Ep. #1110 - Improving Your Mindset . . . And Life!
In today’s episode of Startup Hustle, improving your mindset and life is on the table for discussion. Andrew Morgans and Paul Slater, CEO and co-founder of BillionMinds, are here to walk you through the journey. Listen to their thoughts on why you should constantly expand your horizon, try new things, and manage your energy properly.
But wait, there’s more! Paul’s company is part of our top Tulsa startups list. As the area’s startup ecosystem continues to develop, we can expect even more growth from its businesses. Interested to know more about our list? Check out the article published by Matt DeCoursey on Inc.com.
Covered In This Episode
Developing your own skills is different compared to when you’re working with others. You will encounter challenges along the way. But if you know what to do, you can succeed.
Andrew and Paul have the perfect idea if you don’t know how to start. According to them, improving your mindset will lead to more developments later.
Listen to more insights. And apply the tips you can learn from this Startup Hustle episode.
- Paul Slater before becoming a business owner (02:41)
- Microsoft’s Life Sciences (07:12)
- The genesis of BillionMinds (08:26)
- Leaving Microsoft to start his own company (13:30)
- About taking the big leap (17:56)
- His business’s first MVP (22:47)
- On measuring improvement (28:29)
- Why you should set aside time for self-improvement (35:41)
- How to manage your energy (38:57)
- What makes Paul excited this year? (42:31)
- The importance of improving your mindset, growing, and trying new things (47:34)
We wanted to be able to allow or to help people really develop a killer set of soft skills. We call them human skills, actually. That will see them and make them resilient throughout this massive period of technological change.– Paul Slater
AI and robotics automation will be not just dominant, but they’re being democratized. All the companies in the world are going to have access basically to the same stuff. What is the differentiator at that point? Well, it’s the people, and it’s the skills of the people.– Paul Slater
If I’m able to learn something, at least in my life, and then share it with people, that might not be as trailblazing as myself. But I know that they would enjoy it and love it. And being able to push people to try those things is awesome.– Andrew Morgans
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Improve business processes with integrated tools. Or hire the best assistants today. Our Startup Hustle partners offer these services and more.
Following is an auto-generated text transcript of this episode. Apologies for any errors!
Andrew Morgans 00:00
What’s up, Hustlers? Welcome back. This is Andrew Morgans, founder of Marknology, here as today’s host of Startup Hustle covering all things e-commerce and startups. Today we’ve been talking about mindset and leveling up. And what that looks like for you. Today’s episode of Startup Hustle is powered by FullScale.io. Hiring software developers is difficult. Full Scale can help you build a software team quickly and affordably and has a platform to help you manage that team. Visit FullScale.io to learn more. Today’s guest is calling in from Oklahoma, but I will let him tell the rest of his story in regards to where his story joined out. They are a top startup, and I’m super excited to tell you more about what they’re doing. Paul Slater, welcome to the show.
Paul Slater 00:43
Hey, good to meet you, Andrew.
Andrew Morgans 00:44
Hey, thanks for making this. I’m excited to learn about the topic. I think it’s unique, for me, at least as a host, to kind of dig into that. And something I’m dealing with in my own team as we’ve gotten more remote since the pandemic. But also, just being in the e-commerce and marketing space, it’s very common to have outsourced teams all the way down to working with a refugee camp in Africa. I lived in Africa till I was 16. So I have a passion for the country, for the continent. And, you know, working with some e-commerce guys in this refugee camp, really realizing that they need a lot more skills than before. They can even start to learn a lot of the technical stuff of what we do. So this will be a fun one for me, and I hope for our audience as well. I love starting the show out by getting to know a little bit more about the guests, yourself, your entrepreneurial journey, and your business journey. Kind of how you got to where you are, at least before Oklahoma. So, you know, we started out, you said that you were originally from Oxford. Tell me a little bit about your story. Did you always know you were going to be in business? Have you always been an educator? Where’s your story begin?
Paul Slater 01:54
Yeah, sure. That’s Oxford, England, not Oxford, Mississippi.
Andrew Morgans 01:57
Okay. Well played, well played.
Paul Slater 02:01
But anyway, I’ve actually lived in the US since about 2002. But I’m an old guy. I was born in 71. So the first really kind of 30 years of my life was spent in the UK. And yeah, I was always kind of in and around education. Basically, my first job out of my first real job, I’d say kind of out of college, was in training. And this was in the days of those people that are old enough to remember what, what perfect. And like the Windows for Workgroups was around about that time, if you did, it was like Word.
Andrew Morgans 02:45
Okay, so just so you know, I’m a younger man; I’m 36. But I was around during dos 3.1 and Windows 95 and 98. So yeah, I’m there with you. And I think I will reminisce about it. I feel a little nostalgic about it. Those are the good days.
