Kevin Garber: [00:00] This week on the "It's a Monkey" podcast.

Sam Mallikarjunan: [00:02] The problem is right now that bots are dumb. Even the most sophisticated bots that we have can take very limited instruction. You can't just speak to it naturally like you can with Siri or Google Now. They're not particularly proactive. They can't learn a lot about you.

[00:18] All of that technology already exists to build bots that are proactive, that understand a lot about you. That can make suggestions. It's just a question of somebody sitting down and thinking of this as a problem valuable enough to solve in terms of using AI and bots and everything for marketing.

[00:35] We've already got most of the technology that we need. It's just a question of people actually using it.

[00:41] [background music]

Kevin: [00:43] Good morning, good evening. Hello wherever you are in the world. It is Saturday 15th of July, 2017 where I'm at in Sydney, Australia, and where my co-host, Kate Frappell's at, it is Friday, the 14th of July, 2017. You're listening to episode 99, lucky number 99, on It's a Monkey Podcast.

[01:11] We talk about everything relating to tech, startups, entrepreneurship. I am the CEO and co-founder of ManageFlitter. I'm also soon-to-be CEO and co-founder of ManageSocial which is looking beautiful. If you've signed up for that alpha, thank you for your patience.

[01:28] We're just wanting to get things really right, and there's a lot of work to do. As always, with me is my co-host, Kate Frappell, who's coming to me live from Whistler in Canada. Kate is the Design Lead at ManageFlitter and ManageSocial. Kate, thanks for joining us on the podcast.

Kate Frappell: [01:44] No worries. It's good to be back.

Kevin: [01:47] Coming up later on in the show, I have a fantastic interview with the Executive Strategist at HubSpot and author of "How to Sell Better than Amazon," Sam Mallikarjunan, who very interestingly lives in a van while he's travelling and does his executive strategist job at HubSpot.

[02:04] We'll chat a little bit about that coming up later on in the show. Really fantastic interview. I really enjoyed chatting with Sam. As always, we touch upon a couple of news items that's happening this week in our fantastic industry that moves at the speed of light.

[02:21] Few months ago, might have even been a year ago now, Adobe showcased what they called Photoshop for Audio where you could almost create audio based on 20 minutes of someone's audio.

[02:36] What I mean by that is if you play 20 minutes of someone talking into this Adobe program, then you could actually extrapolate that and make them say anything with their intonation and their voice.

[02:51] Really quirky. You can see how this could be problematic almost, where you could make someone say anything in their own voice.

[03:00] I've noted today that there are some researches that have taken this even a step further and have extended that both to audio and video. Kate, tell us about these researches and what they've managed to do.

Kate: [03:15] Yes. Essentially, this is some new AI technology the University of Washington has been playing around with. Basically, it takes an audio file, converts them into realistic mouth movements, and then graphs that over the top of another video.

[03:33] I guess then they're mapping your mouth movements. They can put that on another video of you so you essentially look like you're saying something you didn't.

Kevin: [03:43] Basically, they can ingest old videos of you and then they get a profile of the way you talk and the way your mouth shape size as well as your audio intonation is, and then essentially create a video of you saying anything and it actually looks like your mouthing those words correctly even though you haven't said any of this in reality, right?

Kate: [04:09] Yeah, correct, except they can't make a video of you. You can take two separate videos and the audio from the first one, they can overlap that on the second one so it looks like you're saying something you're not.

Kevin: [04:24] Right, that's it.

Kate: [04:25] Basically, yeah, you do have two separate pieces of footage, but they could actually remap the way your mouth moves in that second video.

Kevin: [04:35] They've given an example of Obama. They chose Obama, they said because there's a lot of different footage out there, so they can ingest all of this footage and overlap and overlay some different audio onto a footage and it looks like he's actually saying something he never said.

Kate: [04:53] Yeah, exactly. They picked Obama for their experiment because he had just a lot of high quality video footage that they could use but what's interesting is they had to have 17 hours.

[05:05] The tool or the app, I guess, had to learn how Obama speaks and his facial movements and some stuff with 17 hours' worth of footage before they could do this particular transition.

Kevin: [05:21] That's not bad though. I mean, 17 hours is doable. It's less than a day. You leave something running for a day and then you can map anything and have a little clip of Obama saying anything, and it looks exactly like him, almost exactly.

[05:35] They do note in the article that it' can see that it's a little bit awkward at points but as a first go, that's quite remarkable.

Kate: [05:46] Definitely. In the future, they want to bring it down to as much as one hour of footage. You could just get someone to read a book for an hour and record them, and then you could basically make that a video of them say anything you want them to say.

Kevin: [06:03] I can envisage a future where actors, almost, they can just be extrapolating actors in a movie where they only have to act one-third of the movie, and the rest of the two-thirds is just extrapolated based on how they've acted.

[06:18] Of course, in the world we live in of "fake news," this is going to be an absolute disaster down the track where you really can't believe anything you see or hear. It's going to be incredibly difficult, right?

Kate: [06:36] Definitely. That's, I guess, the biggest problem, and one of the things that the university researchers are avoiding because if this gets into the wrong hands, essentially, you won't be able to trust anything you watch or hear.

[06:51] There are some good uses as well. For example, they want to collect the footage of somebody speaking, and then you could use that in Skype calls. Let's say, for example, I dress up and I look presentable for a meeting. I record myself talking, and so there's a video footage of me looking presentable.

[07:12] A week later, I am in my pajamas but I also need to have an important meeting with someone over Skype. This technology would allow me to have that meeting with them.

[07:26] They would see me dressed up nicely from when I did it a week ago, but I can talk in the present moment, and the footage of me looking nice, will look like I'm presenting, so my mouth will move. Does that make sense?

Kevin: [07:42] Yeah, totally. Basically, in a sense, create a virtual reality for the party watching you of yourself based on what you do really look like, but in that moment, you might not need to look like that.

Kate: [07:57] Exactly. You can just use the audio side of it. Also that technology as well helps with shaky Internet connections and also saves on mobile data because you're not really using your camera.

Kevin: [08:09] Interesting. Maybe, that bandwidth is an interesting...if the program locally can fill in the gaps somehow, you can, I guess, have all new forms of compression, which essentially is JPEGs and GIFs and all of that are all types of compression that essentially you could have new types of compression technologies that would allow us to have the Internet effectively move a lot faster because you need to transmit a lot less data.

[08:41] That's an interesting side effect of it. All of this is really figuring into the world of the future of AR and VR, and where it's going to be really blurred between what's hard reality and what a virtual and augmented or mixed reality, I guess, is the term that's becoming more familiar. It's going to be pieces of both, right?

Kate: [09:06] Definitely. Definitely overlay between the audio and the visual, also just senses in general. We're going to be questioning absolutely everything.

Kevin: [09:19] Yeah. I was thinking on the way in this morning that in two generations time, if this podcast is still sitting on a server somewhere, and people listen to this, boy, is it going to sound so dated, Kate? [laughs] .

Kate: [09:31] Probably.

[09:32] [laughter]

Kevin: [09:32] All of it's going to be so stuck in standard and we're probably going to be teleporting around and the kids are going to be laughing and saying, "Wow, look they were fascinated by that technology, which is really quaint."

[09:53] The stuff gets dated very quickly. Anyway, let's see what...I don't think Adobe's Photoshop for Audio has hit commercial yet, has it?

Kate: [10:10] Not that I know of. I know when I went to the MAKE IT conference last year with Jo, who's sometimes on the podcast. We were both pretty fascinated they showcased it at that conference. That was a year ago and I haven't heard anything since. It could have got held up somewhere potentially.

Kevin: [10:30] Yeah, the last mile to make something commercial ready -- we even experience it with our products -- to get that 80 percent is one thing, to get that last mile which makes it consumer ready is really hard. A lot of edge cases. You want to make sure that it's still going to do what it needs to do. We'll watch that space with interest.

