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Intuitive Business Approaches With Eric Siu of Leveling Up

Eric Siu 9:26

And back guys, it switches off like sometimes. So I’m like I switched to my apple one, but it has this the you can see the cameras right there. So I’m going to switch back over here. Let’s see if it works. Well, we’ll switch back when the timings right so we’ll just use this.

Joshua Chin 9:40

I’ll go Yeah, but yeah, I was I was just saying that you have a keen sense of, of judgment. You have. You get people really well. And I’m curious about where that comes from. Is that a skill that you’ve honed over time and and seeing through people for With AR? Or is that just part of who you are?

Eric Siu 10:04

Yeah. So I would say, I’ve actually read about this somewhere, I thought it was something that can be trained. But at least from what I read, it doesn’t seem like it could be trained like sometimes, you know, you live with yourself the most. And so you tend to discount what you know. And we’re discount the skills that you have. And so intuition happens to be one of my skills. If you were to ask me what one of my superpowers is, it is actually connecting the dots, I’m really good at figuring out how things connect, whether it comes down to people or products or whatever. I think, you know, that skill alone has paid dividends, you know, and there’s a reversal to that, that that makes it not work as well. But I am happy to speak on that. But I think intuition with people helps a lot. And that’s, that’s why for for people that come to my dinners or my events, like I’m very selective about who comes in. I don’t care if you have a lot of money. I don’t care if like you’re the best marketer in the world. If you’re to your point, if you’re not humble, then it’s probably not the right fit. What’s the flip side of that? Yeah, I mean, you made the downside for what I do. I think it’s more of a opposite trait right now. It’s because of my childhood. I think growing up in like a Asian family, you tend to, you want to be accepted. Right. And I think, for me, because like, you know, sometimes with your Asian parents, you never feel like you’re quite good enough, right? I don’t know if it’s probably something that that resonates with you. Yes. So I think with that, like, that’s why I let’s say I hire someone, Josh, let’s say I hire you like my intuition with you is like, like it’s the right hire. But over time, what ends up happening, it’s like, oh, like, I’m sensing something that’s off with Josh. Right. My intuition with that is has never been wrong. Once I feel like something’s off. It’s never wrong, right. But my problem is, I tend to like to give people chances. Because I feel like I wasn’t given enough chances growing up, right. And so it’s very much a childhood thing that I’m learning to adapt to now. It’s like, oh, you know, what, once I sense intuition that, hey, this person was good in the beginning, but not so good anymore. I should just make a move on that. Right, which my podcast co hosts Neil, he is world class at cutting people very quickly. So yeah.

Joshua Chin 12:09

How does that play out though, when you are in, and I know what it from a from, from an intellectual point of view, like, I understand how important that is like to make decisions quickly on people. But at the same time, there’s that the relationship element that that you and I know so well. What’s the what has worked for you in, in, in, in executing on your intuition, especially when it comes to people? Yeah,

