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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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Now displaying: January, 2021
Jan 27, 2021

Mikael Cho is the co-founder and CEO of Unsplash. The world's leading image asset platform that boasts 100 million image downloads & 20 billion views per month.

Unsplash is used more than Flickr, Getty, and Shutterstock combined.

Let us know what you think on Twitter: @bzaidi and @mikaelcho

Watch the full convo on YouTube:
https://youtu.be/vtIGAEKxC0w

In this conversation, you'll learn:

  • how Mikael built Unsplash from a series of failed experiments
  • balancing focus with experimentation
  • how to create a growth flywheel
  • why good ideas are still undervalued
  • how to create a "superpower org chart" & find undiscovered talent
  • how to get a large scale advertising business off the ground

TIMESTAMPS:

  • 00:00:00 Intro
  • 00:02:32 What is Unsplash?
  • 00:06:17 Scale
  • 00:09:24 Failed Experiments + A Side Project
  • 00:10:15 Starting Crew
  • 00:13:46 When Side, Becomes Main
  • 00:17:20 Selling Crew to Andrew Wilkinson (Dribbble)
  • 00:18:42 Balancing Experimentation + Focus
  • 00:21:03 Competing With Adobe + Shutterstock
  • 00:22:55 Creator Economy's Middle Class
  • 00:25:37 Develop A New Advertising Model
  • 00:28:29 Unsplash = Internet Real Estate Company
  • 00:31:51 Simplifying Product
  • 00:34:52 Aligning Your Team
  • 00:37:09 Product Design Changes That Surprised Mikael
  • 00:39:39 "Wow" Moments
  • 00:41:46 Unsplash Growth Flywheel
  • 00:43:56 API + Partnerships
  • 00:45:01 Future of Unsplash
  • 00:46:18 Mikael's Business Philosophy
  • 00:48:29 Validate With No Code
  • 00:49:41 Ideas vs Execution
  • 00:53:27 Knowing When to Stop A Project
  • 00:56:18 Recruiting Key Employees
  • 01:00:24 Finding Undiscovered Talent
  • 01:02:32 Superpower Org Chart
  • 01:07:04 Life Design Philosophy
  • 01:11:23 Incorporating Physical Health into Company Culture
  • 01:15:43 "Inbox Zero is a Waste of Time"
  • 01:19:11 "Text Edit is One of the Greatest Apps Ever Made"
  • 01:21:25 Writing Like You're Texting A Friend
  • 01:24:52 Proactive Actions
  • 01:31:33 Wrap-Up
Jan 21, 2021

Gagan is the co-founder & former President of Udemy, an online education company that's worth more than $2bil.

He later co-founded Sprig, a food delivery startup & went on to become the interim head of growth marketing at Lyft.

Gagan recently announced a new education startup with Wes Kao. They've raised $4.3mil from investors like First Round Capital, Naval Ravikant & Li Jin.

Let us know what you think on Twitter:

@bzaidi
@gaganbiyani

Watch the full interview on YouTube:
https://youtu.be/IifuGSaEkkU

In this conversation, we discuss:

  • lessons in building Udemy + Sprig, from high-highs to low-lows
  • why cohort-based courses will play a major role in the future of online education
  • what it was like being fired by a co-founder
  • the impact of financial struggles & the unique pressure of being the child of immigrants
  • perspective gained from traveling to all 7 continents

Timestamps:

  • 00:00:00 Intro
  • 00:02:47 Who is Gagan Biyani?
  • 00:05:20 Udemy Origin Story
  • 00:10:54 Starting Up a Business When You Have A Work Visa
  • 00:12:57 Setting A Timeline
  • 00:16:54 Parental Pressure + Traditional Careers
  • 00:20:53 Struggles
  • 00:26:54 How Do You React To Financial Troubles?
  • 00:29:27 Living Within Your Means
  • 00:30:34 Being Content
  • 00:33:27 Getting Fired By A Co-Founder
  • 00:42:20 The Rise & Fall of Sprig
  • 00:44:05 Chamath: "You're Going to Fail"
  • 00:50:07 Failure + Cognitive Dissonance
  • 00:52:40 3 Years of Travel
  • 00:57:20 Finding Hidden Gems
  • 00:59:24 Figuring Out What's Next
  • 01:00:59 Naval's Advice
  • 01:04:51 Evaluating Business Ideas
  • 01:07:28 Gagan's New Startup: Cohort-Based Courses
  • 01:13:37 Opportunities In Online Education
  • 01:17:29 Formats That Work Best
  • 01:21:19 Wrap-Up
Jan 14, 2021

Andrew Wilkinson is the co-founder of Tiny. He owns 30+ companies, including Dribbble, Metalab, Girlboss & Castro. Collectively, these businesses bring in $100mil+ in annual revenue.