[10:54] Another interesting story coming out of the west cost of the US -- I've got really mixed feelings about this story -- Google's life sciences is trying to take on the Zika mosquito transmitted virus.

Kate: [11:14] When I originally read this, I was a bit the same. I was like, "Oh I don't know how I feel about it." The further you read, the more interesting it gets.

[11:26] Google has a life sciences unit called Verily and they have started releasing a portion of two million lab-made bacteria infected mosquitoes into an area in California called Fresno.

[11:41] The project is called De-bug and the idea is that these 20 million mosquitos have a bacteria called Wolbachia, I think that's right. Bacteria which is harmless to humans but it will prevent the Zika mosquitoes from breeding, I guess.

[12:01] These male mosquitoes will mate with female Zika mosquitoes and therefore make the offspring infertile, which essentially stops the Zika virus from spreading.

Kevin: [12:12] Fascinating. Growing up in Africa, one of the biggest problems is malaria, this tiny little mosquito that causes so much problems. All these mosquito transmitted diseases are really, really difficult. This is a really interesting approach to stop the replication so the issue goes away.

[12:41] The challenge is history has proven so many times that to introduce a type of biological solution to a biological problem creates another biological problem.

[12:53] In Australia, we've got the cane toads, which were introduced in the sugarcane fields to eat the cane beetles which were causing lots of problems.

[13:02] Of course now what do we have? We have a problem with cane toads taking over the country. [laughs] I'm certainly not an expert in mosquitoes or these issues. It sounds so elegant and neat. It almost sounds too good to be true.

Kate: [13:19] It could be. I know what you're saying. The whole playing God thing is quite controversial and could have its side effects.

[13:26] This particular article says that these Zika mosquitoes were only introduced in 2013 into California anyway, so it is unlikely they will have disastrous consequences. Also most of these mosquitoes will be male, I'm assuming, and the male mosquitoes don't bite.

Kevin: [13:49] They don't bite humans.

Kate: [13:50] They don't bite humans, no. The bacteria that they've been injected with doesn't hurt humans either, only hurts the reproductive system of the female Zika mosquitoes.

Kevin: [14:03] I'm still nervous, Kate. I'm still nervous that this bacteria, they've been infected with will mutate and suddenly make males start biting. We get their bacteria plus the Zika.

[14:17] I don't know. [laughs] Have we worked out every single edge case? Do we understand absolutely everything about this life cycle and what could potentially go wrong?

[14:31] These obviously aren't stupid scientists. Dare little old humble me question them?

Kate: [14:40] Yeah, playing God at the end of the day is not really going to end well. [laughs] You might find out soon because they're going to bring it to Australia next.

[14:53] [laughter]

Kevin: [14:56] There we go. Look there are cases, vaccines for instance, that have been incredibly successful, and have changed communities, mortality, and modern medicine. You could argue modern medicine in many ways is playing God -- pacemakers and bypass surgery and all these things.

[15:14] I guess that sometimes unintended flaw and effect with complex systems, you're trying to tweak complex systems that are plugged into other complex systems and that's unpredictable almost.

[15:28] Even take the finance system. We don't even understand economics yet. We still don't even understand how to keep economies stable.

[15:39] No one saw the 2008 crash. All these geniuses in the states, no one saw it coming because these systems are incredibly complex. We have to be humble about the complexity of them.

[15:53] Let's watch and see. The Zika virus seems pretty nasty, so I really do hope that it does work well. Good on Google for investing in these type of initiatives that don't have a direct commercial payoff to them.

[16:08] As a small Google shareholder, I do approve on them trying to invest in this type of initiatives.

Kate: [16:17] Definitely. I think the [laughs] scariest thing, well maybe not the scariest thing, but a strange thing for me would be actually seeing them release swarms of these animals into the wild.

[16:30] Even at the end of this article, they say people in a particular neighborhood may notice a Verily van releasing healthy swarms of little bugs throughout the streets. That would freak me out a little bit, to see that.

Kevin: [16:42] I tell you, as someone that has spent a lot of time deep in the Australian bush, I'm talking 10 hours west of Sydney, right into the Australian bush.

[16:52] I have been around swarms of mosquitoes before. Summer, when there's been a lot of rain, and literally swarms of mosquitoes. It is quite something. It's something that you can't picture. Yeah, interesting.

[17:09] Anyway, that's the tech news for this week. As always please email us,, tweet us, follow us on Facebook.

[17:18] Going to take a short break and after the break going to chat to Sam Mallikarjunan, who's the Executive Strategist at HubSpot, an author of How to Sell Better than Amazon. The most interesting part about his life, he lives and works from a van, digital nomad, how cool is that?

[17:35] I mean Kate is now a digital nomad. I'm still in Sydney but it's the dream these days. So much for us to discover, this world of ours that we all love traveling so much.

[17:46] Technology is enabling a lot of us to travel and work, so we're going to chat to Sam after this break.

Josephine Pinto: [17:54] Hi, my name is Jo Pinto. I'm the Business Operations Manager here at ManageFlitter. Did you know that Twitter can be a powerful social selling platform? The first step to effective social selling on Twitter is to grow your Twitter account with high quality niche followers.

[18:13] For example, let's say you're an online bicycle retailer. ManageFlitter could help you grow your Twitter account by helping you find and follow people who have the word cyclist in their bio. The more targeted your search is, the higher likelihood these Twitter accounts will follow you back.

[18:33] We have millions of users, literally, that have used ManageFlitter's search, sort and filtering tools to grow their account with the right followers.

[18:43] This has provided them with the solid base to kickstart their social selling. Feel free to drop by to trial our product or email us at to schedule an obligation-free walkthrough.

Kevin: [18:59] We are back with It's a Monkey podcast. My name is Kevin Garber. I am the CEO and co-founder of ManageFlitter and soon-to-be ManageSocial.

[19:08] If you haven't signed up for to be an alpha tester on ManageSocial, we are running a little bit behind with that because we want to get things just right even for an alpha test. It's looking beautiful, particularly if you're an Instagram user, you're going to love what we have for you.

[19:23] A lot to talk about in the marketing space, the rate of change in the marketing world. We do the Wednesday social ROI chat where we try to talk to thought leaders in the space. The marketing world is just so...the velocity is going absolutely insane.

[19:41] I try to stay on top of it and so often I feel like I'm actually behind it. I'm happy to say I've managed to find someone who is not only an expert in looking at the rate of change in the marketing world but is actually knee-deep in a product that helps with this, HubSpot, which so many people are familiar with.

[20:00] I managed to find someone at the opposite in my Skype line, who is a HubSpot marketing fellow and Harvard instructor and an expert on growth and marketing strategies for businesses and startups.

[20:12] Sam Mallikarjunan, thank you so much for joining us on the podcast today.

Sam: [20:16] Thanks for having me. Good job with the last name, by the way.

Kevin: [20:19] [laughs] Thanks, I've been practicing it a little while. I think it was one of the writers, I don't know it was Dale Carnegie who said, "The sweetest sound someone can hear is their own name," right?

Sam: [20:30] Yeah. [laughs] Said properly.

Kevin: [20:32] My name's spelling and the pronunciation is quite simple but you'd be amazed, I would say 50 percent of the time, people get it wrong and would say Grabber, Gerber, Gardner, you name it, which surprises me. Anyway, Sam, thanks so much for joining us for the podcast.

Sam: [20:53] Thanks for having me. I'm looking forward to it.

Kevin: [20:53] Sam, firstly, I was interested to see that you work remotely for HubSpot. You are based, I it in Florida at the moment?

Sam: [21:03] A little bit more extreme than that. I was in Florida for a year-and-a-half but now actually my wife and I are leaving in a van. We travel the continent full time.

Kevin: [21:11] You literally live in a van?

