Pascal is Singularity University’s Chair for Entrepreneurship and Open Innovation. He is the cofounder and enfant terrible of Radical Ventures, which he explains what that means. His work focuses on the intersection of technology, entrepreneurship, culture, and global impact. Pascal has founded a series of startups and he has a deep background in technology including being on the Internet before web browsers. He led Ebay’s platform solutions group in Europe. He held leadership positions at Mozilla and he’s helped build startups. Pascal has written a book called The Heretic, Daily Therapeutics for Entrepreneurs and has blogged and written a newsletter for a long time, more than 1,200 posts. In this interview, he shares a lot of what he’s seen in the world of technology, what’s on the horizon, how our world will be different from these disruptive exponential technologies that are coming down the pike, things that are already transforming our world, artificial intelligence, blockchain, cryptocurrencies, 3D printing, autonomous driving, gene editing and so on. He talks about the importance of a purpose for your organization and the difference between a purpose and a mission. He also walks through a simple framework to help you articulate yours in a very clear, compelling, powerful way. We go deep into his methods to prepare and deliver really powerful messages from the stage. Things that I’m not sure how many lifetimes I would live before they occurred to me, but fortunately I learned them in this interview with Pascal.
00:02:44 – What’s life about?
00:07:41 – Growing up.
00:13:33 – Processing information for the Heretic.
00:31:23 – Sure bets in the future.
00:38:09 – First principals thinking.
00:52:36 – Mulago Foundation.
01:07:42 – Lightning round.
01:26:10 – Thoughts on writing.
Bryan: 00:00:53 Hello my friends today, my guest is Pascal Finette. He’s the only one in the world. Pascal is Singularity University’s Chair for Entrepreneurship and Open Innovation. He is the cofounder and enfant terrible of Radical Ventures, which he explains what that means. His work focuses on the intersection of technology, entrepreneurship, culture, and global impact. Pascal has founded a series of startups and he has a deep background in technology including being on the Internet before web browsers. He led Ebay’s platform solutions group in Europe. He held leadership positions at Mozilla and he’s helped build startups. Pascal has written a book called The Heretic, Daily Therapeutics for Entrepreneurs and has blogged and written a newsletter for a long time, more than 1,200 posts. In this interview, he shares a lot of what he’s seen in the world of technology, what’s on the horizon, how our world will be different from these disruptive exponential technologies that are coming down the pike, things that are already transforming our world, artificial intelligence, blockchain, cryptocurrencies, 3D printing, autonomous driving, gene editing and so on. He talks about the importance of a purpose for your organization and the difference between a purpose and a mission. He also walks through a simple framework to help you articulate yours in a very clear, compelling, powerful way. We go deep into his methods to prepare and deliver really powerful messages from the stage. Things that I’m not sure how many lifetimes I would live before they occurred to me, but fortunately I learned them in this interview with Pascal. Pascal welcome to The School For Good Living.
Pascal: 00:02:39 Thanks for having me. I’m super excited to be on this, uh, on this podcast, a podcast with you.
Bryan: 00:02:44 Yeah. I’m so glad to reconnect with you. Pascal I want to ask you the question I start every podcast with which is this, what’s life about?
Pascal: 00:02:56 Just starting with the smallest possible question you can ask? Um, that’s a very good question. Um, I tend to believe that life is probably about growth and growing. Um, and uh, that’s probably a very nature inspired, uh, answer, but I believe that also transcends and translates into the human sphere. So let, let’s keep it that short at like, I believe life is about growth.
Bryan: 00:03:22 Okay. Beautiful. And that might explain why we get along so well, I have, I share that. Now I’m very interested to understand a bit more about you. I understand that you frequently speak and write and I had the chance to hear you speak in Macau. I was blown away. Um, I loved what I heard and I know you speak and write a lot about the magic that happens at the intersection of entrepreneurship, culture, technology, and global impact. But when you’re introduced before you go on stage or maybe when you meet someone afterwards, you know, for cocktails or discussion, how do you like to be described or how do you think about yourself? How do you describe or introduce yourself?
Pascal: 00:04:05 Uh, I typically don’t, uh, I just don’t take myself all that, all that serious. And quite frankly, I love, uh, in a conversation I actually rather be not be introduced and just start to listen and hear what other people have to say. I’m, I’m very driven by curiosity and understanding and learning about other people. Um, so I’d rather have you not introduce myself, but letting me lurk around and listen and then, you know, start to slowly grow into a conversation.
Bryan: 00:04:37 Yeah. Now on your website, you call yourself or someone uses the, the verbiage “enfant terrible.” I’m sure my pronunciation is a little horrible there, but maybe you can explain what that is and why that’s on the site there.
Pascal: 00:04:52 Yeah, of course. Uh, so the “enfant terrible” was a, is a, is a term used, it’s a French term of course it translates into the terrible child. Um, and it’s, uh, it’s a term used for, um, uh, heretical thinkers, particularly in the art, um, in the arts. Uh, you know, isUm, I also love to play the game of devil’s advocate. So kind of like looking at things from different perspectives. I’m also really only, uh, out of a personal interest to see and understand things a little bit more contextual, understand them for multiple angles. So, um, the short story is why I have this weird title is, um, we founded this company, uh, my wife and I, uh, called Be Radical, which is a little advisory consultancy firm. Um, and quite frankly, I don’t just don’t give a damn about titles. I really don’t. And we need a title. It’s like, because people ask you for your damn title. They’re like, so what do you do? And I’m like, well, like, cofounder this thing. They’re like, yeah, but what do you do? And I’m like, Oh God, okay, let me give you a title, but you have no idea what it is. It kind of sounds cool. It makes a lot of sense if you actually understand what it means, but it really doesn’t mean anything. So that’s where enfant terrible comes from, at least for me.
Bryan: 00:06:19 Well, and your newsletter and your first book the heretic. Um, you just talked a little bit about that, about the contrarian and looking at things from a different point of view. Um, tell me a little bit about your first book, The Heretic Daily Therapeutics for Entrepreneurs and your second book that I know you’re in the middle of writing now. What I wonder is if there’s a common audience for these, in other words, who did you write these books for? Who do you write for and what do you want your writing to do for them?
Pascal: 00:06:48 Yes, fascinating question. Um, so very briefly, I spent all my career, um, basically this is really interesting intersection of either starting and running my own things or working for some of the really bigger, more interesting tech companies, um, in management and leadership positions. And, uh, I see myself and really feel as an entrepreneur at heart. You know, I grew up in an entrepreneurial family. My Dad was an entrepreneur, uh, ran his own company.
Bryan: 00:07:17 What kind of work did he do?
Pascal: 00:07:19 Uh, he was actually an engineer, so very, very different in a lot of ways. Very different than I, uh, than my chosen career path. Um also very informative because I really, you know, having grown up with seeing my dad run his company and being part of that company for a little bit, uh, I knew that I didn’t want to do that kind of work. Um, so he’s in, in the construction industry,
Bryan: 00:07:41 In construction and where did you grow up? Where were you having these experiences?
Pascal: 00:07:44 I grew up in Germany, so I was born in Cologne. Uh, I spent my formative years in Berlin, uh, which is probably the best place you can spend your formative years, especially briefly after the wall came down and like you seeing all this kind of craziness. Right? So highly recommend go to Berlin today, but imagine how Berlin was 20, 30 years ago. Um, yeah, so the, the audience for The Heretic became effectively, uh, it was originally a newsletter which I send out, literally pair via, like just email. So not as a newsletter subscription, but literally me sending emails to my friends. And, uh, they were mostly just my musings about what happens in the world of entrepreneurship, particularly tech entrepreneurship or so your classic world of startups. Um, and what the newsletter allowed me to do was, um, at the time I was building a, the first global accelerator program from Mozilla, the five makers of the Firefox web browser, and allowed me to reflect on a lot of the, the stuff I absorbed. So I read or learned from interactions with other people and I felt like it’s, it’s worth sharing, but B, it’s also a way for me to just reflect on this. Um, and by forcing you to write it down, right? Like the act of writing it down and making it concise. Um, there’s a really interesting learning experience in there. So I started out with that. Um, then a bunch of people said like, Hey, you should make this, I’m forwarding this to other people. Can you please like, make this easier? So I don’t need to manually forward it, but can you please set up a newsletter? Um, so we set, set up originally, um, a just a cheap or mail chimp newsletter thing. Um, then over time as the readership grew, um, we designed it a little bit and, um, that’s basically what it still is. And the first was effectively just my attempt to say, um, I’ve written at that time, I’ve written about I think the first 500 posts or so, and I thought, you know what? Like some are better than others, no question about it. And some are actually probably pretty good. So what happens if I were to curate the top, I don’t know, 30, 40, 50 posts, um, kind of like really edit them. Um, so if someone look at them from an editorial perspective, edit them, curate them a little bit and put them into this little book. And, uh, the intent for the book was really have it as a little bit of a coffee table book. So something you can pick up in the morning or you know, whenever you feel you need to burst of inspiration or an insight, you read one of these stories. They only like a page or two long. Uh, and then you just put it down and you read another one, you know, the next day. Um, so we did this and then we, we did, we went through the self publishing route. So because I wanted to understand how publishing works, um, so we did all that. Um, it was fun as a fun little project. Um, so that is the entrepreneurial side. So, and I’ve been writing this newsletter for about seven years now. It has more than, I dunno, 1,200 posts or so now it’s quite, quite the archive and they continue doing this. But my, my interest shifted a little bit from early stage entrepreneurs so that the people who are building companies basically from the ground up to really figuring out, um, and this is deeply influenced through the work we are doing with the Singularity University on, you know, where the future of technology looks like, really got interested in what does this mean for legacy businesses, what does this actually all mean for businesses which are established? And if you think about the, uh, economic consequences if you think about where are small and medium sized businesses. You know, somewhere in the Midwest. Now those companies get disrupted and they get their, their, their ground is shifting. So over the last couple of years, I got really fascinated into in the question of like, how can you help these companies? How can you make sense of the world for them? And out of that came the new book and the new book, then it allowed us to see the world in a different way. And we gained and I believe a very unique insight into what this world will look like. And in the process, and I shut up in a second, but in the process we came to this holy shit moment where, um, I think we actually discovered a shift in the market, which is mostly not being talked about. Um, and which will shift very dramatically how companies are being run and built. And we can talk about this of course. Um, a little more, um, and it affects both legacy businesses as it affects the ground, the ground they’re standing on as well as it affects the way you need to think about how you build a new business.
Bryan: 00:12:44 So this, you’re talking about the book that you’re in the process now of finishing and publishing, right? So tell me if you will, um, and I know titles are these things that go, like everything they go through evolution. What’s the, what’s the title you’re using? What’s the working title, at least for this book?
Pascal: 00:13:01 So the internal title is, uh, we are using is, uh, The Future of Business. And, um, there’s a, there’s a sub context which we call the middle goes away. Um, or the rise of hourglass economics, which really describes the central thesis. Um, none of those titles are any good. They’re clearly not the title you want to put on a book, which like you want to see in a bookstore. Right? So we trust and this point we trust the publishing industry, uh, to figure out whether it actually should be, uh, should be named. I don’t need to be creative on that end.