Paul Slater 03:04
Absolutely. So yeah, so I’m doing that I’m, and I’m what’s really fascinating around being at that time, was that when you were in the business of skills training, in this case, like really simple technical skills training for many people, it was often managers and employees, for whom the first time that they had even sat in front of a computer was in a training room, newer and newer in front of them, and the computer was going to arrive on their desk that was called the computer, and it would arrive, and it would arrive on their desk, and they were told they to be productive with this thing. And so my career spanned a whole bunch of things. After that, I worked at Microsoft for 10 years, I was, and I designed the bill training curriculum; I was an enterprise architect, I did all that kind of stuff, but that very first part of my career was so formative because here my, like, 20, you know, just over 20 can barely grow a beard. And, I’m working with these people who are often 2030 Is my Senia. And those people are struggling, like genuinely struggling. I had adults, you know, sort of grown off, and they were men because they were middle managers at that time. And most of them were men at that time. You know, breaking down in tears, and saying, you know, I’m never gonna get this, it’s going to ruin this computer, is ruining my life, all of that kind of stuff. And so that it sort of ignited two passions in me at the same time. So the first one was, how do people learn and how do people develop these skills? And then the second was, how does the technology that is arriving in their lives, how is it disrupting their lives and how do they feel about that technology emotionally, and How is it connecting? How’s that connected with the way in which they’re behaving? And so the kind of intersection between those two things, even in my career, went all around the houses after that. That’s always been something that has been deeply, deeply interesting to me. So fast forward, I left the UK and had my own company, actually, in the UK, that was in training and consulting. I like to say that I got the company that I was going to be my primary customer, right, but the country was wrong. So I was living in Redding, in the UK, and I thought my major customer was going to be Microsoft UK; it ended up being Microsoft us. That took me over to Seattle to live over in Seattle; I eventually sold that company and ended up working full-time for Microsoft for 10 years. And then, the last time that I was there, I met my co-founder, and we did an internal startup inside Microsoft.
Andrew Morgans 05:59
Well, what did you do for those 10 years in education in many different roles?
Paul Slater 06:01
So learning, so learning and development were part of it. And even when I was consulting for them, I was working, often with learning development, on a lot of content creation and learning and development for enterprise architects, and then shifted into, like, the life sciences domain. And started working as the head of the strategy for the head of commercial strategy for Life Sciences.
Andrew Morgans 06:32
And then, the last role that I did there, can I ask a silly question? I just wanted to learn what life sciences are in regard to tech? Like, what did that role look like?
Paul Slater 06:42
Yeah, so super interesting. So obviously, the life sciences domain, think of, you know, for the drug companies, the big examples, but biotech is obviously a big, big wing of that. And it has been an area that has been increasingly technological in nature. And so there are various different ways where technology kind of fits in. One is obviously in the area of drug discovery, and drug development, and things like that, which has got very, very AI-driven, and a lot of stuff that was happening in sort of physical Labs is moving to sort of more virtual environments. And then related to that is the whole process piece of it. So, in other words, how do you use technology to get from, as they might say, lab to jab wick? Right, technology can optimize all of the components of that. And so what I was doing was helping those companies kind of develop a deeper understanding as to how they could use technologies, including Microsoft cloud technologies, to help them drive those optimizations.
Andrew Morgans 07:44
I love it. Thank you for that. Thank you for those.
Paul Slater 07:46
So we do all of that. And then, and then, my co-founder and I meet in the context of Life Sciences. And it’s kind of funny because he knew nothing about it; he’d come from a different from something entirely different. And I, at this point, was pretty much a subject matter expert in that intersection between technology and life sciences. And we formed something we refer to it as an agile innovation team. But we were focused on clinical research. And so, we built this agile innovation team from scratch that was focused on clinical research. And the goal of it, the underlying goal, took me all the way back to kind of where I started, which is what is the set of skills that people need in order to be able to innovate more effectively inside this larger company. And then, we used the clinical research domain as a means of creating a practical example of how to behave in a highly entrepreneurial way inside a company. And so we were kind of like a proof point. But the purpose of the proof point was to create a new set of behaviors inside the company. So now, I start with this, like, how do you go about developing these skills? And how do people change behaviors in order to be able to cope with technology? Go all the way full circle to the end of my time at Microsoft, focusing on? How do we create this set of entrepreneurial skills inside the company? And that led to the genesis of billion minds because we were fascinated by this, both of us fascinated by it. We wanted to be able to allow or to help people really develop a killer set of soft skills. We call them human skills, actually, that will see them and make them resilient throughout this massive period of technology, technology change. And we’re not interested in just teaching people the theory of it. We’re interested in it, resulting in a concrete set of behaviors that help people thrive. In a world that is going to be increasingly dominated by AI robotics, automation, and automation. Think like that. And so that’s what the genesis for the idea came from. And then we actually formed the company, as a lot of people did in the spring of 2020.
