Episode 155

Moving Fast by Moving Slow + the Myth of the Tech Genius with Shawn Livermore

Shawn Livermore - Author, Average Joe
March 24, 2021
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If you’re like me, then you're fascinated by the stories of “tech geniuses.”  I never get tired of hearing the origin stories of great tech startups and geniuses behind them (The Social Network is still one of my favorite movies).  In this episode I interview Shawn Livermore, author of the new book Average Joe: Be the Silicon Valley Tech Genius.

Shawn’s new book uncovers some of the magic behind blockbuster tech products like Gmail, Dropbox, Snapchat, Ring, Bitcoin and more.  We bust some long-held myths and underscore how you can learn from the success of tech icons.  Here’s a look at what we cover:

  • How moving slow is the new fast in some key areas.
  • How believing you have to be a genius to succeed in business (even tech)  is a myth.
  • How to properly incubate ideas and allow your brain to work the way it works best.
  • The story of Gmail and it’s creator Paul Buchheit.
  • The story of Polaroid and how to innovate.

Shawn Livermore

Via LinkedIn

“Average Joe” by Shawn Livermore

Product Perfect

Mentioned in this episode: 

Thomas Carlyle

Tim Draper

Satoshi Nakamoto

Sean Ellis

Episode Transcript:

Brett:

Well, hello and welcome to another edition of the eCommerce Evolution podcast. I'm your host Brett Curry, CEO of OMG Commerce. Today I've got a treat for you. We are talking with the author of the Amazon best selling book, it's a nonfiction book, Average Joe: Be the Silicon Valley Tech Genius. Really excited about this topic and really excited about this guest. If you're ready to finally scale with YouTube ads, I have a free exclusive event just for you.

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Brett:

Mr. Shawn Livermore is my guest hailing from Orange County, California, and we were connected through friend mutual acquaintance, and then digging into understanding what Shawn created with his book is really about teaching anyone to think, speak, create, like some of the brightest tech founders in the world. Also, this is important, we're going to dive into this, it dispels the myth of the tech genius. Because I think there's this hero worship, I'm using Shawn's language here. There's this hero worship around the tech giants, Bezos and Musk and those guys. But really, that's probably just a myth. Right?

Brett:

So, we're going to dive into that a little bit, and some topics that will directly relate to any entrepreneur and will certainly put a spin on it, that would be perfect for you as an eCommerce entrepreneur as well. So with that, Shawn, welcome to the show, man. Really excited to have you on, and thanks for taking the time.

Shawn:

Thanks, Brett. Happy to be here.

Brett:

Yeah. I would love to hear you define what is this myth of the tech genius, and what was the inspiration to write this book and meaning this topic?

Shawn:

I'll start at the end and go back to the beginning. So the spoiler alert ... The myth isn't real, but in a strange and yet very satisfying twist, you can become the myth yourself. Right? So, we worship these fake façade veneer of brilliance, and yet, you can actually create your own veneer. So the book takes you through that smelly tunnel of transformation to learn how to take the data and the information and the work you're already doing on a regular basis.

Shawn:

And turn that into a crystallized message that invokes all of the inflections that gathers together all the very deep and important subject matter that your hands have been working through the clay for many years, and formulate that into the least amount of words that an investor, a family friend, a spouse, coworker, peers, or potential recruits that you would bring into your organization, that they would all hear that messaging and that they would be transformed by it, and truly fascinated. That is the end result of the whole book, is to achieve fascination.

Shawn:

So, we have a slow crate framework, this model of a canvas, a pipeline and a triad that helps you learn how to plot out your ideas to work them through some neuroscience enabled processes, and then flatten them out into a pipeline and then process them out into a triad where you learn how to bubble up the right words and focus on the right things and achieve that fascination model. But going back to your question, so this myth of the tech genius, this is this idea back in 1840, Thomas Carlyle, a Scottish philosopher, had come up with 20 volumes around 80,000 words on this idea of hero worship, and that great man theory is what it's called.