Bryan: 00:13:33 Yeah, no, and I do want, I want to come back to that in a moment, but I want to explore as well, like I’ve loved reading, um, some of what you’ve written on in The Heretic and, and online. And it’s, it’s interesting to me because it is a future focus, you know, where you’re looking ahead to what is coming and we all know, I mean, we’ve all seen in the last decade major, um, just disruptions for lack of a better term. Um, and I think you clearly see more than most from your vantage point. Singularity University’s Chair for Entrepreneurship and Open Innovation and what you’re doing with Radical Ventures and this. But also I think perhaps because of your curiosity and the way you scan the headlines from around the world every day. This was something I’ve, I’m sure you’re not probably the only person on the planet doing it, but you’re the only person I’ve ever heard of who approaches kind of an awareness and a consumption of media and the way that you do. Will you talk a little bit about your morning routine or what your process is? How are you finding and process this information from around the world?
Pascal: 00:14:37 Yeah, for sure. Uh, and I think I should preface this with, this is a very peculiar way of, of uh, digesting information. And I think it has a lot to do with just with like just chilly how my brain works. Um, so I think what I’m probably relatively good at is pattern recognition. So if I’d see a lot of data or if I see a lot of stuff, um, I see the patterns emerging coming out of it. Um, so, and I’m really bad at going into details, right? I’m really not like the person who’s like reading the, like the two papers and really gets the information out of it. I need to read the headlines of a hundred papers and I kind of see what the big trends are. So I’m, I’m really more generalist than like a 30,000 feet view person than a detailed person. So that manifests itself in my media consumption. And, um, you mentioned, I keep telling this people this, like what I do is I scan, um, I’ve, uh, using a feed reader, um, a lot of news headlines, particularly out of the, the world of technology and, and business as it intersects with technology. And I probably read about somewhere around a thousand headlines a day and make no mistake, I don’t even read them, right? I just like, they pass by me and it doesn’t take me all that long. It’s probably like 20, 30 minutes of like daily habit. Um, but what happens is it’s fascinating because you see certain headlines popping up over and over and over again, right? So first of all, you see them on the day off where you see, well, if those five technology blogs, all write about this particular thing, it might be important. And then you see it also over time where you see, oh wait a second. So I saw this yesterday, pop up in five technology blogs and today it’s still in three and the day in the after it’s still in three. And then, you know, so you see both like the, the sheer volume as well as the, a longitudinal view on it. So it gives you a really good sense of what is what matters, at least in the eyes of the media, right? What matters and what is probably more like a blimp on the radar. Um, so that’s the way I personally consume my information and, uh, it works really well for me.
Bryan: 00:16:51 Clearly. And obviously you’ve been in this space of technology and on the leading edge of what’s happening here for a long time. In fact, one thing I’m really curious to learn more about is that you got started on the net before web browsers existed, right?
Pascal: 00:17:08 Yes.
Bryan: 00:17:10 Tell us a little bit like how does that happen?
Pascal: 00:17:13 Uh, that dates me. Um, well, a couple of things happened. So first of all, uh, my, my dad was very forward looking, uh, probably more accidental than knowingly, but, um, he bought the first Macintosh in 1985. Um, we bought one of the very, one of the first 1000 McIntosh, which were delivered to Germany. Um, so we saw this thing, you know, I originally saw the advertisement for it, and it was like, oh my God. Like I went to my dad and said, like, you know, I had, I had, we had computers before. My Dad bought me a Commodore 64 and a Vic 20 before that and so on. But I saw the Macintosh and I was like, Dad, look at this thing. This is magic. You know, it was like graphical user interface, this tiny little box. You know, it was incredible. Uh, and, uh, my dad looked at this and it was, you know, he knew the power of computers because he saw me like playing with computers, but he also knew that computers back in the day, they suck because they ran Microsoft Dos, you know, and they were like unwieldy and nobody could use them. So he saw this thing and it was like, wow, this is cool. This is interesting. It could be different. Um, so I got into that, got sucked into this world really early. And then very early on, we also get a, um, uh, what was then called an acoustic coupler. Uh, which is basically like a, a thing you pluck your telephone line into. But like literally the, the telephone set, you plug it in there. Um, so we, uh, and then we get access to bulletin boards, you know, like online bulletin boards and that kind of stuff. Um, so it got sucked into that world. And when you’re in that world, you start to see like the beginnings of the Internet, you just see them happening. And there’s just happened to, um, to hang out in the computer club in my school. And then later in my university and the tools we were using back in the day. And this is prior really prior to the World Wide Web, um, was Gopher. Um, and for those of you who’ve never seen Gopher or heard of Gopher, um, Gopher is basically the idea of Gopher is, uh, imagine you have a pure text version of what the web looks like today. So you had already this ability to link to other stuff. Um, so, uh, you could via Gopher I could go into the, um, National Academy in the US I can read an article about whatever the Constitution. And then it got, it was linked to this other article about, you know, like the founding fathers and quite frankly, I mean when I saw this, I was like, this is incredible. It’s, it’s like this is magic, right? This is a library but like an interactive library. Um, so that’s how I got sucked into, into the world of Gopher. Um, and then we installed, I was on the team, like of volunteers in the computer, um, a resource center at my university back in Cologne. Uh, I was on the team which installed the first web browsers. So we installed, you know, like an Alpha version of a Netscape, um, the original Netscape browser. And before that we actually installed NCSA Mosaic, which was a competing browser, uh, which was open source. And um, uh, just to give you an idea as like, and just to like get the record straight here, how non visionary I am. So I installed, I remember this very distinctly, I installed the NCSA Mosaic and like we, we, you open up the first kind of web pages and I see this and I mean the web was pretty bare back then, right? There was not a lot of like stuff you could do. And I see this and I’m like, yeah, this is boring. I just go back to Gopher. I had not seen the ability like, you know, pretty much at the very same time, Jeff Bezos, you know, over in, in New York at the time saw the same thing. And the thought here is like, oh my God, this is going to change everything. I’m going to sell books on this thing. You know? So clearly there’s people with a vision and there’s people who are, who need to be kicked in the butts, the backside to actually see it. I’m probably more on the later.
Bryan: 00:21:00 Well, I think your vision is, is pretty remarkable from what I’ve heard you talk about and what I’ve read. You write and you, you talk a lot about the fact that the future will look very different from today. You know, there’s some things in life that are certain, you know, we’re going to die. The cliche taxes is pretty certain. Although I’m really interested with cryptocurrency and you know, other, other decentralized methods, how that will remain a certainty. But there’s the things that are on the horizon that we read about we think are going to be huge, whether it’s, you know, cryptocurrency or blockchain or AI, self driving cars. And a lot of these are interrelated of course, you know, longevity science, CRISPR and gene editing, you know, this kind of thing space. But which of these is going to change the world most dramatically from your perspective? And how, and maybe the place to start maybe, and I’ll let you answer however you want, but the one I had at the top of my list is AI because I think it was something in your writing that it was one of your allies had suggested it will transform life in the world like electricity has. Like what? Like how is that possible? What would that look like?
Pascal: 00:22:13 So I think it’s a really interesting question to think about. Um, what are the longer term implications of technology generally? And I think the, the mistake we are making is that we’re looking at technology very often we’re looking at technology in isolation. So you look at the technology, let’s say, I don’t know, like cryptocurrency and say, okay, what can this do for? And then you, you’d take the narrow defined use case, the one which is obvious, right? So you say, cryptocurrency, what does cryptocurrency do for investing or currencies, you know, Fiat currencies, proper like money, cash, currencies and so on. And this there surely will be a massive effect on this. But the really interesting question becomes for me is what happens when these technologies start to merge? I give you a really interesting, weird example. Um, and this is not even that far out. So you take something like, computer aided design. So we have that forever, right? So we create objects, like if you create a machine, uh, you don’t draw it on a piece of paper, you draw it on a computer and the computer already helps you design this machine. Now the next step from that is to say, okay, so if, if we have a model, a 3D model of a machine, for example, already in a computer, can we simulate the machine? So can we basically run the machine through a simulation? Um, and this is something a company called, uh, GE for example, tries to do or does with something they call a digital twin. So you create, let’s say you, you design a, an elevator, you create a digital copy of that elevator and to run it through a simulation and the simulation, you can now test and run and figure out when will certain parts break. All right? So the whole idea about the digital twin is that they will show up at your, if you run this elevator, they will come to your elevator and say, we know from our simulation that in about a week, the following part will break. So let us swap this now so you don’t have downtime. And in the industrial world, downtime is one of the big challenges. So now here’s the interesting thing. This is where most people stop thinking, but now you add and layer into this AI, Artificial Intelligence, and you say, well, if I can run a simulation, I can run a simulation of a modified copy of their product. So let’s say I take my elevator and I make it, like a tiny little tweak and then I run both copies in a simulation and to have them compete against each other and then we see which one survives. So like pure Darwinism or just what nature does, right? And then you create another copy and let that compete with the copy which just survived and so on and so on and so on. And what you will come to is the machine will run within a relatively short period of time millions and millions of these simulations will have designed an elevator, which will probably look like nothing a human would have ever designed, but will perform better than anything a human could ever even think about. And we’ve seen this today. There’s something called the technologies called generative design, a company here in San Francisco called Autodesk, which is doing this. They’re using this to design, for example, the frame of a drone, you know, like the X structure, which holds the propellers and so on where they give the power meters into an AI, let the AI figure that out. And then the AI creates, uh, a 3D printed structure for this, um, uh, kind of like frame for the drone, which again, looks like nothing a human would have ever been able to produce. So that’s an interesting, just an interesting thought. What happens when you let these things like actually converge? Now think about what, what this means. If you take something like gene editing and you run this through a massive computers or you run it through quantum computers, which will be even better at doing simulations, right? So for example, drug discovery, which is pretty much still a very manual process today. Uh, we’ll become massively sped up. We run hundreds of thousands of combinations in an hour and, you know, get the results back. And that will change very dramatically. Not just life, but like even the approach we have to doing things to like designing them or making them better. And so on. So just a few examples of like how, you know, convergence of technology really shifts the, the equation. And that’s the reason why, you know, we keep saying tomorrow will look dramatically different than today. And it’s important to understand like tomorrow is not tomorrow in 30 years, 40 years, you know, like far out tomorrow is kind of tomorrow, you know, like tomorrow as in 24 hours later.
Bryan: 00:26:46 Yeah, no like I’ve, I’ve read these things, they talk about how AI, especially when we reach the level of general AI that it will obsolete basically entire professions and things that we go to school for years for or are very specialized or technical. Even things like, you know, medical diagnoses or legal work, you know, complex contracts and negotiations and like all these kinds of things that a machine will be able to do that better than any human, you know, faster, cheaper with a higher quality. And I think, you know, what like is that, is that really gonna happen? How far out is it and what does the world look like? I mean we all then playing board games and creating artistic expressions and exploring philosophy, you know, or we’re focused on off world travel. Like, I mean, what are we headed to a utopia if that happens or, or, or what, you know, what, what’s your best understanding today?
