You might have experienced failures in the past, or maybe you’ve been told several times that “you can’t.” The truth is, all entrepreneurs face challenges when starting their businesses.
In this interview, Jay Samit shares how to keep going despite setbacks and some of the most significant business ideas that have grown from adversity.
Jay Samit is the former Independent Vice Chairman of Deloitte, a bestselling author and is recognized as one of the world’s leading experts on disruption and innovation.
— Jay Samit
Topics covered in the interview
Opinion on disruptive, innovative entrepreneurs
Things to succeed in life
Qualities of founders
Three problems a day for 30 days
Jay Samit’s Bio
International bestselling author Jay Samit, is a dynamic entrepreneur and intrepreneur who is widely recognized as one of the world’s leading experts on disruption and innovation. Described by Wired magazine as “having the coolest job in the industry,” he raises hundreds of millions of dollars for startups, advises Fortune 500 firms, transforms entire industries, revamps government institutions, and for three decades continues to be at the forefront of global trends.
The former Independent Vice Chairman of Deloitte Consulting, Samit helped grow pre-IPO companies such as LinkedIn, been a Nasdaq company CEO, held senior management roles at EMI, Sony and Universal Studios, pioneered breakthrough advancements in mobile, ecommerce, digital distribution, and spatial reality that are used by billions of consumers every day. Called the “guru for the entire industry” by Variety, his list of partners and associates reads like a who’s who list of innovators, including: Bill Gates, President Bill Clinton, Pope John Paul II, Steven Spielberg, Steve Jobs, Reid Hoffman, David Geffen, Sir Richard Branson, and Paul Allen.
Samit’s previous book, Disrupt You! Master Personal Transformation, Seize Opportunity, and Thrive in the Era of Endless Innovation (MacMillan 2015), is currently published in twelve languages. He has also written for such publications as Fortune, Harvard Business Review, and The Wall Street Journal. A sought-after conference speaker and consultant, Samit provides disruptive solutions for such corporate clients as Adobe, American Express, AT&T, Best Buy, Coca Cola, Disney, Ford, Google, GE, IBM, Intel, McDonalds, Microsoft, Procter & Gamble, and Visa and dozens more.
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Jay Samit 00:00
So next time you go to the airport and you're able to get your boarding pass and do anything without a person, think a little old Jay. It came out of the ashes of failure. Most things start from solving a problem. Entrepreneurs do not sell things. They solve things. Welcome to Raw
and Real Entrepreneurship. The show that dares to bring no nonsense insight to those who have the courage to start, grow and scale a business. I'm your host,
Susan Sly 00:28
Susan Sly. Well, hey, everyone, I hope you're having an amazing day, wherever you are in the world. And I have a question for you. Have you ever wondered if it's possible for someone who is so unlikely to succeed, someone who perhaps has had everything thrown against them, in fact, the odds are stacked against them to go on to not only achieve some degree of success, but to become a self made millionaire? Well, my guest today is a best selling author, he is the person who globally is known as someone who teach, teaches disruption, is an expert on disruption. And on top of that, his newest book was inspired by taking 12 fundamental steps, and helping someone, an immigrant who was not very likely to go on to achieve great results become a self made millionaire. And he is a dynamic entrepreneur, an intrapreneur, who's widely recognized as one of the world's leading experts on disruption and innovation. He's described by Wired Magazine as having the coolest job in the industry. And I will second that. I'm a bit of a fan girl. He raises hundreds of millions of dollars for startups, advises fortune 500 firms, transforms entire industries, revamps government institutions, and for three decades continues to be at the forefront of global, global trends. And so Jay Allen Samit, thank you so much for being on Raw and Real Entrepreneurship.
Jay Samit 02:05
Pleasure to be here.
Susan Sly 02:07
So Jay, I want to jump right in with the story. Just before we went into recording the show, you were telling me that in your previous book, Disrupt You, which is an industry standard, especially for those of us in the startup community, that you received an interesting piece of correspondence. Could you share that story?