Shawn:

So this distorted reality, this idea that these certain people, not everyone, and that's the key phrase, is not everyone, but we seek to find those few and make them our kings, we seek to promote them. Why do, for hundreds of years, we elevate and venerate and certain norms of society have been acceptable, even today we have monarchies that we still honor and pay homage to, and they have influence. Right? So why do we do that? There's a little bit of quackery as Carlyle puts it, in this process that we entertain ourselves with it. Right? It's, "Oh, look, what did Megan and Harry do?" Right?

Brett:

Yeah, yeah. Interesting. We've always done this. Right? I mean, you look at the myth of Greek Mythology and true hero worship back in the day, but do it the same whether it was Edison around the time, as the author you just mentioned, or present day, Bezos and Elon Musk and Larry Page, Sergey Brin from Google and that sort of thing. So, you think part of this is like we're looking to be entertained a little bit and looking to be fascinated?

Shawn:

A little bit. I mean, Carlyle even put it, we see it as a necessary ingredient and an amalgam for truth. Right? So we ease ourselves into this false reality and we get comfy there. But I think it's very dangerous as you look at the tech industry, those in or nibbling around the edges of the tech industry, we seek to have this binary answer, "Am I or am I not a tech genius? Do I have the magic touch? Can I spew out magic dust? Right? Do I know how to impress investors with my brilliant ideas?" Come to find out all that's nonsense. Right?

Shawn:

The brilliant ideas, they're looking for good ballplayers, the analogy of an investor looking at an entrepreneur is very much like a scout looking at baseball player, male or female, let's just put the gender aside. But this idea that they looked at people like Ken Griffey Jr. and I have quotes in the book about it. Just fascinating stuff. I love baseball. I use one of these to-

Brett:

Nice.

Shawn:

... help me think. But the idea of Ken Griffey Jr. as he was being scouted, they said, "He's too eager, he's too hungry for the long ball." He would lean forward, he would lean back, and he'd do some weird things with his hands. They have all these quotes that I put in there. Some of the scouts hit it right on the money. They knew raw talent, and some of these investors, they also know raw talent, and they can size you up and get a sense for where you're at in your journey as an entrepreneur. But at the same time, they say some really interesting things that make us entrepreneurs feel like we're being binary tested. Right?

Shawn:

I've been through TechStars, and amplify Los Angeles and some other incubation programs. I know the process, I've raised money six times, seed money, which is the hardest type to raise130 times. I have a little bit to say about this process of engaging with investors, and a lot of it is irrational. As much as they want to put forward to their partners, a very rational, sustainable, defensible position about why we're investing money into these founders? There are many times where it's not even the business, they could care less about the current business that those founders are working on. They love the people, they just look at that guy and they're like, "That's a winner, I want to invest in that gal or that guy."

Shawn:

So there's this belief mode that they go into this contrarian belief mode, the CBM, I call it, and there are many instances of this. I put in the book many examples of where the common practices are thrown out the window. Then we have folks like Tim Draper, who had a great quote. I love Tim Draper, has done a lot of good for the community, and yet there's ... as with any good ballplayer, you're going to strike out a few times, and there's been a few strikeouts on his record as well. Some of the things he says though-

Brett:

And then Tim Draper, for those that don't know, what did he create?

Shawn:

He's invested in a lot of early companies and had great successful venture capital fund in the Valley, well known. He also invested in Elizabeth Holmes company.

Brett:

Theranos?

Shawn:

Theranos, yeah.

Brett:

Well, that's a fascinating podcast series. There's been some documentaries, which I haven't watched, but yeah, talked about fascinating study in the human behavior and then talk about myth of tech genius. She created some strong mythology around who she was and what company was, that for sure

Shawn:

Yeah, without a doubt, and he invested into that and then he made a quote either before or after that, I'm not sure. But he made a quote on one interview that really struck me when we were doing the research for the book. Almost stopped me, ready to put my head in my hands and just shake it and cry a few tears. But he said, "The investor is looking for the entrepreneur ..." Let me quote it properly, it's in the book properly. So forgive me if I miss quote it, but he says, "A great entrepreneur is like a magician. He in essence is creating something from nothing in a groundswell." Right?