Pascal: 00:27:47 Um, so I think this, there’s a man, this is, uh, this is a big onion, which has a lot of layers, so let’s unpeel a few of them. Um, so I think the first misunderstanding people have is they talk about like, unfortunately you talk about the future of work and the future of jobs. And I think you actually make the, make the right point here. It’s more the future of professions. So say for example, you take the legal profession in the legal profession is certain jobs, um, which are paralegal for example, does where they go into a data room and they go through thousands of contracts to find the five contracts, which have this weird formulation which needs to be fixed, right? And AI and a machine learning algorithm can do this way better than any human, right? They don’t get tired. They don’t complain. They still can read every word, whereas the human probably skips a bunch and so on and so on. So that shop will probably go away, like does a job of someone sitting in like in a dark room like going through thousands and thousands of thousands of papers go away? Yes, I think so. Is that dramatic? But quite frankly, no, because in a lot of ways that is not a job a human should do in the first place. Right. It’s not a particularly good job and nice job to be done to be done. Um, I would also argue that we had these shifts throughout history. I mean before we had the power drill, the way you got like a hole into like a a, you know, like into a wall was like you did this manually. So it took, it took it like 10 times as much. Did anyone complain about the power drill? Yeah, probably like, I don’t know, probably someone complained and said like, well, it’s taking my job away because I’m like not drilling anymore. Right. But you know, it makes life better. So I think that’s the first part. The second part is, and this goes to the utopia question, um, there is this notion of like, oh yeah, my God, like then we all become philosophers or play music and you know, what kind of world will that be? Quite frankly, when I look at what are the big problems in the world today? And you just look at something like the uh, the sustainable development goals from the United Nations of which they are like, what 17 or something. Um, we have our work cut out for us it is a lot of work for us to do. Like, let’s fix all of this. Like, let’s make all of these problems go away. You know, like every child is educated, you know, nobody’s dying of hunger anymore. Like we’ve all clean drinking water. Once we have that done, let’s have a conversation. If we are now like laying back and like enjoying the fruits of our labor a little bit. But until then I think we’ve got a lot of problems to solve and a lot of work to do.
Bryan: 00:30:19 Yeah, no, that, that’s a really valid perspective. And of course the hope and the promise is that this technology will assist us right in resolving those issues. I mean, I was just having this conversation with someone today that if the statistic is true, and I have no reason to believe it isn’t, that between 30 and 40% of food in the United States goes to waste. And yet one in six children goes to bed hungry every night. That clearly we have the technology to distribute, you know, food to those kids. But the other socio and economic factors, including the empathy, the awareness, the willingness, I mean, and those are maybe beyond the domain of technology and in a strict sense, but there’s a lot, there’s a lot of work to be done in a lot of dimensions. There’s, there’s no question. So, all right. Maybe we could check in at least like once a year and just see how we doing, how many of those SDGs, have we checked off.
Pascal: 00:31:18 We should, we should hold, hold ourselves accountable to that for sure.
Bryan: 00:31:23 No, that’s, that’s, that’s beautiful. And then on the inverse, the question, you know, obviously there’s a lot, there’s a lot that’s changing now, an exciting time to be alive. From your view, and this is a broad question too, but what won’t change about the world, about human beings? What do you see is, is sure as anything a sure bet when it comes to us, when it comes to the world that’s going to be true in the future.
Pascal: 00:31:51 So you mentioned this actually in the beginning. I think for uh, for the foreseeable future, we will still die. Um, as sad as that sounds. Um, So that will not go away. I believe generally speaking, our basic human needs and particularly the needs we have, which are, you know, if you think about Maslow’s, uh, the perimeter of the hierarchies, right? Um, if you think about those, particularly the higher evolved needs, um, you know, stuff like belonging, human connection, et cetera, that will not go away. Um, we will probably, um, substitute a few of those from, you know, one modality to another. Um, so think about, could you service some of those needs um, through, uh, either a virtual reality experience, um, or through a, uh, machine, right? Like a robot for example. There’s a couple of these science fiction movies which talk about like how for example, robots in elderly care can start replacing certain elements of this human interaction. So we’ll see if that happens. But I think that the need, the core need itself for the human doesn’t go away. Right? The human still wants to have comfort and, um, outside of the basic needs like food, shelter, so on. But like once they’ve, comfort oneself, connection wants to be around other human social beings. Right. I mean, the reason why I find this always so funny when people talk about like how in like the young generation like whatever you want to call them, the Millennials, Gen Z, whatsoever, how they are not like social anymore, right? Because they are now always on their phones at the same time as like, well, they are super social. They are actually way more social than you were. You know, like then I was when I was like their age, uh, it just a different modality. Now you can be the fact that that modality is probably less human, right? Because there’s less human interacts, like direct human interaction. Um, but it’s still, it still fulfills the need of a person to be socially active, to be connected to other human beings, to, you know, whatever it is. To love.
Bryan: 00:34:06 No, that makes, that makes a lot of sense to me. And for anybody that worries about the next generation, I, when that comes up in discussion, I always think of that saying, you know, what’s going to happen to them, to the next generation, they’re going to grow up to worry about the next generation.
Pascal: 00:34:22 It’s always that, that is the, the never ending, uh, the never ending, uh, schema for sure.
Bryan: 00:34:28 Yeah, for sure. So, okay, a couple things while we’re in this area of the discussion that I, that I just want to explore with you. One is this idea I heard you mention somewhere, um, heart math and I, I’m heart math certified trainer. Actually, I’m a big believer in, in a, the value of that process, which I think is pretty amazing because from my view, they’ve simply taken thousands like ancient wisdom and put it in a very scientific and rational package and now they’re redistributing it, which I think is great. But why, if, if I’m understanding you, why is heart math matter in this world with all this technology and innovation and advancement?
Pascal: 00:35:14 I think the version of that is to say that most of the stuff we’re seeing being quote unquote invented today, um, is actually, a recombination of existing stuff to make something new, which fulfills a need in a slightly better way, right? So if you think about, um, and nothing against this, but if you think about like something like Instagram, Instagram really didn’t do anything new, right? Like, in a way, it’s like all they did is they took a picture, they added, you know, like these filters, which make the pictures look a little bit better and they made it super easy for you to share it. And there’s a cool brand behind it. There’s nothing interesting actually in Instagram per se. Um, I believe that to a certain extent we have lost the ability or the willingness, probably even more so to really tackle problems from a first principle like hard math puts that potential where you go like all the way down to the base, the root cause and build up from there. And that’s x. That’s harder, way harder. It’s more expensive. It’s, you know, it takes way more time. Uh, it’s not as glorious. Uh, but in the, in the world of, um, Silicon Valley at least, um, this is really interesting story around in Silicon Valley we had in the late sixties, uh, we had a place called Xerox Parc and Xerox Parc did ultimately hard math, right? They invented a lot. And, uh, in a, a relatively short period of time, about just 10 years, they invented effectively 50% of what became the Internet. They invented the laser printer. They invented the, um, the graphical user interface, a bunch of other stuff. There is an argument to be made that what Silicon Valley did over the last 50 years, effectively 40 years since Xerox Park’s gone, is to commercialize this stuff which came out of Xerox Parc and the people from Xerox Parc, particularly Alan Kay, go on the record and say, well, Silicon Valley, you need to do something new now because you’re running out of stuff, you can commercialize from the stuff we invented 40 years ago. And I think that sad and I think there’s truth to it, right? So now if you think about like the really interesting problems in this world, they will not be solved by a recombination of existing factors. They require someone to do like real research, you know, like go really deep into the physics, the biology, the chemistry, the math around problems and that’s how you solve problems. So, um, I think there’s a, there’s a dire need in this world for people to go back to like really look at problems from a first principle perspective and try to figure out like, how do you actually solve this without just taking the shortcut of like, you know, just take stuff off the shelf and recombine it and throw that against the problem. That works. But it doesn’t get you to solutions in many areas anymore.
Bryan: 00:38:09 And this concept of first principles thinking, it’s powerful. I know it’s been talked about for a while in Silicon Valley, I think it’s making its way more broadly into the kind of thought sphere of the, you know, the conversational domain of the business world. But will you just share a little bit about it? What’s your view, your understanding of what first principles thinking is and how we can do it.
Pascal: 00:38:35 Yeah, sure. So, and by the way, Silicon Valley didn’t invest invent this, right? First principles comes out of our physics where you basically say, okay, so we’ve got this problem. Now let’s break it down to like the, the next level down and then the next level down until you get to the base of it. And the base of it is literally what is the physical principles some thing is made off, um, or the chemical principles or the biology, uh, principles. Um, there’s a really beautiful story. Uh, Elon Musk, um, tells about first principles, but he’s, he’s a huge proponent of this idea and I think some of the brilliance of Elon is his ability to do so, like to think in first principles and push other people to do so. Um, so the example he gives is, um, when they thought about building the mega factory, which is this big factory they built to create, um, batteries. The starting point for them was to say, we saw that a kilowatt hour battery. So if you buy a battery, it has a kilowatt hour power, um, is about $80 on the market. And he said, what we did is we basically said, what is this battery even made off in terms of what are the chemicals being used? What is the, you know, like the canister being made off and so on. So you break this down to first principles to literally say like, here’s the, the, the, the bill of material, which makes a battery. And what Elon found is that the bill of material on the spot market, if you were to buy it, costs you about $8 a kilowatt hour. So somehow between $8 of bill of materials, it goes all the way up to $80 until it’s basically in your car, in his case, right? And he said like that stupid like that can’t be like, that seems wasteful. So by having the ability to look at the first principles, you see the broken the broken process and can now build it from the ground up. Now you can say, okay, so what does it take us take for us to create a battery? How can we do this? How can we do this effectively? And so on? And then you end up with building the mega factory. Now what most people do is they look at an $80 battery and they say, Huh, okay, can we make this a little bit cheaper? And then you create a battery for like $75 and you pat yourself on the back. And rightfully so because you just save shaved off $5 what Elon does is he goes from the bottom up and he creates a battery for whatever, like $30. Right? And it just basically destroyed the veteran market. Uh, so that’s the, that’s the interesting piece when you like really forces yourself to go down to first principles and figure out like what is it made of and then recombine the pieces and go up again. Very often you get two insights you couldn’t see otherwise.
Bryan: 00:41:11 Yeah. That, that’s powerful. And you know, I remember seeing this when I, early in my career in management where I would see that the common practice when preparing for the next year was to just look at your existing expenses. You know, what was our budget this year? And then let’s just increase sales by some small factor or to decrease expenses by some factor, instead of going back to a white sheet and just saying, what are our outcomes and how could we get there as efficiently as possible instead of being burdened by the past, you know? So I think there’s something really potentially very powerful there. So, speaking of, of business and management, I want to go back to a discussion of your book. Um, the future. The future of work is what we’re calling it now.
Pascal: 00:41:59 The Future Business.
Bryan: 00:42:00 The Future of Business. Thank you. Thank you. The Future of Business. See how titles change.
Pascal: 00:42:05 Yeah, right. Exactly. Now I need to write about the future of work, dammit.
Bryan: 00:42:08 And you know, somebody’s just gonna walk into Barnes and Noble. I actually used to be a bookseller at Barnes and Noble as well. So I’ve had this experience. People will call up or they walk in, I’m looking for a book. Okay, it’s blue. I’m like, okay. It’s got a guy on the front, you know? So, anyway, um, so let me, okay, let me go back to this book. The future of business. So how do you want the world to be different as a result of you having written and published this book?
Pascal: 00:42:38 What we used the book for is to make the world aware of a change we’re seeing in like a very fundamental change in the way businesses are being run. And the hope is that, uh, and the aim we are having with a book is that we aim you with not just an understanding. First of all, we aim, we aim to give you really like a first principles understanding of what happens in the world. And then we provide you with some insight and frameworks and models which allow you to create a company or modify your existing company in a way that it is going to be successful in the future. And the reason why we’re doing this is, and the reason what really drives me is if you think about the glue which keeps society together for better or worse, it’s a business, right? Like people get a lot of their identity around from their work. They get their livelihoods from their work. Um, they spend most of their lives at work. Now you can be moaned this and you can say societally that’s bad and we should find a different model. But as long as that is true, I think we need to make sure that work still exists and that these companies still exist and that they’re thriving and that people have good, meaningful work inside of those companies, which they can identify with, et cetera. So that’s the reason why we go and say, well, we see this big shift happening. You need to be aware of it. You can leverage it and actually have success with it and make, you know, like create wealth and hopefully wealth for everyone and involved in this, in this endeavor. Um, but you need to do it because otherwise you’re screwed.
