MediaTech Ventures’ Community Spotlight Ep.13 – Paul O’Brien

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Meet the SEO mastermind, content producing machine, startup and capital guru, Paul O’Brien – CEO/Co-Founder of MediaTech Ventures.

Most people see Paul speaking on stage at events, mentoring startups through multiple incubators and accelerators, or reading his insightful articles about entrepreneurship, capital, and media innovation on https://www.seobrien.com or https://mediatech.ventures

What most people DON’T know, is that Paul’s entrepreneurial path began at a young age during a class activity in middle school, where the students were tasked with creating a business/idea. When his idea didn’t resonate with the class as much as others, it was then he realized providing education and resources to students to help them understand the fundamentals of starting a company was necessary to level the playing field for all who wish to participate.

During the early days of the internet Paul built a Beatles website and received an email of praise from Sir George Martin, kick starting his fascination and passion for connectivity and learning as much as possible about the internet. After college Paul found himself in Silicon Valley, landing roles with Yahoo, HP, and after working at a startup that was acquired by Stubhub, he found himself consulting go to market strategies for early stage Sequoia investments.

Leaving the valley and landing in Austin, TX, Paul quickly realized there was a need for educating capital and startups about Media + Technology, eventually founding MediaTech Ventures, helping educate and move public, private, and corporate capital into media technology innovation.

Find out who inspires Paul, why he cares so much about education, and why he looks forward to helping reshape and define the future of the media industry.

Everybody gets passionate about what they pursue in life at some point. There’s something in their life at an early age that really inspires them to go down a certain path. What inspired you to pursue, the degree from ASU to learn about this thing called the internet?

Paul: When I was in fourth grade maybe, they have this program now in elementary schools called Destination Imagination, a neat program very entrepreneurial, meant to inspire young kids to be creative and start businesses. And a wonderful program. When I was a kid, it was called the Olympics of the mind. And they rebranded it. And for some reason, I’m not aware of what it’s called Olympics of the mind. And I have this vivid memory when I was, whatever your age that is eight years old, showing up for the first day with my group of kids, my group of students that I was working with, and they all had these wonderfully brilliant ideas about businesses to start that were meant for kids something kids could do and produce and sell something, all the stuff you learn in an elementary school kids small business program. And I showed up with pictures of how to turn milk jugs into bird feeders and some of the most embarrassing ideas imaginable. And I sat in the corner like everybody else. We went around the classroom and everybody else gave their ideas and the student mentors the parents that were involved with the teachers loved all the different ideas. And then the camera so to speak to turn to young Paul O’Brien and I shared my milk jug, bird feeders and I think I have like, six different ways to use milk cartons to make stuff and you could just see everybody in the room go. Okay… thank you very much. And, and we proceeded to the next kid.

Well, needless to say, we did not start a business making many bird feeders. And I learned at that moment we had a responsibility to teach people how to at least level the playing field, at least make sure everybody’s got the same insight, the same expectations, the same modicum of experience about something so that when you get into an environment where you want to start something or do something or take a risk, you aren’t just at a disadvantage, so that when, when the audience gets to you, you have that moment where everybody looks at you like, okay, good luck moving on to the next person. And truly that drives probably 75% of what motivates me today I don’t think anybody should be left behind because they just don’t have the same opportunities or insight into how things work. Entrepreneurship is hard enough. Being an artist, or creative is even more difficult, arguably, because you’re putting your emotions on the line. You combine these two things together as we do, and no one should be stuck in that situation where you just have a terrible idea that shouldn’t even be presented.

What was it that drove you to the media industry in particular? You are considered a media professional, what pulled you in that direction?

Paul: Honestly maybe only a few years after that. I was one of those computer geeks that had an Apple computer when I was a kid we had a neighbor who built computers put together a computer for us at some point and I remember playing Oregon Trail at its earliest iterations and we’re in the World is Carmen San Diego those kinds of games and being instilled with it at a very young age how games even then we’re are immersive, they tell stories they teach lessons without kids perhaps realizing they taught something. And I put two and two together as I got into high school. And our high school had a radio station in high school. 

