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Creator Lab - interviews with entrepreneurs and startup founders

Revealing conversations with the leading creators of our time. From proven entrepreneurs building the companies of the future, to non-profit founders creating change and the artists shaping our culture - we go beyond the surface to find the nuance in what it takes to turn your ideas, into action.
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Creator Lab - interviews with entrepreneurs and startup founders
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Sep 4, 2019

Hiten Shah has built multiple SaaS companies including Crazy Egg, KISSmetrics & FYI. In this conversation, we discuss the future of remote work and lessons learned from building, investing and advising 120+ companies.

63% of US companies now have remote workers and 96% of remote workers would recommend working remotely to a friend.

But what does “remote work” actually mean?

Many people think of digital nomads galavanting around tropical islands while fitting in some Wifi work time. Or freelancers working out of trendy coffee shops…

But as Hiten and I discuss, most of us are already participating in some form of “remote work”.

Whether that’s a remote meeting we have with external partners, flexible work schedules or simply, “working from home” – this is an important macro trend that is going to impact all of us as the nature of work continues to evolve.

Five Things To Listen Out For:

  1. What remote work really means – Hiten’s team did a deep dive to uncover what remote work means in practice

  2. Understanding intent through keyword research – how Hiten used keyword research to understand the specifics around what people are really looking for

  3. Facts vs Feelings – mental frameworks to separate facts and feelings to make decisions

  4. Dealing with loss – the lesson Hiten’s dad shared when his mother passed away at a young age and how that has helped shape him today

  5. Why words matter – the difference between “self-funding” and “bootstrapping”

You can check out the full analysis Hiten and his team published here. Hiten on Twitter @hnshah.

Subscribe and watch on:
YouTube.com/creatorlabfm

Full show notes:
https://www.creatorlab.fm/hiten-shah-future-of-remote-work/

Connect with Bilal on social:
Instagram @bzaidi212 @creatorlabfm
Twitter @bzaidi @creatorlabfm

Thank you to our sponsors, who help make this show possible:
SquareFoot, where growing companies find their place, check out SquareFoot.com/creatorlab to find your next office space

Aug 14, 2019

I met Christophe when I first moved to New York.

I was drawn in by his infectious energy, French charm and distinct sense of humor. He had started multiple companies and our friendship grew over chats about life in America & the world of entrepreneurship.

One evening after an epic meandering night out, we landed in Koreatown to chow down on plates of bibimbap & bulgogi.

It was a few days before his life was about to change with the birth of his daughter and I asked Christophe about any regrets he had from the past…he started to share this story:

“This one time, I had a call from the CFO of Groupon and they had made an $80mil offer on our company, Totsy! It would have been a 10X return for our investors and it was going to be a life-changing moment for me”…

The table went silent as we crept towards the edge of our seats…

“But then my board blocked the deal, we had to say no! A short while after, we got crushed by Zulily and had to sell for much less. I made nothing from the sale.”

It was the sort of honest conversation you could only have with real friends. And yet, it was a familiar outcome that 90% of founders face when starting a company. The type of story that hasn’t been perfectly crafted by a PR machine or used as the tee-up to the inevitable “but look at me now!”

It was just plain, honest, truth.

In this episode, we revisit that story in more detail to share the stark reality of entrepreneurship – the high highs and the low lows, what it takes to bounce back and move on to a new adventure.

We also get into how his world has changed since having a baby daughter, why he thinks being a parent can make you a better entrepreneur and what his new company, UpFlex, is focused on.

I hope you enjoy the honesty that Christophe shares in this revealing conversation – if so, shoot me a note, I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Five Things To Listen Out For:

  1. Ups and Downs of entrepreneurship – the true reality for many entrepreneurs who start companies
  2. $80mil acquisition offer – what really happened when he had to reject this offer and what you can learn from his experience
  3. Being a parent and a founder – how to find your own balance and why Christophe says it makes him a better entrepreneur
  4. Leaving Your Company – when and why you might ever leave the company you started
  5. Upflex – his new company and why there’s a need for “Workplace-as-a-Service”

Subscribe and watch on YouTube.com/creatorlabfm

Full show notes:
https://www.creatorlab.fm/christophe-garnier-totsy-spark-labs-upflex/

Social:
Instagram: @bzaidi212 @creatorlabfm
Everywhere else: @bzaidi @creatorlabfm

Thank you to our sponsors who help make this show possible:

SquareFoot, where growing companies find their place, check out SquareFoot.com/creatorlab to find your next office space

Jul 26, 2019

Full video on YouTube:
https://youtu.be/KCjMwDpDm7g

Steve Schlafman is a Partner at Primary Venture Partners. He’s been an investor in the NYC startup ecosystem for the last decade. Prior to his roles in VC, he was the Director of New Ventures at The Kraft Group, owners of the New England Patriots. He’s worked at startups like Turntable FM & began his career at Microsoft.

Steve has worked on investments in companies like TheSkimm, Bowery Farming, Breather, Giphy, Percolate & SmartThings (sold to Samsung). He also works with founders & CEOs as a qualified leadership coach.

In this revealing conversation, we discuss how he thinks about personal + professional growth, building healthy habits, navigating your career, the fear of death, dealing with anxiety, overcoming “functional addiction”, sobriety & why the best performers – people like Eric Schmidt & Lebron James, all work with coaches.

Five Things To Listen Out For:

  1. Cornerstone Habits – habits that create a domino effect in other areas of your life
  2. What Lebron James & Eric Schmidt have in common -we discuss why you might feel resistant to the word “coach”, what a coaching practice looks like & examples of common discussions you might have
  3. Being A “Functional Addict” – dealing with addiction & why Steve has been sober for many years
  4. Dealing With Anxiety + The Fear Of Death – how Steve has consciously worked on his anxiety and coming to terms with death
  5. 360 reviews – why Steve recommends doing this after a recent experience, dealing with constructive criticism & how you can do this too

Subscribe to watch the episode on YouTube here.

Steve:

 

https://www.schlaf.me/

https://www.primary.vc/

https://twitter.com/schlaf

Bilal:
@creatorlabfm
@bzaidi212 (Instagram) & @bzaidi everywhere else

Full show notes: 
https://www.creatorlab.fm/steve-schlafman-primary-venture-partners/

Thank you to our sponsors who help make this show possible:
SquareFoot, where growing companies find their place, check out SquareFoot.com/creatorlab to find your next office space

Jul 12, 2019

Oz Pearlman is an Emmy award-winning mentalist & magician. He captivated millions across the world as the runner up & finalist on America’s Got Talent. 

In this episode, listen carefully as Oz baffles the senses by performing mentalist tricks live on air.

From reading Bilal’s mind, to elaborate tricks that you have to see with your own eyes to believe (youtube.com/creatorlabfm) & an epic conversation discussing human psychology, non-verbal communication & turning your side-hustle into a lucrative business – there’s so much to take away from this revealing conversation.

Five Things To Listen Out For:

  1. Tricks – 3 mind-blowing tricks performed live
  2. Side Hustle – Turning a side hustle into a lucrative business – from hustling in restaurants as a kid, to captivating millions on TV
  3. Social Dynamics – from cat string theory to time constraints & appearing to be a scarce resource
  4. Remembering People’s Names – how Oz approaches this in his work & what you can take from it
  5. Psychology – behind success + happiness

Subscribe to watch the episode on YouTube here.