Andrew Morgans 10:10
Okay, so a couple of questions. This is amazing. I’ve learned as an agency founder in a space that I kind of created out of nothing. In the Amazon branding space. We’ve been at this in e-commerce for 12 years has been in the Amazon space for about nine years. And what I can say, in my experience from building teams, is that a lot of the time, I have a lot of younger people on my team, right, and they come with a wide variety of skills. A lot of them grew up in tech in some way, right? They grew up with iPhones and iPads. And if you’re 23 or 25, you know, you’re very familiar with all these things. But they lack other skills, even if they’re coming out of college, right? So things like communication and business etiquette, and communication skills, from email to phones, to organizational skills, like some of these skills that we’re talking about. And so for me, it was quite a bit of learning before I realized, whoa, like, I actually need to see, I need to make sure that there’s a preset of common knowledge around how to move around a not just an agency, but I guess like, you know, a digital company, things that were assumed by myself first, right and just, you just have kind of, you’re assuming that they know these things. And they can be very technical, editing a photo or doing all types of things like that with their devices, but they’re missing some of the other skills. So that’s something I can confirm myself, and just something that I’ve been learning and something that I’ve talked about with the refugee camp; they have to understand, if you’re working with someone in the Philippines, or someone in Africa, for example, you have to understand that they have no real idea what it’s like, in Western culture, they might have watched stuff on TV or their iPhones or YouTube. But they, you know, a lot of them have never bought a $500 computer or expensive backpack. And so we’re in the business of selling, right? We’re in the business of marketing. And so there’s a certain level of groundwork that has to be done. I actually come from a family of educators; my parents were missionaries, and they taught English abroad. So you kind of grew up in that teaching the basics kind of thing; talk to me about sounds like your job at Microsoft was incredibly interesting and exciting. And they had you doing all types of stuff, you’re building a company within a company, and you’re moving, you know, you’re kind of becoming a thought leader, in regards to Life Sciences. What made you eventually say, Hey, this is, you know, I feel like I’ve learned what I can from this company; I’m gonna go do my own thing. Was it a matter of the pandemic in 2020? Or was it, you know, something outside the gym that came before that.
Paul Slater 12:50
One thing I will say is for people that are earlier in their career or if they’ve never worked for a company like Microsoft, it can be an incredible learning ground. And the great thing about working for an organization like Microsoft is that over the course of 10 years, as I was there for, I think, nine, nine, a half years, something along those lines, right, you can do so many different things. And so, whatever you are, when you first start, you might have over the course of 10 years, you might have four or five different jobs, and they may be radically different to each other; the companies that really get that and Microsoft is one of them, don’t always look at what you’ve done in the past as a strong indicator of what your next job needs to be they’re looking for, for other talents associated with for me, I think that I was, I really, as somebody who thinks about skills a great deal. I start to think about my own skills and where are my skills consistently growing? And that I have some control over the things that I really wanted to hone. And so I got kind of, kind of deep in terms of looking inside myself and going, okay, what are the things that I’m really good at? What are the things that right now I could do working on, and what opportunity is there for me inside the company to use the skills that I have? And I enjoy using and growing the ones that I do not? And so, in part, I started thinking about what my next move might be outside of Microsoft in that light. But then, I think what really drove it home for me is that when, you know, my co-founder and I were talking about this skills gap, and how difficult it was and how basically, soft skills development is broken and has been broken for as long as we’ve been talking about soft skills. And we started to really think collectively about how important it is that it’s not broken. And then we started to think about how we could fix it with the unique capabilities that we would bring to the table in my case, you know, A long history of learning development curriculum and study of how people learn, in his case, organizational change management, understanding how learning kind of spreads through companies now, behaviors spread through companies, we were like, we can give this a go, we can fix this thing. And so there is a thing, particularly if you have an entrepreneurial mindset, I think at some point where I don’t know if it’s the arrogance of what it is, but you start to look at this thing and go, This thing has been broken, we know how to fix it. And if we don’t, then that’s on us, right? We’re gonna be looking back in this 20 years, 20 years time and going, man, we kind of knew how to fix this thing that is still broken. And we did not, we did nothing, we didn’t try to fix it properly. And so then the next question was like, with this germ of the idea that we have, can we pursue that idea inside a company like Microsoft? Or do we need to go outside in order to be able to do it? And then that was kind of the final thing for us, we were just like, No, if we’re going to do this, in a way that gives us complete freedom as to how to figure it out, that allows us to do like small pilots here. And there sure aspects of it will be more difficult, but we’ll have the freedom to be able to truly figure this out, back in the garage and a lab, if we leave the company. And so I’ve been there 10 He’d been there. 15 It’s tough, right? I mean, you’re saying goodbye to us. Neither of us took a salary for a year. After we left, we obviously said goodbye to a bunch of stock and things like that. But neither was we’ll regret a second of it.
Andrew Morgans 16:28
I love that answer. I was hoping that was at the end of that because we’re gonna get into part two. Before we do, I have a couple questions for you. Finding expert software developers doesn’t have to be difficult, especially when you visit FullScale.io. We can build a software team quickly and affordably. Use the Full Scale platform to define your technical needs, and then see what available developers, testers, and leaders are ready to join your team at FullScale.io to learn more. Thanks again to our sponsors for putting on the show. Paul, so Okay, so you’re like, we got to make the leap. Very thought out, very calculated, you’re very self-aware in regards to evaluating your skills and where you think you can work, thinking to grow, what can come next? Have a real conversation; you’re like, let’s take the leap. 2020, you jump in? What did that look like? Want me through that?
