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16 - Managing a company while being an introverted CEO with Ronan Berder of Wiredcraft

“Managing people is still an enigma for me”

Ronan is founder and CEO of a successful app-development agency in Shanghai called Wiredcraft, which has offices in Asia & Europe.

They eventually found themselves working on projects in the international development space, such as building apps for the South Sudan referendum and other projects for both the UN & the world bank. Now they’ve focused more on larger corporate clients like Starbucks.

He was born in the south of France and moved to Tahiti when he was young, moving around a lot as his family was working in the army. He has spent many years in the US as well.

He considers himself a massive nerd, all the way from childhood through to studying math & physics later in life. He leads his company as a very intelligent but fairly introverted CEO who has to balance how to manage others & constantly be in social situations.

 

In this episode:
+ How he started his company as freelancing that snowballed into a proper company
+ Differences between building an agency vs building a product
+ Underestimating what it takes to build a product
+ Differences between design & engineering
+ How to sell the methodology by almost making an agency itself into a product
+ How he used drinking as a crutch to handle introversion
+ How he designed experiments to figure out how to interact with people better when he was young
+ Challenges of managing people as an introvert
+ How a lack of sugar coating leads to misperceptions of arrogance
+ The effects of alcohol on introverts networking

Links:

Linkedin:
https://www.linkedin.com/in/ronanberder/

Wiredcraft:
https://wiredcraft.com/

Music:
http://www.bensound.com

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13 - Why Kevin Chen left finance to tackle the global language education market as CEO of Italki

“After 10 years, some investors joked you should have IPO’d or died by now.”

Kevin Chen is co-founder and CEO of Italki.com, a language learning social network and marketplace for connecting teachers & students for private classes. Before that, Keven also cofounded Famento, which sought to use social networking to help families record and share their family history.

Kevin is a reformed finance guy who spent several years working at Merrill Lynch & Lehman Brothers in London, New York and Japan. We speak a lot about his personal backstory and how he struggled to work in an environment that while mentally challenging and interesting it was ultimately unsatisfying.

We talk about how he made some of these big career decisions, the interactions with family about it, a cross-Asia backpacking trip and eventually moving to Shanghai with no plan, just a feeling that it was the right place to be.

Kevin is a really intelligent guy who’s in a somewhat unique position of a managing an extremely cross-cultural team in China with a Chinese cofounder. We talk about some of the unique challenges he and his cofounder face when trying to set a company culture while also rapidly scaling from a small, lean team to more than a hundred.

In this episode:
+ How “Liar’s Poker” got him into finance
+ Working in finance in NYC vs Japan
+ Using solo travel to reflect
+ Being a first-time founder
+ The desire & importance of documenting family history
+ Should people become chatbots after they die?
+ His motivation to start Italki
+ Challenges of building single company culture in multi-cultural business
+ Being a “bridge builder” cross-culture CEO
+ How to handle rewarding early loyal employees vs new staff needed to grow

Books;
Liar’s Poker by Michael Lewis
http://amzn.to/2uwvZ38

Mr China by Tim Clissold
http://amzn.to/2wReRSo

Wild Swans Three Daughters of China by Jung Chang
http://amzn.to/2uR8g8U

The Quantum Thief (Jean le Flambeur) by by Hannu Rajaniemi
http://amzn.to/2vPSrnG

The Hard thing about hard things by Ben Horowitz
http://amzn.to/2fC7Lh3

Linked in
https://www.linkedin.com/in/kevinchen501/

Email him
kevin at italki.com

Music:
http://www.bensound.com

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