Warren Shaeffer is the CEO and founder of Knowable, the world’s first audio learning platform for the podcast generation. Warren and his team are truly rethinking and reinventing learning with not only how they are delivering content but in how he shares personal and business lessons to help the future entrepreneurs build and succeed.
This was a real enjoyable and in-depth chat on the science of learning, building a startup, and making what Warren perfectly describes as nutritious content for the mind.
Hey everybody, welcome to the DiscoPosse podcast. My name is Eric, Wright. I’m going to be your host. And this is a fantastic episode by somebody who I’ve been so lucky to actually connect and then since reconnect with this has been really cool to see a lot of stuff going on in this ecosystem. So we’re going to be here in a second from Warren Schaeffer. But before we get into that, I want to give a huge shout out to our fans, friends and supporters and our sponsors, this podcast, including Veeam software.
I say this because I’m a user of the platform. I really enjoy the team and the way that they approach the challenge and dealing with the way that we have to back up and protect our data.
Now, this includes everything from your on premises, environment, physical servers, virtual servers, up to your apps, out to the cloud, and in fact, even cloud native backups beyond that, actually. What about that SaaS? Don’t forget, if you’ve got seven Office 365 Microsoft teams, it’s not actually protected.
Definitely easy to make a mistake. And in fact, let’s not even talk about ransomware and all the other craziness that can go on. So if you want to find out more about everything you need for your data protection needs, then you want to talk to the folks at VM, go to vee.am/discoposse they’ll take your right to a page and you can actually check it out for yourself again. Go to vee.am/discoposse
Also super happy to see that we’ve had great uptake from the book. This is something that I’ve built and shared out and I got really good peer review feedback and in fact I got lots of customer review feedback. So thank you very much everybody who has downloaded and bought the book. If you want to learn about the four step guide to delivering extraordinary software demos that teaches you how to better connect with people, they make sure you can engage with customers, prospective customers and how to really tell a story and get people emotionally invested in the ability for your platform or product to be able to solve a problem.
This is great for product marketers, for folks that are in technical sales. Definitely something that I’ve been very happy has had a really good response. And if you want to find out more about that, you can easily go to the landing link for that one, which is velocity closing. So we go to velocityclosing.com. It’ll take you right to the four step guide and look for some really cool, neat stuff coming up around rebranding and a neat new thing I’m doing with a company called RapidMatter.
And now let’s jump right into the Good Stuff, which is Warren Shaeffer.
So Warren is the CEO and founder of Knowable, which is an audio learning platform that is really and truly trying to reinvent and rethink the way we do learning through an audio engagement. Really, really cool. So Warren’s just a fantastic human, somebody who had a great conversation with and like I said, I’ve been lucky enough to reengage with him in a couple of other forums and stuff enjoyable on clubhouse as well as Twitter spaces recently.
So Warren is really prolific and he and his whole team are doing some really, really neat stuff. You’re going to want to check out Knowable as well. They’ve got courses from Scott Kelly. They got course from Alexis Ohanian, startup founder of Reddit, an investor. Anyways, so much to talk about it, but check it out. And here is Warren Schaeffer.
Hi, I’m Warren Shaeffer. I’m the co-founder and the CEO of Noble. We’re an audio first learning platform. You’re listening to DiscoPosse.
You’re listening to today’s days, the. And with that, we begin, Warren, thank you very much. This is definitely one of the areas that I really enjoyed being able to get into. I’ve long time it often, obviously, as a podcast or of audio, as an opportunity to get into people’s daily lives.
And when I got winds that you are going to be able to join the show. I was really excited because knowable is really cool.
But before we jump into we’ll talk about knowable. We’ll talk about a lot more. Let’s talk about you. You’ve got such an incredible storied history. But for folks that don’t already know you just give yourself a quick introduction and we’ll we’ll get rolling.
Well, first off, Eric, thanks for having me on the show. Really excited to be here. I will give you the quick background. I grew up in Southern California. I’m a first generation American. My parents immigrated a couple of years before I was born from communist Romania and landed in an Orange County of all places. And I went to Harvard for undergrad. When I was a teenager. I got introduced to audiobooks and I, I think I’d like to say before they were even cool on tape.
And and so that is what led me to eventually want to start knowable, which is an audio first learning company. As I mentioned, the top after Harvard, I spent a few years working in finance. I worked for a big bank in New York, JP Morgan, and then I worked for a private equity firm on the investing side in San Francisco. And I moved back to L.A. to be closer to family, teamed up with my current co-founder, Alex, and we ran two companies together, Nobilis, our third company.
We were a venture backed company. We launched about a year ago. And I’m happy to talk about any of it.
Yeah. And so there’s just little I could do a podcast on any one of the things you just talked about and easily fill a long and good hour, but we’ll kind of cover as much as we can.
So you you talked about your first start and your three time founder. And my guess is that there was probably even a lot more that happened before that.
But let’s talk about knowable and what you and the team are doing there, and then we’ll kind of start to go backwards in time as to what led up to that where you are today. Yeah, so as I mentioned, I’ve been lucky to work with the same co-founder across a few different businesses, and when we exited our last product, Badme, which which got a quarter of a jiffy, we thought about what we long and hard about what we wanted to do next.
And we had this list of one hundred different company ideas from everything from men’s skincare products to vinyl records to you name it.
And at the end of the day, we looked at ourselves and thought, what do we really believe is important to the world today? What’s going to sustain us for at least a decade of arguably some of the best years of our life and some of those productive years of our lives? And Alex, my co-founder, his father was a professor at Caltech. And both of us have seen firsthand how a great teacher can have a huge impact on the trajectory of somebody’s life.
And so we gravitated towards this idea of education. And there’s this great quote by H.G. Wells, who’s a sci fi writer. And in nineteen twenty nearly a century ago, he wrote that history is becoming more and more a race between education and catastrophe. And I think that’s more true than ever today. There’s so much information in the world, but a lot of people aren’t getting access to useful knowledge that they can apply in their life. So we really built we really went into the idea of this venture as what can we do in the education space?
It’s going to be interesting and actionable and helpful to the world at large. So when we looked at the space, though, we saw that pretty much every player was focused on video masterclass due to me, Skillshare, even YouTube. Right. All predicated on this idea that if you want to learn in a structured way, you have to stare at a screen in order to do so. I become a new father and my time was short and I realized I don’t have time to sit down and watch these lengthy video courses.
But I do have a lot of audio time. And same with Alex when we were both listening to a lot of podcasts and there was sort of this aha moment of, well, what if we made an audio first learning platform and we dug deeper and we realized that the number one reason that people say they listen to podcasts is because they want to learn new things. And yet there was no company which had established itself as the place for good for you audio.
So we’re building knowable to be that place.
And it’s it’s such a it’s always interesting when you hear the story and like the most people, the first thing I think is like of course, like it makes sense, but there is very much it’s a it’s a leap to get into an area because like you said, we’ve we have this sort of sensation in society.