Shawn:

I look at that quote and that idea and that belief mode that they go into, and I feel like that's unsustainable and unfair. I feel like, from the entrepreneurial standpoint, we go on these accelerators and we learn how to not be magicians, we learn how to be pragmatic business people, where you have a gross sales and profit, and you're trying to bring a little bit of sense to your madness, or the caffeine and sugar is detoxed out of your system or the hype and hustle is taken away and extrapolated, and what's revealed under all the armor, the emperor has no clothes .. right there.

Shawn:

There's nothing there, but hype and hustle, and so they reduce you down to your first principles or your bare bones and you learn business, and you learn how to be successful from a building block perspective. And yet, you put yourself in front of these investors who ... that's a given, they already know that, that already should be there, and you should have good numbers and unit economics and all that. But they also want to see the magic dust. So then you have to learn how to fabricate, but that's unhealthy. Vegetables, that's cheeseburgers. Okay? You can't keep fabricating stuff, you can't keep living on hype and hustle.

Shawn:

So, the book teaches you how to ... and the research, it teaches you how to manipulate the facts into a shape that goes into the hole. Right? Not manipulating facts in terms of twisting facts, but taking all the data on the effort and funneling it properly. So no water is lost, you're just putting the water through the proper propulsion system so that it goes into the right shape, and gets the fire and achieves the goal. Hope that

Brett:

So making things digestible, consumable for that investor in the seed round where ... I've never gone through that, by the way, successful entrepreneur, building a large team and growing, but never have done what you've done in terms of raising money. I think there's always value, you want to be authentic. Right? So I think people can sniff out when you're being inauthentic.

Brett:

But if I'm understanding what you're saying, if I'm hearing properly, basically you're packaging what you've done, who you are, what you bring to the table, in a way that the seed investor's going to get, it's going to be palatable for them, and they're going to say, "Ah, this person has what it takes or this person has what I'm looking for."

Shawn:

Yes, but it's a matter of thinking first. Right? So, my goal is to help anyone, even the average Joe, think, speak and create, like one of these tech geniuses. Right? So it starts at thinking and the structuring of our thinking is actually quite important. We don't think about thinking very much. Do we? We don't talk about thinking very much. We just do it. Right?

Shawn:

Yeah, totally. So you go to the doctor and they say, "Well." You say, "I have running problems, I can't run well." They say, "Well, how do you run?" "I don't know, I just run." Right? But there is actually a science to running, where your foot has to come down a certain way, and then your leg should push a certain way, and then your hips should be a certain way. There's this mechanical model to everything we do. So, thinking has a lot of mechanics. Right?

Shawn:

I worked with a neuroscientist, Dr. Jesse UCLA for several months here in the COVID time period and on Zoom sessions, and feel like I got a master's in neuroscience out of it. He really mentored and coached, and it really helped us formulate this framework. So, the ability to think in a structured model is critical to everything I do. I have my canvases and pipelines and I work them through the triad, and even in small conversations about renting office space or recruiting candidates. There are things that you think through systematically that you can bring out the other side that left brainers like me, who maybe don't naturally feel comfortable communicating.

Shawn:

I've learned how to try to communicate better, but it all starts way back here in the early inception process of the words and how they culminate together and string them together into sentences. It's actually not so easy for all of us to speak. Right?

Brett:

Yeah

Shawn:

You're doing a great job on the tech side.

Brett:

Sure.

Shawn:

Programmers are known for their communication.

Brett:

No doubt. So dive into that just a little bit. I fully agree with you that the way we think, the way we speak to ourselves, the way we structure our thoughts, critical. Right? Everything else is built upon that. Where do you think a lot of entrepreneurs go wrong with their thinking? What are some of the shifts or tweaks that need to be made? I know we can't unpack the entire book or anything like that, but what what are just some of the the shifts people need to make when it comes to their thinking, related to being an entrepreneur?