Social:
@OzTheMentalist
@creatorlabfm
@bzaidi212 (Instagram) & @bzaidi everywhere else

Full show notes: 
https://www.creatorlab.fm/oz-pearlman-mentalist-magician-interview/

Thank you to our sponsors who help make this show possible:
SquareFoot, where growing companies find their place, check out SquareFoot.com/creatorlab to find your next office space

Jun 27, 2019

Nigel Eccles is best known for being the co-founder of FanDuel, a company that pioneered the daily fantasy sports market in the US.

You may have seen their high impact commercials on TV, heard of them becoming one of the few unicorn $1bil startups to come out of Europe or their eventual sale to Paddypower/Betfair for $465mil. You may have even seen him featured in the infamous John Oliver “This Week Tonight” episode covering the industry he helped to create!

It’s safe to say – there are not many people on the planet that have the experience that Nigel has – after starting & selling multiple companies – he’s been around the block & back as a serial entrepreneur.

At Fanduel his experience includes raising $400mil+ in venture capital, competing with their closest rival, Draft Kings who raised over $1bil+, to investing hundreds of millions of dollars in customer acquisition on channels like TV, radio & paid digital.

In this revealing conversation, he opened up to share his perspective on:

  • how to come up with business ideas in the first place
  • raising venture capital vs bootstrapping
  • how to accelerate paid customer acquisition & measure your marketing effectively
  • building a high growth team
  • the highs & lows of selling a company & lessons learned
  • why founders & early employees might not always make a return from a sale because of preferred vs common stock
  • creating a new market vs capturing an existing one
  • why “going viral” isn’t a good strategy for paid products
  • what to do if you’re a non-technical founder
  • the process of taking an initial idea & evaluating its business potential
  • applying the same logic to his new company, Flick, going after the podcast market

Subscribe to watch the episode on YouTube here.

Join the Creator Lab group on Nigel's new app, Flick:
https://flickchat.page.link/emPvGZnT7XwKGgz76

Thank you to our sponsor who helps make this show possible -SquareFoot, where growing companies find their place, check out SquareFoot.com/creatorlab to find your next office space

 
 
Jun 12, 2019
Watch the full episode on YouTube:
https://youtu.be/muxEUNAaLTE

How many times have you heard bitcoin, crypto, blockchain and thought to yourself – “what the hell are they talking about?” 

Well, you’re not the only one. This is a topic that has a lot of value but too often you’ll find so-called “experts” using complicated jargon to make things sound more complicated than it is.

In this conversation with Ali Hassan, an ex-Goldman Sachs banker & venture capitalist, turned entrepreneur – we try our best to simplify and discuss what bitcoin and blockchain is in simple terms and explore the practical applications of this technology.

Going beyond definitions – we discuss real use cases, why the value of bitcoin fluctuates so much, if bitcoin is a direct alternative to the traditional money supply system, comparing it to other assets like gold, and how his team has developed one of the leading passive index funds for investing in cryptocurrency

Here are five things to listen out for:
  1. What is Bitcoin? And what is Blockchain in simple terms? – Ali describes in easy to understand language and with examples, what bitcoin is and why it’s a valuable asset & technology
     
  2. Comparing Bitcoin to Gold – what makes an asset like gold valuable and why that idea can be applied to an asset like bitcoin.
     
  3. Real World Applications – where can bitcoin and blockchain be useful in the real? From the idea of a bitcoin being a store of value, to ethereum helping to automate processes through smart contracts, to helping the unbanked people of the world – we discuss where blockchain could provide real utility in the long run
     
  4. Comparing Ethereum to the Apple app store – we discuss in simple terms what ethereum is and why it’s allowing people to build on top of their ecosystem, similar to how Apple did with their app store
     
  5. Creating An Index Fund For Crypto – why Ali and his team left their traditional finance roles at companies like Goldman Sachs & VC firms to create a leading passive crypto index fund, Crescent Crypto.
Subscribe to Creator Lab videos on YouTube here.
Thank you to our sponsor who helps make this show possible,
SquareFoot, where growing companies find their place, check out SquareFoot.com/creatorlab to find your next office space
 
 
 
Apr 3, 2019

Watch the full episode on YouTube:
https://youtu.be/SGPMfHxFmgo

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Fabrice Grinda has been called the most prolific angel investor in the world, even being ranked #1 in Forbes based on investment volume + number of exits.

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He’s exited hundreds of millions of dollars from 500+ investments in companies like Alibaba, Viagogo, Tencent, Airbnb, Betterment, Uber, Fanduel & Palantir.

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Before setting up his “startup studio” & investment fund, he started and sold multiple companies including OLX, the leading “Craigslist” marketplace of countries like India, Brazil & Pakistan.

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But things weren’t always so rosy.

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Fabrice shares stories of living on $2/day, living in his office because he couldn’t afford an apartment & missing payroll 27 times!

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We also discuss the future of marketplaces, how he’d think of business ideas if starting today, the science of happiness, minimalism, and why we’re still at the very beginning of the tech revolution.

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Here are five things to listen out for:

  1. Reasons to be optimistic – why we’re the luckiest people in the world to be alive at this time and why we’re only at 1% of the tech revolution
  2. Minimalism – from living on a 20-acre estate in Bedford, New York, to “island shopping” and then selling all his possessions – Fabrice has lived both extremes and shares his perspective on a healthy balance
  3. The Science of Happiness – factors that make people happy and hacks to maximize your own “mean level of happiness”
  4. The Future of Marketplaces – 3 trends in marketplace businesses and a framework for thinking about business ideas
  5. How Venture Capital Works – the typical startup fundraising cycle, from initial investment to venture capital at series A, B, C etc.

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CONNECT ON SOCIAL:

https://www.instagram.com/creatorlabfm

https://www.instagram.com/bzaidi212

<br>

Full show notes:
https://www.creatorlab.fm/fabrice-grinda-fj-labs-interview/

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Thank you to our sponsors who help make this show possible:

SquareFoot, where growing companies find their place, check out SquareFoot.com/creatorlab to find your next office space

Instasleep Mint Melts, the drug-free sleep aid that melts in your mouth. Use the code “creator8” to get 20% off your order on Amazon.

Mar 19, 2019

Watch the full episode on YouTube:
https://youtu.be/Lc07mxx3CII

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Nathan Latka is making more than $100k/month from 30+ revenue streams. We go into all of the details documented in his book: “How To Be A Capitalist Without Any Capital”

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From his approach to building systems that scale beyond himself, growing his podcast to 10+mil downloads, investing in real estate, food trucks, buying software companies, building teams around the world and even landing a TV show – there’s so much packed into this conversation!

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We also go into why someone should be a capitalist in the first place, the pros, and cons of capitalism and the many creative ways he's finding success in many different areas. 

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Nathan is a true capitalist in every sense of the word & a savvy entrepreneur that likes to break the rules. 