And not many people were excited and enthusiastic about using it. I remember the debate coach at the high school one year asking if anybody wanted to be a DJ or a talk show host on the high school radio and I raised my hand I thought what the hell right lets I love music at the point, I had experienced what different forms of media meant at a young age through things like video games, and I was just enamored with the idea of being able to impart some of that culture some what I’ve learned some of what I was fascinated about in music, to impart that to other kids at that point just in high school. And this is before podcasting, this is before the internet was anything computers were connected at that point, we’re still dialing into through modems, that that used to make that sound that we’re familiar with if you’re my age, and while the school and truly, parents and future parents think about this, your school probably has a media group now, they certainly do probably do announcements via camera and, and some sort of radio-like experience in school. Our school, of course, had all of that, but there it was for about an hour every single morning and I had the complete attention to the entire school. Despite the fact that announcements would be later and despite the fact that there was a local newspaper and so forth. Every morning, everybody was listening to me, and do whatever I played wherever I talked about. So somewhere around 1995 1998 2000 ish, somewhere around that timeframe, we actually started to lose track of the application of those things, we started to get frustrated with video games being dangerous we started to see parents talk about how it was terrible, the kids to be putting guns in their hands-on video games, it was probably teaching the wrong lessons. And we started to lose sight of the fact that radio and print were these powerful mediums that influenced the world. And we were translating that to how the internet did the same thing through things like AOL and Yahoo, that that there was a disconnect at that point in time, that when I was in college, I really drove that passion, drove that passion that my early experiences as a kid being embarrassed, taking a risk. And then my later experience learning about how these forms of mediums enable us to reach people and share things with people. You take those two ideas together. And it struck me that we had this opportunity to use these forms of media to help others to either educate or talk or inform or share to ensure that everybody has a little bit more than the level playing field that I was talking about.

When did you start building websites? And how did that come about?

Paul: Yeah, you bet. So when I say computer geek, I don’t mean computer geek in the sense of being able to write code, I could build a computer back when we could do that I could, I took a partner computer rather frequently, and upgraded, upgraded video cards and that kind of thing. And, and so when I got to school, college school, I went to Arizona State University. And before that I was the guy behind the microphone in high school, I was the kid who didn’t want to take a risk, because of what happened to me when I was younger, and so when I got to Arizona State University, which was probably still is one of the biggest party schools in the country, there I am investing almost all I could manage to be social. And then Franklin needed to shut down. And so at that point, we didn’t need to build computers anymore, really upgrade them that much I had a decent computer in my dorm. And I started playing more with HTML, in its earliest version. And the first website I actually created, I actually never talked about it, you probably the first website I created was called a rare exception. And there’s probably if you look it up on who is or something, you probably still find rareexception.com in its early instances. And I was trying to go with some brain that talked about how it was this rare exception to the rules a little bit of my personality, a rare exception to, to what’s normal. 

And I don’t even remember what I created at that point. But I, I put some articles about music history. And I wrote about the lyrics to American Pie, I wrote about the lyrics to Hotel California from the Eagles. And I read some stuff about the Beatles because that was my passion for that was my interest in music. And in college, I had a music history class, the professor loved to give all these interesting, intriguing anecdotes about music history, and the artists and so forth. And so I decided to make something more of a rare exception. And I turned it into the octopuses garden by the same name as the famed Beatles song turn it into a website called the octopuses guard. And, and they just heavily invested in making it all about music.  Back then it was not terribly hard to create websites, it was six or seven pieces of HTML code that you had to learn and then, and then everything could pretty easily be looked up or strung together to create a layout, create what a website looks like. And didn’t know much more about what I was doing with it. I remember trying affiliate networks, we used to have these things called website rings, you join a website, ring and, and everybody else on the ring would refer traffic to the next you’d click the button, and you’d go to the next website.

