You either have a choice of working to help someone else pursue their dreams or work to pursue your own. That’s the simple choice in life. Jay Samit, author of Disrupt You!, says if you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right. Many people have drilled in from a young age that they’re not good enough or they’re not smart enough. A child doesn’t learn to walk seamlessly standing up one day and run like Hussein Bolt. A child stumbles, learns what doesn’t work, stands up, and tries it again and again. Being an entrepreneur is no different. Walt Disney’s first company went bankrupt. Bill Gates and Paul Allen’s first companies went bankrupt. The list goes on and on, but they learned what didn’t work and that’s how you grow. Jay talks about his book, Disrupt You!, and breaks down for people the truth of how to start billion-dollar companies.
We have such an interesting show because we have Jay Samit here. He is such a fascinating guy. He’s been the Vice Chairman of Deloitte, the VP of Universal Studios, the Global President of EMI Capital Records, VP of Sony and CEO of SocialVibe. He is the world’s leading expert on disruption and innovation. He has an exciting TED Talk and a great new book and we’re going to talk to him.
Listen to the podcast here:
Disrupt You: Inventing And Expanding Opportunities with Jay Samit
I am here with Jay Samit, who is widely recognized as one of the world’s leading experts on disruption and innovation. Everyone, from the Pope to the President, calls on him to orchestrate positive change in an era of endless innovation. He helped grow pre-IPO companies like LinkedIn. He’s held senior management roles at EMI, Sony, and Universal Studios. The list of things that Jay has done is astounding. He is a consummate deal maker. He has a list of partners and associates that includes people like Bill Gates, Steven Spielberg, Steve Jobs, Reid Hoffman, David Geffen, Richard Branson and Paul Allen. He’s the author of Disrupt You!: Master Personal Transformation, Seize Opportunity, and Thrive in the Era of Endless Innovation.
I’ve watched some of your interviews and I found things that are challenging to a lot of people seemed to come pretty easy to you. I love that you started out with your TED Talk and some of the other things you run where you said it wasn’t so easy right off the bat for you when you were younger. It made me think of a lot of things I want to ask you because I’m writing a book about curiosity. I’m interested in how our environment shapes us and how fear shapes us. You talk about a lot of these things in your TED Talk. You have worked with some of the most unbelievable companies and some of the most unbelievable roles that you can have. Most people never will reach that level of success in one company. Can you give a little bit of background of how you fell into being successful when you started off with very little?
I bought into society’s construct. Go to school, get good grades, and live happily ever after. When I got out of college, similar to many other generations, it was in a recession. There were no jobs and I was a father with two young sons and I didn’t want to let them down. If no one’s going to hire you, I decided to go create my own company. I tell the story in the book. I wanted to make special effects. Star Wars had come out, it was a big hit. I want to make Hollywood special effects movies. Three minor problems. One, I know nothing about making special effects. Two, I know no one in Hollywood and three, I have no capital but I wanted to do this. I did a couple of things. One, I printed $1 business cards that said the name of my native company, Jasmine Productions, but I didn’t make myself the head of the company because nobody would believe a 21-year-old person is the head of a special effects company. I named myself the Head of Sales.
I hustled a bunch of jobs that I had no experience and no ability to do. I simply hired those that know how to do it. You either have a choice of working to help someone else pursue their dreams or work to pursue your own. That’s the simple choice in life. If you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right. Many people have drilled in from a young age that they’re not good enough, that they’re not smart enough. They’re horrible with math because in second grade, they failed a math test. If they went back and took that test, they get a perfect score. This voice inside our head has been reinforced by parents and teachers that want to protect you from failing, which is the worst thing anybody can do. A child doesn’t learn to walk seamlessly standing up one day and run like Hussein Bolt. A child stumbles, learns what doesn’t work, stands up and tries it again and again.
Being an entrepreneur is no different. Walt Disney’s first company bankrupt. Bill Gates and Paul Allen’s first company bankrupt. The list goes on and on. They learned what didn’t work and that’s how you grow. I wrote Disrupt You! To break it down for people the truth of how you start billion-dollar companies, which I’ve been part of the start sitting in that empty room, day one on a number of these. I noticed a pattern and I noticed the pattern of the people doing it. To anybody, there’s no shortage of capital. There’s no need for special education. You need two things to succeed in this world. One is insight and the second is perseverance. I can’t teach perseverance that you got to get the fortitude that you will not quit and I can give you a lot of motivational techniques to get you over that hump because it’s not easy. Insight can be taught and you can quickly learn how to see where there is a giant gap in the market. There are always new gaps because there are new technologies that changes things.