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You can check out his WSJ bestselling book, “How To Be A Capitalist Without Any Capital”, on Amazon here

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Five things to listen out for:

  1. Capitalism vs Socialism – why you would want to be a capitalist in the first place and the pros & cons of a purely capitalist society.
  2. Making $100k/month – why he chooses to spread his risk by working on many things at once and examples of investments you can make to generate income
  3. Systems vs Goals – why you should focus on building, multiplying & stacking systems instead of setting goals
  4. “My Podcast Is A Massive Front” – how he’s developed a piece of code to automatically turn his daily podcast into a database that he sells to VCs for $20-30k/month
  5. His Book – what you can expect, including specific page numbers you can skip ahead to

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CONNECT ON SOCIAL:

https://www.instagram.com/creatorlabfm

https://www.instagram.com/bzaidi212

<br>

Full show notes:

https://www.creatorlab.fm/nathan-latka-capitalist-book-interview/

Thank you to our sponsor, Instasleep Mint Melts, the drug-free sleep aid that melts in your mouth. You can check them out on Amazon here 

Mar 7, 2019

Watch the full episode on YouTube:

https://youtu.be/qpA2CEoDg-M

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Faraz Zaidi, is the founder & creative director of Profound Co, a multi-million dollar fashion brand that sits at the intersection of streetwear and high fashion.

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Profound has built a loyal following over 10yrs+, with celebrity fans like Rihanna, Kendrick Lamar and Justin Bieber wearing their clothes. They’ve been featured in Time, Fast Company & Forbes and have collaborated with leading musicians & major brands like Pepsi.

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In this in-depth conversation, Faraz shares the full backstory of their humble beginnings, scaling their business and how he would approach building a fashion brand from scratch if he was starting again today.

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Five things to listen out for:

  1. Genesis – how Faraz started with a couple of t-shirts & a printer
  2. Starting a Brand – how he would start a brand from scratch today
  3. Celebrities + Influencers – how a Profound intern landed a connection to Rihanna and their approach to working with influencers
  4. Retail – getting into physical stores like Selfridges & boutiques around the world.
  5. Struggles – examples of when things haven’t gone so well, mistakes made and how he mentally deals with the lows

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CONNECT ON SOCIAL:
https://www.instagram.com/creatorlabfm
https://www.instagram.com/bzaidi212

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Full show notes:
https://www.creatorlab.fm/profound-aesthetic-co-faraz-zaidi/

Feb 14, 2019

Subscribe and watch the full video interview on YouTube:
https://youtu.be/GZAgTCFPxxk

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Tyler Riewer (head of creative at charity: water) shares 5 principles that can make you a better storyteller. We discuss the concept of the "hero's journey" and how the best brands, writers & politicians use this idea to tell effective stories.

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Five Things To Listen Out For:

  1. Role of storytelling – and its impact on every part of an organization
  2. The Hero’s Journey – how savvy brands, politicians, and writers use the concept of the hero’s journey to tell effective stories
  3. 5 Principles – that Tyler has picked up along the way as a professional storyteller that you can apply to your own life and work
  4. From Concept to Campaign – how they took an inspirational letter from a 6yr old and turned it into a successful brand campaign through the principles we discuss
  5. Stories from his travels – and the stories that make up the 663 million people that lack access to clean drinking water

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SOCIAL:
https://www.instagram.com/creatorlabfm
https://www.instagram.com/bzaidi212

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TYLER:
http://tylerriewer.com
https://twitter.com/tylerriewer

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charity: water
Watch The Spring: https://cwtr.org/2lJhZix
Nora's story: https://www.charitywater.org/world-wa...

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Full show notes:
https://www.creatorlab.fm/where-do-good-stories-come-from-tyler-riewer-charity-water/

Thank you to our sponsor, Instasleep Mint Melts, the drug-free sleep aid that melts in your mouth. You can check them out on Amazon or instasleep.us 

Feb 1, 2019

Watch the full video interview & subscribe on YouTube:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KgDgNfvm4qY

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Jane Lu has been named “Cosmopolitan’s Girl Boss of the Year”, “Forbes 30 under 30” and her company, Showpo, was crowned Australia’s “Online Retailer of the Year” in 2018.

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But rewind a few years and Jane was struggling for motivation in her accountancy career. We discuss what it took to take a risk to go all in on her business while having to hide it from her parents while living in their house!

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We dig into the details of how she took her first steps, grew the company with zero investment, built an audience on social with millions of followers, and how she would approach starting an e-commerce business from scratch today.

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Show Notes

Here are five things to listen out for:

  1. Leaving her job + keeping it a secret from her parents – how Jane plucked up the courage to leave her job in the middle of the financial crisis
  2. Her first failed business – connecting the dots from her first failure, getting out of debt and launching Showpo
  3. Working ON her business vs IN her business – how a trip to Ultra Music Festival forced Jane to replace her work by hiring someone full time and the lessons from that experience
  4. Growing to $60mil with zero investment – we go into detail from when she was bringing in $5k/month, and the things she did to grow step-by-step, why she chose to never raise money, keep control and grow
  5. If she started again today – how she would start an e-commerce business today & actionable tactics around growing a social following, paid vs organic, youtube content strategy & more

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Thank you to our sponsor, Instasleep Mint Melts, the drug-free sleep aid that melts in your mouth. You can check them out on Amazon or instasleep.us 

Dec 26, 2018

Watch full interview on video:
https://youtu.be/3BHdnOiYym4

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Full show notes & timestamps:
https://www.creatorlab.fm/ronnie-madra-1oak-earos/
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Ronnie Madra is the co-founder of the Butter Group which has an extensive portfolio of brands including legendary nightclubs 1OAK and Up and Down.
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They’ve hosted after-parties for events like the Oscars, Met Gala & Cannes Film Festival attracting A-List celebrities along the way. Alongside business partner, Richie Akiva, they’ve developed properties in NYC, LA, Las Vegas, Tokyo, Dubai & Maldives – building one of the leading food & beverage (F&B) brands around.
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However, after 25+ years in nightlife – Ronnie developed a severe hearing issue which causes constant ringing in his ears. To address this issue for the 1.1bil people who will develop hearing issues in their lifetime – he created, EAROS, an in-ear protection system & an acoustical filter.
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Ronnie shared stories he has never shared before. He opens up about growing up on a coconut plantation in Guyana, landing in NYC as a minority amongst minorities, personal stories about dealing with bullies as a kid, running into trouble with a gang & landing on his feet into nightlife in NYC.
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FIVE THINGS TO LISTEN OUT FOR:

  1. Childhood – growing up with no electricity in Guyana, landing in NYC and how his early experiences shaped his outlook
  2. Fitting in & dealing with a bully – a raw and honest chat about dealing with bullies, trying to fit in and finding the confidence to be yourself.
  3. Building a name – alongside Richie Akiva, Ronnie has built a name for himself in the nightclub space, attracting A-List celebrities like Jay Z, Pharrell, Rihanna, Kate Hudson, Kanye, Gigi Hadid, Virgil and others to their venues. We go into all the details of how they started and built a name for themselves.
  4. Coming up with business ideas & developing a product – scratching his own itch, why he started EAROS, ways you can think about finding inspiration for ideas and knowing how to take action.
  5. Building Brand & Service – learning from his experience in creating a brand, product development, making people feel safe.
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TIME STAMPS:

  • 2:34 – What Ronnie is known for: 1OAK, Butter Group & Earos
  • 5:25 – Scale of their nightclubs & restaurants
  • 7:42 – Growing up on a coconut plantation in Guyana
  • 11:16 – Landing in Queens, NYC
  • 13:15 – Teenage Ronnie
  • 13:55 – Dealing with bullies
  • 19:38 – Early signs of entrepreneurship
  • 23:02 – Listening to all types of music and wanting to fit in
  • 26:32 – Becoming comfortable not fitting in
  • 31:26 – What lead to 1OAK being formed? Finding an A-Team.
  • 36:15 – Starting 1OAK with Richie Akiva & early investments
  • 38:06 – “Pioneers of the pop-up”
  • 41:40 – How to choose partnerships
  • 44:24 – What is next for 1Oak?
  • 47:40 – Attracting A-list celebrities
  • 51:20 – New venture – Earos
  • 55:10 – Developing hearing issues – tinnitus
  • 58:52 – Idea and need for a new type of ear protection
  • 60:50 – Going beyond looking like a hearing aid
  • 66:48 – The process of developing a new product
  • 69:45 – Sound vs. noise
  • 71:35 – The process of reaching out to great people through Linkedin
  • 75:58 – Working day vs. night
  • 79:44 – Pitching the idea to investors
  • 85:16 – When do you know you’re finished?
  • 87:06 – 20 years into the future
  • 91:10 – Closing remarks
Dec 7, 2018

Erika Alexander is an actress, writer & co-founder of Color Farm Media. She’s well known for her role as the iconic character Maxine Shaw, Attorney-at-Law in the 90s sitcom Living Single. She was a regular as Cousin Pam in The Cosby Show & appeared in the Oscar-winning film Get Out (2017).

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Full show notes & timestamps:
https://www.creatorlab.fm/erika-alexander-actress-get-out-cosby-show/

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 Here are five things to listen out for:
 
  1. Childhood – her candid experience growing up as a child actor from the age of 14, her relationship with her parents & how this impacted her throughout her life.
  2.  Being the “other” – feeling like an outsider when she first had some success
  3. Importance of Diversity in Film & Media – how she’s approaching this challenge with Color Farm Media, why it’s important to hire the best people regardless, but find a balance to tell diverse stories
  4. Role of Therapy – how she dealt with depression, navigated lows and the importance of mental health
  5. The Future – hip-hop in Bollywood, collaborations of color, the projects she’s working on with Lionsgate & the importance of long-form conversations

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Time Stamps:

  • 2:32 – Introduction of Erika
  • 4:45 – Her role on Living Single
  • 8:38 – Erika’s childhood
  • 12:15 – Was Erika always outgoing?
  • 15:36 – The “look at me” gene
  • 18:26 – First time acting
  • 23:12 – Erika’s mom’s influence
  • 25:46 – Becoming famous and losing her family
  • 27:31 – Religion and belief when growing up
  • 30:40 – Early pain struggle & depression
  • 32:40 – Being the “other” in the family
  • 36:45 – Ways to cope with parent pain
  • 41:05 – Therapy and mental health
  • 50:41 – Race and misrepresentation in work
  • 51:52 – Race is an illusion
  • 54:13 – Color Farm Media & it’s mission
  • 57:06 – Ben Arnon help & info
  • 61:17 – Current work
  • 66:25 – Black Lightning
  • 71:53 – Making diversity authentic
  • 77:02 – Importance of diverse writers
  • 82:25 – How to change in industry
  • 85:33 – “I’m a badass at acting”
  • 93:00 – Collaborations of color
  • 95:50 – Hire the best writer, but include all
  • 98:14 – The impact of long-form conversation
  • 101:56 – Looking to the future
Oct 25, 2018
 
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I visited Ben Van Leeuwen at his Brooklyn-based ice cream factory!  They have a truly remarkable story, starting from a single ice cream truck 10yrs ago, to building an epic brand with a cult following.
 
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They’ve since grown to a $20mil business, going from 15 stores to 25 in the next few months after taking investment for the first time. They’ve also grown their wholesale business where they now sell their ice cream in over 1000 stores across 44 states.
 
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We discuss their humble beginnings, meeting his co-founder, falling in love,  a focus on product excellence by sourcing the very best ingredients & you’ll hear what it took to build their business with zero investment after their modest friends and family round. 

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SHOW NOTES

Here are five things to listen out for:
 
(1) Travel – Ben leaving college to travel and explore the world.
 
(2) Kaizen vs 10x Moonshot Thinking – continuous improvement in all aspects of their company vs a mindset of massive transformational change
 
(3) Starting a business with his wife & brother – navigating a breakup, working with family & how they’ve made Van Leeuwen a huge success
 
(4) Product & Customer Excellence – focusing on using only the very best ingredients & bringing joy to their customers
 
(5) Growth – stories from starting their first ice cream truck to growing to 25 stores & 44 states & why they decided to take major investment for the first time

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Times Stamps 

  • 3:02 – Who is Ben Van Leeuwen
  • 3:58 – How did Ben get into ice cream
  • 10:45 – Where Ben’s food awareness came from
  • 13:23 – Ben’s parents and his upbringing
  • 16:56 – How Ben developed his entrepreneurial spirit
  • 18:00 – The “ice cream idea”
  • 20:44 – Being healthy in an ice cream world
  • 23:46 – Ben’s travel memories
  • 26:38 – Ben’s craftsmanship in his work
  • 29:35 – Company values
  • 30:54 – Ben meeting his cofounder
  • 33:10 – How the company began
  • 36:21 – Writing initial business plan
  • 42:09 – Logo, branding and naming
  • 45:55 – Tactically building your team
  • 48:34 – Beginnings of the business
  • 50:25 – Putting the best ingredients into their first chocolate ice cream
  • 55:47 – First real day of business
  • 65:19 – What the business looks like today – 15-25 stores, selling in 1000 stores across 44 states
  • 67:02 – Ben’s thoughts on expansion
  • 70:38 – First year revenue numbers
  • 71:33 – Focus moving forward
  • 73:30 – Working with brother and wife
  • 74:35 – Working with ex-wife
  • 75:42 – Difficulties with raising money
  • 79:18 – Dealing with rejection
  • 80:58 – 20 years from now…
  • 83:45 – Admirable trait: not taking shortcuts
  • 84:54 – Other products for Ben to explore
  • 86:29 – Final remarks and advice
Dec 14, 2017
Edgardo embodies the word creator.  He’s a writer at Marvel Entertainment, Editor-in-Chief at Darryl Makes Comics working with the legendary hip-hop icon: DMC from RUN DMC, Art Director & founder at Somos Arte production studio, and the creator of La Borinqueña, an original comic book character that has grown into a cultural phenomenon and a nationally recognized symbol of Puerto Rican patriotism, social justice, and equality for all. His work has been featured on CNN, The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Atlantic.
 
<br>
 
Full show notes and time stamps:
<br>
https://www.creatorlab.fm/edgardo-miranda-rodriguez-activism-art
 
 <br>
 
SHOW NOTES:
 
<br>
 
Five things to listen out for:
 
<br> 
  1. Growing up as a Puerto Rican in NYC – what life was like growing up poor in the Bronx, memories from being a young activist, poet, and creator.
  2.  Comic Books – how he got into creating comic books, writing for Marvel + creating his own publication: La Borinqueña.
  3.  Teaming up with DMC from RUN DMC – how they met, their creative process and how they split up responsibilities.
  4.  Direct-to-Consumer – publishing directly to people and spreading his creative work to fans.
  5.  Generating Buzz + Press – Edgardo has been featured on CNN, New York Times, The Washington Post, The Atlantic and more – how did he approach this and get his work out there?