That video is the way in which we learn we have to visually and aurally engage. But the truth as it really is, like more and more, that’s what I find.
I mean, especially I live I’ve got two young kids, and so I walk around our four and one and a half and I’ve got a 19 year old and a 17 year old. So I got a whole range.
So I don’t have the older ones. They I listen to podcast because they don’t want to talk with me and then the young ones because they can’t wait to get back.
But the really fun part of it is that I’d be putting my youngest daughter to bed and, you know, just walking around with her and I would just pop on an audio book. And I was listening to book after book over the course of a couple of months.
And and it became a real good way.
And that helped to really influence a lot of my day to day stuff because I was picking up, like you said, it’s like I was picking up lessons. I was learning about how people founded businesses and engage with people.
And it really helped to either reinforce stuff or pick up, you know, new new ways of doing things.
And I look so talk about first of all, the methodology is fantastic, right? They say audio is effectively this Gutenberg revolution now in what we can do around engaging with people.
But you’ve not only said we’re going to do this as a methodology, but you’ve really immediately reached out and got some fantastic people involved as far as the content.
So when I’m curious, sort of when you thought about yours, here’s a method, then we’ve got to think about the technology, then we’ve got to think about what we put in this platform. How did that all kind of come to fruition as you started the design phase?
Like everything, it’s a work in progress and a trial by fire. So take look, we took our best guess and really the the mission statement is let’s go and find really, really enthusiastic teachers and encourage them to share their inside knowledge, the lessons that could really change the trajectory of somebody’s life. So, for instance, we’ve got a course, our pilot course, as launch a startup, and it’s led by Alexis Ohanian, who’s the co-founder of Reddit and has gone on to become an investor at Initialize Capital and now seven, seven, six capital.
And he’s he’s really had a front seat over the past 15 years to some of the most transformative companies that have been built in our in our country and world and. What we did was we really question to say, what’s the stuff that you wish you knew when you were starting out as an entrepreneur? And and so that’s an example of somebody who we’re just so excited to have. We also have a course on speaking with confidence. And that’s led by Celeste Headlee.
She’s an NPR host and she also has one of the top ten TED talks of all time. And it’s on the subject of communication. And so she’s written books on the subject to communications, is truly lived and breathed How to be a Better Communicator. And she shared similar similar things. She shares exactly what she knows and and all the inside things that she learned over a decade plus of expertize in the field. So it’s a little bit manual in the beginning, but we’re we’re kind of slowly and gradually opening up the marketplace to allow other people to share their inside knowledge.
And, you know, the beauty of audio is that you can find an audience that there’s lower production costs. Right.
So somebody who has expertize can with the right tools, I’m sure that knowledge with a lot of people at the right time when you get into it’s funny that I’ve only just recently started to add video to the elements of the podcast purely on the YouTube side, because it’s you know, people have said it’d be kind of neat.
And, you know, I’ve made the choice to give it a whirl.
And for the most part, it’s definitely audio is is the strongest format. And it’s so much easier to do because you can just have a microphone. You don’t worry about a perfect room set up like it’s if I took a picture of the room surrounding me, it probably horrified by how it looks just because it’s I’ve got a dedicated studio, which is right next to my very small children during the day. So clearly a bad place to try and do a very tight recording, especially when you just get knocked on the door going, Daddy, why are you in there as well with young kids?
You know you know, finding time that’s dedicated is a is a challenge unto itself as it is.
Yes, certainly. It should be a noble cause just on that.
Well, and so and the other thing, too, is I I noticed that you also recently did kind of an AMA style where you’re you’re engaging with folks and and I love that you led with this thing of like, well, this could influence ultimately a course on, you know, startup founding.
And so it’s not just that you’re going with, like, pure produced content, but you have a real opportunity in that you can kind of test things out and then, you know, work it into a course from there, which is which is pretty cool. How did that one come to, you know, your mind when you were thinking, all right, let’s just let’s give this a whirl?
Yeah. I’m glad you asked about that, Eric. I actually listen to a course called Branding for Founders. That’s unknowable. And it features a couple of guys who started Robinhood Surtaxes newsletter, and they really had this statement but stuck out, which is people follow people. They don’t follow brands. Right. At the end of the day, Elon Musk has way more followers than Tesla does. And that’s just because we’re all humans.
We we care about the story of the person behind the company and said that that was sort of an aha moment for me where I realized I should really put myself out there more and and be you know, I’m so enthusiastic about what we’re building available. I use the product. I get so much value from it. And so why not share that enthusiasm directly with people? And so so I started to become more active on Twitter over the past few months.
And I’ve just seen so much value from building and learning and teaching in public. And and I think when you. Bring people into your process, they become more invested and excited, and it’s just so much more. Fruitful and and cumulative when multiple people are sharing their input as you build, so, yeah, what you mentioned is yesterday I just said, hey, I’m thinking of doing this course I’m fundraising. I’ve been fortunate to raise over a million dollars from top investors in Silicon Valley.
And I want to share everything I’ve learned in this course. And again, that same premise and what do I wish I knew when I was starting out? But why don’t you join me for a live presentation? It’s going to be a dry run. It’s not going to be flawless and perfectly rehearsed. But that way I can also answer questions live. I can get I can hear what people are curious about, what people are confused about, and that will inform the course.
And also it will help me generate interest from people up top. So I’m a huge fan of this this direction. And I think it’s something we’re going to be doing a lot more of where we talk to people live and then in the process, crystallize what the course should be about.
Yeah, it’s it’s definitely such a it’s the real multimedia approach in that you can have the the structured, you know, formal, you know, like read and edited, you know, ultimate course. But then in the meantime you get the off the cuff stuff with the albums and the Ozz. But it’s a real conversation that you’re effectively being a part of.
And the fact that can be interactive as well is so cool because, you know, and it’s I I did one myself. I just did a small, you know, e-book to talk about how to better engage with people through doing technical demos. So it was a thing I hear every day. I’m Lillian calls all the time.
And I’m like, OK, look, we got a teacher in the box, right? Yeah. And so I said, OK, fine. I said I Wrage wrote the book. I spent like four days just like hammering out content. Yeah.
And then I did it and then I did the audio book for it and then I, I do now I’m actually doing these kind of in that style of like, you know, monthly Amma’s where like just invite people on and because then we can say, OK, let’s actually talk about it, because even the audio book or like the straight course, I don’t want to do a full form chorus until I know what’s actually resonating from the content.
So it’s I love that interactivity and I love that you’ve taken a real choice to to go that route, think they’re like, yeah, I love that phrase.
Wrage wrote, I am looking I, I, I felt so inspired after I did the flight yesterday and I thought, oh I really want to turn this new book and I really want to have this crystallize and have the audio format in the courts from the video format, because there are this multimedia, there’s this realization that just different people want different formats.