Jay Samit 02:29
Yeah, so I've been a CEO, I've had hundreds of 1000s of employees, I've sat in an empty room. When you're a CEO of a public company, your inbox is filled with I hate you, I hate your company, we're suing you. Problems, make it up to the, up to the C suite. Not a lot of fun. When you write a book that helps people achieve their goals, you get these amazing, I call them love letters. I wake up every day to an email from somewhere that I can't understand how they found the book. A dentist in Pakistan, I mean, Croatia, Lithuania. And they're thanking me when they did all the work. But I got this one email, was from a young millennial, and it said, this is all motivational, but I could never do it. And I didn't understand why I was unable to connect with this person. What was I missing? And so I came up with this wacky idea of why don't I put it to the test? Why don't I find somebody that is worse off the most people that will read the book? Somebody that grew up on welfare, someone who was on welfare, in this case, an immigrant, so they had no support system, no family, they were homeless, they were couchsurfing, staying with some people that were on welfare. And I mentored him one day, a week for a year, his name was Ben. And I gave Ben no capital. I didn't open up my contacts, there wasn't any hidden thing. And spoiler alert, if you're going to read, future proofing you, he became a millionaire in less than a year. And this isn't a get rich quick scheme. This isn't, I'm not selling anything. This is basically, it took those mentoring sessions, sessions down to what I call 12 truths. If you follow these 12 truths, you will be successful. The problem is we're not taught to be successful. Our teachers, our parents, our well wishers try to shield us from pain and failure. So we've been trained by people that gave up on their dreams to give up on our own. So you go to a job to make somebody else rich to make somebody else's dream come true. Why don't you believe it? If you don't have time to read the book, I'll do it in one sentence. If you think you can, or you think you can't, you're right. And so, if we can teach people how it's done, and I also cite all the studies, people with higher IQs don't end up wealthier. People that went to top universities don't end up wealthier. So what is it? And if you would have told me growing up in a working class family in Philadelphia, that dozens of friends would become self made billionaires with a B, I'd ask you what you're smoking. But I got to work with guys like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs and Elon Musk, and all these people before they were household names. Some are very, very bright. Some aren't. But what are they doing differently? Why is it every 32 hours, there's a new self made billionaire? Think about that. Susan, what'd you do this past weekend? Did you make a billion? No, you're a slacker. But seriously, there's no gatekeepers, we're one click away from our phone, 5 billion customers. You only have to be right once to make a million dollars to change the world. And so it can be taught, and I'm not doing this to sell anything, you can't buy a t shirt with my face on it. The books are done by publishers. So they have distribution. Anybody that's written a book, I'll tell you, there's no money in books. But it can be taught. And if you want to take that first step, I can get you on the road.
Susan Sly 06:04
Well, I'm, I'm excited about the book for a variety of reasons. So one of the, in my studies at MIT on strategy and innovation, one of the stats that came out is in the, in the studies that they've done looking at the most innovative CEOs, and you mentioned some of them, Elon Musk is one, the, you know, Bill Gates, and so on, and so forth. Even like, maybe not recently, Bill Gates, but early, you know, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and so on, these guys. One of the biggest things that came out of the studies was that the most disruptive, innovative entrepreneurs had lived in more than one country. And they had experienced more than one industry. And so I was very excited, Jay, because as a co founder and CEO of an AI company, that will be a multi billion dollar company, we're on our way. And someone who's passionate about you know, like yourself, you know, I've traveled, I've worked with people in Africa, I've rescued girls from brothels in Cambodia, and done all of these things. When I heard that statistic, I thought, okay, you know, it doesn't matter if my horrible GPA in my undergrad, I've lived in a couple of countries, speak a couple of languages, I've worked in the different verticals. I would love to get your opinion on that research, do you think? So,
Jay Samit 07:32
um, half of the Fortune 500 companies were founded by an immigrant or the first generation child of an immigrant. And you say, was that a coincidence? Obviously not. And here's the difference. Somebody that can change that voice in their head that says I can't or I, you know, this is my lot in life. And immigrant has decided to leave it all behind and take an improbable risk. This country was created by immigrants, and then settled, settled by settlers. So why settle when you can boldly go for it? So those values of not being afraid. So when you see an immigrant sweeping up in a store, or doing a menial job, that's not their identity. In their mind that is a stepping stone in a path. And so, there was an immigrant to this country who wanted to start a business on his own, but didn't know whether or not he could afford it. So he made a bet with himself. Could he live one month on $30? So a lot of Top Ramen and bulk bags of oranges. And Elon Musk lived a month off of $30. And that convinced him that he and his brother could start their first business. So they didn't have an apartment. They rented an office, they had one computer, the website was up during the day. At night, they code on it, they slept on the floor, they went to the Y to shower, and that eventually became what you know, was PayPal. And yet when Elon sold that for gazillions, I mean, he was a billionaire. He wasn't done. He was on a quest. It wasn't about money. It was about solving other problems. So he took all his money and started Solar City, started SpaceX. And he bought Tesla, took over Tesla. And when I say spent all his money, he had to borrow after, after cashing out a multi billion dollar exit, he had to borrow money from friends to pay rent. So fast forward today. When I wrote my first book, he was worth about $2 billion. He's now worth about $300 billion in five year difference. And he basically sleeps nights in a trailer in the parking lot. He is driven by something greater, and one of the 12 truths is, is having that passion, having, having something greater than yourself that you're solving for, because that'll get you over the challenges, you will fail. Failing is part of the process. Think of a baby. They don't stand up one day and go today, I should walk across the room, they get up and they fall, they get up, they fall. And eventually they figure it out. When you play video games, you hit that impenetrable wall, you can't get past it. And you eventually figure out how to get past. And guess what? There's a new obstacle. That's what your career is about. I work with two guys in the beginning of my career, and they had a brilliant idea. What if we hooked up traffic lights to computers to reduce traffic? Synchronize it, it's called Traf-O-Data. Genius. City planners had no idea what this was. Nobody bought it. So Bill Gates and Paul Allen's first company went bust. Their second company was Microsoft. Henry Ford's first company went bust, Walt Disney's first company went bust, I can go on and on. But when you fail, you don't end up where you start. You either earn or you learn, but either way you're propelling forward. And so that's the process. And once you realize there's no shame in failing, there's shame in not trying. If you want to get proof of this, visit somebody with white hair, visit your grandparents, go to an old age home, and ask people their biggest regrets in life. And they'll never be what they failed at, it'll be what they failed to try. So today, you're going and trading a day of your life for a job that pays you enough to show up and not enough to care, doesn't let you live the way that you want to. And I'm telling you, that'll turn into a week, a month, a year, a career, a life. You would have given away the most precious thing you have— your life on this planet. For what? There has to be something better. And why not show people how to make that happen?