Paul Slater 17:16
Well, we met. So Ryan lives, I should say, at that time in Raleigh, North Carolina. I live in Seattle. And so the two of us basically decided that we would meet, and in San Francisco, we had a gig that we had to go to in San Francisco; we took a day’s vacation and stayed an extra day. And then that and then that extra day, we started to kind of like frame out, frame out what it might look like on a whiteboard. And with the goal that we were going to, like, make a go, no go decision as to whether we were going to do this or not by the end of the day. So we argued like crazy about which was really good, right? Because we never really figured out how, how, or if we could argue really well. And we did. And we finished up the day when we went to grab a beer at a local hotel bar afterward. And we’re like, are we in? And we kind of looked at each other and said, Yeah, we were in. And then that was, as I say, that was in San Francisco. I fly back to Seattle. Ryan flies back to Raleigh, North Carolina. And then that was, I think, on a Friday. And then on a Monday, the immediate Monday afterward. That was when that nursing home outbreak happened in Washington State; it was one and a half miles from my home. So again, I’ve got a background in life sciences. I know that the conference that we were actually at before we took our day off was an epidemiologist conference. So we’re even talking about how this is likely to spread and stuff like that. And then that was, and so at that point, we were like, Oh, this is serious. And we had a discussion as to, you know, as to what it would look like because it was very likely that we were going to form this company and not be able to be in front of a whiteboard together and not be able to see each other for a prolonged period of time. And we did not see each other for, I want to say it was a year, maybe more years, something like that. And so I was working in my home office; he was working out of his. We were framing what the company would look like. And then the first time that we actually got together physically was when the venture capital firm that was our primary funder, and the first round which is the dental capital. We’re based in Tulsa. I said, come down to Tulsa and come meet us, and so he went from there, and I went from Seattle, and we met, and we met in Tulsa in front of a whiteboard. And you know, that was after a long, long time of working. So it was a little unusual. But so many people were doing the same thing. At that time, I think the only real difference was that you know, there was probably a bit of a bigger time gap between us than most of the people that were doing that. But, yeah, it worked out pretty well. And especially as many of the skills, what we’ve learned is that the skills that we’re helping people will develop, many of the people that need them as much or more or more are people who are working remotely are people who work in hybrid. And so that gave us a really good understanding of that lifestyle. I mean, I’ve actually worked outside of a formal office setting for most of the time that I’ve been employed. Ryan was much the same, but we were really starting to learn more about the other people. And now other people were struggling with some real soft skills; they needed to thrive in this type of unstructured, ambiguous environment that a lot of people that do remote and hybrid work really struggle with.
Andrew Morgans 20:46
Yeah, and I think I can agree with that. I personally have had to develop a lot of skills on my own; I’m definitely the type of person who pushes myself to learn; I want to be successful in my business. So then I pushed myself to learn those. But it happened over time. You know, I was at a company where I got one work-from-home day, it wasn’t like, Hey, here’s your, your entire work week, I need you to be productive with, you know, animals at the house, and laundry to do and all these things that you can procrastinate at home, because you’re like, Hey, these are all on my plate. Some of it’s down to discipline, some of it’s down to time management, running your calendar more effectively than you had when you’d be sitting in an office, and they say, hey, guys meeting in the conference room or to, you know, you’re having to, like stay organized and really stay on top of everything. It definitely led to, at least for me, a lot of discipline. At some points, I had to like to mark out every single part of my day in order to stay on task and be productive. And it doesn’t work like that anymore. But you know, I got people in my office that we know, they just are not as productive as home. And then we have others that are absolutely crushing. So talk to me about you guys have made the leap, you’ve decided to go into business together, you’re talking about laying out what the company looks like, what was the first MVP product that you guys wanted to launch with? As far as an offering? You know, to your potential customers?
Paul Slater 22:07
Yeah, so we realized pretty early on that. Because we were approaching skills development in a very different way. We needed to really understand what was right. And the first thing we needed to understand was really what the skills gap was. Because when you’re dealing in this area of soft skills is kind of soft, easy, right? You know, people talk about things like communication, or they talk about things like general, like yeah, and they may be talking about verbal communication or written communication, and then they’ll talk about things like conflict resolution, and they’ll talk about these various other things, that it’s kind of difficult to have like a measure them, you know, you know, what they say about pornography is like, you know, when you see it, right, it’s, it’s, it’s a little bit like that, right? This makes it number one difficult to measure number two, difficult to be able to really hone right, and actually know that you’re, you’re making these changes. And then number three, it’s difficult to know if you’re even, like, in the right area dealing with the right thing. So, for example, let’s say that you’ve got a written, written communication deficit, right? Is that because you’ve got a problem with the written form of the English language? Is it because you struggle with dyslexia? Is it because, you know, there could be all kinds of different reasons why you might have that challenge. And so it makes it much more complicated than what we would traditionally call technical skills doesn’t mean you can’t do it.
Andrew Morgans 23:29
And it’s hard to get, it’s hard, it’s also hard to get people to admit to some of those things, it can be a very embarrassing thing to say, I don’t spell Well, or, you know, I struggle with that. So getting that even out of them to be able to help them is proven.