And so I think that I’m so curious how you to hear more about the book and where did you publish it?
Oh, yeah, that was a neat thing. So the there’s actually a platform called Sam Kart and it was funny. It was literally like, this is proof that Instagram advertising works.
And it was one of these things where it’s effectively like kind of a one page funnel style of of hosting platform takes care of everything. But they actually had a full, full course on like how to actually build a compelling, you know, the pitch, you know, how to actually build your content.
They have a really, really great course.
So I’m and I said, OK, I’m in, I’ll do this thing, you know?
And it was funny. When you go through it, you realize this methodology is obviously widely used and they’re just one place to go. So I but they actually have the hosting for it. I used a company called Beacon for the publishing, so I just wrote the content self, published their beacon and then publishes a PDF and then hosted on Sam Card. So it’s a fairly low lift.
You know, once I did it because I’ve written stuff before, it was a little easier because I knew what the editing process and what the publishing process was. So for a first timer, it would probably be a little bit more daunting. I was lucky enough to have been through the mill with O’Reilly Media and a few other publishing companies.
So but yes, it was fun because I have said, OK, what’s the what’s the short version? You know, I didn’t want to go through this like super like 200 page manual of of things. I said let’s just hammered out and make it fun.
And that’s why I like I did the audio book, too. I was like, OK, let me just read my own book. It was actually kind of funny to do this. I’m sitting there like looking at my own content, reading it back like, oh, that sounds like it’s me.
And where did that where did that where did you put the audiobook? That’s actually the next one. So I, I definitely did not research well on how to do this is the best way today. I actually just like literally send it directly to subscribers when they buy the book. It’s actually part of the bundle. So I Lilium sending empathy’s around but I’m investigating, you know where to host it because you know I’d rather have a place where they can go and then individually, you know, just grab the audio book and then get the associated PDF so you can kind of come at it whichever way you you wanted to be.
I know where you can put it. You put it unknowable. I think. I know. A good place to go. I was and it was funny, I was actually researching the like how to become a contributor and so I to be able to put my name alongside of the likes of Scott Kelly and Alexis Ohanian, I would be I would be honored to be among this crowd and and you like.
So platform is amazing. What you’re doing is really solid. Like you’re really this is a great way to give back and empower people through a format that’s is just a really great opportunity.
Obviously, you put a lot into this, it’s your third startup, so I’m going to go way back in the Wayback Machine and I’m going to imagine that you were probably a young person and you had an idea long before most people would think that it’s a good time to start a business.
No one’s a three time founder. There are 12 time founder and even venture funded.
So entrepreneurship is part of your in your bloodstream, I’m betting.
That’s right. Yeah. I mean. I as a kid, my first experience with making money was the classic lemonade stand, and we put one there was basically this one artery into this residential neighborhood and we put a lemonade stand on one side and then we realized, oh, we should have a lemonade stand on the other side so we can kick people when they come and when they go. And then we ended up, my friend and I, my friend had a younger sister and we basically employed her to run the rival lemonade stand across the street, across the artery.
And and then we just hired some more of her friends. And that was my first foray into scaling a company. And it was really exciting. And I think I’ve had that itch since since I was a kid.
I really like the Howard Schultz of lemonade stands monopolized by competing quarters. Yeah. How you’re doing. Lemonade stand on every corner. You’ve got to catch them on the driver’s side. You’ve got to catch the side. It’s all well.
And it’s it’s very interesting. And even when you talked about, you know, you’ve effectively got a founding team that that you and your your founding partner work with. And it was neat when you describe that you like we said, OK, we’re ready. I’ve got like 200 ideas. Which one should we go with? So the one thing is, it’s not about what you do. It’s about what you do. You’re always iterating. You’re always like you must always be thinking.
And then how do you actually sift it down to what, you know, needs to can actually potentially do this or to zero to one opportunity or whatever however you want to describe it?
Like, which is where do you put your focus when you have all of these ideas?
It’s a huge question. I don’t think there’s I don’t think I have a super simple answer for it, but I will I’ll take a guess at it, which is I think I’ve had the realization and probably too late in life is that you don’t actually want to focus on your solution. You want to focus on a problem that you’re passionate about solving. To that. To me, that was and that’s really the aha. Moment that for for this business was look, we don’t know exactly what the right format is for education.
The end all be all solution. Right. But we do know that we want we see an opportunity to improve, to unlock learning time for people around the world. Right. And so that problem, this idea of, oh, I want to keep learning, I want nutritious content in my brain, but I don’t have time.
I’m a busy parent. I’m a busy entrepreneur. I’m a busy nurse or doctor. Right. That that’s that feels like a really big, tangible problem. And so starting with the problem that you have and that other people have, I think that’s the truest way to to find clarity on whether it’s an idea that you want to work on. Right. So start with the problem. Don’t start with the solution. You said something really interesting, and I love this phrase, nutritious content for the brain.
That’s probably not the first time you said that. What when you thought about this, what was? Because what was the first thing you thought? This is what I would love to be a host, a platform for.
Yeah, I love there are a lot of podcasts that I love. And I went around the time when, you know, a little was birth. I was listening to a lot of how I built this episode with Guy Raz. He’s a great interviewer and show. Yeah, great show. And he interviews founders with amazing stories. But I realized that that show doesn’t teach anyone how to actually become an entrepreneur. There is no tactical advice on how do you find a co-founder?
How do you select an idea? How do you meet a venture capitalist? How do you hire a lawyer? Which lawyers you hire? There’s none of that. And so what felt missing was this useful knowledge is applicable or actionable knowledge. And that’s that to me felt urgent. And I think it comes down to that problem statement. Look, if you’re busy, you don’t have time to sift through hundreds of episodes of every podcast, even though there might be great and fun to listen to.
You want you want the essence. You want it to be boiled down into what can I take from this that I can go apply to my own life, that can change the trajectory of my life in a positive way. And it’s it’s very interesting. Yeah, and the idea of distilling down, you know, meaningful stuff and it’s in fact, one of the areas I’m looking at right now is like, how do I distill out all of these amazing lessons that have been collected over the years, you know, now in the podcast.
But there’s a lot of really cool conversation wrapped around. It won’t make it into book form, like unless you’re Kevin Smith and you go and you just take the smart cast and you put it into a written form. That’s all well and good.
But I think he had the audience and they effectively would have you know, he could have effectively published most anything and it would have been well received just because he had such a really sort of loving audience that was ready to receive any of the content.
It was great content. And he was, you know, Tim Ferriss have a similar style that let’s just transcribe what we’ve got.
But I love this idea of like founders at work. That was the other one as well, which is a great, great book. And it was effectively long form interviews that were then and the same group of questions were asked. Yeah.
And they were put into and it was that sort of style, like you said, one of it’s not just talk about the success stories, like let’s actually talk about the the ways, the methods, the lessons, like actual actionable things.