Shawn:

Question, Brett. I think that's two areas, one is the plotting of ideas. We don't plot, we don't take what is up here floating in the ether and put it onto paper. If we do, it's a sticky note, we put it on the monitor. There's a pile of papers on your desk, and you throw them all away at the end of the year, or whatever. The plotting of ideas into a systematic canvas is step one, and that's very beginning of the slow creative framework.

Shawn:

Number two is, it really comes into how we operate, the mind is unfortunately, used like a vehicle, we slam on the gas, and then we slam on the brakes. We go from meeting to meeting to meeting to meeting, and there's no gaps. Right? So our mental health sucks, especially with COVID. Everyone's at home, dogs are barking, kids are crying, things are falling, our pets heads are falling off, like in Dumb and Dumber. Right? Everything's going crazy. Right? Our mental health is in the dumps. But even if you get back to the office, you really ... Dr. Risman talks about this period of lag, and then in a couple of great books, it's been repeated over and over.

Shawn:

He said, "Your mind needs a slowdown period. Right? So, 10 minutes after a meeting, go take a walk. After reading a chapter of an audio book, sit in silence for 10 minutes and ponder what you just read. Allow your mind and the neural pathways to cement, and in that, derive a couple of words, put them on to your iPhone and in your notes and rehearse that or scratch them onto your canvas or put them however you need to to rehearse those words that represent all that couple hours of learning. The dust settles in a way that is recoverable. If the file is not saved, you'll lose the document. Right? So, you need to save the file.

Shawn:

Those two is part of neuroscience. Yeah, it's not something I invented at all. I'm just gathering the data and answering the question, but it's out there. This is critical stuff to practice.

Brett:

Yeah, really interesting. We do, man, I think we almost feel good about being hurried. Right? You mentioned, as we're prepping, hustle, and we all want to hustle and grind and go for it. So that's almost like a badge of honor that wear that we're all hustling and we're going for this thing or that thing, and always hurried. But man, if you don't have those few minutes to slow down and think and let the dust settle, I hadn't heard that, or rehearse some of things you've just learned, then you're really missing out. Right?

Brett:

I would say that a lot of us, for being honest, could step back and say, "Yeah, my mental health does suck or I'm sub optimal, because I'm not doing some of the things that you're talking about."

Shawn:

It's so true. Then that dovetails into creativity, where if you don't allow your mind to ideate and germinate on certain topics, you're not going to develop those. Right? So it's one thing to say, "I have an idea." It's another thing to say, "I've been incubating this idea in a systematic manner." Right? And not just in a void, but pulling in input from different sources. In 1949, Eliot Hutchinson narrowed in on this very specific idea of creativity, and he created this model of creativity.

Shawn:

Then part of that model, is this wall. He called Hutchinson's Wall, and it's that wall of the blank canvas problem, it's that wall of, "I am not getting anywhere, I'm stuck." And so many entrepreneurs are out there, working through a couple ideas, but they get to that wall and they stop. Instead of trying to climb the wall, the book and the research that we found, tells you to dig under it, in that you get into this mindless work model of drifting and daydreaming. You may say, "Well, I thought this podcast was about tech entrepreneurship?" "Yeah, it is." "But this is a big part of that, isn't it?" That we're all staring off out of the window and into space sometimes.

Shawn:

But that's good. You need that meditative drift in your life so that you can take a step back and very carefully allow your brain to untangle the spaghetti.

Brett:

Yeah. I love that. I heard from a really successful CEO, I don't remember, I'll probably just be making this up, but Jack Welch maybe, or someone else that said they would dedicate window time, I think they would call it, where they would stare out the window and just think. Right? They felt like that was some of the most valuable time they spent, not in meetings, not in doing other things, but just thinking and processing and unpacking what's going on, which is a really interesting thought.

