EP 281 – Carl Heaton – True Digital Group – You Must Show the Road That Has Been Traveled

by | Jun 14, 2023

The Asia Tech Podcast had an awesome conversation with Carl Heaton, the Head of UX/UI at True Digital. Carl tells incredible stories, has had some amazing experiences and shares some great insights on entrepreneurship, Thailand and how to build and keep a high-performing team engaged.

Some of the topics that Carl covered:

  • Some of the mythology around entrepreneurship
  • The entrepreneurial spirit of the Thai people
  • Thailand’s watershed co-working moment
  • How Thailand’s tech scene has changed since his arrival more than 15 years ago
  • Some of the challenges and benefits of transitioning from entrepreneurship to corporate life

Some other titles we considered for this episode, but ultimately rejected:

 
  1. The Process Was Hilarious
  2. Covid Killed My School
  3. I Want to Teach Somebody I See Tomorrow
  4. I’ve Got Things to Fix
  5. It’s ‘Buy One Get One Kinda Free’
Read the best-effort transcript

Read the best-effort transcript below (This technology is still not as good as they say it is…):

Michael Waitze 0:06
Hi, this is Michael Waitze. And welcome back to the Asia Tech Podcast. We have Carl Heaton with us today. Very excited about this, the Head of UX and UI at True Digital. If you could see me, you could see it behind me, Carl, thank you so much for doing this today for coming on. My pleasure. How are you?

Carl Heaton 0:25
Oh, really well, I had a lovely long weekend. And I’m being forced to do yoga by my wife. So now I hurt in places I didn’t know that you can hurt.

Michael Waitze 0:37
I have to ask you this, besides the fact that that shirt is really snappy. I love that is beautiful. Oh my god, it’s so good. But for the people who can’t see this, like you have this unbelievable table there is that like, design? What is that?

Carl Heaton 0:52
Yes, made. custom design is really I knew I had two monitors. So I have two monitors. So I had two holes. Based it goes up and down, I press a button, which is quite nice. I can kind of sit down and suddenly appear quite slowly. This, which is quite funny. And then if I press number four, I go back up. But the problem is if you press it, and you don’t know, and you’re only wearing shorts, but a nice shirt, people know.

Michael Waitze 1:30
I have to talk like this, let’s not do that.

Carl Heaton 1:33
But I always like to do meetings coming up, I find it more effective.

Michael Waitze 1:36
I like it too. I just to the desk I have I bought like I don’t know, it’s almost 15 or 20 years ago now. It’s beautiful. So it’s this, it looks like the same type of wood that you have, but it doesn’t go up and down. So I’m forced to sit in a chair that I hate. I’m very jealous of your setup. You know, before we go any further, go ahead.

Carl Heaton 1:56
I was gonna say my I would just like to say a big shout out to my wife for allowing me to put our funds into this room first, and then the rest of the house. So she was kind enough to let me yet to let me spend some money on this.

Michael Waitze 2:10
Great partners matter.

Carl Heaton 2:12
They do. And I have a wonderful one. Yeah.

Michael Waitze 2:15
In all parts of your life great partners matter, particularly the ones that you live with. Why don’t you give us a little bit of your background for some context. I mean, I’ve seen you around, but I really don’t know that much about you. Tell me more.

Carl Heaton 2:28
So I’ve been an exotic dancer for no wrong, wrong meeting. So I came to Thailand, about 15 years ago, well, I was a web designer before that. And I came over here and I was came from over from, from Brighton, England, but I’m originally from Manchester got it. And I’ve been doing web design and stuff. Since I was 16. And came over here with lots of hopes and dreams. I met my beautiful wife over in London. And we came over to here when she finished her, her Master’s. And then I quickly realized there was no tech here for anyone, if unless you were Thai. So I taught it for many years and taught English. And then gradually I got the opportunity to be a project manager or a small, small agency. And back in those days, which is you know, 14 something years ago, it’s very difficult to get hired in tech as a foreigner unless you are super experienced. Yeah. And then what happened was, as I was asked to interview for, I was asked to interview you for a web design position. So I interviewed 24 people. And as a result of that I didn’t want to hire any of them. They didn’t have that passion that we have back in the UK, for they were kind of I think he wasn’t this wasn’t a lack of passion, maybe but a lack of experience and a lack of real pride in their work. He was still very new. And so I thought I wonder if I can change that. I’ve been a teacher. I love teaching. I know what I’m doing. I love explaining stuff. How about I opened a school. And then I bought a little leather book. And it’s really funny. I’ve heard so many people say this. And it’s always a time in people’s lives when you just get obsessed about an idea. And I’ll never forget a really good friend of mine is called Shawn. He he became one of my best friends here. And he met me at a networking event. And everybody was on a rooftop. It was beautiful. Not too hot. A couple of drinks in my hands. I was very, very happy. But I didn’t talk to anybody. I was in the corner with that level book, just writing ideas. And he came over because he saw this is that kind of person is a man I do and I’m like Yeah, I’m good to go to you. Okay, I’m just writing writing ideas and I do To move flow down me. And as a result, I started a company called web courses Bangkok. We went on to become one of the best tech schools in Asia, I think. But definitely here in Thailand, we became fully accredited, which has never been done before. That was a funny story. I remember did to my two years, man, it took two years. And my friend kept saying,

Michael Waitze 5:27
what does that mean? They’re fully accredited. I mean, did you know that was a thing? And did it change the way the business ran? Like, if you could say we’re fully accredit, like, who accredits you the Ministry of Education or something?