Bryan: 00:44:18 So what’s, what’s the shift and do you think it’s a clever name for it?
Pascal: 00:44:22 Yeah, yeah. Yeah. So we call this hourglass economics and the, um, the shift is, so for everyone who’s like even semi-schooled in economics, they will get it immediately. So for about four decades, um, we are talking about most markets, particularly consumer markets. We talk about most markets as um, what we call product pyramids. So a product pyramid is in most markets you have, um, at the very top of the pyramid. And do you know that the pyramid is like this triangle shape. At the very top of that triangle, you have high margin, low volume products, and at the bottom you’ve got the exact opposite, right? So let’s say fashion for example, you’ve got at the top of fashion, you’ve got, I don’t know, let’s say Gucci and Prada at the very top, right, high margin, low volume, highly successful companies, but they sell, you know, like two very specific niche market. And then at the very bottom of it, you have, um, you know, fashion brands like H and M, Zara Primart. Um, so they sell massive volume, very low margin. They’re kind of everywhere. And then you’ve got this whole thing in the middle, in the middle, it’s like your Gap and your Abercrombie and Fitch and you know, you name them. So he, all the stuff you see in a mall and the big shift we’re seeing and we’re seeing this in market after market after market, is that this pyramid shape shifts into what we look like an hourglass. What this means is that the markets are tearing apart the means. The bottom gets bigger and bigger and fatter and fatter. Um, so this is your convenience product. You don’t care all that much about the brand or you care about the brand, but it’s more like a, um, a safety brand. More like a brand where you say, I know that Primary has good quality, that’s fine. Right? And then at the top, because we see a lot of these shifts in the way businesses are being run and you can run them today because of the Internet, because of exponentially accelerating technology, AI, blah, blah, blah, 3D printing, you can create ever more companies which are ever smaller in niches and services those niches profitably. Um, so you and I share a, a, a passion for two of those companies in the fashion space. One is a company called Noble. Um, they do shoes. Um, they basically just create one pair of shoes and they make this one pair and that you’re going to show me your shoes. Oh my God, I love those. They’re my favorite ones. So these shoes, they make one pair of shoes and that’s it, you know, and they’ve got a brilliant business model behind it and they sell it to a very specific niche. And the other one is his underwear company called MeUndies. And MeUndies does make, they make, you know, basically one pair of underwear, you know, like different colors, different sizes and so on. But that’s it. They’re not selling you sweatshirts and trousers and you know, all this other stuff. So again, we’re seeing this massive shift to this hourglass. We really call this hourglass economics because there’s a whole like economic model behind this. And my fear is, and this is a reason why we’re feeling so compelled to write this book and why we feel it needs to be out there in the world, is most companies if you think about it, most companies operate in the middle. Most companies are the stuff which will go away. And so we’ve seen this middle disappearing, this hourglass shifting. It’s huge opportunities by the way. So you can become, you can, if you manage to go down market and go into the bottom of the hourglass, you become literary and infrastructural type of company. If you can’t go up down there, you need to go up. And if you go up, you can create these highly profitable, um, beautiful, um, position little brands like Nobel and Me Undies in the fashion industry.
Bryan: 00:47:58 Yeah. And even Nike, like I’m so amazed at these large corporations who are customizing, you know, an individualizing apparel, you know, a very high quality, very personalized. And you know, brands like Ferrari have been doing it forever. Getting the stitching on your seats and you know, but that’s obviously not a mass market thing, but to see that coming closer to, you know, the, the average American or average global citizen, which the average is rising. And I understand there’s still so many people who are living in extreme poverty, but it is amazing as you’re saying these, these ends of a, you know, an hourglass. I see that in, in my own, in my own experience as a, as a consumer. Absolutely. So what do, so now that businesses understand this as a concept, right? Because often, you know, a model itself can be useful to create a new understanding, open up a new possibility. Let’s just, I imagine you probably have examples of companies who either have done this successfully or, or could do this successfully. Who do you point to like who’s doing this well or who could do this well?
Pascal: 00:49:11 Yeah, absolutely. Um, I think you see a lot of companies now bumping up in the, in the consumer space and, and if you are a, an internet consumer, so if you buy a lot of your stuff on the internet or you’re kind of plugged into the Internet ecosystem, sub say you see a lot of these companies, particularly, it’s a top of the hour class. Um, so, uh, we talked about fashion where we see this, um, you see it, um, online metro sales. There’s a company called Casper, uh, which a lot of people know by now, of course, again, like really fascinating. So Casper grows like wildfire. They sell you one product more or less as just like one mattress. Right now they’ve got three models, but that’s about it. Um, whereas at the same time, the big mattress superstores which sell you like 200 different types of mattresses and they’re kind of undifferentiated, they’re dying, you know, so we see it there. Um, uh, there’s a tooth, uh, a toothpaste company in the US called Hello, Hello toothpaste, same deal. It’s like they make toothpaste, they compete with Colgate and you know, Proctor and Gamble and doing really well. So, and we see that. And then on the bottom you see in like ultimately the Amazonification of everything, right? So Amazon has become this like massive chuck on od, which is like eating up more and more and more. And you see it in China or when you look at Chinese companies, the big Chinese companies who see it in fashion with Prime Arc, um, where it’s probably interesting. So again, like we see it in the consumer space and then people point out like, well, it’s only consumer. And I’m like, that’s not true. Like you look at it in an industry like, uh, automobiles, cars. Like we’re seeing it in cars where at the bottom of the pyramid you’ve got this, you’ve got ultimately, at least currently these massive car companies like Volkswagen, Toyota, which supplied most of the cars being made in the world. Uh, at in terms of volume you’ve got at the top of it, you’ve got of course like already your differentiated brands like Porsche. But you see now for the first time in the history of cars because of the fact that it is, has become so cheap and easy to build an electric vehicle. You now, when you go to a car show, you see these car manufacturer popping up, which you have never heard of before. Yeah. Right. If you’d like, there’s suddenly a car manufacturer and they make one model and you’re like, what the hell? The other day I read, um, uh, Hussein Bolt, the guy who is the world champion, the world record holder in the a hundred meter dash. He started a car company. He’s got an electric car, which he will want, or he wants to sell for less than $10,000, $9,999 and a tiny little electric car. Right. It’s like we’re Hussein Bolt.
Bryan: 00:52:01 Is it disposable? I mean like what is this. That’s crazy. Right? Yeah.
Pascal: 00:52:05 But then you have in the middle, again, like stuck these companies, like in the US you’ve got like companies like GM, you know? Yeah. With all their brands and you’re like, you’re not differentiated. You’re not like a mass market, you know, like the bottom of it, you’re not differentiated to the top. And now think about what the economic implications of this are. This like hundreds of thousands of people work at these companies. Right. So that’s what keeps me up at night. And I was like, I’m looking at this and I’m like, wow. Like this has massive economic implications and we need to figure that out.
Bryan: 00:52:36 Yeah, no, no doubt. Well, and with, with business too, um, one thing that I’ve been really struck by is this conversation about culture is something you speak a lot about as well. And you talk about how important the purpose is for an organization. There were two things in particular I wanted to ask you about here. One of them was something that you wrote about Kevin Star with the Mulago Foundation, talking about articulating a mission in eight words or less, and using this verb target outcome model. Will you just share a little bit about why, like what that is, why it could be useful to somebody?
Pascal: 00:53:18 Yeah, of course. So let’s start out with like very briefly introducing Kevin. So Kevin is a dear friend of mine. Um, he is, um, a partner of Co-founder of the Mulago Foundation. Um, Mulago has been doing, um, impact investing pretty much longer than anyone else in the world. Um, they’ve been on this for like 30 years. Um, uh, Kevin is an absolutely incredible human being. And, uh, Kevin a while ago, quite a while ago, actually developed this model where he said, we work with all these, in his case, nonprofit, typically nonprofits, some for profits. Um, but we work with these organizations. Um, they’re doing this really important work, but they can’t really formulate what the heck they’re actually doing. And then the challenge is once you can’t formulate it, you don’t know what to measure and you don’t know how to measure it. And you also have this, this constant struggle with what is in and what is outside of scope. You know, like there’s an opportunity pops up and you’re like, Whoa, we should do this. But it is really furthering the thing. You actually want to do questionable. So he developed this framework which, um, I first learned about at Unreasonable, um, which is another incredible institution in the global impact space. Um, later he brought this to Google.org where I used to work, um, where we use this as an internal framework. Um, and then I adopted it very broadly for basically all the work we’re doing. So simple is a very simple framework. The idea is to following, um, there’s a difference between purpose and mission. Purpose is your, if you think about Simon Sinek, start with why this framework. Purpose is your why, why the hell do you even exist? Right? And purpose is this. Like this is like something you need to very personally answered. A company needs to need some really personally figure that out. And the encouragement, the idea we toss around at Singularity University is um, is popularized by a, a colleague of mine, Salim Ismile is this notion of the massive transformative purpose. So the purpose of a company is not to make money. The purpose of a company is not to make shareholders richer, right? The purpose of a company is typically should be and really should be about something which is beyond the company itself, right? So the societal impact, the, the thing which the company can bring to the world. Um, and when you have purpose as a first step, when you have purpose, what happens is that people can actually align with you and can fall in line with you and they can say, I believe in your purpose. I’m with you. I’m part, I want to be part of that journey. It’s a really powerful tool. So purposes is, that is the initial part. And then Kevin said, purpose, you know, in the impact space everybody has purpose of course. Otherwise you wouldn’t do the work. Right? But then he said the challenge is then translating purpose into something which is concrete and that’s your mission. And his whole idea around mission statement is to say, write your mission statement in the following form, verb, what are you doing, target, whom you’re doing it for, outcome, what is the outcome you want to achieve and is it encouragement? Is to do this literally in eight words or less. The benefit you get from there is you have a very concise, very easy to remember that it can become a mantra, right? Like you can literally like use it as a mantra. You’ve got a very concise way to express what you’re doing. It gives you a very clear view of, you know, who is your target, what do you actually want to achieve? And then you can measure against it. Now make no mistake. That might not be the thing you write on your website. It might be, but you know, like you might want to have on your website that a little bit more the flourish version, you’re like wordsmithing, et cetera. Um, but I think it’s very important for company to have this as their purpose statement internally. I give you an example as out of my own world, which is Singularity University. Now granted they can’t break this down to eight words. It’s much wordier, but the purpose statement, the mission statement, sorry, the mission statement is incredible because Singularity University mission statement is we inspire, educate and empower. So this is your verbs, right? Inspire, educate, empower leaders. This is your target. And now the outcome, to apply exponentially accelerate technologies to tackle the world’s greatest challenges, right? So it’s super clear what we are doing. It’s like we’re in the business of inspiring, educating, empowering leaders. So we work with the leaders in the organization or leaders in like individual leaders too. And then the aim is have them understand how these technologies work and leverage those new technologies to tackle the world’s biggest problems. Now you could make this shorter and more concise for sure. And there is some, some debate we have internally around, you know, what does inspire, educate, empower, actually mean are they all equally important, et cetera, et cetera. So it’s better to have a singular verb, but it is extremely powerful. Um, I’ll give you one more example. This is, um, there’s an organization called the One Acre Fund, a One Acre Fund works with um, subsistence farmers in Subsaharan Africa. Um, so these are farmers who live, um, and, and have less than one acre of land, which they, uh, use for agriculture. And the challenge for them is that very often because they don’t have the right tools that don’t have the right knowledge, um, they can’t even produce enough food on this little farm to feed themselves, let alone sell something. So one acre farm, One Acre Fund goes out, gives them loans to allow them to buy better materials, buy better seeds, you know, that kind of stuff so that they actually get to, um, subsistence, subsistence and, or even make rent revenue, actual revenue on it. And their whole like mission statement is, get African, get African farmers out of extreme poverty. It becomes super clear, right? It’s like you wake up and you’re like, okay, great. I know what I’m supposed to do. I need to get African farmers out of extreme poverty. And it leaves enough room for them to be creative. And at the same time it allows them also to save. Someone comes and says, hey, let’s export your model to Asia. You say, well, unless we change our strategy, it’s not happening because that’s not what we stand for. So I think it’s super powerful.