Shawn:

Yeah, it's a nagging pull. You can deliberately put yourself in position where you say, "Today, for the next 10 minutes, I'm going to drift." Well, that doesn't always. But the nagging pull that rock in your shoe, the pebble in your shoe, this feeling that there's something I'm forgetting when I leave the house. Right? .. back in my mind. Right? That is a good thing to listen to. "Am I going too fast? Am I forgetting something? What was that meeting about? What are we talking about here?" There's this mental awareness and the shift and thinking of slow is the new faster is a quick explanation of it.

Shawn:

You can move your business forward, your ideas forward, you can iterate faster, if you truly slow down and get back to first principles and focus on the carefully curated thought models that seem to be making progress, or that you need to kill. Some of these idea models that you're working through, you need to kill and get rid of and start up the new spawn, the new threads. The faster you destroy one plant and plant the next seed, the faster you get to that beanstalk that goes to heaven, right? There's a great example of passive incubation. Passive creativity is Kodak. I'll probably screw up the name, but Land, I think the guy's last name was.

Shawn:

His daughter said, "Daddy, why can't we print the picture and have it ready right away?" The guy's like, "Well, there's just too much, you got the liquids and you got the infrared and you got all these things, you got to do, sweetheart, and you don't understand, it's too complicated." "But Daddy, I want to take the picture, and I want to see it." Right? This is back in the '40s and '50s, and he thought this kid. But then he just froze, and he went into this sparked ... they call it the aha moment. Right? But those aren't really aha moments. Are they? Because he had been working on that for seven years. Even had a pouch designed where you could have the camera and you pull the thing out of the pouch. But he was thinking about it all wrong.

Shawn:

So, his daughter the way she said it triggers something, of all the slow create, is what I call the slow crate work, seven years prior. It triggered that missing Keystone component of how she framed it, and then a picture popped in. So this random inputs to a long tail process typically bring forth those moments, it was hard to find moments.

Brett:

So interesting, so interesting. A lot we can unpack and uncover in what we've already discussed, but I do want to move on to a few other topics as well, because we only have about 15 minutes or so.

Shawn:

Polaroids, sorry, that was the ...

Brett:

Polaroid. Yeah, yeah, yeah.. Totally makes sense. So that happened in the '40s, you say?

Shawn:

Yeah, it was back in ... Gosh, I'm going to screw this up. Edwin Land, 1947. Yeah. Right.

Brett:

That is interesting that to think about the fact that he'd been working on these problems. I've been looking at photography and film development from so many different angles, and it was the way she framed her want, the way she framed what she felt like would be really cool, that triggered the idea for Polaroids, which is awesome. So, what were some of the other surprising things you uncovered in your research? So again, you were studying companies, and then the developers behind, Ring and Snapchat and Dropbox and Gmail and Groupon and some of our favorite tech tools, what were few of the surprising things you wanted to cover?

Shawn:

We opened the book with the story of Gmail, and Paul Bouchard, who had been working on Gmail in his mind for like six years, we believe, I believe, for six years prior, and '96 he was in college, and he needed a way to check his email without going back to the dorm. So he kind of, "Screw this, this sucks. I'm going to create something." Then he never finished it. But it got the wheels turning. Right? Then 2002 to 2004, he formally created the product that became Gmail, him and a couple others.

Shawn:

But the process of adopting JavaScript was scary at that time back in the .com days. JavaScript was like a dirty word. Right? Like nobody does JavaScript. If you do JavaScript, you're going to get banned. The browser is going to shut you down. Now, it's like, if you don't know JavaScript, you're not getting hired. Right? You have to know and it's everywhere. It's all over, it's coming out of our ears. But there's so many ways that these other companies still created and been germinating on these innovative topics like Bitcoin, two and a half years for Satoshi Nakamoto. If you're out there, whoever you are.

Brett:

.. he's a regular listener. So I think he's..

Shawn:

Yeah, he's a subscriber.

Brett:

Yeah, for sure. He doesn't miss an episode.