I experimented with early forms of how to promote websites and just playing with stuff because I was curious and didn’t know what else to do with my time, certainly wasn’t gonna go to class too much. I had an article about John Lennon and the number nine. And if you’re a Beatles fan, a real Beatles fan, you probably know what I’m talking about. There’s a conspiracy theory about how the number nine, we’ve through a lot of John Lennon’s work, so I had that piece. And then I had a big piece about the death of Paul McCartney because there’s a big roomer that was started in the late 60s about how Paul McCartney died and was replaced, with somebody else. So I had those two articles out, and I was maybe a junior in college. And, and one day got an email from a man by the name of George Martin, who many will know as the producer of The Beatles. And I’m 20 years old or so at this point, still teaching myself how to create websites, and really nothing on the internet more than AOL that anybody knows of as far as a significant brand. I was toying around with listing my website on Yahoo at that point. So Yahoo was around but not much. And I get an email from the other side of the world, never traded email with anybody, but maybe students, maybe teachers, maybe my family, and I get this email, because of this website that I created. And it’s mind-blowing can’t describe it. Because I didn’t know how he found it. I mean, imagine it right. I had no idea how he found it, had no idea why he cared it just all sudden, this thing showed up in my inbox. And, and from that point forward, I knew I was gonna be in this line of work in some form or fashion because if you piece those three things together, getting passionate about making sure people have the same opportunities in the same level playing field to learning how and appreciating how traditional media enables us to do that to experiencing firsthand how the internet is going to make the world closer and more connected. In the span of my childhood. It was pretty apparent at that point that I couldn’t do anything else with my life.

Early on, Yahoo was where you really started digging into the kind of the infrastructure, behind the scenes of how the internet works, going into that job. What were you expecting, and what were some big aha moments for you while you were there?

Paul: The biggest aha moment was on the very first day. So I’m 20, maybe 23 years old, 22 years old, I don’t recall. And this was the time when, they still had sleeping bags, and that kind of Silicon Valley culture of, or stereotypical culture of everybody working all the time, and very passionately. 

So they still, a lot of people would still sleep there overnight, work all the time on whatever it is that we’re building next. And I sit down in my cubicle. And I confess, I can’t remember if it was Matt Heist. If some of the old Yahoo’s watch this, they’ll know who I’m talking about Matt Heist or Vlado Herman. But I’m sitting in my cubicle, and not really knowing what I’m doing yet. And in the cube right next to me immediately next to me. Then the person on the phone back when it was just a telephone person on the phone next to me was talking about what sort of adult toys, we’re going to be allowed on yahoo shopping. In in as much transparent languages, as you can imagine, I mean, these colors of things are acceptable, those colored not, we could probably have the kind with the little fingers dangling all over them. But we can’t do those, it can vibrate, but it can’t vibrate. I mean, it was just my eyes are, like, bulging out of my head is as he’s on the phone, a with a retailer. And sorting out what they’re gonna allow on, on Yahoo, and what they won’t allow on Yahoo. And I’m sure half of this has made up at this point, because what I remember about exactly what happened, but my the story in my head is that he finished up the call he pops over the cubicle, and looks at me, he goes, hey, welcome to Yahoo this is what we do here, we get to decide what kind of porn is allowed on yahoo shopping.

And then he planted a scene with me, which is absolutely true. And is particularly true about our industry, which is that porn tends to lead the way on the internet. And what he was referring to is with regard to innovation, in commerce, and in media, and the way that we consume things, most of the money takes most of the risk there first. And, and so if you follow that industry a little bit, you tend to be able to figure out what’s going to come next with regard to all the other forms of media. Anyway, so my first learning was that these kinds of innovative companies make decisions as best they can be based on trends, that, that impact what they do. Regardless of the subject matter. You got to pay attention to things and at least understand what’s going on. And then decide yes or no about whether or not you want to support it and embrace it. Big learning at that point. And it really, honestly, though, I think a fun and appropriate way to get introduced to the way the world works everything we do is professional and personal at the same time. And that’s okay, because there’s something for everybody and, and there’s no reason to exclude or get uncomfortable about any situation that we might be working with, or in. It’s all meaningful to somebody in his work.

