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The most common mistakes that kill startups are not having enough money or resources, but there is always something else lurking in the shadows. Nicholas Borsotto, Manager for AI Alliances at Lenovo, shares some of these hidden dangers for entrepreneurs to watch out for when starting their own business.

—Nicholas Borsotto

Raw and Real Entrepreneurship with Nicholas Borsotto

Topics covered in the interview

Nicholas’ first business
Starting a busines during crisis
Nicholas’ role in Lenovo
AI misconceptions
Startup mistakes
Element of curiosity
Misperceptions of the tech world

Nicholas’ Bio

Nicholas Borsotto is the WW Manager for AI Alliances at Lenovo, responsible for building their full-stack ecosystem of AI partners and ensuring their combined efforts translated into end-to-end AI deployments. Nicholas is a passionate Tech-onomist, always on the lookout for the trends spurring AI development and adoption. He is also the founder of Meetup Ai, one of Europe’s biggest networks for discussing practical AI, and a mentor for innovation organizations such as Applied Data incubator and Startup Bootcamp. Before joining Lenovo, he ran a boutique consulting company focused on ML Startups in Berlin, Germany.

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Show Notes

Read Full Transcript

Speaker 00:06
Welcome to Raw and Real Entrepreneurship, a show that dares to bring the no nonsense insight to those who have the courage to start, grow, and scale a business. Here's your host, entrepreneur, investor, and best selling author Susan sly.

Susan Sly 00:23
Well, hey, what is up Raw and Real Entrepreneurs. Wherever you are in the world, I hope you're having an amazing day. And I just want to acknowledge you. And let's face it, wherever you are, we're in a bit of, you know, a very tumultuous economy. There's a tremendous amount of uncertainty. And the thing I want to tell you, the last time we had uncertainty in the economy, maybe not to this level, but certainly very serious, back during the last recession, businesses like Instagram, Uber, Airbnb, they were all founded during that time. So if you're sitting around your living room with some friends ideating on a business, I want to salute you because you could be the person I'm interviewing 10 years down the road who grew a significant company. And you know, as I was thinking about these times, I thought, who is a person that is going to tell it like it is who is out there vetting these startups, really identifying the ones that have traction, and is also one of my favorite humans. I'm going to tell you a bit about him. So he is the worldwide manager for AI alliances at Lenovo. And he is responsible for building their full stack ecosystem of AI partners and ensuring their combined efforts translated in end to end AI deployments. He's a passionate techonomist, which is not a taxidermist, friends. So we'll talk about that. Always on the lookout for trends spring AI development and adoption. He is the founder of Meetup AI, which is one of Europe's biggest networks for discussing practical AI, and a mentor for innovation organizations such as the Applied Data Incubator, the Startup Bootcamp. And before joining Lenovo, he ran a boutique consulting company focused on ML startups in Berlin, Germany. And I met him as someone who is homing Radius AI, as you're all aware, and being chosen to be one of those preferred innovative partners for Lenovo. We've had a lot of fun, we have laughed together, we have had wine together. And we keep joking about doing a short podcast series on AI. So it might not be a joke. If you want that, don't forget to drop a comment. We would love, love, love to hear from you. And so that, without further ado, live from Berlin, Germany, but originally from Brazil is the one and only Nicholas Borsotto. Nicholas, it's great to have you.

Nicholas Borsotto 02:52
Hello, everybody. It's a big pleasure to be here. Thank you, Susan, for such a kind introduction. And I'm very excited about talking about what makes great entrepreneurs nowadays. So thank you so much for hosting me.

Susan Sly 03:03
Well, Nicholas, it's, let's just, we're gonna have some fun. I'm so excited. I've been looking forward to chatting with you, you know, you and I, our schedules these days are so nonstop. And so it took an interview just to like, hang out and catch up with you. So anyone listening, you could just pretend Nicolas and I are like at a restaurant without background noise. So Nicolas, you know, we have very young listeners, we have families, people from over 141 countries. One of the questions I want ask is, you know, here you are, you're not only an entrepreneur yourself, you're mentoring entrepreneurs, you're helping select entrepreneurs. But what was your first business?

