch what that was like for them. And we have a very fluid process. If I receive that feedback from one of our community members goes straight to our product team, and that gets thought about for whatever’s coming down in the pipeline, and we’re usually able to turn around to the customer and return the favor and say, hey, this is where we’re at with us.
This is actually coming up really soon. And right on point, or this is a feature that’s a little bit farther down the line for us. Thanks so much for keeping the lines of communication open and keep it coming. And it’s kind of like when you can have a one instructive conversation with your manager and feel heard it’s the exact same thing with a community member. The second they feel heard, they feel a sense of loyalty to the company, because not every company is going to sit there and listen to you and actually take the time to process and apply your feedback to their trajectory.
So I think it really fosters a relationship as well.
Something that we should all strive to do both in our jobs and our platforms and in our homes.
The same thing is when your partner doesn’t tell you that things are problematic and they just suddenly just don’t show up one day, you’d much rather have them say, I think we need to talk about something. I this is a customer experience. It’s really no different. It’s just that there’s a commercial relationship wrapped around it. And as you said, it’s empowering when they feel that they can come to you with that. And then if you listen and then bring that through, and that’s one of my favorite things is to come to a customer or even do sometimes even an analyst or different people and say, like, check this out.
Remember that thing that you said was a real problem, like a weird thing, like three months ago? Watch this and it’s a wonderful moment for them, because then they know they actually influenced, you know, something, and they feel like their voice was heard, and it makes them put a smile on the face for a moment.
At least you’re bringing them on the journey. I think that different people the way that I define community versus customers. The customer is a transactional relationship. That someone who gives you money for a product or service. A community member is someone who cares about more than that transaction. And by empowering advice like that and hearing that feedback, you foster that type of relationship.
It’s my favorite thing. So I came from the customer side for years and even feels weird saying that phrase. But I would talk to the event and I’d see somebody come and they’d say, So I was talking to a prospect the other day, and just after they were doing, like, do me a favor. Never, ever say that again. There’s no such thing as a prospect. I was speaking to somebody else in the community. I never say they’re a prospect or a customer. Say they’re somebody that uses your platform.
Take the transaction out of it. Make it a human engagement, for goodness sake. But anyways, I’m stealing extra time from you. So, Evan Savi, this has been really, really fun. Thank you very much for folks that do want to get connected with either you. Sorry we didn’t talk about the Savini. Go to a millennial com. Make sure you spell it with two LS and two ends. Like, I didn’t do the right time the first time. But Evan Savi, what’s the best way that folks can reach out to you if they want to interact?
Feel free to email me. My email address is just EC Echo Charlie at fin com. Fin com is just Fin com. Fantastic domain name. We’re very fortunate.
How did you tell that one of you must have friends on the other side?
That story is never to be told. But if you’re interested in the product again, just find com. Fin com. Our handle on almost all social media is better with Fin. But if you’re interested in the product, come check directly. Let’s figure it out.
Absolutely. And by all means, the show is about find com anyway. But you’re welcome to visit Savvy millennial com. My name is Savannah Peterson. I’m a highly Googleable person, and you can find me at Sav. Is Savvy on all of your favorite social channels? Eric, thank you so much for having us today. It’s been a joy.
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Emily Jillette is a mom of two, wife, producer, and philanthropist. She has been involved in philanthropic work from her home in Las Vegas and continues to be an active local voice and contributor to many important charities and groups.
When she’s not busy with producing great film and TV work, she’s also heavily involved in the continued success of her family which includes her husband Penn Jillette whom folks may know from the longest running magic show in Las Vegas, Penn and Teller.
We discuss the power of doing good, how to choose where you can be effective with both time and money for charitable giving, and how she and her family have maintained a busy and happy life while balancing a very busy public schedule and still staying involved.
Emily is also a marathon finisher and puzzle afficianado. It was a real pleasure to share time and I hope you enjoy the conversation as much as I did!
Here are the charitable organizations that were mentioned in the podcast:
Hey, everybody, this is Emily Jillette. I am coming to you from Las Vegas, where I am a philanthropist, a mom and a seven handicap. But I dress like a scratch player. And you’re listening to the Disco Posse podcast.
You’re listening to. Today’s Capozzi. All right, so I love professional broadcasters and creators, is that, you know, how to do this stuff on a dime and producer and mom and golfer and everything and philanthropist Emily Jillette. Thank you very much for joining us today. This is going to be one of the most fun ones I’ve had in a while, because, number one, I’m super interested in the stuff you’re doing. And I’ve got a as they would says the young folks would say, mad respect for for what you do in the world.
And also, it’s just going to be fun because you’re such a fantastic conversationalist. So go on. We’re in for a good time or everything. So thank you for joining. If anybody, for whatever reason, is new to you, if you want to do a quick intro and tell us about yourself, and then we’ll get into what I describe as, interestingly, quiet philanthropy. And we’ve I know we’ve talked about the fact that quiet maybe doesn’t belong in the way you do it.
But I’ll explain a little context when we get to that.
OK, well, I did mention my passion for golf, which comes up very early in most conversations, only, only outshining the fact that I ran the New York City Marathon twice. But other than that, I am a mom and a wife and I’ll just say it right out. My husband’s name is Penn Jillette and he is the latter half of Penn and Teller, a long standing magic duo, longest running show in Vegas. Anyway, so I have two kids, teenagers who have survived the pandemic and born and raised in Las Vegas, where I moved 18 years ago.
I have my husband. I met my husband on a job I used to produce golf commercials. And Vegas is the greatest place to shoot golf commercials because clients love to come here. And we never have rainy days which are so expensive in production it never rains here. And so, yeah, I met him here. I can tell you later. Now if you care how and and we got married and had kids within like two or three years and have been here for 18 years.
And I love Vegas. I think I would love Vegas even if I weren’t married and had kids here. But because I love shows and community and restaurants and golf. But add to it my incredible husband and family and friends and I’m where I’m supposed to be.
It’s it’s a perfect place when it’s funny because you also spend a lot of time in another place well known for food and theater. Of course, you you do spend time in New York as well, but attitudinally different than Las Vegas as far as just the way that people walk in the sidewalk. Well, the fact that when one side they’re usually carrying four foot tall glasses with giant straws made of palm trees in them and on the other side, they’re probably shoving you out of the way because they’re trying to get to work faster for whatever reason.
But the the interesting thing, when I look and for people to try and look at this as funny as I as a researcher and like, let me find out, make sure I know all I can about Emily before we get in. You also go by your Emily Zoltán on your production credits, which is always interesting because then I’ve got to do a double search. You’re surprisingly light on outside information, you know, especially given that you have a fairly public life.
You are very good about keeping this beautiful balance of, like, showing the stuff that you want to and not getting dragged into other areas, which is probably not easy given that you’ve got a fairly public facing life.
Well, I can honestly say that was not a concerted effort. I consider myself a rather vocal on social media and a little less so over the past few months as I detox from the Trump. Well, we lived through, but he could have taken to edit that out.
The I don’t normally vote for you. I can if we really want.
Oh, no, I’m loud and proud on that. But I didn’t know if you didn’t want to alienate your viewers. I don’t mind. I mean, I could I can say like three good things about Trump if you want about it anyway. So as far as my credits go, you know, I’m in a thing called the DGA, the Directors Guild, and most of my credits that are creditable, like on IMDB or before I joined, so.
I don’t I don’t know why there are no I mean, nothing’s on my TV, I don’t populate it, but I actually work on 17 features and tons of TV shows and commercials and whatever. As far as other things out there, I’m sure there is. Did you find stuff like participation in charity, events like that?
That is one thing. And of course, this is why I mean, I’ve I’ve sort of followed your story via a lot of Penn interviews, actually, on various themes on law and Howard Stern. And so I I’m an avid listener to talk radio, even though as a Canadian, I would be like basically like underground radio, like listening to these like syndicated replays of all these long form talk shows. Yeah. And I was always interested in, you know, when he talked about his philanthropic work.
And then that led me to do sort of strange amounts of research about that. And it led me to you. And I realized that you have a lot that you’re doing. And then I also got found out that we have a common friend, Missy Young, who is such an amazing human. I can’t talk enough about how great Missy is. It is so, so cool. And when I talked to Missy, I was like she mentioned that she was on on a board of directors for one of the charities with you.
And I thought, all right, if I can ask that favor, can I can I get can you phone a friend for me? And here we are, which is kind of cool.
I’m honored because, I mean, in a in a town full of incredible women, I’m lucky just to know them. I’m really not top of the list. I’m going to pass on to some good ones after me. But yeah, I mean, the cool thing is, is that I got into philanthropy, which is something you’re really interested in talking about. Right. I don’t want to go off on a tangent.
Yeah, no, that was the big thing because that’s the if I’ll say and I talked about this this idea, this theme of like quiet philanthropy and interestingly quiet in that you’re very involved, but you’re not like most I’ll say this is a I want to be careful how I say this. I’m not saying most of you what a lot of people who have public faces tend to have way more selfies about their charities than the people that the charities are arguing to.
And I don’t want to detract from people that are doing work. And that’s maybe that’s just the way that they know how to bring attention to it. But when I look at what you do, all I see is the people you affect, not you doing it. You immediately pass through the all the cheers to the people that are doing it, like when it comes to Opportunity Village and all these things, it’s always like, these are the amazing people.
I’m just here beside them. It’s it’s such a rarity in people that are have an opportunity to really bring themselves as the center. And the first thing you do is you slide out of the camera and say, no, no, they’re they’re the cool people.
Well, I really appreciate that. I assure you, it hasn’t been a concert ever a concerted effort. And I actually don’t mind being on camera and talking. I’m thrilled to be here. I mean, like you might be pretending my jokes are funny and my family doesn’t do that. I’ll be great. But thank you. That’s really nice. I hope it I hope it stays that way. But so I originally got into philanthropy more than just the casual donation along my lifeline because of Penn.
And that’s because twofold, when I moved here and became his wife, it took a couple years to I mean, I am a very confident, strong minded person, but it took a couple of years to adjust to being Mrs. Jack. Yeah. Yeah. Because very much up figuratively and literally, literally in the shadows of such a large personality. And after a couple of years of you know that and a little bit of a princess life, I sort of stopped working for a minute and and just enjoyed our newfound love and marriage.
I was like, all right, I gotta to get back to something. But I’m probably not going back to full on six day a week production. So Barbara Molaskey and Robin Greenspun, who are the most incredible women of Las Vegas, I mean, there’s a list of them, but those two almost make you tear up. They’re so amazing. They invited me to an event at Robin’s house for Opportunity Village where I was blown away. I think there I think I wasn’t even aware that there were that these underground communities that just power force powerhouse, which is it powerhouse and help all these charities, that it can’t be done without it.
And it’s kind of odd that I didn’t know about it because I’ve been a libertarian for long before that actual meeting and espouse this idea that private citizens would replace things and help those who are now being helped so much by government programs. And I just didn’t realize it. But it might have been an indication of where I was living, which was central Florida. And I was a civilian, for lack of a better word. I’m a civilian now, but you know what I mean for.
Yeah. And so I was enthralled and I just went at it full speed. And then Pen, who is in his heart the most generous person on the planet, isn’t actually very social. And that’s because he gets a lot of a lot of attention. And if he opens his heart and his energy all day to everybody, there’ll be nothing left for him or his family or even his work. So he’s a little guarded with all that. So I was able to work so well with him, for lack of a better term, capitalize on his presence and sort of be the tap dancer next to him, you know?
So we’ll go to something and and and somebody to talk to us for like 15 minutes and they’ll walk away and can only talk for 15 minutes. It’s so amazing. But if you watch if you TiVo the scene, you would see that I talked to 14 of them like that. So it was a really, really good teamwork. And then once I got into it, it just, you know, charity begets charity and people start calling you and say, hey, do you want to do this or this?
And I used to say yes to everything, almost everything, everything that aligned with my my objectives and morals. But now I limit it to about four main charities a year with the occasional donation or appearance at something else. But because each of the charities has an event, the events take up a lot of time and and preparation. And so I just stick to four, which I can name or that name at any point that you like.
We’ll tell you what I’d love to er any, any advertisement I can, you know, and bring attention to, to what you’re working on. So definitely I’d love to hear you know who, who are you’re for that you’re really active with right now.
Well let’s sprinkle it throughout our time so it does commercial right now. So the first and foremost is Tyler Robinson Foundation and hashtags like Cancer Drag that’s happening.
I love that shirt. That is the best for people that it’s funny because this goes back to format’s. We’ve got the audio that goes out for people to get the video. So I get a definitely a snapshot that because that is a fantastic shirt. And I say this is a guy who’s wearing a fantastic shirt because I, I got my own shirt joint. I got it. I love it. Slay cancer with dragons.
Let’s pretend that there’s a reason for that. And this is the Imagine Dragons charity, and they are a big US based band, world famous worldwide. Now, if you don’t know the Imagine Dragons where you’ve been and so briefly, they were doing the concert as the Imagine Dragons and they got a like a Facebook message back early when people used to read their messages. And it was from a brother who was like, my brother’s dying of cancer. All it does is listen to your music is going to be at the he’s going to be at your concert tonight, which was like two hundred people in a dove bar, you know, and and Dan Reynolds, the lead singer, you read the message and during the show, he called them out and they, like, sang a song together.
And it became very emotional, like you should look for the video and it it inspired them to start the Tyler Robinson Foundation that was named of. And he went into remission and then he actually eventually passed. And so they started it in his name. And it is become an incredible organization which helps families with the out-of-pocket expenses that none of us even realize exist. You know, if I have two children and one of them has cancer, I’m so glad that they don’t.
But I would rather lose myself as an example, the amount of money it takes to go to the appointments, go to the specialist, get child care for the other kid, customize the room if they need, you know, disability help. All these things that pop up, those aren’t covered by insurance and they will deplete a family’s bank account, morale and energy. And Tyler Robinson Foundation raises money to offset those costs.
Wow. That’s yeah, that’s the incredible thing. It’s like it’s not even the first order effect of of what’s happening. It’s that the stuff that’s just a family fighting. Together, especially, you’ve got multiple kids. I mean, goodness gracious. Especially the last 18 months where the world is vastly different than we’d ever imagined it could be, and people can barely keep their day jobs up because they have kids at home and all this stuff. So it’s I’ve got I got four kids, so I know the deal on what it takes to do that.
And if anything is thrown off for a day, most people are like, I’m out. I said, I can’t do this. It’s really, really hard to shift the schedule. And if you suddenly have to put attention as much needed to a child or of an elderly relative, your wife, your husband, partner, anybody, and, you know, you do it right. And that like, we would throw ourselves at it if we could.
But then we’re stuck making this choice of how do I pay the mortgage or rent or do I spend time with my loved one? Yep. It’s a choice we shouldn’t have to make.
Yeah. And that’s what they do. And I’m not correcting you. But I will clarify that Tyler Robinson helps families with pediatric patients. Right.
Very specific. Yeah, yeah. Yeah.
And they and they really help. We have an annual event and we have some of the families come and talk about their experiences. And I mean, everybody says this, but literally not a dry eye in the house. You just you’re so grateful that you can help them and. Grateful that you are not experiencing it personally, I don’t at that point.
That’s that’s it. You know, it’s that that that’s I mean, even when when I do like nerd tech presentations, the first thing I do is like infuse a real story. And it’s like the best thing in the world when someone like you see them, they’re like. Chris, there’s a lot of air coming in here, you know, like like it’s like this is stuff that actually matters, you know, like, oh, you by the way, we do this other thing and it’s neat and whatever, but like, why the hell are we doing all the stuff we do, you know?
Oh yeah. Because humans matter and let’s let’s do some amazing stuff together.
And so I will add, because this is a this is like I don’t know, I always feel this and people don’t talk about it that much, but I think they talk about it. I’m not trying to be special. I try to help as much as I can. It’s kind of talking about how, but just because I hope someday someone helps me that way if I’m right.
Yeah, no, no. And that’s that’s really the thing of it. And it’s unfortunately rare, right? It’s hard to it’s hard for people to see that chance to be able to go outside. I mean, my one of the most amazing stories is for folks that as a marathoner, you may know is from the triathlon world, Dick and Ricky Hoyt, who are a famous father son duo, and they’ve run Ironman. And the stories that Dacoit was they had their son had a challenging birth cord, got wrapped around the neck, ended up with cerebral palsy.
And they said, what do you do? So they go to the doctor. And this is years ago. And they said, well, your best bet is to put him in continuous care and then hope that he can have, you know, a somewhat decent life there. And he says he’s like, no, no, no, that’s not what we’re going to do. It’s not how we do things. Right. So he was a military man.
He says we’ll work our life around this. And they did these things. And and he said, like the first words that he spoke because he they got this the computer that they could actually, like, use the letters on the computer. And, you know, what are the first things he’s going to spell out on this computer? And they put all this everything they could into this. And this is going to be dad is going be mom, whatever.
And it was go Bruins. Yeah. And he goes a Boston guy does this classic like Boston guy. I’ll tell you about my son Ricky. And and it was amazing. He says then he he went and he took them in like he would run with them. And he’s like, we would take him for a walk and take him for a run. And he says, what do you do? You like that? And he says, Dad, when I run with you, it feels like I’m running.
And so he became he started running like five K’s and ten k’s and marathons. And next thing you know, they’re doing Ironman triathlons together. And he had an adapted bike and he would pull them on a raft for the swim. And it’s just it’s incredible. And I tell people, like, if you watch this video of him, like introducing this story, you aren’t crying at the end. You don’t have a soul because. Oh, but it’s like as a parent, you know, you’re like, I’d throw anything away for your kids and and then to do it for your peer group, like for somebody who you’re not even directly connected.
Like, it’s it’s incredible. So, yeah, that’s the stuff that I really get. I get I love it. Right.
Yes. You have set up the perfect Segway. So I will just tell you that another foundation that I work for at Penn and I have done a lot that is called Opportunity Village and has a similar provenance, if you will, of its creation, which was Linda Smith had a severely handicapped son and I believe they were Canadian, forgive me, or anybody else if I get his details wrong. But I believe words like throwaway child were used and they just wanted to, you know, put them in an institution and walk away like they didn’t even talk about.
An integrated life with that that level of care. But anyway, Linda was like, nope, not going to happen. His name’s Christopher and he recently passed away, but after, like, 35 years. And so I don’t think she actually started Opportunity Village. I think she found them and created the the incredible foundation that it is today, although she has also moved on. I just want to make sure I don’t say something to people that’s not right.
Emily, let the opportunity village is. Akin to the Go Bruins statement, which is to say, it takes Handey, it takes intellectually and physically disabled people and teaches them whatever their level of capability is, what I call life or vocational skills. So from the simple list, like, here’s how you pour a glass of water if you have that capability to. Here’s how you take a bus. Here’s how you go to the bathroom. Here’s how you go grocery shopping and here’s how you get a job.
And it is a it’s a paradoxical goal, which is to teach them independence that’s integrated into the real world. And it’s fabulous. Everybody there is called a VIP and everybody has a job and everybody has a paycheck. So everybody feels self-worth and value. And the amazing thing is that they have been so embraced by the biggest hospitality community. So tasks as simple as they have like assembly line up there at their two facilities where they might just be putting like a plastic silverware, napkins into one of those world things or collating papers for a conference or they found it was an incredible opportunity to have a huge shredding business because what’s the whatever is shredding business.
But also at the community, they are working in the hotels, working in the restaurants, working everywhere. And it’s an amazing thing that we love working template for it on Celebrity Apprentice. And I would like to say to help balance my other comment that Trump was ten years ago a wonderful host and a fantastic game show host. And I support his career in game shows.
Anyway, I hope that was that was one of my first introductions to Opportunity Village was through through that show. And and yeah, that was the whole thing of like, how can we give people literally an opportunity, right. To actually have something that they they can do and they feel the contribution they get results from. And it’s not exploitative or exploitative. Exploitative. I don’t know. I’m not sure what the word is. I’m not perfect, but I’m Canadian, so it’s a weird word.
You got to have a small list of words and read and write, but don’t pronounce.
And that’s one of them. Yeah, I if I do the weirdest and this is my nerd bits coming in for a second, I say the word infrastructure about 11 times a day at a minimum, and I write it all the time and I spell it and say it poorly every time I for whatever reason it’s my kryptonite of of words. It’s yeah. Thank goodness for auto. Correct.
But well, I also want to add because as I mentioned, Barbara and and Robin, but there was a guy there named Michael Thomas who also became a very close friend. And if you happen to be in Texas, he moved and started his own new and improved opportunities called My Possibilities. And Wow is doing is magical. So check it out. My possibilities.
Now, this is the the the very interesting thing about this, when you put yourself towards this stuff in more than just. A donation. It’s a real investment in the people behind it. How do you how do you find the ones that you know, that your contribution is going to have a meaningful impact? Because that’s what I find a lot of people don’t get involved with in much more than, you know, maybe small charitable giving because they’re unsure that what they’re doing actually impacts something.
Yeah, I am not sure I have a delineated process. I think that certainly I read about it right away and find out what they do. And I might go to a meeting or two. Typically when I’m invited to help a charity or work with a charity, it starts out with an event, you know, like, oh, we’re putting together a committee for this event. Can you be on the committee? And I’ll do that. And there’s a lot of gut feeling that goes into it, you know, and the people who are associated with it, for example, Mr.
Young’s a gold star. If Missy’s on the board, I don’t have to do any of the work because she wouldn’t be here if it weren’t. Yeah, a small aside, but I like to mention it because of my personal position, which is I generally don’t do anything that’s religious related only because I’m not I’m not against religion helping people. But I, I really like to walk the walk that it’s people who help people. And I just want to show that that’s important to me.
There’s enough that I can choose from my parameters that I can be extremely philanthropic with and be inclusive. So there’s that. I look for fun. I mean, we could set way right into the Shriners Hospitals for Children. There you go. I work on a PGA event, which is golf and philanthropy together.
It’s like the is the absolute culmination of everything you did in my whole life, that inside the ropes, that is the help that I can’t even hide how much I appreciate the fun and benefit I get from it. That being said, Shriners Hospitals for Children has been around most people’s whole life. They are amazing. They make, you know, the neuro skeletal diseases and burn victims, children, I believe mostly, but zero dollars medically to a family.
And they educate physicians and do research. And they are just I mean, the most in my heart, the most generous organization I work with. I mean, they have nothing on their mind except people. I guess the other ones do, too. That didn’t come out right.
But know but it’s it if you think of it as well, it’s one of those it’s very rare that you find a group that really survived decades of evolution and in the world in themselves, like when we walk when you drive into towns, at least I’m fairly sure US towns are the same way. I’m a fresh new resident of the United States, but driving a little Canadian towns, you’d come in and there’d be the like, welcome to Bradford and it would have like the Lions Club and all these different things.
And that was the what the heck do those people do? Like the Optimist club like, oh, that sounds like a happy bunch. I don’t know what they actually did. They were, in effect, a lot of these things. And then the Shriners, we knew them from the little goofy in town parades, and they were the big guys driving little tiny cars with a fez hat on, which I didn’t know. They’re the only place I’ve ever understood what a fez that is.
I don’t even know why it’s called a fez head. But, hey, that was that was my Schriner experience. And I find out that they’re doing this incredible stuff behind the scenes and now ultimately is is has given an incredible amount to so many families across North America.
It’s amazing. It truly is. And then, you know, they have like golfers come out at the tournament who are handicapped, but handi capable, like, it’s amazing. So I’ve been with them for maybe five or six years. And that and to to go back to how did I get involved with them? Well, that was a layup for golf, but coincidentally at my golf club. So it’s a perfect fit and its presence is felt there all year.
There’s other events all the time, but that’s their big golf event. And I don’t know, I encourage everybody to to come out to the golf tournament. We have we have one of the best spectator viewing tournaments on tour right now.
The thing comes up is people even just go over what we’ve just talked about and they will start to look in their own personal schedule and not find a lot of time where they feel like they can squeeze it in. So I’m. Curious both is I mean, you’ve got an incredible, you know, history in what you do with your production work and like just keeping those cats herded is one thing. You’ve obviously you’ve got your own family. You’ve got everything that’s going on with except with boys Penn and his work and then this incredible community of magicians and performers that you’re always you know, it’s it’s so neat to see how this comes.
Right. Like, I’ve got my nerd people and like, we’ve got our little like, you know, like sort of cliques of like little pods of people that you’re like, oh, that’s like Scott Lowe. And they’re like famous people, Kelsey Hightower. And people have no idea outside of my circle who these people are. But the same way they’d be like, oh, my God, like this is I’m going to see Puff the Magic Dragon.
And, you know, I know these people. And so it’s kind of it’s tough to fit it in. So how do you like doing so much? Just keep the wheels on the bus.
Well. I thrive on being busy, like relaxing is not a thing that I do and not much anyway, a jigsaw puzzle. You know, I do a competitive jigsaw puzzle and that’s that’s my relaxation of my minute.
OK, OK, guys, second, we’re going to puzzle that with the second. OK, so I didn’t even know there was a thing called competitive jigsaw puzzle. Tell me about I don’t mean to take you off your your thought process, but that’s like this is I think we’ve got a new podcast on our hands alone here.
Well, I think that’s such a thing. I just dropped out actually the world championships because they’re in Spain in September and I’m just not ready to do all that right now. Travel. But and I’ve never been to the world championships. This is only the second one. But it’s it’s it’s not a qualifying type sport. If you want to play, you can play so that. But I’m just obsessed with puzzles like I have to go in right now.
And I’m not speaking in hyperbole when I tell you I’m never not working on a puzzle. There is always a puzzle going. And I’ve always loved jigsaw puzzles. And it even ramped up to obsession before before pandemic. But Pandemic set it like like a bad habit.
I would say this is like being trapped in a store for cigarets and deciding that maybe I’ll pick up smoking again.
Yeah. And there was quite the shortage of jigsaw puzzles during. Oh, endemic.
I mean, there was a run on puzzles, apparently on puzzles.
So my favorite puzzles are called Liberty. And they’re they’re they’re laser cut wooden puzzles, very high end and gorgeous and artistic and, you know, used just log on and buy one. It got up to like a sixty five day wait for the right to order one. Wow. I know I gamed the system a little and I was ordered under different names, but I started a Liberty puzzle group and we would just ship them around to everybody and do that so that we all got all buying and sharing and everything.
But the competition stuff is done, at least the ones I meant with Robin’s Burgers, which are a high end cardboard jigsaw puzzle, which are super fun. And I love them and I’ve done almost everyone they’ve ever made. But once you move on to the wood once, they’re not as great. So don’t touch the wood puzzles till you’re ready to eat.
It will break you from that point forward. You’re like, no, it’s wooder wood or nothing.
Yeah, but but part of that is just to talk about my business and like that’s not even my favorite kind of puzzle, my favorite and puzzles of cryptic and it’s a sort of Wordplay type crossword puzzle. And I probably do those two hours a day, but I do with a partner on the phone because each puzzle takes so much brainpower to solve. So we just work on it together. But that’s my favorite cryptics. But anyway, back to the busy, you know, as a former producer.
And so everything I do is very scheduled and and and thought out ahead because I used to say that if I’m a good producer, I’ll do nothing the day of the shoot. That means I’ve foreseen every problem and that’s never happened. It’s a pipe dream, but fine. But that’s the goal. So like when I’m thinking about how things are going, I am planning it out and I’m solving the problem, setting up alternatives and backups and everything. And that keeps you busy.
And then whenever there is a problem, I love it. It’s a challenge for me to solve. So I guess that’s part of how I keep busy.
I’m like, I’ve got a similar mental style where like every time that I, I feel I’m constantly overwhelmed with things to do and a backlog of stuff. And then the moment all of a sudden like three meetings cancel and you like I have this whole afternoon with nothing scheduled. The first thing I find is nine hours of work to cram into the three hour block that I had. Like, it’s but I the moment that I stop. I become free to explore my own thought and like so when I cycle, I, I would do moderate distance cycling and and and I run because I used to go to I traveled a lot.
So it’s hard to carry a bike everywhere you go. So I started running all over the place. So every time I go to a show, I do morning run groups every morning so that it also keeps people from going out and drinking until 4:00 in the morning because they know they got to get their ass up and go for a run with me in the morning in the Vegas heat, which is super fun. Right. So I’d be, you know, camped out at the Bellagio Fountain every morning at six thirty, you know, waiting.
And the next thing I was like 30, 40 people that are coming up. And we would go up the strip, go to the sign, come back, like, just make it a big thing. And it was fun. But the moment that I’m disconnected, forcibly disconnected, it’s the most creative time. And and then I get back and I’m like, got to write this stuff down. I got to like, got to capture this. But it’s hard when you’re doing these continuous sort of frenetic, always fitting other things in to get that freedom of thought time.
How do you. That’s my policy. Is that right? That’s my personal time. Yeah. The puzzle time is it’s meditative. I am paying attention. You have to pay attention to the puzzle. But there’s there is some autopilot to it particularly. Everybody hates turning over and sorting. And that’s that’s my jam. You know, I just lost the best part.
I used to be the guy that would always count the cash every time when when I worked at a retail store, I’m like, I got this in this, like certain coins hang hold my beer back.
Like now I know my my my mom said that I joined production because I like spreadsheets, lists, sharpies and highlighters. And so I just made plans and lists and organized. Have you ever tried a floatation tank sensory deprivation.