I want to talk about your 30-day exercise to develop insight. I first wanted to tie back into what you did with your business card that you created. I found it fascinating how you put an ad in the paper. Can you tell that story?
I knew to get in to Hollywood or something, I’d need an entry level job, but I didn’t know where or who is hiring. This is before the days of LinkedIn. This was when there were ads in the newspaper and the best jobs were never advertised. It was somebody, knew somebody to get hired. I described the job I wanted and took out a classified ad in the Hollywood Reporter and that gave me data. The data came in a bunch of resumes and I could look at those resumes and said, “This is the background that I would need to get to that job so I could see what path I should take.” Number two, every resume came from somebody who had a foot out the door somewhere. It gave me a list of companies that I knew very quickly have an opening. Those two pieces of data, I could instantly send out letters and get hired.
The modern version of that, which I tell when the book is even more genius. There was a young man who got out of college, was thrilled that he got a job at one of the giant ad agencies in New York, but once he got the job, realize he’s at the bottom of the pile. Not doing anything creative and it’s going to be twenty years before he even meets somebody in the agency that does something that he wants to do. He looked to all the key creative directors. No one had bought their keyword, no one had bought them on AdSense. For $10 investment, he bought the five biggest names and when they googled themselves as all famous people do to make sure they were patient it said, “Click here to see my portfolio. I want to work for you.” Three of the five called them in, two of them gave him a job offer and he catapulted his career twenty years for a $10 investment. It is that easy.
I love creative things and you’re obviously a creative guy. I don’t know if you see it that way, but it definitely comes across that way when I’m watching what you’ve done and the different ideas you come up with. You talk about how there’s all these self-made billionaires and what they do differently and you say you need insight and drive. As we were talking about developing insight, I loved your 30-day exercise. It’s such a simple thing but it’s so important of what you can do to develop an insight. How can people do that?
First, I have to get everybody over the hump that whatever business they’re doing, they’re going to be in the tech business. You go, “I’m opening a restaurant now. I’m a personal trainer.” What’s the first thing you do when you wake up, the last thing when you go to sleep? It’s been five hours a day staring at your phone. That’s the actual average. The way that people will find you and discover you in everything is through social, through mobile. There’s a tech component to it.
At the same time, new technology comes out all the time and the big companies spend billions to make the latest gadget. They haven’t walked in your shoes and don’t know what problems you have in your life. The 30-day challenge to give you a better deal flow than any venture capitalist has ever had is today, not tomorrow. Write down three problems in your life. It could be simple. Do this every day for a month. The first couple of days, it’s easy but after that you go, “I’m out of problems.” There are so many things that we don’t realize are problems. When you break it down, we’ve accepted that’s the way it is the second you get past that hump.
My favorite example from a reader was he was out taking his medicine in the morning. The phone rings, he has phone conversation and instead of looking at a bottle of pills, did he take his medicine or didn’t he? Turns out, that’s a $20-billion problem in drug efficacy and getting healthy, OD and all that side effects. We took a little $0.25 Happy Meal watch, glued it on the lid and every time you close the lid, it sets the counter back to zero. You can look at your pill on the bottom and say, “I opened it three minutes ago. Yes, I took my pill. It hasn’t been open for eight hours. No, I didn’t.” He made the next version of Bluetooth, so I can know if grandma has taken her medicine and call her if she forgets. She figures out how I do that. She’ll stop taking so I’ll call more often. The point is a simple problem turns into something.
Two young men in traffic in Tel Aviv. It occurs from the phone company knows where their phone is, knows where the guy next to him is on his phone is. That’s not the worst traffic in the world. It’s a little city in a little country but they said, “If you can take that car, then tell one car to go left and one car to go right. There’s no more traffic.” That’s called Waze. Without a dollar in revenue, they became billionaires in one year. The number of people, because we’re now one click away from seven billion people. You only have to be right for a nanosecond to come back to become wealthy or to change the world. That’s not about money. Disruptions about responding to the world. Everybody wants to change the world, but no one thinks about changing themselves. That’s where disruption starts. What is stopping you? What is holding you back?
That’s a huge question because for me, I wish I had watched your TED Talk before I wrote what I wrote because it was so fascinating to me how much of what you said and that is what I’ve been researching for the last year. I found four things stop people from being curious and fear their assumptions that they’re not going to be interested. They’re not smart enough or whatever similar to what you’re saying and you’re saying you’re a failure. Fear of failure again. Technology either does things for them or they’re intimidated by it. Environment could push you one direction or another based on your parents might hold you back by inadvertently or teachers.