Nicholas Borsotto 03:40
So I think the my first business, I was 12 years old in Brazil, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. And back in the day, my mother had a rule that if we wanted something at the end of the year, we need to kind of work for it and, and get the money saved up. And I wanted the first iPod. I was very, very passionate about it. And the way that I made the money for that iPod was by basically combining a few things. I was giving classes to other kids in school in geography and history and other things, so tutoring, but also in traditional parties or traditional festivals in Brazil, I would, together with some friends, sell cakes and other homemade things. But we will also, and that's the fun thing, we would run a little prison where basically kids could go and they would pay some cash and we would arrest adults. So we will take the adults to prison for like 10, 15 minutes, and then let them go. And you wouldn't believe how much money you can make by literally just children asking their mom for five bucks so they can arrest her dad for 15 minutes. So this was, this was great back then. And it became even a little tradition in our school later on. So that was really fun.

Susan Sly 04:47
In the hundreds of entrepreneurs I've interviewed, we've had someone selling watermelon, we've had you know, kids buying like candy and reselling it and doing all this stuff. This is the first time arresting adults, and only you, my friend, only you. I can think of, can I, there's some adults I'd like to have arrested now.

Nicholas Borsotto 05:10
I should have, but I ended up in technology, it was probably a mistake, I should have gone into private prisons apparently like, it was in my blood, but I chose the path for artificial intelligence. But it was a lot of fun. And I think all the adults also played along. And honestly being in prison with a couple of other people in prison for like, 5, 10 minutes away from everything, also was very relaxing for them. So I think everybody was having a good laugh out of it.

Susan Sly 05:35
Well, as someone who has worked in immense maximum security prison, I'll tell you, there's nothing relaxing about that experience, and you probably made a better career. So, Nicholas, we're in an unprecedented time. We're coming out of a pandemic, we have global tensions, we have this economy, inflation. You're living in Europe. I mean, I was just in Paris, and you know, gas prices are through the roof. And what do you say to that person who's saying this isn't a good time to start a business? What would you say to them?

Nicholas Borsotto 06:17
Well, I always like to think about the idea that necessity is the mother of invention, right? Sometimes in moments of crisis, sometimes when things are not as they are supposed to be, is where the greatest ideas of how things could be kind of come in. So the amount of startups that I have spoken with there are looking at, okay, there's not enough people to mend the stores anymore. What can we do about it? Okay, we don't have enough electricity to power houses, what can we do about it? I think that question of, What can we do about it, it's one of the main sparks of innovation. So I don't want to say this is the perfect moment to do it, because I understand some people are really struggling with it. But a lot of opportunities are showing themselves exactly at that moment. So if you are excited about something and if you have the feeling that you can aggregate value to your fellow man, then do it and then take a look and see how can I do this now rather than waiting for things to go back to normal. Because normal never comes back, right? Like we, when we come out of this, we kind of come out in a different society with different needs. In different companies, we need to exist for it.

Susan Sly 07:22
That's it. I love that, is really looking around and thinking about the problems. And that's, that's such a great place to start. Because so many businesses, if you look at the Airbnb guys, like they needed to pay their rent, there is like all the hotels are sold out. They're like, hey, let's try this idea, right? And I think that there are ways to start businesses without assuming a lot of risk, especially if you still have a full time job, you can start something part time, and I think it makes so much sense that I really see in this economy, the same thing we saw in '07, '09. A lot of people who are making really good incomes did start side businesses because of necessity. And in America, you probably know this, in August 20 million people couldn't even pay their electric bill. So what's going to happen, you know, when we go into winter? So in your role now, give us a little, give the listening audience a little sense, because Lenovo is this massive company, people don't necessarily associate it with AI and edge innovation yet. They think about, you know, a laptop as an example. So can you talk about your role at Lenovo and what it is you do?