Sam: [21:13] We literally live in a van. It's a really nice van. It has been custom converted to be like a mobile office and mobile residence, RV is a more accurate comparison. It's a Mercedes Sprinter van that FedEx uses to deliver the packages, 19 feet long, 10 feet high, that's it.

Kevin: [21:31] I think I can hear every single listener now just going, "Ah, that sounds awesome! That's fantastic!" How do you organize bandwidth?

Sam: [21:41] Bandwidth, you mean literally for the Internet? We've got some antennas on the top that are pretty cool. We've got the directional Yagi antenna that does cell reception boosting, so I can be 30 miles from the nearest cell tower and still have full bars.

[21:56] We also have a WiFi rangers, so I can still WiFi realistically probably about quarter of a mile through the city.

[22:03] We are parked today in the Yukon, Canada, I can still WiFi from their City Hall, which is [laughs] nice.

Kevin: [22:12] Fantastic. It's one thing that we get a little bit frustrated about in Australia. We've actually got very good mobile Internet and people use a lot of mobile Internet dongles, we call them, but public WiFi is actually quite hard to come by in Australia, compared to North America for some other reason.

[22:32] It might be because bandwidth is generally more expensive in Australia.

Sam: [22:36] If you want to feel really bad about yourself, go to Romania. The free public WiFi they have in the mall is better than the premium WiFi that I get in my office or something like that.

Kevin: [22:46] It's a very sore points with the startup ecosystem in Australia, the whole WiFi thing that we have. I'm interested to know, there's two schools of thought when it comes to teams and remote teams, there's increasingly populous school of thought of being promoting or at least been comfortable with remote teams.

[23:12] There's the other school of thought which is more stricter on-site, face-to-face only. What's HubSpot's take on all of this?

Sam: [23:23] HubSpot's take on all of this is that we're going to hire the best people. Generally, I have found it easier to manage a team in person.

[23:32] I've managed teams in person. I've also managed a large remote team at HubSpot Labs. We had 17 people spread from Bali to Bucharest. You do lose a certain something I think when you're remote in terms of the collaboration and connectivity.

[23:47] You can sometimes get a boost in productivity because people aren't being interrupted constantly and, like I said, you get access to fantastic talent. One of the best SEO people in the world was in Bali, when I needed him, he wasn't in Boston. The awesome thing about the time that we're living is that I can still have access to him and still leverage him.

Kevin: [24:10] We have moved from almost on-site only to very similar to what you said. I'd rather have the right person somewhere in the world than have someone who's almost right or not quite right sitting in our office.

[24:23] I think at least my philosophy at the moment, I guess, is hoping that the right person sitting somewhere in the world will compensate for all the challenges of not being face-to-face and time zone issues, which does definitely exist.

[24:39] There is no doubt that first prize is being able to go for a walk in a park and sit and talk about an issue and have all the benefits of all the non-verbal communication as well as just the verbal communication.

[24:55] In our industry, teams are so difficult to come. Suddenly, the demand is so sky-high for technical staff, it's almost impossible to do it any other way.

Sam: [25:06] The thing is you have to commit. The worst thing that you can do is to have a hybrid team where you've got some people in a local office and some people who are remote because you end up developing insiders and outsiders.

[25:17] People who hang out, go get dinner and drinks after work versus people who don't. That can create some cultural issues.

[25:25] I'm a big fan of how companies like Buffer have done it where they intentionally balance around the world to make sure they have all the time zones covered so that you're never favoring one time zone or one office, or something like that, because it is hard.

[25:42] Even if you're going to have a hybrid team, you do have an inside office, one of the things we started doing at HubSpot is we'll get different conference rooms, or people will join the conference from their desk so that we all have equal face time, we're all staring at the computer screen and talking that way.

Kevin: [25:59] That makes sense.

Sam: [26:01] Totally, because otherwise you're going to leave some people out. There's nothing worse than being remote on one of these calls and then seeing somebody walk off screen to start drawing on a whiteboard.

[26:11] That literally happened to me two weeks ago. [laughs] You don't want to interrupt the meeting for just your one problem and it creates all these issues.

Kevin: [26:21] We do have that hybrid team. We do use a smart board. In the office you've got a smart board that people can follow directly online and that's fantastic. It's only a one way smart board though. I almost think that an interesting solution would be to get everyone a smart whiteboard into their home office or their co-working space so everyone have access to the same tools.

[26:46] I know Google's got a new smart board, but it's pretty expensive to get to everyone $5,000 smart board. There's something around that collaborating around a whiteboard but it's still very much work in progress.

[27:01] Is the bulk of the team still in Boston, I believe?

Sam: [27:05] We're pretty spread out now. The bulk of the team is in Boston but we now have offices in Dublin, Sydney, Tokyo. There's actually HubSpot office in Sydney. We just opened Berlin. We're 1,800 people now, something like that -- 1,700, 1,800 people.

Kevin: [27:24] Fantastic. Your job title at the moment is a little bit mysterious.

[27:29] [laughter]

Sam: [27:29] It is. I need to rethink that. We have two tracks at HubSpot. We have the management track, which you would understand -- team lead, director, VP, C-level, yadda, yadda. We've really tried to also make individual contributor a plausible career path here.

[27:52] You don't want to manage people because managing people is a discipline. It is not the only way to have a long-term career. If you want to just do work and crush work, we're trying to build these career paths.

[28:03] I moved over when I stopped managing HubSpot Labs a year-and-a-half ago, basically what I said, I wanted to live on the road. I didn't want to manage a team that was based in Boston while I'm not based in Boston, that didn't seem fair.

[28:15] I switched back over to the individual contributor track and it's weird because titles don't mean anything internally but they mean things externally. I took on the role of teaching at Harvard and University of South Florida.

[28:30] I'm also a designated speaker if we need to send somebody to speak at the event or conference or something like that, or do podcast interviews. That is also a part of my full time job now.

Kevin: [28:42] Fantastic. Sam, one of the latest buzz words is AI, everyone is talking about AI. People are saying, "AI is going to save the world," another people are saying, "AI is going to destroy the world." Bots are becoming a big thing. Twitter is pushing Twitter bots for customer service. Facebook is pushing their bot side of things.

[29:06] What's your view on bots, marketing, sales, the point of evolution? Maybe I'm a little bit behind the curve but I'm still yet to interact with the bots that provides genuine use and genuine value.

[29:23] One of our developers who's in Brazil, he's actually developed a few bots. I was chatting with him the other day about some of the most useful bots and he says there are successful movie theaters in Brazil, etc., where you can buy ticket through a bot. I can see these use cases emerging but it's still just not quite compelling enough for me.

Sam: [29:44] It's not quite there yet. I'm torn between thinking that most people in the world aren't worried nearly enough about bots and AI and the fact that there are some people who are hyperventilating for no reason. I'm not worried about a robot apocalypse Terminator style.

[29:59] I am however optimistic about the impact of machine learning and AI on the ability to make good decisions with data and do work faster.

[30:09] Once Watson really cracked that ability to understand unstructured data, not reading data from a table but reading a book and being able to answer questions on a book...

Kevin: [30:20] This is IBM's technology, right?

Sam: [30:22] Yeah, IBM Watson technology. That really opened up a lot of doors. Think about how many jobs are based on that, like tech support or a customer service to a great extent a lot of these things. Humans have had to answer the same stupid questions, day in and day out for the last 100 years.

[30:42] Now we're going to be able to take some of those folks and let them work on more interesting problems, while the bots answer the stupid questions that people like to ask.

[30:51] It's definitely going to have an impact. I can't imagine anybody who doesn't think that it's going to have an impact.

[30:57] The problem is right now that bots are dumb. Even the most sophisticated bots that we have can take very limited instruction. You can't just speak to it naturally like you can with Siri or Google Now. They're not particularly proactive. They can't learn a lot about you.