<br>

TIME STAMPS 
  • 2:38 … who is Edgardo and what does he do?
  • 4:14 … Edgardo describing pictures Bilal shows from growing up
  • 9:50 … power of the arts, reflecting on what’s going on in society
  • 10:09 … challenge of being viewed as a second class citizen
  • 11:10 … hypocrisy within Latin American communities and media
  • 12:05 … “I’m not a race, I’m an ethnicity”
  • 13:31 … stories as a form of evolution
  • 15:00 … self-awareness from an early age + growing up
  • 17:03 … learning about Mandela + apartheid
  • 17:57 … college + local activism
  • 23:30 … comic book has become a  symbol for people + the women’s march reaching out to him
  • 27:19 … being proud of his heritage
  • 28:40 … distributing book directly to the people + direct to consumer trend
  • 30:37 … comic book world / who’s buying books
  • 35:36 … working alongside DMC from legendary hip-hop group: RUN DMC
  • 40:12 … our heritage and culture is the true superpower
  • 40:38 … approaching press and social media to promote his book
  • 42:13 … people want to know who you are and “why” you create … not “what” you create
  • 49:51 … an ask for the people who are listening
Nov 11, 2017

Julien Smith is the co-founder & CEO of Breather. They provide an on-demand network of private meeting rooms designed for work, meetings and focus. They’ve raised over $80m to date and are on a strong trajectory of growth. Before that, Julien was a best selling author, speaker & podcaster. In this conversation, Julien and Bilal discuss how he thinks about pattern detection, how he used these frameworks to develop the idea for Breather & how you can apply this to your own work.

<br>

Full show notes & timestamps:
https://www.creatorlab.fm/julien-smith-breather-detecting-patterns/

<br>

Time Stamps:

  • 1:52 - Who are you/what do you do
  • 2:30 - Detecting patterns. Is that that what you’re good at?
  • 4:10 - Scale & growth of Breather, how did Julien get there
  • 6:43 - When Julien started Breather, how many units did he start with & how do they keep them secure?
  • 8:09 - What does Breather's customer base look like? What are their customer segments?
  • 8:58 - How big is this market? How do you estimate market size?
  • 9:50 - Thinking about security for a physical space - digital vs analog locks.
  • 11:30 - Growing up in Canada & what did Julien want to be when he grew up?
  • 13:20 - Learning what you’re good at and 360 reviews 
  • 17:10 - How Julien thinks about detecting patterns? Is this something we can learn to become better at?
  • 20:25 - Is detecting patterns a skill or luck?
  • 24:10 - Detecting patterns: is it a learned behavior? Discussing Charlie Munger and Warren Buffet. 
  • 28:30 - the value of the expert generalist
  • 30:00 - What sources of information do you follow? Books, podcasts, people, etc?
  • 33:30 - What can people do to accelerate the process of growing and connecting with people they can learn from?
  • 36:00 - Jeff Bezos story of the regret minimization framework
  • 39:30 - What were some of the macro trends he identified to help start Breather? Are there certain macro trends that he sees right now?
  • 42:20 - Cities + network effects + timing
  • 46:02 - Bilal discusses idea for supper clubs platform
  • 47:50 - Omnifocus app he uses for tasks
  • 48:10 - Developing healthy habits? Streaks app
  • 51:40 - What is Julien’s routine and a typical day? Morning pages. The creative habit. 
  • 55:05 - What is motivating Julien right now?
  • 56:30 - What does success mean to you? 
Sep 10, 2017

WHO IS GARY?

Just out of college, Gary grew his family wine business from a $4M to a $45M business in five years. Now, he runs VaynerMedia, one of the world’s hottest digital agencies with more than 800 employees and $100m in annual revenue. Along the way, Gary became a prolific investor. He’s investing in companies like Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter, Uber and Venmo.

He’s a 4x NY Times best-selling author & recently starred in Apple’s original series: “Planet of the Apps”, with Gwyneth Paltrow, Jessica Alba and will.i.am. 

FIVE THINGS TO LISTEN OUT FOR:

(1) Childhood stories – before the lemonade stands, what Gary was like as a kid
 
(2) Luck – believing in luck, but wanting to eliminate excuses
 
(3) What matters most – if this was his last Thursday, how would he spend his last week?
 
(4) Depression – Gary discusses a recent suicide and why he thinks the culture of entrepreneurship being cool isn’t necessarily helping
 
(5) Legacy – how his view of legacy has changed over the last 10yrs
  
 
TIME STAMPS:
-Gary shares some childhood stories [1m36s]
-Before the lemonade stands [4m19s]
-Trading attention [5m27s]
-Thoughts on luck and eliminating excuses [6m9s]
-“I take no credit for my success” [8m46s]
-If this was his last week to live, what would Gary spend his time doing? [12m4s]
-A reoccurring nightmare as a child [15m52s]
-Entrepreneurial depression + suicide [17m27s]
-Navigating self-doubt vs self-awareness to know you’re not doing the right thing [20m54s]
-How Gary’s view of legacy has changed over the last 10 years [22m46s]
-Building a business that lives on without you [25m56s]

 

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May 14, 2017
 

Jos White is a serial entrepreneur and investor at Notion Capital. In this interview, he shares his life story from growing up in England, to getting expelled from school, starting businesses with his brother & how they managed to sell 3 different companies for more than $800 million. 

5 THINGS TO LISTEN OUT FOR:
 
(1) Growing up in England – going to the same school as Richard Branson and getting expelled from school.
 
(2) Starting a business with his brother – early signs of entrepreneurship and what it was like setting up a company with his family.
 
(3) Multiple exits – most entrepreneurs dream of having a multi-million  dollar exit once. But Jos did this time and time again with 3 different companies. We go into what he built and how he sold the companies.
 
(4) Learning from his entrepreneurial journey – funding their businesses, finding a CTO, navigating the crash of 2000, knowing when it was the right time to sell, common mistakes people make when pitching for investment
 
(5) Legacy – what he cares most about, what makes people happy & how we wants to keep having an impact
 
 
TIME STAMPS 
  • [3m38s] What he was like as a kid
  • [5m35s] Going to same school as Richard Branson and getting expelled from school
  • [9m33s] Can you learn to be an entrepreneur and what he studied at school
  • [10m58s] Earliest exposure to business
  • [15m10s] Moving to Thailand
  • [17m29s] Genesis of RBR Networks
  • [20m25s] Making more than £1m a month and getting their first sale
  • [22m02s] Splitting up responsibility
  • [23m03s] Transitioning from marketing person to leader
  • [24m50s] Knowing his weaknesses
  • [27m17s] How they funded their business
  • [31m42s] Hiring good people
  • [34m06s] Selling the company for $50M
  • [35m47s] What they did the day they sold the company
  • [38m44s] Coming up with the idea for Message Labs
  • [42m05s] Finding a CTO
  • [47m03s] Navigating the crash of 2000
  • [48m21s] Knowing when to sell a company
  • [54m59s] Switching to an investor, what he looks for in an investment
  • [56m56s] Common mistakes people make when pitching for investment
  • [58m52s] What is keeping him motivated? Having a chip on your shoulder
  • [1hr] What success means to him
  • [1hr2m] Having financial success & social responsibility
  • [1hr5m] Legacy

 

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Mar 16, 2017

This is a new format where I bring experts from different fields to have a roundtable discussion on a particular topic. Today we speak about the state of transatlantic tech and what you should be thinking about if you’re looking to expand internationally. Note that this was recorded late Dec 2016 just before President Trump came into office.