Yeah, there’s way too many like oh it just works, you know, or it was really hard to write what was really hard, what worked. I’m not I’m not richer for having listen to this thing.
You just told me that you had a problem. I don’t know how you got through it.
Yeah. Yeah. I think it’s and it’s really common, right. When at the end of the journey, it’s hard to remember all the details and and the practicalities. Right. It gets glossed over and repackaged. And that’s, you know, Hero’s Journey story that doesn’t always mirror the actual nitty gritty of, you know, what was involved. Yeah.
It’s like the Dick Wolf who’s there to the creator of all the Law and order franchises. He says, like, great drama is when you take all the boring bits out and compress the rest down to an hour.
Totally. Right. You don’t see them go to the bathroom or eat a sandwich like that just doesn’t happen. There’s no time for that.
What’s interesting is actually, if you if you watch a law and order which has done far too much of in my life, what if you look at it every time you hear the countdown is a date at the bottom on the screen.
If you actually look at it, it shows that these basically elapsed over like 18 months, which shows you really. But it’s so subdued in like subliminal almost in the way that it’s done.
You think it’s happening all at once? Yeah, like it’s happening over a week, but it’s actually OK like 11 months, right?
Every time it takes too long. Yeah, right.
There may be the first forty eight, but they don’t tell you about the other four thousand nine hundred and twenty two, which is really where the the work happens to get it right.
So the, the other interesting thing too was you ledwith talking about being a first, you know, you know, first time born, you know, in the US and and you talked about your your family’s history and where they came from since that that led the discussion and the way you described yourself.
It must be important in kind of how you see the way you come to the world. Yeah, I I think that’s a good observation. I think founders come in all shapes and forms and all ages and all backgrounds, but there’s a unifying characteristic that I’ve seen great founders have, which is that they had grit. They have this desire to overcome obstacles, and often they’ll see challenges as opportunities. I think that’s really a characteristic. I think a lot of immigrants and first generation and maybe even second Asian-Americans have that sense of grit and still where things you don’t expect things to come easy.
And and so that, I think, has shaped my lens of the world in many ways.
And certainly how I think about building a business do it’s always funny that you hear the amazing stories of our grandparents and parents who, you know, as they came to the country, you always hear these stories of literally you’re getting on a boat with like 12 dollars in their pocket. You know, people would do right now if they had 12 dollars in their pocket.
They got on a boat, they’d go to the Starbucks and they would spend eight of those 12 dollars it.
And yet it’s so it’s so interesting that, you know, when you’re close to it, you see so many of these stories.
But in the broader sense of how many people are, you know, either founders or even more so distill it down to successful founders and are able to go through that facing adversity.
And like, if you’re anybody that tells you, you know, I’ve got this great idea and I’m going to make a business out of it, most people tell you it’s a pretty fundamentally terrible idea.
Like it’s not the ideas bad, but making a business out of it is not going to be. There’s nothing easy about this.
You know, the.
Yeah, I think the that’s also why I like you said, you know, let’s actually go through some of those stories and and get further into where it works, where it doesn’t.
Yeah. So how many lessons when you were thinking entrepreneurial and then you chose you went to Harvard. When you were going to Harvard, this is also one of the other sort of like hero stories we always hear is the, you know, the founder that goes to Harvard and then leaves or whatever, like there’s all sorts of stories about, you know, whether you should or shouldn’t go to university.
You know, how does it inform your future in entrepreneurship?
I’m curious, Warren, as you went, you made the choice to go and then when you came out, you got into investments and venture. What was your mindset on either side of the university experience? I don’t think when I went to college, there was so in vogue to think about not going to college, I think that’s becoming more that’s a more recent topic of discussion. I my parents went through a lot of financial difficulty and actually ended up living with friends for four 1/2 of high school.
And I was fortunate to to win over thirty thousand dollars in scholarships and get really generous financial aid to to go to Harvard. So it was. I hadn’t really entered my mind to not go to college, and I sort of had this road map in mind, which was I knew I wanted to do something entrepreneurial or something creative or both, and but I wanted to drink and have, you know, make some money early in life, be able to invest it and compound it and then take a quote unquote, risk a little bit later.
So I don’t know exactly when that game plan got for me that I think I read a lot of books and I think I probably came across some book that basically showed me the value of compounding money. If you’re 20 versus when you’re 30. Right. You’re going to put some money in the stock market. When you’re 20 versus 30, it can be triple. You know what it’s worth when you want to retire. So that that is how I sort of hedged, I guess, my my life risk and.
It’s telling in the way you described it as well, that you drink before you take on risk, and that’s another successful founders sort of lesson in what I’ve talked to a lot of folks is that most of founding and operating a company is spent in continuously drinking the environment.
That’s right. Yeah. And the faster you can drink, the better. And this is something that it’s so hard. And even for me and my staff to continue learn, this is and this is going back to why build a course in public. Right. You want to get validation super fast. Before I spend six months making a course on raising some money, let me see if anybody even cares if I’m getting free. And it’s like, will anyone join?
And, you know, look, 250 people signed up. And that was a really strong signal to me, like, wow, there’s real demand here for this topic so that the faster you can be risk, the better, whether it’s financially or intellectually. I think that’s a great heuristic to look for. And obviously, you were definitely in the risk and risk business when you got into the investment side coming at a school, so taking on risk at scale, you jumped right in.
You know what? What was that early part of it, you know, as you now could take the successes of what you’re effectively what your family gave you, you know, this this heart to do this thing. And now here you are. You can you can said you won, you worked to get scholarships. You got through this. Now, you know, the side must have been a pretty proud thing, but also a fairly daunting task to take on.
Right. That you are suddenly OK. We did it. Now what what was that like on the other side now when you got into the investment world?
Yeah. So when you say I did it, are you referring to getting a job in finance or what?
Yeah. Yeah, just like that. You literally pushed right through versus you know, you know, you didn’t take a journeyman’s job and then just choose to ride it out until retirement.
You you went right into an area where you you could pretty much affect the outcome, which is again, sort of a bold, you know, choice in that you knew you were taking on risk.
But, you know, you obviously had both sides of it. In your mind.
Are you saying the decision to leave finance, to go work and you and your finances, as did that route, like you got right into the game? Oh, yeah, money.
I mean, I think, you know, I. I really again, it goes back to this idea of drinking to take risk. I really thought, well, this is a great opportunity to learn some hard skills, no matter what finances is the underbelly of any venture. So and coming out of a liberal arts college, I thought it’d be great to have that practical, tangible skill of knowing how to financial model and understand thinking about investing and really what investing is.
It’s maximizing rewards and minimizing risks. And and when you extrapolate that out of finance, you realize that basically every decision is an investment decision. You have a limited amount of time and attention and you have to decide where to invest it. Right. And the people who think about investing their time versus spending their time, those are the people who end up being really successful because those little micro decisions compound. Right. So if you spend time, you’re basically doing something where you’re not learning, you’re not adding value to anyone else.