[31:13] All of that technology already exists to build bots that are proactive, that understand a lot about you. That can make suggestions. It's just a question of somebody sitting down and thinking of this as a problem valuable enough to solve in terms of using AI and bots and everything for marketing.

[31:30] We've already got most of the technology that we need. It's just a question of people actually using it.

Kevin: [31:34] I think on the bots side of things, when you go to a doctor or you go to a lawyer, a lot of what you have is an exploratory chat where they information gather and then provide a solution which is essentially what a bot does.

[31:49] I can certainly see a world in the not too distant future where we do have bots, or call them whatever you want, even on your phone where you have a conversation with, like Siri, and it provides a best cause of action.

[32:01] They've already done some research. I mentioned this previously on the podcast. Some oncology department did some research where they provided some diagnosis done by computers and a diagnosis done by a human.

[32:15] The rate of diagnosis was exactly the same but where the computer really won in the end was suggesting treatment that was more cutting edge because it had access to the whole database of latest cutting edge treatment where doctors are obviously limited in that sense.

[32:31] On the medical side of things and the legal side of things, but I think you touched on the main point there. It's got to be less dumb. It has to be genuinely smart.

Sam: [32:45] This is true of all technologies. You remember when smartphones first came out, I had the G1 by HTC when it first came out, and it was really just a novelty because the battery life was 90 minutes. The GPS accuracy was down to 50 meters or something like that. It couldn't really do that much.

[33:06] You've seen the bell curve of technology adoption. For the people in the far left, the innovators and early adopters of any given technology, it doesn't actually have to be that cool. It just has to be new and they're going to use it. They help you flash it out and figure out all the stuff that it needs to do.

[33:25] My guess is over the next five years, they're definitely going to use it a lot in medicine and the legal profession and things like that because it just makes sense there. In terms of making it the way, you may actually have interacted with some bots and not known it.

Kevin: [33:39] That's a good point. These have been around for a long time though, Sam. These chatbots have been around for almost as long as the Internet.

Sam: [33:51] Chatbots, yes. SmarterChild and stuff on AOL Instant Messenger, I don't [laughs] know if you remember some of those. I remember chatting with those but those were very limited. They were all if-then statements of if somebody says this and then say this, else do this.

[34:05] The interesting thing with the AI bots that they have right now is they're starting to work in this universe of unpredictability and probabilities where they were pretty sure that this is the right answer, and the bots of yesterday would have just spat out some generic platitude or said like, "I'm sorry, Dave. I can't help you."

[34:24] Whereas the bots of today work a lot more like humans, which is I don't 100 percent understand your question, and I don't 100 percent know that this is the answer, but yet I'm still able to say what I think the question was and give you some answer. That's a remarkably difficult technological achievement.

Kevin: [34:42] What are some use cases for bots at the moment that you feel are a good use cases and provide genuine value, and it's more than just early adopter, it's a fun thing to spin the wheels on?

Sam: [34:57] Again, in addition to the medicine stuff which is very valuable, business intelligence. I want to just be able to ask my computer or my BI tool, who is the customer most likely to respond favorably...or who in our database is most likely to respond favorably to this new product that we're launching?

[35:19] It should understand my question, understand the context of what's going on, and be able to spit me back out an answer or which of my sales reps are the best at closing deals from lead to opportunity?

[35:29] Some of it is just the basic natural language processing because there are people in the company who have interesting questions but who don't have the ability to write SQL queries. They're not going to run their own custom queries or custom analysis in whatever the database is.

[35:46] You really need to break that barrier and unlock all of the business intelligence for people who are non-technical. Again, the other one that just makes the most sense is going to be a customer service and technical support because I've done tech support and stuff in the past, and seven or eight times out of 10, the answer to the customer's question is in the documentation.

[36:11] They just prefer to ask me and call me instead of reading the documentation. That's cool. The top 20 percent of queries, let's continue to let humans handle that, but let's take the 80 percent of queries that are just them asking a questions that they could read and get the answer for, and defray that using technology.

Kevin: [36:28] HubSpot is known to be one of the successes of the marketing technology world, marketing automation whatever. How do you guys describe yourself?

Sam: [36:45] We describe ourselves as growth stack because we have both sales and marketing software -- sales CRM and sales enablement tools, and then also the marketing tools.

Kevin: [36:54] Sam, we have a lot of wannabe entrepreneurs who listen to this show and early stage entrepreneurs. They'd be interested to know what's been some of the secret source to HubSpot's success because the brand has just done so well, everyone knows about HubSpot, a lot of people using HubSpot.

[37:11] I believe you guys have also cracked a good price point on HubSpot in terms of the premium product type of price point which is not an easy thing to do.

Sam: [37:23] There's always temptation to move up into the enterprise space, and to focus on selling to the Fortune 500. There's only 500 of those folks and they're also a pain in the butt to work with.

Kevin: [37:34] The sale cycle is long and hard.

Sam: [37:38] Yeah. You got to fly 12 people out to take 14 different people to 26 different state dinners. It's a giant pain. We really like the small and mid-sized business space. There is a lot of them and the potential leverage is huge. We think of marketing in our space, we think of blogging for example, we might think that that's saturated.

[38:01] For somebody who's an entrepreneur who is in a small mid-sized business, yes, blogging about marketing is saturated, but there might only be three other blogs on the Internet about toenail fungus remover. That's a real story. We had somebody who launched a blog about toenail fungus remover. It did quite well.

Kevin: [38:20] Niches on the Internet work really well, right?

Sam: [38:23] Yeah, it works great from a social perspective, from a content perspective, and from an SEO perspective. That's been the really cool thing for us is. It's opened up this infinite long tail, helping small and medium-sized businesses as well as startups solve the easy low hanging fruit problems that they have so that they can grow.

[38:44] You're right, we've definitely tried to stay in that small and midsize business space at that free and then up to infinity price point.

Kevin: [38:53] Do you think it was advantageous that HubSpot was not founded in Silicon Valley in what sometimes people call the echo chamber of Silicon Valley? You're one of the few higher profile breakouts guys are East Coast/remote. Do you think it was to your advantage not being there?

Sam: [39:12] I do, and I have my own complaints with Silicon Valley and the people and attitudes over there but he we didn't...

Kevin: [39:21] Bring it on, share them with us.

[39:23] [laughter]

Sam: [39:23] It's a different mentality. Boston, MIT, [inaudible] , Harvard, that's mentality of very methodical going for the ground doubles over and over and over again. Whereas in Silicon Valley, I feel like everybody is so terrified of missing the next Twitter that they don't make methodical decisions.

[39:48] They get way more home runs because they have a lot of cash and they're just swinging at the bat. Have you ever seen the movie "Signs"?

Kevin: [39:55] I haven't, no.

Sam: [39:57] It's a good movie first of all. It's an old Mel Gibson movie. In it, there's this baseball player and he holds the largest number of home runs in his hometown, but he also holds the largest number of strikeouts.

[40:11] When I think about Silicon Valley, I think about that guy because they have the largest number of home runs, but they also have VCs who would literally be better off putting their money in an indexing fund and just pinning to the Fortune 500 rather than making all the volume of bats that they have.

[40:29] I liked the VC ecosystem in Boston. They're smart, they're sharp, they're extremely hard and intelligent, and they ask hard penetrating questions.

[40:41] Also the talents in Boston, it's crappy outside all the time, so [laughs] there is that mentality of sit down, crush your work, crunch through it, and it's just those ground doubles over and over and over again.

[40:54] HubSpot and Wafer may be some of the early breakouts from Boston, but I definitely don't think we're going to be the only ones. I think Boston and the East Coast is definitely going to have resurgence here.

Kevin: [41:05] Boston rode the first wave of biotech. A lot of it was based out of Boston. There's the Boston Dynamics, the famous robotics company is still I assume in Boston?