Susan Sly 11:50
You said so much, Jay. And I love that you talked about failure. So I was reading some statistics for a paper that I'm writing. And it's, it's the, 61% of Americans say I want to start a business, 92% of those 61 never do. You mentioned Elon, you mentioned Bill Gates. Honda was another one I was referencing in this paper. He failed in his first business. He tried to sell car parts to Toyota and they rejected him. I mean, there's so many people, even JK Rowling, Harry Potter, rejected by 12 publishers, the Harry Potter company is worth 25 billion. Let me ask you this question because you've worked with the top innovators in the world. Why is it they're willing to keep going after their first failure? Oh,
Jay Samit 12:44
it's real easy. The only person that can stop you is you. And once you realize that, you're unstoppable. Everything you own, your favorite book, record, movie, clothes, or shoes, were created by somebody who was stubborn. Somebody that wouldn't stop. And I wasn't the most introspective person. That comes with with age. And when I turned in my first book, the editor at the publisher said, Boy, you're really resilient. And I didn't think of myself as that. It's what choice do you have? For me, I two sons. When I was young, I wanted them to have a better life. I bought into society's thing, go to good university, get good grades and live happily ever after. When I graduated during a recession, there's no jobs. There's nobody ever asked what your GPA was. Irrelevant, no one cared. Everything that I was taught that was supposed to be important, suddenly vanished, and I had mouths to feed. So I didn't set out to be an entrepreneur. Then the next thing I realized, is if you apply for a job, name it, any job, the fact that it is means that somebody else has already had it, which means there are more qualified people for that job than you. Why should anybody ever hire you? But if you do something that no one else is doing, by definition, you're the best in the world of what you're doing. So go into a new area. Where do you think cryptocurrency experts or social media experts or augmented reality experts come from? They wake up one day and say I will be an expert on this. And then they hold on and defend that turf as long as they can. And I hate competition. So when the big guys come into whatever the next thing is that I pioneered, I'm on to the next thing, because on any day, there's somebody smarter, better looking, better capitalized, better connected, I hate that person.
Susan Sly 14:57
We do call this Raw and Real Entrepreneurship so tell how you really feel. Jay, what's something you failed at recently?
Jay Samit 15:04
Um, I fail every day. I always have. You can't control timing on things. You could be too early, you could be too late. The example that's top of mind wasn't, wasn't recent but but a great learning exercise that I talked about in Disrupt You. Young, I'm in my 20s and California is getting lottery machines for the first time. And back then computers were little green screens with just white letters and my competition made a thing that had just numbers on a screen and that was it. A kiosk, you type in your numbers and you print your lottery ticket. I made a machine that had a whole color screen, did videos, had motion detector when you walk by the supermarkets. What would you do with a million dollars and people are looking around? It's a touch, mean eight different languages. So if you only spoke Vietnamese or whatever, it would then talk to you in that language. It was amazing. My competition, little screen this big, some numbers. I didn't know about fundraising. I didn't know about anything about business. I ran my whole business off my credit cards. I was maxed out. Everything I had was into this prototype. I'm at the meeting and the other guy wins. Later, I would find out that the FBI had a secret camera and hotel room and videoed one of the guys on the state committee getting a suitcase for my competition for $50,000. But that didn't get them to overturn anything. And I wouldn't find out that after another year. Senator Robbins would go to prison over that. So here I am, I'm flying back from Sacramento to LA. I'm broke. I thought it was a sure thing. I thought I was a genius. I thought everything was going to go my way. I don't have enough money to make it home from LAX. Well, back then they used to have a little lady that sat at a desk that told you how to take the buses, there's no public transportation, couldn't afford a cab. It was an Uber. And I get back late at night. I am really depressed. And the little ladies have gone home. There's nobody to tell you how to do anything. And then they talked to me. Those people only sit at those desks for a few hours a day. They only speak one language. There's 15 billion people coming to LAX each year. They speak every language known to man. They need a kiosk. So next time you go to an airport and you're able to get your boarding pass and do anything without a person, think a little old Jay. It came out of the ashes of failure. Most things start from solving a problem. Entrepreneurs do not sell things. They solve things. Southam, something for five people, you have Friend software, millionaire, wealthy, software, billion, you change the world. And that's what it comes down to. If you have problems in your life, you're halfway there. You're not that unique. Other people have the same problems. Figure out a problem that enough people have solvable something, you don't have to invent the new technology. You don't have to be an engineer, you only need two things to succeed in life. Insight, which I teach you in both my books and perseverance, which you either cultivate, or you flounder, and everything else can be hired. Everybody hearing this podcast has written at least as much computer code as Steve Jobs, which is Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah. Okay?
