Creator Lab

Conversations with leading entrepreneurs, non-profit founders, award winning designers, educators, artists and everything else in between. We dig deep into their stories, have honest conversations about how they made their ideas come to life and the lessons learned along the way.
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Creator Lab



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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.


Full show notes & timestamps:


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? 
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