Sam: [41:17] Yeah. Biotech has always been where we pinned our hat. You're talking about Boston, it's where we invented radar and stuff like that. It's MIT and Harvard, two very, very famous schools. When people moved out to California, it was nicer weather, it's also just the ecosystem was there.

[41:34] The VCs were there in addition to the schools. Zuckerberg founded Facebook in Boston and then decided to move out to California instead. You've got to have all those pieces, you've got to have the school, you've got to have the money, you've got to have the talent, and you've got to have the startup ecosystem.

[41:52] You've got to have a couple of those big wins so that a bunch of people spin off and then go start their own. Think about PayPal, and Microsoft, and Amazon -- how much of the startup ecosystem of the West Coast comes from people who were successful at those companies then leaving to start their own.

[42:10] I hope that no one leaves HubSpot but if they do, I hope it's because they're going to launch an awesome Boston based startup.

Kevin: [42:18] I've spent a bit of time in the West Coast and the East Coast, mainly San Francisco, a little bit LA and mainly New York. I've been to Boston once.

[42:28] If you're out of the US or maybe even in the US not on the coast, it's definitely worth going to both San Francisco as well as New York and slash Boston ,because there is a different sensibility in those ecosystems.

[42:42] For example, one of the VCs in the states or the private equity people, she actually brought up a very good point.

[42:48] She said, "In New York, it's even just physically very tough and that filters that and attracts a certain type of person that can handle that robustness, that can even deal with the physical challenges of New York because New York is physically quite...I find it actually quite a physically difficult environment to be in."

"[43:10] It's noisy, it's dirty, it's either extremely hot or either extremely cold."

[43:15] The West Coast is pretty mild. All these things that don't seem like they're significant but on scale, they all contribute to the culture that's created there.

Sam: [43:27] Absolutely. I maintain that one of the reasons that northeast has such a great culture is because or such a great business culture now is because it's so miserable outside all the time. What else are you going to do but stay inside and work?

[43:40] When I lived in Florida, I'd go home, I'm like, "I don't want to sit inside and work. I want to go outside and go to the beach because it's perfect beautiful weather." Yeah, maybe that's part of it. It's just misery breeds focus.

Kevin: [43:54] Yeah. In Sydney, everyone is obsessed with the lifestyle here. If it's not perfect, if it's a little bit too wet, a little bit too windy, a little bit too hot, a little bit too cold, a little bit too cloudy, the winds factor just goes right off the purpose.

[44:09] [laughter]

Kevin: [44:09] We're so spoilt here but there is a big push here.

[44:13] We've got Atlassian. I'm looking out into their offices from my office where I'm doing this podcast. At the end of the day, there's human nature and when it's a bad weather outside, there's nothing better to sink your teeth into a nice chuncky project.

[44:34] Any other tips, Sam, that HubSpot has...the takeaways in terms have really helped you become this quality company and quality product that it is today?

Sam: [44:47] That's a pretty broad question. The culture code was very key and stuff like that. I will say what we did really, really well was focus. The hardest thing to do when you've got $2 billion opportunities is not do both of them. It's pick one of them and ignore the other one entirely.

[45:08] I was talking about this in Turkey. I was giving a talk at Turkey and there's a Hebrew proverb that, "He who chases two rabbits catches none." That really has been the secret to most of our success both on the growth side for the core company and then also in labs. It's how can we allow ourselves to be distracted in a very focused way.

[45:26] Do one thing at a time and do it very, very well. It was very core to us to define not the product we were selling but the problem we were solving. Everybody says that all the time but my favorite quote on this comes from Henry Ford when he said that, "If he'd asked his customers what they wanted, they would have said a faster horse."

[45:51] In 2006, if we had asked people what they wanted, they want something that can spam email faster, they want something that can send more Auto DMs on Twitter faster.

[46:05] Marketing was becoming how much of a pain in the butt can we be to consumers? That may be what marketers wanted because we knew it worked back then.

[46:15] What they actually needed was a better way to build a healthier inflow of customers and customer retention system. The better way to do that was inbound marketing. Instead of being incredibly irritating, offer value first.

[46:31] The weirdest thing in my life...When I say I started in sales, one of my first jobs was those really irritating people in the mall who were trying to sell you cell phones. I trained them. I was really good at irritating people, that was part of what we did.

[46:45] Then I come to HubSpot and I hop on sales calls, and people are excited to have HubSpot sales reps calling them, which is bizarre. It's because we're not going to try and sell you even if you try and get us to sell you. On the first call talking with somebody, they're not going to do it. It's not their process.

[47:01] They want to talk about you and offer help and give you advice because that's the sales process that we know that works. That was again really core to our success is, not building another email spam tool which we could have.

[47:17] Not building another social media spam tool or something like that, but really figuring out what was it our customers needed? They needed a healthy sustainable growth. What were the components of what made healthy sustainable growth?

[47:30] Inbound marketing is not good just because it makes us feel good about ourselves and makes us feel like less terrible people. Inbound marketing is more economically efficient.

[47:39] You will acquire customers at a cheaper cost, and you'll have better long-term monetization because you generally have better retention from those customers.

[47:47] Those are our secrets, the focus, and then being very, very clear about the job to be done, about the value that we wanted to create for our special type of customer.

Kevin: [47:58] Though you being in the mall trying to sell cell phones, I do think that probably gave you an understanding of the sales process and about fulfilling that need because when you're face-to-face with someone or you're on the phone with someone, you can certainly explore.

[48:15] It's much more stark the reality whether they need your product or they don't need your product and even dealing with objections, your work on your value proposition and you understand what's missing.

[48:24] It might have given you a good foundation to take the next stage to understand this whole inbound marketing value proposition.

Sam: [48:33] I think all marketers should call some leads.

Kevin: [48:35] I agree.

Sam: [48:35] One of the most transformative things somebody said to me was early in my career, we had a VP named Jeanne Hopkins who told me that her customer is the sales team. "My job is to queue up good conversations between the sales team and the prospect at least in the B2B model."

[48:55] My sales team works in the same building as me. Imagine if your customers actually lived in the same building as you and you could go grab drinks with them whatever you wanted. Yet most marketers have first of all definitely no background in sales but they don't even bother talking to sales.

[49:10] Sales is a pain in the butt to talk to because sales reps like to complain and yada, yada, yada. That for me is the number one thing missing for most growth companies, is that really, really tight alignment between sales and marketing.

[49:23] As we grew by the way, we didn't actually have marketing sit together, and sales sit together, and services sit together.

[49:28] We had teams together by persona. The marketing marry team, the mid-market team for the US, those marketers sat next to those salespeople, sat next to those customer success onboarding and support folks.

[49:42] It was much more important that the marketers hear the conversations that the sales team was having with that type of persona than it was that the marketing team be next to the other marketers. We have Trello. We can all figure out how to manage marketing campaigns.

[49:54] By far the hardest thing to do is understand these customers that we have living in our building, the sales team.

Kevin: [50:01] What's been one of the most successful for your own marketing and branding exercises and HubSpot? Has it been your blog? I know you guys were very early on the content marketing side of things. I know in Sydney recently, there was a mini conference that you guys did. Is it just a combination of everything?

Sam: [50:24] The blog and SEO have been by far the greatest drivers both from a return on investment perspective, from a growth perspective. We generate -- I don't know what the exact number is -- but it's something like 25,000 or 30,000 leads a month off of our blog alone.

[50:42] That's just net new first touch from that month. We stuck with it, man. It was hard. There was only one person running the blog back in the day because there were seven people on the entire marketing team.

[50:57] It's hard but we have written, I want to say, 5,000 or 6,000 blog articles. We've got hundreds of eBooks and webinars and kits and stuff like that. That commitment to sticking through it is what has taken us through to where we are right now to where we can grow cost effectively.