Bryan: 00:59:39 Yeah, it is powerful. And, and I’m, I’m thinking about something I’ve heard a lot in the world of, you know, family dynamics, family enterprise, and I know it’s not unique to this, but is that the process is often as valuable as the product. Meaning sometimes just engaging in these discussions with your team about who do we serve, you know, what are we trying to do? You know, what is, what are the specific, like you’re saying, is it educate? Is it inspire? You know, is it empower? What, which, what do those even mean? And which one would we choose or something else? And that all of that debate, that dialogue, that discussion can be very, very valuable in and of itself. Something I heard you talk about on a podcast you’ve, you did that I thought was a really, really cool way of describing, you know, like how to actually go about creating a culture because as we know, you know, if you don’t create it intentionally, you’re still gonna have one that’s going to show up from the attitudes and beliefs, the behaviors of people in your, in your team, in your environment. Um, but you talked about storytelling, rituals and artifacts is very concrete ways of actually shaping your culture. Would you be willing to say a few words about what those are and, and why they’re so important and how we can use them?
Pascal: 01:00:56 Yeah, absolutely. Um, so first of all, like as you described, then you’re spot on with this. Like culture happens no matter what, right? Like you have a culture, like everybody has a culture in their organization if they like it or not. Um, and culture really is a manifestation of everything that is being said. Everything that is being done. And everything you see, right? So you get to rituals are defects. Um, and the, uh, uh, the, the idea around storytelling. So you take that and then you take just our understanding or the general understanding of human nature and the way we, we grew up as, as a species and how we learn and how we connect with other, uh, other members of our species. And that happens through storytelling and rituals, right? It happens to like this, like, you know, really literally back in the day we sat around the campfire and we told stories and that’s how we learned. So there’s incredible power in using story as a, as a mechanism to, um, to bestow culture, right? So if you tell a story about how an employee, uh, here’s a good example, uh, so you might know Zappos, the company as a shoe company, right? Sells shoes. Zappos famously has this like super strong customer centricity in this, in their customer service culture. So they basically make it right for the customer no matter what. One of the stories you hear over and over and over again and think about if that is intentionally or if that just happened, is that Zappos famously, someone called Zappos customer support and wanted to test them out and said, I want to order a pizza. And the person at Zappos said, like, sure, you know, where do you live? Let me order one for you. Right? And they ordered that person, the pizza. Right. Now that sounds super silly and it of course, it has nothing to do with Zappos business, but it demonstrates a point, which is Zappos employees go above and beyond the call of duty, right? Like every other company would have said like, you know, WTF and would’ve hung up, right? So, uh, that is a story which Zappos starts to perpetuate, right? It is like a story they start telling over and over and over again. Not just because it’s a cute story, but it teaches you something. It teaches you something of how’s Zappos looks at their customers, you know? So that’s one.
Bryan: 01:03:21 Well, and then even on that topic, by the way. Yeah, I mean I’ve heard, of course we all here, you know, if you’re paying attention to anything related to business these days, we are hearing a lot about culture. We’re hearing a lot about storytelling. But it wasn’t until I heard you talk about this that I really got for the first time that our society is built on culture, I’m sorry, on stories, right? It’s not just organization, it’s not just any given company, but also this whole, you know, religions and and, and all this. And so this idea of actually very deliberately looking for those or creating those, retelling those as a leader, you know, how powerful that can be in teaching something, in establishing expectations. What’s permissible here, what gets rewarded or not. You know, it’s very, very powerful.
Pascal: 01:04:08 Yeah, exactly. And, and one thing which is important to understand is like, you know, like the, the, the, the dark brother of storytelling is gossip, right? And so storytelling happens again, no matter what. Like you can story tell and you can create a comp, a culture of storytelling, you know, or if like in the vacuum of that, people will start doing storytelling themselves, which might like more turn into gossip, right? Which is the, or did you see John, like he, like he again did this and this right? Again, which is a storytelling. Mack is a storytelling device, right? So better fill that, fill that void with positive stories, which actually, um, embody the culture you want to create and the values who care about and you want to see in your company. So I think that’s one. Then the second one is, is the run rituals and rituals is really this idea of kind of manifesting stories and storytelling in a little bit more of a, of a habit forming device. It also, rituals can be anything. I mean you like, we all know these like rituals of like or heard of them in like sales teams where you make the sale and someone goes up and like rings the bell. You know, that’s a ritual. I mean there’s, there is some power behind this and it sounds stupid. And like you look at this and you’re like, guys, we are like adults and why do we do this? And at the same time, there’s some real power in it, right? And if you, if you create a story then around this, right? If they’ve, if they’re ringing the bell has an actual meaning, right? It becomes a whole, a whole different game and it becomes really, really powerful. And then the last part is artifacts, which is really, it’s storytelling, uh, expressed in physical form. That’s the easiest way you can think about it, right? So artifacts is like everything around you, like all the stuff you have around you. So an artifact for me is a beautiful way to think about an artifact is, um, and I do this as a, as a hobby. Like go into the lobby of a company, any company, and just look at the lobby and I can tell you the lobby, the way the lobby looks tells you a lot about the company, right? So what other pictures on the wall did they put any effort into it. Like, did they care about this? What is the interaction, um, uh, you have in, in terms of the, um, uh, as a, as a guest, right? Like how do you get greeted? Like what is like, what is the intentionality behind that? Um, like what are the physical objects in the room? Like how does this all look like? And it doesn’t mean like people sometimes miss judged this as, oh, I need to, it needs to be fancy. You know, like they say, oh, it needs to be like posh and you know, whatever, like designed and stuff, that’s not the point. It’s about intentionality, right? Like if you put a, like if you put a chair in your reception area, someone will notice it. So you don’t like there is international intentionality, even if you didn’t have any intentionality, but just putting a chair in there and you’re like, oh, just put this old chair. And they’re like, we don’t need it anymore. Right. It, it creates intentionality for someone else. So there’s this really powerful, and it shifts. It shifts. It’s shapes and shifts culture. Ultimately.
Bryan: 01:07:23 I know that that’s true. And I’m going to go walk up through our lobby again and pay particular attention. But it reminds me of that saying, you know, in the personal growth industry primarily about how you do anything is how you do everything. And I think that’s true for an organization as it is for an individual.
Pascal: 01:07:40 I think that’s still, yeah, absolutely.
Bryan: 01:07:42 Like I just last week I was in New York doing a podcast, I interviewed Scott Harrison with Charity Water and I went in and I went into use the restroom before the interview and the restroom had this music playing. It was like, it was really chill, you know, it was, and I couldn’t hear it from the lobby, but there it was in the restroom and I was like, that was unexpected. But you know, the whole office was so thoughtful, you know, and everyone, every person in it was so helpful. It was, it was really interesting. So I’ve recently experienced exactly what you’re talking about. Okay. So now I want to transition our conversation to the enlightening lightning round. So question number one, please complete the following sentence with something other than a box of chocolates. Life is like a?
Pascal: 01:08:33 Series of random events.
Bryan: 01:08:35 Hmm. Number two, what’s something at which you wish you were better?
Pascal: 01:08:40 Pretty much anything and everything. I love to learn.
Bryan: 01:08:43 Yes, me too. Number three, if you were required everyday for the rest of your life to wear a tee shirt with a slogan on it, or a phrase or a saying or a quote or equip, what would the shirt say?
Pascal: 01:08:57 No logo.
Bryan: 01:08:59 Number four, what book other than your own, have you gifted or recommended most often?
Pascal: 01:09:06 Steven Pressfield’s Do the Work.
Bryan: 01:09:09 Why that book?
Pascal: 01:09:11 I just love it. So first of all, Steven is an incredible writer. Um, Do the Work is the shortened version of an excellent book he wrote called the War of Art, which is really about the creative process and the writing process. And Do the Work is a little bit more abstract. It’s a little bit more like about life. It’s a 90 minute read. It’s sort of like a little nugget you can read. It as one of my favorite quotes of all times. Uh, in there, which is “on the field of the self, stand a knight and a dragon. Resistance is the dragon. You are the knight.” Yeah. And the is the power of the book. So I gave this book to a VP engineering at a larger tech company. Um, that company happens to be on the east coast. Uh, he was visiting me on the west coast. Uh, he read the book on the, so we had a lot of conversations around like, you know, future of his job and whatever. And um, he read the book on the plane called me when he stepped off the plane. It’s true story and set Pascal. I just, uh, on the flight I read the book, I finished the book, I wrote my resignation letter and just sent it. That’s the power of the book? It’s good. It’s really good.
Bryan: 01:10:27 Yeah. No, I love, I love, I too love Pressfield. I love War of Art and All the Discussion of Resistance. And uh, I just found his book Turning Pro that inspired me about just taking your art, your craft to another level of discipline. Really, really beautiful. What are you reading right now?
Pascal: 01:10:46 Um, I’m reading a lot of books, uh, which are related to my book, the book I’m currently writing. So, um, a lot of books, not that great. They wouldn’t be what I would normally read. Um, but it’s a lot of kind of like back end, uh, research. Uh, one book I, I just recently read, um, or I’m actually in the process of reading is, um, Rory Sutherland, I get this wrong, you have to look this up in the, uh, in the script notes. Um, he is the co founder of Augie LVI. Um, and he wrote a book about things that don’t make sense, do things that don’t make sense. Um, it’s amazing. It is so fun to read. Uh, it’s really like the, uh, the notion in the, that in the advertising industry is taking it out of the advertising industry, basically saying like, you need to do these things which are counter intuitive, um, because more often than not, they actually work and then he applies to life and just loved the book. It’s so funny. Um, yeah, it’s great.
Bryan: 01:11:46 I saw that book on, uh, on you in one of your newsletters.
Pascal: 01:11:50 Yeah, yeah, exactly. It’s a, it’s also beautiful book. It’s like when you buy the hardcover is someone gifted it to me. The hardcover is like this golden book with like this like embossed imprint. It’s really beautiful book. It’s really fun to read.
Bryan: 01:12:02 Yeah. Now it’s called Alchemy, The Dark Art and Science of Creating Magic in Brands, Business and Life by Rory Sutherland.
Pascal: 01:12:10 Rory Sutherland, that’s it. Alchemy, that’s correct.
Bryan: 01:12:13 That looks like, that looks like a fun book.
Pascal: 01:12:16 It’s Super Fun. I highly recommend it.
Bryan: 01:12:17 That’s great. Okay, next question. So you travel a ton. What’s one travel hack, meaning something you do or something you take with you when you travel to make your travel less painful or more enjoyable?