No. And it’s funny, I’ve thought about this just because I think it would be incredible. But I’m also like weirdly claustrophobic. I did like tough mudders and stuff. I’m one of the things that drove me nuts. But I did it. It scared the hell out of me was going into like an underwater tube where you have literally, like, just your mouth and your like your cheeks are above water as you’re, like crawling backwards through, like a gutter tube.
I would. And you do that for like fifteen feet. And all you have is these like four spots where they’re basically like blow holes thing. It’s horrifying, so horrifying.
And a little more out of your control. I think if you got in one of these pods and convinced yourself eleven times that you can open it or you can press the button or a person you trust the most is sitting outside and be able to allay that fear because it’s truly amazing when you take away the sound, the site smells, what will I find? There is a little bit of smell, but also the water is like a few degrees cooler than your body.
So the heat you give off mitigates it and you stop feeling the difference between your skin in the water. Well, I mean, I can’t quote studies on this, but your mind refuses to be so on to be so idle. And there’s visual hallucinations if you sort of allow them to close your eyes. But but the creativity is insane and you might love it. And I started doing it. I don’t know if you found in your Google stock, I mean, research that I studied dolphin communication in Hawaii and and so floatation tanks were sort of made popular and developed a lot by John Lilly Johnson, who was my idol, albeit a bit.
But those are the best idols to have. I think the only because I was a youth, because I grew up in the time and the only early introduction to these sensory deprivation tanks was like my fear, which was it was a William Hurt movie and one that he he was in as a not ultra, I think altered states, I think was not it.
That is that is about Gellatly and his work. I mean that. Oh wow. OK, yeah, yeah, yeah.
There you go. So this is the the oddities of connective tissue of the world. This is like Dirk Gently’s holistic detective agency played it in real life, that everything is the fundamental interconnectedness of all things.
Did you ever watch that British show connections?
No. No. Oh, no. I’ve got no. I got stuff to watch.
Write this one down because this is this show was like thirty years old and I still watch on YouTube sometimes. And it’s like this British guy and. He’ll take a Sharpie and then he’ll take a steam engine and he’ll show not only are they connected, but they wouldn’t it one wouldn’t exist without the other. Like they were showing like an integral connection between their development. And your mind is blown because it’s justified. Like you, you know, just take his word for it.
Fascinating show. Fascinating.
So that’s the stuff that I dig into. My biggest thing lately is I really struggle with finding, like nutritional content to take in. It’s so easy to get, like, pulled into the infinite scroll of of things. And I know I just feel my brain just going in bad directions because I and I realize why. I just I just say, like, that’s it. I claim to do list bankruptcy, email bankruptcy. I just like, shut it, delete it all.
And I’m like, I’m going to do something. I find an amazing documentary and I tell you, well, here you go. Another fundamental interconnectedness thing, one of my my favorite ones that I watch, not too much not too long ago, harder to find now. It’s for whatever reason, I love streaming, except that stuff goes away on streaming with gamblers.
Ballard, thank you.
Beautifully done. And Johnny Thompson is somebody who people really have no idea how much he gave to the world into the magic community and and to an incredible a terrible loss, of course, in twenty nineteen. It’s been two years over two years now.
But but let me interject that his incredible partner, wife and yes. That broad wife, Pam. Yeah. Passed away last week also.
Oh, no. Oh my.
Yes. Was that super sad. She’s wonderful. She had her friends, family and dogs around her and and she did say she was ready to go. Wow. So I told Penn that they’re editing the season right now, fulness, and they should just do a single card in the beginning that announces the Tomassoni and Company reunion tour, you know, but no, that was fun. And I think you’re thanking me because I was a producer on that, but I was really just a facilitator to the the idea and the talent and the passion was from my husband.
And I just helped because of my experience and access.
Well, and that’s but that really, truly is the story of the importance of what we through philanthropy, through work, through what we give to our families, the unseen, like what people like they if they look in in Johnny’s his own public history of what he did for as a as a performer, not realizing how much he did as a creator for other magicians. And obviously he was very close to to Penn and Teller. And in designing with them and and being a consultant and, you know, being a producer, you know, you’re trying to sort of like push away of like, no, no, no.
Is there me like, well, no, this is this is what makes it incredible. Is that the the name or the face on the box of the movie back when there were boxes for movies at least, is often not the one that really you know, they’re the ones that sell the story, I guess. But the story’s created and told like Tim’s Vermeer was another fantastic example that was Teller’s work. And oh, God, I could I could watch that weekly.
Yeah. It’s such an amazing story.
That’s a roller coaster mystery. It’s I love that movie so much. I, I it’s I have like three favorite documentaries in the world and that’s one of them.
All right. Now I got to hear the other two I will give was valid, but the documentary I love so much that I always tell people to watch super hard to find. You might find a pound VHS, but it does happen to be on YouTube. And I just lie to myself and say that the creator said it was OK. So I watched it. Yeah, but it’s called the other final and it. You’ve seen it.
I have not. So now I am done. This is why writing this down here, I’m writing this down.
Watch tonight and then text me what you think. But in the way that. Gemas valid is not just about magic, and non magicians can enjoy it, and Tim’s Vermeer is definitely not just for artists or historians. This movie takes place in the world of soccer. And I hate soccer, so I know. Well, it’s a guy that decided to create a final on the day of the World Cup for the two lowest ranked teams in FIFA. And so it was a competition between Monserrat and Butan at the time.
Oh, and the the the hard work and willpower and humanity to bring together a, you know, Hurricane Island with a mountainside village that doesn’t talk to people and get them to play soccer together to find that crossover of humanity. I just loved it so much. I can’t stand it.
That is wild. Yeah. That’s what I what I enjoy about these. And even like the stories we’ve talked about, you know, like when you when you unlock the real like what’s behind all that stuff, like it just sort of pulls you in. That’s why these things are fantastic to watch and share, you know, in in even what we do in in business. You know, I always say to people like they’re like, I’m not in I’m not in sales.
I’m like, well, everybody’s in sales. Like, we’re we’re ultimately all responsible for for some kind of impact on what we do. And, you know, while I may not be the guy that’s going to go into town footing the bill and telling the story and chasing down the CEOs, doing whatever. The fact that you can be a part of it and help people throughout this whole group, it’s that’s what I love is the impact of it.
And then when you see somebody else tell these stories in beautiful ways, it’s such a such a magical feeling when you go through storytelling, watching somebody else’s storytelling, that must be. So as an EP and as a producer like you’ve got an interesting split of the like just keeping the wheels on the bus, but also ensuring that the story ultimately is being parlayed and told in the way that’s. To the core of why the project had started.
Yes, and that would hold more true for an MP who originated the project at two to realize their vision, but most projects, if not all, that have been brought on to have been to help others. So I’m really fighting for them to get their vision and not inserting mine. So I don’t always agree with everything that’s done. But that’s that’s not my job. And and I’ve been proven nearly unanimously that they were right anyway. So I don’t.
Except for Werner Herzog. Yeah, I, I, I just don’t get it. I, I love incredible filmmakers and like he’s, he is amazing in his ability to do his thing. Yeah. Every time I’m halfway through one of them I’m just like I’m not quite sure what I’m what I’m enjoying here. It’s interesting, it’s an interesting character.
But can I return to two points because I wrote. Yes, I would. To forget to follow up on them, which is early on in our discussion, you talked about like people who take selfies and maybe, ah, have other reasons, additional reasons for why they do work. I have absolutely no problem with that and I encourage everyone to do it. If we all did things the same way, we wouldn’t get it all done. I am so fine with people who they want to add a gold star to their Facebook page or they want to be seen with a celebrity or they want a tax deduction.
If you are, you know, what was his name? Sheldon Adelson. I’m not a huge fan.
Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah.
And there’s so much money because you want that kind of accolade. Bravo. I’ll take your money. I’ll take your time. I’ll take your notoriety. And I think that if you’re going to shame that spectrum or let’s not say shame, but minimize it or write, rewrite the narrative, then then then you could do it to the guy who just, you know, gives five dollars a month out of his paycheck and say, you’re not doing enough or whatever.
We have to accept all charity for what somebody has to give because it’s not mandatory. It’s what we do because we want to. So I applaud anybody in any way who gives to any charity.
It is an interesting conundrum right now, especially, you know, especially we get say like. So obviously, Sheldon Adelson is a polarizing figure as far as, you know, some of the you know, some of the history and what he’s done in business. But like you said, then, he had this sort of philanthropic side of of himself. We talked obviously about forty five and we and pre and post right where where people fit in. And this is what really I struggle with of, you know, we have to look for we can’t let the one portion of somebodies existence define the rest of their existence because we have to be able to either surpass or forgive or, you know, and and maybe not maybe just say like, OK, you know, or compartmentalize.
Right. Or just I mean, of course, is exception exceptions. We’re not we’re not interested in, like, supporting murderers doing charity. You know what. But but everybody’s got things that do not appeal to everybody else. And, you know, I am very vocal about this council culture stuff lately. I’m sensitive. I try to be politically correct. But it’s it’s to me we’re in this, like, overreaction period where you can say or do one thing.
Seventeen years ago and all of a sudden all the work you’re doing now means nothing. It’s it’s right to me. And I’m hoping that that rubber bands back and leaves a legacy of sensitivity and a calmer place for us to all treat each other. But we have to stop canceling people from the states that are mistakes. I’m not talking about egregious crimes. I’m not saying let’s let Harvey back in. You know, I’m talking about the of it is it is tough.
And you even like the first thing before you even begin the statement is like you got to make sure you’re getting the right guardrails on how you say it, because it is their tough subjects to talk about. But it’s like I mean, I tell people I know it’s a bit of a deep topic, but like read Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag Archipelago and you’ll learn about when when good wasn’t good enough. And, you know, they just kept taking away the edges and by taking away the edges, meaning affected because causing genocide, like they they said, yeah, you’re rich.
So we can’t let that happen. Yeah. Like your principles. Cool. OK, but then once they’re gone. Now, the top earners are now rich and those are the farmers and OK, let’s stop doing that one. And then suddenly millions die in the Ukraine because there’s no food for a decade. I mean, look, obviously, that’s an extreme case, but it it played out. And that’s why I always, like you said, let’s not let the egregious stuff be accepted.
But there’s people that make mistakes and let’s let’s try and put the right context. And context can be timing. It can be especially just what’s wrapped around it. Like if you take out one single sentence out of this podcast, I’m going down for, I’m sure for some reason something I said somewhere it’s troublesome. The fact that I mentioned the Gulag Archipelago is probably going to be the one that takes me out. But I, I said it’s a historical thing that, you know, we I often look like we have to look at history so that we don’t make the mistakes of it again by suddenly taking an Etch A Sketch and shaking off everything that’s twenty two years and older.
I mean, I could get with get around maybe getting some of the 80s music off my my memory list. It’s all good, but hey, that’s just me.
I get it agreed of course on all of that. And then the other point I want to hit because I don’t know when you’re going to cut me off is when you talk about, you know, getting started, how do you find what works for you and everything? Right. And then I sort of got off on a tangent that people have approached me, so I’m not out actively seeking. So I’m in, like, letting a. You know, marinate in my mind when I think about it, and I think that two things that I want to say about it.
One is. Unless you are the only person in this world, you know, somebody who has a disease or is maybe has been homeless or has an alcohol problem or something that is connected with the charity, and if you can tap into your compassion and love for that person, you might want to work with something in that area, because that way it’ll feel more personal to you. It’ll feel let it’ll feel connected. So it’s just a suggestion that isn’t something I’ve actually done, except one would argue nothing.
But I would look for something that hits closer to home so that you can feel like you’re making a difference in the world and maybe your own life also. But what I also want to say is that, you know, like if you’re having a shitty day and you go for a run that you do not want to go on, you just feel better after nobody ever regretted exercising or running. We’re all coming out of this like, incredible time of solitude.
And I just think that helping others is going to help the giver more than it ever has before. And coming back to the world and life is hard for you. And you’re like, I have less time than ever. I have to work two jobs now just to make sure you need the feel good of giving more than anybody. And you’ve got to if you find that time, you know, we all we all know how to make time for the things that are most important to us.
You’ll find the time because it’s so rewarding.
It’s beautiful, you know, it’s something that I hope that we take what we just experienced and find lessons in it. Yeah, nobody would like to experience what we’ve gone through and continue to go through, nor would we want to go through what we talked about with, know families who have children who you face, medical challenges that you’d never imagine until you experience it. And if you can do something as we go back to the world where we open up and we get to hug again, we get to do these things.
It’s it’s going to feel special and I want people to like, don’t forget that I just grab that moment.
Yeah. And I think about back again about Barbara and Robin, who took me by the hand and let me in. You can give out my email to somebody in Vegas and they want to do charity work of any level a week, an hour, a year or full time or whatever. You give them my email. I will help them.
That’s amazing. Now, the the interesting thing, of course, is when we look at we sort of you touched on it before this sensation that you’re not giving enough. And like, how do you how do you coach people through, you know, like I said, just the small things, even if they’re not directly doing it. Fine, somebody else is doing it and give them the day off. Like, give your workers an opportunity to spend time.
It doesn’t even need to be like a company giving money. You can be like empower your your your community to say like, who wants to do something? Let’s all pool together and make sure that that can happen, right? Yeah.
Yeah. I mean, examples. You could come be a be quiet person at the golf tournament for a day and you’ll just stand there and you know, the learning curve is three minutes to play. You know, when the golf score, you hold it up in a play and then you’re helping. You’re absolutely I, I mean, more than help. And I can’t even overstate I can’t even overstate how volunteer, like physical work manning all these events is is everything.
They don’t happen without it. Yeah. The big checks come, but there’s no checks to give to it. There’s no better write another order. So you could do that or you could you could find out which homeless shelters except food and bake some cakes. You can you know, you can do the lay up, which is helping on Thanksgiving or Christmas. And I don’t roll my eyes at that. That’s just that’s a good starting point. But there tends to be more than enough people on those days.
Right. So do it on a different day. I don’t know what else. Probably manning the phones. It’s something you can do.
Yeah. That was remember, that was like the whole thing was like the you know, the telephone banks would be lit up and you’d have these sort of like I grew up of course, through the seventies and eighties and it was like watching like, oh yeah, there’s Burt Reynolds and you know, and Lonnie Anderson on the phones taking calls. But truthfully, they’re they’re just holding the phone to their ears and hundreds of people in another room that are actually taking the calls.
So I know another one. That’s great. It’s a smaller a smaller organization that I’ve worked with. But if you can take it on to tutor or mentor underprivileged children, that is something that is is almost an exponential speed, because as you create create sounds so manhandled, as you help people develop and become educated, then you are really helping them become meaningful members of the community and having children who they teach the importance of education, who become in the workforce.
And it’s just a cascading benefit. And so if you have a very busy job and you have no time for charity work, maybe you could mentor a child and teach him how to we develop this product or whatever, and it’ll make all the difference in the world. You that’s the thing. You don’t know what’s going to be the turning point when it comes to education. You just have to spark somebody into understanding, loving education. And you don’t know if that comes from your bus driver or teacher, your uncle.
No, and that and that’s it, right, and I can say that charity happens in small ways every day, even just by the way that we behave in our community and the way that we embrace people’s differences and look for I remembered I was sitting on a bus on the way to work one day and there was a guy who was sitting in the in the bus. And this is like pre phone days. You literally like this. People were in books and like looking around the room.
I’ve always been a bit of a people watcher and I saw this guy and he had a metal arm like his it was a prosthetic arm. And it was like sort of the three claw, like basic sort of prosthetic arm. And I watched the way people reacted to him and he was just sitting there quietly looking one hand and wearing an Iron Man jacket, sitting with this metal arm and everybody on the bus that got on or off. The first thing they stared at was his arm.
And it’s funny. And I thought then I saw one guy get on and he did what I did. And the first thing he did was he stared at his jacket and he didn’t think that this guy has a really tough life because he has to get through every day with one arm. He looked at him and he said. That motherfucker ran an Iron Man. What’s your excuse?
Yeah, exactly, and in small ways, right? So an hour a day thing, we can give a small check just encouraging other people to partake you proselytizing. Anything we can do, I think is a powerful opportunity.
You want to hear a simple little charitable thing that I do that has turned out to be so fine, which is you could download an app called Be My Eyes and your entered into a pool of people who get face time, random face time calls from blind people. And they’re and they’re like, I can’t see what this says. And they face time and show you. And you read to them what I’ve got. I’ve done like two hours of going through a blind guy’s mail with him and figuring out what bills need to be paid.
And you inevitably just talk to them and make human connection and and you really feel that you help them. And in the beginning, I have to tell you, it’s like, how do I know they’re really blind? And I was like, well, why don’t you pretend they’re blind just to have a face time? I don’t know why I thought that, but I’m just admitting it here publicly. So but they are because I talk to them forever and that’s charity that’s helping.
And it’s such a small commitment that you could do like sitting on your patio, feed my eyes, and then it’s fun and meeting people all over the world that, you know, I love. I think it’s all over the country. You would never end doing crazy little tests for them. I love it.
That’s incredible. Yeah. And that’s that’s what I love, where we can take take technology and do stuff with it, you know, I mean, I suppose goodness to all the folks that do other things, you know that. And what’s interesting to it, like I said, just to go back to we talked about obviously Sheldon Adelson was a name we picked, but there are many folks that are you know, it’s a tough world right now. When people make a lot of money, they like the word billionaire gets thrown at them, like as if it’s a it’s a bad word right now.
Because we may disagree with some of the statements they made, so therefore now it’s a pejorative, you know, like, oh, that darn billionaire hit. But if I do look at the positive, what they do is they’ve created opportunity for a lot of folks, wealth, employment, whether they’re directly giving to charity. So there are there are things that people do and that say that’s just like it doesn’t always show. It’s not something we wear as a badge that says, yep, I gave X hours a week.
It’s the quiet stuff that happens behind. And it happens, like you said, pick up your phone. You can be someone’s eyes. That’s pretty important.
Yeah, it’s really nice. No, you’re right. I know billionaires get a bad rap. You can imagine I don’t have a problem with billionaires. You know, everybody tries to pay as little tax as possible. So you might have a problem with tax laws, but you don’t actually have a problem with what they’re doing, if you’re honest.
Yeah, well, the the this is the the thing that we have now is that I think people will come out of everything that we got through in the last while we come together and we’ll hopefully be appreciative. I know I’m appreciative that you spent your time with me today. This is this really cool. I could do this all day long, but I would I would steal your very valuable time from somewhere else. That very much deserves it. Emily.
Oh, you’re very kind to me. And I appreciate it so much. I, I think you’ve made me out to be a little better than I am. But thanks to you and my oldest daughter’s name is Emily as well. So it’s it was kismet that we we pulled this together.
So does she have a middle name, Jordan.
So not as exciting as your kids names. So this is always a funny one, I’m sure. I also wanted to try not to have the same, like nine questions that everybody asks you at the start of everything. So your kids are funny names like, no, no.
Is there nobody? OK, OK, but ask your nine questions.
I’ll tell you. I’ll tell you what. Here’s the one that will test you in the closing. What’s the thing, the worst thing that’s ever happened to you that you’re the most thankful for?
Wow. We should given me time to study on that on. That is so tough, I feel like I’ve been very fortunate when it comes to like health issues and life issues, so. You know, it’s a little cliche, but I think it’s true, I’m not going to pinpoint one exact thing, but I will tell you that any job I didn’t get, I was a freelance full time or even the worst breakup’s I ever had that feel like I could never be happy again.
Absolutely. Just allowed the space for the next best thing to have the next thing to happen, which was clearly better. And you look back and go, what what was. What was I so upset about? But and it makes me feel especially fortunate when I really can’t even come up with a horrible thing that happened to me. Yeah.
I don’t think that’s that’s actually really kind of one of the the joys of the reaction is because you’re your first thought is whatever it is, I’m going to I’m going to be in the optimist club around this thing. Right. Like it’s getting through. It is difficult. Yeah. Especially when you look back retrospectively, I think of all those times and you’re just like. I’ve always had the ability to see that there’s something else that’s out there that’s keeping you keeping your feet on these on the ground and keeping the heart pumping.
And it’s hard, you know, when you’re in the midst of some experience, you know, years like this is it? You know, I can’t I can’t take this anymore.
Exactly. Exactly. But you actually learn because those times used to break me and now, you know, not almost break me. And now if I’m, like, having the worst time with something, I can just go, like, I felt this bad before and it just passes. You make it better.
You know, one thing that and I apologize. I’m stealing your overtime on this one here.
I’m I’m one of the things that a friend of mine I’ve always had sort of a stoic approach to things, which apparently is kind of people get really frustrated by stoicism in the idea that you kind of like you look at things that are out of your control and you realize that you can’t affect them and you have to embrace that they’re out of your control and thus they occur, good or bad. And I always think of my lifestyle. I don’t like to be praised because it immediately raises my level of normalcy to the point where now everything is a trough.
And so I don’t like the lows and I don’t like the highs. I kind of like to shave off the edges. If I were to look at it as a as a sine wave, that’s my my my way of dealing with it. I remembered sitting as like I was like 18 and I had an acoustic guitar. We were playing with a friend of mine and we’re at a party and this is like the morning. It’s like 7:00 in the morning.
We’re still going right. And we’re just sitting around the table and the dog runs by and hits the edge of the guitar. It turns around, drops on its back, the neck snaps right off of it. And like, this is the guitar that I spent three paychecks on. And like this is I love this guitar and I just turn. And I was like, oh, man, I picked it up. And I was like. It’s going to be hard to fix, and I sat down and continued on the conversation and the guy beside me was like.
Aren’t you going to freak out right now? And I was like, nothing I could have done other than put it in a different spot. Could it change the moment that just happened? Yeah, I said so. Yeah, I’ll figure that out later. Yeah. And it really was a weird thing that but then other times I will like be carrying a plate with a cup on it and I’ll say to myself, I shouldn’t do this because I might drop the cup and the cup falls off and all that goes through my head is of course it did you nothing.
I’m like you’re just like immediately take it to the darkest place. Like, how does that same person drop an eight hundred dollar guitar and go, huh. That kind of sucks. I’m, I’m torn. It’s the the mind still takes you in in difficult places sometimes even the smallest chance I get it. Well, I don’t know what else to tell you I. I want to tell you how I met Penn and I’ll kind of finish up with that one because I’m channeling if my mother were in the room, she’s not dead.
She’s out there. That when I was in Vegas and I was working on a commercial and I had a free night and I I was like, oh, I’ll go see Penn and Teller because I saw them off Broadway in the 80s. They’re fun. Like, it was not a dedicated fan, but I’ve always liked puzzles and magic and that kind of thing. And I had recently, prior to that moment, seen the pilot show bullshit, if you’re familiar with it.
And and I was like, oh, that’s so great. I’m going to get in. I’m going to get in line to talk to him because, you know, I’ve never really seen pro science, biased entertainment. You know, like, it was it was incredible that she made the show for me. So I have to go talk to him and thank him. And by the time I get to the front of the line, I asked him out and he said yes.
And that was eighteen and a half years ago. And many people marvel at that story. And my mother would tell you that’s how Emily’s been our whole life. She’s not afraid of No. And so I’m proud of that. I think that’s what I do, is I embrace, embrace experience and just give it a try.
That’s amazing. Yeah, since the earthquakes are the classic, if you’re always my favorite story of people who are like all this exciting news of like, how did you choose the three of clubs to be this? Like, is it especially meaningful like that? It’s just it looks easy to find on camera back, but it’s such a I still laugh when I see a magician use that as their classic forrest card. I’m like, all right, that’s a there’s the throw back a little bit of a I don’t know how to to Penn and Teller.
Have you ever seen or done the the Senate trick? Is it set up? Is that the word. Yeah. With the cemetery. No. Talking about no. Tell me about this a little. You’ll I’ll send you a link or you can do it but there’s a it didn’t like live on Saturday Night Live or some show but it still exists. Now you you do have to learn how to force the three clubs, but you you do a trick and then at night.
Yes. And of course the three clubs look at the card in the back and the dinner and then you find the card and it’s the wrong card and you didn’t get it right. Not all right. Whatever I got to keep practicing is only works if you happen to be going to Forest Hills or whatever cemetery it is in L.A. But you go there and you’re walking along when you’re talking. And there’s a I believe the word is Senate rap. I just can’t remember it as a tenet.
It’s not centigrams, etc.. And there’s two of them. There’s one of four cells and there’s one in my backyard. And it says Penn and Teller. It’s and it’s like it’s like raised Brauns. And it has a picture of a three of clubs and it says, is this your card? You’ve done the trick to somebody, bring them there. And then you’re like, there come.
It’s really fun. That is awesome. Well, Emily Jillette, for folks that want to find you and they should wear and I’ll have links as well to all the charities that we talked about. And I’ll encourage people to go. And I’ll tell you what my my I ask everybody to find somebody who would love to come on. And I it would be neat. I would love one day to have have have Penn on and share his some of his story.
But I know he’s got the show is back on. You’re traveling, you got a lot going on so but I make sure that I would, I’m going to do it without it. But you know, we’ll make sure that money gets to Opportunity Village to support them anyways. And I’m going to make sure that I I donate a couple of months of my revenue from here to to them just because they they do fantastic stuff. And so if I’ve got a bounty of luck, I should use that in a way that can help others.
Thank you so much.
Thank you. But most importantly, how do we find you? Because you’re the. Well, he may be the louder, taller one. You are an incredible person. And yeah, you deserve the attention that you maybe don’t get enough of.
I get so much attention. I don’t know what you want me to give. Like I. Is it stupid to give people my email or give them an alternate email. I mean I’m on Facebook but I don’t generally like just random except why isn’t my computer working. My my I think about out of batteries. I can’t find my other. I mean do you want me to say an email.
I don’t know what to do. You could just give it. You will only tell you what we’ll put it in the show notes. Just make sure for folks that they want to find it. Of course they can follow you on Twitter as one spot.
And and of course, keep track your heading to do some new production work. You got stuff in post-production. You are you are busy. So we’ll make sure that we follow the projects that you’re working on.
Oh, thank you so much. Thank you. It’s been a pleasure. Any time. And I was certainly connect you with other philanthropic women.
Yeah. You you mentioned some fantastic names. I would love to to feature them and share their stories. It’s it’s been a very real joy to spend time with you. Emily Jillette, thank you very much.
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Chris Hull is the Co-Founder and CPO at Otus. Otus is the first edtech platform to centralize learning management, assessment, and data for educators, students, and families. Chris was also named a “20 To Watch” Educational Technology Leader by the National School Boards Association.
Our conversation spreads across both the challenges of education, remote teaching, empowering students and teachers alike, and how Chris became an effective founder and CPO (Chief Product Officer) by leveraging learning and a great team.
Chris, thank you very much for joining us. I’ve really, really loved the idea of the problem that you and the team at Otus are solving. And I really want to kind of go at two interesting angles of our discussion. One is, of course, what’s the problem that’s being solved? How are you doing it? And kind of like, why is this an important piece and your place in the industry?
And also is a CPO, right? The chief product officer is an interesting title and it’ll be neat to go into the background of what led you to that role. So anyways, before we jump in, for folks that are new to you, Chris, if you want to give a quick intro to yourself and Otus and then we’ll start diving into the story.
Definitely. So I was a former seventh and eighth grade social studies teacher. I was really focused on helping my kids learn to the best of their ability. And I was really honing in on that problem. How do you maximize learning for each kid? I would have about one hundred and fifty students every year, and I started to use technology as a tool to help me do that and a variety of ways using. Online applications, finding ways to have my kids become more engaged, and I was lucky enough to be a coauthor to a grant that brought one device to every kid in 2010.
And I thought that providing every student a device would completely change my life and education and really allow me to impact every single student. However, upon the rollout of the one to one device initiative, I quickly learned I was pretty naive back then. I still am naive. I was pretty naive back then because it quickly became apparent that technology can actually expose inefficiencies within a system or a process. And that is what happened. I quickly learned that there were inefficiencies between collecting data, getting information about kids, we call it, articulating data from one teacher to the next or from one grade to the next.
There was inefficiency there and there was no system that really allowed the teacher to understand or get to know kids in a way that was really powerful and efficient. So I was lucky enough with two other co-founders to start OTUS. And we really focus on providing the tools to help teach, which is again facilitating, learning, giving activities, connecting to content grade, which is the ability to measure learning, understanding what a kid is able to do and what a kid needs to grow and get better at Analise, which is the ability to take information that might exist outside your classroom.
It could be national assessments. It could be passions or interests or things that may be the were found out by a teacher from a year or two ago. Analyze all this in a single place and then plan, which is our final thing we helped do, which is really to monitor the progress on initiatives such as like skill building or behavior or civics, or if you want students to be good kids, being able to monitor their progress while they’re in your district.
So with that, we have a platform that really focuses on the efficiency of the student teacher relationship and then also transparency for families and administrators into the world of their students. At the administrative level, we really can aggregate the data to look at cohorts. So a group of kids and then four families. Again, I have four kids who are very young. If I ask them how school’s going, they’ll tell me, fine. If I ask them what they’ve learned, they’ll tell me stuff.