You’re not really treating yourself your body in a healthy way. That’s time spent. If you’re investing time, you’re there reading or learning. You’re writing, you’re teaching, you’re meeting somebody new. Those are things that accumulate and compound. So, I mean, I think you go back to your question. The risky thing to me, I realized, was. And I got this because I read a lot of books was ending up at the end of life and and wishing I had taken done something else and tried.
And this is such a cliche now, but it’s so important that people know that most people on their death bed, they regret the things they didn’t do, the things that they didn’t try. And so I knew that I would regret not taking a chance and that I would actually be risky not to take a quote unquote risk by going and trying something different. And like that, I like that thought process, it’s it’s tough for us, I think, as humans to look far forward and then regret is such a driver.
You know, you look at all of the work around the heuristics and behavioral economics, and one of the biggest drivers is regret. You know, we will make decisions.
We will do make choices wholly based on our sense of potential regret, more so than the value that we would get at it. But we are much more driven by the wish that we had something, which is why when you make bets and you know, you look at the sort of works of conmen and Tversky, yeah, so much of it was wrapped around this pervasive effect that Regrette has on human decision making.
Yeah, I mean, the whole field of behavioral economics that they pioneered is so powerful. And once you once you become aware of these cognitive limitations, you can work around them. Right. Because I don’t like loss aversion and sunk costs and confirmation bias. I mean, that’s a that’s a great book. Or I mean, I read the Michael Lewis Oh, The Undoing project. That is so good. Yeah. Story.
I wept like a baby at the end of it when when I won’t give the spoiler but is just such a beautiful human story.
I’ve, I studied it was a fine as I had studied a lot of of cornerman Tversky and sort of pinker and a lot of I was very deep into that game on self study for a long time. Yeah. I when I got the Michael Lewis book I was like, oh wow, this totally makes sense now.
Such a profound, just emotional story about how they approached it.
And it’s funny that, you know, they were it didn’t make sense that it even happen that the fact that here we are, a behavioral psychologist that would win a Nobel Prize for economics.
And yet we think it’s standard game these days, right?
Totally. Yeah. I was everyone. It was up until then it was, oh, people are rational. Oh, no, no. We’re very far from it.
Fairly far from it. In fact, we’re predictably irrational.
Oh, so funny now. This is interesting as well, you know, there’s a lot of sort of timing that works out and being able to bring a business, you know, and obviously the technology’s there to do this and knowable has such a great opportunity.
So bringing knowledge and, you know, nutritive brain injections effectively in an attention economy, you know, how do you approach things knowing that you are effectively fighting for a cohesive time blocks in somebody’s day? Great question.
Yeah. Our our vision statement, our why the reason for being a company is we want to live in a world. I want to live in a world where daily actionable learning is as addictive as social media is today. And so we know that, look, social media is so addictive. It is it’s weaponized distraction. And we want to push the bounds of of how people spend and invest their time, because it’s so easy for people to spend their time on social media to just end up scrolling.
And, you know, there’s a lot of benefits to the platform, but so many people just get sucked in and end up consuming and and not taking knowledge and applying it and actually improving their lives. So we think a lot about how do we use those behavioral psychology hacks that social media platforms are using to make mobile more addictive. And look, we’re in the early days of our product development, but we think things like streak’s and habits and social pressure, that’s all getting built into the product to really create this atmosphere of, hey, when I go to knowable, I know that I’m doing something good for myself and it’s also fun and feel good.
I get that reward right. You probably read some of the habit books like Atomic Habits are Right. Expect to have a reward is so important to talk to creating a habit. And so that’s something that we’re working on, building more into the product so that you’re not just doing it for them, but for the knowledge sake, but because there is some productize gamification and makes you feel invested and good in the process. Yeah.
And the the the real truth of the they call it the click were like it’s the thing that just gets triggered, you know, of like these are their behavioral things that are baked into us and using it for positive results, which is which is interesting.
Like they said when we describe it, we talk about time spent in social media, how much time you’re spending in social media. No one says how much time are you investing in social media?
They know it is spending purely I mean, look, it’s like any tool, right? You know, a hammer can be used for a nail or it can be used for for for.
More or less the purpose. So it depends how you use it. I mean, I think there are ways to invest time in social media, but I think a lot of people cross over the border pretty fast and pretty far. And so spending their time.
Yeah. What’s interesting, too, is as a student, at least in reading of it, I didn’t actually attend Stanford, but of B.J. Fogg and sort of this whole idea of persuasive computing. I studied that for quite a while. And then, you know, you see the stuff that’s Tristan Harris is doing around human computing and you ethics in A.I. The tough part was that more people will use B.J. Fogg’s material as the wrong side of the hammer then than the right side, which is unfortunate.
You know, especially when you see kids like you’ve got little kids, you see them like I can watch my my youngest son pick up an iPad and just tap know what to do like they built it makes complete sense to him. Yeah.
And then along comes an ad and like so the funny thing is I taught him to skip commercials real quick.
What like the fact that he just sits through it now and it’s like yeah.
How did. I don’t know how this happened.
It used to be a lot of smart people applying that those behavioral. Inefficiencies. Yeah. If only they would build enterprise software that way, then it may actually get adopted. Well, yeah, I think that I think that is happening.
I do think we are kind. Funny you mention that, right? With Noble, we’re seeing a lot of opportunities on the enterprise side where, hey, we can employees. You know, L.A. is really important for four big organizations today. L.A. stands for learning and development and and upskilling. But look, if you ask somebody to sit and watch a training video at their computer that’s competing with their work time, but if you give somebody something that they can listen to when they go for a walk or on their commute, that that opens up a lot of enterprise time.
So. So that’s something that we’re thinking about actively, too, of how do we actually make workforces better? How can we create a diversity and inclusion course that makes you really want to listen and make a difference?
Yeah, and I think using those techniques in any way in the learning development space, especially in the enterprise, like because we all know everybody who’s listening to this, who’s works for a company, and you get that annual it’s like, oh, it’s the compliance training ranty, anti money laundering training. Right.
And there’s like you just horrified with the fact you have a waste like five hours of your day and you’re like fast forwarding as much as you can, and they make it so that you can’t fast forward, you know, but they have to actually make it engaging.
And make it worth their time. And that’s effectively what you’re doing, is you’re giving them a sense of worth. Yeah. For having done it.
That’s right. Yeah. I think there’s certainly room for improvement there. Now, the the things that you. You’re doing it definitely is a very positive spin in so much of what you do, and it’s like it’s natural, even when you tried to describe a bad thing you could do with a hammer, you really got stuck.