Eric Siu 12:45

so I’ll tell you where I’ll tell you where it worked, and where it didn’t work, where it hasn’t worked out. I’ll give you a counter example. And so actually, I’ll give you two examples where it doesn’t work. So I’ll do the Charlie Munger inversion thing where she’ll tell me where not to go. And I will avoid that, right? Because that tells me where not to go. And so like, it’s whole, it’s the whole thing, like, tell me where I will die, and I will just avoid it. Right? So we made a hire about two years ago, let’s just call this person Bob. Okay. And my intuition with Bob is like this person can execute. And my intuition was correct. We pulled the trigger, we made the offer the next day, and but there’s something that was a little off about this person, right? When we made the offer, the person retorted back and said, Have you heard of the term hire slow fire fast? And you see like you make an offer? And it’s like, what the heck, like, that’s not the first thing that you hear? It’s like, no, it’s like, oh, I’m super grateful or review, I’m asking questions for you, blah, blah, blah. So that was that was a big red flag there, right. And so this person did did execute very quickly, I was like, This person will be able to execute very quickly, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, everything was happening very quickly, right. But there are a lot of downsides to this person. Eventually, we had to move on from this person because, you know, their character problems, right. Here’s what happened afterwards. So Josh, let’s say you did, you did work for me for like, about two years or so. But at the very end, I was like, Josh, like, look, it’s just not the right fit anymore. Like from a cultural standpoint, it’s not the right fit. So here’s what we’re gonna do, Josh, I’m gonna give you two months where you can go find something else. I’m actually gonna go make an introduction to you for another company as well. And so would you consider that generous? Yes or no? Yeah, fair. Okay. Instead of saying, I’m gonna fire you and make you look bad. Right. Okay, exactly. So you would think Josh, let’s just, let’s just call the first and Josh now. Okay, so, Josh, okay. What ends up happening with this person is I do that and then the very basically the last day I find that our inside company Instagram gets deleted. So if you search for Single Grain on Instagram, it’s gone. Right? Are all my files on Wistia gets deleted? So my videos and stuff, a lot of my content on our Google Drive gets deleted client. Client specific stuff gets deleted as well. In addition, a bunch of negative reviews on Glassdoor start to pop up up, right. And it’s just like being after thing after thing. And so this is just how people are. So like, this is just a good example of like, it’s a good example of follow your intuition when it comes to hiring or making a move on someone in the very beginning. But you also have to follow their intuition. Like, immediately, what you when the first thing like pops up, right. And I had actually seen the first thing immediately, like a month into the gig. But my problem is, I let it go out two years, right? So the lesson for everyone that the key learning here is like, make them like, if you think you have good intuition, you gotta not just make a move when you hire the person, but also when you fire the person as well.

Joshua Chin 15:37

Make sense? That’s a great story, the intuition piece. I’m off the perspective that I think that intuition can be honed part of it at least. But that comes with experience and time and having gone through things. At what point do you think that trusting your intuition becomes a viable and necessary option versus let me look at a data and like, let me look, uh, let me let me make a more informed decision versus a snap, when based on my intuition at what point does that switch? I think it’s tough.

Eric Siu 16:18

It depends on the person. So if you run me through like a personality test, like the Ray Dalio tests, which I swear by, I’m actually a very intuitive person. But I’m also very practical. And so it works out for me. And so I’m not deliberative, which means I don’t think things through but because I’m practical, and because my intuition is relatively good. I can count on it for the most part. I’ll also make a lot of mistakes too, because I’m not deliberative, right. So I’ll move quickly. Most of my, my moves will be good, but I’m going to make some mistakes here and there. So I just think the answer is it depends on the on the person. But I think a more practical answer that everyone can follow here is that every, the more people you meet, the more you can hone in on like, what you like and what you don’t like, and what’s good and what isn’t. And so over the years, I think naturally, like I’ve just met so many people hosting dinners, or going to events, hosting events and things like that, that I’ve been able to have that fortunate. I guess more you get more at bats, right? And so if I’ve gotten swing the bat, like 1000 times versus someone that’s got to swing the bat, like 10 times, my intuition is gonna be more well honed.

Joshua Chin 17:18

Makes sense? So repetition.

Eric Siu 17:22

Yeah, it’s absolutely repetition. I think it’s what what I will say to you is like, I think it’s it can be trained to an extent, I think you can certainly follow a checklist and like, you can certainly get a better sense, but I think some people just have it more than others. Just like for example, LeBron can do what he does on the court and like you and ikat right? i My mom has always had really strong intuition. I don’t know if that carries over, like biologically, I guess we’ll find out in the next 100 years through AI. So

Joshua Chin 17:52

I love that. Talking about the next 100 years a good segue, what do you want your legacy to be? And how do you want to be remembered by? Yeah, I,

Eric Siu 18:03

I believe, let’s just put it this way. Okay. So Confucius is well known in Chinese history, right? Okay, what do you know about him?

Joshua Chin 18:15

Not Not, not a ton. Confucianism was, I think, ingrained into the way that my interestingly, elementary school or we call primary school, where I grew up, Confucian values were ingrained into the way that we were taught and the way that we grew up. And it’s, I never realized that until I looked back at it, and oh, that’s Confucianism. But yeah, yeah.