[51:16] If we were having to grow purely off of the sales team doing outbound prospecting and BDRs and...

Kevin: [51:23] Expensive, very expensive.

Sam: [51:24] Yeah, it's super, super expensive. Whereas right now we could take the entire HubSpot marketing team on a cruise for a month, and the sales team would probably still get as many leads as they got with us here. [laughs]

[51:36] That won't last forever. We need the marketing team there to innovate. Just the inertia that we've built up over all the content we've created and all the people that we've helped, that's been our real core differentiator.

Kevin: [51:48] Sam, what's your country revenue split? Is it predominantly US? Is it something like 80/20 or is it the opposite? I know Google I think is almost sitting at around 50/50 with their revenue split as in terms of US and non-US.

Sam: [52:01] Hold on a second. There is a difference between working at a publicly traded company and working on non-publicly traded company.

Kevin: [52:09] Sure. You guys are still private, right?

Sam: [52:12] No. We are public.

Kevin: [52:13] You are public. I didn't realize that.

Sam: [52:15] We IPO-ed maybe two years ago. I have this sheet that I keep on things that are material, non-public information that will get me sent to Martha Stewart's favorite retreat.

Kevin: [52:29] We wouldn't want you to do that. Anything even just indicative, if it's majority.

Sam: [52:35] 30 percent of our total revenue is international and that's up 64 percent year-over-year.

Kevin: [52:42] Interesting. It's probably a very antiquated market, Internationals. We're the opposite. ManageFlitter, we're predominantly US. We're only two percent Australian revenue, which I like to tell Australians, which surprises them.

[53:00] [laughter]

Kevin: [53:00] I think I should get in a van or a yacht, Sam, because our customers aren't really where we are at, which is not always a good thing to be away from them, right?

Sam: [53:13] Yeah. I mean Australia was a great market for us because it had a relatively similar cost of living. Everybody spoke English, we didn't even have to translate the product initially.

[53:22] That was one of our first international offices, was in Sydney. We've had good luck in Australia. Also, Latin America has been remarkable for us and then the European markets have been remarkable for us as well.

Kevin: [53:36] Latin America, is that being South America or further north including Mexico as well?

Sam: [53:43] It's South America, Central America, and the Caribbean. I actually ran our marketing expansion into Latin America initially, and while the cartographers may count some of these areas as North America, from a functional perspective, the marketing team marketing to people in Argentina have more in common with marketing team marketing to people in Mexico.

[54:08] I spit Latin America up into two markets, Brazil and then everyone else, because Brazil is big and weird, and it's interesting market. Everybody else though they don't really seem to care if it's their localized version of Spanish, they don't seem to care if it's their country code top level domain. They just want to be in Spanish and be about the problems that they face in the region.

[54:32] We build actually one of the most successful marketing blogs in Spanish as well,

Kevin: [54:37] They probably used to having to be a little bit flexible around that side of things than having to that is not perfect and the exact localized language, they're probably comfortable with that fact.

Sam: [54:51] Yeah. When you have such diversity, you have to be. It's embarrassing in the United State how few of us speak a second language, because I go to Europe or I go to Asia and almost everybody speaks the national language, the regional language, and English.

[55:08] I can do Spanish, but you're right, when you live in diverse region like Latin America or Asia, you have to expand your horizons.

Kevin: [55:19] Mexico and Brazil are interesting markets for us. Mexico, Brazil, Japan are three markets which I would love to push harder on, but our US market is just so big that again coming back to your focus side of things first to start, we are tiny team.

[55:35] We are bootstrap company for us to start try to localize and supporting other languages. It's just not worth at this stage.

Sam: [55:40] Oh my God, I can kill you. Going international and focusing on multiple national markets, I realize to you the US is international but that can kill you. It's way more complicated than people think, because localization is not just translation, rather you to have the cultural and all other aspects that go into localization.

[56:03] Now, you have people in these multiple offices, you got to deal with multiple currencies. We are still getting our feet underneath us, and we've had 1,000 people working on this for the last four years with our internationalization protocols.

[56:19] I definitely am not going to judge anybody who says that they want to focus on a single regional market for a period of time.

Kevin: [56:27] Even in the English speaking language, we've had a couple of quirks over the years with things like jokes that we've got on our platform. When it loads, there some silly jokes and some of those have really offended people in US.

[56:43] I'll give you an example. When we first launched ManageFlitter, our free plan, we called it the cheapskate plan because in Australia, it's a bit of a term of endearment. People will self-refer to themselves and say, "Ah, I'm but of a cheapskate. I'm going to buy the cheaper car," or whatever it is.

[57:02] Someone wrote through incredibly upset, and they said, "How dare you insult me? Just because I don't have money and I want to use you free product, you're calling me a cheapskate." It's hard to think of all these edge cases. With internationalization, you're doubling that challenge at least, if not tripling it.

Sam: [57:25] Yeah, I learned that the hard way as well. I had part of my user experience team when I was running It was based in Eastern Europe. They have no concept of a politically correct sense of humor.

[57:39] They wanted to make a comic strip as a piece of content because we'd done a lot of blogging and everything else but we'd never really experimented with comics. I was like, "Yeah, what harm could it do to let these guys and girls draw out some comics?"

[57:57] Then they started sending me drafts, and I'm like, "That is wildly offensive. No, you can't say that here." [laughs] There's cultural issues too. I still remember my guy from rural Idaho meeting up with my guy from London, and then getting into a ridiculous debate around gun control.

Kevin: [58:19] Yeah, you wouldn't want to go there.

Sam: [58:20] Yeah, it has atomic complexity and challenges from a team cultural perspective, and then also definitely from a messaging perspective. When you're a startup, you're trying to focus on a very clear message for a very specific persona, and you're trying to not let yourself get distracted.

[58:38] If you're going to toss on to that all these differences cultural nuances about having to localize and not offend people and have the jokes make sense, you're going to have a hard time. It's going to be a lot of work.

Kevin: [58:51] Now, Sam, you've also written a book, How to Sell Better than Amazon, which is available on Amazon, which is fun. That book's available on Amazon, and we've taken up a lot of your time. We're going to be linked to all your bits and pieces on the show notes.

[59:08] Really enjoyed talking with you, and maybe we can chat again in the future, have a catch up and see where all this marketing tech -- we've just touched the surface on a lot of this of this but, Sam Mallikarjunan, Marketing Fellow at HubSpot and former head of growth at HubSpot Labs.

[59:25] Thank you so much for joining us on the podcast today.

Sam: [59:28] Thanks for having me, Kevin.

[59:29] [dog barks]

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Kevin: [60:09] Kate, a definite theme that's emerging these days is the remote work, and it's interesting to see that a company even like HubSpot supports that in certain instances. I think there's definitely no one size fits all.

[60:25] Sometimes, you do need -- especially if an existing team is at a locale, that it's hard to have one person remotely, but it's exciting times we live in where an executive, someone with a key role at a big listed company can actually be on the road as a digital nomad.

Kate: [60:45] Definitely. As soon as you said that, I was surprised that he could do it from a van. There seems to be a lot of people doing the, I guess, digital nomad but they're travelling, and they stay in one space for six months at a time, and then they keep travelling.

[61:04] That's a little bit more plausible at the moment, but from a van, that's another level -- trying to find Internet and each country is going to have different providers. It would be a challenge.

Kevin: [61:16] Well, I think Sam is in the US-only, from what I understand, so that would make it a little bit easier but yes, definitely Internet connectivity would definitely be a pain.

[61:28] I believe in Bali, which is a very popular place for Australians to holiday at because it's only about five, six hours from Sydney flights, and it's quite cheap, there is a lot of developers from Eastern Europe, especially in winter, that go to Bali and just base themselves in Bali.

[61:45] It's cheap. They're all working remotely. Its coders, its developers, they are based in a nice part of the world.