Andrew took WeCommerce public the week of this interview, with the most recent market cap hitting $800mil Canadian dollars (Jan 2021)

He's a leading expert in buying, starting & growing online businesses.

Let us know what you think on Twitter: @bzaidi & @awilkinson

Watch on YouTube:
https://youtu.be/QRIl2aGmzMc

In this conversation, you'll learn:

  • why Warren Buffet + Charlie Munger's approach inspired Andrew to create the Berkshire Hathaway of the internet
  • how mental models like "inversion" can help you think more effectively
  • the 4 types of entrepreneurs + understanding which type you are
  • how to hire key employees + a CEO to replace you
  • the importance of incentives + how to align employees around a shared vision

Timestamps:

  • 00:00:00 Snippet
  • 00:03:32 Who is Andrew? Buying, Building + Growing Companies
  • 00:07:41 Mental Models: Studying Warren Buffett + Charlie Munger
  • 00:10:22 Inversion
  • 00:12:12 Make A Few Good Decisions A Year
  • 00:13:54 The New Zealand Approach
  • 00:15:30 Fishing Where The Fish Are
  • 00:22:11 Controlling Emotions
  • 00:24:50 When Deals Don't Go To Plan
  • 00:26:07 How 2020 Changed Andrew's Strategy
  • 00:27:40 The Value Of Service Businesses
  • 00:32:08 Incentives
  • 00:34:09 4 Types of Entrepreneurs
  • 00:37:13 How to Hire a CEO
  • 00:40:21 Working With Recruiters
  • 00:41:42 Lessons on Firing
  • 00:43:35 Incentivizing CEOs
  • 00:46:20 Creating A Shared Vision
  • 00:50:39 The Art of Delegation
  • 00:53:33 "Twitter should be milking money"
  • 00:56:38 Lessons From Shareholder Letters
  • 00:58:49 The Future of Local News
  • 01:00:39 Wrap-Up
Jan 7, 2021

Polina Marinova Pompliano is the author of The Profile, a newsletter that profiles the world's most successful people.

She spent five years at FORTUNE, where she was the author + editor of Term Sheet, an industry-leading newsletter on dealmaking.

Polina has interviewed some of the most influential dealmakers in the world, including: Melinda Gates, Steve Case, Chamath Palihapitiya and others.

Watch & Subscribe on YouTube:
https://youtu.be/XFIPkG0rbvU

Let us know what you think on Twitter:

@bzaidi
@polina_marinova

Full show notes on creatorlab.fm
In the conversation, you'll learn about:

  • the rise of independent writers + the creator economy
  • evolution of the media landscape
  • future of media monetization
  • her writing process + the art of the edit
  • actionable lessons from The Profile, featuring: Malcolm Gladwell, Charlie Munger, Anthony Bourdain, Ira Glass, Elon Musk + more

Timestamps:

  • 2:47 Intro
  • 5:03 "Oprah is not JUST Oprah"
  • 9:54 Leaving Fortune Magazine
  • 15:44 Background On The Profile
  • 19:09 Expectations vs Reality
  • 23:43 Why Polina Uses Substack For Her Newsletter
  • 27:13 Evolution of Monetization in New Media
  • 36:20 Writing Process: Summarizing 128 Books
  • 40:53 The Art of The Edit
  • 44:13 Building Your Initial Audience
  • 45:50 Growing An Audience

Lessons From The Profile:

  • 48:30 Gladwell: "3 Hours of Thinking for 1 Hour of Writing"
  • 51:55 "Interesting, Not Perfect"
  • 53:54 How To Find Meaning In Your Work
  • 55:32 Ira Glass: "Great Stories Happen To Those Who Can Tell Them"
  • 58:00 Charlie Munger: Inversion + Avoidance of Stupidity
  • 59:29 Survivor vs Victim
  • 1:00:46 The Bourdain Principle
  • 1:05:46 Lessons From Shonda Rhimes
  • 1:09:02 "I'm No Longer Looking For An Enemy..."
  • 1:11:23 Guy Raz: Stories We Tell Ourselves
  • 1:13:32 Elon Musk: The Chef vs The Cook
  • 1:16:34 Thinking From First Principles
  • 1:19:04 Unconcious Bias
  • 1:20:25 Human Hardware vs Software
  • 1:22:16 Wrap Up
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