Eric Siu 18:46

Okay, let me ask you another question. So you just mentioned Confucius, you don’t know much about it. But you know, somebody who’s learning’s? Right. Julius Caesar, right? Or Marcus are really a straight like they’ve done a lot for their respective empires. But you also don’t know much about them. Correct? Yeah. So my take on it is like people talk about wanting to pass things down to generations after generations. But when you look at okay, let’s say hypothetically, you became a billionaire. Right? And when you look at Vanderbilt or the Rockefellers like, these are the richest people in the world, right? The Vanderbilts quickly, like general after a couple generations, they squandered all the all of the wealth, right? Whereas the Rockefellers actually did a good job of keeping it and so generational wealth is very hard to maintain. Because it’s like if you’ve got like 100 generations of the future like they are eight are not gonna remember you and then be there. They aren’t like if you’ve passed on the wealth, like they haven’t really learned how to kind of harness the power of the wealth because they like they haven’t gone through the pain, the blood sweat and tears to actually build up the that wealth, right? Because you have to go through a lot experiences to get there. So all I’m getting at is that legacy ultimately, doesn’t matter. Because people just aren’t gonna remember you long term right? I think that 1000 years or so. People aren’t going to really read Remember, Jeff Bezos or Steve Steve Jobs, they’re just people are short term like when you look at sports highlights, for example, we’re only looking at the short term like we don’t think about history from 100 years ago, people are fickle. People want to move about their day, and there’s gonna be other problems to worry about. And so I think the word legacy, it does just doesn’t mean that much to me. So,

Joshua Chin 20:21

I recently watched a clip of Lex Friedman interviewing Kanye West, he was asked, he was asked this exact same question, and his answer was to be forgotten. And Kenny is an artist, he’s a kind of a designer, right? So when he elaborated on his answer, he, he asked, we see the STOP sign everywhere. We see the pavements. We see buildings, but we don’t think about who created them who designed these structures and, and things. But they’re there. And his one of the phrases that he he mentioned was that good. A good design is a god design. And it transcends beyond the self and the individual essentially, is what he’s trying to say. And that’s what he wants his legacy to be to be forgotten to have designs that are so good. creations are so good at, essentially what it is that changed the it shapes the world. Yeah. So

Eric Siu 21:33

here’s the thing. I mean, I think that’s a beautiful response. At the end of the day, I think we’re all standing on the shoulders of Titans, right. That’s the that’s the cliche. But why even have the goal to be forgotten. Just go build cool stuff, right? I think it’s like, you should, that’s what the focus is. And like, if it gets passed on, it gets passed on, I think, even the way that marketing is done, right, or the way that podcasting is done, or like the way certain we do certain things like it all gets passed on. I think it isn’t just Kanye, right? I think like little micro things change. Like, I’m looking at the lens of my camera right now. Maybe someone is the one that designed this, like little the piece of this lens right now that really changed everything. Like who knows, right? Like, I’m not I like the camera expert. Or like the way this pen is done like this Japanese pen, right? Like what makes it so special? What makes it like higher quality and other pens like so? I think what Kanye is saying is nice. But you know, identity. I think we’re all saying the same thing. It just comes down to you know, doing good work and doing work that you enjoy.

Joshua Chin 22:27

I agree. I agree. And now talking about good work and the future. How do you foresee the next 12 to 18 months would be like now, as we’re recording this. It’s March, early March 2023. We are in kind of like a weird situation where I’m personally I’m hearing a lot of optimism from my peers, a lot of pessimism as well coming from just mass media. And a lot of mixed kind of mix sentiment coming from the larger investment firms. And we were talking before we hit record about Patrick Campbell’s tweet on his point of view of what’s going to happen in next 1218 months. But what’s what’s your take on it?