[61:52] The revolution is here already, but we'll see how it will play out. If you're a small company and you're struggling to find good team members which we know all about as a small company, consider hiring remotely because it's worked well for us. A lot of big companies still couldn't be bothered.

[62:14] Do I want the hustle? You've got that little advantage to get a good candidate that perhaps can't live or doesn't want to live in a big city or an expensive city.

[62:22] What do you think about the topic of bots, Kate? I've noticed that Facebook, they're surfacing their bots in Messenger a lot more. Sam's point about the bot's still not quite being there.

Kate: [62:37] Yeah. He made an interesting point that they're very widely available. Nobody's spent enough time on them to make them as accurate as some of the services. Siri might address, for example. He made a good point that in the future we're going to see some very sophisticated bots. That's exciting.

[63:01] At the moment, I'm not a huge fan of using the bots only because if you have a generic type of question on a website or even through Facebook Messenger, they're OK, but if you have specific questions, they're not smart enough to answer them for you yet. They're a bit of a pain.

Kevin: [63:19] You know what I think is going to be one of the first industries to really provide significant value through bots, I just think of this every time when I am at the doctor's, is the medical industry doctors because...

Kate: [63:33] That's true.

Kevin: [63:35] the process with the doctor is just so conversational. There is no reason why...if we are in 17 hours, as we spoke about earlier in the podcast, you can teach a computer to understand the way you use your mouth to mouth words.

[63:54] How much can we teach a computer in a week, two weeks, three weeks, five weeks, a year, two years, three years, four years about diagnosing a patient, right or at least any percent of the diagnosis and then maybe escalating 20 percent of that to a human doctor? Australia's got big problems in rural areas where they can't find doctors at all.

[64:16] No one wants to work in these rural areas. They bribe immigrant doctors. Yeah, we'll give you a visa if you'll in a rural area for five years. They're really struggling. Imagine you've got a fantastic bot there that you're certain you have a conversation, and 80 percent of cases can be dealt effectively by this bot.

Kate: [64:35] Definitely. Even in Sydney, it's a big issue. Waiting rooms and waiting to expect to a doctor, you can be in there for hours sometimes.

Kevin: [64:44] You love that? [laughs]

Kate: [64:45] Can't stand them. Can't stand doctor's appointments. I avoid them. What I would like to say would be if you could have a bot, you could put in all that information -- your age, your weight, and your height, just all of the generic questions your doctor asks you about in the first instance, anyway.

[65:09] You could even have a machine that took your temperate and things like that before you even spoke to a doctor. The machine would recommend your illness to the doctor so that the time you spend talking to the doctor would be decreased. Everyone would move through faster. Does that make sense?

Kevin: [65:30] Absolutely. Look, there's aspects of medicine, particularly surgery, where technology has impacted significantly. It's so obvious how technology has really made such a huge difference.

[65:45] There's the front end of the medical industry interacting in that initial diagnosis and that whole process, I mean the fact that is no universal record for yourself. Every time I go to the doctor or dentist and fill out the same information.

[66:04] 2017 and we're still filling out our date of birth. When I had some blood taken a few months ago, I had chat to a very friendly nurse there. I said, "It's amazing that everything's still so paper based. It's paper, stickers, signing, and observing."

[66:25] She said, "The system's evolved over so long and it would be so trustworthy and all these checks and balances," that she doesn't think it's going to change much. The medical industry is still so paper based."

Kate: [66:38] Definitely. That's why I think people wouldn't particularly trust a bot to diagnose them, but a lot of people would trust it to take that generic information, answer some basic initial questions, and then you go and speak to a human.

[66:56] It's just a trust thing at the moment. People would rather get the final diagnosis from a professional.

Kevin: [67:02] Yeah. It could still compress their time and help them...

Kate: [67:06] Definitely.

Kevin: [67:06] a lot.

Kate: [67:08] I would love it if I could talk to a bot first and then get the final diagnosis and the important part from a human.

Kevin: [67:16] Already people self-diagnose on Google.

[67:18] [laughter]

Kate: [67:18] Yeah. Doctors hate that.

Kevin: [67:20] Let's just do a better job of that.

Kate: [67:21] Yeah. Even if you get your script from a bot that would be cool as well. If you knew what you had to go to the doctor for, if you're on regular medication but it's not the type you can buy over the counter at the chemist, you have to go to the doctor and get a script.

[67:40] You just go back, put your information in, say this is what I want, I just want another script, and it prints one out for you.

Kevin: [67:46] There's already precedence. I have mentioned a few times on this show that there was research done by a bot type of system diagnosing people with cancer and comparing it to oncologists.

[68:01] The rate of detection was exactly the same between the human and the computer system, but the computer system excelled at one area.

[68:08] That was recommending treatments because the computer obviously has access to all the information on the cutting-edge treatments whereas a doctor can't be across all of that.

[68:21] He's limited by the human retention and capacity. There are certain areas where this will be absolutely exceptional. For someone who is facing a tricky cancer diagnosis to be aware of some obscure experimental treatment or trial going on somewhere in the world could literally be life-saving.

Kate: [68:46] Definitely. I would very much trust a computer if it was going to give me a list of recommended treatments, and I was in a situation like that.

Kevin: [68:57] I am excited to say episode 100 is next week, and we've got a very, very special guest, Kevin Kelly, who I was lucky enough to talk with now. If you were around the Internet 1.0in the '90s, Kevin Kelly will be familiar to you.

[69:14] He is one of the founding editors of "Wired Magazine."

[69:19] He's written an incredible book that we speak about. One of his predictions about the future is that we're not going to have this generalist, Android AI humans walking amongst us. There are going to be incredibly specialist AI devices that we deal with these niche devices that we deal with.

[69:47] You're not going to be dealing with these generalists robot that's a doctor and a bus driver. You're going to have a medical bot or even dare call it a robotic type of human person.

[70:02] That's going to be their limitation and their only specialization. We're going to develop these really specialist niche areas for these AI devices, human like forms.

Kate: [70:13] That will be cool. That will be cool and it's a lot less threatening to the human race in general if they know that these things have a limitation. They're not just a super human.

Kevin: [70:26] Yes, and that's what he argues. We're going to be living tandem very much in long sight. It's not going to be comparative. It's going to be for our own benefits.

[70:35] He's got very positive view of the future. It's a fantastic book, I must pull up the name of the book that we'll be talking about with Kevin Kelly who's really..."The Inevitable, Understanding the 12 Technological Forces That Will Shape Our Future."

[70:52] It's a fascinating book because he breaks down a lot of where we're at and where we're going to but he's an incredible writer and he's an incredible futurist. I really recommend if you're interested in where the world's going and particularly if you're also an entrepreneur.

[71:06] You always want to be moving a little bit towards where the industry is moving towards. [inaudible] this medical side of things, boy. It's someone who nails all of this is they're going to be a big market for it and it's a lot harder than we're making it sound, no doubt.

[71:23] Otherwise, people like Google would have got there but...

Kate: [71:27] There's always that theory too. I've heard a few times that the technology that we're going to be using in a 10 years' time is already here but I guess humans just aren't ready for it.

Kevin: [71:39] We haven't stitched it together, as always. If you take the iPhone, it was the fact that a lot of the technologies got stitched together and became cheap enough. You always need a few factors aligning for it to come together.

Kate: [71:57] Sure, right. Even on a psychological level though. The idea of robots at the moment is so threatening to people but in 10 years, it will be nothing.

Kevin: [72:06] Look, I shared a video on my Twitter a couple of weeks ago of a team member, he was on the podcast about the blockchain, Jimmy, who unfortunately was in a bad car accident and I've been visiting him in the hospital.

[72:21] The hospital has a robot that moves the trolleys of linen from the laundry up to the different floors. I shared a video on my Twitter. I filmed this robot and it was quite incredible.

