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24 - The benefits of laser focus from a CEO, founder & ultra-marathoner Greg Nance

“Best advice I’ve ever gotten is to write down a list of what you’re afraid of. Then rip the paper in half.”

Greg grew up in Seattle in the US & now is the CEO & founder of Dyad.com.

Dyad pairs mentors & students in an open platform & consulting service.

He is also an ultra, ultra marathoner, currently training for 7 marathons on 7 different continents in 7 days.

As you can imagine he’s quite an energetic & focused guy.

He goes as far as cutting off wifi and doesn’t even have a cell phone number in China as it was almost always a distraction as opposed to something that helped him move forward.

So we spend quite a bit of time discussing his routines, efforts, practices & disciplines in order to push through & challenge himself.

In this episode:
– Using mentors to help people follow more authentic paths for themselves
– Growing up in a small community Seattle
– Running ultra marathons & being in nature as an Entrepreneur
– An early teacher encouraging him that it was cool to be smart
– A later science teacher teaching people how to have fun in a laboratory
– From a history teacher showing that “Surplus” as a defining word for history – if a society can create surplus, it can do amazing things. If not, it eventually goes to zero.
– Joining the advisory board of MakerGirl
– How being distracted by the constituent parts of projects or emails prevents action

Links:
Dyad – Mentorship for Admission & Scholarships
http://www.dyad.com/

MakerGirl
https://makergirl.us/

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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