Eric Siu 23:23

Yeah, I mean, I think all the signals are there. If I were to bet the next 12 to 18 months. A look at where the smart money is going. And so Warren Buffett is selling out on his shares. Bill Gates is trimming down his shares as well. He did buy a ton of Microsoft recently, Cathy wood, I believe is trimming down as well. And then you have Michael Burry, the guy that’s famous for The Big Short, he’s more of a trader, but he’s been trimming his his, his portfolio as well. And then I have a friend His name is George Gammon. He has a nice YouTube channel for 500,000 subs or so he talks a lot about macro stuff he’s been holding out as well, I think everyone’s kind of patiently holding it and going into cash. Ray Dalio is I mean, he used to say cash is trash, but now cash is actually a viable investment, right? Or you hold on to get get a nice return on it. And so all the signals are there, I think it’s of like a potential recession coming. The only problem is, when everyone starts to say, something’s gonna happen, then it doesn’t happen. It’s only when people stop talking about it. That’s when it’s really gonna happen. Right? So my bet is, once media starts to talk about it less, and then we start to like, get a little uncomfortable. That’s when it hits us hard. And so, you know, I hope it doesn’t happen. But all signals are pointed like you look at. You look at interest rates, right? You look at kind of number of defaults coming on for what you would call it, cars, and also homes as well. Like, that’s all coming right. And so like there’s all these forward facing signals and what happens to I will not going to go too much into macro economics. But when the yield curve inverts, what that means is like, sometimes you have bonds that will pay you with like, three months, right? So like, let’s say I loaned you money. That’s a bond right now And then then you have the 10 year bond, right? So if I loan you money over three months, like I’m probably in a normal environment, like you would expect that you would get less money versus be lending you money for a longer period of time, correct? Yeah, yeah. And the reason is because like, if you get more money, if I lend you more money for a longer period of time, like, it’s like, I’m taking more risk of doing that, thus, I should get rewarded more. Now, the inversion basically means the inverted curve means that when I loaned you money for three months, I’m actually getting paid more than what I would get if I loaned you money for 10 years. And so whenever that has happened, historically, I think almost every single time the yield curve is inverted, and recession happens. And so all that to say is, I believe it’s, again, I’m just gonna reinforce what I’m saying, I believe a recession is going to happen. It’s only when the media comes out, and people start talking about a less than it’s good to just come and slap

Joshua Chin 25:53

  1. Are you looking at your investments, and I noticed you’re an angel, at a number of companies, including Do you see companies hasn’t shifted your Strategy and your personal investments at all. I mean, I’m not really

Eric Siu 26:11

doing anything right now. I’m just kind of holding. So I’ve, you know, I’ve done my angel investments. I’ve invested in some cool companies, right? Like, I, I love my eight sleep investment, you know, I love there’s like a lot of stuff like that. But I’m not like actively looking for other stuff. And here’s the here’s another signal for you. Before in 2021 2020 2021 It was hard. I mean, like, you know, all the people that were actually looking to raise money, they actually had the power. So like, if you don’t give us money, right now, if you don’t give us like, on these terms, we’re just gonna go somewhere else, you know, we’re good on money right? Now. It’s like I have people randomly that I don’t even know that are in or that are, that are emailing me asking if you know that I would invest in a company. It’s like, I don’t even know you. Right. And so I I’m just sitting tight. I know, most people are sitting tight right now. And I would just say the best entrepreneurs I know, are just kind of focusing on their business right now.

Joshua Chin 27:05

Makes sense? How you propping up Single Grain for the coming 1218 months? Are the changes that you’re making in a company?

Eric Siu 27:15

Yeah, I mean, what I would say is, you know, obviously, you want to have a good cash position to make sure that, you know, you’re gonna be around because, you know, once you’ve run out, it’s kind of game over. It’s harder to get loans right now, as well. So you just got to make sure that, you know, there’s that. So there’s kind of like a shield that you have. Right. I would also say that doing good work, right? I think, you know, last couple of years, I think we’ve at least on the single read side, like I I’m trying to take a look at how we can level up our work quality, because ultimately, like it’s like, as egotistical as it sounds, at the end of the day, like the work is reflection of me. So people might come through marking score SEO, they might come through other channels, or like, you know, after watching me speak somewhere, I just want to make sure that we’re skating to where the puck is going from a marketing standpoint, and that we’re doing good work, because, you know, I used to hate the agency as a business. But I actually, you know, over the years, I’ve kind of realized that it’s actually a great business. So