Shawn:

Oh, man. There's so many others. The reality is when the Social Network movie back in 2010-

Shawn:

Yeah, I mean, isn't it? It's the Godfather movie for all of us.

Brett:

It is, it is a really good way to frame it.

Shawn:

Because we look back and we go, "Yeah, that's kind of the dream." Isn't it? Zuck in his dorm, couple weeks of late nights, and Pizza and coffee and all, and he's drawing on the glass..

Brett:

Drawing the algorithms on the grass.

Shawn:

Drawing the algorithms, and all of his tech people were like, "Oh, God, this is ridiculous. That's not even..

Brett:

Mark Zuckerberg is also like, "Oh, this is ridiculous."

Shawn:

Yeah. Zuck is like, "That's not even true." But they have to package tech.

Brett:

Sure.

Shawn:

Make hackathons and everyone's cheering, "Go, go, go, go." When in fact, everyone looks cool with cool hair, good teeth and awesome clothes. In reality these nerds are like frumpy dudes. It's not exactly like we're the coolest people in the world on the tech..

Brett:

Right. For sure.

Shawn:

Which is exactly a part of the narrative. The tech genius is like they take these frumpy nerds and then all sudden they have an agent, they get dental work done. They got veneers. They're on the cover of Wired magazine with shadow lights, and three point lighting, and their hair is perfect, they've got these beards now or they've ripped abs or whatever it is.

Brett:

Yeah, yeah. Whatever the look of the month is in that space. Yeah, for sure.

Shawn:

I went down a rabbit hole. Sorry, but

Brett:

Gmail and then Paul

Shawn:

Then you have Zuck in Facebook. The three week model of incubation, really wasn't true. He was already incubating on this prior to creating Facebook, there was other face smash and other things that he did. We've all heard these stories, but Bezos spent tons of time in finance. He knew the business in the industry of making money, of creating tight operations. He had an incredible mind for it, the guy's incredibly hardworking and very smart and very focused on the economical aspect of it.

Shawn:

You can go on and on and on through these background stories. The reality is, the stories like Snapchat, where you have a couple guys get together, they create something. The controversy of it is really the key word. The controversy here is Snapchat. I was a parent. I had an 11 year old daughter at the time. Now she's 21, makes me 42. But Evan, was it Evan? Yeah. Some of the guys that started with him. He pushed the envelope, and all of us parents were freaking out. Like, "What is this thing called Snapchat? You better not put it on your phone. I barely willing to let you have a smartphone at this age." I don't even think I did. I can't remember. But we're freaking out.

Shawn:

But the controversy fueled this flame and it hit the media and everyone's having heart attacks about these disappearing pictures. The kids are loving it. Then it turned into a media empire and this whole different thing. Right? So, people stumble sometimes into that viral loop, something you cannot manufacture. But after sitting down with Sean Ellis, the guy who invented and coined the term growth hacking, who helped Dropbox become a household name, I learned the true story of Dropbox from the horse's mouth in firsthand experience, a fascinating conversation, an amazing guy.

Shawn:

But one of the things you take away from that was, Dropbox was successful for two reasons. One is they created a perfect product. It's why I named my company Product Perfect. So if you need software out there, shameless plug, hit us up at productperfect.com, software consultancy down here in Orange County. But they created a perfect product, it seamlessly executed, and Ellis even said at the end of the chapter four, he said, "That was the magic for me." It was the execution of that product, when you saved the file, boom, it's there. There is no weird right clicking or let's synchronize. It automatically happens. Right?

Shawn:

Every product team out there, you should be focusing on creating a product that just happens automatically. Right? The second thing was that, he manufactured growth. They would create experiments, not because they knew they would work, they called them experiments for reasons, they didn't know if anything would work. Right? But what if we give 10 megabytes away? Well, what if you get a free puppy?" They were trying all kinds of stuff over there. The one that worked, of course, was a secret that was given to him by Jamie Seminoff, the founder of Ring bought by Amazon for a billion dollars.