Nicholas Borsotto 08:34
And Susan, you know this already, but I will tell the audience as well. I am not your traditional corporate employee, right? Like I come from my own intrapreneurship. And I've been working with startups, for most of my career, even work in venture capital before I left university. Also because I wanted to be in technology. I joined Lenovo exactly to do what I'm doing. I joined because I had friends in the inside. They said Nicholas, they're thinking about doing something and I think your name is written right on it. And what became after a year in the job, the Lenovo AI innovators. So Lenovo is today one of the biggest hardware manufacturing companies in the world. We owned from Motorola on the mobile side, all the way to the biggest amount of supercomputers in the world, the top 500 list. And probably there's no other company in the world that can spread that much infrastructure inside of one roof. But for Lenovo, what's very important, how can we built on top of that? So how can we basically enable the next generation of technology? And a big part of the Lenovo DNA is to be partner first. Traditionally, in the business that meant working with other people to deploy, integrate and even resell Lenovo hardware. But when bringing to what we wanted to do in AI, it's basically creating a partner ecosystem, something that I've been doing for a very long time in different ways. And I saw an opportunity to do something for the Nicholas's of the future. So kind of the Nicholas's who are listening to the podcast right now. How can I be a partner for scale? So together with different parts of Lenovo, we set up a program that helps startups in different sides of their development from explore partners, as we call them, smaller companies that have a good idea, have good technology, but haven't really matured yet, to companies in the deploy phase, who have a product, have a couple of clients, but they haven't found scale. They have maybe a couple of names behind them, but they don't really have, let's say, a high clip rate product, and scale shot ups where the product is already being used in multiple places. But they're asking themselves questions of how can I make this cheaper, more efficient? How can I deploy in other countries, and things like that. You wrap on top of that a lot of very good AI engineers and data scientists in our AI labs, marketing and a couple of other things. And well, we created was a little community for people creating great technology where we can aggregate value, and we can collaborate on an uncompetitive way, because Lenovo is not out there trying to put solutions that go against them. And because we are big on the end to end approach, and we can provide that fundamental layer of infrastructure, we talk with companies on the middleware space, on the technology space on the platform, or vertical applications or even services. Everybody has a role to play in deploying valuable artificial intelligence. And my job in the Lenovo innovators that I created, provided the opportunity for those people to meet and collaborate. So this is just a little bit of what we're doing right now.

Susan Sly 11:36
So interesting, too, because seeing that from the inside out, and looking at all of the resources that Lenovo gives to the innovators, whether it's showcasing them at an event, like we had an accelerate in Las Vegas, you and I forget the 10,000 steps, that event, I don't know, I like hardly any sleep, we definitely got a lot of additional exercise. And we had a lot of fun. And it's amazing to see the the startups and where they're at and the problems they're solving. And then when, Aykut and I were at the head office, and there was another startup that was actually helping to clean up the oceans using AI. And that's the thing I want to ask you. There's this, the general public, AI is this scary thing. Is it sentient? Is there super AI, you know, all of these different things. But can you think of, even some of the innovators that Lenovo has and is supporting with AI, that are doing some things that might surprise people or solving problems that people might not even realize?

Nicholas Borsotto 12:42
Oh, there's quite a lot of that. And I think I have the biggest pleasure of often listening to companies and thinking to myself, Wow, I never heard of this. At the same point that sometimes I also think like, this is a great idea, but maybe they could have been doing this in a better way. So to your first point, artificial intelligence is not as overwhelming monster that is growing bigger every day and one day, he's going to take over everything. What a lot of people fail to understand is how limited actually artificial intelligence models are. And rather than taking people's jobs is more about automating facilitating part of those jobs so they can do other things. Radius is a great example of a company that understands that we're not looking here for fully autonomous experiences. A lot of the work still needs to be done by humans. Humans were overwhelmed and often do not have the backup that they need. So the job of artificial intelligence here is to support them to have an easier, more meaningful job. And we keep seeing this, we keep seeing solutions coming out with meaningful ways for humans to have more time to be themselves. To basically work in the way that they want to work. So we have everything from companies working in NLP, natural language processing, to scan over documents, and being able to read and automatically structure them so that you don't have to have people anymore typing dozens of pages of documents through. We had ISVs working on using computer vision and drones to facilitate the tracking of forces and being able to automatically tag areas that have been deforested or had recent fires. We had, we had partners looking at security at city cleaning partners looking at trash on the streets and French cities, which I love France, but it is, it is an issue that they often find ourselves having over there. So a lot of it, often I feel that the some of the greatest AI products out there is a product that you almost feel like oh, if I had 50 more people in my company, I will love to do this, but I will never have it. Boom, you can create an artificial solution that can kind of supply you with that extra manpower. So those are just a few of the, of the examples that come to mind.