I’m curious how HP scooped you up? And what your experience was like there, working with a little bit of a bigger budget than you perhaps had at Yahoo.

Paul: With as much humility as I can say is humility the right word. I was hardly the guy who knew everything about the internet. I was even close by this point, Kara Swisher. And,  Gary Vee. Well, they were brilliant people who were very well established with regard to what the internet was and is. I certainly had a little bit of attention in what I was doing, because I was out there building websites at the same time at Yahoo. When Yahoo was cool. But I didn’t earn my stripes, maybe in the way that that it might seem just because of the experiences I had, I was lucky, I had this early notion that that is not my own. But I had this early notion that the internet and our economy now because of it builds upon itself. That the only reason Yahoo existed is that AOL came before that, for example. So if you recall, folks, that back in the early days of the internet, we originally had the bulletin board system we had we had these modems, you really couldn’t find anything on the internet, because you would log into a community somewhere, a server, a bulletin board a chatroom, and that was it. That was that was kind of the limit and the scope of what the internet was. And then websites emerged. 

And in the early early days of websites emerging, the part of the reason that email from the other side of the world blew my mind is, in the early days, there really wasn’t an easy way to find anything, either, right that most people were sharing stuff in those bulletin boards in those chat rooms. And as a greater number of those websites to merged. AOL realized America Online realized that instead of just being an internet service provider, they could associate a word, a keyword with a website, and make it easier to find big things write certain things. And so for example, Coca Cola had the word Coca Cola, Dell had the word, Dell, so that you could just type in that word and immediately find something. But so so we’re building upon each other right from not being able to find anything unless it’s shared to a system or service or larger network that’s associated with one word, to than the guys at Yahoo coming along, and some others that point, and realizing we need something more like a directory or library, we need a way to associate a thing, a website with a whole bunch of different words. Because Coca Cola may be the most relevant and appropriate result for the word Coca Cola. But there’s no reason that other things couldn’t be fact, right? There’s news about Coke, there’s the stock markets, indices for Coca Cola, etc. And so Yahoo built the directory. And, as did others, right, Wikipedia was a different form of directory. Craigslist was a different form of directory. And, the guys at Google and the other search industry folks uncovered, is the fact that that directory is wonderful. But it’s also not completely comprehensive right library can only have so much. It’s dependent upon whatever people put into it.

So the search was really arguably the first major innovation online. And what I mean by that is, if you think about it, everything that came before was just a digital version of what we already had, that the bulletin board systems were a digital version of a real world meetup or networking group. AOL was just a word association with a company that was branding. And then Yahoo and other directories were literally kind of that library in a digital sense. So Google came along and said, now you know what we can actually crawl everything, index everything, scrape it all together, but it all in a result set, let everybody find absolutely everything. Boom, right massive, a massive development that’s around when I got involved with Hewlett Packard, I was hired at, at HP to be one of the first guys to help build out HP shopping with an understanding of how that internet works from the inside, right to come from Yahoo to hp. And with a perspective on how then behavioral targeting and display advertising and, and these directories and this emerging thing called Google works. And so the short answer is my stint at HP experienced that search innovation. And then what I argue is actually just coming full circle to where we started, which is the emergence of social media, right, the bulletin board system, the chat rooms, Yahoo Messenger, the stuff that we’re all wrestling with today with regard to social media, and slack messenger, right. And, and meetup. Right, those are all just new versions of what we had 25 years ago, online, we’ve come full circle. And in the middle of that was this thing called search, and these indexes. And so when I was at HP, I had the blessing of getting a lot of money, as a budget, getting a lot of money to help figure out all that was possible for an online company, a technology company, to reach people. And this was early, the early 2000s. And so I did a lot with Google, I did a lot with Yahoo, of course. And what was then Overture, or called Overture still did a lot of paid search advertising did a lot of SEO work. That’s where I got a little bit of a personal brand as SEO O’Brian because I got to speak at conferences and thought I should do something with that other than just being qualified. 