MY 3 GUESTS:

(1) Daniel Glazer – partner at Silicon Valley-headquartered law firm, Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, where he leads the New York office’s Technology Transactions practice. He also helps lead WSGR’s US Expansion practice, advising UK and other non-US technology companies on US expansion

(2) Pru Ashby – head of North America at London & Partners who are the official promotional company for London. She works on attracting and advising US companies to set up and grow in London

(3) Alliott Cole – director at Octopus Ventures, one of Europe’s largest venture capital teams. Some of their investments include: Secret Escapes, yPlan, Zoopla, Swiftkey (sold for $250M to Microsoft) & Lovefilm (sold to Amazon for $200M)

 
FIVE THINGS TO LISTEN OUT FOR: 

(1) Similarities and differences between US and UK/European markets
(2) Startup ecosystem post-brexit
(3) Future outlook under a Trump presidency
(4) How do you structure an expansion into US or Europe
(5) What companies have done this well?

TIME STAMPS

  • [3m21s] Intros
  • [6m16s] State of UK post brexit
  • [18m49s] Investment growth in London since 2010
  • [19m28s] It takes 10.2yrs for companies to IPO on average
  • [20m23s] Has the market overreacted to Brexit?
  • [23m9s] Mood post US election
  • [24m16s] How will entrepreneurs think about globalisation
  • [30m9s] Similarities and differences in business culture in US vs UK
  • [42m11s] Recommendations on hiring people in US when you’re a startup
  • [43m35s] How do you structure an expansion
  • [48m27s] Where do you start your first US office
  • [51m41s] When do you know it’s the right time to move
  • [58m36] Examples of companies that have done a good job of expanding
  • [1hr6m] What do companies struggle with when they move
  • [1hr14m] What should US companies think about when expanding to UK
  • [1hr18m] Looking forward 

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Feb 7, 2017
 
Daymond John is a rare force of nature. He’s a true serial entrepreneur involved with more than 80 businesses & investments. He founded FUBU, the lifestyle fashion brand that has brought in more than $6 billion in sales. He’s a regular on the Emmy award winning show “Shark Tank” and has published three books including the NY Times best seller: The Power of Broke.

He was named by President Obama as a “Presidential Ambassador for Global Entrepreneurship” and travelled with him on his historic trips to Cuba & Kenya.

We discuss what he’s learned from all those years, how he thinks about new business ideas, applying the “power of broke” to test out customer needs, focusing on the best opportunities, his role as a leader in the current political climate & his latest venture, a co-working space in NYC called Blueprint + Co. 

 

5 THINGS TO LISTEN OUT FOR:
 
(1) Ideas – how he thinks of business ideas & focusing on the most important opportunities
 
(2) Blueprint + Co – why he’s opening a co-working space and how he thinks about differentiating from WeWork and startup spaces
 
(3) Power of Broke – why it’s important and how he applies this mindset to all his businesses
 
(4) Role In Society – thoughts on the current political climate and how he sees his role as an entrepreneur & leader
 
(5) Fear – using knowledge to combat fear
 
 
TIME STAMPS: 
  • Who is Daymond? [1m22s]
  • What is Blueprint + Co and similarities to FUBU: For Us By Us  [2m14s]
  • Where the idea came from & differentiating from WeWork / startup co-working spaces [3m41s]
  • Having a need yourself and turning it into a business [3m58s]
  • Members of blueprint + co include: Ashley Stewart & Leesa mattress [5m5s]
  • Focusing on best opportunities with 80 businesses & investments [7m37s]
  • Investing vs starting business himself [9m17s]
  • What he enjoys most: starting, investing or corporate? [10m31s]
  • What is the power of broke? [11m51s]
  • Problem for small businesses when they are overfunded [13m35s]
  • You cannot buy your customers & thoughts on customer acquisition [14m4s]
  • Selling one hat at a time, comparisons to Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook [14m27s]
  • Applying power of broke to blueprint + co [14m36s]
  • Finding product market fit for blueprint + co and thoughts on adapting product over time [17m6s]
  • What matters to him most and what keeps him going? [18m41s]
  • Current political climate and what he thinks his role is as and entrepreneur and leader [20m39]
  • Dealing with fear [23m44s]
  • Knowledge + Fear [25m21s]

All show notes and other episodes available at:
https://www.creatorlab.fm

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Jan 5, 2017
 
Sushi Nakazawa stunned the restaurant world when they were awarded a notoriously difficult 4 star review in The New York Times by legendary food critic Pete Wells.
 
But what really goes into creating such a world class restaurant? 
 
We get to hear directly from Alessandro (Alex) Borgognone, co-founder of Sushi Nakazawa, famous for its all star chef, Daisuke Nakazawa, who was the protege of Jiro One, the renowned chef from the award winning documentary "Jiro Dreams of Sushi."
 
This is a remarkable story like no other. 
 
From tracking down Nakazawa on Facebook, to using Google Translate to communicate & convincing him to start a restaurant in NYC - Alessandro personifies the entrepreneurial spirit that’s needed to make a fine establishment like this a reality. 
 
Here are five things to listen out for:
 
(1) Early Years - starting in the family business aged 13 & what growing up in Brooklyn as an Italian American taught him.
 
(2) Genesis of Sushi Nakazawa - how the film Jiro Dreams of Sushi inspired Alex to find Chef Nakazawa on Facebook, communicate via Google translate to turn his vision into one of the best restaurants in NYC. 
 
(3) The Restaurant Business - with 10 restaurants under his belt including Chumley’s and Sushi Nakazawa - how does Alex think about building a restaurant concept from scratch? Finding a chef, location, naming, costing, crating a menu, launching, promoting and getting people through the door. 
 
(4) Personal - what he thinks about success, what motivates him, his daily routine and why legacy matters. 
 
(5) Fun Questions - his favorite NYC restaurant, pizza places & how his worst job ever involves getting a car stolen!
 