Joshua Chin 28:12

yeah, I concur. And your view, you actually changed my mind on that I for a long time, I was like, ah, agencies, anyone concerned agencies, and there’s nothing special about it. And there’s a lot of evil involved in that in saying that, right. But when I met you, I told you that and you’re like, No, actually, the agency game is pretty dope. It’s pretty cool. And it’s good cash flow, it’s good. It’s a good business can stables there, there’s a lot of good out of it. And, and also have curling in the way you’ve mentioned earlier with focus. And I think if you double down on anything, and you do it long enough, you’re going to succeed. And it’s a matter of choice. So what has, and you’ve been through, you’ve been through a number of cycles, and ups and downs and in your business, in in times of crisis. What has worked for you when you think about the people Strategy, and how you structured your team. Back in so let me give you an example. Back in the COVID era, that 2020 2120 2020 20 Things are great, and we could, you know, perhaps hire a little bit more aggressively and give authors a little bit, though we’re a little bit higher than the market average. What change what changes in the time like this, in how we think about people? Yeah.

Eric Siu 29:51

So, at least in the United States right now, the labor market is still really strong and the Fed which is our central bank, it needs the labor market to come down and needs to crash the labor market, right. And so as of right now, still people are offering good salaries to other, you know, like, other employees, right? Like, that’s still kind of happening right now where like, I remember, maybe a month or two ago, we’re actually supposed to have someone join another on the day they’re supposed to join. They’re like, oh, like, I got a job somewhere else, right? Turns out, like, I know that other guys, you know, the company. But that was actually happening a lot during 2021 and 2022, we actually had a lot of scenarios where we’d make offers, and then people get a job offer somewhere else for a lot more money. And we just couldn’t match that, right. And so, until that stops, we’re still going to continue to see a strong labor market. But once the labor market crashes, I believe the pendulum swings completely towards the employer side against the like, it’s very much been an employee’s market, I would say, for the last couple of years, it’s gonna swing back towards the employers, and you’re not going to see the same like crazy salary demands anymore, you’re gonna be able to see really good talent become available. And I think things are going to become a lot more balanced. Because the thing with with with business is that you need the cycles to happen, like the gunk needs to be cleaned out. And, you know, at the end of the day, like there needs to be adjustments where people are getting like, cut, right? Like, these are high performance sports teams. At the end of the day, I remember listening to an interview with Frank’s Luqman, who’s the CEO of snowflake. And he’s like, you know, a lot of people are in tech right now, a lot of the headlines are like, Oh, my God, these layoffs, blah, blah, blah, he’s like, no, like, why are these headlines like, people, companies should be cutting all the time, and they should be unapologetic about it. And, you know, that’s the thing that most people aren’t willing to say. But I think it’s, um, you have to do the things that most people are scared to do in order to get the results that most people don’t get.

Joshua Chin 31:42

That makes sense. And what’s what’s tricky is that I think employment data is coming up in a couple of days as of recording, so the labor markets going every so strongly, it’s getting stronger and stronger. And we’re in the looming recession. So I think that until that kind of cools off, and, and flips, I think, at the same time, interest rates are still going to go up. And it’s going to cost us I think the cyclical effect of interest rates going up inflation’s will the Fed think looking at labor, labor stats as an indication of inflation? If interest rates will come down, or maintain at a similar level? And we’re going to spiral down in the in terrible way? Yeah. Why Good? Why Good,

Eric Siu 32:42

good. Because the companies that don’t be that don’t deserve to be in business will go out of business, and then that talent will be released, to go do things that are better suited for them, and the world’s gonna be a better place for that. So a lot of companies don’t deserve to exist right now, a lot of companies in crypto, a lot of companies that don’t, that aren’t providing a lot of out, I think there’s a lot of companies in the s&p right now that are negative, that are just kind of like zombie companies. And there’s a lot of zombie VC companies too. And so I think a lot of people getting laid off by like, you know, meta, or, you know, Google or Amazon, like, some of these people are gonna go out there and start like the next, you know, great business. And so, you know, I think it’s, the market is becoming balanced, and the market needs to have ups and downs, we’ve just been artificially propping it up. And that’s led to a lot of kind of bloat. And that’s led to a lot of laziness. And that’s led to a lot of complacency. So I think we’re bringing back an era of discipline. And I’m excited to see that because, you know, I actually haven’t been through a downturn. Since I’ve been in business, I don’t really count the march 2021. Because, you know, we just propped it back up artificially. So, so yeah, I was actually like, you know, that I think that was the right move to kind of prop it up like that. But I think we just overextended ourselves, and now we’re paying the price. You know, what I’ll finally say is, is, I believe that interest rates will be at four to 6% for the next, you know, five to 10 years, probably. And that’s gonna that’s how like things were before. Like, they were always around like four to 6% or so. And that means that you know, the world is balanced