Susan Sly 18:38
I love that you mentioned that.
Jay Samit 18:41
Wozniak was probably the biggest genius of computers at that moment. But he would not have been able to make $5. In their first sale, Steve ripped them off and lied to him what the sale was. I mean, he wasn't focused that way. But Steve could hustle. And you can hire the skill sets that you don't have. Most people would rather just have a job. Jack Ma, who started Alibaba, the biggest retailer in the world, recently finally admitted this. I've known Jack for years. First five years of having Alibaba, he didn't even own a PC and they didn't know how it worked. He was in China. He knew the internet was big, and there's a lot of Chinese and he was going to make something. So he could hire people that knew how to do it. And he did that after applying for a job at Kentucky Fried Chicken and not getting it. The young man who created WhatsApp applied to work for Facebook. Facebook wouldn't hire him. It wasn't good enough. Less than two years later, they paid him billions and billions of dollars to buy WhatsApp, which he would have gladly given them for free for a job. See the pattern
Susan Sly 19:51
here? Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, it, I am so grateful you mentioned that Jay, you know of regarding Steve, and Wozniak, I was at a dinner with Steve Wozniak a couple of years ago. And he does, he's, he's a genius. And he also, he, he doesn't make eye contact when he speaks. Some people think he might be, you know, on the spectrum a little bit and which is cool my son is. But he, it just goes to show you, I think the thing I want everyone to understand is stop telling a story about why someone's successful. If you search me on CrunchBase right now, I am one of the top female funded, female founded. I looked on this list, I was like, wow, I made this list. Female founded machine learning companies in the US. And here's the funny thing. Jay, do you know what? I haven't written a line of code since I, my last year of university in 1992. Not one. And I, you know, I have engineers that code in 13 languages. I couldn't write one line of Python coding, but it doesn't matter. And I love that you're saying this. Because when people read your book, and they go through these 12 steps, and everything I've researched about you, every guest that comes on the show, the you know, and I've had friends on the show, who are you know, billionaires, people that you know, I do a ton of research and everything you're talking about is common sense. But the bottom line is common sense isn't common practice.