And it’s so cool because. You it must be, again, sort of like baked into you that what’s the most positive thing I could do as a result of what I’m about to do? Yeah, I think, you know, it’s funny, I just started reading the autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, and it’s I it’s amazing. This guy just truly the the OG of self-improvement and positive thinking. And I think there’s so much power to it. And it really is just what filter to you apply to the world, because you can see things in many different ways.
And I do think one of the benefits are argument brains is that we have the ability to decide how we react to things. Right. There’s a there is a a control mechanism between stimulus and response. So I think the more we can view things to the positive lens and see problems as opportunities, that the better will all be.
They had tried to get in front of the old amygdala hijack, as they call it, right? Yeah, right. Whether brand useful, sometimes very useful, but oftentimes gets in the way and modern society.
Yeah. And it’s it’s very interesting that I’ve even through my team at work, we’ve gotten we’ve had to make a lot of really heavy decisions lately. And it’s it creates some rather animated group discussions. And I say that like, you know, ten year version ago of me would have said like some really crazy arguments.
But they really, truly are animated discussions. And we’ve become as we age, I think, much better at like recognizing when.
So what I’m hearing you saying is this and when you start to respond to things, it’s very different than, know, 20 year old me would have been like, look and like my favorite thing to be with, say, like if you’re writing an email and it sounds like you’re going to begin with, look, comma, you’re going to want to get up and walk around for a bit before you finish that sentence.
That’s right. Yeah. You don’t send emails when you’re emotional. A hundred percent. I think that I mentioned this course unknowable called Speak with confidence. And Celeste Headlee, one of the other experts in that court is Julian Treasure. This guy has 80 million views across his TED talks on the subject of communication. And he’s written this book basically about how to listen. And there’s this big realization of most people when they’re in a conversation, they’re listening to respond.
They’re not listening to understand. Right, and what you just did, what you said is so great, which is repeat back, kind of paraphrase back what somebody says because it helps you actually understand what they said. It moves it from the one part of the brain to the other. And then it helps them also feel heard, which is fundamentally what most people want. They want to feel heard, appreciated and understood. And so I think improving as a listener is is a huge way to become a better communicator and conversationalist and learner and person and friend and partner.
And that’s something that I still still work on. I’ll give you one take. We have another course that’s led by an improv comedian named Will Hines. He’s part of the Upright Citizens Brigade, which is the Amy Poehler start, as we did, of course, in partnership with them on improv. And and I had the chance to interview him after the course was done. And he shared this great bit of wisdom, which I really liked, which is after somebody finishes talking horse for half a second.
Before you respond, because it gives your brain time to actually think about what they said and then allows you some time to think about how to reply so that you’re not spending the whole time when they’re talking, wondering, OK, let me here’s what I want to add to this. Yes, that’s we most of the time is more like your turn to talk, your turn to talk. My turn to talk to your dog eat dog. It’s like.
It’s like what am I going to say? I can’t wait to tell him about this thing I did was like, would you do improv?
My fear I messed around with with a group of folks and we they they were doing improv stuff and I got to jump in for a while and it was fun. And the whole thing is like, yes. And right now it’s like the whole idea of like carrying this forward. And I would just for fun, just coming to say like, no.
Yeah. Just completely shut it down. It’s funny, but the way in which you effectively pick up the conversation, you have the chance to either. Yes. And carry forward or, you know, and even like you said. When you listen and you want to say something back to somebody, tell them what you heard and because the way in which you say it is important, it’s not just that.
What you’re saying is what I’m hearing you say is, yes, totally.
It sounds like to me it feels like. Right. You’ve put it through your own personal lens. It’s yeah. I found this very helpful for for marital conversations. I have we have three kids under four, and so we’re short on time.
And so we really have to get better at how we talk with each other and really listen, because it’s so easy to just. Try to be understood and not try to understand what’s the default and it’s a continuing thing, like even therapists need therapists, like it’s not like no one’s no one’s perfect that the stuff we’re always trying to figure it out. And it’s harder on some days than others and. Yeah, but I think.
This is where this kind of growth mindset versus fixed mindset, I think it sounds like that’s what you’re alluding to, right, is this idea of, well, it’s a skill that you can get better at. You don’t aligning.
A lot of people approach certain things like relationships as insider works or doesn’t. It’s binary. And don’t take on the idea of, oh, I can improve at this. Right. I can I can learn to manage this relationship better. And that growth mindset, I think, is really powerful. And the more people have it, I think the better our society will be.
Yeah, there’s there’s a lot of things, stuff like journaling, future authoring stuff where you’re effectively envisioning, you know, kind of what’s what’s ahead. And then you it helps you to actually define it, because when you’re working it out in a session, you’re physically writing it out. It does imprint it effectively on your mind that, like, this is a goal.
And it’s it’s kind of neat. And that’s a thought question for you one. Where how do you go from idea to eye?
We’re going to do more with this idea, what’s that process look like as an example?
So as it relates to startups, there’s this common commonly thrown around acronym, which is minimum viable product and the. Basic concept of it is, is that you want to learn as fast as you can whether anyone is going to care about what your idea is, what your solution is. Right. So, again, I’m going to repeat it, start with the problem. Start with a group of people who have a problem and figure out, OK. Is this solution going to solve their problem or are they going to?
Is it sufficiently different or better for them to care? And when they pay me money, or would somebody else pay me money at some point if enough people used this solution that I’m putting up with the world and you want to find that out as soon as possible. So rather than waiting six years and making your perfect dating app that you just tried manually to figure out, OK, can I connect to people and are they going to care? Right.
I’m using my quote unquote algorithm. Can I connect to people. Right. And and so so you really want to do things that in the beginning that don’t necessarily scale and that’s OK. But you’re looking for a signal. You’re looking for a sign that you’ve made something and somebody else cares about it. And the best signal in my mind is. You make something, you give it to somebody. And they share it with somebody else unsolicited, right, that’s such a clear sign of, oh, wow, I made something useful.
That’s that’s what you’re looking for. So you read a book and you give it to one person and they give it to five more people. That’s that’s that signal, yeah.
And take on the reading side of it, and, you know, if I look at what I really love about your platform and your content approach is that when I get an audio book, it’s read by a professional reader, like a professional voice actor, and even you get to know them when you listen to enough of them, like, oh, yeah, I don’t know their names, but I’m like, I remember another book that they read.
So what I love is that when you’re doing a course by Scott Kelly, it’s Scott Kelly.
It’s not Scott Kelly wrote this and then a professional voice actor is hammering out in a in a small, soundproof room. You are you’re getting the real deal. All of your content creators are they create the content. They voice the content.
That’s right. So cool. Right. There’s nothing better than when you get an audio book that’s read by the author, especially when they’re a personality, you know, because, you know, they invested the time to do it.
Yeah. And it feels that feels more like you’re actually sitting in the room with them.