Joshua Chin 34:11

again. Everything in balance. Let’s take a quick segue here. You have a one of the things I really admire about you, Eric, is your your mindset around adversity. When we met you had a an issue around your your team member. And it was a relatively complicated issue, but it felt like from an outsider’s point of view, I would not have reacted the way that you have, I would have reacted in a way more extreme manner. And I would have felt a lot worse. But uh, you mentioned something along the lines of the fact that we’re able to go to Through the fact that you’re able to go through the problems that you’re going through at the, at this point in time, is a privilege. And I should remember that, but basically, that that mindset is what I have taken with me. And I try to remind myself that whatever that I’m going through at this point in time, the difficulties I’m going through losing money, or whatever it might be, is a privilege that we have. Can you elaborate more on that train of thought? Yeah.

Eric Siu 35:36

So you know, each level you get to, there’s gonna be a new set of problems that you have to deal with. It’s just like any game that you that you play. And that’s, that’s totally fine. It’s like, you know, new levels, new devils, right. That’s what that’s what the thing is. And in this particular scenario, you know, we had a, we had a situation where we had someone that was basically kind of, you know, I joined a competitor, and had poached a bunch of employees and had actually poached a client that would basically pay is like seven figures a year, while they’re still on our payroll, while we thought that we were taking care of this person, while we thought that we were doing right by this person. And, you know, I, the first reaction was initially like, it was it was, obviously, I was really upset, right? And I was like, I was like, she got actually kind of shocked. But I actually found that it was entertaining as well. So you get to choose how you react to a situation, that’s something that is well within your control. So that’s one thing, right? You learn that through? I mean, you know, some can call that stoicism, right? Like, you’re worried about what you can control. And then it’s like, okay, well, you know, we bought these two companies, like, you know, never thought that this would happen, but like, you know, this happened. And like, this is what we call this is how you gain wisdom, right through experience. And so like, I’ve heard a lot of these stories before, but even as much as I prepared myself, like, you just don’t know when it’s gonna hit you. And so that’s what happened. I mean, you know, I could have decided, like, I talked to a lot of lawyers about this. I could have decided to destroy this person’s life, right? And so I looked at what this person had and everything, and I’m like, Look, it’s not worth it at the end of the day, because one, it’s going to take up a lot of my time one, it’s going to this person has, has, has has, you know, children, right, I don’t want to, you know, ruin that. And there’s a family there. And so, you know, while while my friends were like, Oh, I would just litigate and try to destroy this person. I just thought to myself, that it’s not worth it. Because the only people that win at the end of the day out of this, it’s going to be the lawyers, right? And so what ended up happening was that, you know, we worked work like some like, you know, small deal out, and then we just moved on, because it’s better to just focus on what you can control, which is your business, and you start to go into litigation for stuff like this, that you put your control goes into the hands of the lawyers, and they can decide how they want to play the game.

Joshua Chin 37:44

Yeah, yeah, I would have. Yeah, I think I would have went down the litigation route as well. And it seems like there is a there’s, there’s a common theme theme in how you think about things. And it’s, it’s a big picture, and long term. And kind of coming back to the comments that you’ve made earlier on thinking long term and playing the long game. What does that mean to you? How long is long? Because to me, three years seem like long time five years seem like a long, long time.