If I had high school students, they probably might use different four letter words that tell me how things are going. But really we focus on a platform that is able to provide a comprehensive understanding of how a kid is doing. And by having that information about one kid, we can also aggregate that to the groups of kids so that if we need to find trends or things going on and we do that providing the tools to teach, grade, analyze and plan.
So the thing that really stands out to me about this story and, you know, the problem solving is a real disconnect sometimes. And when we talk about like I’m I’m from the startup world and from the business world and we talk about customers. Right. And when you’ve got a system and the first thing to do is identify this customer and in effect, it’s it’s your student because they have a customer journey from K to 12 and you’re their progression follows them through that versus I’d say a lot of the problem, like you talked about, like even in person learning and the general school programs is there’s not clean hands, there’s not transparency of the journey from that that child.
Like we we go to the paper copy and but like you said then it doesn’t go to the parents, then it doesn’t get shared between administrators. We can’t really use data to drive a positive progression for that student. And I love that. But like you said, the digital experience can add this now. All of a sudden you’re like, oh, I can see that literally and agreed to this child, struggled with this thing. And then we formed a plan so that in grade six, they’re in the right spot where they need to be.
But right now, I feel sometimes that teachers are basically looking at getting through their year with their class and once the class is gone, that’s kind of the end of the program sometimes.
Yeah, I think you hit on some key things, right, if we look at the the product world, if we look at something like JIRA or a CRM or I know I’m jumping around, but the idea is those systems are trying to provide insight into what’s actually happening. If we look at some of our eses and why do we use JIRA when we’re using Djura so we can track projects, we can see how things are going, we can identify obstacles.
I think one of the key things I’ve learned is many of the best practices that are happening in product are what really happen in the classroom to it’s one of the reasons that the the jump from the classroom to the CPO role has actually been less bumpy than I would have thought. Because you want to know you want to identify things early. If there is a blocker, you know, typical stand up. What did you work on yesterday? What are you working on today?
What blockers do you have? That same approach works with students like what’s your blocker now? Sometimes a blocker can be for a child. Maybe they’re struggling to get to school on time. Maybe there’s something going on at home. You know, it’s not always like why I’m struggling to understand who the answer the basic question of who is this article about now? Sometimes it’s more than that. Maybe they’re hungry. Maybe there are things going on, but there is the same thing can happen and product where you’re trying to identify is there a blocker and the processor in the system?
And this is where in an organization we have several product teams for our delivery side of the house. Well, if there is one blocker we have one of our teams is called the assessment team. And if they all of a sudden encounter a blocker, we unblock them, we solve it. It would be a failure of our organization to not share that solution with the other product teams. Right? Oh, this is how we unlock. We have this problem.
We are struggling with a PR. We’re struggling with something around that. And it’s like, oh, this is how we unblocked it. The same thing happens in the classroom. Everything, unfortunately, can be very siloed where if I’m a teacher and all of a sudden I have a student who’s struggling with. Complex text or maybe struggling to get engaged in a school if all of a sudden have a solution. It would be great to note that solutions so that if the student or another student ever encounters it again, we kind of have that in our back pocket.
And education does this in a really great way. I’m not saying it doesn’t. There are things called like places, but so much of the student information is siloed that it doesn’t carry on. And again, if we look at I mentioned earlier, like a CRM, like a Salesforce or any other one out there, we have things about the client. Right. So if all of a sudden our main contact is really into football, let’s go soccer.
You might mention that, hey, a great way to get them to open up and talk about soccer or hey, they really enjoy this type of food. All of a sudden it’s like those hints can be like to send a thank you note. They really like coffee and they really enjoy this brand. It’s like those secret things that you can put into a CRM or, hey, this is where they’re at in their process. It really helps continue the handoff within an organization so that you’re able to really maximize what’s happening for each person and client, customer, user.
They’re all the same, right? You’re in you’re engaging in interacting with someone and you’re trying to help them be successful. And that’s what we want to do for students. We want to help them be successful in their goals. And to me, that’s really learning how to critically read, write and think, having them become successful and what they’re passionate about.
Well, the advantage you get to when we systematize this process is that you can take the system and you can scale it outwards, right? You can now introduce it to other areas. I think the other challenge we’ve always got, especially, you know, we’ve got I’m Canadian originally. I’m living in the United States and we’ve got, you know, massive populations over massive geographies that act fundamentally different based on a variety of different scenarios. So they don’t tend to bring systems between them.
But meanwhile, they may actually have a ton of similarities that they could like, just say, OK, let’s just worry about the edge cases, but you can identify the cases if they’ve never seen outside their bubble. So you’ve you’ve really hit on a ton of interesting things. And it’s funny your language. You’re for an educator. You’ve got you sound like a great software developer. You’ve really seem to have tapped into both sides. And this is why, obviously the CPO is a great fit.
Now, when did you sort of decide that tech was a way to solve this problem, Chris, in the specific area that you wanted to hack into?
Yes. So I always thought I’m not the greatest technologist. It’s one of those things I’m constantly learning. I have an amazing team. I have a product manager, Zach, who is absolutely incredible, helping me learn along the way. Same with our CTO, Cory. They’ve really been amazing to help me learn because. There are these parallels, but to me, I was always a technologist in the way that I always wanted to become more efficient. I would sometimes say I always wanted to find the hack because trying to grade one hundred and fifty students papers is just really time consuming.
How can I save time but still do a good job? So I always looked at technology as a way to help me become more efficient, and that could be something like we’re going to use a platform to be able to better track something or to be able to better monitor something, or it could just be like we used to on our first. Technology we added to the classroom was actually first generation iPads, and we had a really simple problem, which was.
How do you put an iPad on a desk and how do you do that with twenty five students so that it’s not just laying flat? Well, my colleague, the other quote, the coauthor of the grant, came up with a great idea. And to me, this is always like a symbol of what technology can be. He took to doorstops that were like the triangles, and he created this little desk and we had a couple of pieces of wood, we had a wood shop, we could cut them all of a sudden.
Twenty five sets of doorstops created little stands on everybody’s desk. And now all of a sudden, they were the right angle. You could kind of type on them. And all of a sudden that was a source of technology. We took triangles at a certain slope and now we have these little stands for everybody’s desk and they could be movable. You could, like, tilt them a certain way. They were really great. Now, that was like, again, a piece of technology that helped do the job.
And one of the things I think has always been a lesson I’ve learned is if you’re just using technology for technology sake, you’re losing sight of what you’re really trying to do. That actually happened to us when we first rolled out our iPads in our classrooms. It became all about like, hey, look at this cool technology. And we were logging in to 15, 20 different applications and we’re logging into these applications. And it’s like we lost sight of our goal, our priority, which is helping learning.
And so I really like to look at technology not as what’s the latest and greatest, but what is going to help us do our priority or our goal or objective better. And I’ve been lucky enough to. Learn some of those things that have helped me in the from the classroom to the CPO about building a culture, setting a North Star or an objective, and then letting people really get there on their own, not by themselves with a guide, but not always giving them all the answers, because I have found that when a team is able to.
Discover and craft their own solutions, they have more ownership in them, and that ownership autonomy really allows them to thrive and succeed versus them going, oh, here is our process. I have to do it, and now it’s like harder to iterate on it. I really think the best, the best solutions allow for iterations because no one is going to nail it perfectly the first time.
And it’s very interesting, too, because, like you said, we seem to think like, oh, we’ll put an iPad in every student’s hand and that will that will be the solution. Like, no, that’s like saying cloud computing is the solution for business. Like it’s a path to the solution. The actual solution is how you leverage the tool, how you use it. And all of a sudden you’re you’ve got five browser tabs, two applications.
And in fact, you’re degrading the experience because now this child has you know, we’re really exposing attention, challenges and our acerbity on the right spot when we’re looking at. But it’s very easy for, like you said, for us to say technology for technology’s sake. And it’s it’s tough sometimes to be able to step back. And I guess we call it sort of the curse of knowledge that when you’re a power user of something, you just think like, oh, well, I use my iPad all the time.
It’s my I get on a plane, I have my book, I have my email, I have my three things that I need. So therefore, anybody could be handed an iPad on a plane and it’ll be productive for a three hour plane trip. And that’s actually not the case, but very, very easy for us to lose, especially with kids like because their iPad, when they go home, is a different, fundamentally different experience for what that iPad services.
So to suddenly give it a use case and a box around how you’re going to use this tool, it’s a it’s a really interesting and tough challenge.
Yeah, I think that’s where you have to have the clear objectives, right, and I, I know your audience is much more on the product side, but I always have found to be quite the the buzz word with certain people, like certain people, like I don’t like it. And I always have come to if you have a bad process and you try to put it into, juries are just going to make that worse. It’s going to expose all those bad things.
And that’s why a lot of people will tell you when you start with Djura, it’s always better to start super simple and then build it out over time instead of trying to overengineer it. And I think the same situation comes with the iPad. If all of a sudden we use your analogy about the plane, if you all of a sudden or let’s take the iPad and give it to a student, if you let the student decide what’s on their iPad, I’ll tell you what they’re going to put on it.
They’re going to put some really fun games that are going to be highly entertaining, but very distracting to learning. And if you kind of give that carte blanche out there, it’s like, oh, OK. But if you work with the kid and you say, OK, I think even games on the iPad are OK, I would sometimes have in my classroom I taught all the way until twenty eighteen. I would tell my students if they were productive, if they were productive, for we had 40 minute periods oftentimes if they were productive during the week on Friday, the last five to ten minutes of the final day, we would watch a funny video which I had reasons for doing, that there were students submitted.
So I kind of got to know the kids in a fun way. And then also I would let the kids sometimes on their iPad, take five minutes, play a game performance. That’s that’s OK. But again, the goal has to be clear. Like this is not the purpose of it. But yeah, you can have a game, but download the download the right books, make sure you have the right tools that allow you to like what you focused on.
We did a lot of writing, so we did a lot of Google Google Docs, but it really becomes interesting without that clear goal. Yeah, I’m going to use it for what I’m interested in and then that can really take you in a lot of different directions and cause yeah. You give somebody something for their plane trip. Hey, use this on your plane. Well, they might play solitaire all the entire time. They’re not getting that productivity right.
But they used it. That’s really by defining what the goal is, is really helpful.
Yeah, well, it’s funny you mentioned Jeeralang. That’s a classic thing we bump into is that the tool doesn’t solve the problem. Like, yeah, it’s like saying like running doesn’t cause any problems. It finds them right. Like if you’ve got something it will immediately surface when you do certain things. And like I said, applying a workflow tool like a JIRA, a ServiceNow or something like that, even any automation process is I’m a I’m a king of of hating being doing the same thing repeatedly.
So I’m lazy in the greatest way because I want to automate as much as I can. But immediately, once you have to, like, systematized that thing, it makes you stop and say, OK, what do I actually do? And you realize, like when I say I’m just going to go and grab this file and put it up on the server and that’s it, then it gets read by the system. You’re right. It’s like, oh, now I save it, I export it.
I add some stuff to the end. I do a search and think, oh, wow. And now all of a sudden you’re like, it’s good to visit because it allows you to say, do I need to do it at this stage? And sometimes you go to real first principles and say, like, well, what are we actually trying to achieve? Student needs to get content. Content is here. We need to measure the effectiveness of how they get it and how they use it.
But it’s hard because. Look, of any system that’s got Whalsay legacy as the coded system right intact, we always talk about legacy systems. How much more legacy and effect is our education system and not legacy is bad. But I mean, legacy is really just it’s been evolving very slowly for a long time. So it probably was even more challenging to suddenly come in and say. I’m going to put some questions to how we’ve been doing it for a couple of hundred years.
Yeah, I think that you get you hit on something where I think legacy is sometimes seen as bad, but it actually just become such a I sometimes referred to this will seem like a really bad comparison, but it’s kind of like the Titanic, which now legacy has that really bad. But in some ways it’s so big and it’s just been added onto so much, it’s really hard to turn it and become very navigable. It’s hard to move it around.
And one of the things with learning, teaching and learning needs to be more agile and not as waterfall approach because things change. And this is where I think one of the things that OTUS does help with and not trying to be on the sales soapbox too much. But one of the things that has happened in education is for administrators and the people who are kind of managing all of this. Their feedback loop is really long, it can be almost a full year where it’s like, oh, this is how we’re doing, this is how it’s going, and it’s almost like a full year passes like this is how third grade what what are we going to do differently for third grade next year?
And what Otus is trying to do is we’re trying to provide the tools all in a single place. We’re trying to collect the information efficiently and in the background to teachers. And students are just doing their thing of teaching and learning. But because we’re collecting that information and making it transparent to all the stakeholders, we want to shorten that infinity loop. We want to basically that feedback loop. I call it an infinity loop, the feedback loop. We want to shorten it because if all of a sudden we have these goals and we’re monitoring them regularly, all of a sudden you’re able to measure, you’re able to build, you’re able to adaptable.
And that is what other industries have done. So effectively, the idea is the waterfall approach. Why was that so problematic? Well, by the time it actually went out, things changed, things adopted. You misread something you weren’t able to iterate as you went. And when we get to this more agile approach or this approach where we’re able to do things in shorter, you don’t want to release once every year. Right. You want to release as quickly as you can.
Now, some people could debate how often is good for the user, but that, like the idea is once a year is not often enough. And in education, it would be great not to over measure. I don’t want to test a kid every single day, but observation, observations or measurement. So if I am adapting and iterating and able to tweak what I’m doing on a daily or weekly basis, that’s really where your best teachers are at because they’re able to find where the kids that find out what those obstacles are, find those blockers, adapt and then continue to see improvement over time.
And if we can get schools to. Be able to help students that way, but it also one of the things I think OTUS also helps do is it helps with the professional development. We had talked a while earlier in the conversation about how. If let’s look at a product, if you’re a product leader, you’re a team or a program manager and you’re trying to solve something, your toolkit has to be like so big to solve every problem out there.
The same thing happens with teaching. But if we’re able to pinpoint what a problem is, hey, students are struggling, multiplying fractions. OK, we have a very specific problem, multiplying fractions. It’s hard. What are things that we can do to help with that specific goal? Well, now, when I’m giving professional development to the teacher, how do I make the learning of multiplying fractions more fun and happening faster? And the same thing goes like if all of a sudden in the product world, if we’re struggling with the collaboration between you and developers and we want them to be more collaborative so that.
Are you are you are you X components are being built better. OK, that’s a very specific problem that we can figure out. How do we increase the collaboration when building out a component between a developer and you? X Well oh let’s do pair programing or let’s have we added a column to our job board where we call it UTI so that it’s actually being checked for that. And one of those things that happens is like, OK, now you can solve this specific problem because it’s not, hey, we’re having inefficiencies with our delivery.
Well, what is the inefficiency? What is so when you’re able to pinpoint it, you’re able to better solve the problem, but you’re also better able to collaborate and also build out that toolkit so that it’s not just all these general uses or general ideas.
You’re the teacher I wish that I had. It’s it really comes through No. One, Chris, the passion of the way that you’re approaching the problem, plus the fact that you’re able to see beyond. Like I said, you’re the the phrasing that you use, the description of the challenges and the solutions. Like you you you may not feel that you’re as comfortable necessarily on the technology side, but you’re fantastic compared to a lot of folks that I find that being able to bridge between, like understanding the problem and living the real lived experience and then bringing that across and then building a solution for it, you’ve really, really crossed that that river beautifully and that you can still see both sides of it effectively.
And that’s it’s a rarity because quite often we have just purely like systems thinkers and then we hand them user stories and we hand them things and and it comes back as the old even like the waterfall. Project Management was the classic joke. Right. They’d show the like the little eight, you know, caption cartoon. And it was like what the user asked for and what the user wanted. Know what the project manager thought it was, what the developer thought it was.
And it was like a swing. This all the kid wanted was a tree swing. And it’s like all these different iterations. In the end, it was just like a piece of wood laying on the ground with a rope hanging from a tree. It’s it’s really interesting that you really, really understand both sides of the experience. So how did that come to be? Like I said, because your background is is obviously an education and you’ve got a really and your education wouldn’t tell me that you’re a solid on the on the tech side as you are.
Yeah, I think that it comes from. I appreciate the kind compliments, it’s sometimes hard to hear, but I do try to understand what I do well and what I don’t. And one of the things that I have found is I was a political science and world religions major. I really enjoy learning how systems and processes work and how they impact the individuals involved and also understanding where you best fit into the puzzle. And so. I am pretty good at seeing the ninety thousand foot view I can I can really see it.
I can set I can understand what the market is doing. You mentioned, you know, the tree swing. You know, one of the things that we’ve been talking about is not always doing exactly what the customer wants, but instead we really like to bring out what are the problems that are causing something to occur. And the question that I always like to come back to, it’s a broken record for me, but it’s what is more difficult than it should be.
And so really focusing on the problem. But what I really learned is that the details do matter and building out a team to kind of complement those. So like our product manager, Zacky, is, he’s got the best he’s the best at details that I’ve ever come across and having him work with me and then also working with we have a great UX team and we’ve identified some of these key things like UX is essential. You know, the technology literacy in education really spans the gamut.
It just is huge. Like you have students who are amazingly tech savvy, like they can figure stuff out. But there are some teachers. I had to help install apps on their iPhone and there are others that could do anything way better than me. So it’s like understanding what is going to be needed, building out these specifications, but then also really relying on the people who are experts like our CTO. Corey is incredible. He helped. He helped really another startup in education really have the good core and skeleton and understanding that we have team lead.
So we have team leaders across the board. We have one for assessment, one for all of us. We have all these people who have these expertize that I don’t know, we have one of our our alums lead. His name’s Colt. He’s he was a great experience and internationalization. I can understand what the term is like. Oh, OK. We got to internationalize Otus. We’ve got to localize the product. Like, I can understand the high level, but.
Implementing it, I that’s not going to be my strength now, setting the vision of why we want to internationalize, we want Otus to be able to be understood again efficiently for all stakeholders. Well, there’s a very diverse group of families out there, and it’s important that education can be hard enough to understand when it’s in your non-native language. Let’s bring as much as we can into their native language. Let’s help this all stakeholders get onto the same page that fits our vision.
Then you hire the people who know it and then you build in the structure to allow them to do it and. I think that I’m constantly trying to learn, and I think it’s been amazing to have the team at Otus really helped me do that and they really are the experts. One of the things that I often will say is. Otus’s in education technology, which is also often referred to as EdTech. And I really don’t like that term as much, because I think ADTECH often means you’re short changing one or both either tools are super like, wow, the technologies really knew what they’re doing.
This is so impressive. But they didn’t get the educator point of view or to be the opposite, where it’s like, oh, man, the educators clearly. We’re helping develop this, but then they won’t be as stable or scalable or all of a sudden it’s like man who designed their UI, UX like it’s like one of those things where I really want us to embrace the skill set of both. We have about a third of our employees are former educators.
I want them to have a voice and that educator voice, but also with people who aren’t educators but are parents or family members. OK, what would you need from the system in that situation? And also the technologies? How do we build scalable solutions? How do we have data portability? How do we have security, all of those things? I’m not going to be able to speak to other than OK, that’s important. Let’s make sure we take the time to do it.
And I think it’s understanding what you are able to do and understand where you might have room to grow and then finding those people who can teach you and taking the moment and the time. I guess it’s more than a single moment because learning for me takes a lot longer than it probably should. I really have to have conversations, ask questions that are sometimes. Pretty silly, you know, it was one of those things just today we were working on some of our load testing in terms of next year, and we came up into a situation where it’s very technical for why it wasn’t giving us like the same results as we expected, and it was why.
And then I had to ask like two or three very clarifying questions because we were using a small subset of accounts to extrapolate over. Right. Taking a thousand accounts and make reusing them ten thousand times. Well, that caused our systems going to react differently when the same thousand users are signing it all the time instead of it being fifty thousand four hundred thousand unique users. Well, there was a technical reason for that. I looked a little silly as I asked my questions, but again, it’s being willing to know and the team knows that I’m in it for the right reasons and they’re willing to help me learn and then it clarifies it.
And now next time it’ll make sense. And it’s one of its venturing out. I like to say risking failure while striving to be your best. Striving to be my best. But I was risking failure and asking a question that I probably should have been able to figure out.
It’s it is good to have the humility to bring that question to the room, though, and this is something that we often struggle with. This is a human tendency of like, well, I’ve got to I think this is going to be a dumb question. So you hang on to it. And in fact, sometimes it’s people. Oh, OK. Well, actually, now that we say that right, we’ve we’ve reused a thousand accounts. It’s going to perform differently than if we took ten thousand because there’s a diversity of life.
So there are genuine reasons why that needs to be brought up sometimes. And the good thing is the comfort among the peer group and the team in being able to say it’s OK. Right. We often have this thing of culture as we talk about in team culture is the success in culture is the ability to feel like you can fail and you can fail with this group and be comfortable that it’s a learning experience, not a punishment experience. It’s it’s something that, you know, when you choose your co-founders and your team, you have to stuff you find out in practice.
Right, right. I think that’s where a culture like that’s the biggest parallel to me that really has opened my eyes is that is what a teacher does, right? They’re building a culture of learning with their students so that. You need them to be able to ask questions. Can I work with seventh and eighth graders like they’re not going to know the history of all that’s going on? That’s that’s not they haven’t had the opportunity yet. But you have to build a culture of understanding, a culture of community where they can ask that.
You know, I always had I had three guiding principles that I use everywhere from for my own kids to Otus to to my classroom, which where, you know, respect, honesty and then strive to be your best while risking failure. Those were the three. And it’s been interesting because that same culture building is exactly what happens on product teams or in. Specific components and we use teams a lot, we have product teams, but then we have platform teams, so it’s sometimes use of teams.
When I’m talking to external folks, it makes me sound a little little team happy. But the idea is like the UX team needs to be able to collaborate with the front end team and the back end team and our data team. But they also have to be one group on our product team, which is like assessment where we have multiple members on. And it’s like that type of camaraderie and that problem solving, the open problem solving and communication only occurs with the right culture.
And it’s the the culture thing is interesting, especially in the classroom, too, because, you know, in business, we’ve people generally have a long view of how they’re going to fit, you know, in the in the educational system. Well, let’s say you’ve got twenty five kids and one teacher. They’re basically looking to just survive nine months together. And because there will be a brand new cohort, a brand new selection, a brand new pool.
So the culture has to be discovered, evolved and then sort of measured for success and hopefully capped off with, you know, everybody feeling good about how they what they took away from that nine month experience into the following year so that when they see that teacher in the hall, they’re like, oh, hey, Mrs. Johnson, you know, hey, Mr. Hall, how’s it going? You know, versus like, oh, boy, I missed your whole last year is driving me crazy is a real he was a real hard nut around math.
You know, it. So culture is it’s very interesting that in the education system. It’s as a as an educator and then as a somebody who’s bringing in systems into that seeing that experience, then ultimately probably play out in data. Right. What data have you seen now through OTUS that’s kind of taught you lessons about that, the real in classroom experience.
Yeah, I think that I think data, you know, sometimes a four letter word, but information, right, is when you really are able to pull information, you really find that there are connections or correlations between things that are happening and, you know, behavior and attendance and engagement really do impact learning and. Having a teacher able to focus in on a couple of very specific things you need to get better at can really drive great improvement and that improvement can really be seen across the board.
And the data can really show that where if you have a. A teacher who does a really good job of driving engagement, really getting the buy in, and then you can put in the work to do learning, because to learn is an action that requires effort and that that effort is important. And so when you can really get to that real crux of learning and let’s say you really have been able to identify the main point in informational text. You’ll see those benefits in in science and social studies and all of these different areas, and it’s such a cascading effect where you’re really building these essential building blocks that really can impact their entire performance throughout the day.
It can even impact their performance and physical education if you’re able to understand informational text. Well, now, when you’re being asked to learn the rules of a new game, you’re able to pull out the main points to such a better degree. It really has been amazing to see how the data really does show that and it’s not always easy and I think there are successes. I also think the data shows that it’s not this like straight line. It’s not even like that in the other spaces of technology where you want that hockey stick approach.
That’s not that’s not what happens in education in some ways. A lot of times it’s like two steps forward, one step back because. Kids are just complicated. They’re just really something that takes time to be able to unlock and then for them it’s almost like, oh man, I had two great days and then you’re trying to replicate it. Well, now some a little different was something said on recess with something set on the playground. Did something happen at home that they if they were on a sports team, did something happen there?
And so. It really is one of those things that when we can. Collect more comprehensive information, we can pinpoint when they need something. Maybe it’s just a conversation, maybe it’s just. One on one time, maybe, I’d say we just got like today is a rough day, we got to be a little bit calmer or more understanding empathetic today. That was the word I was looking for, empathetic. I think the information can provide those insights.
And I think that we’ve seen when you really are monitoring things, you can you can get better overall growth, even though day in, day out, it might be a little bit more. Two steps forward, one step back. But if you’re monitoring it, you’re able to really identify. We’ve got to step back. We’ve got to really push forward now. Whereas in the past, you might all of a sudden only be looking at something data wise every three to six months, and then you might have missed something that could have been uncovered.
When just like many software or applications or whatever it is, you’ve you’ve got the consumer, the people that are actually involved in it, the people that ultimately buy it, and we talk about the user persona, the economic buyer persona. We’ve got the in the consumer maybe that, you know, the educator and then ultimately the student. So. How do you how do you bring those personas together and make sure that they’re all kind of in agreement on what you’re measuring?
Because I I know one of the challenges we’ve often had in education is this idea of like standardized testing, like, well, this is it’s a very distinctive and regional unique thing, but it’s not really. But there are enough idiosyncrasies and oddities and differences. Maybe it’s better a better way to describe it. So when you bring anything, that’s a system. Like, how do you where do you find the resistance’s maybe in people taking it on?
Yeah, I think this is where we’ve really we have an amazing client success team and they really work very closely with our districts. Because they’re the they’re the people making these decisions, we have a really flexible platform that can measure. What a district would like to measure, it’s very adaptable, so we really work with the districts to make sure they’ve identified what you want to measure. Let’s define them, let’s expand on them, let’s make sure they’re explained well, and then our system can then go in and do that and.
Because of that approach, I really think that we’re able to. Have the client feel success at the end of the day, our clients are the districts, but the districts are serving students and teachers and families. So that’s why we kind of need to incorporate it. But we’re there to that. We’re the tool to support the district initiatives. We are the tool of the district. The data is the districts, and because of that, we need to make sure that we are accountable to what their goals are.
And that really comes through a really great process we have of discovery of what are you looking to measure? What are your end goals? How do we get your path there? And we’re really shaping that customer journey with them because of how adaptable our system is. But it really does cause some challenges because it can be moving. Education right now is going through a huge transformation. The pandemic is one reason, but also there is this call for. Accountability and standards and these common assessments and this common movement and maximizing learning and districts are figuring out how to get there on their own in each person’s implementations, different depending on the state and federal situation they’re in.
But it has caused a couple of curveballs to be thrown because all of a sudden the district, we could have a plan in place and then halfway through the we need to change and adapt and pivot and then say, OK, we’ll pivot. But we might not be collecting. We might not have been collecting C, not because Otus can’t collect A, B and C, but because they weren’t inputting the data for A, B and C, so therefore we don’t.
So it gets into these things where it really does take careful planning, careful conversations, and really it’s exciting to be able to do it. But it is a learning process has been it’s been a great opportunity for me to talk to districts, our team. We have an amazing former superintendent who leads our team. His name’s Phil. He does a great job, his entire team does, to have these conversations. And one of the things we really believe in is we want conversations to happen as often as possible.
I’ll join them. Oftentimes we have a UX researcher who joins them to collect so that we can kind of identify trends that are taking place. That kind of I think I loosely answered your question, but that is the challenge is districts are currently. Providing what is their path forward and there is some changes on the way because educational administration is going undergoing change this past year for superintendents across the country, it is a very difficult one. I don’t think they were in a no win situation because they had constantly changing CDC guidelines.
They had constantly changing what are we supposed to do with the pandemic? And they were unable to focus as heavily as I would hope on learning, but because they had to focus on the safety and security and the well-being of their staff and their students. But it was one of those things that it’s too often the case that schools are unable to focus on the learning and they’re instead being distracted by things that are that are the administrative tasks that are important but are not the core, the priority that I think schools should serve, which is helping maximize learning for every kid.
And that really is the goodness gracious like of all things that we faced as a society in the last 18 months has tested us in ways that I hope that we gather solid lessons from it. And and it’s like I obviously anybody would would give up any lesson to not have had the experience. Don’t never of course, this isn’t a trade off that we ever wanted to make. But when faced with a and a trade off that we didn’t have a choice and know being suddenly remote.
I’ve been a remote worker for years. And somebody said like, oh, this is this is must be what it’s like to work remotely. I’m like, no, very different. Right. Like suddenly remote is not a remote work experience that you you interact differently. Hybrid is different. As we then go back to now bringing education into a combination of I think by September, hopefully we’ll have stabilized and everybody will be back in the classroom. But like, let’s leverage what we learned about the digital experience and how we can empower kids through some remote tools.
Because when I was a kid, I was in grade, you know, I was in grade school and when I went into high school, I got mono. Right. And this is like the classic thing. I, I missed a lot of school because I wasn’t able to go. And I lost an entire year of school because I missed enough education days and there was no remote learning. So that was it there. Just like you’ve missed too many days and so you have to lose your year.