And so I’m so I’m so on the same page. I think we’re not not everyone agrees with us there. I think there are some people who just prefer the professional narrator. And but I am totally in the camp of I want to hear Jerry Seinfeld read Jerry Seinfeld’s book. I want that voice. They don’t want some random person who doesn’t appreciate comedy. Reading that book, you hear professional voice actor.
So what’s the deal with you?
Like, no, it’s got to be his thing, right? Yeah. Yeah, there’s definitely there’s there’s so many nuances that and it’s funny at the end of it to you very much feel a part of their story. Totally.
Yeah. You feel like you just spend time with them. I mean they’ve been in your brain, they’re so intimate. It’s in your ear canal. Right. And they’ve been whispering sweet nothings. You’ve been walking and driving for the world.
Yeah, but what does blow it up, though, is that I’ve definitely gotten to the point where I listen to a lot of books at like one point seven, when you hear somebody talk and they sound like they’re talking very like you don’t sound like that at all.
Like button. Yeah. Yeah.
Because you say yes. So we’re going to to talk about this because you’re just trying to get it in as quickly as possible.
That’s the downside to, you know, that long, really long form book content is that when you see one in, you’re like 17 hours, you’re looking down into this like I’m not ready if I know if I’m ready to take this one on.
But luckily, I think like Netflix opening up the idea of like episodic content, being able to consume in batches or across time, like there’s no right way to consume episodic content.
And then this audio content follows the same format, like in the 70s, later told us that no one will go more than thirty minutes and retain interest in the program.
Right. When our programs was like, I don’t know if this is a good idea. You know, people love Lucille Ball, but I know they’re going to love an hour of her. They do love seventeen straight hours of her. If it truth was all right, if we actually let them try it so, so cool that we can be now.
You can, you can go you can get a knowable you know. Of course underway. Yeah. Take a break.
You can. That’s right. Yeah. Kind of at your at your own pace. And you know there’s certainly been times where I had a long drive and I was so grateful to have a seventeen hour audio book right today. I don’t I’m not commuting so I don’t want but I want the short three version. Yeah.
And this is the interesting thing is you’ve, you know, been, you know, the platform, it’s been been going for a while. Did you see sort of a marked difference in in patterns of utilization as we saw the world kind of shift the way we operated?
Yeah, I think I think it has halted some of the acceleration and audio consumption. Certainly, I know for myself, because I’m not reading and listening to less audio just now, I think a lot of people are in the same boat, but I think that it will come back. I do think that people will also just get screened for TI. And and going back to this idea of how what we really want to inculcate is this idea that noble is something that you can go take on a on a break.
Right. You can go for a walk or a run and put on your headphones and know that you’re going to listen to something that has a potential to a lesson that can change your life for the better that we can. So I think that we’ll see new behaviors and patterns emerge.
And I think that is the. That’s what I love about what you’re doing, and like I said, when it comes out in so much of what you the way you even describe it, you can just tell it’s in there. It’s like we want to know what’s a meaningful, positive impact that I can have as a result of the content. This is it’s going to be fluff.
I mean, good on right, everybody. There’s Harlequin romances for a reason, right? Somebody somebody out there loves that side of the story. Yeah, fantastic.
But, you know, we have such a great opportunity and especially when we’re in this real sort of challenge, detention economy, when we don’t have time away, like you said, that, you know, you realize we all despised commuting, but once we learned how to do things while we were commuting. That was a real opportunity sometimes to learn, to read or even just detach and going for a run. So I’m a cyclist and I love one of my favorite things is that the moment that I put my leg over the crossbar and I clip in my pedals and I start turning the pedals, I’m immediately in a different mindset because I know for the next four hours I have no way that I can type.
I have no way that I listen.
I have no I’m literally it’s me and an introspective mind for four hours, which can be a really dangerous place depending on what your mindset is.
But it’s it’s this beautiful sort of forcing function. Like when I get in a plane, that was my thing. When I get into a plane, people are like, you know, what I hate is that the Internet on planes is really terrible.
I’m like, you know what I, I love, but I’ve never found out because I, I when I’m on a plane. Yeah, it’s me. White noise. I can actually do other things.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. I’m the same, I’m the same way. I think that downtime is really important and it’s just forcing yourself or putting yourself in situations where you, you don’t have the willpower to resist the weapons of mass destruction. That’s right out of the smart, smart way to design environment.
You talked about UCB and I know from reading a bit about you were in that you you took a little time on the microphone yourself on on improv and stand up, OK, talk about minimum viable product and finding a product market fit making material, you know, two minutes on a microphone at an open mic feels like an eternity.
So cool. But it’s like, oh so what what drove you to take a run at that and what was the experience like.
I have always I’ve always been a fan of humor. I think humor is such a great tool in the chest of life and it feels like people have a great sense of humor. They’re able to. Go over the bumps of life so much better and easier and right and so I’ve just always appreciated comedians because my parents are immigrants. I think they let me watch a lot more TV than I probably should have. And I watch. And then when I was a kid.
And so that really. Influenced my my style of humor. I think I know what I think I’m squarely medium funny. Sometimes I can can make someone laugh and most of the time it’s it’s a mess. So I but it was something that scared me. And I really like this idea of doing things that scare me, because often on the other side of that is a sense of growth. And so I agree. I think it’s really scary to go up on stage and just have a microphone and talk to a roomful of strangers and try to get laughter.
But I think it’s also such an exciting format because the feedback is so objective. Right. And a world where there’s a lot of subjective value. Right. You don’t know. Well, how how good am I? Did I do a good job or are people just being nice, having being able to say something and then hear whether or not somebody laughs or not, you know, whether how you perform. And so I think that objective feedback is also exhilarating and exciting.
And a bit of advice I got on standup was talk about the stuff that you’re embarrassed about, because that’s the stuff that it’s honest. And most people will relate to it in some way or at least a certain subset of people relate to it.
And I think that’s humor is usually a byproduct of a sense of relief. Right. This idea of like, oh, you have that, OK, and that’s it. Yeah.
Yeah, it is. Because you effectively you’re just like anything, you know, when you’re you’re laying yourself bare. Right. You are going on a stage to present your you’re going to do stand up your you’re surrendering yourself to the audience for that period of time and hoping that they will carry you through this ride. And it’s very much an interactive experience, which is what’s funny. People always ask me, like it’s like I’ve been lucky enough through the course of my career to do a lot of, like public speaking and getting some large audience.
I used to be in a band years ago, so I was fairly familiar with being on a stage, but it still scares me all the time. And because you don’t know, it’s it’s a dynamic experience.
And I would and I would describe it and I help people with coaching for public speaking.
And I would say I call it listening to five thousand people at a time, because what you’re doing is you’re effectively letting them guide your talk. You may already have some kind of points you want to hit. Right.
But you have to let them steer you. You’re looking in the audience. You’re seeing the person in the front row who’s like leaning back and chuckling.