Eric Siu 38:19

Yeah, I mean, I’ve, I’ve just learned that like, whenever I tried to do a bunch of things, short term, so that goes goes all the way to like trying to gamble in college, right, trying to make a lot of money quickly. Easy, come easy go. And so like, it’s interesting, because I’ve had some friends that were making like $200,000 a day on through crypto, and they’re putting money into defy right. And like all that money is gone now, right? And so like, it’s just, you don’t learn the discipline of long term thinking. And it’s what I mean, like I have these two statues of Warren Buffett, there’s one one of Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger. And like us, I have one more bookshelf ladder to add, and I’ll put them on there. But if you look at what they’ve done, it’s just the same thing like in investing, you start to study the same invest or you start, you start to study investors, and you realize it’s the, it’s very similar patterns, it’s, they pick a couple of things that they understand really, really well. And they just sit there. And it’s like, most people just can’t sit there. Most people can’t even sit in a room by themselves. And so that’s what I’ve just realized over a long period of time, like, what’s been consistent for me has been single grade, like as much as I tried to say, Oh, I’m going to start the SAS company over here. I’m going to do this education thing over here, then I’m gonna try to do this over here. There it is over here. And I just focus on the the ad agency itself. It’d be like it doesn’t. It’d be like, quote unquote, a lot bigger, right? And that’s all just the focus exercise. And that’s all like a long term exercise. The problem is along the way, I got distracted like, Oh, these people are doing courses over here. It makes a lot more sense. Like I come from SAS, I’m good enough to do SAS and mind you. We got the SAS up to about 600k in ARR. So annual recurring revenue and I I couldn’t continue to compound that. But you know, I realized that the main, the main, you gotta keep the main thing, the main thing. And that took a long time to realize and a lot of these situations like you kind of have to be punched in the face and slapped in the face a couple of times to realize it. Because no matter what, like I tell you or someone else tells you what you read, you don’t really no until experience has really kind of burned you a little bit.

Joshua Chin 40:25

What have you learned in and you recently spoke at Dubai at affiliate world? I heard it was an awesome event. I wasn’t there. But a lot of my friends who were there mentioned that was great. And you spoke? What are some of the most common themes you’ve heard at their event? And what are you excited about coming out of that?

Eric Siu 40:47

I mean, I will say like a lot of talks were around AI. I think AI is a little overhyped right now, I think long term AI will actually be under hyped, I’ll just put it that way. And I think marketers like to jump on trending topics. I mean, I’m guilty of that as well. I mean, we like to do it for the YouTube algorithm, or we like to do it to make sure we get as many people to come to our talks, or whatever it is, exactly. And so AI was definitely a trend. And I’m trying to think what else stood out to me, other than I mean, you know, Neil, and I had a good time there, we actually did a live Marketing School session right after I spoke as well. And I think I’ve also realized that Dubai is actually a very viable place to live by their friend that just moved there. And, you know, with his three kids, his wife, that a big home in Texas, they moved away from San Francisco, but, you know, in Dubai, I mean, you know, they’re, they’re living in like a 5000 square foot place overlooking the water. And it’s like a very good price. And like, it’s a very affordable place. And there’s very high caliber people that are living there. And I think it has a lot of potential. So if anything that I’ve learned, it’s just like, traveling, it’s like, you know, it’s okay to figure out how to have places in Dubai or like, you know, around the world, in addition to your home base. Saying,

Joshua Chin 42:04

do you want to talk a little bit about your, your, your new project in software?

Eric Siu 42:11

Yeah, so this one is a little more, you know, we’ve created this thing called carrot.ai. And what it basically does is, you know, we’re looking for because I have a service business, right, Josh, you have a service business as well, as the business grows, like, imagine if you can use AI to tell you like, hey, here are the behaviors that your high performers exhibit, like they do this, this behavior, like x times a week, or they do this behavior, y times a week, or this behavior, z times a week. And then you’ll get alerted on like, who the high performers are, and then also who’s like lower performing. And you can cross reference the quantitative data with the qualitative data that you have, like, how are they performing with like clients or whatever, right? And then you have more than enough information, to decide to make a more educated guess, on your talent, because your people are your most important thing, right? And so to me, it’s been very, you know, with with the advent of blockchain, it’s like, well, if you’re able to do this, you can see how people are behaving in a company. Also, you can see over time, if you create an anonymous database on how what the top tier service companies do, what the top tier software companies do, how there’s important how those employees are, and maybe at a certain time in the future, you can even hire these people, the top tier people to help you with contract stuff. And they can be doing anonymous work, or they can choose to be Doc’s. Right. So I think there’s a lot of potential there leveraging the power of blockchain with AI. So that’s something that we’ve been piloting, if you’re, if you’re a service based business right now, you can just reach out to me on Instagram or on Twitter, and then you know, we can have you piloted, but Josh is, Josh is going to pilot it at some point. So, you know, we’ve seen some good results with it internally, and we just need to continue to kind of iterate on the product. And the reason why I’m excited about two is like, we can have a freemium version. Right? And, you know, my angle here is like, well, how does this relate with the marketing business? It has a lot to do with the marketing business, because, you know, down the road, we can figure out, you know, a like, what, what are some other marketers that we can hire using this, or maybe there are some agencies that we could partner up with or potentially acquire down the road as well. And so that’s a potential angle