Pascal: 01:12:32 Um, two things. So, um, I recently splurged and bought a set of Bose, the sleep buds. Um, so these are little Boze headphones. They’re tiny. Um, you put them in your ear, they seal your ear. Similar to like, uh, like, uh, you know, like one of these things, they give you an airline to like block your ear from the sound, uh, senior year, but they’re also play, um, kind of white noise and you can choose which kind of white noise you want to have. So like, you know, thunder storms or a river, river flowing river or something, um, I sleep like a baby with these things. They’re absolutely amazing, particularly when I’m in a hotel. Um, and I want to block out kind of like street noise or so, uh, plus if you have used them a couple of times, somehow your brain gets conditioned that every time you hear this particular white noise. In my case, I love the sound of rain. Um, when I hear the sound of rain, I just get tired. Um, so that works beautifully. Um, that’s travel hack number one A and there’s a number one B, which is associated with that, which is, um, Melatonin, um, to make you sleepy and drowsy. Um, a good friend and a colleague of mine at Singularity University, uh, Michael Gilliam, um, who’s dual board certified. Um, a physician, uh, gave me that tip. He said, use if you want to take Melatonin, um, take a five milligram time-release dose. Um, so it disintegrates in your, in your system slower over time and take that together with a three milligram, just normal dose, which you put underneath your tongue. So you swallow the five milligrams, you put the three milligram under your tongue, gets into your bloodstream relatively quickly. So it knocked me, typically knocks me out within 30 minutes, then I’m sleeping. And because I’ve got the five milligrams slowly disintegrating in my system, it keeps me sleeping. Um, so that keeps me sleeping for a, typically a good seven to eight hours, which is gold if you travel particularly across time zones. And then the last hack is, I mentioned this, I, and I didn’t really do this on purpose, but I started doing this a little while ago and it really helps me, which is, um, I stopped doing the math on time-zones at all. So you know, like how you get into a time zone and like my parents do this all the time, they’re really cute. They’re like, oh, we’re in the US and you know, like they live in Europe and they’re like, oh it now it would be, you know, like 2:00 AM right or now we should be tired because it’s getting 10 you know? And somehow I think you, you are by reinforcing that notion, you’re kind of like keeping your, your brain in that mode. I stopped doing that. I just basically just look at the clock and I’m like, oh, okay. It’s eight o’clock it’s eight o’clock you know? It’s like, if it’s eight o’clock out here, I’m currently in Brazil. Like if it’s eight o’clock in Brazil, it’s eight o’clock it’s eight o’clock for me. You know? So it’s kind of weird, but it really helps me with my sleep patterns.
Bryan: 01:15:25 That’s actually, I think, a very enlightened perspective because you are where you are, right? And you’re accepting of it and you’re present. It’s no, I love that. I haven’t heard anybody say that yet. I’ve had one guest say, well, what I do is when I get on the plane, I set my watch for the time zone in which I’ll be landing, you know, but they didn’t say it this way about like, I don’t even do the math of where it is and some other destination. But that’s really, that’s really brilliant.
Pascal: 01:15:50 It also helps probably that I’m most, most of the time I even forget that I’m wearing a watch. So somehow time has transcended into for me into this. Like I live by my Google calendar, otherwise I wouldn’t get into any of my meetings, but I don’t look at my watch anymore, you know, like I don’t like actually check time anymore. So probably that helps too.
Bryan: 01:16:09 Yeah, no, that’s cool. Okay, next question. What’s one thing you’ve started or stopped doing in order to live or age well?
Pascal: 01:16:18 Oh my God um.
Bryan: 01:16:22 What was the oh my God.
Pascal: 01:16:23 About, I’m just, that is a big question. Um, so I think what I did started doing is, and I kind of like never really stopped doing it, but I think the number thing, the number one thing you can do to age well is be physically active, right? And whatever shape or form that takes. If it’s like, you know, you go out for a run and you go into the gym, you do whatever you go dancing, it doesn’t matter, just go and be physically active and makes a massive difference. And I never really stopped doing it. So it’s kind of like not something I really started, but I’m, as I get older, I become more conscious of it, right. As I get also busier where it’s not like, oh, I can just go to the gym for like three hours. Um, I have made it more of a conscious effort to say, you know, what, like I should really get my ass out there and go hiking or, you know, go running or go to the gym or something. Um, I think that’s one. The other one is, um, in my case, um, I mostly stopped eating, um, uh, meat. Um, so I’m mostly vegetarian. I still eat it every once in a while when either I have no other choice and, or, um, I really want it, I really enjoy it and I like a good steak here in Brazil, for example, a good steak. Um, but I think I find that I feel better. Um, I definitely feel better with, with less meat in my system. Um, and I stopped drinking alcohol. Um, but that’s more of a, there was a weird coincidence where I just decided to not drink alcohol for a little while and then never got back into it. Um, but I find what it does to me is, uh, because I’m out there quite often in social engagements. Um, there was always a social pressure on me to drink. Not a lot, but like everybody’s like, oh, come on, let’s have a glass of wine, you know, like, let’s have a cocktail or something or a glass of whiskey or something and you end up, you know, I ended up, uh, drinking a decent amount of alcohol, you know, not like excessive or, uh, in any way, shape or form. Probably like bad for me. But still a decent amount of alcohol. And now because I’ve got a strict, I don’t drink. The funniest thing is that when people come to me and they’re like, oh, hey, come on and it’s drinks, you know, I can have a glass of wine or something and they’d say, oh, I don’t drink. They somehow think I’m, I, I’m a former, uh, alcoholic, which is kind of like, I mean it’s, it’s kind of sad and weird and funny at the same time because they look at me and they’re like, oh, I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry. Can I get you a glass of water? You know? But it is good. Particularly when I travel, I really feel like that the fact that I don’t drink, um, it makes travel easier for me.
Bryan: 01:19:06 Yeah, no, I know what you mean. I made the decision a few years ago also to quit drinking and I just find life works better for me when I don’t drink. I think other people appreciate it too, to be honest. But no, I, I hear Ya. Um, okay, next question. What’s one thing you wish every American knew.
Pascal: 01:19:27 That climate change is real and that the, we need to fricking do something about it. Like yesterday.
Bryan: 01:19:33 Yeah, I’m with you. Question number eight. What’s the best relationship advice you’ve ever learned and successfully applied?
Pascal: 01:19:45 Um, the little things matter. I think it’s really important to like, you know, I’m married for 14 years. I’ve got to, we’ve got to really, my wife and I have a really, I believe, I hope, no, I know we’ve got a really amazing relationship and you know, we’re still like write ourselves. Like, like when I travel, we write ourselves a little like notes, which we like sneak into our briefcases, um, or leave on the coffee machine when I leave the house or something. Right. It’s like this small things really matter I think. Um, and it’s easy to get into like, uh, a rut where, you know, like you’re just, you’re just, you, you are together, but you are kind of like just living next to each other somehow.
Bryan: 01:20:25 What’s the most useful thing you’ve ever learned about money? Useful or most important?
Pascal: 01:20:32 Um, so I wish I would have understood this, not mentally understood it, but really understood it earlier, which is start saving early like in your 20s. Um, I did not do that. At least not to the extent I should’ve or could’ve. Um, it really pays off. It’s really important. Uh, there’s a thing called compound interest, which, uh, saves your bacon in like a big way. So I wish I would’ve learned that a little earlier. Again, like I knew it intellectually of course. Um, but it’s a whole different thing to then actually live it. Um, you know, I’m fine now. It’s fine, but uh, I still kick my ass a little for it.
Bryan: 01:21:17 Yeah. Okay. So I want to put these two things in here to make sure that I get to them, but I do have a few more questions for you about the creative process and about writing. So the first thing is, as a way of expressing my gratitude to you for making so much time and sharing generously of your experience and your wisdom. Um, I’ve gone on kiva.org and I’ve made a $100 micro loan to an entrepreneur in, um, Ecuador at, to a woman, her name is Modesta Andrea. She’s gonna use this money to buy plates and household items and jewelry that she will sell and improve the quality of life for herself and her family and people in her community. So that’s just a small gesture to, to say thank you.
Pascal: 01:22:03 Amazing. I love that. Thank you.
Bryan: 01:22:05 Yeah. And then the other thing that I want to make sure to ask here is if people who are listening, uh, want to learn more from you or they want to connect with you, what would you have them do?
Pascal: 01:22:16 So the good news is that, um, there is actually no other Pascal Finette on this planet. This name is bizarrely so unique, um, that if you punch it into the search engine, of your choice, um, you will find everything I do for better or worse, right? So the nightmare for me is that like nothing I do will ever go. Like I can vary and hide somewhere. It just doesn’t work. Um, so the easiest is literally go online, like punch my name into a search engine. You’ll find a ton of resources. Um, uh, if you’re interested in anything which is, um, related around entrepreneurship, um subscribe to The Heretic. It’s literally theheretic.org, which is my newsletter. Um, there’s a huge archive. There’s a, like I mentioned earlier, like 1200 articles or so. Um, you know, some of them are surely better than others. I think some of them are probably relatively insightful. So just check that out. Um, and if you want to stay in touch with, uh, the work we’re doing, uh, check out, um, our company, which is B-radical.today. So B-radical Today. Um, that’s where you find us. Um, and we, we have a little newsletter subscription there. We’ve got a community which we’ve set up there, et cetera. So I think those are the good sites. And then there’s a ton of video of, of me doing my thing, which you’ll find on Youtube. Um, there’s a bunch of podcasts I did. So I’m, I’m easy to find online.
Bryan: 01:23:41 And in real life you’re very tall.
Pascal: 01:23:43 Yes, I am very tall. That’s true. I’m also skinny. That’s it. That’s the other thing. I’m actually, you know, the funny thing is, let me tell you a story. So sorry, I’m like derailing you here, but like you have to hear the story because that is the story. Like I, I’ve told this story so many times, it’s really a story of my life. So I am a six foot four, six foot five or 196 in, in metrics and I’m skinny. Uh, so I’m about, uh, 85, sorry, I can’t do this in pounds, but I’m at about 85 kilos. Um, so typically when you see people, which are my size, there is more people like my, my size. They’re typically broad, shoulder, they’re more like basketball players. So, uh, it is unusual for me to see someone who is tall and skinny. I was at the Denver Airport, I will never forget this. I’m sitting in front of my gate. Opposite me is a guy he sits and I can see that he’s tall, right? You can like, you can eye the people a little bit, right? He’s very well dressed in like suit everything. They called a flight. Um, he gets up and I get up and um, again, like super nicely dressed. He picks up his bag and I swear to God, he was literally a head taller than I was, like I have no idea, but he was like easily like, you know, close to like 210 in meters, you know, like another whatever, 10 inches taller than I was and uh, sort of five to five to eight inches. And I look at him and they, I must have looked at him in like total disbelief because again, it never happens. He’s like this skinny guy, like super tall and he looks down at me and says, there’s always someone taller than you, turns around and walks off and I’m just standing there and I’m like, oh my God. Like this is a life lesson. You know, like this is not just like literal, this is not just like figuratively speaking. This is like, oh my God, I, so I have no idea who this person is like I’ve, but he just taught me a lesson for my life. There’s always someone taller than you. I love that story because it’s like, you know, I just stood there. I literally must have stood there for a minute and not moved like, oh my God.
Bryan: 01:25:56 How long ago was this?
Pascal: 01:25:58 This years ago? It’s like I was that this was a mentoring at Unreasonable and I was on my way back from Unreasonable I like, I don’t know, easily five years ago. So, but since then I’ve told this story so many times because it’s like such a beautiful story.