I’ve worked with the President of Mexico. The three largest sources for their GDP are people that have left Mexico sending money back home in our current political environment that’s on oil, petroleum, that’s going away, and manufacturing is going away. It’s not going away to the US. It’s not going away overseas. It’s going away to robotics. You’re going to have a country implode. There’s no entrepreneur. We started something called Entrepreneur Week, which is similar to Shark Week, except it’s basically everybody highlighting and showing heroes and people that are creating stuff and it’s in its third years and it’s a cultural shift. It is about a mindset. If you can get in that mindset, think of that person at work that’s in an incomplete funk every day. I’ve yet to hear a good idea coming from a person that has shut down but you can start with a positive attitude and open up.
My book, Disrupt You! is in eight languages and I hear from people in over 100 countries. The ones that keep me up at night are not the thank yous and the beautiful notes that people write, but I get occasionally, “This is good, but I could never do it.” I decided, “Let me take a couch-surfing unemployed millennial who grew up on welfare.” His parents were on welfare and mentor them once a week and take him from that stage to self-made millionaire in twelve months. First month, this young man, no friends, no connection. I’m not opening up the Rolodex. I’m focusing his mind to do what he wants to do, no special education. First month, he made $70,000 and he could have walked across the ocean. He was so motivated. It wasn’t an easy year. He gave up social life, he sacrificed. He worked harder than most people would, so he could live the rest of his life like most people can’t. We’re finishing month nine and he crossed the $800,000 mark. He’s going to hit this goal.
I want to know what you did the first month. That’s a pretty big first month. Can you share any of that?
What he focused on in the broad sense is he looked at what’s a new sector of business and assume that those people, because there’s no track record, wouldn’t know how to market and reach their audience online. He turned himself into a one-man online marketing shop. There are a million people doing it, our inboxes are all filled with that. I can drive traffic to your website. He took a focus and a different approach. Who needs the services the most? What can he do? What can we deliver? It was interesting. A difference with the millennial is most of them believe they can become famous, but don’t believe they become rich.
Becoming famous was important to him and so I had this big debate early on. You have to create a brand because of the view you can’t sell you. You can sell a company and I couldn’t get through to them until I figured out a hero of his. I said, “Richard Branson, what’s the name of his companies?” He said, “100 Virgin companies.” Not all of them work. Virgin Brides wasn’t a hit, actual company, Virgin Cola. Richard figured out how to differentiate his personal brand, lunatic entrepreneur, adventurer from each company that he could then build up and sell. The second that clicked in his head, he was off to the races building the world’s greatest agency and at the same time being transparent about his journey and sharing his growth with the community he was building.
How do we get people who are couch potatoes to doing what you’re saying he was doing without having some genius like you to help us?
What I realized is I broke down ten truths that people have to accept that they didn’t. One of them is you can’t get there on your own. Name a billion-dollar company that only has one employee, I’ll wait. The point is, you have to become a pied piper. You have to build a team, you have to have a mentor. LinkedIn and other tools are great for finding people who would love to see you succeed. One of the mindsets that people were taught in elementary school that it’s such a fallacy is there’s a shortage of money. If I sell you a banana for a dollar, I have the dollar and you don’t. That’s what business is, either I have it or you have it. This scarcity mindset when in fact, if I start a new company and I sell you 10% of that company’s for $1,000, the company’s now worth $10,000. We made money out of thin air. Once you can start explaining that people then understand how money losing companies can be worth billions of dollars. Or how Jeff Bezos could run a company that didn’t make a nickel for over a decade to be the world’s richest man.
Understanding your market. It works the same for restaurants. Breaking it down and letting people not only cure the lessons that will disrupt you in more depth. If the college course disrupts you with the pre-req and then the next book will be the follow that you should read. I wanted to find somebody that you couldn’t say, “They had an advantage over me.” You can be in any city, in any country. The world is flat, the world is connected. You can be in Bangalore, Botswana or Boston and you have an equal access to the world markets and the capital. That never existed before.
I loved your Dr. Seuss quote in your talk, “You have brains in your head and feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.” You have all these options, but what was interesting to me is you talk about being dyslexic as a child. You had a special name for your group. It wasn’t quite as empowering it sounds.
The Mud Hens.