Joshua Chin 44:15

of that. And what I think is super cool about that is we’re not turning a you’re not turning a traditionally qualitative side of the business people into a quantitative way of measuring success, and taking the inputs and look into the outputs, and making course corrections along the way. A lot that

Eric Siu 44:40

nobody’s, I don’t see, I don’t think I’ve seen a lot of companies do this well, where they actually use the inputs to kind of cross reference that right. But once you have the ability to like, look at this objectively, and like the AI will tell you the patterns and tell you what you should be looking at, you know, did you then you’re going to be able to make much better decisions with people. I think a lot of times we’re kind of just playing this guessing game. Um, so, you know, hopefully this is better for companies.

Joshua Chin 45:03

Yep. And often, we’re introducing new initiatives on a policy or HR level, that may or may not impact the outcome for, for instance, does. Like, we have, for instance, we have been using this tool called bonus Lee for a long time. And bonus Lee was actually I came across bonus Lee as because of your course, Eric, back in 2019, I think. And it’s like a gamification of incentives, like micro incentives for people to kind of tell each other Thank you. And, and that’s correlated to our core values at the same time. So there are hashtags for certain core values, and we could promote a certain behaviors based off that, but it’s not automated at all right? So that’s, that’s a manual process that has to be has to be done by people. And what that has transpired into is almost like a bribing mechanic ism, where, hey, can you help me out of this task? I’ll give you, you know, five bonus points. And that’s, you know, that just destroys the intention of the universe.

Eric Siu 46:17

So what we’re trying to do with ours is like, we want to gamify the organization and really base it off of leaderboards, and have, you know, people that want to compete will want to compete, right. And so we’re trying to take the micro incentives out of it. And, you know, because like, you know, we use money, like that’s gonna cost companies more money, they don’t necessarily want to spend more money, right. So if we could use the competitive aspect around it, and also use the data around it, I think that should be bored enough to push people in the right

Joshua Chin 46:45

direction. Makes sense? Eric, you have a massive set of shelves behind you. What is your current top my favorite read? Right now?

Eric Siu 46:59

It’s richer, wiser happier. It’s a book that studies you know, very successful investors and kind of, you know, their thought patterns. So yeah, Ray Dalio is in there. And when he arrives in there, Warren Buffett’s in there, I think Charlie Munger as well. And, you know, I think a lot of these people, for the most part, they live very happy lives. Maybe some not as much. I mean, they do talk about some people that are not as happy. And so I think there’s a lot of interesting learnings in

Joshua Chin 47:24

there. It’s, you know, funnily enough, it’s the exact book that’s open on my Kindle right now. No, that’s fine. And, yeah, it is a good book. It’s interesting, because it’s not just about money. It’s not just about investing. It’s about how to live your life in the best way possible. With that, Eric, thank you so much. What’s the best way for people to get in touch with you are keeping in touch with what you’re up to?

Eric Siu 47:55

Yeah, just Erica Sue, on Twitter and on Instagram, if you’re actually an agency as well, we actually have a private agency community online. You just have to apply for it. And then I’ll go ahead and approve you, but it’s approval only, but it’s free. So that’s the good news.

Joshua Chin 48:09

And how do people get get on to that? Program?

Eric Siu 48:13

Yeah, just message me on Instagram or on Twitter. So

Joshua Chin 48:19

awesome. Thank you, once again, Eric Siu. And for people listening show notes are going to be at chronos.agency\podcast, go check it out. And our lives episodes are on there as well. And I’d super super appreciate it if you could leave a comment. If you’re on YouTube. Leave a like, subscribe. And if you’d like to show, give us a shout out and let me know what you want to see next. Thank you so much.

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