Bryan: 01:26:10 That’s great. Okay, so coming down the stretch with our last few minutes here, I want to ask you a bit about your experience, your advice, although I don’t love advice. What you might suggest to others or encourage others to do, who want to, again, who want to do what you’ve done. They want to share their ideas in writing in a way that actually gets read that makes a difference for people. So I only have a couple of specific questions, but I think the broad one to open with is just what do you say to people in that situation? What have you learned that might be useful to others when it comes to this kind of creative endeavor? Sharing in a way that matters.
Pascal: 01:26:52 I think first of all, it, it, there surely is differences in the type of writing you want to do and you want to put out there, right? So my initial, like my initial instinct was to write this, uh, email newsletter, which was literally an email I send to people. Um, so that has certain limitations, right? Or certain parameters, which is, it can only be a few paragraphs because it needs to be, it needs to fit into an email. People don’t read like two pages of text and so on and so on. Um, I think that’s very different than if you want to write a scholarly article or if you want to write a book even. Um, so start out with like figuring out like what kind of writing do you actually want to do. And I found that for me, uh, probably because English is a is is my second language. Um, so, you know, being German, um, I really gravitated towards the short and the concise, and there’s a beauty I find with people who are, um, using a language as a second language because their command of the language isn’t quite as extended or extensive as you know, native English speaker. Um, you tend to simplify and there’s beauty in this, right? Because I can take a complex, um, concept and simplify it down because quite frankly, I can’t even express it in complex words, right? I don’t have the words. So that being said, I think the, the, what I learned with writing 1200 posts is I can tell you that is, I cringe when I read my first post. I even cringe when I read the book we published, right? Because I read the book and I’m like, oh my God, did I really write this? This is terrible, right? This is like, oh my God. Like the grammar isn’t quite right. And so there is something which happens when you put yourself out there and just keep doing it. Um, so I think, so advice number one for me is really like practice, practice, practice and practice in a way. And not just like write a draft and throw it away, you know, but like write it and put it out there, um, which requires you to do something you really love and you need to do it for the love of it because I guarantee you in the beginning it won’t be good and nobody will read it. You know, like I remember I, I had this moment where when we set up the newsletter, the newsletter relatively quickly get to like a hundred plus people because that’s all the people I knew. Plus like, you know, like the friends they invited. But then when the newsletter hit the first time, like hit like 500 people, I was like, oh my God, like I’m famous, you know. And then when the newsletter hit a thousand, I was like ecstatic. Um, and you know, in the grand scheme of things like a thousand people is like, when, you know, like some Instagram influencers, they don’t even fart for like a thousand people. Right. So again, like it takes time. Find your tribe. I mean, all this stuff, Seth Gordon writes about it, like, quite frankly, Seth has it like totally nailed, um, follow his advice and you’re in. Him and, uh, Steven Pressfield, like the two of them, like if you put them together, this, it’s like real magic happens. Um, yeah. But really for me it was about practice because you get really, you get so much better. Um, to the extent that today I can write what I consider a relatively well written newsletter. Uh, literally in 20 minutes I just sit down, I just write the first draft. And granted my, my newsletters also don’t require a lot of research, right? So I’m not spending a lot of time on researching and there’s basically just a brain dump, but it takes me 20 minutes to write these things. Um, and I also don’t have the writer’s block anymore. It like once I’ve, I’ve got a topic, I know what I want to write about, I’m just like stuck writing. So I think those are, uh, things I learned at least.
Bryan: 01:30:47 Yeah. That, that thing about practice and about being willing to put yourself out there. There’s something really powerful about that that I think our inner critics will often stop us. I mean, we might practice, but then actually putting it out there, knowing that, you know, our first efforts almost always suck. You know, and like you said, it’s not going to be an inquisitive, nobody’s going to read it. Um, let me ask you this, what, how important to you is routine as a writer?
Pascal: 01:31:15 I think it’s super important. I don’t get enough of it just because of my lifestyle. I’m so in my life, my life really changed in the last two years or so where just traveling a lot more than I did before. Um, which you also can see in the, in the frequency when I published the newsletter. So used to publish the newsletter, pardon? Every two days and I had a routine. I was like, I was literally forcing myself, like write a newsletter every two days. I now still have a reminder in my calendar to write a newsletter every two days. But I typically don’t write one for 10 days just because I don’t have the time. Um, because I need, it’s less the time by the way, to write the thing. It’s more the time to actually reflect about a topic and write something which is meaningful and nauseous, like, you know, gibberish. Um, I think routine is super important. I think it’s, it’s, it’s super vital. Um, if, if I would not know how to write a book, if I wouldn’t do it in a very, very structured routine based way, you know, like you read this about all these, like the great writers, they get up in the morning and then they sit down and then they write from eight till 12. Right? And then they’d have lunch and so on. And I think it’s important if you want to, if you really want to push, put something out there and you want to be a pro, like do that. Let me, by the way, let me tell you an interesting thought. Sorry, I’m going off topic here a little bit, but, um, this is probably helpful. So my craft to certain extent is me being on a stage telling story and, and teaching what the future looks like and teaching the future of business and so on. And I think I’m pretty good at it. I hope I’m pretty good at it and I spent quite a bit of, I invest quite a bit of time and effort into it to make it better. Right? So I took, years ago, I took, um, half a year of Improv. Um, I did classic theater, um, all with the knowledge, like I don’t want to be a thing, I don’t want to play Shakespeare, but it helps me to understand how a stage works, how I present myself and so on and so on. Um, the other day I watched the documentary homecoming, uh, with Beyonce. Um, so this is Beyonce’s concert. Um, it’s a two hour documentary about her concert at Coachella, the big festival. Um, and it’s kind of like the, it shows you like parts of the festival of performance, but then also shows you all the lead up. And the lead up was, um, about 120 days, um, of her practicing with like 200 dancers and they heard musicians and so on. Right? And you see this intensity and you see what they’re putting into it. And granted, I mean, this is a show of like the highest quality, right? But you look at this and then I look at my own practice and I’m like, Oh my God, I’m a bloody amateur. And the question I’m asking myself is, and I think this is the important point, is go watch a movie like this or a documentary like this, or read a book about this and then ask yourself like, what does this, how would this look like if I translate this particular level of intensity and preparation into my work? Because I’m asking myself this at the moment. I’m like, okay, so if my job is to be on a stage and you know, talk about the future, what is the level of preparation which would match the intensity of what Beyonce puts on stage? Like, because that’s world-class. Right? And the funny thing is, I’m not even a Beyonce fan, but I watched that movie now or the documentary, I was like, holy shit, this is amazing. And I think this goes back to like the writing thing. It’s like, so if you want to be a writer, if you really take this serious, like you need to match the intensity of, you know, your, your favorite writers.
Bryan: 01:35:12 I really liked that perspective a lot and I think it’s a really useful question, you know, to look at somebody who’s one of the top performers in the world, in their field, whatever it is, and just to ask, you know, not necessarily to compare yourself against that person, but to just really look inside and a really honest way about what’s the unrealized potential I’m leaving untapped within myself. Right. You know, that’s really, yeah. If for some reason, as I hear you share that, I mean it’s both inspiring and it’s a bit for me intimidating too. It’s like I could see how that could be a disempowering inquiry, but um, I guess we’re all, we’re all unique.
Pascal: 01:35:54 Yeah. I think, I mean, here’s the thing, right? So I keep telling this people, I think there’s a, there’s a, there’s an important question you need to ask yourself and yeah. Someone years and years ago, like use the acronym t YBT, to yourself be true. Um, and I believe it comes out of like some rehab thing. I’m not quite sure, but, um, the, the, to yourself be true. Question you need to ask yourself is like, how much do you really want it? And I want, I want people to ask that question and answer that question honestly, but also nonjudgmental, because here’s the thing which I find, and this is the part where which we, which disturbs me is a lot of people think they think they need to answer the question with like, oh, I wanted like, you know, super hard, I wanted with my life. I want to beat right when in reality they don’t, when in reality they say, you know, like I want to, but like it’s okay if it’s only that much. Right? And that’s fine by all means. That’s great. Then do that and save your energy and self, safe your inner critic to do something different like something else. Right. This is like this notion in Silicon Valley, we’ve got this bullshit about like people building like a lifestyle business, right? Like I just read like an old edition of wire and this a story about this kid who created this. Um, uh, you know, like you remember these old like timecards, which you had to like put into the machine and like make this a clock, right? So this kid created a time cards app, basically like a web app and made $10,000 a month with about, you know, they, he said he spends about 20 hours a month on the product. Like all in all.
Bryan: 01:37:49 Which by the way, just to interrupt your flow for a moment, that’s a perfect example of something I’ve heard you talk, take something physical and digital.
Pascal: 01:37:59 Yup. And that’s true, right? That’s true too. Yeah, absolutely.
Bryan: 01:38:02 And you’ll create wealth and service beyond, so anyway, kind of an interesting example.
Pascal: 01:38:06 Yeah. No, but I mean, here’s the thing, right? So, so this kid makes like $10,000 works 20 hours a month. I mean, and then traveled the world. I mean, how, how amazing is that? Right? And then he gets panned by some people in Silicon Valley because it’s a lifestyle business because he’s not like making the world a better place or changing the world or not wanting it hard enough and so on. And I think that’s such bullshit, right? Because like if you, if you want that and that’s what your ambition is, and that’s what you want, that’s incredible. More power to you.
Bryan: 01:38:35 Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Pascal: 01:38:37 And then if you say, if you say, no, actually I want to be the best software engineer in the world and I want to build the most incredible product in the world. Yes. Then you need to watch Beyonce and say, I need to perform at that level.
Bryan: 01:38:49 Mm. I love it. Only then. Yeah, I did just watch my wife and I last night watched, uh, Brenae Brown on Netflix, but I’m going to add to our watch list now. Homecoming.
Pascal: 01:39:02 Yeah. Homecoming is incredible. It’s so good.
Bryan: 01:39:04 Yeah. That’s awesome. Okay, last few questions about your creative process. So now that you mentioned the thing about being like your craft being the stage, which that doesn’t surprise me having watched you, I mean the first time I encountered you as you are on stage, both MCing and presenting, which somebody with me was saying, I’ve never seen that, I’ve never seen an MC be so, so talented. Um, will you share just a little bit about what does your preparation look like? I think a lot of people listening to this, a lot of people who want to write, they not only want to share their thoughts and ideas in writing, but they do in fact want to talk and speak publicly, whether it’s online or in front of groups. But when you’re preparing for a delivery, how do you, what’s your, what’s your approach? How do you prepare?