Paul Slater 23:43
Precisely. So we knew we had to figure that out. And so our MVP, the design of our MVP, was really kind of centered around that. So before we did any of that, the first thing we did was we just spoke to huge numbers of people because we wanted to do some primary research in addition to the secondary research, which we all did. But the primary research in terms of understanding is what that skills deficit was. So we started with about 300 interviews, we went up into the 1000s, and we continue to do it. So we’re about 3000 at this point. And so that was really centered around, okay, what are these skills, so that we can kind of put a bow on them. And then having defined what we believe those skills to be, then our MVP was centered around kind of like a very traditional, almost like training online training program. So we ran little groups with maybe like, 10, in the range of, you know, eight to 10 people, we’d sell a course, and it would be like, three, two-hour sessions all delivered online. And then they obviously, you know, if we were being successful, they were learning from us, but we were learning as much from them as they were from us. We were trying to understand how the behavior was changing? What are they actually doing better as a result of working with them? And what we realized pretty early on is that we had kind of like packaged these skills up in the wrong way, but also, the way we were delivering it was part of the problem. And so what’s super interesting, if you look in this area of soft skills development, one of the reasons that are broken is that 99% of the time, soft skills development is optimized for the people delivering the training versus the people that are receiving it. Right. And then another thing, another way in, which is broken, is that everybody’s different, right? So so, the way in which you will get better at, and I’ll use, one of the skills that we talk about, or the way in which you will get better at the organization, for example, is reflective, in many ways of the way you would naturally organize, it’s related to the way that your brain works. It’s related to your education, your upbringing, in some cases, even genetic factors, right. So all of these things are part of what is necessary for you to be able to get from being this type of organism to this type of organism. And so we had to get much less prescriptive. And we had to get much more of helping people figure out what that meant for themselves. And then the other way in, which, of course, is broken, is that when you’re optimizing for the people delivering it, you’re doing things like, well, let’s do a one-day off-site or something like that. Why? Because then the trainer can go and deliver the off-site in one day and then be one and done and gone, right. But people don’t want to like that. These types of skills. And the way in which you need to develop these types of skills is actually much more akin to almost like an old-fashioned apprenticeship or something like that. And so we’re using experiential learning techniques that are delivered in the flow of work that is delivered, basically, asynchronously at the pace which works for the user. And typically, like 10-minute chunks versus these full one-day of sites. So that first MVP, pretty old school, Zoom meetings, two-hour sessions, etc., helped us figure that out, and then helped us figure out what it was, ultimately, we needed to deliver and ever to get to the end goal, which is actual change behaviors and employees and managers.
Andrew Morgans 27:15
Okay, so understanding how that progression, you know, manifests itself in regards to, like, how you got to you like your actual, like, what is great, what are the skills we should be teaching? How do we effectively teach them? I guess my follow-up here is, how did you measure whether, you know, people going through your courses or signing up for your service were actually benefits, other than just asking them themselves? Was there a way that you were tracking KPIs by talking to the business owners? Perhaps they were putting their employees through it? What do some of those KPIs look like?
Paul Slater 27:49
Yeah, so it is really interesting. And it’s actually it’s, it’s a difficult challenge. I don’t want to; I don’t want to underplay it. Right, because we know, we already talked about just what doesn’t work, right sending somebody to, to like a one-day off-site, the data is clear, right, you have around about 70% of any information that you send somebody into an off-site is gone within a week, and about 90% of it is gone within a month, just because it’s not optimized in any way, shape, or form. But not only that, because the things that we’re dealing with are kind of esoteric and difficult to get your head around. Self-reporting is not a really great way of figuring out either, right? And so, and actually, there’s this thing, some of your audience might have heard of it called the Dunning Kruger effect, which basically means that the less you know about something, the more you think, you know, and the more you know about something, the less you think, you know, yeah. And so we started with self-assessments, where people were kind of like saying, Okay, how well do I think I am at organization control? We have five core ones that are built on a foundation of well-being and organizational control, motivation, balance, and resilience. And so we asked a series of questions, but they were centered around that kind of self-assessment thing. And so what we did is we would assess people at the start, we assess people and as they were sort of like halfway through these, what we call to learn, do experiences. Each one of them, as I said, takes about 10 minutes, and then we would assess them as we get to the end of the journey. And everybody did the same way. They all started off assessing. If you’re gonna see me on video, I’m sort of higher up here, but everybody was like assessing like eight, nine out of 10 at the start, then they get like, halfway through, and suddenly they dropped to like four or five, then you tons more but they realized all the stuff they didn’t know at the start. And then they would start coming up again. And that happened just throughout. But the cool thing was that we now had control. Right? And so now we knew what the what if you liked the standardized pattern was that was associated with that. And so where we’ve ended up right now, which is really interesting. As we’ve structured our Learn, do experiences, as we call them, in three ways, right? So one is you’re receiving the information, the short videos, typically a couple of minutes in length, and you’re performing practice. And those three forms of practice are what we call retrospective. And that was where you’re looking back and how you did something previously perspective, while you’re looking forward, and you’re figuring out how you’re going to do it in the future. And then practical, whereby you’re literally in our platform, practicing the technique in our platform, and that allows us to be able to measure it right. So now we can actually see that you’re exhibiting these behaviors in a practical way, what you’re thinking, what you think you’re going to do is translating into the practice. So we have two advantages, right? One is that the individual, through these prospective and retrospective activities, becomes way more self-aware of what their actual skill level is. And then the second is, as I say, that once they get into the practical thing, then we can start to measure it. So we are going beyond just, you know, did they do it, right through to is this having an effect on their behavior. And then, of course, we can speak to teams, and we work with both individuals and teams. So then they start to see the behaviors that they’re exhibiting; they’re different. And so we normally check in with them. And we’re the questions that we’re asking, are things not like, you know, do you feel better, although that’s useful and helpful, what materially are you doing differently as a result of, let’s say, your improved scale of bounce, right? What does that mean? What does that mean in terms of business outcomes and so on? Through the program, they’re actually able to understand that in a way that they were not able to understand before.