Is it compared to the eagles or the hawks or whatever the other kids were in? You had what I would consider an environmental influence, a negative one that could have set you back and not made you go the direction you went. Do you consider yourself an outlier? What impact did that have on you?
It’s tough to look back and have a third party perspective of yourself at five years old. What I learned from research when I was doing Disrupt You!, that was shocking to me. Most of the most famous entrepreneurs that you can name, and one out of three business founders of Fortune 500 companies were dyslexic. Dyslexia isn’t that pervasive in society, so suddenly you have to dig deeper. Turns out, being dyslexic is not a handicap or something to be ashamed of. It’s the greatest asset you can have in being an entrepreneur because it is, by definition, not screwing up words. It’s non-linear thinking. You can get to the conclusion through a circuitous route that most people don’t use.
I can’t take credit for being creative or thinking out of the box or any cliché you want. I was wired that way. Here’s the good news. Our brains are not hard-wired from birth and determined by fate. This isn’t Greek mythology. Matter of fact, I read a fascinating thing. Why are Chinese adults more likely to be pitch perfect with their hearing and singing than any other racial group? It isn’t something in their genes. The Chinese language is based on tones. Being able to recognize tones and tonality is reinforced, so the brain is wired. You have two twins, and you talk to one of them more, they become more verbal. That’s where I go back to the key to disruption is self-disruption. It’s like plastic surgery but you have the scalpel. The second you can realize that you’re malleable, you can change that trait that you believe was unchangeable in you. Changing the world becomes easy.
Have you taken your Myers-Briggs Assessment?
I talked about that in the book. That is the biggest crock ever created.
People don’t like it but I’m curious if you came out with an N on that since you have nonlinear thinking. Do you remember?
You could take it on different days and come out with different letters. If I wanted to say this in the most meaningful thing in building a team to succeed is there are two types of people in an organization. I’m lucky to be married to the counterpart. My typical day is five, list of ten things on it, by the end of the day I’ve listed twenty things. My list never gets completed. That is joy in growth and excitement. I have a new idea. There are other people, they start off the beginning of the day with a list of ten. That moment when they cross off number ten is better than sex. They feel, “I’ve accomplished, I’ve hit my target.” You need both types.
The, “Who’s an introvert? Who’s an extrovert?” all those things are easily changed and you can say, “I have a fear of public speaking.” Then go speak. No one was born a brain surgeon. The neat advantage of whatever you’re going to go into is once you focus in on what it is you need to learn, it’s much quicker than most experts got there. They got there through a circuitous route of learning. A whole bunch of extraneous things that aren’t needed for the task that you have at hand. You can become an expert in any field, and I joke about in my TED Talk, where do augmented reality and virtual reality and internet of things experts come from? No different than me with my business card at 21. One day, you stand up and say, “I’m an augmented reality expert.” Then you worked your ass off to learn as much as you can and hold that turf until you stick out.
I loved your augmented examples with reality instead of glasses and things and some of the things you’re interested in. That was fascinating. Can you share some of those?
I’ve been lucky to be part of three revolutions that I’d never realized we’d have so much in one lifetime. The PC, the web, and then mobile and each connected us more and connect this information. The next step is taking all mankind’s information, everything known about us and colluding to bring that to you when you need it. No more searching and googling, but you’ll have heads up display. Your normal glasses will solve problems for you all day long. You’re walking through Cambodia and your glasses translate everything into language that you want. You’re in the supermarket and your doctor told you, “You can no longer have no sugar in your food. You have diabetes.” Show me the foods without sugar and everything else on the shelf disappears. This isn’t fantasy. I’ve been building this with clients, varies different aspects in different industries, from hotels, to entertainment, to theme parks. When are these glasses coming out? They’re coming out very quickly and they’re coming out of very low price point very quickly.
My favorite stat is in last year, Americans bought 70 million pairs of glasses for more than $100, but it only came with one app, Focus. They came out with identical pair of glasses that translate language that do whatever people will buy them. Our world will be fundamentally different. If somebody else has billions to make that hardware and Telcos are wiring, everybody was 5G so you can have tons of bandwidth. They’re not thinking about those problems from your 30-day exercise to build those businesses. They’ve laid out the hard part. You don’t have to invent this stuff, you have to say, “This would be great for what I do with courses.”
Like creating an app.
Making a jogging trail. Jog along with Mike Tyson, whatever it might be.
I had Erik Weihenmayer on my show. The first blind person to reach all the highest summits and he was telling about using them for getting around, have people see for him.