So I lost a bunch of courses and then I went back kind of grudgingly and got my my last year done in one semester because we just switched over to semesters. And it was so now I think if I’ve got these tools, I’ve got ways that we can measure the health of their home experience and hopefully bring it into the system. But we can empower every kid to be successful for that year and beyond, right?
And I think that’s the thing. Right. And I I really am reflecting on my comment, like educators have done such an incredible job this year. But the task they were they were faced with was so. So daunting, I’m actually the superintendent of my students district, my sorry, my kids, my my kids district is also where I taught he actually hired me. They also use OTUS. It was one of those things we’re talking to him like the challenges he was facing between there would be a CDC announcement at like noon.
Then the mayor of Chicago would make an announcement or the governor of Illinois would make an announcement like 90 minutes later. And he was then tasked a minute after all of that. Well, what are you going to do? And I’m like, he just got like a bucket of information. How is he supposed to process check with X, Y, Z? But now he’s being asked, like, what’s what’s the reaction? It’s like to have to do that in real time.
Like educators and superintendents, they were they were facing problems that I don’t think anybody could have ever foreseen. So they had so much time and energy focused on the health and safety of everybody that. In some ways, education, like the learning, took a step back and it’s like, OK, how are we going to address? Because you made some good points, right? Like Bono or or kids who need to be home, like, well, now you can do things.
I don’t think it’s good to be doing them. And endlessly. I think there is a huge place for human connection, for being a person, for collaborating. Again, I have very young kids. My oldest is seven. I think it’s really important to understand, you know, but it’s also one of those things where. I would teach again, 7th and 8th grade, I had 40 minute periods and I would tell my you know, I tell people it’s like.
Teaching and learning is not happening all 40 minutes every day week, you know, five days a week, 40 minutes a day, that’s not all we’re doing. We’re doing connections. We’re doing culture building. We might be doing. Icebreakers, we have to get to know each other, we have to do that culture building, we have to I enjoyed going on some tangents if it’s going to help develop critical thinking skills. And it was one of those things where with everything being on Zoom, it’s like, OK, what are the expectations?
You know, it was one of those things that is very fascinating to me. And if we can really focus on the learning, I really think we can take things away that were we faced during the pandemic.
And that experience of being remote and on video, it’s especially for the durations that you’ve got to do it like I’m I before we were all remote, I had a great experience because I knew at a sort of slot my meetings and you had to do stuff. And then what happened was when everybody was suddenly remote, they had this unfortunate feeling that they had to fill this time like that. They had to do all these meetings, that they were doing ad hoc and schedule them and schedule them an hour long.
And so all of a sudden, we’re all on Zoom’s together. And look, there’s a huge like we got through it together because we were able to stay connected and do things. But it’s cognitively tiring to be looking at a panel of people for hours at a time. It’s we need to be able to, like, put the lid down on the laptop, sometimes walk around like, well, you got to do that. The whole fun of the hallway track at a conference is that you are going from one place to another and you’re like, you know what, I’m going to be late for this one because I just bumped into this person in the hallway that didn’t exist anymore.
Right. And it’s really, really tough. That’s why I hope we can find this sort of hybrid experience. And now, like, look at what you’re doing. You have now the ability through what you’re doing with Otus to take these measurements with this cohort for the coming years so we can actually then see what the the the downstream benefit are like, what was good and what may be challenges come up relative to previous cohorts, right?
Yeah, that’s inside of like what’s the impact going to be? I think it’s you also hit on some really big points, right? I think we we dealt with this at Otus. You know, the idea of. Yeah, I’m going to schedule an hour meeting. Well, I feel like if you schedule an hour meeting, at first you felt like you had to take the hour meeting, right. Whatever length of time you put the meeting, you just somehow drag it out.
And it’s like, OK, let’s schedule twenty five minute meetings. Let’s or. Let’s not meet let’s see what we can do asynchronously, and I think that’s where we are now, a remote company, and it’s been it’s been an interesting transition. And I think we’re getting better and better where it’s like, OK, we don’t we can do more impromptu things or we can just have, like we call them, hangouts where it’s like drop in if you would like.
But there is no pressure and or no video for a couple of days because you have videos. I used to be pretty good, I’m not I used to be pretty good at reading a room, you know, I did a lot of teaching. I think that’s one of the things you learn really well. You know, again, I had six classes, twenty five kids apiece. So I would be forty minutes a day, six times I would have to read the room.
I felt like I was pretty good at it. I can never read a Zoome room to save my life. I can’t avoid you. I have no idea how it’s going. And so I think that’s really where we can learn. I think teachers, they say like, I don’t know how you could connect with students to the same degree, because I used to tell people I loved holding the door open both for my classroom, but also at Otus, where it’s like that two minute conversation that time in two minutes, that twenty second conversation going in and out of a room.
That’s how you can really bond. Or it’s like that that that side comment you can make where it’s like, I don’t want to announce this to the entire class or the entire resume. I just want to have a little back and forth, you know, how is your kid doing? Or I know you play golf. How’s that going? It’s like, hey, what what’s the latest? It’s like those little tidbits that I don’t think you want to put everybody on public blast.
That’s like a that’s the difference between an icebreaker. We’re all here. Let’s all answer an ice breaker. It’s not the same as like, hey, let’s have like a little side huddle. I used to do that with my my students all the time. Like, we’re going to the side hall. We’re going to talk for two minutes. How’s it going? It’s like such a different energy and connection that is fostered that way. And it’s really something that I really going back to school for students is going to be important.
I think that the engagement was really hard this year in terms of being invested in what was happening for all students. Some are able to some are self-motivated. Some are able to go in there. And I got this. But the idea is, what about for the students who need that nudge or need that connection to be able to push faster? And I think it’s also happening in the workplace. It’s just we’re in we’re in store for some interesting change coming up here.
The the one thing that you bring up, too, is that those holiday conversations and the door opening conversations, especially with students, even if we say like, OK, the Zoome room is for X, right? We’re going to talk about something for an hour. You know, the subject matter. You know the agenda. Sometimes you can slip in and hey, how’s it going. But there’s twenty two people on the on the room with you so it’s harder to have those conversations.
So what do you do. You take it to Slack Wall or the chat area like. Well no, because they especially for students, they need to know that if you say like hey, you know, I know you’ve been struggling like you just sort of catch them in the hallway. You know, if you need any help, just feel you you know, you can come and talk to me or the team and they may at that moment open up or they may come and see you after class.
But they’re less likely to go into the chat area on software to have that open conversation, because there’s always a sense that what I’m saying is being recorded or seen or like and you don’t type like you talk. So it’s you don’t see that. All right.
I think the one example that really comes to mind is I used to always try to pay attention where it’s like, oh, you have a big dance recital, you have a big competition or an art show. You could just be like, oh, how’d it go this weekend? They didn’t have to always say anything. You might just see this like this kind of downward glance or it’s like, oh, that probably didn’t go great. Or you might see the smile of, like, all mad.
It must have went really well. It’s like you miss that and it’s like you don’t want to put it on blast because it’s like. You miss that, right? It’s like, oh, how the Arko go if they just like, take that pause and they’re that momentary, like their shoulders go down and it’s like, oh, man, like like tell me about it. Or it’s like you might have that like they might, but I’m on a slacker on a chat.
Good. It’s like, oh well they’re telling me right then it’s like you’re losing that moment where it’s like how’d it go. And then you could read it and then it’s OK, I’m going to put a pin in that, like maybe there isn’t that opportunity to dove in deep, but maybe the following day it’s like I know it didn’t seem like your art show as well. Do you want to take a minute after class and just talk it out?
It’s like it’s impossible to do that with some of the technologies and that and that’s just unfortunate. It’s no one’s fault. But that’s one of the reasons that I think. In the K-12 experience, it’s why. I really don’t think remote is going to be feasible forever, and I think it was it was a good solution for the situation we were in that was unfortunate and again, a global pandemic. But in really in order to maximize learning, we need to be able to have those connections be built to really be able to unlock that.
And students. And I think that comes from the teacher student relationship. And that’s that’s the piece that to me. Where that’s what I focused a lot of my time on when I was in the classroom, I really wanted to get to know my students. I’ve been lucky enough to stay in touch with several of them, even after I’ve left education and they’re now out of college. It’s like makes me feel very old. But the idea is like that type of connection, it allows them to achieve great things.
And I really. That was what Otus was built to do. It was built to be able to create this collection of information so that you could get to that moment of connection sooner. It’s not going to be done by the system itself. Otus isn’t going to have this machine learning that’s going to unlock every kid for you. But the idea is it’s going to have information to give you a jumpstart on this kid, really into soccer or this kid is all about, damn.
So this kid’s all about Archos or hey, this one’s all about music. Oh, cool. Like that gives me a head instead of me fishing, trying to figure it out. It gives me a head, gives me a jumpstart. And that’s that really can be a huge way to get the connection going.
These are the signals that, like you said, there’s a lot of non-verbal stuff, there’s a lot of things that we experience acutely through the year that you don’t necessarily pass on because it’s like but just like a CRM, you say like, oh, I just found out this guy’s got his kids are going to Brown next year. And, you know, it’s like, see, you you put those things in there and then it becomes a talking point, a reminder later on.
And although it’s in the context of like warming the sales relationship, what it really is, is building a relationship and creating that comfort. One thing that’s interesting that I’ve you is I’m not sure how to even measure it right now that we’ve gone through Zoom and we’re doing digital platforms, there’s a real power of the democratization of it, right. That everybody’s kind of got the same access. We everybody is from the chest up. Right. Like, that’s kind of our view of the world.
But it also takes away things. Because if I were to stand next to you, Chris, I happen to know that you’re a rather tall gentleman. So but you and I looked like we’re about the same height. In fact, I’m a couple inches taller than you on camera. But that doesn’t come through when we’re digital. Right. And one of the fellows I work with, I worked with him for four months through this experience, and I helped him with onboarding things.
And then they showed I saw his picture on LinkedIn and it was the first time I’d ever seen him from the above or below the shoulders. And he mentioned that he was a veteran. And then I found out that he had lost his legs from the middle of his thigh down in in battle. And like that, I don’t know that it’s like plus or minus that that wasn’t discovered. But that’s a very unique and distinct thing that he and I actually had great conversation.
But after the fact. But like, I never would have found that out until I because I only see him from the shoulders up like that. Just it’s a very weird experience now, like especially students. Same thing is like we probably open up opportunity with students, which is positive, but then we take away some of that uniqueness that we can really, like, bring in like nurture and bring into every year as they go through the learning journey.
And I think, as you said, it’s just a it’s a very small glimpse into the world when you’re only doing a zoom as you might, I’m six, seven. I don’t think anybody on this would have any idea that our idea is like there are things that make people unique, that your story about the veteran is very touching and the idea of like that’s who it is. But students express themselves and so many unique ways. And I actually just ran into a former student who’s going to college and he was actually making money being a he was working for Dauda.
Or maybe he was just delivering pizzas for Malnati’s, we eat a lot of Malnati’s cheddar, that is my former coach Malnati, but he was we were talking it was funny because he came up and I came up to my he didn’t know it was me. Like, I thought it could be you because of the name. I’m like, he’s like, oh my. I’m like, how are you doing? In seventh grade he wear shorts every day.
Shorts. He wore the same athletic. It was either blue or black shorts every day, one or the other. And it was funny because he goes, how did that all the way through high school I was like, I’m like, well now you’re pants. It’s like now I’m an adult. And I was laughing because it was like such a small, unique moment. Right. But it was like that perception was like that’s what he wore. There are other people like, you know, I had students who would love to draw one of the things I did for my.
From my classroom was I actually painted my desks with whiteboard paint one year because I really believe that, like doodling and drawing and I had a couple students who. They just would draw the most amazing they just were amazing artists, and it was like I would never have noticed that if were on a zoom, right. Like I would I would never have caught what I’m doing, you know, drawing down here, doing. And it’s like those are the connections that really can unlock that next level.
And I feel like I’m a broken record here, but that’s really how you can. Pushed through the difficulty that can happen, the obstacles, the Blocher’s, you can push through that when you get to know somebody.
And really this is why, like I said, I, I when I saw you come up as a guest, I thought, this is it. You can I’m passionate about the potential for technology to affect human life in some small way every day. Right. That’s I do mentoring. I do lots of things. And I’m using, you know, tech where possible to augment that. And the fact that you’ve literally said I’m going to throw we’re going to throw this awful K-12 experience towards this and measure effectively to empower kids and empower education, then this is something that it’s a long tale to write as a founder.
Sometimes this is not a quick win. So for a lot of folks that are looking like every founder story doesn’t have to be the hockey stick of, you know, I grabbed crabbiness some seed and jumped into a serious AI and I went to 10 million. And we’re like, I wish we can affect human lives in incredible ways by doing this stuff. And this is where technology is such a such an enabler. And I really applaud what you’re doing.
No, I appreciate it. It’s definitely it was hard to leave the classroom, but I definitely do feel like I’m still having an impact on helping teachers do. They’re the most amazing job. I just have so much admiration and and. Just praise for them for what they do on a daily basis, and same with parasite families. I like to say families who are helping with kids are just they’re doing the most difficult task. I’m often at wit’s end with my four, but.
Well, that’s and it’s that’s the thing is we no one’s perfect all the time. Right. And that’s why we can use these things to, like you said, every every kid, every student, every teacher, principal, character, anybody who’s involved in the educational system, they are they can hit those moments. We’re like we’re going to be a little different for the next couple of days because something happened. And the fact that you can take that and sort of bring it through the experience and then because sometimes it’s longer form, right?
Death in the family, you discover something about about a child that’s very positive. That was kind of a hidden treat. And now you can bring that to that next level for them to help them on either side of how it goes. One thing that’s interesting and I know is, of course, you’ve got the the the privacy badges. Like, we didn’t go deep into this and we don’t have to necessarily, but like the data that you’ve got to gather.
I’m curious, Chris, was there any resistance challenges around the fact that you have to be able to collect a certain amount of of potentially personal data as part of this process?
Yeah, so one of the things that was interesting about the whole what data are we going to collect? That’s where, you know, to our previous point in the conversation, that’s where the districts are really deciding. And it’s not our data and it’s really the district’s data and it’s being collected somewhere. So why wouldn’t we collect it in a single place and by collecting stuff that’s already been collected? We haven’t had that. That obstacle has not been as high.
It’s like, why are you collecting this? Well, you already were collecting it. Now we’re going to put it into a place that’s more visible and more transparent. So that’s been helpful. But it does get in conversations. There’s some data that people don’t want to put into because we do believe in. And when I say visibility, it’s visibility to people who have permission to see it. So it’s not just like everyone in the world can see it, but there is this idea of like.
It starts the conversation that’s really important, one of the mistakes I made was I thought everybody would want to be very transparent. I think that one of the things that really can unlock real growth is getting everybody on the same page with the same information. But I think there is. A process to get there. They want to start and say, let’s start with this, let’s problem solve that amount of data. Now let’s get to the next level.
And so we have districts who’ve been with us for several years. They’ve unlocked so much through the time. But it’s also something that’s a progression. You don’t want to just overflow people with like reams and reams of data. So that’s been a conversation. What’s going to be helpful? What’s going to help you problem solve? And we can grow with you. We can grow with you and help you achieve what you want to do.
It’s it is the the good thing is at this point in sort of society’s understanding, I think we’ve like you said, this is data that’s being collected elsewhere anyways. We’re just bringing it and and looking for signals within it to get positive benefit. So I think especially at this range, you know, K to 12 is such an ideal spot where so much growth and learning can happen, the more we can do to speed and empower that. I think very rare cases where people wouldn’t want to know that their data is being held somewhere.
Like you said, it’s it’s not that it’s not being held anywhere. It’s always been somewhere.
And we put we we take it we have we’re part of the data privacy pledges and we would take that very seriously. We want to treat data with the utmost respect and we try to do we try to be on the cutting edge of everything to make it as secure as possible.
Well, you’re on the cutting edge of something fantastic, Chris, it’s been a real pleasure to share time with you and for folks, of course, we’ll have links in the show notes if they want to find out more. So Otus’s ot us dot com. And if anybody wants to reach out to you directly, Chris, and have a chat, what’s the best way that they could do that?
LinkedIn is probably the best way I’m on LinkedIn. Also, my email is pretty easy to figure out. It’s Chris Chris at Otus dot com and I definitely welcome the opportunity to continue learning and appreciate the conversation today. Eric, it’s been absolutely wonderful. You have a terrific podcast. I’ve been lucky enough to subscribe in preparation for this, and you do it well.
Thank you very much. I appreciate that. There you go, folks. This is it. You just learn some incredible lessons, Chris. It’s been a real pleasure.
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Eric Geier is the CEO and founder of Puresurance, advising business owners and entrepreneurs on the implementation of life insurance as a retirement vehicle and custom designed health coverage solutions.
Prior to founding Puresurance, Eric had 25 years of experience on Wall Street. Puresurance is helping him to achieve his lifelong goal of helping people with their personal finances and retirement plans.
We discuss the challenges of transparency in healthcare and business, plus Eric shares amazing lessons on how he motivates himself and stays customer obsessed which also allows him to give back in many other ways. He’s a real inspiration and this is a great conversation.
Hi, this is Eric Geier. I’m the founder and CEO of Puresurance. Welcome to the DiscoPosse podcast.
You’re listening to DiscoPosse Podcast. All right, here, approach this, you’re a fantastic speaker, by the way. So this is my pleasure to host you, not just because you’re named Eric, but because I’m a big fan of the story of your organization. I’m going to love that. My audience is going to be very aware of the challenges that your team are solving. And you’ve got such a really good personal history in the industry and how you got to hear.
So it’d be fun to kind of dove into how pure surance got started as well. But before I go too far talking about it, for folks that are brand new to you, Eric, if you want to give us a quick intro and a bio and then we’ll talk about the pure Shuren story.
Sure. Yes. My name is Eric Guya. I’m the founder and CEO of Pure Surance. We help franchisee’s small business owners, entrepreneurs and freelancers, secure, affordable, comprehensive health insurance. And it’s something that if you’re a small business owner without a without being fortunate to have a spouse on a group plan that you can leverage, you’re likely to have an expensive problem. So that actually brought me to health insurance. I had spent about twenty five years before that institutional equity sales on Wall Street representing some of the world’s largest pension funds and asset managers treating the global equity markets.
I now from New York, we moved down here to Florida and I am much happier making a difference in the lives of people on a much more granular level. I meet a lot of interesting small business people. Everybody’s got a great story. And it’s just nice to see the the the effects of of your work on an individual basis. So that’s kind of what brought me here.
That is one of the most profound things that we get to do. We we often talk about the stories and the customer stories, so such a fundamental part of like marketing and really relating what it is, the value that we bring as organizations. And when you can actually, like, shake the hand of the person that you helped indirectly and great. This is a hot topic, definitely in one that we see the numbers from the SBA. We see the numbers from, oh, especially the last 18 months.
A lot of folks are in a real struggle as far as, hey, can I get away from my traditional day to day because my traditional day to day is not tenable anymore. Like it either went away or it’s been cut back. Just the world has changed so much in the last while. And a lot of folks say, well, let me start my own thing. However, outside of just going to legal zoom and grabbing your contract and forming a Delaware LLC, there is suddenly a real personal family problem that you have and this is the problem of health care.
And so if you want to give back, or especially for my international listeners, so as the Canadian all my Canadian folks like, what are you talking about? Where it’s all included is what worries the Canadians can come back in 20 minutes when we talk about startups.
Yeah, yeah, exactly. Well, the the probably one of the most fitting examples is that the Franchise Business Association based down here in Florida, who represents over two hundred franchises as well as third party marketers, has brought me on as the person to solve the health insurance problems for the existing franchisees and for those who are considering going into business for themselves. One of the biggest stumbling blocks, especially if you have a family in making that jump from corporate America, is to have that health insurance in place.
So when you do open up your doors and whatever business you decide to undertake, it won’t be a an albatross on your shoulders. Having to pay that COBRA a monthly fee that is so taxing for a new business owner where cash is king and liquidity is paramount. So every day we’re trying to make health insurance as wallet friendly as possible while providing the kind of asset protection that business owners need to stay solvent and not have to worry that if a serious event happens to either of them or anyone in their family or their employees, that they will be sufficiently taken care of it.
It’s an interesting thing, too. It’s not just accessibility of insurance and just the raw capital expenditure, but it’s there. But also it’s it’s effectively an investment. It’s one that we have to invest in every month. But there are ways in which we can use, you know, things that there are different asset vehicles and different investment vehicles that are going to be incorporated along with it. It’s but it’s most people don’t even do the taxes and they very certainly don’t do their health care.
Yes. With the attention that it needs, right?
Yep. Yep. I actually get laughed at a lot because I’m the only one who gets excited about health insurance. I know it’s important because health insurance is, first of all, not a one size fits all thing. Right. So, you know, you could have been put on a policy three years ago and all of a sudden your life circumstances might have changed. And it dictates that you don’t need this, but you need that. And this is something where you need to do an annual review like you do your retirement plan.
You know, this is this is asset protection. This is health protection. This is God forbid something serious happens. There are no surprises. So, you know, I would strongly encourage that whoever your health agent or broker is, that you conduct a an annual review to make sure that the coverage that you have is relevant to the life situation that you find yourself in at the moment.
That that becomes the important thing to it’s not even just one size fits all, but one size fits you for greater than 12 months, a lot that’s affected in your life. And and as people think, five years down the road to perhaps business and financial planning, it’s so odd that we don’t think of what is the impact on my overall insurance and program. My wife, you know, is has severe allergies. Show is sort of joke. She says basically food is trying to kill her every day.
And so everything under the sun. And one of the the challenges, of course, if we were to go out on her own and be independent creators or whatever full time is, you know, the insurance risk to her and the health risks are significant. So it really. We know I know very well what the impact is, but most people think kind of everything is OK. Until they go to the doctor that one time, it’s right, they find out a good friend of ours, you know, he says I’m having, you know, weird back problems and then finds out that he has a cancerous growth, you know, and.
Like that in a moment, it’s it’s different, right, and no one wants to be ready for that. Like, that’s the way it seems horrible to have to think about those kind of catastrophic events that could be there. And thankfully, he’s with us still today, is in remission, has survived all that, you know. As humans, we really struggle with the planning part, especially when it’s planning plus spending.
Yes, and one of the biggest and I you know, I know we’ll probably talk about life insurance at some point, but one of the biggest things where people bury their head in the sand is long term care. Right. People are living now into their 90s. You have a five percent chance, if you’re married, that you’ll both live to your one hundred. You know, there’s a 50 percent chance that you’re going to need long term care. And most people do not have a long term care plan in place.
So, you know that that’s a that’s another conversation, obviously.
But, you know, you just can’t afford to bury your head, your head in the sand with anything having to do with your health or having to do with your finances, because life will happen regardless of whether you’re in the sand or not. So it’s just better to endure the pain, which is never as bad as as one might anticipate it and just make sure that you are well covered.
So this brings the question, Eric, what is the once the pure surance story that’s targeted specifically to the independent folks and the entrepreneurs? How how do you bring something that’s going to be focused on on that audience or persona, I guess is one would say, in our in our marketing terms?
Yeah, yeah. So, you know, a lot of this I represent the largest friend, one of the largest franchises in this country, over twelve hundred franchises nationwide. And you know, the biggest reasons they come to me is insurance unaffordability, high deductibles that they don’t even hit. So they are not even seeing any value in their plan at all. They’re basically functionally uninsured. COBRA is a problem and just really high prices for their families that they can no longer afford.
But they need this desperate coverage. So the you know, the the impetus behind pure assurance was let’s find an affordable option for small business owners who can feel good at night, that they’re going to be well covered and not have to endure this ridiculous premiums that are escalating year over year and and deductibles which are increasing. So I think, you know, we’ve done a good job in doing that. You know, it’s there’s a lot of things out there that people who are not on the inside don’t know call them tricks and tips, especially with emergency rooms who hike up the bills as much as one hundred percent.
So we we don’t just kind of insure people. We coach people on how to take a more proactive approach to their health care. So, number one, the patient provider relationship is restored and not just like a an assembly line, like major medical insurance companies have made doctors. Right. They’ve it’s right now it’s about how many people you can see in an eight hour period. Not, you know, let me give time to this patient who really needs it.
So it’s I aim to do that. And when we’re working with people, you know, let’s put the provider patient relationship back together. And because nobody is going to know your health better than your primary care physician and let’s make it affordable, that’s it’s a very, very easy model. And, you know, it it’s so funny. It’s like Steve Jobs, when he spoke when he did that monumental speech in front of Stanford at the commencement, I think it was two thousand five talks about the dots connecting that.
You can never see the dots connecting forward. You can only see it connecting backward. And when I got my start on Wall Street, I worked for a firm that brought transparency to a very opaque trading style. When, you know, back in the late 80s, early 90s, trading was there were no screens, there was no electronic trading. It was all pieces of paper and brokers. And that’s cool. Yeah. Old school stuff, right in the New York Stock Exchange is basically a photo op place right now.
And we we brought transparency to a very opaque market for a transaction costs down. So it was actually being in the center of the advent of electronic trading that made that experience. So let’s say that shine the light for me on health insurance, another. They are very opaque business that I aim to bring transparency to.
And what is the. What’s sort of the secret sauce that you bring aside from the music coaching is one of the most fundamental things, right? It’s not just it’s actually creating a program and engaging and understanding, you know, KYC, as we call it, in finance. Right. So you have to have your client understand their risk and it’s a legal requirement. Yet in insurance, No. KYC, it’s just the most bizarre thing right there. Just like whatever, dude, you know, you if you’re willing to roll the dice and cancel your insurance.
Suddenly the COBRA payments to stop and people just they don’t chase it down. You know, it’s it’s so different than the financial side of the world, but yet it is so alike to it in the way that the market works that it should just be hand in hand. But so, again, like. Outside of coaching, what are you bringing on the back side of your platforms and your your sort of your anecdotal knowledge and in your systems that can come together and and help folks, different types of plans that the average consumer doesn’t know about that are out there that have emerged in the last few years.
The Trump administration signed some legislation that took effect in twenty nineteen that brought other insurance possibilities to the center of the forefront. And if anybody knows about health sharing ministries, which are not insurance there, they are share their share policies.
But they’ve gained a lot of traction, too, over the over the past few years. I don’t I don’t put anybody in those, by the way. I just I’m very, very wary of of of something that doesn’t is not a transfer of risk when you’re paying for a transfer of risk. But, yeah, we’re going to we’ll take your money. We can call it a policy. We can’t call it claims because it’s not real insurance. But just take our word for it.
It’s nice to be good.
So know so but there are a lot of products out there that the average consumer doesn’t know about that because they’re not in it. I mean this is what I live and breathe. You know, I’m constantly looking for new product. I’m constantly seeing what’s out there, what can be constructed together to create a compelling story that will protect assets and protect people. You know, one of the initial things that that people don’t know about are subsidies that they may be entitled to on the exchange.
When you’re a new entrepreneur, if you are fortunate enough not to have a big income this year, you may qualify for subsidy, right. And dependent. And it all goes it all depends upon the size of of your households. So if your husband and wife and two kids and you’re making between twenty five and one hundred thousand dollars a year, you’re eligible for a subsidy and that could make the insurance very affordable. Now, there’s no subsidy for the deductible, so the deductible can still be eighty five hundred dollars per person.
But a catastrophic policy, which essentially it is, is better than no insurance. And if you’re paying a small amount for it, so much better. So I like to I like to provide people coverage where they see immediate benefit in there. So that’s kind of the focus. Yeah. And, you know, it’s it’s fun because it’s kind of like a puzzle that you put together. Right. Not everybody has the same situation and it’s the uniqueness of people makes putting together products know very, very challenging sometimes and exciting at the same time.
Well, the advantages and in the same way that any large adopted technology or system at all, the system itself will operate in a way and learn in a way that an individual contributor to that system cannot understand. And the same thing like when I go to when I choose a product or service for just about anything, what I want to look for is effectively economies of scale, both in pricing as well as in ability to be ahead of the curve in selection of options, whether it’s cloud computing, whether it’s software for anything.
Right or any service. And it’s tough in this particular thing that we’re talking about of there’s not the economies of scale are effectively coming from the people who they own the scale. It’s the the larger insurers. Obviously, I want to be careful, I don’t want to use the wrong words, and there’s careful implication when you say things like monopolistic or whatever, and I’m not making any implications, but I worked in insurance for a long time, worked for an insurance organization, and they have a fiduciary responsibility to their shareholders to continue to profit and grow the business while reducing risk.
So as a consumer, as a buyer of services from them, they only see their product selection. Right. So versus I go and I say, I’ve got Eric Guya in my pocket, you are now shopping all of them and looking for not just them, but other options. Right. So you are my economy of scale because you’ve got greater interest in me than in them.
That’s right. That’s right. And the the amount of power held by the top insurers is is is just extraordinary from a lobbying perspective, from a just controlling in the hands of government. It it just it’s a it’s a very hard thing to change when that happens.
You know, the it’s the and the the interesting thing is competition. This is a really, really tough part, is like the free market itself is ultimately a perfect and imperfect system in that when given the right level of competition, it forces an equilibrium in pricing and availability of services that ultimately makes it more friendly to the consumer. And it becomes a supply demand, a beautiful equilibrium. However, when you start and the elephants on one side of the scale and it’s hard as a newcomer, there’s no one’s just saying I’m going to start an insurance and life insurance company today.