Susan Sly 14:57
Those are great examples. I didn't know about the drone piece in France because there are so many implications for vision and drones and even the you know, for protection, as you said, when there are big crowds and that type of thing. So keeping the humans in the loop and keeping AI is something that comes alongside and really assist the humans. I think that's the big message that, you know, you and I both as ambassadors today, I want people to understand. I want to step back for a minute, even outside your role is Lenovo, As you know, VC entrepreneur, we know 90% of startups fail. And so if you could diagnose that, Dr. Nicholas, what would be some obvious reasons why startups fail?

Nicholas Borsotto 15:53
Oh, there's quite a few. And just a few weeks back, I was a jury in a shot of competition taking place here in Berlin. And it was, normally I work more in a collaborative way of the partners, you know, that even if they don't get into the innovators, but as a judge, you have to basically say right now, then why you wouldn't let them take them. And there's a couple of mistakes that happen very often. The first one is the makeup of your founding team. People don't really understand this. It's very easy to find your best friend in college, and tell him and her, let's just make a company together, let's do it. You are a great engineer at Stanford. I'm a great engineer here at MIT. Let's just hit it. And that is mistake number one, not having diversity of a founding team can cripple businesses. This is not, I had to say this to founding team back in the competition. I don't trust any company in the healthcare space that doesn't have a doctor in their founding team. It's just I, it wouldn't work. Because problems in healthcare, as many problems in all industries, but healthcare specifically, it's never a purely technology question. People are not doing something efficiently just because they didn't figure out that two lines of code that would make their lives easier. Healthcare is such a big beast with all and promising. I know, Susan, those that retail, it's also much more complicated than a lot of people understand. So that is the first thing that kills them. The second one is what I believe is an undue pressure on technology being the answer to all of our problems. When you think AI, when you think startups, you would imagine that I will come here and tell you, Susan, that one of the best algorithm always wins. And that is not true. There is great technology out there that never sees the light of day because they never made it actually valuable for the people who are supposed to help. So this concern of like, I need to push for perfection, I need to have the perfect solution, but is from a purely technical perspective, that never works. The great product is the one that your client wants to use. And hey, if you're lucky, that your client wants to pay for. And then the final point that I would say is there is a disconnect between the startup community and the client community that they will be facing. A lot of shops back in the early 2000s, they were direct to consumer. So it was easy. You could be trying to build something that you thought somebody like you would use. But what we see nowadays with b2b customer companies, is that often they don't even speak the same language. Like they don't understand what is the problems of their clients, they don't understand why are they doing what they're doing. And you wouldn't be surprised if you walked into a startup meetup, such as the ones that I used to organize, and I still do, and hear people saying, like, Oh, I did this, the corporate guy didn't want to pay for it. They're just stupid, they just don't understand the value. And this idea that if the customer is not buying your solution, is because he's stupid and has nothing to do with you. This is poison. And people, this is not hard to find, like a simple conversation, you can evaluate the diversity of their founding group, you can take a good point on how much thinking is going into how the product interact with your customers, and you can talk with them and understand how close they are to the industry that they're doing. Those three things your company's much more than lack of funding, which is what everybody thinks.

Susan Sly 19:10
Yeah, and it's, it's that piece too, and thank you. That was, that was a really interesting perspective on it, the piece around that it ultimately comes down to trust, right? And that in retail, and you brought up retail, so going in and talking to clients. So I grew up in a restaurant, lot of the listeners know. So seven days a week customer service. And then my my initial jobs were I was a cashier at a large national retailer in Canada, then I, Nicholas, I made it to head cashier, right? And I had quite a bit of retail experience. And then, and understanding that it's a different, it is a different industry. And having being able to understand your customers, because even a company like Apple, I was having dinner with a mutual friend of ours and he said, Susan, we were in Silicon Valley and he said, Susan, look around, I can throw a rock and find a startup founder. But a lot of them are like two Steve Wozniaks, and they don't have a Steve Jobs. And to your point, that diversity. If you, it's like being in a relationship with someone identical to you, it would drive you crazy and you'd probably get divorced. It will not work at all.