Pascal: 01:39:51 So I think there’s a couple of components. Um, some of them are pretty obvious and everybody gets this like the content, right? Like what do you actually want to talk about and you try to figure out, um, uh, my view is it has absolutely nothing to do with what I want to talk about. It has everything to do. What do you want to or need to listen to, right? Sometimes what you need to listen to is not what you want to listen to, right? Those are two different things, but you still need to listen to it. Um, and again, like it has nothing to do with me. Like, so, um, first of all, figure out your, I think, figure out your content that requires you to understand your audience, right? Like who’s in the audience? Why are they coming? What are they getting out of it? The one question I ask, organizers us all the time. Um, and I think it’s an important one if you really want to perform. So I think there’s a difference between knowledge dissemination, right? I get on stage, I tell you something which is, which is a piece of knowledge or data, data points, etc, models. And I can do that. And then there’s another point which is a more like a more of a performance, right. And then the my world, the best sessions at least I attend are the ones which bring the two together. Um, so if you want to create a performance or have a performance element in it, I think you need to understand that it’s what is the emotion you want to take people uh, through. And it’s a, it’s a journey, right? Like emotion is not like a singular thing. It’s not like, oh, here’s a single emotion. It’s a journey. It’s a movie. It’s like for me, a stage performance is like, I take him with me on a movie. Like I really think more like a movie director and I’m like, okay, let’s like get you into your list. Like holy shit and like be a little bit scared and like, let me show you. It’s okay. You know, like cuddle you a little bit and break up the tension with a little joke or a funny video or an, and then like hammer it down again with something which like, you know, after you, you like, you lost some of the tension, let me know. I’ll show you something else, which kind of like probably frightens you and so on. So I think a lot about, um, the emotional arc and how do I map the content I want to convey to the emotional arc. Um, and the the best, the funniest example I can give you for this is, um, again, like all wisdom, which has been bestowed on me by other people who are way better than at this than I am. Um, so this comes straight from a Guy Kawasaki. Um, Guy Kawasaki is an author. Um, he used to be the first evangelist for Apple back in 1980, whatever four um, he’s a very, very good public speaker. And um, uh, so it’s like Japanese guy and he gets on stage and he does his thing and he was at an event, um we organized at Singularity University. And one of our participants asked him, hey guy, how comes that you are, uh, you’re so good and like, what’s your outlook here? And he said, like, first of all, I’m so good because the talk I gave today, I gave 150 times already. He’s like, of course you are good at this, right? Like I don’t want to bust your bubble here, right? But like, you know, like you’re not special. I just gave this talk, I don’t know 150 times, you know, and you get good at it. But the second thing he said, which I thought was really fascinating, he said, listen, the way I and Guy is hilarious. Like you listen to him, you’re like, you’re laughing and he’s making jokes and you know, like sometimes you’re like, what are you talking about dude? And it’s funny and it’s more like comedy, but he made a really good point. He said, listen, here’s the thing, we all know, and scientists like scientists back this up. You will forget most of what I said today, you will never remember this. But what I can do is I can implant in your head this idea that when in 10 years you will be in a meeting, you will say, man, there was this guy who looked like Jackie Chan. I can’t remember who is was like it was like, like Jackie Chan and he made this cool joke about this thing, which we should not forget. So that reminds me, never ever forget this thing. Right? And he’s right. Because the thing is there is, like when you look at the, like the signs of like an off storytelling, at least less learning is a different story where you really need to have people like actually do the thing, right? Which gets into learning. But the science of storytelling is like you need to like you take a story and then you attach, like you embed in that story, this wisdom, the spit of wisdom. There’s nugget and it becomes one unit, right? So I tell you a joke and then right after the joke, I tell you a thing which is related to the joke, but which is actually a learning, right? That makes you not forget the joke, but you will remember the joke and it doesn’t make you forget that that data point. Yeah. So anyway, so that’s a long winded answer to really think about the emotional arc when you talk.
Bryan: 01:44:42 No, that, that’s the next, I think, I really do think that’s a next level, you know, concept for anybody who wants to speak. First of all, I think a lot of people just say, well, here’s what I want to talk about. Here’s what I’m passionate about. I just want to share it, you know, but instead having that audience first orientation, what do they want or need to hear? And then how am I as the speaker going to lead them on a journey and emotional journey and then map the content of that. I mean, that’s really, it’s really next level. Um, I think, and not obvious to somebody who might just be starting out in this. So I, I suspect there are people who are hearing this that will be, um, that will find that concept useful if not a bit still, you know, theoretical, they get to play it out in their own experience.
Pascal: 01:45:25 Right? Do you have to play? And I think that’s the other thing which is important to understand is, um, uh, this comes straight out of the coaching world, which is that, um, humans crave authenticity. I can sniff every up. We are all so finely tuned that we can sniff mild, um, against the wind if someone is inauthentic, which means that if you get on stage and you emulate someone, you know, like you’re a, you get on stage and you’re like, oh, I want to be like Steve Jobs. So let me emulate Steve Jobs. Right? Or I love the way, you know, like X, Y, and Z presents so I’m going to do it that way. If it’s not authentic, if it’s not you, we will slip. There’s immediately and then you’re inauthentic and we don’t connect with you emotionally. Um, so be who you are and own it. I give you an interesting example. It’s like a former boss of mine. It’s just like, it’s an incredible speaker, super smart and a massive introvert. So now as an introvert, you shouldn’t be on a stage typically, right? It is like a little awkward. But he went on stage. I remember this very distinctly where he went on stage and he owns that he’s an introvert, right? So he gets on stage and the first thing he tells you is a joke and introvert joke, which is what is the difference between introverted and extroverted software engineer? The extroverted software engineer looks at your shoes, right? So everybody’s like, he sets the stage. Everybody’s like, I mean even the joke is little awkward, right? But everybody’s like, okay, got it. So you’re an introvert, you’re probably like a massive introvert. So we know what we have to deal here with you. Right? And then he just owns it. So he’s like, he’s like super soft spoken, but he’s so intense in his owning his own like body and physiology and emotion that everybody loves him, right? So really own who you are and be yourself and not try to be someone else because it’s just doesn’t work.
Bryan: 01:47:26 Yeah, no, I think you’re absolutely right. Okay. Last, last two questions. Sure. The, the first, the penultimate question, I don’t get to use that word every day. The second to last question is about if you’ve had this experience, because I think I have, right? Like look at that, the ontology of, I think I’ve had this experience, but when you’re on stage and you’ve done the preparation, you know your audience, right? And you’re there and you’re delivering, and this isn’t exclusive to being on stage. I’m sure there’s other areas in life where if this happens to you, it probably happens there as well. But do you have this experience of like something’s working through you, whatever, a higher power life itself, your higher self, you know, something. But it’s almost like, and maybe it’s just just the flow state, but like you disappear and it’s almost like you’re an instrument. You’re being used in service to something bigger than yourself in that moment. You have that experience sometimes.
Pascal: 01:48:26 Absolutely. Yeah. Absolutely.
Bryan: 01:48:28 What’s that about?
Pascal: 01:48:31 I think it’s flow. I think it’s when you really, so what happens for me is you decouple. Um, uh, I think the easiest way to describe this for me is like, I believe that that mostly we live, we have this like membrane around us, which still like decouples kind of like our head, the brain, the, our thoughts somewhat from our body at allows us to observe our body, right? Like you’ve got this like permanent like observing state, et cetera. And what happens for me is like when you get into this like more of a flow state. Um, and it used to be, I have this with running when I run long distances as well after a while, like the thoughts just stop and you just become one with your body, right? So I have this in a physical way when I run, um, I have it on a stage after a little while when I’m in flow, you just like, you kind of like the membrane disappears and like it feels much more holistic. Like you become much more like one with everything. Like with yourself, with your body, with your thoughts. You’re not like actually like, you know, like you don’t have voices in your head anymore, you know? Uh, the extreme opposite by the way is if you have these out of body experiences, which are also have every once in awhile. So if for some reason the audience doesn’t connect right. Some every once in a while you have an audience which just the audience, like for whatever’s, whatever’s going on for them, um, they just really not connecting. So you kind of like in this moment when you’re standing on stage, at least for me, I get like I zoom out of my, I literally have an out of body experience where I see myself talking
Bryan: 01:50:14 Really like so like literally you’re looking down on.
Pascal: 01:50:19 Yeah, not like physically looking down but more like a, like a holistic view of all of my everything. But like if I wouldn’t be inside of my own shell.
Bryan: 01:50:29 Yeah. Cause I hear about that sometimes with, I remember Steve Perry, the guitarists for Aerosmith, yeah would talk about unlike guitar solos are in really intense part on the show. Like he would have these out of body experiences. But it sounds like this is maybe a little different because where I think he’s very connected, very in the flow state, this is happening for you and you’re not.
Pascal: 01:50:48 That’s correct. Yes. For me the opposite is, is the exact opposite, right? So the, the one is like the, the membrane becomes much thicker and suddenly because, or you can painfully aware of like everything about you. Right? Like, wait a second, like my shoulders, a little backwards in my feet stand a little weird. Like I should probably like turn my hip a little bit more to the audience, right? Whatever it is. Right? And then the other one is like, if you’re in flow, for me it’s like I just feel it. I don’t feel anything anymore. Right. I’m just like this like unit. It’s beautiful. So really nice state to be in.
Bryan: 01:51:21 It is beautiful. It is beautiful. Like I, I long for that experience and do, do a lot to create that. So, okay. So the last question and thank you. Thank you for sharing that. I know these are the kinds of things, at least I don’t talk about every day, but I’m always fascinated to explore them with others who I suspect have had them as well. So it’s probably all of us. Um, okay. So the last thing I want to ask you in this interview is it’s about, so you mentioned stories telling stories a few times throughout this and clearly their stories have the potential to be very, very powerful. My experience is sometimes telling stories can be very challenging when it comes to writing them down and including them in a larger work like the book maybe that you’re working on the future of business. What experience do you have that might benefit others when it comes to telling a story in writing, as opposed to telling it from a stage?
Pascal: 01:52:18 Hmm, interesting to answer this in a slightly unconventional way, but an interesting, interesting way to think about this. There is a, uh, there’s an app, um, it exists on the Mac and I believe it exists online called Hemingway. It’s a writers editor. Um, what Hemingway does is, um, it analyzes your sentence structure and then basically highlight sentences it deems as too complex, um, or whichever conjectures or we use too many adjectives on, so on and so on. So it kind of like shows you that the defects in your writing in terms of mostly in terms of clarity. What I found since I’ve been using Hemingway for awhile, um, and what I found is interesting with Hemingway is Hemingway forces you to use, um, a relatively speaking, very simple sentence structure. So very short, very concise structures. It’s of course I in that it got its name from basically being inspired by the writing of the great Hemingway. And if you read Hemingway, Hemingway, he was this like, not very complex sentence strikes. Like they’re really, I mean, they are very carefully crafted sentences, right? And I think the strength of his poetry is the fact that he has the ability to, uh, to write these incredibly deep works by using short sentences, by very carefully picking the words in the sentences and the structure of them. So what this app did for me is it shifted my, my writing. So I used to write very German, which is long sentences, you know, like 15 commas and like conjectures in there and you know, like all this stuff, which is a typical German way to write. And I translate this into English, right? So I use the same ideas on how to construct a sentence into my English writing. What I’ve since learned with Hemingway is that my writing has become significantly more shorter and concise. And I find this particularly interesting if you tell stories. That is to say if you’re writing stories down, I think that might be a really powerful notion around trying to write story in a, um, in in very concise, short, precise sentences. Um, get, get a good thesaurus or like use a good online thesaurus. Um, that’s the other power tool I love using. It’s like, even if I never, even if I don’t like end up copying words out of it, like the sheer fact of like punching in a word and seeing like what are other words which are similar, you know, is so powerful. It’s so interesting. Um, so yeah, so my, my secret weapon is Hemingway and then combined with a good, uh, thesaurus.
Bryan: 01:55:06 Awesome. Well, thank you for that. I, I haven’t heard of Hemingway before. I’ll definitely check it out.
Pascal: 01:55:10 Yeah. It’s a little obscure thing, but it’s really good.
Bryan: 01:55:13 Yeah, that’s cool. Okay, well that, those are all the questions that I have for you. I’m sure I’ll think of three more when I’m on my drive home. But thank you for, again, thank you so much for spending so much time and sharing. Uh, I’ve really enjoyed our conversation. I hope you have as well as awesome, Brian. Thank you.
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