Shawn:

Seminoff and Ellis got together and they had a conversation, and that one magical moment, where the way Seminoff said it, it just triggered something in his mind of, "Wait, he did what now? And it worked? How did that work?" He gave him the secret, and that is simple of mutual benefit. Right? So if the email goes to someone who's a friend who will receive as well as a sender, receives something of value, both parties have to receive value. Then both parties feel obligated to each other, and there's this essence of reciprocity.

Brett:

Yeah, back to the Robert Cialdini days, the influence.

Shawn:

Yeah. Then that worked. So they went to lunch and came back, and they saw a 300% spike on the radar, and that was the aha moment. But they had tried all these hundreds of other seeds planted before then. So I think demystifying the Dropbox story was very satisfying, and seeing that unfold in a very pragmatic way, it really encouraged me. I think it should encourage anyone else who checks it out. To be able to take your own ideas and your own products and demystify them and pragmatically force them into success by creating an experimental culture around a perfectly crafted product.

Brett:

That's awesome. So maybe as we're coming up with a few final takeaways from your research and from the book, and then of course, we'll talk about where to get the book, and I want to hear a little bit more about your company as well, before we wrap up. What are some of the key takeaways in additional to what we talked about? That you can do type of thing, where I know what you uncover, what you're seeing here is that you don't really have to be a tech genius, this can be not certainly not genius level, some creativity and some brightness, hopefully, but what are some key takeaways on, how can we do it? How can we get to ... maybe we don't need to be a Bezos's level, but how can we level up?

Shawn:

I think there's a lot you can do. I think that the hype and hustle needs to be extinguished and removed from our vocabulary. I think the whispering entrepreneur is where I want to get to, is that, I can just whisper my pitch and it blows people away. Chapter nine and 10 talk about presentation and learning how to speak, not learning how to pronounce speech therapy for them. But learning how to speak so that your information is funneled and throttled. And storytelling, I call it the great crossover when nerds tell stories, right?

Shawn:

So, never underestimate a nerd with a great story. These technical folks, they have so much for the world. They have so much good stuff inside but if you could cross that chasm, man, if you could just learn how to talk, you'd be awesome. Right? So, the left brainer sit behind their code, and they hide behind their syntax, and they say, "Well, ask me a question about technology, and I'll give you a great answer. I'm your guy, but don't ask me to design anything, don't ask me to do any public speaking, don't ask me to be out front." But there's a lot in you that ... I'm speaking to the listener, as there's so much in you that you can do. There's so much more that you can be.

Shawn:

So, learning how to tell the right story, learning how to contort your body and your mind into the shape that the world wants to see in here, not just because they want to see and hear it, but because that makes you more palatable and more interesting. Malcolm Gladwell, great author, my favorite author.

Brett:

Yeah

Shawn:

outliers. Right? He's awesome. Right? He writes about things, in his master class, they asked him, "What do you look for to write about?" He said, "Is it interesting?" That's it? Is it interesting? It could really be anything, snowshoes in Alaska, or social issues or economical issues or documentary style research. It doesn't really matter, tree roots. He'll just go off to tangents, and he'll take analogies and throw them from left field here like, "Where did you come up with that?"

Brett:

Yeah. But it works.

Shawn:

It works. Right? It really drives home some ideas, and I think left brain software development type minds out their entrepreneurial minds that are technical in nature. You have the ability to do what Malcolm Gladwell does, right? That's how I tried to approach writing, and that's how I tried to approach my compelling communication models, to take your narratives and to refashion them from every vector imaginable.

Shawn:

But I would say that chapter nine and 10, in learning how to create your own Mystique is the end result of that, because other people pull you into their dreams, they pull you into their organizations, because you're so valuable to them, the way you think, the way you speak, the way you operate, you become that MVP recruit, that partner and you're elevated from, "Let's hire that guy to let's partner with that guy or that gal." Right? That's so critical to cross that chasm of ... and all it takes is just a tiny shred of confidence and a little bit of learning, and you watch yourself, your shoulders will straighten very quickly, you'll feel more comfortable.