Nicholas Borsotto 20:30
I think the job of the founding team, let's be very clear here, I'm talking literally about the four people, if you ask me the three to four co founders is the right number. Never start in a single shoe, people. But this is just me. But the job of the founding team in the beginning is not only of building the solution, it's about framing the company. So if you only have two technical people, or two salespeople, or two doctors, that frames the company moving forward, this will be a company that will be looking too much into the algorithms or too much only on being respectable to doctors or too much into being a strong sales machine, when actually, at the beginning, you are everything you got. That means your fellow co founder is the only person that you can trust in the beginning to be writing code, to be putting your business strategy, to be saying those presentations in front of, in front of leaderships. That means that if you don't have a well selected but diverse group, and here I'm talking also about true diversity people, like the idea of just having four high school, University dropout, or for white rich kids, like this doesn't work. Like you're, you're gonna be walking into some of the most diverse industries in the world. And if you're coming this from a point of view, for a hammer, everything is a nail, you're not going to last. You're not even gonna cut even close.

Nicholas Borsotto 20:48
Is that a Brazilian expression?

Nicholas Borsotto 21:16
To a hammer, everything looks like a nail? Like, Susan knows me, I love expressions. So I always carry a couple in my pockets. But startups are very much like this, the moment that people you hear a lot people saying fall in love of the problem, not the solution. And the true meaning of that is falling in love with the value that you want to create, not how you're creating it. So ask the people, what's the painful point? How does it make a difference? Can this even be used? And rather than saying like, Oh, I know AI can solve this. Let me just make an algorithm and then I'm gonna explain to them how this makes their life easier. Like that's not the proper way of running things.

Susan Sly 22:33
So switching gears, so in the Lenovo innovators program, it's a handful of companies. Could you give some, like real perspective in numbers, like how many companies try to qualify? How many are you vetting and how many actually make it into that program?

Nicholas Borsotto 22:50
So I believe the, if I look back on my KPIs, I interviewed and evaluated 112 companies my first year. So this is basically two companies a week, which was a lot of fun. Some of them were traditional Lenovo partners already. A lot of them came from multiple different ways. And this is in stealth, right? You could not apply for the Lenovo innovators until the very little time ago. So those are companies that were already being recommended by partners, friends and other parts of Lenovo ecosystem. And still from those 112, we only accepted 20. So nowadays, we have around 30 something, but a lot of them are smaller companies as well that we're taking a look from, from a line of sight and support of new technologies. But yes, less than 20% of the company's evaluated got it. And some of it also comes down to us like I tell my team, the hardest part of my job is understanding that great technology doesn't necessarily mean great technology for Lenovo, because we need to be able to support. We need to be able to aggregate value. If I have a company that has already great technology, has great adoption, I would love to work with them. But there is not a bridge, there is not a connection. I also don't want to waste their time. If there is nothing that I can do for them, then doesn't make sense for them to basically just be another logo on the wall. Right? So I think that this makes a differentiation on the innovators as well, where there's a lot of ecosystems that are out there with a lot of names, and let's say hundreds of ISPs. We opted for a smaller group of companies, but that both sides could kind of see value coming clearly and early in the relationship.

Susan Sly 24:29
Yeah. And there's, we've been, we've been so grateful to be part of the program, Nicholas and I mean, the same, there's a saying, maybe you'd have this one in your toolbox, I don't know- a high tide raises all ships. And so the high tide at Lenovo, for those of us in that program, it's forcing us to be better and it even forces some of the companies do similar things. It forces collaboration. It forces you to be an ambassador of this you know, this industry we call artificial intelligence, which is so broad and so misunderstood. And so I love it. And it's been incredible. So I want to ask you this question. So Les Brown, has always said, You need to be hungry. That's my Les Brown invitation. I've done stage events with Les. Jim Rohn, he used to say, education, Zig Ziglar was like motivation. You work with this ecosystem of founders. And so let's talk about, you talked about diversity, but let's talk about there has to be some kind of whether it's emotional intelligence, it's drive, determination, like what do you see that sets them apart? Because by the time they make it to the innovators program, they're already in the 10% of startups now that have revenue, they have, you know, their seed funding, and so on. So I want to hear from you.

