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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





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12 - Building culture at Airbnb in Asia and leading with authenticity - Alan Chang

“I would have been a better manager, better leader & better friend had I known the difference between compassion and empathy.”

Alan was born and spent most of his life in the US between Hong Kong & North Carolina. He sold his first company in 2009 and then relocated to Hong Kong to further explore Asia.
In 2010 he went all-in on digital businesses after he saw Groupon explode in Chicago and helped a friend’s company that was able to partner up with Groupon in Hong Kong.

As he continued to network in tech in Hong Kong, he was introduced to the Airbnb founders in 2011 at an event and quickly bonded over some of their shared values. So Alan decided to postpone his next entrepreneurial venture and instead join up with Airbnb and eventually become the Regional Manager of Northeast Asia.

For the past year, Alan has relocated back to Silicon Valley and is now heading up Special Projects for Airbnb. One of his key projects was helping the design, strategy & expansion strategy for newly-launched Experience platform.

Alan is a no-BS, very authentic guy who is well connected to his personal values and carries that authenticity and connection into his daily life at Airbnb.

In this episode:

+ How he tricked his mom into loving Airbnb
+ How he got into Airbnb so early on
+ The importance of core values driving your career
+ How he personally reflects and maintains his set of priorities
+ How he developed the confidence to be authentic
+ Idolizing Michael Jordan’s story but not idolizing people
+ Why you should hire people you’re ‘scared of’
+ How to build a culture, especially in a remote office in Asia
+ How to get global teams to build trust & empathy across cultures
+ Using Discovery Insights across all of Airbnb
+ His favorite interview question
+ Talking some his favorite potential hires out of starting the job because their goals didn’t align well to the role
+ How he could BS his way into a Michelin starred restaurant
+ Battling his “resting confused face”
+ The difference between Empathy and Compassion
+ Why Compassion is more important for business leaders than Empathy

Insights Discovery:

Alan on Linkedin:

Alan’s book recommendations for startups & culture:
1) Good Strategy, Bad Strategy by Richard Rumelt

2) The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni

3) Start With Why by Simon Sinek – I first discovered it on Ted

4) The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz

5) The Lean Startup by Eric Reis


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11 - Managing large corporate teams in China at Apple & IHG with Starbucks China CMO Emily Chang

“In China, everything is possible but nothing is easy.”

Emily Chang talks with us shortly after she joined Starbucks as CMO in China. Before that, she was managing a large team and overseeing more than 270 hotels in the hospitality industry at InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG®).

Before that she was the Head of Retail Marketing, Asia for Apple where she worked ‘in startup mode’ to be the face of Apple brand in Greater China. She shares some of her favorite stories about how they handled the size and stresses of new store launches there.

Emily is a very down to earth executive who has managed to be extremely successful in the world of marketing without ever feeling that she was a marketing person. We touch also on some of the cultural differences she sees when working in the US & China.

Her background was originally in Biomedical Engineering but found herself excelling at Procter & Gamble (P&G) working across every aspect of consumer package goods in the US & China.

In this episode we discuss:
– Blogging on LinkedIn vs writing a book
– Her motivation for writing & sharing
– How ‘congruence’ is essential in a career
– Strategies for balancing a marriage and career, across multiple geographies
– How to manage culture changes at a large corporation
– The ‘end’ of marketing & rise of customer experience
– Differences between CPG, retail & hospitality
– Need for ‘play’ in corporate settings
– How balancing a personality paradox like confidence & humility can appear as powerful
– How her family uses their spare room to help people in need
– What it’s like growing up as an immigrant in the US
– What makes a good mentor
– The differences in work culture & style between the US & China

Emily on Linkedin:

Congruency: critical to job satisfaction.

Orbiting the Giant Hairball: A Corporate Fool’s Guide to Surviving with Grace by Gordon MacKenzie

Baobei Foundation


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7 – David Lennie – Big Data Netflix Shopify – The Beertelligence Podcast

“Good data work has nothing to do with technical skill”

David Lennie is currently SVP of Data & Analytics at Shopify, a booming e-commerce startup that has seen steep growth recently, up more 400% since they went public in May 2015.

Before Shopify, he spent almost 5 years at Netflix where he managed a team of 60 employees and delivered a big data analytics platform across all areas of Netflix.

And before both of those he was head of Business Intelligence for Playboy, where he designed and deployed the company’s first corporate data warehouse.

David is a thoughtful and reflective manager who discusses at length the human parts of managing a team, even if the work itself is all about the numbers. We discuss mentoring, hiring and firing and everything in between as it relates to running a business.

We also spend a fair amount of time discussing corporate culture, specifically the infamous Netflix culture of Freedom & Responsibility & David’s first-hand account.

In this episode we discuss:
+ Netflix corporate culture
+ People & processes, when they’re good, when they’re not
+ The diminishing returns of adding people to a team
+ Working for a Canadian company vs US company
+ How process is organizational training wheels
+ Patty McCord’s Netflix culture views
+ Why performance improvement plans (PIPs) are useless
+ How hiring data is so misleading for HR
+ How analytics can be applied to culture, process, benefit
+ How having the proper question up front is important to designing data structure
+ How mentoring & people development is what he enjoys most
+ Challenges of fake news & newsfeed via algorithms
+ Using an Executive coach & insights they can offer into work style & motivations
+ The hype & dangers of machine learning & AI as it becomes more prevalent
+ How AI can inadvertently reinforce systemic problems
+ When and how should AI be merciful
+ How & when you should take more risks, not letting life to slide by

Netflix Freedom & Responsibility

Documentary DamNation (trailer)

David on Linkedin:


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