[72:37] It obviously talks to the lift through the IoT, Internet of things. It gets in the lift and it doesn't look like a human. It looks like a flat little trolley on wheels. It goes into the lift, the lift senses it's there, goes down to the basement.

[72:55] This little trolley slides under the big trolley, goes back into the lift, goes to the right floor and moves this trolley of linen into a holding area and goes back into the lift.

[73:05] It was really quite interesting because I literally saw in front of my eyes how they've removed a job or two. This device has removed [laughs] a job or two, not funny if you're the person losing your job.

[73:16] It almost was the technological evolution happening before my eyes, because I could picture previously, someone had to do that and go get the fresh linen and bring it up floor by floor by floor this different and move it into the holding area so the nurses can take these fresh linen.

[73:30] It was just moving amongst the people and the staff had obviously been conditioned already, weren't really noticing it and it [laughs] was quite interesting to watch.

Kate: [73:40] Definitely. I actually saw that video and I thought, "That's pretty cool." I was just more wondering as well because it was so small, people were going to trip over it, wouldn't know it was there. Sam also made a good comment in the interview, some notes to the ideas about people losing their jobs.

[73:56] He was talking more on a customer support side of things. The idea that these humans currently are answering the same stupid questions, he says, "Day in and day out." If you can replace that job with a bot, then those people can be put to a better use along more interesting projects.

Kevin: [74:15] I think that's always the promise of our industry. That's always the arguments, is that you want people to be doing jobs where they're stimulated and where they're fulfilled.

[74:27] The job of moving a trolley of linen from the basements up floor by floor, can someone find that fulfilling? It's also very elitist of us to say that it's not fulfilling to someone because I have got friends that do "menial jobs" and they're actually quite satisfied and are quite happy with it.

Kate: [74:48] I think plenty of people would enjoy. Also, this depends on your age and demographic and stuff but there are some jobs similar to that. Somebody might like to do a couple of days a week moving the sheets around as they get to talk to people, they get out and about.

[75:05] It's not necessarily a menial job. Potentially, as you said, the argument would be that there'd be another job similar or a little bit more productive that they could do.

Kevin: [75:16] Absolutely, and it's hard to quantify that and it's hard to really see that person. Where are they now and what they're doing?

[75:26] I also see it as very different among different countries, for instance, in America and South Africa where I'm originally from where there's a very, very large group of people that didn't have the luxury of education and sometimes, they're forced into default roles just by virtue of the circumstance.

[75:45] It's quite different I find it to Australia, which is a very privileged, very wealthy country where sometimes people in roles that are less professional or academic for whatever you would like to call them.

[76:01] They're coming from a position of empowerment still. Even though there is simple roles, they're coming at it more from a position of choice than from default. I find that quite a different outcome for everyone. Does that make sense?

Kate: [76:15] Yeah. It reminds me as well of another article I read. This guy built a bot for lawyers. This particular bot could figure out small problems that you have like a parking fine, for example, and would write you some strongly worded letters.

[76:32] It saved you time from going to a lawyer but the argument was that these bots would go in and start taking the jobs under the lawyer, for example, like the paralegal or the secretary, things like that which meant that people who weren't getting educated couldn't find an entry level job.

[76:51] You had to be a lawyer or nothing. For example, like a paralegal couldn't move over time by working, they couldn't move into being a lawyer. You had to be a lawyer or nothing because the bots did everything under that.

Kevin: [77:05] If you take the hospital example, maybe this job would have previously been done by a student on the weekends, that would have got exposed to the medical industry, would have learned a little bit, would have got inspired to become a nurse or a doctor and would have been a funnel into that...

[77:24] I'd ended up working at a radio station in South Africa many years ago and I started out there answering phone calls.

[77:31] If there was no job for someone to answer phone calls, how would I've just been helicoptered and parachuted into being on air? It would have been incredibly difficult.

[77:42] The dynamics certainly does change. It's a very good point. Marc Andreessen who's from Andreessen Hove, that's one of the most successful and well known Silicon Valley venture capital companies. He also founded Netscape which was one of the big defining moments of the Internet. He's very bullish, he's very positive.

[78:02] He says, "It's been a lot of times in history where we thought that it's going to cause a major problem when the steam engine has replaced the horse and carts, and the cart replace the horse."

[78:14] The industries are just going to be decimated and people lose their jobs. He says, "Societies adjusted."

[78:21] We don't have blacksmiths anymore. We don't have saddle makers anymore but we do have truck drivers and we do have mechanics, we do have people that make traffic lights.

[78:33] I think where I slightly disagree with him is that the scope and the scale of the potential shift that's about to happen and the speed is a little bit different to transitioning from horse to car.

Kate: [78:51] Definitely, but then at the same time, I also think, "Oh, there could be an argument to, for example, the blacksmiths and stuff that when you were born and you were growing up, you don't really miss what you never had."

[79:05] Over time, these jobs get phased out but no teenager today is going to be like, "Oh, I wish I could be a blacksmith," because they've never had to think about it and it was never an option to start with.

[79:19] I suppose the jobs today that get phased out will be replaced with different jobs and over time people won't miss them because it was never on the table to start with.

Kevin: [79:28] I think what Marc Andreessen's arguing is that humans are incredibly adaptable and our societies are incredibly adaptable. The dystopian view that the sky is going to fall is just not going to happen. There will be some people that will feel some pain and that's definitely not fun when you're that one that's a result of that.

[79:48] There will be other benefits that will flow on from that. The aim is that everyone has meaningful work, whatever that meaning means to them. Everyone should be able to...That's certainly an aim of the world, is everyone should have access to meaningful work should they want it.

Kate: [80:09] Definitely. Who's to say that there won't be another huge industry around the corner that nobody even tapped into yet?

Kevin: [80:16] There are going to be many, many, many, many industries around. Just look at social media. Look at how many people at social media, manages and marketers today.

[80:24] 10 years ago, that didn't even exist. There is going to be many, many exciting jobs around the corner, so the benefits are going to be many. Anyway, we probably should leave it there, Kate.

[80:39] [laughter]

Kate: [80:39] Totally. We digressed a little bit.

Kevin: [80:41] We digressed a little bit but that's the aim of the podcast, is we try to let people in on a conversation that hopefully is interesting to them.

[80:49] Let us know if you're listening podcast@it' Remember next week, episode 100, I'm going to be chatting to Kevin Kelly, the very well-known and incredibly intelligent Kevin Kelly whose latest book is The Inevitable, Understanding the 12 Technological Forces That Will Shape Your Future.

[81:08] I've been listening to the audio version of the book. I've been really getting into the audio versions of books. I love it because I can listen in the car, while I'm exercising, while I'm walking to work. I'm also listening, Kate, to Sheryl Sandberg's "Option B."

Kate: [81:21] That's her new book.

Kevin: [81:23] That's a new book she wrote with her psychologist friend and it's all about resilience, building resilience. She's used as a starting point, an unfortunate fact that she lost her husband a couple of years ago.

[81:34] He was still pretty young, still in his 40s and her journey walking through that and some of the research around resilience and getting through tough times.

[81:43] Really recommend Option B, I'm enjoying listening to that.

[81:46] Life is very much about loss for us all in some shape, manner or form. We, unfortunately, all have to deal with it and it's a really good book that breaks it down and how we can use the trauma and the loss to grow, as a growth experience.

[82:02] Which is easier said than done, but she gives some frameworks and approaches that are really interesting, so if you're looking for a nice book, Option B by Sheryl Sandberg is good as well.

[82:11] We're going to catch you next week. Thanks so much for listening. My name is Kevin Garber. I'm the CEO of ManageFlitter. I've been chatting with Kate Frappell, who is the Design Lead at ManageFlitter.

[82:23] Both of us are also going to be working on ManageSocial. You'll hear from us next week. Thanks for listening.

Kate: [82:28] See you later.

[82:29] [music]