Nicholas Borsotto 25:56
I don't want to, I don't want to sound cliche, to an extent. But I think drive and creativity, all of those things, of course, play a role if you're developing a solution, if you're creating something new. As you said, I need to say it also like, if you got to me, it means that you already said a lot of, and did a lot of good things in your project so far. The thing that differentiates for me, really, between a good founding team and a great founding team, if they are diverse and able, everything else. It comes down to curiosity, like being actually curious about what is out there, and how can you be better. Not being smart, not being a genius, not coming in kicking the door and saying like, Hey, this is how I'm going to change your life. Those are people who are curious. People that walk around asking questions every day, and despite sometimes having no let's say, retail background originally, or something like that, after a couple of years in the industry, you wouldn't know because those people walk into a supermarket and they ask the cashier, hey, one sec, if something goes wrong, what is the button that you click? They asked the person loading the doc, hey, don't you get like back pain from pulling those things? Like, if you're creating value, you have to be asking questions, because the chances are, if nobody else fixed it, it is not as simple as it looks. That is something that people do often. They think that there's a simple solution to this huge problem that's going to make them a lot of money. If it was simple, somebody who have done it already. Curiosity to ask questions, and not assume that you know the answer, it's one of the crucial things into making a great startup. Not necessarily great code, but a great startup that delivers value. So for me curiosity, at that point, beats all things. Of course, in the beginning, you need much more. But at the point of scale, I think that is a crucial element.

Susan Sly 27:46
I feel like there should be a t shirt that says, if no one else has solved it, it might not be as simple as you think. I would just wear that under my blazer.

Nicholas Borsotto 27:58
That's a good one. I think we'll do great in conferences. I'll ask marketing to do it.

Susan Sly 28:03
Yeah, we'll get a quote card that says that actually. And our team who listens to the show, so please make a quote card of Nicholas saying that because I think it's, it's profound and it's important. So as we're kind of wrapping this up, I want to have some fun, because what people might not know is Nicholas, every time I'm with Nicholas, I always laugh. And that just makes my heart so happy. Because something, as I'm on the eve of my 50th birthday, I have an intention to laugh every single day. And the people that are really closest to me, I've become, I've curated people more because I was way too serious in my 40s. And that made me sick. And you know, I was disappointed my life. And now like, I just want to laugh. So they don't know this about you yet. But you are one of those people that just like oh my gosh, every time when when Nicholas, we start laughing so hard, and but we're laughing at each other and we're laughing at ourselves. And you and Aykut and I laugh about a lot of things. So I want to unpack some, I guess, I guess they would be misperceptions of the tech world but in a very Nicholas take on it. So when people think of tech people, they have certain ideas about them. But what you know, in your perspective, what is, what is myth and what is true?