It’s yeah, it’s an easy market to get into.
So it’s hard. It’s hard. And, you know, it’s the same thing that happens with the airlines. Anybody who’s tried to buy an airline ticket online knows that the fares for the big three are going to be very close to each other. And and then you have to look at kind of second tier to see for improvement. But, you know, it’s the same with insurance. It’s same exact thing. It’s they’re very closely aligned in price. So it’s more like a, you know, an oligopoly.
And it’s it just is what it is. So we’re kind of like the the Goliath’s out there fighting the David in this whole frickin family because seven generations past.
The good thing is that you effectively are now the opportunity because you can come with a large enough client base effect and be visible to these providers. So the hard thing to happen, and that’s what we need because then it’s a real win win because effectively now you can ride their wave of understanding and competitiveness with your clients because they’ll say Erik’s doing all this crazy stuff and he’s found a way and he’s using our competitors against us. So let’s use them against let’s use our stuff and Eric and pure surance in the folks against the competitors, realizing that you are now a competitive differentiator for all of these large organizations, like that’s what needs to be seen so that they can then bring better products, so that you can then offer them to all your clients.
So one of the things that I that I love to see, that I love happening and it’s actually big down here, is concierge medicine, where people pay a monthly fee and they get in to see the doctor as much as they want and their doctor is on call real, a real, let’s say, relationship between the provider and the patient. Right. That’s what you want. That’s the goal. So wouldn’t it be great to find private health insurance that works well in that model, too?
And that’s a goal as well. A lot of small business owners don’t have a lot of time. They don’t know when they’re going to be able to book an appointment out two weeks in advance. Right. So if they have an issue, they want to be they want to get into somewhere to that. They want their kid in today. That’s how they operate. And, you know, this is I also look to leverage that relationship, to complement that offering with my small business owning clientele.
If you could choose, and I know I’m going to put you on the spot here, what’s sort of the top myth or maybe a couple that people have that’s just commonly believed about health care in general here in the United States?
That open networks don’t exist, that that that emergency rooms are that you never tell, here’s a tip. Don’t ever tell an emergency room that you have insurance when you go into the E.R., always say that you’re self-insured or that you’re or that you’re uninsured because then you’re going to pay the real price. And if you have the kind of insurance where you can submit a bill by yourself and get that really good price at the E.R., then that is a Win-Win for everybody.
So you’re basically you’re playing chess with the with the health care system. And if you know how to play chess, you’re going to win. Right. I had a client just in Houston, actually chest pain. She was having huge chest pains and she was sent to the E.R. and they did EKG and all kinds of stuff. Thirty seven hundred dollars. Oh.
But we just lost your sound there for a second. And this one, I’ll say, while you’re getting reconnected here again, Eric, the the challenge I know of of this is the the bill shock because they ultimately don’t have a responsibility. To send the bill in advance, I mean, this is part of the challenge that we often face is that, you know, you talked before about transparency when I’m. Working with, you know, a financial adviser, they tell me how much his trade is going to cost me.
They tell me the way they can hand me a prospectus, but there’s no there’s no prospectus when you walk into the E.R. saying, I’ve got a problem and I need to to deal with this. So and that’s that’s the frightening thing. It’s it it compounds the risk to you as the consumer because you don’t have a choice at that point. You know, in the same way that people always say that everybody finds religion only when they need it. That’s the moment where you’re praying.
You’re praying that you’re going to get through it. And the only person that’s on the air that are listening to prayers is the one that’s got the invoice. And they know that you’re they’re willing to sort of stretch your understanding of faith via your insurance company, which is a really, really tough spot to be in. We still have no sound. And here I was saying that I rarely have to edit and this be the one that for whatever reason, we’re having trouble.
I think. If you want, we can do Eric, you want to like maybe disconnect and reconnect. Let’s just try that and then see for whatever reason it resets the settings or let me just see if I can. I’m not sure I can control it from here. Oh, there we go now we’re back, now we’re back.
Is this better now?
There we go now. All right. OK, cool.
So where should I just pick up on the. Yeah, if you want to just pick up from there and then I’ll I’ll make sure I clean that little chunk out of there.
OK. OK, so yeah. So we talk about if you have to go to the E.R. and you’re uninsured or underinsured, always go as a self insured person because you’re going to get the real price. So I was talking a story about my client in Houston who went to the E.R., a thirty seven hundred dollar bill from the E.R. when she went to check out which there they don’t they’re not allowed to take money from you, by the way. But in this situation, it was it worked out.
She said, you know, insurance, please. She’s like, I, I self-insured. That’s what I coach her to say. And they came back to her with a couple of numbers that didn’t work for her. And they finally settled on six hundred and fifty dollars. So that thirty seven hundred dollar bill in a matter of ten minutes went down to six hundred and fifty dollars. And that just goes to show you that everything is not written in stone.
And she ended up because of the insurance that she’s on, making money on that E.R. visit. So there are plans out there that actually pay you for excess benefit. And this is a particular plan that she had. So she ended up, you know, well, I want to say profit it.
She ended up doing having excess benefit. And, you know, it doesn’t happen all the time. But that’s just an egregious example of how to fight back in emergency rooms, ridiculously high charges.
And it really, again, it becomes the point of your the economy of scale in this case, the scale of knowledge and awareness of of the rules and the offerings that are available to a consumer. And I can I can’t go pouring over the Internet looking for tips and tricks on on how to be able to pay less at the E.R. There may be a bunch of articles out there, but they’re never going to have the proven scale. And also that I could ultimately biproduct through.
This is why, again, I I really appreciate you and your story of pure assurance in tackling this problem, because the consultative. Vendor, you know, sorry, I said it was like a dirty word when I see a vendor, but the consultative provider, right. You know, it’s like, yeah, you could be very different in that you can actually bring that because. Look, the hospitals, unfortunately, like the insurance companies, have a fiduciary responsibility and someone’s paying for it, you know, they know that they can get it at the other side, so why wouldn’t they?
And it’s again, it’s the free market. I love it, but good golly, it’s tough, right? Because you know that they’re going to leverage it in the moment. They can’t. Those prices would plummet. Right.
Look, if you know if you know, if you know how the game is played, it’s easy to navigate and bend and and do what you need. Everybody, look, everybody is an expert in the business that they do. And they know the the workarounds for things. Right. Health insurance is no different. I’m just somebody who’s taking the time to get into the weeds and know how everything works and then and then structure my business around, like the secret menu for health care.
I love it.
I’m like I’m like Winston Wolfe from Pulp Fiction, I think.
And this is so important because. You know, we’ve got generational change that’s happened that we’ve got, you know, we all kind of joke of like, OK, Boomer in all these sort of memes, that camera stuff. But the the whole industry is adjusting to the populace. And so anything that you are going to get told by your parents, your uncles and aunts, is relative to their experience directly with health care. Yeah. So today’s regulatory changes, as you talked about, recent changes that have happened, it’s like if if you’re not watching for this stuff, it’s happening and it just happens quietly.
And that’s why you need a partner. That’s why you really do need that consultative partner.
One of the one of the bigger reasons why health care has gotten so expensive is because the individual mandate went away in twenty nineteen. So there’s no more penalty for not having insurance unless you’re in the state of California. They impose their own penalties and you essentially are having people who can afford the subsidies and who are sick getting on these plans and everybody else is kind of subsidizing those. Right. So preexisting conditions are very, very expensive to to to manage.
And that’s why you’re seeing deductibles go up. President Biden has spoken about a Medicare like option for those under 65. I think that’s a great opportunity to provide a backstop for the highest risk of population and then get the private insurers back on a better footing so we can have better policies at more affordable costs. You know, I’m not for a for a public option for everyone and I’m not for a private option for everyone. I think there needs to be a public private partnership to address the the problems in this country.
And, you know, it’s I talk about it a lot, but it’s it’s just everybody wants to stay in their corner and and be protective of what they have. And nobody wants to give up anything for the sake of the of the greater good. But I do think that there’s going to be a Medicare like option for those under 60. There has to be insurance. It does, you know, good to have a seventeen thousand dollar deductible for your family.
You’re not you’re just you’re paying into a hole. You’re not going to.
Yeah, this is your you’re ultimately paying for it with the option of paying again and your watch. Yeah. And you you bring up a great point, Eric, that this is it’s a polarizing topic. And unfortunately, for whatever reason, like just at least in the very public sphere, the Twitter sphere and like the the the news cycles there, everybody’s wrapped around some side winning. Yes, we’ve got three hundred and thirty five million people or whatever the current population is, I’m not I’m Canadian, so I’m going to take on, I feel my geography test just now.
But let’s just say ballpark, three point thirty five million people, you know. We have to think in not winning and losing, but as you mentioned, the greater good, what’s the thing we can do for the greatest part of the population so that then the edge cases are. Are manageable. Yeah, but yeah, we’ve got to stop treating like the edge case is the greater solution and then push for all or nothing, which is a really tough position to be in.
It is. And, you know, I always say to myself, and I have to remind myself sometimes that never let progress get in the way of perfection, right? No, no. Never let perfection get in the way of progress. That’s right. That’s right. And, you know, and that’s what it is. A lot of the times people, naysayers out there are saying, well, this won’t work. This won’t that I work. And of course, nothing’s going to be perfect.
Right. But you have to get into it to see. So let’s just do something that makes sense and stop fighting about it. Right. You can’t you know, everybody jumping up socialism. This is socialism. You know, you have socialist policies in this country. Medicare is is a socialist policy. Social Security is a socialist policy. You know, there’s nothing wrong with government taking the reins on things. You know, it’s but there’s there’s some things that private industry does better and that should be recognized.
And there’s opportunities for public and private to work together. And if that can happen, I think, you know, there’s going to be a much better outcome in the future.
I think what you said at the beginning was important to like we’ve we’ve seen this have to happen, although we still struggle with it in the financial industry is transparency. And especially when you get in those public private partnerships, you know, there is the same potential for a for profit, you know, insurer and a for profit hospital and, you know, to ultimately for all collude. It is a rough word because, again, it has implications. But to to see the opportunity for profit and then aim for it versus when we have transparency across the board, then the consumer can begin to choose and steer the ship more so than just because I mean, I would say I’ll align almost libertarian in the sense of I like smaller government, but I recognize we need government controls for many things.
But you also need an informed population, right? People people need to recognize the importance of this and not depend on their legislators to affect the change. Right. Affecting change can happen at the ground level and should because that’s like you said, that moves the shit.
And that’s when the people that represent us make far more than us. Yeah, don’t aren’t required to do the things we do, like take on our health care.
All right. It’s all covered for them. They’re good. They don’t need any. And they’re I’m sure they’re getting nice campaign donations, too, from the from the big guns. So, I mean, life is great there. But, you know, for I have a I bring a different perspective and, you know, I want people to be able to look the more money in somebody’s pocket is more money that they can grow their business with. It’s more money that they can put towards their retirement.
It’s money that they can, you know, take their family on vacation or send their kid to the school that they want to go to. So better in your pocket than in somebody else’s pocket. No one. And better to be informed than not. My clients have the luxury of of me being informed on their behalf. But I do make them take a more proactive approach to their health care. I, I do bother them every now and then.
Did you do this? Did you do that. Did you do. But you know, on the kind of person that works 24/7. So, you know, I’m always thinking about things that at all hours of the night so.
Well, and that’s who you want on your team is somebody who’s like who’s going to care a lot is going to work on. Yeah. That this is what this is why I, I implore people to look at what you’re bringing to to the market, because this is something that I don’t want to have to care as hard about it as you can.
And just like financial advice and health care advice and coaching advice and relationship advice, you if we only look to the Internet and to our peer group. Yeah. Then you’re it will not end in a positive story because it’s just if you do what you’re lucky more than right.
I am a big fan of staffing out stuff that you don’t understand and don’t want to understand. Right. I don’t change my own oil in my car just because there’s somebody who’s going to do it better. I can probably do it, but there’s somebody who’s going to do it better. And just like, you know, you have people do your your mundane stuff so you can focus on on bigger picture stuff when you’re a business owner. So it’s the same exact thing.
Right. Always find a competent person who knows more than you do and work with that person. And health insurance is no different. Retirement is no different. You know, it’s it mentor relationships are are the are the kind of things that everybody should be looking for.
I think it the funny thing is every once in a while you watch some of these eyes open up to like the challenge we have. And again, I’m not that worried about I don’t sound like I’m trashing government or whatever, but like, great example is if I go through it. So I’m a technologist. I’m ultimately where when something comes along, like there’s a thing called SOPA, which was the idea of like online privacy. And immediately I recognize, like, there’s a gross overreach that’s going to occur if this goes in and people rallied around it.
And all these technologies were like, hey, you know, this can’t happen because they knew they understood the rules of the game in that game. And so they took a vested interest. And we actively, as a society, as a group, we’re able to influence outcomes and make changes. But then the funny thing is then along comes health care, decision X, whatever it’s going to be. And they’re like, well, they must know more about that than I do know.
They know as little about that as they did about SOPA or anything. They’re lawyers. They know how to write fantastic legislative contracts.
Yeah. They are not more knowledgeable. And that’s the tough part. There’s no engineers. There’s no doctors. Well, there’s two doctors, but there’s there are not enough real true representatives at the legislative branch that can ultimately have our true interests in mind. So this is why, again, you know, look, I can’t say it enough, like finding somebody like you said, like go to an expert of everything that you need them to be an expert in.
That’s right. That’s right. And you oftentimes you’re not going to pay any more because it’s just going to be bundled in with whatever service that you’re that you’re buying. But even if you do have to pay, you’re going to pay a lot less in the long run. Bye bye. Bye bye. Doing the right thing now. So, you know, that’s that’s just kind of that’s you know, it’s just kind of something that I’ve been working on myself to that it’s always historically been problematic for me to not do everything like.
My instinct is to do everything I like, to be involved in everything, and you can’t, right, because there’s just not enough hours in the day. So, you know, you you link up with really good people and you trust them. And, you know, for health insurance, I’m fortunate enough that that people see me in that way for their for their coverage.
You’re the way you approach things. Eric is interesting, you know, you come from a financial background, you’re clearly very aware of like the financial implications of these things in the larger market. You’ve got an incredible amount of knowledge. But everything that you do, the the customer always slides into first every time. But that’s the first thing that comes through even would appreciate you saying that.
It’s this is very differentiating and and rare, sadly. Yeah. In in the world. Right.
I think that for you. Well, I, I rescue I rescue homeless pets, so that’s that that that does that for me. But I mean, I have a servant’s mentality, you know, it’s you just when you’re working with people, you have to have a servant’s mentality. It’s not about you. It’s about providing value for them. It’s about making their lives better. It’s about taking a big problem they have and eliminating it for them. It’s you know, that’s that’s how it that’s what it is.
And if you do that business comes to you tenfold, but get the focus off of you and focus on those who you’re serving. And if you do that, I think that the world is going to be a much better place.
And you bring up a good point. So then I was actually I’ve had it on my mind, things I wanted to ask you about. You know, you’re both a donor as well as active in animal rescue and lots of different ways. Yeah, talk about that. What what drew you to that as an important thing for for your weird world?
I was bullied as a kid, I was, you know, I was a little overweight and, you know, I’m not five nine like five five on a great day. So, you know, there was I was bullied from a high perspective and from a weight perspective. And when you’re bullied, it opens your eyes as to the vulnerability of others who are also bullied. And, you know, animals can’t can’t talk. They can’t tell people they’re in pain.
They can’t tell people they’re scared. So, you know, I you know, being an advocate for them is is it was a logical next step. Children to children and animals are a lot alike in that respect where they’re very vulnerable. So those two segments of of the population are something that my wife and I feel very, very strongly about and into into make a difference in.
And especially if we look over the last year and a half now, it’s hard to believe we can say that at this point. Like we that voice got dampened even lower, both for children, for animals. So, yeah, less money abuse is potentially much more rampant and now unseen. That’s a really, really tough thing.
And about a few folks on on the show who who’ve really seen that and we’re doing it, I, I do as much as I can to kind of reach into organizations to help out for stuff like that, because this is sort of the it it didn’t stop. It just became more hidden, which is far more dangerous.
I agree. I agree. The more stuff out that’s out in the open, the better chance of of change.
Now, the the other thing that’s again, you know, your your background is you went you know, you went to business school. You’ve got a great strong financial background and you saw successes in there. Did you ever you know, how did you find that balance to be struck of really being a true customer focused service provider and seller or whatever you want to describe it as? And also, like we’ve talked about a few times, I have a fiduciary responsibility to grow the value of the company that selling the products to those consumers.
Did you ever like how did you find and maintain that balance of of making both sides successful in the transaction?
I actually don’t I don’t have any balance in my life, I just focus I just focused on serving my clients and let all the other stuff fall into place. I really my wife gets on me sometimes about there’s no balance for me, like I am always on something. And then, you know, I she has to kind of look at argue the opposite point. But look, I mean, how do you argue against serving clients? How do you argue against rescuing animals?
How you argue against saving children from trafficking? I mean, how do you you know, just for me, you just have to be all in and almost like an obsession with with one thing to be, you know, to be successful and greencard don’t talks about it. I mean, I’m not new about I’m not new at this stuff, but it’s yeah, I, I don’t have any balance in my life.
Not well. And in a way that’s I mean ultimately that that’s the the success of, of drive and passion come together. Yeah. And and like I said when applied to the right focus area is important. And again, this is differentiate our huge respect for for what you’ve done, Eric. And, you know, this is the other thing, too, is, you know, I look at you today and folks will go and they can they can check out they’ll find pictures of you.
No one knows the story. Right. We like you said, how did I know that you were larger as as a child, right. That you struggled with, you know, with the fitting in. And ultimately, that can greatly impact the next ten and ultimately the next 70 years of your life. Yep. Those are unseen things that if latched on to and exploited in the right way, has made you an incredible partner to so many people.
Now, because you saw like I got two ways I could deal with this. I can hate the world. I can write a manifesto and I could be angry or I can take this passion in this sort of, you know, something something bad happened. Now I want to make sure it doesn’t happen to others.
Yeah. Yeah, it’s I just I think I’m just very thankful and just have a lot of gratitude that I went that route because life is it’s not very fun when you’re miserable.
No, no, and this is really the thing that I I appreciate that we we are starting to think, especially with the last year, recognize where we do need to be open about this and discuss these things, because they are they are happening regardless of whether we believe it or not. So that’s, again, a huge respect you for doing this. Thank you. I I’ve. If you have advice, then for for somebody who wants to, you know, you took this first principles approach, I see a problem, a large problem.
And I’m going to build something that’s going to solve that problem in the face of adversity. When you see somebody and they come to you and they say, Eric, I’m I’m thinking about doing my own thing, walking my own path. What’s your sort of first few words that you share with them to help them on that first couple of steps?
Why do you want to do it? That’s the wayas is the most important. What’s your what’s what what is underlying your reason for wanting to do this? Is it a need to help people? And insurance is your mechanism to do that. It’s great, right? Do you have a passion for coffee and you want to share that with other people? And that’s why you want to open a roaster or store, stuff like that, stuff that’s going to sustain them when it gets tough because it’s tough, right?
Because there’s times when, you know, early in your business, first two years, it could be financially scary and it likely will be financially scary. And you’re going to have to go to a place where you made that initial decision to do it and remind yourself why you did it. And in those dark moments, your purpose could be the only thing that moves you forward. So I would and I know there was a book about this. It start with the why.
And I think that’s a that’s a really good place to start because it’s the subtext that has the real answer in it. Right. It’s not the I want to do this or that because I think it’s cool. It’s the it’s the why underneath it that that is going to provide that strong foundation that’s going to get you through even the most tumultuous of times, especially as a as a founder. You you have to make sure that that’s infused in every part of the organization and the team.
Because if you don’t have that founding principle. Yeah. Then you know, it’s very easy for another one to come in and take its place. And that could be, you know, profit against, you know, being good. You know, it’s like it’s it’s very easy to see. And it’s also, again, like a weird thing of I talk to a balance, whereas before it’s like we have to have these businesses, they have to grow to employ people to give them opportunity.
And in doing so, at some point, they reached a size where they had to make decisions, which will then be decisions they never had to face before, personally and professionally.
Yeah, one of the things I love about Sara Blakely is she never took a penny of private equity money, you know, and it’s her company. She can run it in the way she wants to. And the principles can be hers and hers alone. Right. As soon as you get private equity involved in a company, the profit now becomes the the focus. And it’s OK that you have values as long as a profit is still there. But if the profits start hitting a roadblock, those values are going to be compromised.
And I would in anything I ever start to become a part of, you know, no matter how how tempting that that payoff might be, I would never, ever want to be a part of a company where a private equity firm owns a piece of or a public company because you’re just sacrificing that which makes you unique and special.
Yeah, that’s what I actually just read the book I figure I was concerned about. The Caesars is basically about the Caesars bankruptcy and talking about the the way of the battle of the shareholders in the private equity firms that ultimately audit the debt. It was an incredible story having you. You and I both spent a couple of decades, you know, in the financial industry. So we know how a lot of the stuff works. And it’s it’s weird that we today we people just like throw it around like, oh, yeah, they just got by KKR.
They got by somebody who was like some random private equity firm. You have no idea what that implication is for that organization. And, you know, sometimes it can be good because it means that they could find efficiencies that could get them back on to really discover that vision, but made them the corporation to begin with. Yeah, that’s why we see sometimes they go in and out of private equity. They can ultimately be rescued through those things. But it’s it’s we know it’s like when someone says, oh, congratulations, I see you just got funding.
Like, I don’t know if you want to congratulate me to sign a contract for your soul. Yeah, exactly.
It’s it’s a term sheet with the devil sometimes. But it yeah. It if it means that you can get to the point where you can bring this vision to a higher level of execution, then it’s fantastic.
But there are good and there are good private equity firms that are I shouldn’t, I shouldn’t, I shouldn’t make a generalization on that. But, you know, there are there are horror stories for the taking out there. So, you know.
Yeah. And that was the amazing thing is who is you know, even now those same firms are revisiting the way they approach things. They’ve had, you know, through the 80s and 90s especially, we saw real change in the industry. Yeah, and then the 2000s was, you know, the financial world kind of went sideways and that really opened the door for those with cash to ultimately have an unhealthy level of control over over asset, you know, repatriation.
And you know what? If we didn’t have that, you know, a lot of companies would be missing. You know, we saw J.C. Penney’s in and those are the world that are as they go into bankruptcy, but they will reemerge hopefully, you know, now hopefully healthy. And we can get back on top of it again.
But yeah. Yeah, I guess I guess what I’m just saying here is that I just wish that the world would care a little bit more about the rest of the world, you know, and that’s it. I’m sorry. I’m going into my horrifying dark tales.
No, I like it.
It’s ancient Greek conversation and that’s it, right when it all comes down to it. Isn’t it amazing when we can look and say, you know, I did this, I I’ve got Sony comes up to you and they say thank you and it can be the smallest thing. Yeah, but they learned that brought them to an outcome that they hadn’t expected was available to them yet.
Yes. And they made it in their life, which changed because of it for the better. Yeah, absolutely.
That’s why we’re put on this earth. And I guess I hope that more people see the opportunity to affect it as well, even in small ways. Like you said, like we can go to a shelter, we can do small giving things in small time giving things.
You don’t have to do everything. Just do something from the man who doesn’t do anything but everything there.
Thank you to you guys.
It’s it is I my wife always tells me she’s I share a similar fate of of throwing myself into things as you do. Eric, it’s funny because, you know, a friend of mine has pictures like this, Wolf, like with his, like, big gritting teeth and it says bite off more than you can chew, chew harder.
That’s where I keep going.
I’ll always have this look like I’m overwhelmed constantly. And then, like, all of a sudden a meeting gets canceled and you’ve got an hour of your life that you never thought you had. And also, I’m like, I can do five hours of work in this one hour. I immediately think of way too many things to squeeze into that time. But it’s it’s in it’s in our nature. And and the good thing is when you do this enough.
You know, you get enough things that stick, and that’s why, you know, folks like you inspire me to do like those kind of things, right? It’s it’s such a beautiful treat when you can see the result of it come through. And I remember seeing a talk. I forget who it was. The clinical psychologist might have been Dr. Jordan Peterson, polarizing figure for some. But and he said that creative people tend to create an incredible amount of value, but rarely for themselves.
And it’s it reminds me of your story, Eric, it’s like you you do so much, the side effect is that it will come back to you and I’m pleased that it has been able to do so. And I hope that much more does come back to you. And it comes you give.
Yeah, and it’s just about. Putting in as much as you can and letting the universe do its thing, I said, eventually you find yourself, you’re talking to your friends and they’re like, so what do you what do you what do you do? You know, do you sort of explain to them? And they they start to just their eyes start to widen up and they’re like, I’m getting tired just listening to you describe what you do. I can’t imagine actually doing it.
And it’s fun. It’s it’s like it’s I live in Florida. It’s beautiful here. And I’m very fortunate. And, you know, I get to talk to smart people like you. And now I am lucky enough that I have an amazing woman who loves me and, you know, it’s just strong family, strong friends, and it’s about relationships and just loving what you’re doing.
That’s it. Know, and it’s this interesting thing I’d love for you to share know balance is not something you know well, but how do you. How do you take time to see the joy that you’re able to experience, because I imagine that you’re you know, Elon Musk also described you. Some people said, look, what’s it like when you go home? It’s like, you know, 1:00 in the morning and you’re finally free. You know, what’s it like?
He’s like that’s when it gets the worst, because now my mind is racing of what I can do. Right. So how do you how do you actually sort of disconnect or take time to find that opportunity to have gratitude and enjoy the things that are available to you?
Long walks and ESPN where you go? Yeah, you do. You schedule it in. I’m always curious about something that you just kind of when when the opportunity arises, you take advantage.
When I need to when I need to go for a long walk and clear my head, I go, I do it. You know, Wimbledon is on this week, so I get to watch some tennis. College football will be on again. And, you know, I can kind of lose myself in that. And it’s yeah, there’s there’s plenty out there. I, you know, a good a good slice of pizza, that’s all I need a good slice of pizza.
And in some sports is all I need.
Well, you know, what’s what is amazing that we forget sometimes is that it literally is that little of a thing that if you actually focus on appreciating it, it can be incredible.
Yeah, anything. This whole thing of like if I am not, you know, Turks and Caicos for three weeks, I can’t possibly unwind. I can unwind in the trip down the stairs to go see my wife. Yeah. That’s that’s how I’ve I’ve learned to not have to wrap a package around relaxation because it’s hard. I won’t I will never fit it in. But if I can learn that I can go for a run in or a bike ride or just a walk and go sit out with my my youngest daughter and blow bubbles on the front porch, how great is that?
And that’s what you’re going to remember. You’re not going to remember the meeting that you had yesterday. You’re going to remember the the thirty minutes you sat with your daughter on the front stoop and you blew bubbles with her and made her day doing it, right?
Yeah, I, I wish we had I wish we had a pure assurance for that kind of joy.
You never know what the next iteration may hold.
There you go. There you go. So for folks that did want to get connected. Yeah. With you Eric. And find out more and how they can get in, you know, see what’s available to them, what’s the best way they could do that.
They you can actually download my digital business card by typing the word covered covid already to twenty one thousand. And from there you can you can email me, you can make an appointment to chat with me. I don’t I don’t pressure I don’t provide any pressure. If you would like me to look at your current plan and assess it, I’m happy to do that. And you know, you can go to pure surance dotcom and just read a little bit more and you know, whatever you like to do, I’m easy.
Oh that’s you. You are easy to work with and easy to converse with. And thank you Eric. It’s been a real pleasure.
Yeah. I enjoyed this.
It’s, this is why I love people always say like they I got told over and over again to the start they’re like whatever you do don’t go past like twenty to thirty minutes because people won’t pay attention to like then you clearly don’t know the people that I know because what happens in the first thirty minutes is we get to talk about really neat stuff. And then beyond 30 minutes, you get to discover how that became neat to that person. Yeah, and I find that that’s my favorite part of every conversation, is when you really get to why.
And it’s it’s so much fun.
This, by the way, is why I could never pick up girls, because I could never do small talk. I’m always interested in, like, knowing what the real thing is and I can never do small talk. So any relationship I’ve ever had, it was like the girl coming to me and not not the other way around.
Well, you’re you’re giving person. And so I imagine that it’s infectious in every way that thus it would make you attractive to, you know, to people as a business partner and as a life partner.
Oh, I’m punching way above my way with my wife. I likes me.
Well, I tell you to talk about appreciation, you know, when when people understand the story, like I said, no one gets the story that led you to the moment of your start in business. Right. And even like Anthony Robbins is also an interesting example. People look and they say like, oh, you know, of course, he’s this super workout guy and he’s super successful. Like what? What makes me appreciate and admire him is not his current state.
It’s that he was very overweight, chose to aggressively attack that problem and get his health under control. He had real success with finances and failed as well. He had success in relationships and failed and recovered as well. Right. So it’s not about it going perfectly. In fact, it’s adversity that most often drives the most incredible people.
Yeah, yeah. And he knows that the only thing that you can control is your effort and you have 100 percent control over that. So.