Jay Samit 21:26
Yeah. My mom used to say common sense isn't all that common. No. What you get out of reading my books is if a moron like Jay can do it, so can I. And I'm dyslexic. Another thing that's interesting, you talked about immigrants is 30% of CEOs of Fortune 500 companies are dyslexic. When I was raised, the word for dyslexic was, You're an idiot. But I'm wired different. I can think differently. And that's our differences that give us our advantage. Your superpower is what makes you different. Okay? Think of why friends come to you for advice. Okay? No one ever comes to me for fashion advice, not my strong suit. But they come to me for problem solving. And, and so whatever it is that you're thinking, I have a friend who's the greatest connector. He has a personality to drop them in the desert, or make friends with the plants. I mean, he's just that type of person. And he's never had to have a job. I've another friend who's the Silicon Valley connector, just set out to do that. You talked about people in spectrum, a lot of successful people in that category. And she had the personality that could fill in those holes that they were missing. And they would give her pieces of their, their companies. And she made hundreds of millions of dollars. She has stakes now I think in 200 companies, so there's always a way to do it. I help create the first auction, which you now know is Ebay. I work with Reed Hoffman, who wrote the foreword to the book on LinkedIn. First video chat, first video on computers, I could give you the whole list. I'm not an engineer. I've never written a line of code. And yet I've taught and been a professor at the top engineering school in the country. And I've taught how to build a high tech startup. And I've had students make over $100 million the first year. So this is, this is doable. And let's face it, the pandemic wiped out the middle class. And without a middle class ship, no stability. There's never been a war between two countries that have McDonald's. I'm not commenting on the diet. I'm commenting on a stable Middle Class. Right? There's never been a famine in the country that has a free press. So unless we start creating jobs, governments don't create jobs, entrepreneurs do. And half of all jobs will disappear this decade. Now everybody thinks of old truck drivers, you have self driving vehicles or truck drivers. I was independent vice chairman of Deloitte and I can tell you accounting jobs are all going to be software. Yeah, middle management jobs, software, lawyers, software, getting an MBA, software. So white collar has gone away as fast as, as blue collar. But yet, there's always new innovations. 100 years ago, the majority of Americans lived on farms. The other half lived in cities. Two inventions, the tractor and irrigation. And today we have 3% on farms, feeding not just the other 97% but we export to the whole world. But look at that from a job perspective. There's only 3%. That means half of all jobs, farm jobs disappeared. But the Industrial Revolution, the information age, everything else created new jobs, new opportunities. Unless you commit to self disruption and lifelong learning, you're going to be roadkill on what's happening. The pace of change has never been faster. We live in an era of endless innovation. So here's the thing about disruption. Disruption isn't about what happens to you. It's about how you respond to what happens to you. So everything in life is a choice. You lost your job, boohoo, or the greatest opportunity, nothing holding you back from starting something new. And this young man who achieved the near impossible, did he date that here, No. Did he ever watch TV, No. Did he get to watch the game? Did he get any— he worked seven days a week. Daytime was for selling nighttime was for doing the work. No engineering, no, no special skill set. And at the end of that year, what kept him going after he hit the, hit the, hit the million dollars, was he knew he's taking the next year off. Not because a million dollars is enough to live on for the rest of your life. But because, says the title the book says, he was future proof. He knew that he could live anywhere, set a flag down anywhere and do it again. And now fast forward, he has multinational clients, he, he lives in Europe, you know, he spent that year traveling.
Jay Samit 26:28
But you can change the way you think. You ,your mind is malleable. That voice that says I'm not good at math, because in third grade, 7 times 8, then get it, I bet if I put you in a third grade classroom today, you could kick everybody's butt. Okay? I can't do public speaking because in second grade, in Show and Tell, I mean, people get these conceptions of what they can't. The other person saying that you can't is that voice. So self disruption is about changing that voice. And once you change that voice, changing the business world is easy. And I break it down in the steps and I show you a process to give you those ideas that you can then capitalize on.
Susan Sly 27:15
Jay, the, the power in this concept that anyone, regardless of circumstance, if they have the right mindset, they have a recipe, they can be successful is yes, common sense but it's also refreshing, which is incredible. I want to ask you two questions. And this one is personal because I feel like I have the best side hustle in the world that I get to interview amazing people like yourself. So I want you to imagine for a moment, you've got five startups lined up. And all the founder teams are there. You don't know anything about their product. But you know how to talent spot. What qualities do you look for in founders? Because you, you know, you've, you've helped companies raise hundreds of millions of dollars.
Jay Samit 28:13
So I've judged hackathons, I spend most of my life talking to young startups. And what you'll find is, is the truly savvy Silicon Valley, VCs aren't investing in the idea. Because I'll tell you something, and people are shocked when I have big audiences or whatever. And I said, you know, rare opportunity to get, get free advice on your startup if you're brave enough to talk, but I warn people, I'm going to tell you your idea sucks. Because almost all ideas suck. It's not till you get into the weeds past the initial idea, and pivot that you really figure it out. So what you're looking for is that personality that is open to being challenged. More entrepreneurs are ruined by compliments, then grown through criticism. So are they open to being critiqued? Can they can they take a challenge? Can they kind of put on, are they are they so fixed that they're right? I mean, when I was 20, I knew everything in the world. Took me a whole lifetime to realize I'm a moron. But if I knew everything, I knew about business, now, when I was 20, I would know not to start my business, which turned out to be very successful. So naivete is a suit of armor. So it's that personality. The other thing is, I want to know the background of the