Nicholas Borsotto 29:23
And there's so much to kind of unpack here. In my job in the novel so far, there were times where people sent me messages saying like, Hey, I tried to use your phone number and didn't connect. Are you who you say you are or are you a spy? And I remember looking at this and just laughing for two minutes straight as I, did I come to, did I come to the point of my life that people think that I'm spying on them because I forgot to update my cell phone somewhere else? So people, and this kind of comes to a point that I, if I can say something to the audience, I always liked technology. I was always a big fan of it, but I I studied economics, something that I am very, very passionate about that for the techonomist point of view. And for a long time, I thought that I had no place here. I thought that technology's for engineers, and it is a big pride to be able to come in today and say technology is made by diverse groups of people. I built, meet up, a lot of the things that I did, because I wanted to belong. I wanted to know what people were talking about. I was curious. And I wanted them to talk to me in practical terms. I didn't want us to have abstract discussions on why this configurator is better than this. I wanted them to tell me, why are we doing what we're doing. And that is a, is a tough decision to make. And if it's about perceptions, don't think that there are technology people that can barely talk to human beings. Sure. There are business people who will basically remember four lines on the PowerPoint and say that that is your company's strategy. sure. But technology is made by an extreme selection of diverse people, from artists, to artisans, from doctors, to accountants. And some of the people that I saw driving the most value in technology, sometimes they didn't wake up with an engineering degree from a great university and said, Well, now that I started this journey, I was gonna keep on going. Those were people that woke up one day and said, like, well, wouldn't it be great if somebody fix that, and they went out and did it. And I think I have the, that is my pleasure, like, my pleasure is to see people like, coming out of the woodwork to solve great problems. And so do not hold yourself back. Do not imagine that there is a perfect picture of what a founder's supposed to look like, or what an engineer is supposed to look like. A curious person, a personal drive, a person that can connect to fellowmen and create teams, those are the technology people, and you will find them everywhere. You might be one yourself, even if you've never worked in technology before. I got called out by a very good friend of mine in a panel once where I said something along the lines of like, I'm not a techie but, and then he said like Nicholas, I am god damn tired of hearing you saying that you're not a techie. You've been working this echo system for how long? How many projects have you led? How many things are- in the middle of a panel. And that was a moment that clicked for me, because the moment that I was seeing that I was not a techie, for the audience out there seeing like, oh, Nicholas, it's so many things and he says he's not a techie, then may be I am not one as well. But I was wrong. And it took a while to realize this like, never think that a techie is somebody that you saw in a Silicon Alley or anything else, a television. A techie is somebody who's willing to solve a problem in a creative way, and keep asking questions if the product is creating value. So that is how I see it.

Susan Sly 32:49
That's so beautiful. And you and I have one mutual friend in the tech industry. He's a former NFL football player, we have, there's another person who works for Lenovo, I had dinner with him. His undergrad degree is music. My undergrad is psychology. And it's, I got called out too by another mutual friend of ours because I was doing an event. And because I don't have a PhD yet, so who knows what the future holds, right? Yeah, I did study at MIT, as listeners know, but I defer to Aykut, and I said he's the brains. And it was interesting, because I didn't think of myself as the techie one. And so a friend of ours sat me down and said, firstly, Susan, you are the Co CEO of an AI company. So you are techie. That's one. Number two, is that doesn't, you know, as a woman representing women in tech that deserves us all. And it was like this, it was like this, check that it was so powerful. So I haven't done it again. And then Nicholas, I was on a call with one of our investors. And he said, one of my friends who's also an investor is looking for a very technical update. Who do you want to get on the phone? And you know, I was as like, it's me. So we get on the phone. We're talking GPU, CPUs, we're talking different things. And he was like, Susan, I had no idea. And I said, you know, what, neither did I. And it was, it was just awesome. And I know exactly what you mean. And I love that definition. So Nicholas, we're gonna have a line of shirts coming out with Quotes and Sayings by Nicholas because it's, it's so powerful. My final question for you is, this is a fun one? So in your life right now, if AI could solve a problem for you personally, what would it be?

Susan Sly 32:49
Well, that's a very good question. It's a very good question. To be honest, I would like for AI to facilitate the way that we engage with our governments and our communities. So I would like to have a much clear, automated way where I could do most of those bureaucracies that make you kind of hate Civic patience. And why can that not be automated for me? Why can I not basically have an artificial intelligence that makes sure that my taxes are being done correctly, that the permit that I need for this is being done, and that I can engage with this rather than having boring and slow engagement. I have the feeling that if we had something like it, we would feel much more connected to our governments rather than automatically thinking like, Ah, I need to go to the office to do this, it's going to lose a day. It's massive problems, not one that people have not started trying yet. But I think that this will be great. And this is just my pet peeve, because artificial intelligence is working in almost everything else. But what is your pet peeve for the people in the audience?