The coolest one that I saw. I’m not a skier but if anything would convince me to ski, it turns the ski slope into video game. It makes you like Super Mario. It puts targets and things that you have to collect and coins and run away from abominable snowman or whatever you want to do. Make it more exciting than here’s a hill, and I’m going from point A to point B without any risk of injury of hitting the flags or pile. We’re as limitless as the universe. We’re made of the same star dust. The only limits are self-imposed. The only person that can stop you is you. When somebody tells you no, they’re not telling you, “No you can’t do it,” they’re saying you can’t do it with them.
You say that fear can either immobilize you or you’re not. It might challenge you to your perceived limits. How come one person goes one way and another person goes to the other?
Most people take what they believe is the safe path. Fear is very important. We would not be here if a million years ago when the saber-tooth tiger was running, the guy said, “I’m running away.” He didn’t stand like the statue of the liberal girl in front of the Wall Street and go, “I’m not afraid of you.” His lineage didn’t make it. Fear is important. What you have to do, what I do in my new book, to explain it in more depth is channel that fear and understand what you’re fearful of. The biggest mistake you can make is not taking a risk and failing. The biggest mistake you can make is not taking the risk because we can guarantee you there is no gold watch, there’s no 40-year security, there is no pension and you only have one shot at this planet. If you don’t live the life that you want to live, it’s never going to come to you. Not taking risk is risky. You traded a day of your life, a week of your life, the year of your life for something that you don’t care about. The purpose of life is to have a purpose. Once you can frame it that way, people still have the same fear but it propels them forward not make them hide back in the cave.
How about the people who tell themselves, “I have my nice enough house. I have my nice enough car. I don’t want to give up what I’ve reached, what I received so far?”
The old expression was security robs ambition. It’s the illusion of security robs the ambition. There are a lot of people with the nice house and a nice car and the nice boat, nice everything else. A whole lot of overhead and a whole lot of trappings and that’s why it’s called that. When 2008 came, they lost all that stuff like a house of cards. You can’t get fired if you’re working for yourself. You can’t lose your job.
What about using all the venture capital’s money?
It amazes me that for the past hundred years we come up with this construct that you’re worth this much per minute. That person’s worth more than you per minute. If we stop in and phrase that for a second, that’s absolutely insane. I’m worth the value that I can create and I’ll become wealthy if I learn how to capture the value that I create, not pass it on to others.
When you think the way you think, you’re so non-linear and you’re able to come up with these amazing ideas and all these other people you mentioned.
Everybody else can too.
Is it something that this 30-days of writing down these ideas is enough to make you start thinking that way or is there other things we need to do to think in a non-linear way?
I created a 40-page workbook to help people at exercises. It’s along each chapter of Disrupt You! It’s free. Go to JaySamit.com and that will help you get the most out of it, guide you through the decision making and hold your hand. I’ve gotten so many emails from people that went from poor to wealthy, or unfocused to living their dreams. I found one, it makes my day, but it humbles me and that’s what propels me to do this. A suicidal single mom, she tried something, she lost her nest egg and she couldn’t tell her twenty-something-year-old daughter. She was trying to kill herself and she called her daughter to say goodbye. Her daughter said, “It’s only money. That doesn’t matter, mom.” She happened to have my book and now she’s turned around this new business.
It’s those struggles that will make you appreciate it the other side of it. When I look at the biggest problem that I think I can impact, it’s that there is no democracy without a strong middle class, and the middle class has evaporated during my lifetime. I got out of college in 1982. Wages for workers in the United States have been flat since 1982. Around 90% of all wealth created since ’82 went to the top of the food chain. That’s people opting out. Our educational system was designed to train people to go work at a factory, give them enough reading, enough math to work at some job. It’s not a person’s fault that they didn’t see another path. If you want to show somebody the old, “Teach a man to fish,” it’s easy and then you’ve sparked another generation of disruptors that then pass it on. This is happening all over the world and it’s amazing what can be done not in one lifetime, in one year.
There are so many people that talk about how education should be reinvented and changed completely from what we have. I’ve met so many people who say they’re going to get to it or it’s on their mind of what they want to do, but nobody has made a huge difference. We saw MOOCS for a while, was able to make some impact.
I’d argue there are tons of companies and people that have created online courses where it’s free. Code.org has taught millions to code. When I sold my first company back in the ’90s, I started writing, get the internet into schools. We’ve had Brown versus Board of Education. We’d have equal access to knowledge, to maps, to whatever but no teacher knew how to use a PC. No school district had the equipment and no schools had phone lines. This was before Wi-Fi. The budgets to drill through the holes was ridiculous.