And then Facebook came out and if anything, there was the next chapter in my life experiences that if anything I’d learned then, as Facebook emerged, that, that that lack of a level playing field, that lack of experience with the internet, that lack of understanding how this works, severely puts things at a disadvantage because there was a company then as Facebook emerged, there was a company that was fearful of the idea that all of your employees would be on social media and could share things and talk about things. Well not 10 years prior, we were doing that already on bulletin board systems, not 10 years prior, we were doing that, something like Facebook was just making it more pervasive and more accessible for everybody. And rather than fighting it, rather, being uncomfortable with it, we needed to embrace it and understand how it worked, and then leverage it.

What were some of the biggest differences that you saw coming out of the valley and into Central Texas, that was a sobering realization?

Paul: So sobering interesting way to put it. And we should clarify that. When you say bubble, I think that’s true. I don’t think it’s accurate in the context that the internet has talked about bubbles in the past by which we should distinguish. Silicon Valley is not an economic bubble. I lived through two bubbles, economic bubbles there. That first bubble was, unfortunately, when Yahoo popped along with a lot of other things in the early 2000s. And then, and then, of course, we live through another recession economic bubble in late 2009 give or take the real estate bubble that again, caused the valley to pop but along with it, the rest of the economy. Silicon Valley is a bubble in the sense of it’s reasonably isolated. It’s a lot of experience and capital oriented technology and the internet in particular. And in that context, I think that’s accurate.

I think that’s true because the most sobering experience that I woke up to when I moved from there was this idea that if you think of the entire world and the amount of experience that everybody has, with this stuff, you think about the amount of experience that capital has with this stuff, you think about the amount of experience or exposure to the government’s your your your governments in Chicago or your federal government or national government if you’re in Germany, you might experience our governments have with this stuff is all pretty, pretty nascent, frankly, that, that Silicon Valley was a place where seemingly, everyone knew how to build websites. Everybody knew how Facebook works. Everybody knew how Google works. You didn’t hire SEOs, because everybody knows how to make sure you build a site properly for Google. That’s the bubble. And that’s the bubble met the sobering experience I had in 2009 2010 when I left to Texas, was discovering that in fact, most of the world has little exposure to it, and little understanding of how that stuff works. And that if we think about our economic divides, if we think about a classist society with regard to jobs and opportunities, if you think about what it takes to move capital, there’s a severe opportunity. I won’t say disadvantage, but there’s a severe opportunity in the rest of the world to catch everybody up to really just get everybody up to the same speed as on the same page as all of those people in a place like Northern California who is working on this stuff for 25 plus years. And don’t get me wrong, some places are, and we’re up to speed to an extent, New York, had had some experience with it, Los Angeles had some experience with it, London has had a lot of experience with it, Singapore has had a lot of experience with it. But for the most part, 10 years ago, 12 15 years ago, most places still didn’t have any exposure to it. 

And so what’s been neat to watch over the last 10 years, is how quickly the rest of the world is caught up, and how quickly once we realized that the internet has built upon itself, how quickly we’ve been able to teach people and teach businesses and teach companies that there are some underlying fundamental principles about the internet, that once you know, and once you understand, as a government as an entrepreneur, as a small business as even just a local business, you very quickly can overcome a lot of the challenges of the internet that seemed to be making things difficult for you seem to be holding back your success in your business, and actually make it very easy to participate in today’s economy. And it’s critical that everybody understand that stuff because this internet stuff is not going away. The one fundamental fact about our economy is that 20 years ago, we ushered in the information age, and we are not going backward, that will never be replaced with anything else forever, to the extent that you understand this stuff, and you know how to leverage this stuff and you know, participate on this stuff, you will have an advantage, you will be successful. And if you don’t, you will, you will have a disadvantage and you could be successful but you will certainly struggle a little bit with keeping up with the rest of the people that do understand this stuff.