Andrew Morgans 31:43
And I can, I would assume that, as you know, a third party that they’re engaging with, maybe their businesses paying for it, sign them up, it’s a little bit easier, these kinds of skills, and even like results, I guess, coming from you guys versus like if I was trying to do this internally.
Paul Slater 31:59
Oh, my goodness, yeah, that’s a huge, huge piece of it. And it was, I wouldn’t say it was. I wouldn’t say it was surprising, but it was surprising the extent to which that was true. So we had, for example, we typically sell into learning and development parts of organizations that are larger. I mean, we actually go from, like, our smallest client is like one person, right. And our highest is our largest third, or in the 1000s. But what’s interesting is that even in these smaller organizations, the fact that we can come in from outside, and we’re helping people develop these skills for their own benefit, is hugely important. And it’s very different than a manager saying to you, hey, I think you suck at this. And so, therefore, you need to do that. This is actually a positive opportunity for somebody to become certified as a flexible work professional; it’s a skill they can take, you know, throughout their career. But then also you get these super cool Slack channels and things like that pop-up. So one of our most recent customers they have a Slack channel where all of the participants are in that Slack channel. And very soon, individuals in the Slack channel helped those other individuals as well. And it becomes an excuse for a reason for people to focus on these skills. So a very, very first experience that we have had is as simple as you can imagine, right? You’re watching that initial video. And then you’re putting 10 minutes on your calendar to basically have as your billion minds’ time. And then you’re having to do that typically three to five days a week; most people do choose to do five days a week. And so when you get to the very end of this journey, people talk about how you know about, you know, they’re able to get more done in less time, they’re able to switch off from work more effectively, they’re able to separate work better from the rest of their life, they’re able to do all these things was wonderful, and they feel more resilient, and all that kind of stuff. But then the meta stuff that’s come out and what the meta stuff is, is like, you know what I now do? I spend 10 minutes every day making myself better. And that is something that people generally do not do in 3040-year careers. And it’s so important, right? I mean, literally, as we are moving into this world where, you know, AI, robotics automation is going to be not just dominant, but they’re being democratized. So that all the companies in the world are going to have access basically to the same stuff. What is the differentiator at that point? Well, it’s the people, and it’s the skills of the people. So these human skills are more important than they have ever been. And now, this is the thing that excites me more about the company than anything else. We’re taking people who have never worked on themselves and are now, as a matter of habit and routine, working on themselves every single day. Sure.
Andrew Morgans 35:01
And it’s amazing. It’s incredible. And it’s something that I love entrepreneurship, even though it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I know, everybody progresses differently in that journey, you know. But for me, I’m not sure that I would have leveled up as much as I have, personally, at least in areas of pride. And like, where I’ve improved in myself if I didn’t have entrepreneurship or reason to do it, I just never really, you know, there were things that I’m like, Look, I want to win more than I want to be bad at communication. So I’m going to work on this or like, you know, and it was like, I know that this will hold me back. So I’m going to work on this. And not everyone’s like that. But I feel like the business gave me the time to do that because I was an entrepreneur, and not everyone’s an entrepreneur. But for me, it was like the set time drew, you have to improve, you need to read these books, you need to listen to these podcasts, you need to learn in these areas. But if I had somebody that was also helping me through that process, right, if that would be, you know, that’d be incredible. And you know, one thing for me, I’ve been in therapy going on for years now, you know, setting aside a week, an hour, a week of time to work on my mental health, or, you know, just 45 minutes at the gym a day. Or if you meditate, or any of these things that people do for themselves for self-care or self-development, or ways to improve is critical. And imagine getting 1015 minutes, several times a week, while on the clock, more than likely to improve yourself and be like my company has a culture of self-improvement. This is something I’m at our town hall meetings that we have as a team. You know, I talk about the soft skills, we have a book club on Fridays, and things like that, where we get to kind of open it up. And we’re trying to choose certain books around soft skills like communication, grace, or any number of things. And, you know, I’m saying, Guys, you are a reflection of my company, even if you move on, like, you know, you go to the next company, wherever that is in your career, I hope that you never leave, right, we hope that they never leave. But if they do, you are just as much a reflection of our brand and reputation, your next, as you did here. And I would love my employees, if they get taken, poached, whatever, to go to the next company. And these companies just be like, Wow, I wish I could have all types of technology employees because they come here, they’re well, they’re well read, they, their communication is amazing, their organization skills are amazing, I want that set of my people. And I tell them that so you know, it’s like, this is why I’m investing in you. You know, in these areas, this is why we’re doing this is like, I want you to be the best version of yourself while you can get more technology. So this is right in alignment with my thinking. And just, you know, there isn’t a playbook to deliver those types of skills. So this is absolutely incredible. And I can see you light up when you’re talking about it. You know, when the podcast really started. You are talking about working with older adults that were seeing computers for the first time; it’d be like, this is ruining my life and breaking down. And on the flip side now, to be, you know, a co-founder of a business that’s giving people back, you know, their confidence at work, or, you know, their confidence at home, whatever that is, has got to be incredible.