One day I got this phone call from a guy doing a horrible, Arkansas accent, claiming to be the president of United States and I embarrassed myself to make Bill Clinton proved to me. He was actually the president calling little old me and said, “Go do it.” I went to the White House. It’s like you can’t tell the most powerful person in the world, “No.” Had one minor caveat we don’t have a dime for a money for this, but with him saying, “Go do it,” and me not wanting to disappoint the President of United States, eighteen months later, every classroom in the United States was hooked up to the internet without $1 of tax payer money. You can change it.
How did you go about that without taxpayer money?
The short version of that is most interesting. You get a big idea. It becomes a light come off. Suddenly the best and brightest join, and my first idea was, “I need some capital. Why don’t we have those silent auctions at charities where you can do stuff at a dinner? Why don’t we do an auction online? Nobody’s ever done that.” We hired a guy named Pierre. This as eBay. What came out of this going and doing stuff for altruistic reasons connects you with other great people and turns into some billion-dollar business. My favorite punch line is to announce to the world when we finished the last thing, the president, vice president came out to the school and we did a photo, for the press.
The White House photographer a month later sends me this autograph picture and it’s me and the president and this other guy. This is a picture, it’s going to be on my wall forever. I’m like, “I didn’t get a two shot. Who’s this other dude?” Some other volunteer who’s out of work, but fast forward ten years and people go, “Eric Schmidt, the Chairman of Google?” He was one of the volunteers. He wasn’t part of Google back then. I’m no different than anybody there but if you go and try a thousand times and you make it once, life’s good. If you make it two or three times? People think it’s amazing. People for not paying attention to the 997 times that it didn’t work.
You have the ability to handle risk though. I was listening to you talk about the Sheryl Crow in-flight concert that you set up with insurance issue. The insurance part of that story, not everybody would come up with it. Can you tell that story? It’s very creative, but it also makes me wonder what you risked by doing that.
I had this task of launching a competitor to iTunes when I was at Sony. Richard Branson had this idea of doing a concert in the sky to announce one of the airline runs and was blocked by FAA. The seven-obscure rule. You’re not allowed to play an instrument on a plane. I like when somebody says you can’t do something. United was coming out of bankruptcy and I convinced them that this was good PR. We do a concert in the sky and it would announce the program that I put together with McDonald’s because they were in trouble after a movie called Supersize Me, their sales were down. I’d come up with this idea, buy a Big Mac, get a free track. McDonald’s would advertise it to all their customers. United Airlines will play the video and every flight, and I’d save $100 million in advertising and let the world know that I launched new business and in fact it drove me twenty million customers my first week. That’s the backstory.
Sheryl Crow’s my go-to girl. She’s going to do the concert. We have all the setup. McDonald’s has gone through these downloads that are ready to announce the thing. I’ve got the chairman of Sony signed off on this. It’s already to go, hadn’t cost us a nickel. We’re a couple of weeks out from launch and McDonald’s tells me, “We have to take insurance out on these redemption things because we once did one for the Olympics and it costs us too much money, so you have to pick a path with the insurance and it’s $3 million.” My stomach hits the floor. I’ve already told this to the board, told this to the chairman. I’ve printed stuff, I’m completely exposed and I do not have $3 million nor can I go to anybody for the $3 million. This is the point that you bring up than most people would then just collapse. Instead of taking a problem, every problem is an opportunity in disguise. Every obstacle is an opportunity in disguise. Instead of taking any problem life as it is framed to you, give me $3 million, break down the problem. What is actually going on?
What was going on in here is McDonald’s was not going to do this promotion without insurance and the insurance is $6 million and they’re only going to pay for half. That’s the problem. I’m like, “Sony were $100-billion company.” I’ll insure McDonald’s because it’s all coming off of my computer. So many people are doing something. I’ll pull the plug and if the thing doesn’t work, then it’s over. I went to back to McDonald’s and said, “We’re going to insure you guys. Write me a check for $3 million.” They said, “Okay.” Before I launched, I’m $3 million in profit. What was the worst day becomes the best day. That’s what’s fun about being a disruptor and anyone can do that.
Are there any obstacles you haven’t been able to overcome?