 
 
TIME STAMPS:
  • What is Sushi Nakazawa and intro to Alex [1m51s]
  • His 10 restaurants, including Chumleys and Nakazawa [2m24s]
  • Starting in the restaurant business at 13 yrs old [3m19s]
  • What he loved about the food business [3m44s]
  • Growing up as an Italian American in Brooklyn [4m13s]
  • Working in the family business [5m33s]
  • Bringing back ideas from summer trips to Italy [6m30s]
  • What he wanted to be when he grew up [7m26s]
  • What he learned from the family businesses that he applies to his business today [8m58]
  • Genesis of sushi nakazawa - watching jiro dreams of sushi, using google translate to send a message on facebook to Nakazawa [9m50]
  • Who is and what is the significant of Jiro Dreams of Sushi [11m9s]
  • Who is chef nakazawa from jiro dreams of sushi [12m6s]
  • Navigating Japanese vs Italian culture [12m33s]
  • Using google translate to communicate on a daily basis [14m45s]
  • What does it take to start a restaurant in New York & why sushi is different [16m24s]
  • Deciding on a location [17m54s]
  • His thought process & attention to detail with Nakazawa [18m15s]
  • What it takes to create a menu and what they did differently [20m26s]
  • Importance of sequencing [21m22s]
  • Comparing business partnership with marriage [21m57s]
  • Launch - 3500 requests on open day [22m24s]
  • What they did to build up buzz [23m27s]
  • Hiring good people for a restaurant [25m35s]
  • Getting a 4* review from Pete Wells of The New York Times [26m54s]
  • Marketing & how to stay relevant [30m12]
  • How much does it cost to start a restaurant in Manhattan? $500k-$750k benchmark [34m31s]
  • Why is it harder to start a restaurant business now than in the past [36m25s]
  • What are some hidden costs of starting a restaurant [37m33s]
  • What numbers (KPIs) are they looking at to work out success [38m32s]
  • What is the role of technology in restaurant business [39m47s]
  • How do they think about and manage reviews on yelp, foursquare etc [41m19s]
  • What is driving him and keeps him going, how to be content [44m33s]
  • Daily routine [46m42s]
  • Restaurants he likes in NYC & talking about David Chang [51m11s]
  • “Do you like chick filet or fuku better” [52m27s]
  • Franchise vs creating your own brand - making a statement [52m48s]
  • What is motivating him, leaving a legacy, making a statement [54m01s]
  • What does success mean to him & who are others he thinks are successful? [55m03s]
  • Common traits amongst successful people [56m33s]
  • Best advice he's ever received - cameo from his best friend Tom & partner at Chumley’s [56m58s]
  • Word association game, fav restaurant, best slice of pizza, best food publication, worst job & favorite chef [58m32s]

All show notes and other episodes available at:
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Dec 8, 2016
THE WEED BUSINESS:
Analysts are calling it the country’s "fastest-growing industry" and Arthur Frommer (godfather of the travel industry who founded the Frommer's guide) said “get ready for the era of marijuana tourism”.
 
In the US, 8 states have legalized its recreational use and more than half of all US states permit it for medical purposes. In Dec, The New York Stock Exchange listed its first public marijuana company. 
 
Times are changing, so I sat down with Joe Dolce, author of “Brave New Weed” to explore the future of the weed business and its social impact. 
 
 
WHO IS JOE?
Joe Dolce is a seasoned journalist who worked with Anna Wintour at Vogue, introduced Jamie Oliver to the US audience as the chief of Gourmet magazine and spent a week in Mexico trying to outdrink Anthony Bourdain. He has a treasure trove of stories spanning an impressive 20yr career as a journalist. 
 
For the last 3yrs, Joe travelled the globe researching the uncharted world of the cannabis industry. From legal states in the US, medical research in Israel, weed tourism in Colorado & the criminal justice system - Joe has dug deep into this topic. 
 
 
5 THINGS TO LISTEN OUT FOR:
 
(1) His Journalist Background - stories of interviewing Hugh Hefner in the playboy mansion & Anna Wintour eating cheeseburgers at her desk. How his background in journalism got him onto this topic for his book.
 
(2) History - Why has it been such a taboo subject, what is changing now, legalization vs decriminalization, positive & negative impact.
 
(3) Current Landscape  - what does the landscape look like right now? How are people like Snoop Dogg, Whoopi Goldberg & The Marley Family setting up to profit?
 
(4) Future Growth of the Weed Business - comparing it to the beer business & wine country, big pharma, tobacco companies, investment, weed tourism & medical use.
 
(5) Social impact - the US has 5% of the global population but 25% of its prisoners, what impact will legalization have on the criminal justice system? How will it impact people of color who are disproportionately impacted by minor drug offenses?
 
 
TIME STAMPS
  • [1m32s] - Who is Joe Dolce
  • [2m51s] - Stories from being a journalist -Anna Wintour eating cheeseburgers
  • [3m27s] - Interviewing Hugh Hefner at the playboy mansion
  • [5m44s] - Hanging with Jamie Oliver in Essex
  • [6m54s] - Why did he start writing this book
  • [7m56s] - Importance of language, plant vs drug
  • [9m38s] - History, why it has been a taboo subject & the war on drugs
  • [13m37s] - Legalized states
  • [14m34s] - Difference between decriminalization vs legalization
  • [15m53s] - Parallels between alcohol prohibition 
  • [17m27s] - Why has it taken so long to legalize
  • [19m10s] - Gateway drug & negative impact
  • [24m23s] - What Obama had to say about it
  • [26m27s] - Positive uses that researchers have found
  • [29m31s] - What is THC and CBD?
  • [31m53s] - Painting a picture of current business landscape
  • [35m16s] - Future of business, comparing it to the beer industry
  • [37m47s] - Future of weed tourism, comparing to wine country
  • [40m04s] - Big pharma and alcohol companies stance
  • [43m38s] - Tax revenue & growth, estimates for California being a $30bil market
  • [45m16s] - How Snoop Dogg, Marley Family, Whoppi Goldberg and more are investing
  • [46m59s] - US is 5% of global population, 25% of prisoners, impact on criminal justice system and people of color
  • [52m24s] - Impact of decriminalization of all drugs
  • [58m05s] - About his book: Brave New Weed - link here:
    https://www.creatorlab.fm/recommends/joe-dolce-brave-new-weed

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Nov 24, 2016
In many ways, Avinash is the king of "the side hustle":
  • Speaker & Advisor - An established speaker who has consulted for some of the world’s largest brands
  • Entrepreneur - Recently sold the education company he co-founded for a reported $10M
  • Writer - A thought leader in the world of analytics who wrote the best selling book: “Web Analytics: An Hour A Day” as well as building a large following on his blog: Occam’s Razor
  • Googler - Leads a team of 70 story tellers, as Google’s Digital Marketing evangelist
I’ve known Avinash for a few years from our time at Google. But in prep for our interview, I realized how little I knew about his personal story. 
  • Who was the real Avinash behind the guy on stage frantically shouting out "THIS SUCKS" to bewildered CEOs?
  • What experiences shaped his outlook and how did he end up in such a unique role at Google?
  • What role did his writing play in shaping where he is today? 
 
He hasn’t shared much of this before so I’m thankful we had a chance to get personal & discuss his incredible journey. From living in a factory as a kid in India, to building a life in the US, becoming a best selling author & thought leader in his space. 
 
 
Here are five things to listen out for:
 
(1) Early Years - Growing up poor & living in a factory in India
 
(2) Starting his career - Moving to Saudi Arabia, the US & why he was attracted to web analytics
 
(3) Writing & Building An Audience - How he built an audience of 150k monthly readers on his blog, wrote a book & landed a high profile role at Google
 
(4) Starting From Scratch - If he was starting again, how he would focus his time to build his brand and audience again? 
 
(5) Personal - His fear of being broke, what motivates him & what success means to him personally. 
 