It’s it’s something we all need to look to. So there you go, folks, go for a walk. Smile, smile as you take a bite of a beautiful slice of pizza. And remember that. And these are the moments that count. And they’re there because, you know, you got friends like Eric IHR in your back pocket who are going to help you with the stuff that you shouldn’t have to care that hard about. And so go to.
Sponsored by Diabolical Coffee. Devilishly good coffee and diabolically awesome clothing
Joseph Fung is the CEO of Uvaro, a tech sales career accelerator. A graduate of the University of Waterloo’s Computer Engineering program, Joseph’s a five-time technology Founder & CEO, and with multiple successful exits, and speaks frequently on the topics of sales leadership, diversity, and corporate social responsibility.
We discuss so many important topics around enabling people, empowering individuals and teams, using systems to map our experiences and get to progress faster. Joseph has an incredible story and I highly recommend you have a look at what he and the team at Uvaro are doing.
One of the amazing things that I love about this podcast is that I meet incredible people who genuinely have an impact on how I think and do things. You’re going to get the advantage of doing that today with Joseph Fung. Joseph Fung is both a serial entrepreneur as well as the founder of Movado. So he’s really, really neat Canadian as well. Which kind of a bonus. But before we get into there, let me just jump in and give a shout out and a thanks to the amazing folks that sponsor and make this podcast happen.
And that would be our good friends over at Veeam Software. I’ve got a really, really cool thing. If you head over to vee.am/discoposse right now. No, seriously, do it. Go to vee.am/discoposse and this is the wildest thing you’re ever going to see. The landing page is fantastic. You guys are really cool comic and I really, really love what they’re doing around the awards campaign that they’re doing. So definitely go check it out, go to Vietnam for signs just Capozzi, because they’ve got you covered for everything you need for your data protection eeds, whether it’s on premises in the cloud cloud native.
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So if you want to head over, I am actually the co-founder of Diabolical Coffee, and I’m very proud that we are doing a really cool thing. It’s cool season. Get on in. We get some cold Rubins. We got the best T-shirts in town by an amazing limited edition art run that we’re doing with Zeen Rachidi. This is something you’re going to enjoy so head over to the Limited Edition Shirt section and you can download your own copy of the image so you can see how it’s going to look when it’s on your back.
And that is Devil’s Breath, one of the best shirts. Plus also proceeds go to support independent artists. That’s the way we roll. We want to support new creators. And one more thing before we get to the good stuff. Make sure if you want to get better connected with your customers, clients, peers, anybody in the tech industry, if you technical sales, product marketing, just about anything. I’ve created a guide called the Four Step Guide delivering extraordinary software demos.
Super cool. I’m very proud of it. I’ve had great feedback. So thank you to all the folks who have already downloaded. There’s much more to the program. So go to VelocityClosing.com You can actually check it out right there and there’s more coming anyways. Let’s get to the Good Stuff. This is Joseph Fung. Joseph Fung is somebody who I really, really enjoy spending time with. You are going to as well. He’s the CEO of Uvaro.
He he’s cool. We talk about selling. We talk about connecting. We talk about startup entrepreneurship, running teams, culture. Amazing. Enjoy.
This is Joseph Fung with Uvaro, and you’re listening to the DiscoPosse podcast.
thank you very much, Joseph, for joining. This is really neat because I love when I get to meet folks, when I look at what you’re doing and it immediately makes sense on a problem that I face on a daily basis, both in and out of my day to day work. And so it was really, really cool when I saw you come up and you Varro was the was the first name first. I did a look for you, Joseph Fung, and you’ve got a really great storied background.
You’ve got a couple of different things for you to talk about. So for folks that are new to you, Joseph, if you want to introduce yourself, tell us quickly about Loverro and then we’re going to talk about a lot of stuff in how people can get better at enabling people through the use of technology and proven historical work. That’s what led to this A.I. only.
Thanks so much for having me here. I’m I’m really looking forward to this conversation. We’re going to cover a lot of territory, and this stuff is always near and dear to the heart for Uvaro. By way of introduction, we’re on a mission to help the world’s professionals lead more fulfilling careers from their first job to their last. And we got there. I’ve been a five time tech founder and CEO, and every time building the people side of the business was always toughest, especially in the sales organization.
And we’re tackling that problem head on Jivaro and we get to see life changed every single day. And wow, is it fulfilling work? It is such a blast.
Now, the thing that I always enjoy is when you can see success come in, that people realize that there’s a repeatable thing that I’m doing and I can now leverage the fantastic capabilities of software to be able to make that process easier going forward for other folks. And I’ve done it with with mentoring. That was one thing. I was like, I keep having the same questions, get asked over and over again and effectively then built a playbook and then through developing this playbook.
Then I said, OK, now can I build a system that uses this playbook and, you know, doesn’t remove the human experience, but enhances the speed at which you can get to the human experience. And this is why I was I was really, really digging in on what you and the team are doing here, because you’re taking, like you said, multi time founders. So you’ve this is not, you know, straight out of school going, I’m going to create an idea and then create a thing and then I’m going to sell that thing.
You’re literally taking practices that you’ve developed over the course of time and now mapping them into a system. So if you don’t mind, just let’s go into the Wayback Machine and what what gave you the need, you know, in that first time you founded and as you went through this to understand that this was a real, you know, repeated problem that we see all the time.
You’re talking about the founding of Uvaro, or that way back. Yeah, each time. Yeah, even the pre Uvaro. I mean, it’s the fun that now folks that now they get to wait. They could listen because they want you want the real story, trust me. But I the lead up to it will actually will influence the reason why you are so important to.
I’ve gone through this a few times and the people who look at my my LinkedIn profile, they feel like, what the heck is this is like marketing hack and H.R. Tech. And there is a there’s a steel cable that links everything through. And if that idea of building, you know, really rewarding places where you can do your best work. And I think the real trigger was I went to the University of Waterloo, did co-op and one of my co-ops at Raytheon and a great space co-op leader, but is a multinational and they do military contracts and we did aircraft, airport surveillance radar and things like that.
They had a brand new president coming to visit. And it for me is a co-op because it’s super exciting. The guy runs a company that’s worth billions of dollars. I’m going to learn something new and, you know, maybe accelerate my career. But everybody was terrified because he planned to kill a factory. What does this mean? Why’s he visiting? And it struck me that that fear was the wrong way to build a company. I look back at it now and I’m like, Oh.
Co-op Joseph thought he could build a better company than Raytheon. That’s a very nice thought, but at the time, that’s that’s exactly what triggered me to do it. It’s like, you know what? I can build a place where people feel more aligned, more fulfilled, like they belong. And every step isn’t filled with that fear. And that’s what got me into building my first company. That was more than just a, you know, kind of a lifestyle business, soap opera style engagement.
And every step of the way, every time since it’s been that same ethos, how do I build a place where people can come and do their best work ever and now we get a chance to do that for our customers, too. And so feels in many ways like coming full circle.
The thing that you highlighted there is this thing of being able to have a different sense of experience through the same exact momentous experience as other people, and it’s funny, it’s very rare to identify that it’s different because most people don’t have the empathy to get there. Like whatever, you know, you’re that’s a you problem. What most people think, like, it’s really tough in like everybody is kind of stuck in just trying to figure their own stuff out.
And for you to be able to say, like, I’m experiencing this differently than other people, it’s notably different. And not only that, but then saying, I wonder if there’s a way that I could. If then my positive experience, and this is why I really enjoyed this story of the importance of being able to say I can gather a different, more positive outcome out of this thing, and I know it’s got to be in there in there somewhere for everybody.
How do we unlock that? And I think that’s that’s a huge thing, right? I mean, it’s changing the world in some small way every day. But then most importantly, figuring out as you do this over and over again, through different experiences, through different people. What are the commonalities that we can ultimately systematize and in doing so then? Bring it to sort of productize of people experience, which is which is kind of neat now. You’ve also definitely was interesting in that you’re you’re out, you’re directly trying to get to people and help them through this experience if you want.
Let’s talk about the heart of you, Varro, and what your mission is other than, you know, sort of the basic core that you’re aiming for.
Yeah, I mean, the crux of it comes from this, really. It’s funny, it’s one of those things you look at it and you realize, hey, you know, the world’s kind of flawed, but if you think about that career journey that anyone goes on and I mean, the stats are horrific, you know, average time in is like, what, two point eight years now? That’s like 16 different jobs a career. But what, 15 percent of people are engaged, 60 percent.
The stats are terrible. No matter where you look and the tools, the systems people have to access, whether it’s something like a LinkedIn or a job search site like indeed. Or the various platforms where you’re consuming content. The challenge is that all of these platforms, the job seeker, the individual, the professional is the product that they’re being sold to companies and to advertisers and things like that. There’s no one who’s actually aligned to the career journey of the individual.
And that’s really what’s at the core of what we’re doing. So, you know, we start right now. We’re focused on sales because every startup, every company has to start somewhere. And we really help people by providing that that full experience. We deliver training, internships, introductions, how people learn those new roles and then the coaching on an ongoing basis. And as a result, people are seeing amazing, amazing outcomes, more engaging careers. They’re talking about like opportunities of a lifetime.
You’ve changed my life. You saved my life. More income, more job satisfaction. The engagement level of our grads is so high and and change where matters like buying houses when they never could have previously looked at it, moving out like one of our own. Our students used to rent one room in a two bedroom apartment while he was saving for his son’s college education. And he goes through our program, lands a role immediately and immediately goes in to find a new apartment so that his son can visit, have a place to sleep instead of just like on the floor besides bed.
And that type of change to someone’s life is so profound. And it’s so much easier when you say, hey, I’m focused on your success, not focused on you clicking buttons so my advertisers can shift the product. And that feels really good because it’s an alignment of values that seems to be lost in so many businesses right now. So it feels really rewarding.
I enjoy that the more companies are least becoming aware to that now, this becomes the sort of salability of the benefits of the platform, that there’s an immediate people, like a direct, you know, your clients, your people that use it as me. It’s you. It’s our friends. It’s our peers. Yeah. But then as an organization, I can then look and say, if I’m using you, Varro, to empower my team, then they effectively are happier, more engaged, more likely to stay.
And what was the old, you know, oft misquoted, which I’m about to misquoted again, you know, statement of jobs or whatever, saying like, what happens if we train people and they leave and says, what’s worse, if you don’t and they stay right now and the sense that if you if you empower them to leave. So I worked four years ago. People can search my LinkedIn. And I worked for a company called Raymond James Raymond James and really enjoyed the company to work for.
I worked in the tech side, but the way they run their financial services arm is that it’s a rarity in the industry that they allow you to own your book. So you bring your customers with you, you know, or you develop your come your customer, you know, clientele. And you if you choose to leave, take it all with you. They give you the data, they give you the accounts, they help you with the migration.
If anybody who runs a financial service firm would be disturbed by the idea of doing this because the whole purpose is they’re developing your clients, Raymond James says no, no, you’re developing your clients and we’re helping you to do that. As a result, one of the lowest attrition rates in the industry because nobody feels the need to run away because they don’t feel locked in. It’s a fantastic thing. And more companies now, I think, especially in tech, are realizing that there’s so much opportunity out there.
Best thing you can do is to vastly empower your people.
It’s it’s funny because you talked about it earlier, that idea of finding a problem or solution and then trying to systematize and scale it. And for me, it’s like the engineering side of my brain. It’s really, you know, how do we optimize the systemize ties, those things? And if we think about a sales or support work, you’ve got, you know, people using your software, interacting with your customers, using your CRM. And we spend so much time optimizing, you know, the CRM, the buttons, the workflows, spent so little time trying to optimize the people.
We just kind of say, you know, we’re going to change crap around you and figure it out and see when you give people a stronger sense of autonomy, of of confidence, of a sense of investing when they perform better. And I love the example of Raymond James because that’s that’s a great example. But it happens at a smaller scale, too. Like we work with a lot of startups, a lot of scale ups. You know, a lot of our grads will go on to a 50 person company, a 20 person company, one hundred person company to see the same thing.
Our grads ramp like they get to Cuota in a third, the time at their peers, and they’re twice as likely to exceed quota. So, yeah, that’s great. That’s not about the software. That’s not about the buttons in the widgets. That’s about investing in the people. And you really can you can engineer, you can systematize your people, your culture. And that’s that’s not about making your company robotic. It’s about treating people equitably and deliberately without wasting cycles.
And it’s a very compelling thing to do.
Now, this is one that you hit a word that’s important and that’s deliberate. Hmm. We especially in startups and I say we I mean, a startup which is no longer a startup, we just got purchased by IBM where. No, you know, I’m a huge part of a huge company. But in watching the growth of this startup and many others like it. Most stuff is not deliberate, it is purely accidental, like they try to take practices that we see at big organizations.
But then the hilarious thing is your Erik Reece quotes this in his great book, Lean Startup, and he says, you get all these people that come from big companies and they create a startup. And the first thing they do is they try and create all this process they like. That’s the reason you left the big company. So we kind of look to these big sales training organizations and and these like big dollar coaching and empowerment. But if you’re not in the right phase of your company.
It’s it’s wasted money and ultimately it is repeating something that just doesn’t match, and that’s why I said it’s not their deliberate in their outcome, not the outcome of the reps. The outcome of the backoffice team, the outcome of everybody in the customer experience is the reason we call them customer success now instead of just, you know, help disguise the the word deliberate is very important because you have to say, like, what is the outcome I’m looking to do for everyone involved and what can I do to reach that?
An example of that, because I hear from founders all the time, like the idea, like, no, we’ve got we’ve got our values, we’ve got our culture. Our people are really important and. At one of the things that I found is that a lot of founders struggle to put it into practice. What does it mean? With my previous company tribe at the time that we founded it, so when we just got started, there was a if you go back and you Google the history and stuff, you’ll see there was a bunch of companies in the Toronto the Waterloo area.
And this is like all the early, early 20s, mid 20s, there’s a bunch that were purchased by US buyers and the teams moved as like Microsoft buys a team and moved them to Seattle. Google buys a team, moves them to California. And that was this big fear, like the brain drain was US companies acquiring Canadian talent and shipping them south of the border. And when we founded Tribe, one of the commitments we made to the team was we want to build a company where we can scale it for us, for our families.
We’re going to never we’re never going to ask you to move south of the border. We’re never going to do that. That’s that was one of the first commitments we made. We founded it seven of us at the time when we said it explicitly in the first meeting and. Kind of go fast forward many years we’re selling the company and we’re evaluating two things this a series, a term sheet that was beautiful, way better than we deserved. Now, I looked at our metrics.
I looked at that and I was like, wow, that was really, really sweet. Or this acquisition offer. And we hemmed and hawed and angst over the decision left, right, center. And what ended up making it a really easy decision was the idea of rewinding all the way back to those core ideas. Why did we do this? What did we commit to at the beginning? And I realized if we raised the series as we envisioned part of the next phase of the business, I got H.R. Tech.
So knowing your local stuff matters, we’d have to build a go to market team in the U.S. And even if we didn’t move everybody, the center of control would end up moving south and all of our investment would be into that US office versus the acquisition. You know, the idea was let’s use this as the kernel of building a large dev presence here in the kitchen or whatever area. And as soon as we looked at it like, wow, you know, in the first option, we’ve effectively moved the company.
S even if even if we’re still incorporated in Canada, even if I’m still living here effectively within itself. But this other example, we get a chance to build something better here for us, our friends, our families, the community. And it’s something made this like it was like this black and white, the very easy decision. And I think by making it such a principled statement at the beginning, it made later decisions dramatically easier. I did the numbers.
I was like, I will make this if we do this, this. If we do that, our shareholders will do it as I analyze it to the tenth degree, like every engineer will. But bringing it back to those core values just made it simple, crystal clear and a very easy conversation to bring to the team after.
It’s a I almost wish there was like a 50 50 or some like a marked reference that we always talk about the fiduciary responsibility of the directors of of an organization. Right. Then you have your required in order to deliver value back to the shareholders, which in most cases in a private firm, of course, is the investors. We know it’s a tough responsibility. We know as employees we hate to see stuff happen that seems counter to the people that work there.
But we also know that I know because I’m a bit deeper into it. Decisions are made for financial reasons, which cannot and which would counter what we believe is the right thing to do, so to speak. But you’ve you weighed both sides and said that I’ve been given a financial opportunity, which. While it seems like it could have a long term potential value to the shareholders, it also means that it could mean I’ve evacuated my entire employee base.
And a dissatisfied employee base, which means that has a negative impact on the value of the company. It is very hard to weigh the human impact to the long term financials and then look at what’s the what’s the thing you do. So it’s I again, huge respect that you said. You know, what do we do? You know, I could probably get this money and I could turn it into X and then scale it from there, especially as a startup in, you know, what do they actually call the I forget I said I’m from Toronto originally, so I know the area well.
And so if you mean it used to be back in the day, if you’re from Kitchener or Waterloo, you either worked for RIM or you worked for the university. Yeah. All right. So the fact that startups were popping up and getting funding and being able to stay and continue to employ people is huge. Right, that this is most people, like you said, I. I never thought I’d work for a company in tech. Because I there were no tech companies, they were U.S. companies that had a Canadian presence, so I ended up in the financial services sector for 20 years doing system architecture and stuff.
But then, you know, very different outcomes and goal. So now it’s a fast forward, much more opportunity in the startup ecosystem. And so you now have the ability to say, look, I can make these people’s lives better. So they can make their kids lives better and their peers feel good about things and ultimately hopefully draw more people to these type of ecosystems.
It’s a it’s a. The only way to put it is it’s like a privilege to have that opportunity, because now I take a look and we sold the company to NetSuite who was then sold to Oracle. And I see now there’s a tower in downtown Kitchener where under my stewardship we snagged two floors book. The third hadn’t filled it out. I think there are four or five floors now, several hundred people. And just I mean, people doing some really amazing work.
And I’ve got former colleagues there. I’ve got friends who then went to work there and we’re on some really brilliant stuff. And so that expertize is now floating around the local ecosystem. And that’s exciting. That’s really cool.
Because it’s always interesting when you look, it’s like when you drive by an old, you know, job place or even an old school and you’re like, oh, wow, you think at the time you spent there in the phase of your life and their life and the world at that time, it must be incredible to look at. Post acquisition successes that have been imparted on the people that went with it, which is such a beautiful thing to be able to see happen totally like when our first employee for Tribe.
What a fun journey, the first job that we posted was for clubs of Because You Never Want to Lose or DELAMATER, all that worst freaking job posting ever, I think is what I hear you getting the job. If I remember right, I think it was something like, do you thrive with independent work? You might be the only employee. Do you like high risk? High reward? We’re not sure if you’ll get paid. I mean, Handschu.
So Ryan, who took it, shows off to his first interview at at a coffee shop sporting the angriest mullet I’ve ever seen. And it turns out he’s a man who is a hockey team and they’re in the playoffs. They were you just letting it grow? Because I was a part of the team, the co-founders. It was like, you know, what, if he’s brave enough to wear that to an interview, was brave enough to work for us.
Let’s go. Let’s do it. I mean, like all startups, you’re hacking it together. So, I mean, our first office was like one room in the back of a car dealership because that’s where we could get some free desk space. And Ryan just did a great job through all the curveballs that we threw out and he ran with it. He did a great job through the exit and the acquisition, so made a change to him and his wife’s life.
Still still there, like within the security organization, amazing building, amazing stuff. And she can see that the individuals and the fun stories, but he also gets now act as that threat of continuity as the organization is growing around him. And that’s super cool.
I was thinking of was like Full Metal Jacket, you know, or like they start off and you see the guys getting their heads shaved in like they’re the new recruits. And then the second half of the movie is them being the seasoned people, bringing in the next class. And it’s like it’s it is cool to see that folks can thrive through those changes, because another thing I’ve discovered is there’s often not staging type of training and coaching. If you in the startup ecosystem, you find there’s a lot of players at a space, a level of growth.
So you get these sort of teams that just come in and they’re like SWAT teams, it’s come in. They’re like, yeah, I’m I’m from like half a million to 10 million in revenue. That’s it. The moment they hit like 50 million revenue, they start to get weirded out and they leave. But a lot of folks survive those sort of SWAT team infusions and there’s nothing for them through those progressions. That’s what I’m curious. Where do you see different types of training and coaching and mentoring that can be done for folks to say, hey, if you want to be a if you want to be the five to 10 million kid, go for it, but will enable you for that.
But if you want to thrive from one million to one hundred million, then we’ve got something that we can help you through all the way.
I love the idea that stage appropriate training and I don’t think I’ve seen anything like it. That’s specific training offerings like, hey, go, go take this course to learn what it’s like to go from, like, you know, one two million series A to 10 million doing your series B. I think where the onus really lies, though, is ultimately on leadership in many ways. I suppose there’s actually two answers to that for us on the overall side.
One of the big things we do is we do we spend a lot of time talking about what it’s like selling it to the different groups. And the reason we do it is not because we think people need to know the different mechanisms, but what we found is when people fit and they go into an organization that fits what they want to do, they’re more successful. What’s better than knowing the different stages is knowing where you thrive. And so in sales at things like the companies early and figuring it out, you’re going to do the full cycle by selling your whole thing.
And that comes with all the stress and all the dynamism and all of that. But if you like being an expert in your domain, a more established company will have more defined roles. Still a lot of room to carve out new territories to build new features. But you’re going to have some better guidelines and better mentorship. We’re doing that in the sale side of things, and so that’s why I think we have such a good hit rate, but I’ve never seen anything like that across a company.
And all the things I try to do as a founder is spend time with my teams just talking about what you should expect to see in the coming year. And sometimes it’s really simple things like we’re really early, so, hey, sales team or engineering team, you’re all reporting to me that’s going to stop. And it’s not because they don’t like you and it’s not because you’re not. But as we scale that happens and. We talked about that SWAT team, if you had people who have gone through this before, their heads are not in danger.
That makes sense. I got this. No, let’s go. But the people have never been through before. That’s terrifying. It’s really terrifying. And I think it’s founders. We spend so much time just being scared about everything we’re doing. We forget how disruptive that is for most people. You know, they’re trying to crank out a marketing campaign, crank out a bit of code, crank out some support lines, and all of a sudden it feels like the world was turned upside down because of an order change like.
We will do a lot more influence in people’s lives than we really internalize sometimes.
And it raises the importance of this idea of creating coaching and mentoring programs to to make sure that people can know they’ve got some baseline, they’ve got something they can lean into, because quite often that’s like culture is a class thing. One of my favorite, you know, I’ve read far too many books and I’ve got far too many unread ones and myself as well. But the culture code is one that I still reread often, you know, Legacy by James Care as well.
Also a fantastic one talking about the New Zealand All Blacks and this idea that a culture is the way they behave when you’re not looking. And as much as the masthead behind the receptionist’s desk says, you know, we are a people company, when the people on Slack are saying yes, not a people company like it’s that begins to happen and that can ultimately infuse that sort of inner fear and that misunderstanding of what’s next. So it becomes pervasive in the culture and there’s as a founder, you can’t be like pouring over the entire organization constantly to look for that.
You’ve got to create a system. You can let them sort of self discover, hopefully, and ultimately staved off.
I want to come back to that system thing, but I want to ask in a local ecosystem, I don’t know if you’ve noticed this, but I find. Every three, five or six years, it’s like the same blog post article pops back up and it’s like a CEO whose company got to typically somewhere between 50 and older people. And the blog post usually goes something like this culture can’t be created, it’s the thing that emerges and you need to let it grow and then document and capture what happened.
And it drives me nuts, because what that tells me is it’s a founder, CEO that ignored their culture until it got to a point where they said, crap, I got to get my arms around it. And now that I get my arms around it, I’m going to, you know, expound upon why this is a normal thing. And I personally find it very frustrating because I’m a very firm believer that you can be very deliberate in your culture.
And if you do it at day zero, if you start at zero, it’s so much easier. Like forevermore. It’s I if you want a good analogy, it’s like SEO or it’s like code quality or anything. Like if you start paying attention to it early on, it’s way easier to maintain.
Why do we not have culture debt like we have technical debt, we have financial debt, we have all these things, but yet somehow they know they don’t attack this idea that that is a effectively a cultural debt. We create that. We’ll get to this later. Well, we’ll we’ll write it down once we discover it. Like, no, that’s the thing you discover won’t be the thing you wanted because you didn’t hire into culture you hired and culture came out of it.
You don’t want your culture to be a side effect. Right. We tend to think about it is like internally for us. We think about it as a separate thing. It’s like the product is, hey, this process we’re changing, how is it going impact the culture or, hey, you know, it’s time for us to clean up some of the edges or hey, let’s upgrade it or touch investigative culture 2.0 is ready. Let’s say let’s get it put into place.
Yeah, it’s funny. Like it raises all these silly metaphors, but it is like if you think about something that takes on this life of its own and how do you make something that will last beyond the founders, the CEO, the founding team, the customers, the product, the market, because all those things will change. How do you create something that has more longevity and actually a good review? You talked about scaling. You know what people say behind the scenes.
I’ll share. So we’ve honed this over a couple of companies and I love you raise that question earlier on the things that you get better at every time. This is something I think we do really well. The idea of conversations like manager, employee, one on ones. Yes. Do those. That’s regular. I’m sure everybody who’s listening does this already. If not pretend you are because you should be asking what a big old if you haven’t, I need you to stop and write that in your to do list and put it on your bloody calendar because it needs to happen like a minimum biweekly, make it happen whatever.
But we see one on ones as one of three redundant layers for culture communications. So is kind of like security, you know, defense in depth. So we do our one on ones separately. We have a system of executive buddies. So we have our upper layer of management, our executive team, and we will pair every employee with an executive that is not in their direct line of report. And it’s not intended to be structured one on ones, it’s not intended to be backdoor conversations, but it’s a chance to get an executive who is mentoring you, coaching you through your conversations, giving you another perspective, letting you try on email, language for size, conversation, language or size, challenging assumptions.
You don’t say, hey, I was in that one or one and I don’t know what my boss thought of that’s. So you got an exact body. So that’s our second tier. And that’s that builds the mentorship scale in our executives, too. And it’s a great reminder that all of their direct reports are having conversations. And then our third layer, we run these regular meetings, we call them Hello Friends, and we have an employee. She’s part of our people culture team.
But she’s not responsible for like H.R. processes. She’s not responsible for recruiting. This is her primary responsibility. And she does regular dropping coffees with people. And it’s confidential. It’s like kind of cone of silence. Check in. How are you doing? How’s the team doing and how are you feeling? What are you worried about? And her job is to look for trends and highlight worrying signs and nothing identifiable. Her job is to anonymize her job and say, these are the things your people are worried about.
You know, watch for it. Yeah, because we’re not going to catch everything and thinking about your systems or people’s systems in the same way you think about like your security or your processes, like the holes become very glaring very quickly becomes a matter of you can’t create a system if it doesn’t ultimately have a feedback loop. And we think of like the classic outta loop. Right. So you observe this is the you know, see what’s going on Orient based on the what’s happening in the signals, then decide, OK, I can either deal with this X or Y way or whatever it’s going to be.
What what do we do about this particular signal? Do we integrate it as core? Do we deal with it as anomalous, whatever, and then act, then what do you put in place? And ultimately that then feeds back to changing the way that you observe and orient because you then have to take that into account. The next thing like these signals are very non, sometimes even nonverbal, but they’re not what people will feel it. In the anonymous employee survey that went to your corporate email that has your email in the URL when you click it, the like, you know, are my favorite thing.
I work for a marketing team at the time we were when we were still a small organization relative to our chunk of the world. So it sounds like, you know, this is completely anonymous. What team do you here for? Work, for marketing? Well, that’s down to thirty people. OK, what where do you live? I am at the time I was in Toronto like so I said I’m immediately not anonymous. I’m the only marketing person in Toronto.
This is not anonymous at all. And there’s no option of I don’t feel this out like. So you’re going to fill out the survey based on what you believe they want the survey to say for the most part, which is unfortunate versus like you said, getting out there and saying, look, I know I work for this company, but I don’t affect your pay. I affect the way that we help you get better. People are more likely to be open and in their discussions, it’s you have to separate human resources.
It’s such a strange thing. And, you know, now we call them chief people, officer or whatever the whatever the title of, you know, the trendy title is going to be. It’s the fact that you have to separate the people experienced from. Legal and payroll, which is fundamentally what a lot of human resources teams are, they call it culture, but in the end, you you have a you’re there to protect the company from liability, protect the employee from liability.
It’s hard to split that line and really make culture a part of the human and people organization.
I think it’s also a lot of companies and I tend to see this in kind of first time, earlier stage founders a little bit more where they believe ownership of that culture sits inside an organization. So they try to hire someone and say, hey, you can fix this, right? Oh, yeah. Also in compliance and payroll and recruiting and company events do all that and fix culture while you’re at it. And I there’s only a few things that can sit on that CEO’s plate, you know, unequivocally, like don’t run out of money.
Yeah. Don’t screw up the culture. Yeah, I kind of put those up there. So I think it’s it’s really easy to believe that you’ve hired someone and that solves the problem. But I think founders need to make sure that they don’t forget that they’re ultimately responsible for it.
Yeah, it’s tough, like you said, those two core responsibility is what’s the you’re you’re responsible for growing the company and reducing risk. And of course, one of the biggest ones is keeping the company alive. You know, ultimately, there’s two reasons that companies fail. They either run out of money or the founders leave. You know, they choose to exit the situation. It’s generally finances will be the biggest thing that take that company out. But, you know, this is so it’s good.