Endless. I fail more than most. Some of us of the issues I’m working on are amazing global problems. I worked with some of the brightest minds out there and we’re making significant change using cryptocurrency to lift the poorest two billion people out of poverty. Using it as a means of giving credit in the third world. There are tons of issues, counterfeit drugs, tracking where food is sourced from our supply chain safer for consumers eating things. Tons and tons of major issues can be solved. My mom says if you want something done give it to a busy person. Every time I say, “My plate’s full,” somebody comes up with something that’s such a challenge I go, “I have to be a part of that.”
There are so many industries that are ripe for reinvention and innovation changes. Is there any one industry that appeals to you more than anything else that you think that that’s what I want to do next after this?
I’m more about the tools that we apply to several. The hardest job in the world would be a CEO of a major automaker, no one’s buying cars. No one wants to own cars, no one wants to lease cars. Those that do, they don’t want to drive them. If you don’t have a new business model in an autonomous vehicle, you’re going to go the way of the horse and buggy. Very challenging to solve all of those when you have a giant dinosaur that when you buy a US car, $1,600 of at that price is to pay pension obligations of people that are no longer working for you. That’s one of the reasons why an upstart like Tesla can come in and reformulate the concept, why do we need auto dealers? Why do we need somebody else to mark it up? Why do we need to advertise on television? You don’t.
You’re suddenly have taken thousands and thousands of dollars out of the car, but what we can do is put that all into an amazing technology. People don’t want to buy a car for one simple reason and that this was the genius thing that Elon figured out, that most people don’t realize. When you buy a car, it’s called a depreciating asset. The second you drive it off, the lot it’s worth less. A Tesla, and I have this every couple of days, it gets a software upgrade. That car that I bought months ago does things that it didn’t do when I bought it. It self-upgrades itself. Think about that.
My husband has one. I remember when they were having the fire or whatever underneath it, they downloaded the fix.
The most recent one is you no longer have to dim down your high beams. An engineer realized we can figure out the lumens of light source, the speed of which it’s moving so that it’s moving towards you. If that does in a fraction of a second faster than humans could, you can lower the high beams and then put them back up. They’re solving problems back in my 30-day challenge. Their engineers are sitting there going moment by moment, what are problems that you could solve. I walk up to my car, it knows I’m walking up to it. There’s only one reason I’m walking up to my car. I’m going to get in it so the door opens by itself. I sit down in the car and put my foot on the brake. There’s only one reason I’m doing that. I’m going somewhere. It shuts the door by itself and so on.
The reason why Uber worked is because they looked at the consumer experience. Waiting in the rain for a taxi when everybody else’s and so there are none. It’s a miserable experience. Explaining where you want to go to somebody who may or may not speak the same language because you’re in a foreign country or vice versa, not the greatest. Carrying around cash or losing the time of waiting for the credit card to process, not a great experience and on and on. It solved all of that. The next versions of these things, they’ll know that it is Valentine’s Day and there will be gifts in that car that you can put on your Uber account so that you can save that shopping. They’ll know what music you have on your Spotify account. The second you get in the car, your station plays. These are simple things but they delight consumers.
Do you think they know too much about us? Do you have any fear of that?
It’s a longer conversation and I had to testify before the EU on this topic. I’ll tell you what I told them in short. I understand people’s concerns about privacy. They are misguided because the government and everybody else already knows all this stuff, so you’re living in a bubble. If you want to clamp that data down, you’re going to die sooner than people that are transparent and let me explain why. The next generation of medicine is based on looking at the DNA and genomes of millions and millions of people so they can say, based on the wearable that you do doing your blood pressure does that I know for certain and in 30 days you will have a heart attack. I know that you’re going to have this disease or that. If China’s is putting all their citizens into that database, they will be able to make custom-tailored, unique drugs and solve issues because they have access to that data. Like
Just like Watsons can look at your CAT scan and they’d seen millions and being 99.999 accurate where the greatest doctor is maybe seeing 2,000 patients. It’s not going to be as accurate. Letting data be out there so it benefits all mankind for solutions is actually good. The second we get used to everything being transparent, bad actors can’t hide. You can’t make a database that’s secure, but the second you put everything on the blockchain, no one can alter it. That’s what we should be, is the information accurate? That’s easier to do with transparency than with a fake set of privacy.
You’ve dealt with all this very fascinating industry, very fascinating people. You mentioned Elon Musk and others. Is there any one person who blows you away their mind and what they’re capable of doing compared to you? Who would inspire you?