What are you hoping people think of when they think about Media Tech Ventures?

Paul: The venture capital community, the capital community at large is really driven by three distinct perspectives. The capital community at large, I mean, distinct perspective. Number one is banking. That if you make money, you can get alone. A bank will help you make money will finance your thing, because you have assets in case you fail. And so I can sell those assets if you fail. And as long as you’re making money with what we’re supporting, you will be able to pay back that investment and financing. That’s number one.

Thing number two is public funding, grants. What your local government supports public funding is always driven by a political agenda that is the wrong word. But it but it’s always driven by social interests, voter interests, constituent interest, could be a kind of crony capitalist politician who moves money because they want to stay in office. But there are always more political interests involved in moving that kind of money.

And then the third thing, of course, is venture investment called venture capital and angel investment,  venture investment in businesses. And that’s historically that’s largely driven by how traditional investments work. But it traditionally, it’s that finance MBA, it’s someone from Goldman Sachs, it’s that very robust and experienced finance, mind, finance industry, mind that that influences how capital moves. Here’s what I’d like people to think about or take away with regard to not just Media Tech Ventures, but everybody trying to serve entrepreneurs. And it’s that those three ways of moving capital into new businesses are actually rather poor ways of making decisions. Early innovation, startups, entrepreneurs, even creatives. They’re not p&l. They’re not decisions that you can make as simple or soundly as looking at a set of financials and determining whether or not it’s a solid, appropriate use of capital.

And so it’s always struck me as interesting that, despite that fact, our world our economy, still largely makes decisions about where to put capital to support early entrepreneurs in those three traditional ways. Will it make money? And are their assets? The bank. Will this have the political impact that we hope it to public money? Or does it look good financially? Does it look good on paper, finance, industry, Wall Street? The only thing that really matters to whether or not a startup is successful is the people, the people who are involved. And that’s not a banking decision. It’s not a financial industry decision. And it can be a politically motivated assessment. Are the people involved, passionate about capable of experienced with and intentional about creating something that’s going to make a difference? That’s what I hope people take away from what we’re doing to Media Tech Ventures that the answer is yes, you can make an investment decision that is more likely to be successful, based on whether or not the people involved are passionate, experienced, and capable with an intentional about building something that’s going to work and that’s meaningful. We’ve seen it in our incubator, we’ve seen the fact that identifying people who are capable of building something new and passionate about doing so that they are more likely to be successful at it. And we’ve seen that when we support those people, we enable those people to better understand what it takes to have some experience with or perspective about the internet to understand the implications of media. When we help people do that. Not only are they more likely to be successful when you can identify that tenacity and that passion and then experience not only that are more likely to be successful for an investor, but because we’ve leveled that playing field for them, we’ve taught them how the internet works. We’ve exposed them to what media can or can’t do. We can deliver better returns, we can make sure that the bank’s investment, their financing is far more likely to be impactful as a local business or small business, we can ensure that a government’s interest public funding a University’s interest in supporting something is more likely to result in the political motivation that’s behind it. And it’s going to create jobs, that it’s going to result in a stronger tax base or production or manufacturing in that region of the world. Or that we can ensure that angel investors and venture capitalists get a better return.

Why because we’ve teased out the fact that it’s not just a set of financials that make a successful investment. It’s a team that’s capable and passionate. It’s a team that’s experienced, it’s, it’s, it’s a group of folks, it’s a group of individuals in the world who understand how this stuff works, and know what to do with it in a way that they’re not at a disadvantage as a company, as our most still throughout the world. That’s what we do. That’s, that’s what I want us to be known for. And, and yeah, I get involved a lot in mentoring, and I write a lot, maybe more than I should, given all the work that we have to do. But it’s because I believe that so passionately that if we teach people this stuff, then everybody will be more successful. And when everybody is more successful, we have more opportunity to pay forward and to pay it back.

If you had a superpower, what would it be?