Paul Slater 38:17
Yeah, it is. And there’s a bunch of touches on that. We could talk for hours about it. But the one thing that I will say that really stuck out to me was that you talked about taking the time to do X or Y, like taking the time to work out, taking the time to go to therapy and things like that. And this is one of the biggest aha moments that people have with a billion minds, as we’re asking them to give up something that’s very valuable to them, which is their time, right. And so we know, based on our research, that for people to thrive inside the brilliant minds program, then they need at least three of these 10-minute run-through cycles a week, which is half an hour a week, right? You probably already work, you’re probably already overstressed, etc. I don’t; I don’t know where the book is on my bookshelf right now. But there is a book on my bookshelf whereby the name of the book is irrelevant. But below it is a USA Today quote, and it says if you don’t have time to read this book, you need to read this book. And it’s a little bit like that with regard to building mines, right? If you don’t have time for our program than you really need, then you really need our program. And so people start to realize as they’re working through it that focusing on and obsessing on time feels like the right thing to do because nobody ever has enough of it on the 24 hours in the day or the 24 hours in the day, and it can never change etc. But in reality, of course, what we are as human beings is where energy vessels are right. We have a certain amount of energy that can be devoted to the various different things that we do. And we have things that we do that will replenish our Energy, and we have things that we will do that will diminish our energy. And so we have to be able to manage that energy appropriately in order to do our best work. And in many cases, that may involve taking an hour a week to go do therapy, or 45 minutes a day to go work out, or whatever it happens to be. And so if you can help people discover that, then at the end of it, they go, Oh, so that’s weird because I’ve just spent half an hour doing something I didn’t do before, which is really mind-blowing. But I’m getting more done. And I’m finishing work earlier in the day than I was before. Why? Because this allows me to be able to manage that energy more effectively than I would do otherwise. And so it is, it takes a certain degree of kind of, like, enlightenment and experience, in going back to those interviews that we spoke about originally, every person that did it really, really, really well spent years developing these kinds of techniques. And so that was our other kind of mission. We wanted to help people embed these skills, at most within three months, right, and not spend 10 years, 15 years doing stuff because most of those people that did it really well, you didn’t even know how they did it. It just accumulated over time. And your point about younger people in the workforce. Yeah, there are younger people in the workforce who don’t know how to do this stuff. Well, there are also older people in the workforce who don’t have this stuff well because they build up a bunch of bad habits that are really impacting them negatively in the workplace. And they don’t really understand how they can move on, and so on. So that point that you made, I think, is hugely, hugely important; we have to be developing a level of self-awareness of where we are, understanding what the skills are that we need to develop, and then figuring out how to develop those skills in a way that works for us. And our neurodiversity is really how we can help people.
Andrew Morgans 41:51
I love it. Paul, we can talk all day. As we round out the show, I usually have two questions that I love to ask just to kind of get into your head. One would be something you’re super excited about with a billion minds that you’re working on. And then also as a, as an individual as Paul, what’s something that you’re working on that you’re excited about? You know, this year?