Lots of people inspire me, especially kids that are too young to know that they can’t do stuff and they find the cures for testing cervical cancer or prostate cancer. Some of the most amazing breakthroughs in science have happened from teenagers that weren’t in medical families because nobody told them they couldn’t do it. Brightest guy I’ve ever met and I still believe is Reid Hoffman. Seeing what’s on the horizon is what best claim I can do because I hang out with the people that are coding the future so it’s easy to predict it. Being able to see the dark side of the moon, that’s witchcraft. That’s being super bright, being able to process a whole lot of input.
There are tons of bright people that aren’t making money. My new book, I talked about that there’s no correlation by the way of wealth in IQ or wealth in education. We’ll get back to the basic thing that we said at the beginning of this conversation, perseverance is more important than IQ. There are a lot of highly-educated people that didn’t try and gave up. There are a lot of bright people that didn’t put in the effort, but there are a lot of students that endowed the largest charities in the largest universities.
How much do you think emotional intelligence impacts it?
It depends on how much your job involves you working with others. There are some tremendous jobs that you can be isolated and far from working with others figuring out actuarial tables or figuring out algorithms. On the other hand, there are skill sets of having EQs that are very important to manage and lead. There was a time up until recently where if you looked at most CEOs, they would fail on the EQ. It was my way or the high way dictatorships is how companies were built. Now that we have a more diverse workforce and not everybody in one building and you’re taking the best at times, it takes a different skill set. That’s one of the reasons when you look at the biggest companies, Facebook, Amazon, Apple, their average tenure of an employee’s less than two years. The most desirable companies, Google, desirable places in the world to work can’t hold onto people for two years. Think about that.
Is it a millennial thing?
No, people hanging a tag on millennial is a bum rap for them. My generation of work stuff you found that good job and that company would be there for you forever and you get a gold watch and a pension. Move to Boca and live happily ever after. In reality of the original Fortune 500 companies, 57 are left. Young people entering the workforce know that company won’t be there forever. The second they can stop learning and growing on a job, rightfully in doing so, they jump ship. Three and a half million people quit their job in the US the most ever in a month.
It’s an interesting time to be in the world of business and I’m with you. I’m from that time frame and I actually have a pension, believe it or not, I will get some day and you don’t see that anymore. I think that all the stuff you write about it it’s so important. I was looking forward to this. You have that free 40-page companion workbook. What I’ve researched, what you’re working on is so important to getting people to think about things in a different light. Your TEDx Talk was good. I hope people have a chance to watch that because you do talk about some of the stuff we talked about here and the lies we tell ourselves.
I don’t want to minimize this. The journey is hard but worth it. That’s one of the reasons why I tweet, Instagram, Facebook out daily motivation and humor to keep you going. For many people, it’s a lonely road. People aren’t going to believe you, people who are going to make fun of you. They’re going to tell all their friends how they knew you.
For people to get to know you, how can they find out more about your information? Can you share some websites or information?
My website’s my name, JaySamit.com. You can find me the same way on Instagram or Twitter. I’m easy to find on LinkedIn, any of these places. Look forward to seeing how people change their world to make it better. A lot of problems left to solve.
This has been so interesting. Thank you so much, Jay. I hope you take time to go check out his site and check out his TED Talk and definitely get the book. He’s got such great information. If you could have one-tenth of his success of what he’s able to do, he’s amazing to me what he has accomplished and we get so many accomplished people on this show. It’s a fun day to be able to talk to people like Jay.
- Jay Samit
- Disrupt You!: Master Personal Transformation, Seize Opportunity, and Thrive in the Era of Endless Innovation
- Jay Samit’s TED Talk
- Erik Weihenmayer – previous episode
About Jay Samit
Jay Samit is widely recognized as one of the world’s leading expert on disruption and innovation. Everyone from the Pope to the President calls on Samit to orchestrate positive change in this era of endless innovation. Samit helped grow pre-IPO companies such as Linkedin, held senior management roles at EMI, Sony and Universal Studios, pioneered breakthrough advancements in mobile video, internet advertising, ecommerce, social networks, ebooks, and digital music that are used by billions of consumers every day. Combining innovation with commercial success, Samit is the consummate dealmaker; his list of partners and associates reads like a who’s who list of innovators, including: Bill Gates, Steven Spielberg, Steve Jobs, Reid Hoffman, David Geffen, Richard Branson, Paul Allen, and Pierre Omidyar. A proven trend spotter, Samit accurately predicts the future because he is constantly working with those who create it. He is the author of Disrupt You! Master Personal Transformation, Seize Opportunity, And Thrive in the Era of Endless Innovation.