Paul :Man put me on the spot. If I had a superpower, what would it be? I would I don’t even know if this is actually a superpower. But honestly, the one thing that that strikes me is the thing that I’d like to change about the world and people at large is is is that Beatles notion, all you need is love that it is the most important, most valuable consideration in the entire world. And I would love to sprinkle some fairy dust on the planet and make everyone realize, realize that, and live that way. I think we see it in politics. I think we see it in business. I think we see it in world governments, I think we see it in the way people engage with friends and family, I think we see it in the way that companies online operate behave, that if everyone simply put love first, I actually do firmly believe that innovation would accelerate. Everyone would be able to thrive financially, mental health issues would probably disappear. And most of the world’s challenges with regards the environment and infrastructure and so forth would also vaporize in almost no time as our attention as a population, what are we now 7 billion people, as that population suddenly realizes, you know what, the only thing that really matters is that I take care of other people first, and to an extent more than myself.

What people inspire you, people, you follow, either on social media or podcasts that you listen to books that have really helped you along the way? What does that look like?

Paul: I share a couple of authors and a couple of books rather, rather frequently, as a mentor in the startup ecosystem. But believe it or not, I actually don’t, admire and look up too many people in general, and in the sense of following them. Because I’m not the type to sit down and read a whole book. And I’m not the type, to listen to it to an entire show. Because of that upbringing, frankly, what I mean by that upbringing, is I’m so attuned, I’m so accustomed to how a search engine functions philosophically not technically, that, that I’m more so than mine, that I should just be able to look up whatever I want on demand. And so I tend to more so just kind of seek out stuff that I need when I need it or want it, then subscribing to things or buying things. Now, all that said, it might be apparent in the few things that I think about me or that I admire. I’m a big student and advocate Peter Drucker, old economists from the 70s you’ll hear me talk about him a lot. I’ve only read his books like twice believe it or not. I’ve graciously consumed all of the blog posts and stuff about him that I can. But I haven’t read his books cover to cover very, very frequently. And certainly not all of them, he’s got some nuggets that are meaningful. The more modern equivalent of that, to me, is Simon Sinek. And start with why I’ve read start with why I haven’t read most of his other books. But I’ve graciously consumed his stuff too, because I just philosophically I kind of love the way that he thinks and talks.

Two other folks that come to mind that may get some backlash for it. And actually, I don’t think I’ve ever talked about with anybody, even you, I, I’m actually a big admirer of Bill Gates. And almost as an extreme opposite, I’m a big admirer of Elon Musk. And both get a little bit of hate and a lot of love. And they’re both kind of all over the place for what they do. And that’s why I admire them that I firmly believe that they’re doing their best. And they’re good examples of how the internet and media can make someone look terrible or can tear somebody down or, or can expose the worth, and the good stuff about somebody. But at the end of the day, I admire them both because they both invested so much of themselves, and their capital, and the reputation and their companies and their wealth into improving the world in so many different ways possible as best they possibly can. That, if anything my point about love, I hope it’s kind of emulated in that, and then here’s Bill Gates trying to cure the world of malaria because he has the means to, and yet he’s a computer guy who built an operating system that had some control over the way the internet and computers work. But the fact that he’s constantly pushing for more innovation, with regard to how and what Microsoft does, is is evident in the way that he gives that back in some way as best as possible. So I, if I looked up to any two people would be those two people because they’re clearly challenged people, they’re clearly people that have ups and downs, they’re clearly people that don’t always make the right decisions. They’re clearly human. And yet, because they’re all over the place because they’re there, they’re working 120-hour workweeks, they’re, they’re able to make a difference. And we’re not always going to like the difference they make. But I think that’s natural for everybody and everything. And we look to the best that they accomplish. And we look to why to refer to send cynics point. And we look to what was some of Drucker taught about being innovative and understanding the market. And you can see how a Bill Gates and an Elan Musk are perhaps among the most successful incredible people in the world because of their understanding of that and how they impact people.

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John Zozzaro
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