team. Because if they're all engineers, or they all want the same school, or they're all made up the same ethnicity, you're missing out. You mentioned about people to travel. What's really interesting is when you go to somewhere else, you suddenly realize the whole world doesn't operate the way you do. What you thought is the only way or the right way, is a way. And it is the intersection of cultures where innovation happens. So if you look at the major cities that were on the Silk Road, you know, somebody was going through, they're bringing spices and silk, but somebody said, Hey, everybody's going to be over there, I make chairs, I'll set up my chairs for those of our markets and towns of Damascus, and Cairo. And all those places still exist, because that's where commerce came from. It isn't that you have to sit there in an empty room like Doc Brown and create the flux capacitor while you're on the toilet. It's not this whole thought. Just taking something that somebody uses over here and using it somewhere else. It is that simple. And that somewhere else doesn't have to be geography. You talk about different different fields of study, something that they do in this arena to over there. 2000 years ago, the Greeks were getting carpal tunnel syndrome from squeezing olives to make olive oil. So somebody made an olive press, you put the olives in squish them down. People weren't the age of innovation 2000 years ago, took 1500 years before somebody said, if we make a big ol' press, we can put grapes in there and not have to stomp on grapes. So in the year 1500, in Germany, everybody bought grape presses, they made more recently wine than is made today. And the population was this big. Every vintner went bankrupt. So a guy named Gutenberg is looking out his window and it sees all these used presses that you can get for nothing. If I put my type in there, that's a good idea. He didn't sit there and design a press from scratch. And so much of what we see is just telling those, those little things. Two guys we're in traffic in Israel, okay, has traffic, I'm from LA, I got you beat, okay. And it dawned on them, the phone company knows where my phone is. Simple premise. So if they tell me to go left and the other car to go, right, you can get rid of traffic. That was the basis of Waze. Without a penny in revenue, they sold for billions. Only a year, it is solving a problem. And you don't have to know all the pieces because you can hire those people to do the parts that you can't figure out. Yeah. I,
Susan Sly 32:24
I just took half a page of notes. So thank you for that. The, I invest in, in startups. And one of the things I look for, as you said, is, I really look for someone who's failed, at least once. I—
Jay Samit 32:40
They learned the lesson on somebody else's budget.
Susan Sly 32:42
Exactly. What did you fail at? How did you overcome it? The degrees are not going to impress me, although, you know, as an MIT student, part time, I am, I do have a proclivity for my colleagues there. But I think that to your point, if every one is the same in that founding team, were you getting the fresh ideas? Were you getting different points of view? And you're going to, now I'm really on a little soapbox here. Now you're going to screw up when you hire, because if all you know is you, you're going to hire a whole team of yous. And we've seen it in Silicon Valley startups, we've seen that fail time and time and time and time again. That diversity of thought is so important.
Jay Samit 33:26
Absolutely. I'll give a great example, um, a startup that I'm very involved in, was created by an engineer who worked for me 20 years ago, who grew up on a farm in Kansas. Father, farmer, grandfather, probably back a million generations, but he went to the big city as an engineer. But when he went back to the farm, it's like, who came up with this idea that the best way to grow food is to slather it in poison? I mean, when you say it that way, it's insane what we do. Yeah. It has to be a better way. Make a long story short, made little robots, swarm of them that go out in the field and clip the weeds. So now everything's organic. Farmers don't have to handle Dicamba, these cancer things. The runoff doesn't kill fish in the Gulf of Mexico, farmer makes 40% more per acre. Renting the robots, robots as a service is cheaper than spraying. I mean, slam dunk. But to your point, if you look at the Venn diagram of people that go to Stanford and Silicon Valley, and high tech, and have a farming background, it's not a Venn diagram. It's two different circles. So those people will never have addressed any of these issues. He was looking at a real problem. And he tried everything before he did the robot. Said there has to be an easier way to do this stuff. And here's the byproduct that got me excited why I didn't want to be involved in another company at this stage. But I felt a moral obligation. Farming 101, farmers till the soil to break up weeds. When you till the soil, it releases greenhouse gases and Carbon. Is the single largest source of carbon going into the atmosphere on the planet, above factories, above cars. So if we can go to no till regenerative agriculture, the planet doesn't overheat, we all don't die. And we don't get cancer from eating carcinogens in our food. How can I morally say no, I'm not going to help that company? No, you can't. That's a huge series of giant problems. But he didn't set out to say carbon sequestration organic, he set out to solve a problem make a profitable business.
Susan Sly 35:38
Oh, engineers overcomplicate explanations all the time.
Jay Samit 35:45
People think the elevator pitch is, is, is an expression that doesn't make sense. But if you can't explain your business in one sentence, How is anybody ever going to market that product? Right? How is somebody going to, and, and everything comes down to a very basic problem that you're solving. And then you can have all the back Well, why didn't somebody else try this? Why does somebody else, you know, how are you the first one to think of this? And when I teach things, and I have a, a process called three problems a day for 30 days, I'll tell you about it in a second, I have so many young people that always go, when I had this idea, I assumed somebody must have already had this and I search for this product to buy, and nobody did. I remember a few years ago, when I was buying a house I said, this is not a rich guy problem. This isn't my main house, I'd like to be able to control the thermostat from my phone. So when I'm two hours away, I can turn on not waste electricity. It didn't exist. I didn't jump in do it as a business, I wasn't looking to. Now they exist in common sense problem. But it all starts with what's that problem? If you remember Blockbuster, a guy went in to Blockbuster, forgot to return his movie for a month and they wanted $40 for this crappy movie. So Reed Hastings says there's got to be a better way. And that's all it took to start Netflix.