Paul Slater 42:14
Yeah. So the two are almost connected, which is not in a way that I expected at all. So first off, in terms of what we’re working, working with as a company, we were very clear. And when we founded the company, we wanted to build a platform that was scalable, so that like really scalable so that if we were having to go from, you know, like 100 users to 20,000 users to 2 million users, we could do that really effectively. And so we’ve done that, we’ve done that from day one. And we’re now starting to scale. And we’re starting to see the benefits of being able to do that. We initially focused very clearly on individual contributors inside organizations. And so across those, those five skills that I mentioned before, built on a foundation of well-being, we started working with one of our customers, one of our very, very early beta testers left us, and then it’s actually come back to us now. And they came back to us, and they said, you know, what we’d really like to do is we really like to build these skills in managing the layer of management throughout organizations, right. And we want to understand the managers not only to be able to do this sort of stuff really well themselves, but how to manage a team that themselves was growing the skills more effectively. And so we just finished developing that about a month ago and have just launched it. And what’s super cool about it is that you can have managers and their direct reports going through this journey together. And managers are changing the way they manage alongside the people that they are, that they’re managing the people that are managing with their team members, and it starts to change, almost like the dynamic inside the organization as a whole. So really rolling that out and then continuing to hone the level of engagement of the employee in the platform. So we’re bringing in gamification capabilities as an example to really kind of increase the desire that people have and then enrich the practice environment. I think that I think all of that will be really exciting as we move to the next phase. The other thing that’s related to that as well is that we want to do AI is getting democratized. I mentioned that, right? We want to democratize access to these skills. And so we’ve deliberately, like most, the price point of this stuff, like when you go to, to like the old school, people who do these sorts of offsets and things is astronomically high, or many organizations, and so we’ve intentionally set our price point at a level whereby this can be available to people inside smaller organizations, people with much less budget, I mean, we’re priced at a point that is less than it would cost you to send one person to, to an off-site, and you get our platform for a year. Right? So we’re consciously priced at that level. But we want to continue that democratization journey. So we want to actually get to a point where, for example, people are at work, then they can get to our platform, at an incredibly reasonable price, that we’re working with recruitment companies, with other organizations too, to actually sort of build this in as a set of skills as people are entering into that workforce. And then also get to the point where these skills are being developed inside universities and colleges and things like that, as people are entering the workforce. So you don’t have to. You’re not behind the eight ball when you first get in play. So all of that is kind of like the main focus. And then I said in my personal life, I’ve got really, really into this whole idea of learning by doing experiential learning. And so then the challenge, what can I learn? What can I do? What can I do differently? And so, about four months ago, five months ago, I started playing piano. So did it as a kid, never played a musical instrument, etc. Picked up a simple piano, which is basically sort of, if you like, a consumer version of the sort of stuff we learn by doing. And I’ve been playing the piano for that period of time. And now it’s almost become a daily practice. I love them. What I love about it is that it just shows you that you know who you are; no matter what you do, you’re never an expert in anything; there’s always something that you’re poor at, but you could get good at. And the journey of becoming good at something that you’re bad at is such an exciting journey. And, of course, it makes the connections in the brain cells and keeps you healthy and young and all that kind of stuff.
Andrew Morgans 46:54
I love it. I think if you’re not growing, you’re dying. And I realize that I’ve witnessed that I made a pact with my sister, who’s my best friend, you know, that we will be accountable in each other’s lives to make sure that we’re constantly growing and trying new things, exploring new things. My mom learned piano in her late 30s. She just picked up the piano and learned the piano in her late 30s. Before, simply piano, so for me, I’m just like, wow, that was something very impressive for my mom. You know, so many people learn musical instruments when they’re kids. So to learn as an adult, and my parents are in their 60s now and continuing to learn new things, it literally gives me so much hope. You know, and just excited about the future. Because if there are things about myself that I wish I knew or that I wish were better or skills that I wish I had to know that there’s hope, like you know, you can continue to learn these things. It’s just really exciting to me. And for me, something that gives me a ton of joy. Especially if I’m able to learn something, or at least in my life, learn something and then share it with people that might not be as trailblazing as myself. But I know that they would enjoy it and love it. And being able to push people to try those things is awesome. Absolutely incredible. How is the piano going? I was looking at one for the guitar recently. Something similar.
Paul Slater 48:10
Yeah, it’s good. And they do and actually simply have a simple piano, simple guitar, and simple voice all as one package. So if you’re in a family, it’s super cool because you can have one family member do the guitar and other ones do voice and alone do piano it’s all part of the same. It’s all part of the same subscription. So yeah, I really enjoy it. I think they do a very good job. And it sort of teaches me that, and then I pick up things going, You know what, that’s a really cool technique; we could use that technique as well. So, so half listening half.
Andrew Morgans 48:41
Still learning today, that’s always I think that’s always what we do as entrepreneurs is like looking for inspiration in places. You know, I personally go to music all the time; Chase shows all around the world; I just came back from Red Rocks. From a show, those places see musicians and artists do their thing. I always feel like they’re kind of just trailblazing in regard to innovation and art. And so when I come here, I bring it back somehow to my business. I’m trying to bring those experiences back and say, like, you know, how do I create that here. So, Paul, this has been absolutely awesome. And I’m super excited about what you guys are doing and hope to stay connected and follow the journey as you guys continue to, you know, grow. Thank you so much for your time on the show.
Paul Slater 49:24
Thank you. Appreciate it, Andrew.
Andrew Morgans 49:25
You’re welcome and thank you Hustlers and thanks again to our husbands, our sponsors, for today’s episode FullScale.io. Do you need to hire software engineers? Testers are leaders who. Let Full Scale help. They have the people and the platform to help you build and manage a team of experts. When you visit FullScale.io. All you need to do is answer a few questions and let the platform match you up with a full but highly experienced team of software engineers such as leaders at Full Scale. They specialize in building long-term teams that work only for you. Learn more when you visit FullScale.io. We’ll see you next time, Hustlers. Thanks again.