I mean, I love the idea. Now, here’s the interesting thing. Speaking of, Lou, how much of the work that you have through you, Varro then ultimately feeds back to the next time you do things. And as you bring back, OK, based on the last six months, we’ve noticed some different signals coming from people. Maybe we should integrate. How does that continue to evolve as you build the practice?
Constantly. I mean. So much of what we architected was around optimizing the feedback loops, and I think a really good comparison would be things like look at post-secondary education, they generally do an annual intake cycle, and if they’re launching a new program or a new course, they’ll run it once, get the class through, take a term or semester to kind of think about the feedback maybe offered the next year. She’ll look at this annual cycle and. If you’re on your long sprints, you’re just not exactly going to go well.
Yeah, when we founded you, it. So our program is a three month program, and it scares the crap out of our team. You know, we’re going to launch a group every month. Day one is like a group every month. So by the time we get to the second group, we’ve got two months worth of feedback. By the time we get to the third group, we’ve got two first months and one second month with the feedback and so are our processes.
May cut in as we go. Everything from like regular feedback surveys, check ins, follow up with our alumni and our grads. We’ve just moved to launching multiple cohorts a month and by the end of the year to be doing weekly. And you can’t you can’t do that if you don’t have feedback, you know, baked right in. And the part that’s been really cool is we’ve got we have our training programs, but we also have the right software platform that’s used by the tenders out tens of thousands of sales reps across North America.
So we get to see what are the types of content or features or items like are people talking about objection handling? Are they talking about security? Are they talking about customer stories? And so we get both that kind of usage data to influence our curriculum and our programing. But we also see that really, really tight feedback cycle with our classes because we’re launching them every few weeks. And you’re right, without that loop, you’re just doing the same thing again and again.
You’re not improving.
This is the the beautiful merger where you can have many systems ultimately feed each other because you’re you’re doing things. Let’s talk about Kate, actually, because we talked to the very start. I wanted to make sure that I gave it. Do you know advertisement here this afternoon? Sounds awful, but like it deserves recognition. I actually I use the platform, so I I’m very deep in this idea because we’re all in sales. Bad news, kids. You’re all in sales.
You may not be directly in sales, but you’re supporting sales and work and technical marketing. So I have to understand objections and competitive plays and stuff. And so I looked at it and it was immediately obvious how fantastic it was going to be because it just made sense. Again, like you said it, then from there, it can help to influence the purely human enablement side. So this is a an amazing thing. How how lucky is it and how hard did you work to get that lucky of.
Taking the approach of having a systematize productize thing and then having it ultimately feed another another business, yeah, it’s it’s funny because where we are right now, we look at it like, wow, so much good fortune there. And the journey when you break it into the steps makes a lot more sense. And and it was very deliberate. I mean, the platform is it’s used primarily by tech companies, scale ups and fantastic attacks. The companies we’ve got great, great teams using it.
The part that was really cool was our go to market strategy was working with sales trainers. So if you’re company and you bring somebody in to build your sales process, they might leave behind a bunch of kids or they might leave behind Caite Playbook’s. And so we have these fantastic firms that we’re doing sales training and training programs. And as we started to dig into the usage data, they literally fantastic IRAP project. So, I mean, you want to toss in all the elements of a story, a government funded research to figure out what the heck to do.
All this data we uncovered these really interesting insights, like silly little things, like we look at our highest performing customers, the ones who are growing fastest, adding team members, crushing sales goals. And by and large, they had way more information about their personas and their target customers, but surprisingly, way less about objection handling. And that really had a scratching their heads because, I mean, sales traders always spent time on objection handling like how do you handle those?
And what we uncovered was that there was an inverse correlation. So across the board, the companies that did a really good job of doubling down on their personas, their buyers, their details didn’t have the same need for objection handling. So as a result in our curriculum, they’re not treated as two separate subject is treated at the same thing. How do your personas, your ICP, influence your objection handling? So how do you emphasize the one, decrease the other, drive up your total growth?
And so on an ongoing basis, we get to pull out these insights, these methodologies and push the of our curriculum and even to when we launched the first version of our it all came from our customers on the software side. We talk to them, we say, hey, how do we get you to use more software? And they’d also their biggest trouble is hiring, hiring great sales reps because we hire people, but no one knows how to sell software.
And so we bring in these trainers. They cost an arm and leg and they do great work. But because they cost so much, we can only bring them in annually, maybe every six months. And so you hire someone, they have to wait six months for the next sales cycle. No wonder it takes him eight months to ramp. And so when they said, hey, if there was a way to hire more people who had some software training experience, and that’s not simply just go recruit from LinkedIn or Salesforce, there’s a there’s a supply demand imbalance.
There’s, what, 50, 60 thousand B2B software sales reps out there in North America. We need another three hundred sixty thousand over the next decade. We can’t all just hire from LinkedIn. The need became really apparent, according to my next job is now. Good golly.
It’s it’s like it’s an absolute supply demand. This is terrifying. The difference that we’re about to face in the next.
Well, when I was going into university, all the conversation was like, the world’s going to need more, you know, computer scientists and engineers except for the ninety nine Hiko, like just as we’re all getting into it and we’re all like, oh crap, none of us can have jobs. I’m glad we were wrong. But if I, if I got two kids, if they were graduating right now and I was trying to say, hey, if you want a really good job security for the next 10 years, that’s what I’d be pointing at them, because that that imbalance in supply and demand is so.
And that’s just in tech like Greg Gardner studies like the way all business products are being sold are going to look like the way we sell Souse. And yeah, that’s not more robots and less humans. That’s just automate the crap. So the human element carries more weight. That’s exciting.
Yeah, this is the the thing that I try to tell people of, like we use these products to improve processes, CSR, I’m a Canadian so I can say this without making when I say processed the. But we do this, it always has to be to empower the people to do better and create measurability, which is a really this is the tough line and you’re close to this. So I’m curious at what point when people detect their KPIs, are attached to their performance, start to change the way they behave is the Eli Gold rat thing from the goal.
He says, show me how you measure me and I’ll show you how to behave. And it’s a dangerous thing where when you realize you’re being trained towards a KPI, that all you’re eyeing is the KPI, not the behavior that ultimately drives the outcome, which is a measurable thing via a KPI. So. How do we how are you finding people successful at. We’re not looking at the fact that they’re being watched or that metric.
It’s funny because we never try to encourage people to imagine they’re not being watched because it. Eh, they’re going to be up for a rude awakening. Is that going to be a boss who has a conversation or a colleague like over beers, like, by the way, you know, that this like. Oh, my. Yeah. Really, what we try to do is we try to make sure that if it’s not really up to the individual to manage that situation, it really is up to leaders in management.
I really like I think this is an area honestly where marketing and sales in most areas of the organization can learn from engineering, like in engineering organization. At the end of the day, you’ll have some high level outputs like overall development velocity or maybe it’s product quality and uptime, like whatever your North Star is for your organization. And that’ll vary. But you’ve instrumented your development process all the time, like code coverage. Operate on your Sprint’s velocity or variants on it, delivery versus commit and.
You know, having a really strong sense of like here’s this North Star, but the process is bigger than any one of us. So if we sense there’s something off in the process, how do we choose to focus on a Capi KPI for a while to make sure that that’s not the hang up? And once that’s good, we bring that lens over and focus on and depending on the engineer, you say this is like the lens or the magnifying glass or the eye or Sauron.
You know, we’re going to focus on a different area of the process. And most engineering teams that I’ve worked with are fairly comfortable with that. It’s like, hey, maybe for the next sprint or the next quarter we’re going to pay attention to test reliability or uptime or coverage or whatever it is. What I’ve seen in sales and marketing is there’s not that same sense of the sales and marketing process is external to the individuals. It’s this thing or trying to improve.
And so people take a KPIs in the ownership of them very personally. You know, they think about their open rate on their emails or their clickthrough or their engagement on the content, and they think about it, is them succeeding or failing, not about the system or working or not. And ultimately, I think that’s when that happens. That’s a failure of leadership, not helping the team separate themselves from the sales process because I’ve seen more sales reps lose it, lose their jobs, or leave an organization because the process was wrong, not because of their individual failing.
And that that’s a it’s a hard thing to separate, but it’s super important to try.
Funny that, you know, and I mentioned Ghodrat, which is apropos to this idea of like with engineering. Of course, this is what Jean came in and the team developed and they talked about the the the Phenix project. And and since then, they’ve they’ve done the developes handbook’s. These are methodologies that, you know, and it works like you set this marker of quality or whatever it is, you set the measurement, you move the constraint, you know, and ultimately we’re always attacking the constraint.
And as a result, it affects the goal. And the goal is velocity and quality. Whatever in sales is different because in engineering, no one says, hey, you squashed 400 bugs this quarter. So next quarter I’m setting it to five hundred like it’s very different because in sales, it’s always like you’re going to give 110 percent kid. Like there’s an unfortunate sort of screaming coach from the sidelines mentality that that is the I’ll say the lifestyle of a sales organization is they they think and act differently.
They set big, hairy, audacious goals. Engineering cannot do that. Because it means that they will set themselves up for failure, so they learn to like tighten the measurement to tighten the success rates. So this is. I wonder if there’s a way that we could get better at, like empowering sales without taking the go get them kid, you know, kind of of capability in it.
But I think there’s also, to some extent, you know, confounding kind of a few statements in there. I see a lot of engineering teams who said some really audacious goals like, hey, you know what? We’re going to ship this feature for Q1. And you know what? Maybe all the bells, all the whistles, all the stories won’t make it in, but you’re going to kill it. We’re going to do a hackathon to make it happen.
And, you know, we’re going to kind of pull out all the stops and really make sure this delivers. And it’s really exciting. So I see teams do that and sales teams have their Nalgae with quarter goals or upgrades or things like that. And I think every team needs their version of that. And the sales version is very much like that. What gets Convolve, though, is there are some bad management practices that happen. You gave an example there of like as soon as you had success with the goal post.
You know, James is you made your quota. Bad news is your quota just went up by 30 percent for next year, which is why you see a lot of sales teams ultimately do a stint. They’ll do two years, they’ll do a strong relationship sale, and then they go to another company and take the relationships with them kind of idea.
And I mean, there’s there’s definitely management practices that that exacerbate it. But I think that’s a really good example as well of if the organization doesn’t separate out the process from the people, that feels terrible right now. If we zoom out for a lovely, great as a company, we get better. Our marketing team starts doing their job better. So now we have better quality leads. Our sales automation is better. So we’re, you know, filtering out bad quality leads at a better rate.
Our product is better. So now customers like it more. We have more customers who have better testimonials. Yes, the sales motion as a result is likely easier. So, yes, it makes sense that quotas and territories may shift. Likewise, as we scale a sales team, we’ve got more people we’ll have to draw new territory boundaries and. It’s really important, I think, as a company that you talk about those systems as the process and that those things happen because the companies are succeeding, not because a failure of the individual.
And likewise, your managers need to be really committed, invested to the success of the individuals so that the things you do when you succeed are feeling like you’re penalizing the people who got you there, because you’re right. Otherwise it feels like great, you hit your quotas, were raising the quota, create your top performing sales reps who are splitting your territory.
We’re throwing you in Wisconsin. You know, I shouldn’t joke about that. Wisconsin has a massive market. I’ve always I sort of joke about some poor dairy producers in Wisconsin. Millions upon millions of dollars in revenue come out of out of Wisconsin because there’s a ton of industry there. But it’s this whole thing like, yeah, you do great in the Northeast and they’re like, OK, we’re sending it to Nebraska, kid. You know, we to get that territory off the ground, like, oh, I can’t get my coat out there.
You hit the nail on the head, Doug. Imagine a rap where like, hey, you used to be in California. You know, you got like, you know, 30, 40 million people as your patch. And now you’re Wisconsin. You’ve got less than six. Yeah. It’s really hard to just say those stats and not leave somebody feeling like you just punch them in the stomach. And you got to separate that she was like, hey, great, as a company, we’re at the next stage so we can rejigger these things.
This is what we need. We’re asking you to do it because you have the most confidence in you. It’s a scary thing. What can we do to help you succeed and make this a win for you? Very different conversation and like, great, we’re downsizing your territory by five, six.
Yeah, we’re taking you off of two named accounts that you built up from the ground up because it’s like you’ve you’ve done an amazing thing. We’re handing it to this rep that needs to cut his teeth a bit more. You know, we’ve got a new lady and she’s really great. So we’re going to let her take over this big account. And you’re like, no, no, no, no. I mean. Who knows, right? But if and the sale goes beyond the initial sale, this the other thing, too, is that people often forget is that renewals are this is what we get measured on, is are not just are recurring revenue is the what will bury a company selling a bunch of stuff once is not a successful sales organization.
It’s it’s changing the culture of sales. And ultimately the playbook goes along with it because you don’t just have to defend it once. You’ve got to continuously make sure the product represents the outcomes the customer needs and that you can continue to represent the value relative to the price that you’re charging. Seems fundamental and simple, but it’s hard to do because also you’re fighting for organizations that, hey, look, we just went through covid. Revenues for those companies went down, so they we have to get way better as a vendor to present value, and it may mean sacrifices in a lot of different directions, and it may mean we lose accounts for no reason other than the fact that they just need to tighten down.
It’s really hard, and one of the things that I see is that a lot of a lot of teams haven’t. They haven’t fully instrumented their business and people often miss that that idea of churn. That’s an upper limit of how big you’re going to grow. Your growth hits and asymptote and its position is governed by your churn rate. And the difference between like a two percent churn, a five, a 10 I seen that is 30. That brings your upper growth limit down.
And a lot of teams fail to realize that if you’ve got a growth curve and you try to make it steeper, you try to hire more sales reps, you invest more marketing, you want to grow steeper. The side effect is it can often bring down that churn. And you really don’t want what looked like this nice, smooth growth curve to suddenly be a square wave. Because if you do that, you’re capping the value of your business and it can look really great.
You can raise money, but then you hit that cap really hard and it feels like just crashing into a ceiling and that sets you up for four down rounds if your fundraising turnover on your people bad customer experiences. So it’s tough. Sometimes you have to forego that speedy, speedy, speedy growth just for that long term opportunity with the company.
Well, this raises an interesting thing of, you know, we talking you’ve you’ve had, you know, multiple companies you founded. You’re very successful in the two that you’re working with now. You’ve empowered a lot of people, which is amazing. The trouble I have often when we talk to a lot of founders, especially serial founders, is we talk to same when we talk to poker players and no one talks about the hundred hands they lost. That never that they got dumped out, they were like they weren’t even like in the top 100 in a tournament, they make it to the World Series of Poker, but then they lose tournament after tournament after Sherman again.
But they have the drive to learn feedback, come at it like and go at it again. So I’m curious, Joseph, look, I don’t spend dark thoughts on it, but what have been some challenges that you’ve had to go through in your own personal history to it?
I mean, there’s all the every startup has various forms of like founder drama, investor drama, acquisition, drama. And if you talk to anybody, you’re going to get the same stories. So I’m always happy to riff on those. But and we have limited time.
Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah. We’re almost done here to two things that stuck out to me, though. It’s funny because, yeah, we could train them as challenges. I’ve always felt them is like really good learning opportunities. One of my earliest companies, we were selling a white labeled web content management system like WordPress. But before WordPress existed and we had a unique solution where we sold through advertising agencies, marketers, and it was totally white labels because at the time everybody was worried about everyone had a, quote, Web guy who was very gendered.
It was the language they were using it for what it was worried about that person stealing their clients. White label solution. Really great. We had an upfront fee subscription offering, but this was before kind of SACE as a as a delivery mechanism. And one of the things we recognized was the entire way we thought about the app, we thought about mobility. You know, people needed to upload it, hosted themselves. They you know, if if we went down, they could keep the website forever.
We had to make a lot of things into it to serve the market at the time. But we recognized that the our market was a very specific buyer and we would have to have a fundamentally different business to get to the broader pool of website owners. And we recognized that it wasn’t that wasn’t challenged. We’re going to readily overcome. And so we split the company into and sold it because we recognized the opportunity wasn’t there. And that was a tough a tough pill to swallow to say, hey, you know what?
We picked a direction. We had some success, good growth, but we are not in the right position to see the kind of outcome that we really want is a good outcome. Made money back for our friends and family investors. We’re not in the belts or the company, but the. It, my friends, that it the right way, like it’s like, you know, you got that kid and you something, you look at it with honest eyes and go, Oh, I got an ugly baby crap twins.
And it just it wasn’t going to have the opportunity. That was a tough one. And we tried our most recent. This is a classic look, we’re a Canadian company selling it to North America, the US, and we never fully internalized how miserably painful benefits, enrollment and payroll are in the states. And that read the blog post, talk to the customers we never felt did because we’d never run payroll and benefits internally. And until we really got there with U.S. employees and we recognized how exquisitely painful it was and we realized we had underemphasized that area of our product so badly.
We were now a good year and a half, two years behind with that space wanted to be. And so as we were looking at the next step, it was like, hey, here’s a massive investment for us to stay ahead and in many ways catch up and exceed the competition versus selling the company. And that influenced our decision a lot. And the interesting thing is one of our our our premium investors, like best investors on our board, great.
Ended up after our sale investing and doubling down in another tech company. So there’s definitely a lot of like, oh, you know, could that have been us great. But the reality is everything we saw happen in the space. We realized, you know, we made the right decision. We made the right call. We. It honestly evaluated the decisions we made and now with everything that we knew, we were making, again, a good decision.
So, yes, it’s hard to reflect honestly on the work that you do and then not beat yourself up over it.
Well, and I appreciate like you said, you framed it beautifully, Joseph, and it’s been a real pleasure to spend time, you know, the idea of of lessons in that lessons and signals that feedback to choices and in the way that we build and continue to learn. So I’ll make sure I have links, of course, to Uvaro, and to Kiite for folks that want to get in, get in on this. I’m a fan of Kiite.
This is like this is so bloody easy. I can’t I can’t believe how easy it was. So I do appreciate it. And it’s been a real pleasure. And if folks if they want to reach out to you directly, Joseph, what’s the best way that they can do that?
Oh, they can hit me up on LinkedIn. Instagram I’m on most social is at Joseph. Always welcome the outreach, especially with other founders. So that’s very cool. Joseph, thank you very much. It’s been a real great conversation and I look forward to catching up again. And we can talk about the next phase of growth and and whatever is next as well.
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Rob Telson is VP of Worldwide Sales and Marketing at BrainChip and brings over 20 years of sales expertise in licensing intellectual property and selling EDA technology. Rob has had success developing sales and support organizations at small, midsize, and large companies.
We discuss the incredible capabilities of AI at the edge, the real definition of edge computing, and how that context creates interesting challenges for organizations and people. The conversation also covers a ton of great insights into building effective sales and marketing teams, empowering people, plus where to find the best burgers in the world.
Rob, thank you very much. I was first of all, I get excited by being able to see a name that shows up, but as a human, essentially, that is very interesting to chat with. And I’ve been lucky as I’ve gone over some of your your own content and you’re your producer of content, your you’ve got a really solid voice and a great way of of really leading a discussion, which is cool.
And on top of that. I looked at BrainChip and it was pretty darned excited about the potential of what’s there. So before I jump in and I start discussion over the good stuff, I did want to for folks that are new to you, Rob, if you want to give a quick introduction and we’ll then we’ll talk about yourself. We’ll talk about brain ship, the Akeda platform, which is really cool, the technology and kind of what’s what’s being done with it.
And we’ll kind of run from there, if that’s all right.
Yeah. Well, Eric, thank you very much for for first of all, for having me on the podcast. And likewise, I’ve had the opportunity to listen to some of your podcasts and you’ve had some pretty talented people on. And so I’m actually excited and honored to be here. And I feel like I have some some big shoes to fill in the discussion. Right. But just real quickly, for the listeners out there, brain chips, the semiconductor manufacturer, and we’ve developed an artificial intelligence processor.
And it’s you know, it’s architected to function similar to a brain. And it’s it’s based off of continually learning as we go on the device that we’re implemented in. And it’s it’s processes without any dependency on the cloud. And that will become a lot of our discussion today. And and last of all, it’s it’s architected in a way that it consumes very little power or energy. And by doing that, it gives you a lot of flexibility and functionality to do a lot of things in the world of compute a lot, that’s becoming very common to all of us.
But it’s going to evolve over time. But before I talk more about. Brain chip and our processor, which is called Akeda, and for those listening, a ketamine’s spike and we’ll get to that in more detail I really want to talk about. The problem that we see happening and why al Qaeda is going to play a major role in solving a lot of potential challenges in technology moving forward. So, so so what what I want to bring up is three words that in my world mean the same thing, and there’s a lot of technologies out there that will give you but ifs, ands, buts and so on.
But the reality is we’re talking about the same thing. So let’s think of Iot based devices. And let’s think of edge based devices and let’s think of end point devices, they all mean basically the same thing, and that is we’re really, really far away from the cloud. We’re doing a lot of compute and in most cases, especially as we evolve. That computer goes to the cloud and then it goes from the cloud back to the device. OK, and I’m going to reference edge based devices and I’m going to reference instead of Khanum, I processers deep learning accelerator’s GPU impious.
I’m going to use the word engine, the engine that’s processing this information. So if we look at the evolution of edX and we look at the evolution of these devices over the next five years, we’re looking at hundreds of billions of devices and these hundreds of billions of devices are going to be demanding easy access of information to the cloud and back. And to put that into perspective, we’re looking at I don’t know, I think it’s forecasted there’s going to be 90 zettabytes of data going from edge based devices to the cloud and back.
So we all need to take a step to the side, put ourselves in the driver’s seat of our car and realize we’ve just hit a traffic jam. And what that means to anyone who has a smartphone right now or has a personal assistant voice, personal assistant at home, like an Alexa or let’s say using Siri, an Apple based device, I don’t know about you, but there are times when I’ve said Siri directions to this address and Siri says, I cannot help you right now or play.
Fleetwood Mac can’t help you right now. OK, so what’s going on there is that the device is trying to communicate to the cloud but doesn’t have access to it. And we’ve all just been accustomed to dealing with that for those that have experienced that and you just wait a couple of seconds or whatever and you move on. But let’s fast forward let’s fast forward to this evolution of EDG based devices and let’s think about vehicles. Let’s think about unmanned vehicles.
Let’s think about flying vehicles. Let’s think about drones. Let’s move into medical device applications. Let’s move into industrial applications. We’ve got an issue. Four doctors in a remote location trying to save someone’s life needed access to the Internet and they don’t have bandwidth to the cloud. The device needs to be able to do some processing on the device, and that’s where we see the key to making some massive impacts. The other thing that Qaeda can do, which gets really excited, is has the ability to learn on the device, we call that one shot training or one shot learning.
So you’re adding new images. You’re adding new functionality to the device as you go. This is the growth and evolution of artificial intelligence. And we’re we’re able to do that because we are architected. In an advanced way, using what’s called the neuromorphic computing architecture and neuromorphic computing is architected to function much like a brain. And what I mean by that is for our listeners and for you, Eric, right now your brain is moving and it’s consuming energy and it’s listening to everything I’m saying that is important to you.
But being a fan of yours, I would hope you have a cup of diabolical coffee sitting by your side. Right. And you can smell that fresh coffee, but your brain is not spending a lot of time on that. And it’s not spending a lot of time recognizing that your hands are resting and you’re touching something and your feet are touching something and or the scene. Exactly. So so what what going back to what I said earlier, Akeda is is, is the it’s it’s also references spike.
We focus on spiking or events and that’s what makes us extremely unique and extremely advantageous as we move into this next generation of A.I. is that, look, we can function and focus on all these different things that are going on, but we’re consuming all of our energy on the event that’s taking place right now. Their traditional engines, as I referenced before, it could mean a lot of different things. Those traditional engines have to process and compute all of this information.
They are burning. They’re consuming so much energy and power and they’re moving faster and faster and faster to solve the same problem that we’re going to solve. And using microwaves to milliwatts and using a lot less energy and and gives us a lot more flexibility. So I know I said a lot there, but that’s giving you a little bit about brain chip.
But and I’d say that’s actually the perfect that’s the perfect segway to something that’s very important about this. The challenge that we’re trying to solve, right. Is that it’s you know, it’s one thing for me to do yell into my phone like Siri, find the closest Tim Hortons or whatever. Sorry, I guess I should say Dunkin Donuts to finally close Dunkin Donuts. And and yeah, I’m sorry, I can’t help you right now. And like, darn it, Siri, like, that’s fine, I, I will I’ll open Google and I’ll say it’s got a slow connection and I can get through it.
It’s very different than system to system, which is where like you talk about, you know, rolling devices that are using Lydda and ultimately need to communicate and they need to do a lot of processing locally in because they have to have certain amounts of asynchronous communications and they cannot rely on every transaction being decision driving. So they have to be able to make decisions locally. So we do all this and it sounds fantastic. Irresistable, it’s easy. Why don’t you just move processing close to the edge, closer to the workload, whatever.
Great. Sounds great, right? It sounds as great as the numbers that we hear when we think about the scale that we’re we’re tackling. But then the first thing you think is how do I drive this like little of the power to do the stuff in the datacenter today or in the cloud, a fantastic amount of power required to run GPU and TP use and all these things when you move the edge. Now, this is the thing like you’re talking about milliwatt, representation of power usage, fundamental shift in the ability of technology to act in the way that what a kid is doing yet.
Not burn the planet down like Bitcoin miners doing this crazy bocking processing.
Yeah, it’s it’s it’s amazing. I’m going to bring up an example again of of a scenario. And I don’t want to get overdramatic, but I think we always have to visualize these types of scenarios. There are closer to us than we than we realize. But, you know, the proliferation of electric vehicles to proliferate, proliferation of vehicles and the amount of compute that’s taking place in the vehicles of today and tomorrow, the cars designed to do a lot of of great things.
And and I’m a geek, so I get really excited about functionality. Useless functionality usually gets me to buy something. So what happens, though, is that the if we don’t have the ability to have some of this compute in decision making on the device, and we’re going to find a scenario where you’re driving a car and that car sees a human and it knows what it needs to do is swerve hard. Right. And get out of the way.
Now, that hard right to get out of the way could actually end up causing another impact. You know, and. If it doesn’t if it’s dependent upon communicating with an external device, whether it be the cloud or something else, it’s going to make that hard, right? Whether it communicates or not, there is a human there and then you find out it’s a plastic bag. We didn’t need to make the hard right. So we need to advance and that’s what we’re looking at.
And the second thing that you what you brought up there in my head was spinning a mile a minute ago. OK, how do I want to respond here? But you start to take a look at devices that do consume a lot of energy. And one device that everybody has in their home is the refrigerator. It consumes a lot of energy and we we look at that as these consumable, these consumer white goods appliances in which al-Qaeda is going to help reduce the amount of energy that’s being consumed.
We look at it and we say, in the future, you’re going to want to have the ability to recognize by odor whether your food is is stale or it has a lifespan. How do we how do we do that and, you know, has that capability. One thing I didn’t mention that I’ll I’ll dovetail on is that we focus on five sensor modalities and two are very common in the world of processing today. And that’s image or object detection, very similar to the plastic bag and what’s out there and what’s going on.
And and the other one is, is voice or keywords. And again, something very common and a lot of the functionality that we have today. But there’s three other modalities that will become impactful in our everyday lives. And one is the ability to smell or olfactory. One is the ability to touch or vibration and which is some somatosensory. And then the other one is taste gustatory. And between all of those five sensory modalities, that’s where brain chip is kind of hung their hat and said, OK, well, if we can process vibration.
Then we can help in industrial applications and make things more efficient, we can save the infrastructure of the roads and bridges and we can actually help with prosthesis. And so people that that have prosthetics can now feel by having vibration detect somewhere else in their body. And we’ve now seen with the olfactory side of things and they always say it’s you hit these these points, inflection points by random. You design it all you want, but these random events happen.
You have what’s called Vox’s or volatile organic compounds, which are breath markers. And by these Vox’s you can detect different diseases. Illnesses, viruses and even different types of cancers. So with the right systems and the right engine, you can do a lot of good. You can start to make a lot of impact in areas that that we only dreamed of five years ago.
And I think that’s the important thing, too, when we think of any of any solution and what I love is enabling solutions in what you’re talking about, what what you and the team are tackling by bringing Akeda to the market is that. You know, the old was this show Halt and Catch Fire? My favorite interviews, watch that one is a famous sort of early episode. He says, you know, this is computers aren’t the thing. They’re the thing that gets you to the thing.
And so we look at what this does. It’s an incredible enabling function now is that, yeah, we can move to enabling prosthetics to be, you know, touch detecting. And it’s like it’s. This is the stuff like the reason why we went to the moon. And people say like, oh, well, there’s no one living on the moon, why did we go to the moon? And, you know, when we said, well, I’m not sure if you’re familiar, but most of the things in your house are were engineered and discovered as a result of research that we did in that we know why we call it a moon shot.
Yeah. And so now you have by giving this capability to the research community, to the industrial community. So as we go from Industry 4.0, which I didn’t realize we were already there to fight or whatever it is like, this is the huge, huge leaps that can be done by those communities and those creators and those researchers that are going to tackle, they said, big problems. This is this is like what quantum is a concept. You know, right, and it was it’s a very it’s so far out of the realm of most people’s mathematical understanding.