Susan Sly 37:19
And the CEO of Blockbuster was quoted as saying people will still want to come to the store because they want the popcorn. And for the listeners, that, the ego in that statement, it just, it's, it's the exact opposite of everything Jay is teaching. Super quick as we went up, because I want to ask you for your predictions, but three problems a day, what is this?
Jay Samit 37:44
So today, not tomorrow, write down three problems in your life— traffic, whatever. But you have to do that everyday for a month. First couple days, fairly easy. By day two or day three, you start going I don't have any more problems because you, you're on autopilot. You, you accept the world the way it is, you're not challenging every moment. So a guy named Larry Torski was doing this. Taking his medicine one morning, the phone rings, he gets off the phone, he goes, ooh did I take my pill? If I already took it and I take two that's not good. If I don't take it that's also not, hey, I got a problem. Make a long story short, took a Happy Meal watch, put it on the lid, when you open it goes Oh, I haven't opened it for eight hours or Oh, I opened it three minutes ago. Timer caps, sold millions of them, added Bluetooth so you know whether grandma took her medicine. Just starts from those moments. So a month of that, at the end of the month, you sort your 90 ideas, which is more good ideas than the BC is going to get a month on two axis. This is your your MIT study part. One axis is called TAM, Total Addressable Market, you know, if it's something for left handed jockeys that only eat vegan, not a lot of those. If it's something that millions of people deal with, great. But the other axis is really important as well. What do you really care about? I've had more startups coming to me that have really good ideas that are going to make a lot of money but it's something that I could care less about solving. Yeah. It's not going to get you— money isn't the motivator. Because what you're going to find out is there's no rational reason why anybody should be a billionaire then. Because you can't spend it, right? But if you have a greater problem that you're solving, Elon Musk, the first time I met him said something that stuck with me, because it was bizarre. I wasn't expecting it. Most conversations, you know, where it's going. Said I have enough money to cure cancer. But what good would that do? I'm like, Well, what did I hear that right?Llife on this planet is over, I'm going to colonize Mars. Now you can laugh at that, you can disagree with, but this is a man on a mission. And if he doesn't make it all the way to Mars, think of all the things that he's created to make that possible, including now people don't realize he has more satellites than any government. So your, your AT&T, paying for phone bill, all that can be just wiped away if he wants, right? So he's solving some real major problems that needed to be solved to get to the quest that he's focused on. Because nobody else was focused on these problems.
Susan Sly 40:18
Well, shout out to Elon, he and I both went to Queen's University in Canada. So for a brief hiccup of time, so anyway, let me ask you, Jay, one minute.Ppredictions for 2020.
Jay Samit 40:30
So I'll give you, I'll give you a trillion dollar opportunity. So before I tell you what it is, go back in your mind a decade ago, when the iPhone came out. You talked about what people's reaction, Steve Ballmer, who was head of Microsoft, at the time, it was a video of him on YouTube laughing at it, this thing has no keys on it. What a joke. You know, Apple bombed, okay. Apple created this amazing ecosystem for apps, but they didn't create the apps. So the first year, here's two of the top 10 best selling apps, there was a game with cats, and a fart app, made 10 Different fart sounds. There was no Robin Hood, there was no Uber, there was no, all these billion dollar companies that would come along. Now, the reason I mentioned that is starting this year, and extremely in mass in 2023— AR glasses, we're all gonna have heads up displays that give an overlay to our world. So you can walk into a supermarket and the doctor just told you, you have diabetes, can't have things with sugar. Show me the products without sugar and everything else disappears. Or show me the things that are keto, or Hello, or what's that wine that was on Oprah or whatever you want to see, or show me how I get to the nearest dryclean, whatever it wants to be. If Google doesn't win this race to monetize here, it's an existential threat, they go out of business. If we're not taking our phone out of our pocket, or looking at five hours a day, if Apple doesn't win this, they go out of business. Same with Facebook, LinkedIn, Microsoft. So the big guys are spending billions to get this right. And if you want to know how I'm able to accurately predict the future, year after year, I hang out with the people that are coding it. So there's no Ouija board here. There's no Jay's predictions are ever wrong. I know what's coming in the date and everything else. So here's the thing. What problems can you solve with this that couldn't be solved before? You didn't have to invent these, you'd have to invent the 5g, but the edge computing. All the heavy, it's like somebody built a railroad tracks, gave for your free train car. And all you have to do is say, your seats are cushy and the other seats are wood, people would pay to be on the cushy seat. So this is a trillion dollar opportunity. That's probably the biggest, wide open opportunity where anybody can jump into it. And, and I've watched this happen again and again. When the internet came along, how many stores didn't jump on to make an internet