Susan Sly 35:47
So the other day, I had 12 virtual meetings. And so and this is Raw and Real Entrepreneurship, and I look the night before. So Nicholas, I was, I used to do speaking events with Jim Rohn, the light business philosopher, and he was Tony Robbins', mentor, I've done speaking events with Tony and all these different people. And it's Monday night, and I'm looking at my schedule. The next day, 12 virtual meetings. And I, honestly, Nicholas, used to, I wrote a book called Organize Your Life. And it was about this, like, why would you take this on? And that was, I have to update the book, because that was before I became a co CEO of a rapidly growing tech company, and you know, hiring and everything else. And I'm looking at these 12 meetings. And the thought I had was, I wish, on my very best day, I had an AI of me that would think like me, talk like me, and I would send her to my virtual meetings. And then at the end of the day, she would give me a three minute summary of each of the meetings, and then I'd send her off again, so I could do the stuff that I really, you know, I'm passionate about in the business, which is figuring out ways to add value, going and working face to face with the clients. And getting gritty like, I would love in retail, to take a week, my friend was on Undercover Boss, I would love to go work in one of our client's stores, and just really see at the front lines, like what people are saying, what's what are the pain points of their customers, and that you know that I would have to not have 50 meetings. So I would like that AI, and I'd love for people to not actually know it wasn't me.

Nicholas Borsotto 37:31
That's a great idea. And I know that we're already over time, I just wanted to say two quick things. So the first one, what you just said actually reminded me of all the artists out there using artificial intelligence to be trained actually on their own art. So now you have musicians training AIs, with their own music, so that the AI can play them new songs, not to basically publish in the website or sell this as music, but almost as a music companion that gives you ideas on different ways that you could try. There is even a very interesting article from a beat boxer who learned, who the AI made new sounds for him, and he was thinking like, can my mouth actually do this? And he trained himself to be able to imitate the noise, the sound that came from the AI. So the artificial intelligence is not only something to replace, but it's also something as a companion for us in the future, as it can take more creative, let's say ideas into play. So this is really cool. And the other thing that I wanted to say for members of the audience based on my own experience, never underestimate your ability to learn, and to learn things that you didn't imagine that you'll be able to learn. This idea that you can only learn coding for 12, or the idea that you can only learn where our hardware or medicine, whatever it is, like people can always learn and you can learn much faster than you would expect. To share a small anecdote, when I joined Lenovo, this was the first time in my life that I was working in hardware. I always worked in software before, this is what I knew, I understood that we needed to learn more about hardware. And when I met Susan, which probably was seven months after I started, one of the first things that Susan told me was, I never heard about and never heard somebody talking so passionately about edge servers in my life, because of how excited I was with the, with the portfolio that we had forward. And that's it like, sometimes six months can be the difference between you never done something in your life and knowing very, very little on it. And being considered, that passionate guy that loves that topic. So, hey, six months is not a lot of time. Take that six months, learn something, jump in it. Like you will be surprised on how much you can learn and how to develop your knowledge can be if you just find something that you like. If you don't like it do something else,hey, give it a try.

Susan Sly 39:54
Nicholas, I thank you so much. And I hope everyone loves you down as much as I do. I want to give a shout out to one of our weekly listeners, Jorge. Jorge is in New Zealand. He's originally from Brazil, he emigrated to New Zealand. He's doing his, he's ideating on his first tech startup. And so just, Jorge shouts out of love to you. And if this episode has helped you, please tag Nicholas and I. We'd like to be tagged as, actually on LinkedIn, believe it or not. And if you want to go ahead on wherever you're listening to this, give this a five star review, you could win a $50 amazon gift card. And if I read your review on the air. So go ahead, go and do that, and then send an email to reviews@Susan So with that, Nicholas, thank you so much for being here. I just adore you, my friend. And with that, everyone, God bless, go rock your day. This has been another episode of Raw and Real Entrepreneurship.

Speaker 40:53
This episode is over. However, there are hundreds of great shows on the Raw and Real Entrepreneurship channel. Don't forget to subscribe so you never miss a new episode. On behalf of our team, we want to thank you so much for listening to this show. If this episode has helped you in any way, please go ahead and give a great review on Spotify, iTunes, Amazon, or wherever you listen to this podcast. Please tag Susan on social @Susan_sly on Twitter, SusanSly on Instagram, and @Susanslylive on Facebook. With that, we will see you in a future episode of Raw and Real Entrepreneurship.

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Susan Sly

Author Susan Sly

Susan Sly is considered a thought leader in AI, award winning entrepreneur, keynote speaker, best-selling author, and tech investor. Susan has been featured on CNN, CNBC, Fox, Lifetime, ABC Family, and quoted in Forbes Online, Marketwatch, Yahoo Finance, and more. She is the mother of four and has been working in human potential for over two decades.

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