That it becomes like, oh, yeah, one day, but it’s. When you show this and you bring this and you show people what can be done now with this capability. This is a lot closer to the use cases that people understand. I think in then those sort of massive concepts like Elon get landing us on Mars and say, yeah, you know. It’s been. Tremendously satisfying on a daily basis, we’re constantly on calls with current customers and future customers and dreamers and visionaries and and.
I try to I’m going to take this conversation twofold, number one is I think it’s really, really important for people to understand in the world of artificial intelligence, it’s very complex. And a lot of people are addressing these challenges and problems and solving them a variety of different ways. So what I’m trying to do and is communicate that there’s an ecosystem out there and within that ecosystem you need. To have sensors that can detect what’s going on, you need to have a data set.
In order to understand what you’re trying to detect and you need to have an engine that can take all that information and actually accurately predict and accurately provide feedback. That you can depend on. So, again, we are the engine, but one of the things I brought up before when I talked about bosses and it’s something that we’ve had some success with, is is, for example, working with a couple of partners, but one in specific that it’s over in Israel, that I was able to develop some type of a breathalyzer that you can breathe into and it can capture information.
And the goal was to recognize different types of viruses or disease. And it just so happened that as they were building this product covered it up. So now let’s apply it to covid and we need an engine. If we get data sets, we get all this information, what engine is low power and operate quickly and provide us the accuracy. Right. And so we were hitting ninety three ninety four percent accuracy on these data sets to determine covid positive cova negative.
And that’s one example what we’re doing.
It’s amazing to think and like you talked about one shot and for anybody that wants to, you know, pause the show and go like understand what it means to be able to do zero shot, one shot and what like the impact in the way this does versus the like, mass data set, continuous learning it. So it’s a big, big change. And now to be able to bring one shot learning close to where it needs to be processed, because the other problem we’ve got is the data sets in order to do continuous training or potentially massive.
And while we’ve got five G in areas like oh five is going to here, that’s going to save the world. Well, no, you know what’s it’s going to happen with five G Instagram. That’s what’s going to happen. YouTube, Hulu. Like, that’s the the reason why 5G is going to be full by the time it gets here fully is because we are always pacing well ahead of the capabilities with the content. And now if we look at we’re effectively going right alongside your latest, you know, Hulu release their Game of Thrones or whatever craziness the people are streaming.
And you’re trying to do like legitimate real time neural processing. This is why being able to bring that processing and do it there, it’s it’s it’s a significant need. Yeah, it’s a huge boost in it, like I said, because right now the devices aren’t capable to do it without a significant amount of power or like these large processing units deemed to be local. So doing this at at a small scale with low power is game changing, to pardon the overused phrase.
Yeah, it’s exciting. And we’re we’re at a point where we have customers and, you know, our business models made up of the fact that we sell silicon and we’re in volume production right now and we also license our our IP. So they’re getting an encrypted IP that they can design into their system on a chip, and that functionality is on that device moving forward. And I think at a time like this, it’s this is this is huge. I mean, I have one of my colleagues says, Rob, you’re on this Jerry Maguire moment where I’m saying we have this semiconductor challenges, manufacturing and shortages.
And and there are a lot of great technologies in the sandbox, all trying to solve specific problems and broad problems. There are only a few of us that are licensing. The technology is IP. So for the others, they’re all scrambling to get wafer capacity and to get in line. And my Jerry Maguire moment is just made up of the fact that how great is it that some of these companies can incorporate our IP into their system on a chip, rely less on the supply chains and the challenges that will exist for a period of time and be able to to make a move as a as a market mover and have products with a lot of functionality on it.
So we we see that. And I’ll stop talking about my Jerry Maguire moment. But I do I do like to emphasize we have we have two two business models that we’re we’re leveraging and we’re seeing success in both of them. And the other thing is, is I look at it and we have two two paths. Right. One is, as you mentioned, there’s a lot of really exciting AI applications and some of them are more scientific than commercial focused.
And we have a unique crossroads where you want to address a lot of these scientific solutions because they’re really cool and, you know, you’re going to do something really good and beneficial. And we use that word beneficially. And I think that’s important. But also we have a business to run and and we are in the process of making sure that we have a commercialized product that all of our customers and future customers will have a lot of success with.
And I got to call something which is so thank you for using the best phrase on Earth, because, you know, the way you describe things here, you can tell that you’re very people focused even in understanding the technology. We talked to the like. Where we can go with how deep we can talk about attack, and first of all, you go far deeper than you would even give yourself credit to be able to. I’m sure we could go further, but.
You call it future customers, that may seem like a throwaway to some people, I worked with a lot of sales organizations and every time I hear the word prospect, I cringe a little. And it’s a difference in the way that you think about it, but by the way, you it’s not even a thing you fight to make sure you don’t say it’s natural. Like you just said, you know, we’re people with work today, future customers.
It’s a it’s I’ve got a huge respect. And so, you know, there’s. Thank you. Something something in you. You’re definitely your solution. And people focused. What what brought you to that? We’re going to dig into the rub portion of the show right now, because I want to unpack this because it’s actually very rare for a senior sales leader to not kind of. This slip up and say we were talking to a couple of prospects today and it seems like small thing and I have a massive respect, first of all, I should say this to I got to catch this with look, I’m not I’ve never, as they say, carried a bag for for an organization.
I’ve got a huge respect. Everyone’s in sales to some degree. I’ve been lucky that I don’t carry a quota for it. So I, I, I don’t live without my sales teams doing what they do. And I furnish them with the tools to do what they do. Right. But but you split this line where you have this and this. There’s something different. I figure out where that comes from.
All right, let’s dig into it. What do you want to know?
So what’s your what was your background? As I noticed that through your career, you’ve actually been pretty consistently in this account, executive sales track like you’ve you’ve always sort of come in there. So where did your what drew you to that? And then kind of what drew you to the way in which you approach it?
Well, you know. I’m going to go back far. You know, it sounds like it’s a short path, but when I just had my my birthday yesterday, it’s been a while. Well, thank you. So I went to school to become a lawyer and I came home. From my final interview to go to law school and I sat down with my parents and I explained to them. That, OK, I start in three months and dad, you’re going to owe X amount of dollars when all is said and done for me to go to law school and as a very matter of fact statement and my father looked at me and he said, oh, hold on a second.
And he said, I never said I’d pay for law school. You’re on your own. My recommendation is you go get a job. They’ll do something and then figure out whether you want to go. So the next day I went out, started interviewing for jobs and and I ended up getting a job. Selling, mailing and shipping systems and learning about warehouses, learning about packaging devices, and and just walking door to door in a suit and tie and talking to guys and warehouses and selling products, the only thing I realized was I was really good at it and I was living at home and I was making a lot of money.
And I’m like, wow, this is who needs law school, right? And and about that time, we were transitioning to two Windows based operating systems. And I had the one thing I really look back at when parents make investments in their children. My father was really into buying computers before. Computers were something that everyone could get their hands on. And he had chosen Apple. So we had Max, so I had learned how to work on a Mac OS, so by the time Windows was introduced, you know, it had a lot of the same feel.
So the company I was working for had introduced a Windows based operating shipping and mailing system and no one knew how to use it. No one knew how to operate, and I sat down and started tinkering with it, and before I knew it, I was part of a Fortune 500 company sitting with the CEO of the company, some in Puerto Rico, teaching him how to use the system. And and my my sales career kind of took off and immediately took me into the most random decision I’ve ever met in my life, which was to move from this company into Edde Electronic Design automation.
And I was I was I got a job with a very large Iida firm that brought two guys in that had no engineering background and said, one of you as a sales guy will learn how to navigate all the way to the upper echelons of senior executives. And one of you won’t. And within six months, most likely, one of you won’t be here. That wasn’t me, I was there and was able to have a lot of success, and then that led to start ups.
That’s when things in technology were starting to take off. The the Internet was becoming something of a thing. And this was back in the day when, you know, you went to startups and you tried to make some money. And I was very I was very fortunate. I use the the phrase I’d rather be lucky than good. I was really lucky to be at the right place at the right time, which led to intellectual property. And again, another startup then, which led to a corporate career of sales organizations evolving into large sales organizations, evolving into sales leadership and being a part of a phenomenal run with a great group of people at a company called ARM and doing that for a long time and running their sales for the Americas, as well as running their sales for manufacturing, which most of it was done over in Asia and then transitioned to the second phase.
I called the second phase of my life, which is I want to do another startup. I’ve done this before. I know what we’re doing and I know what I’m looking for. And it just so happened that an unmanned car was a customer customer of mine. And we’ve done business together. And that car is one of the co-founders of Branch It. And we were having a discussion and he said, Robin, be great. If you could join our company, we need to build a sales marketing organization.
And and I think you’d be phenomenal doing it, which led to. Yes, sure, why not? And here we are months later, and we’re starting to make an impact with things that we’re we’ve we’ve put in place all seem to be executing. So this this to me is a very, very exciting time for brain chip. And to be a part of this this cycle, this revolution is really cool. So that might be a little long, but I just went through.
But Hurford says, you know, it’s a beautiful story because it tells you. You know, when when we choose a place to be. One of the most fundamental parts of the why is because we go there to there’s people that we care enough about to give ourselves to their their life via the startup, like the amount of time we spend supporting each other and support in the organization and, you know, the sacrifice of families. It’s it’s it’s no insignificant, you know, step to move to the startup landscape.
And especially, you know, you went. What was effectively the Oggi startups, right? This is, you know, startups now, you know, I’ve got I’ve got four startups that are running right now. I mean, there are startups. I’ve got a coffee business. I’ve got an affiliate website. I’ve got a podcast. I work at a startup which is not really a startup because it’s a 12 year old company that was just acquired by IBM, you know.
OK, so but you there was no other option like this was there was Fairchild Semiconductor. And it was like the crazy hero story of of how Silicon Valley truly became Silicon Valley. Right. But the story is that we we don’t here are how many did try and get started. And they’re very dominantly in the manufacturing and physical stuff. There was no eight of us. There was no like you could just whip startup at a Starbucks. It’s like so the leap of faith was even more faithful.
In the first one that you did it. And then now so. Are you, as they call it, unemployable, right? You can’t go back to the big company again. It’s very it’s always a very interesting thing is once you hit a certain phase of growth of an organization quite often. You look back and you say, the biggest impact I feel like I’ve had was, as it turns out, growing this company from one million to 10 million or whatever.
And I find a lot of. Folks, they really are like kind of like a SWAT team for a growth phase. You know, it’s but you’ve spanned every phase through different ways in which you’ve you’ve been in the industry. So I’m curious if you’ve got a. Kind of a favorite assize or favorite thing about building the team and building the organization.
It’s funny, I’m reflecting on and I was writing an email earlier today to my current team. We have some really young guys, very talented individuals that that have a lot of development to do. But I have some pretty senior guys that have actually worked for me for a while in different environments. And I was reflecting on a comment by one of the young guys who was was just. Talking about the camaraderie of the team that we’ve built and and how we’re there for each other and and the fact that he was highlighting this this level of comfort and excitement every day, it’s almost like a family.
And I think what I’ve been able to do. I don’t know why there’s no there’s no magic recipe, but it’s it’s a team, it’s it’s an organization and it’s to get everybody in trusting each other and being there and then being able to pick up the slack when we need to pick up the slack, being able to to realize what we’ve just done is not good enough. We have to do better and have that mindset to win. And so that’s carried on with me from very young organizations, with a few people to very large organizations.
And I think that’s part of the fun. And so the other thing, what I at this point in my career, what I really, really enjoy is having the frank and candid conversations almost like a mentor. And there’s a fine line when you’re managing people and working with them and mentoring them about what could be some personal dynamics and so on. But when I look back at people that I’ve worked for me and worked with me and I’d rather say worked with me than for me, we still keep in touch.
We communicate a lot. And there’s a lot of frank dialog about what would you do in this situation or and it doesn’t have to be business related. It can be life as well. And to me, that’s very fulfilling, more like a friendship. And I think that’s when you look back at life, it’s it’s one of the things you have to look at. How are you measured? What did you do? And I I had the opportunity to to do an executive management program called the Program for Leadership Development through Harvard Business School.
And one of the most dynamic individuals of his time was Clayton Christensen. Oh, yeah.
Who lost? Yeah, no, actually, I guess, yeah.
And I had the opportunity to to spend a lot of time with him. For those who don’t know, Clayton Christensen is the author of Innovator’s Dilemma. But then he had a follow on book after he got the he had a stroke and it was called Your Life and How Will You Be Measured? And so as we were all evolving young and aggressive and wanting to capture the world, he was on the other side saying, does it really matter? I mean, what about your family?
What about how what Mark are you leaving? And so when you ask the question, all right, what do you prefer? You know, I know we walk into an environment and determine understand the environment, large or small, and that’s the team. Let’s go. Let’s go be effective. And one of the things that I’m really steadfast on right now is that I have my children that are I have teenagers and I have I know when they’re not teenagers in their 20s and but they’re working and they’re grinding and they’re learning.
And one of the things I think is important that they see some of that same work ethic from me to an extent. I also want to spend a lot of time with them. But I think that they they start to realize, like this podcast, my daughter and her friends will listen to this podcast. So I just referenced my daughter. So, you know, so so from that. And I think that’s that’s what I’m when I look at make my mark, I want to make my mark and and for my friends and my family and for them to to see that this is this is life.
This is what you do. You get up every day and you give it the best that you got.
It’s I often say the I will my greatest accomplishment in life will not be what I achieved, but what I helped someone else achieve.
And it’s it sounds whenever I say it or remember, you know, write down some of these things in the way that I do a mentoring program and I’ve helped, you know, I’ve been mentored as well and continue. It’s a continuous process. Right. And it’s funny, I started thinking, like, oh, if I start writing this stuff down, it’s really cool to be able to share. But then I’m going to end up being like, you know, what do they call it?
The fortune cookie Twitter voices who just go on there and like they write threads about, you know, I’ve learned five. I’ve talked to five hundred CEOs and this is what I’ve learned thread, you know.
Right. Right, right.
But the amazing thing is we do now have the ability to have a much greater and continuous and direct impact on people because of the way we can communicate differently than like you, you know, by the rarity of the opportunity in your choice to take it on. Got to meet one of the most fantastic sort of leaders and creators. You know, Clayton Christensen is is widely read and widely respected. And, you know, I have a friend of mine and we I was joking about something.
I said. I said I’m like I’m like the guy from a beautiful mind, but a technical marketing. And he’s just like I says, I went I went to school and John Nash was one of my professors. I’m like, oh, wow. You know, it’s. The opportunity to be there is different, but the other problem with abundance is also the ability to find focus. And right now, you know, it’s like when you look at your wall of books and you see, like, I’ve got two hundred, you know, books and effectively they’re all the same, the same middle chapters and just different intro and outro for a lot of business books or whatever.
But I still read them all and I still like. But most people, you know, it they look, they’ve got the Internet, they’ve got YouTube, they got Masterclass. They’ve got this. They’ve got school. We have so much available, but then we don’t leverage it. Like, we don’t listen, like, you know, I, I, I read everything that my dad ever wrote, right. And like, I sat with him as a kid building system, that’s how I got into this stuff, is because, like, we he was learning at night.
And so. Yeah, like, well, that’s going to learn. I’m going to sit beside him, you know, and as long as it doesn’t bother him, you know. And then what happened, I was I was 12 years old, learning DBAs, you know, and then I got a job at 15 years old. Right. Doing data entry because it was on a on a DBAs three system. And I was the only 15 year old kid in anywhere.
I lived in a small like farm town. And I was the only person other than my dad in that town, that new DBAs. And so it was just so funny that that’s how I got the job. And then I got into, like, system development and, you know, diverged, you know, later on for years. But, you know, and then came back to technology. But again, it’s like the reason I say this is.
Just hearing that, like your your kids will take the time to listen to what you said, not from your mouth, but like they’ll go back and like, hey, dad was on a podcast. Let’s check it out. Yeah, exactly. That’s an impact. That’s a profound impact.
It’s funny. One of the things I was excited about on this podcast was the fact that my youngest son, as we hit the pandemic, you know, naturally was trying to keep himself busy. And he really you’re going to laugh in a second. He really got into coffee. OK, I’m going with this. And so, you know, as a dad, I’m like, all right, let’s get into coffee. I wasn’t even drinking coffee at the time.
And we got we got a coffee machine and we got up. And then and then from the coffee machine, we decided to up the ante a little bit and we got a grinder and we were buying beans from little boutique shops. Right. And we were tasting a little bit. And then I got into coffee. Now I’m into coffee and I got a machine that grinds and it brews and I froth my milk. And and then we were buying beans from four or five different outlets all over the country and shipping it.
And again, this was how we were entertaining ourselves. And he became the barista of the family. And he wasn’t drinking it, but he was making it. And I would say, I’ll take a mocha. And my wife would say, I’ll take a vanilla latte. And then my other son said, I’ll take Americano. And all of a sudden the barista was just in action and we’d have family over and everyone say, make us coffee. And so fast forward, he’s not in a coffee anymore.
He’s done with coffee, doesn’t want anything to do with it. And I’m stuck in my coffee machine.
And you’ve lost your barista no more. I’ve got a double half caf Rob yelling across the kitchen, so I’m making my own coffee and, you know, but he’s still over my shoulder every once in a while, giving me a little bit of advice and and pulling up stuff on YouTube. So I will give your coffee a plug. I am going to order it and put it up against some of the other guys that I’ve I’ve I’ve started to build some relationships with.
And we’ll see how it goes. And that leads back to Akito, a smart coffee makers and and what we’ll see in the home. And and I do want to make sure that everyone listening, if you have a free moment, go to the go to our YouTube channel at you, go to YouTube and just type in Brain Chip Inc, and we’ll have the links as well. Yeah, but remember to put them in the show notes as well for folks.
We have these these videos that we’ve put together that really show you where this is all going on. Smart Home and some of the devices and applications we will all find customary in our homes over the future. And I’m going to reel it back now that I said that. And I’ll tell you a funny story. If you ever bump into anyone that knows me. That really knows me, and you say that Rob tells them they will ask you, have you had a burger with Rob?
Nice. So I just want you to realize that there’s a potential that could happen.
Burger afficionado. So I’m going to take you up on that.
Rob, you drop my California dude on you is I’m a burger guy, too, and I’ve had a lot of burgers. So in back in the day, it was a very intense negotiation in a in the northwest Pacific Northwest. And we had a client or customer, that future customer at the time, but then became a customer that wasn’t being very receptive to the negotiation. And as we were sitting there having this discussion and I had a team of about six people who had a team of about six people, we’re four hours into this discussion and we’re getting nowhere.
And we feel all these people up for this meeting. I mean, this is supposed to be the deal. And I at the time kind of made up, hey, look, I’m really into burgers and I we’re in a town. We’ve never been here. I’ve got my team. Why don’t we take a two hour break? When I take my team and give me a burger recommendation, we’ll go get some burgers and we’ll meet back. And the guy on the other side said, You like burgers?
I love burgers. Matter of fact, I’m writing a book on burgers. And he said, well, if that’s the case, I want to take you to my favorite burger place. And we left everyone there in the room and we went off and and we had burgers and we had some French fries and a couple of sodas. And now and a half later, we had closed the deal. Right. And so that stuck with me everywhere I went.
And everyone that that has bumped into me and my professional career has kind of stuck to this. Oh, Rob, I got to take you to this burger place. Oh, Rob. And that has led to burgers in Taiwan, burgers in China, burgers in Korea, burgers in Europe. And I learned over time to to very graciously say, when I’m in a foreign country, I will eat the food of choice, not burgers, burgers or are here.
So I ended up writing a book for a close friend of mine on burgers because this person had experienced a lot of burgers with me as well as my wife. My wife has experienced almost every burger with me, but the first book I wrote I dedicated to my my buddy and my wife was like, Are you kidding me? You didn’t dedicate this book. I missed on that one. And it was for his fiftieth birthday. But yeah, I can I can I can hang when it comes to burgers and talk about burgers and anyone out there interested in giving me some advice on burgers, I’ll take it and potentially experience it.
When we think of like I said, this is why when when I listen to your podcasts and the content that you create and inevitably the discussions that you have with folks. You know, this is why I latched on to, you know, what’s going on with brain chip and the potential there, and that’s it’s it’s incredible to see you’re you know, you’ve got the you’ve got a choice to, like, go to a team and a team that it’s a it’s a beautiful thing because teams, especially in startups, you know, at different phases of organizations, they’re very dynamic.
And what you end up having to make sure that you do is you find this kind of like Top End’s, like that’s that vision, you know, what’s the reason why we’re here? And that’s the thing you say. I mean, Donald Miller sort of fancy is what you call story brand. And that’s it’s so it’s so easy when you when you get used to it and you start to hear it come out. But you realize that that’s it’s much more than that thing because I’ve gone into many companies and I see the you know, the thing behind the administrators desk at the front and I see the stuff printed on the walls.
And and you realize that the only person that took that in was the person that painted it. You know, it it’s not reflective of the culture. The culture is how you will deal with it. If the walls were white, you know, the culture is how they’d be if you’re not looking in. So, you know, knowing why you’re doing what you do, what’s your vision, your guiding principle, and then taking this and then being able to have sort of fantastic technology that’s in an exciting area of opportunity.
But it’s also probably a fun challenge because it’s not massively a lot like the type of solutions that you’re able to enable are still being developed. They’re still in a lot of research areas. So it’s it’s it’d be neat. In 10 years, you’re going to be look back and say like we did that. Yeah. It’s it’s cool to to see that. But it’s also this it’s a very interesting. Dynamic of being in organizations where you’re selling something where, you know, like they’re going to get this one day and then back and to be like, oh yeah, when he explained it to me now totally makes sense.
It’s pretty impactful. And the amazing thing about Akeda, it is wide and deep in regards to applications and and problems we’re going to solve. And it’s it’s you know, this is a unique we can only say so much, but it’s it’s an exciting time. And as you said, in these types of technologies, when you look out in the future, when you look out of where you’re going and how you’re going to get there and the impact that you’re going to make, my gut tells me that brain chips can be impactful and we’ve got a lot of work ahead of us.
But but it’s it’s a lot of fun. And we’ve got it’s going to be a good ride. Looking forward to it.
And especially to to go to a first principles approach in developing a solution is is amazing because we look at any competitive landscape. And it’s quite often the first thing that most people will do is just turn around. Yeah. And sort of head for head for the door and look for another object, because it’s it’s a big challenge. But, you know, that’s what it is. You choose you choose first principles to attack a problem in a specific way, do so provably, and then find people that can take that and give it an application, give it a place in which it can be leveraged and then ultimately see the as that comes to fruition.
So, yeah, it’s exciting. What’s the what was the most exciting surprise you had after, you know, you were like, OK, I’m at brain chip. I like the idea. And when did it suddenly go? You’re like, oh, hang on a second. What was that? That thing that that really kicked in for you?
Yeah. One of the things we haven’t really talked about is the learning on the device. And for those that are new to artificial intelligence and I brought it up a little earlier on on this podcast, is the fact that the. Training a device, teaching it what to look for and then process that information is not trivial and is extremely complex. It requires data scientists, research scientists, and it requires a lot of time, six months, a year and so on.
So having the ability to have a device where we can add a feature to it added my my face, your face, and then use that for facial detection or or for image detection or in a vehicle or something. To that extent on the fly is huge. And so I think it was day to day three, one of the engineers said, do you want me to do a demo of Akeda for you? I said, Sure. I sat down and started putting some stuff in front of and it was recognizing everything really quickly.
Very low power in Yemen. And then I, I said, well, what if I want to take a baseball and put it in front of al-Qaeda? And it was using a data set that had no idea what baseball was. And he said, sure, no problem. Put it up there. You know, you trained it on the device and all of a sudden baseball is now part of the whole data set. And I’m taking the baseball.
I’m throwing it through the the image. It’s it’s picking it up as it moves through. I’m like, wow, that’s really responsive. And fast forward again. And we just did a presentation about a week ago where we were teaching a kid beer bottles on the floor, had different beers, different brands, and then pulling them in and out of the screen and showing the viewers that, hey, look, it’s recognizing it really quickly. But we decided to show Akeda two beers from the same brand that the label and image was so similar to each other that we confuse other devices.
And we were able to recognize it. We were able to to to to process it quickly. And the whole on training thing is mind blowing and it will become impactful. For all these from from industrial applications through automotive through consumer applications in the future. So that’s the one thing that I get really excited about.
Yeah, that’s it, like on learning is yes, is it? This is where amazing things now are possible because, you know, I’m I literally just I’m overly excited by it because it’s just this the potential is incredible. And this is where I am. I’ve been lucky recently. We’ve had a lot more folks. We’ve sort of divx been diving in a bit more on machine learning and some of the capabilities. And then you realize like it itself is a fairly small community relative to, you know, it’s very, very much in the research phase, so much so compared to the broad computing frameworks, you know, so when you start to show them these capabilities and you hear about how they’re trying to solve the problem, they’re solving it in papers.
You know, it’s still stuff that’s being submitted as research phase. And yet. They can take that blackboard or whiteboard theory now and they can literally put it into place now because like you said, al Qaeda has this capability, like, OK, cool, this is no longer just what is the theory of of driving cars, going to self-driving cars going to be like. All right, let’s show you the other thing is that that and this has happened the other day and my guys were really excited.
They called me into a room like Rob, you got to take a look at this. I highlighted earlier not being dependent upon the cloud to do your processing. And there’s a company out there that that has a phone that most of us have or a lot of people have that has a software update coming out. And they talked about the fact that if you put your phone on airplane mode, you now can run their assistant on device without being dependent on the cloud, providing you more privacy and security.
And and my guys are jumping up and down when we do that, where we do it in hardware. I mean, we’re on to something here. And like we are, we are. And that’s the other thing that you’ll see. There’s a lot of applications and software. And for those that are listening, there’s a lot of great functionality in software, but it’s in software. And what that means is it consumes a lot of energy. It consumes a lot of power because our IP battery, because, you know, the if you’re solving it in software early, I’ve got bad news for what the power consumption levels are.
Exactly. So when we talk about edge devices and we talk about all the stuff that that’s that’s dependent on being independent and functioning without consuming a lot of power, software is a problem. So at the end of the day, so we look at this and we look at what these leading this leading technology company is doing. And we say to ourselves, we’re doing the right things. We are doing the right things. We just we’re just going to continue to march down our path and execute.
And and it’s like I said before, it’s the tip of the iceberg.
And it is and it’s it’s amazing what we can do and the potential is fantastic and yeah, first of all, thank you, Rob. This has been really fun for folks that wanted to reach you to chat further and learn more about brain. Like I said, we’ll have links to the site. We’ll put the link to the YouTube and thank you. And what’s the best way your folks want to get in contact?
Yeah. So if you go to w w w dot brain chip dotcom, there is a link for information. You can fill that out and it will go directly to our sales team, most likely. I’ll get a look at it as well. You can reference that you were part of Disco Posse and I will personally respond to you and start dialog. You can also go through the sales link at Freindship Dotcom. You can contact us through LinkedIn, you can contact us through Twitter at Brain Chip, underscore each.
But for those who are curious, I really, really want to emphasize we’re using YouTube as our platform for education and understanding of the company who we are. So subscribe to our YouTube channel, our Friendship Inc. And that way you’ll be updated every single time we have a new video, a new presentation. And and when this is is uploaded, I’m sure this will be on our our YouTube channel as well. But that’s those are the best ways to reach us.
And we’d love to talk to you and educate you more about brain chip and what we’re doing. But, Eric, thank you very much for having me. And this conversation was great. Thank you.
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Jon Myer is an evangelist for all things AWS, OBS Ninja, YouTube and passionate about educating, teaching, and connecting with others. All things AWS, DeepRacer, AWS Services, including some non AWS Stuff like workouts.
It was a real pleasure to share stories of how he got started with an online presence, how you can make the jump to creating content in various formats, and how to be a successful creator across multiple platforms.
This is also one of the funniest episodes for a number of reasons…you’ll want to stay right to the end to find out why.
Here are lots of ways to catch up with Jon online:
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Shlomi Levin is the CTO and co-founder of Perception Point and also skilled in Security Research, Python, Penetration Testing, Cryptography, and Application Security. Strong entrepreneurship professional with a Bachelor of Science (BSc) focused in Computer Science from Bar-Ilan University.
We discuss the challenge that Shlomi and the Perception Point team are solving, how he used first principles thinking to enter into a market that was incredibly challenging, the roots of Israeli startups, and the art of product market fit and the “pivot”.
If you’re at all into security research, this is a must-listen! Perception Point is described as Prevention-as-a-Service, and the real-time nature of their platform is really amazing.
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Noemi Greyzdorf is a VP of Marketing at Vcinity.io, with a storied background in technology and product marketing, but with a surprising twist at how she got here.
Vcinity delivers set of products aimed at delivering eliable, real-time access to any data, anywhere. This may sound like something you’d expect, but when you hear about how they do it…well, hear for yourself and you can trust me that it’s pretty cool!
We had a really fun conversation where we dig into the tech, and how Noemi approaches product marketing and storytelling. It is a portable lesson in a podcast. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!