All show notes and details can be found on: www.creatorlab.fm
 
Time Stamps:
  • Background of how Bilal & Avinash know each other [1m38s]
  • Explaining what his job is to his mum [2m51s]
  • How he got his job at Google [3m44s]
  • Growing up poor in India & living in a factory [5m16s]
  • What he wanted to be when he grew up? [7m38s]
  • Where his work ethic came from [10m31s]
  • Moving to Saudi Arabia & the USA [12m44s]
  • Earning $500/month - still 7x more than he would have made in India [14m16s]
  • What it felt like to be poor [18m10s]
  • How he uses the fear of going broke and losing his job to motivate himself [20m45s]
  • Losing his job again at Silicon Graphics [26m17s]
  • Why it can make sense to take a title & pay cut [28m40]
  • What attracted him to web analytics [29m46s]
  • Taking the plunge to start a company and knowing when it’s the right time to go for it [30m28]
  • Starting a blog and role of personal branding [32m40s]
  • Why he was wrong about people not wanting to pay for a book when they could get it online for free [38m22s]
  • Taking 6months to get to 1000 visitors, now at 150,000 visitors a month [41m15s]
  • Content vs Amplification [43m39s]
  • “If I can listen to 50 podcasts, why should I listen to you” [45m35s]
  • Career limiting moves [51m33s]
  • Owned vs Rented platforms, eg. email vs social [58m39s]
  • Why he gets more engagement from 9.5k email subscribers than 200k twitter followers [1hr47s]
  • Advice for growing an email list [1hr2m14s]
  • What’s motivating him [1hr3m53s]
  • Can you be happy if you always want to stand out? [1hr5m43s]
  • Spending 4 hours a week to learn something new [1hr7m12s]
  • Advice to 18 year old Avinash [1hr8m15s]
  • What success means to him [1hr9m28s]
  • 4 people he mentions: [1hr9m40s]
    • 1) Thomas Baekdal writes about media, analytics, social and broad digital trends:
      2) Mitch Joel is a marketing rockstar, his blog illustrates why:
      3) Seth Godin’s incisiveness and pithiness, and of course his take on marketing is legendary
      4) Kaiser Fung is incredible with big data, advanced math and visualizations
  • Examples of failure [1hr10m38s]
  • What matters most [1hr15m5s]

All show notes and other episodes available at:
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Oct 26, 2016
Fereshteh Forough is the founder & CEO of Code to Inspire, an award winning organization that is empowering Afghan girls by teaching them how to code. Fereshteh was a TED speaker on digital literacy & communication without borders in 2013. Code To Inspire was awarded a Google Rise Award for their work & she was recently featured in a “change is made with code” campaign linked on the Google homepage in Sep 2016.
 
In this incredibly raw conversation, we discuss everything from growing up as a refugee in Iran, to her struggles overcoming gender bias in Afghanistan, to what it took to set up Code To Inspire. We discuss why she thinks girls aren’t encouraged to go into technical fields like coding & what we can do to change that. 
 
5 things to listen out for:
 
(1) Growing up - as a refugee in Iran & what it was like to return home to Afghanistan after the Taliban rule where female students made up 0% of the population. 
 
(2) Getting into computer science by accident - why she hated it at first and the story behind how she ended up becoming a computer science professor. 
 
(3) Unique challenges of setting up in Afghanistan - overcoming growing up with only 3hrs of electricity per day, dealing with gender bias & the cultural stigma attached to women in the work place.
 
(4) Embracing negativity to motivate yourself - how she uses negative comments to fuel her mission!
 
(5) Women in technology - why she thinks there are less females in technical fields & what we can do about it.
 
This conversation reminded me how much I take for granted & I hope it does for you too!
 
 
Time Stamps:
  • What does Fereshteh (her name) mean? [1m30s]
  • What problem are they trying to solve [2m]
  • Out of 900k students, zero were women during Taliban regime [2m26s]
  • Growing up as a refugee in Iran & returning to Afghanistan [3m40s] 
  • Not liking computer science and how she accidentally got into it [11m11s]
  • Challenges of being a girl learning in Afghanistan [14m25s]
  • Having 3hrs of electricity a day [14m46s]
  • Becoming a professor [16m48s]
  • Genesis & where she got the idea for code to inspire [21m15s]
  • Finding what you’re passionate about and dealing with a slump [22m41]
  • Supporting herself with little income [24m28s]
  • Process of fundraising [25m30s]
  • Challenges of shipping laptops to Afghanistan [29m12s]
  • Being awarded the Google Rise award and being featured on the homepage [29m47s]
  • Recommendations on fundraising for other people [31m15s]
  • What it takes to make a coding school [36m21s]
  • When do you know when to pay yourself a salary [38m35s]
  • Security & stigma attached to education for girls [40m36s]
  • Dealing with negative comments on social media [43m11s]
  • What does the future look like [47m25s]
  • Academic vs practical learning [48m47s]
  • Why are there fewer women in technical fields and can we do to impact this [52m12]
  • Remembering women in the history of computing like Ada Lovelace [59m]
  • What success means to her [1h]
  • Last time she felt lost and dealing with it [1h2m]
  • Books that have impacted her [1h2m50s]
  • What she wants people to think of Afghanistan [1h5m]
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Oct 12, 2016
Daire Hickey was named on the Forbes 30 under 30 list in 2016 for his incredible work in helping Web Summit grow from 200 attendees 6years ago, to 50,000 attendees in Lisbon this year. They are on course to achieve double digit millions in revenue ($XXm) and have had everyone from Elon Musk, Jack Dorsey, Chris Sacca & Eva Longoria attend their events. 
 
5 things to listen out for: 
 
(1) Starting up - how Paddy, Daire and Dave started Web Summit in Dublin, where they quickly established themselves as the hottest event in town. 
 
(2) Hanging Out With Al Pacino - how he tracked down famous celebrities like Al Pacino to get them to attend events at Trinity College. And later, using those same skills to convince the world’s press & top entrepreneurs including the founders of Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, Tesla and more to attend their events. 
 
(3) Reinventing The 'Tech Conference'- how they use technology to be smarter about marketing, logistics, attendee experience and more. 
 
(4) Growing into emerging markets - how they’ve grown into building events around the world in India, New Orleans, Madrid, Hong Kong and more. What were the mistakes made along the way and what he would do differently? 
 
(5) Getting Personal - What does success mean to him? Who does he look up to? What does his future look like? We even get to talk about his favorite 27 course restaurant in New York. And some taco recommendations to finish off!
 
 
Time Stamps:
  • Myspace pics [5m24s] 
  • What did he want to be when he grew up? [11m42s]
  • Hanging out with Al Pacino [14m59s]
  • Finding email addresses for publicists & getting in contact [21m19s]
  • Starting the Web Summit [22m13s]
  • Convincing the world’s press to attend their event [29m36s]
  • Events that went wrong [43m38s]
  • Fire in Paddy’s house! [44m10s]
  • Story of Drew Houston, the founder of Dropbox singing Oasis to a bar full of people in Dublin [46m30s]
  • Hiring good people & the future of Web Summit [47m]
  • What they have engineers working on [49m10s]
  • What makes a great story [52m35s]
  • What is he most excited about in the technology space [56m]
  • Emerging markets [58m52s]
  • Meeting Elon Musk [1hr1m]
  • The market is giving Twitter a rough time [1hr3m47s]
  • Story of Uber closing Series B round in Dublin [1hr7m44s]
  • What does success mean to him [1hr8m43s]
  • What are his future plans  [1hr17m12s]
  • Quick fire questions [1hr18m12s]
  • Favorite NYC restaurant & favorite taco place [1hr22m37s]
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