store? And I remember when I made front page news that the gap.com sold more than any location and everyone's like, wow, that's amazing. Like, let's see, 5 billion people could click and go to that store, how many people are going to the store, you know, at the mall? So look into that. Look into place that doesn't have established competition, then you only have to solve a problem. You don't have to also compete about somebody else. The competition will come. First person, you educated businesses, the person that should have been doing what you're doing, but they'll still be too lazy. And I'll leave with one, one thing that many people that aren't in this ecosystem don't understand. They see time and time again, a headline of some startup with zero revenue selling for hundreds of millions or billions of dollars. This makes no sense. So I will never be another public company Nasdaq CEO, again, it's a miserable experience. CEOs are worth every penny that they take to put up with it. Now when you're CEO, they'll get on TV that they think about the shareholders, they think about the employees, they think about the customers, BS. The board tells you what to think about. Move the stock from here to here, and they back up the Brinks truck and give you another 10, 100 million dollars. So for 16 weeks, you're on a hamster wheel to do anything to make that number go. So stop doing R&D, stop having all this overhead to make new products that won't happen till next year when there's a new CEO because they fire you. Get rid of all that cost. Now you're profitable. Your company goes up, you make a boatload of money, he got no new products, they fire you and they bring in the next CEO. CEOs are like a piece of cheese. They have an expiration date.
Jay Samit 44:51
But that also means the CEO that wants to save his job since he's not spending that money and losing money quarter after quarter making something new, would gladly do it an acquisition to make it look like they have a new direction. The majority of acquisitions are, by the way, a waste of money and they fail. But it'll buy him more time in that C suite. That is why people are willing to pay for the legwork that some startup has done to get it going. So I can give you a list of companies in the ag business that should be having robotic divisions but don't. It is much easier for them to write a check one day for a billion dollars and buy Greenfield robotics, and then put their name on it and go with it. Google unlimited resources own the desktop was asleep and didn't see the phone coming in a smartphone that we talked about. Had they not bought Android, there'll be no Google today. So what was that worth to buy? This is the way that you do it. And when you start a business, you should target who should likely acquire because that'll help you make decisions of which way to grow your business. What's the value to them? Even if they don't know you exist today, they will. I came up with the, I was CEO of a startup with an ad platform. Nobody's watching TV commercials. I can come up with something that looks like it has a chance of being better. There are multiple multi billion dollar companies. And our little company 18 months later was bought by News Corp for $200 million. And I think we had a million in revenue. I,
Susan Sly 46:35
a good friend of mine is Jason Pfeffer, co founded MySpace has a News Corp story as well, right? And I want to end with this— First and foremost, like, I just feel like putting my hand in the air and saying yes, and amen to everything you said, Jay, because for people who aren't in this ecosystem, it does sound crazy when you hear Facetune was acquired by, for $3 billion. This app that touched up people's faces with you know, zero revenue. It was a free app. When people hear things like that and the, the concept of technology and where it's going in these high valuations and something you just said is CEOs earn every penny. And in the private sector we're indentured to the board, to the seed investors, and to the clients. And it's, it is nonstop. It is a grind. And at the end of the day, though, if you can take a problem that is costing someone time, or their well being and you can solve it, then you have an obligation to solve it. And so I'm excited to get your book, Future-Proofing You, I'm, I was in the process of ordering it just when we actually started the interview.
Jay Samit 47:53
For anybody that made it this far in the podcast, and again, there's no upsell, I don't sell anything. If you go to Jaysamit.com, J-A-Y-S-A-M-I-T dot com. I have free workbooks for both Disrupt You and Future Proofing You. You can download them immediately. And a lot of times you're reading a book and go oh yeah, yeah, and then you get to the next chapter and when that one year so you can get more out of it and actually start your life plan and start building your business as you're reading. And so those are available to anybody for free. Thank you for your time and sharing your audience today. And I look forward to seeing what people create. Well, thanks
Susan Sly 48:27
so much, Jay. And so go to Jaysamit.com also go to amazon.com, get Jay's book. Don't just get one, get all of these books. And I'll be seeing you Jay, through some VR glasses sometime very soon.
Jay Samit 48:40
Okay, be well.
Susan Sly 48:42
Alright, Thanks, Jay. And for all of you thanks so much for being here. If this episode has helped you, which I know it has, go ahead, Jay and I will have a five star review and share this audience, share this episode on social and go ahead and tag myself and tag Jay. With that God bless, go rock your day, and I'll see you in the next episode of Raw and Real Entrepreneurship.