When you say a joke and you’re looking at the person who’s in the third row, who’s looking down in their phone all like from the moment you start, like, OK, I’m not watching that person for guys because they are not invested in it. Yeah, but it’s the audience themselves, you know, and at standup especially, they’re already invested in a way to the upcoming hour. Right. Five minutes, whatever, because they’ve made a point. I’m in this chair.
Yeah, I’m giving you a chance, kid.
So let’s see what you got.
Totally. I like that listening to find finance some people at the same time. That’s a good way of thinking about it in the end.
Is this as well as well, even the hour like when you see a comedian and they do an hour, what I see is eleven months of somebody doing five minute bits and two minute bits, like just testing it out and working it out and that real like they truly call it working out material.
It’s a gym membership, you know, going every day and trying it out and you’re testing in small rooms and on your family and friends wherever.
And eventually you glued together stuff that’s in a flow that’s in an hour.
It’s so when you. You know, when you’re a people based business, it sounds to me like that’s been a focus of you, is that you’ve always looked at a personal effect as an outcome of anything that you create. Absolutely, yeah, we are all west of us. So I think keeping that in mind and thinking about how do you want someone to feel, what’s the outcome that you want when they use your your product or service, I think is as a great.
System level way to think about what you’re working on. And sadly, it’s more rare sometimes than than we realize. I mean, I don’t think it truly is like we hear, of course, some of the tough stories and like it. I mean, there’s obviously, like you said, when you get into venture where people say like, oh, yeah, like congratulations on your venture funding, you almost want to say like, no, no, no.
Means to an end. Yeah, yeah. That is a person who’s betting on you to get an outsized return on their investment. And you’ve got the timer is ticking now.
Yes. Yes. It’s definitely a double edged sword, for lack of a better phrase. I think that. Yeah, I think a lot of entrepreneurs confuse raising money with succeeding at a business, and I you know, really the goal is to not have to raise money, right? The goal is you have a business. The people they love so much are paying you and you’re funding through your customers. But, you know, there are certainly advantages to funding.
And I don’t want to I don’t want to dismiss it totally or be ungrateful to work with great investors, which, you know, I certainly am. But but there are there are downsides and it is a calculated risk like anything else.
Yeah. And it’s there definitely is, as you say, sort of this idea of like a revenue funded business is fantastic. But of course, there’s going to be limitations.
There’s going to be advantages, disadvantages. And. Yes.
And, you know, like in your folks that you’ve worked with, you’ve chosen people that have been successful. They’ve got a high bar for their ethics to the way that they approach it, which is important as well. Right.
Because there are a lot of places that people could go to get money that are purely, you know, just accounting driven.
And so I like that in looking through sort of your investors and the folks that you work with in the market, I can appreciate their approach to it because I’ve seen, you know, their impact on the world and is really we are trying to do good things, you know, through technology and such. Yeah, absolutely, I think that in general, finding partners who are playing a long game is so valuable, who are playing multiple rounds because the firm, they care about, the reputation they cared about doing, supporting businesses that are doing good and aren’t just totally bottom line focused.
Right. Because they know that their only funding businesses that hurt people that long term, their value will diminish. So so I think fine people who play the long game, whether it’s a financial partner or a business partner, a life partner. When you chose to start your own venture and get into funding it and such, obviously your I should say I, I shouldn’t say obviously I shouldn’t lead with that.
Like, it would seem to me that your history in finance would have helped you to inform how to approach that part of the business building. How important was it that you had been intimate with the industry of finance as you went to actually raise funding? I think I think it’s helpful to know your customer and whatever situation you’re in, and so when you’re trying to capitalize your business, what you’re effectively doing is you’re selling equity. So it is by definition, you’re doing it.
It’s a sales process. And one of the best things that the best sales people do is they have empathy for their counterparty. And so really putting yourself in the shoes of the investors is helpful because you understand what are their needs and how can I fulfill them. So I did this presentation yesterday. I’m doing this course on fundraising. And my second tip is basically know your customer and know what venture investors want and how their math works. And the way their math works is they’re really trying to find the next Facebook, the next Pinterest and Snapchat, the next multibillion dollar company, because that is what really drives the returns.
There’s a Scott Kapoor is a partner at Andreessen Horowitz, put out a book recently called The Secrets of Sandhill Road. And he has this chart in there which shows that 60 percent of the returns for venture investors come from six percent of the deals. So when you’re pitching to investors, you really want to pitch this idea that you can be one of those six percent companies, that you’re going to be that company that can really drive outsized returns. And knowing that and having empathy for what the investors needs and wants are puts you in a better position to find a partner who you’re going to to jive with.
Yeah, that’s actually such a good read that will scare you out of ever going to where adventure because you realize how much is behind the scenes of the age of the funds, the the percentage of returns that have already come back in.
It is an incredible set of mathematics and and behaviors that will drive how an investor will comment at a particular point in time.
So it’s it is a very, very, very well done. And I love how transparent Scott was as part of the discussion, because it’s not often that people kind of share the math and the process behind the math.
Right. Which is which is pretty wild. I agree.
So for folks that want to find out more and I will make sure they do, I will be we’ll talk beyond here about, you know, how I can help to expand the brand. You know, Noble is just so fantastic. And I appreciate you taking the time with me today. Warren, this is a real pleasure.
And you’re you’re doing good things. And like I said, it’s sadly, it’s is more rare than than it should be. But it’s so nice when you see people that are becoming successful as a result of the good things they’re doing. And it’s well deserved.
Thank you so much for the kind words. I really enjoyed the conversation. It’s nice. It’s really energizing and fun to talk with someone who is so well rounded and so interested in and learning. And I’m sure we get to talk for multiple hours easily. And I look forward to continuing the conversation.
We’ll have to have we’ll do a knowable course on how to have a two way conversation on financing and venture capital. But it is this was really, really cool.
So, again, for folks, if they want to connect with you online, Warren, what’s the best way that they can reach out?
The best way to find me is on Twitter. My handle is at @wwshaef and you can also find knowable at knowable.fyi and the best places to find me and no perfect.
Yeah, I’ll make sure we have links in the show notes as well.
And, and I’ll, I’ll definitely be albe before long before we got to today, I wanted to test her to talk about things, you know, through the course of the discussion. But I’m definitely I’m keen, you know, if it’s valuable, I’d love to contribute content towards the platform. It’s just such a such a great opportunity. So absolutely.
Yeah. Let’s talk more about your book, because I think that’s a really easy way to get started. So we should have an offline conversation about that.
We’re in good shape. Warren, thank you very much for spending the time today. And I’ll say happy twenty, twenty one. We’re we’re we’re we’re around the corner on a lot of things and we’ve got some some good stuff ahead.
And for folks, definitely, if you want to hear great stuff like this, head over to knowable because you get to hear it from the from the creator’s voice, which is in my my view, one of the best ways to learn.
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