Brett:

Really interesting. I remember seeing one time, it's been years ago, but I'm confident that it's true is that, usually the best communicators in any field end up as the top earners. Those that can communicate clearly, internally, externally, they usually rise to the top because that's important in so many ... it's so much what we do, getting buy in from your team and then convincing an investor or convincing the market that what you have to offer is amazing.

Brett:

So, I love this, I'm excited to unpack more here as I go through the book of, "Hey, this is the way you should shape your thinking and approach your ideas, and then here are some tips for good communication." Because those two skills often overlooked, we all have room to improve. So, really excited about that. So, any final takeaways in the last minute or so? Then how can people find the book as well?

Shawn:

Final takeaways, I think, is just that call to adventure as an average Joe. If you think you're special, then you're right, but you're also wrong. Right? You're right, in that you intrinsically are valuable human being and I believe that, and truly Brett and I think-

Brett:

Absolutely.

Shawn:

The specialist that God has made us and so forth of my personal belief separate from that. But this idea that you are not special, the first day of TechStars, they said, "First of all, let's get this out of the way, all y'all are not here because of your brilliant ideas. We don't like your startup, we think your startup's pretty stupid anyway. We you're here because we like you, we think you're interesting, and you may start and stop 10 of these things in the next week. We don't even care. At the end of this process, the best possible company will come out of you, and we want to be around when that happens. We want to be a partner with you on that journey."

Shawn:

I think of anyone and everyone I interact with, if I could see them as well, they have so much great subject matter, and I can't wait to see as they evolve and develop. So, thresholds of greatness are dotted lines around our feet. I think there's certainly plenty of people out there that will teach you how to have hype and hustle and get the sugar going and you got to get up at 4:00 AM, you got to work harder everyday ... Try having kids in a mortgage Right?

Brett:

Yeah, exactly.

Shawn:

I want to see with my two year old, let me let you borrow my two year old for a couple days and you try to get up at 4:00 AM, drive to work, go work all day, freaking make the boss happy then come home at night and take out the trash and do ... put the kids to bed, and you're so exhausted, and then spend time with your spouse or something. So, the ability to garner all that together, put it through the funnel communicate properly, that's most important skill you've got.

Brett:

Yeah, that's awesome. So, he's an Amazon bestseller, obviously we find that on Amazon pretty cool website for the book too. You want to mention that.

Shawn:

Yeah, averagejoetechgenius.com.

Brett:

Averagejoetechgenius.com. I'll link to in the show notes as well. But any quick plug for the site?

Shawn:

Yeah, just check out, there's 26 videos on there, all free stuff. There's still great frameworks. There are free downloadable PDFs. You can learn how to think, speak and create like a tech genius, but it's all free and hopefully you'll enjoy it.

Brett:

Awesome. So, if someone was listening and thinking, "Hey, maybe I do need some software. I want to talk through some ideas about software." Talk quickly about your software company and how can people learn more about that as well.

Shawn:

We are a boutique software consultancy here in Southern California. Enterprise migrations, large enterprise products, we typically focus on SAS products, but we got world class designers and builders, about 15 folks, roughly and so we'd love to help you with whatever you've got.

Brett:

Awesome. The URL for that?

Shawn:

Oh, yeah. Productperfect.com.

Brett:

Productperfect.com. Awesome, I'll link to that as well. Well, Shawn, this has been thought provoking and fun, and I cannot believe that our time has run up because I feel like I could have asked you about 35 more questions, and we could have gotten even deeper the time, man. That was a good time.

Shawn:

Yeah. Thanks, Brett, a lot of fun.

Brett:

Absolutely. So, I'll link to everything in the show notes. You can check that out at OMGcommerce.com/blog. With that, thank you so much for tuning in. We want to hear from you. So give us some feedback. What do you like about the show? Give us some other topic ideas and suggestions, and give us that five star review on iTunes if you think that the show is worth it, helps other people find the show as well. So with that, until next time, thank you for listening.


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