Carl Heaton 5:36
Yes, it is. Yes. They will say it was the Minister of Education. It was a Ministry of Education of Thailand. And they, they, they accredited us. And we had to go through like a two year probe process. Because, right, this is a true story. And especially for all your listeners, if anybody’s in tech, they’ll probably laugh, as well. So my wife’s tie, she was the co founder, she went to the Ministry of Education dressed up very nicely. And she said, Okay, although the book says, Okay, so we went to the Ministry of Education today, and we came back, and if we want to be accredited, they didn’t understand what we do. Okay. They think we only accredit English schools. And like maths, so when we said, computers, they got confused, but they did say that we have to, we have to teach this. If we want to be accredited, and we’re like, okay, yeah, sure. I mean, we can, you know, we can adapt their content, it’ll be okay. So it’s okay, so we have to teach em s do s. And a whole room and quiet. Ms. DOS, we have to teach Ms. Dos? Yes. They said if you unless we don’t do it, yet, we’re making our own content. And so that’s, so we had to do that. Oh, micromate telling you that the process was alone. My friends kept saying, my friends kept saying, dude, why don’t you just bribe someone? Like, bribe? Who do you? You know, you walk into an office, and then you like, Excuse me? Does anybody wants some money to let us be accredited, please? Yes, some lady just puts her hand up, you give her money? And then you say, Okay, are we accredited now? Like, no, you just be cleaner. That’s not

Michael Waitze 7:27
the way this works. Anyway. But yeah. You know, the funny part is, yes. I mean, the whole thing is hilarious to begin with. But what makes it even funnier is I bet if you spotted people, the D, the D and the s, they wouldn’t know what the l was. And I I’m pretty sure that they wouldn’t know what the MS was for as well. Most of the listeners, I mean, some of them obviously, would know their tech people. So they would get it they would laugh, but I mean, their kids would have no idea, right? Two years old. Is it? Is it just just you know, when I joined Morgan Stanley in 1987, we had a computer room, you’ll love this, you had to boot it off a five and a quarter inch floppy disk, you can tell I’m not making this up off the top my head and and if you didn’t have the floppy, you couldn’t turn on that IBM it was an 80 or an x t. I talked about this sometimes. And I remember going to my boss and I was just like, because I just graduated from college. And my whole thing in college was this epiphany of I think I saw a Mac to se like, I can’t remember which one it was, I was like, right? That’s gonna change the entire universe. And when I got to work, I literally had 10 key. You I don’t even know if you know the 10 key is, I don’t, I don’t. So Tenki is a thing that like your accountant uncle would use it had paper on it. So you do like six plus five. And you could do it if you were really good at it. You didn’t even have to look in the paper would kind of print stuff out and then you take it to someone say it’s 72 kind of thing. But I was the first guy at Morgan Stanley, I have a computer on my desk and I had to do a lot like the same type of thing. You had to do it the Ministry of Education. I had to do it the ministry of Morgan Stanley.

Carl Heaton 9:05
Kind of like that. Like it was some sort of weird animal.

Michael Waitze 9:09
Yeah, but it was it was definitely definitely worth it. But just you open that school, and that is that school still going.

Carl Heaton 9:15
It’s kind of a sun is on. Thank you for asking it due to COVID. Actually, I’d like to, this is one of the points I kinda like to talk about, if I may, please. So I was 100% 155% into being entrepreneur, right? I set up my own company, it was successful. It had good cash flow, not much profit, but you know, I was able to with the cash flow, I was able to sort of get a house and there was a lot of stuff like that. So it was a lot of benefits. But the main benefit that I had was I was being able to sort of train people like National Bank of Canada, Thomson Reuters. And then they would see He me and then go, Oh, would you like to do some consulting? Right? And so I, yeah, one thing I learned was being an entrepreneur, I’d say after 10 years, you get really burnt out. If not more, you know, students you have to be you have to have a plan B, which is to, to hand over stuff, or to change or to adapt. But you need to use the fertile ground that you’ve created. As far as you say, entrepreneurship is hoeing. It’s just hauling your yourself as well as the ground, you know, constantly. And so, yeah, so I was able to take a hit with COVID, killing my score. COVID killed it. All of the foreigners left all of the foreign customers and we teach in English. All of that stopped this, this this, the teachers were like, hey, look, we haven’t got any hours, I have to go, I’ve got to go freelance. So the whole thing stopped. But the problem was, is the founder me, I totally burned out. I was so burnt out for teaching, and and I realized becoming a father, the value of teaching people you see tomorrow. What does that mean? If you know what I mean? I don’t go ahead. So what I mean by that is when you’re a teacher, when you’re a lecturer you teach and then they go, oh, yeah, when you’re a leader, you know, I mean, you tend to you build teams, right? So teaching the people you’re going to see tomorrow is so different, like, like being a father, right? Yeah, got it. Got it. And so that reason was was the reason I wanted to start going into design leadership. So I moved from I moved from being you know, in the in the game and stuff like that in the entrepreneurship game. And I started consulting with a very, very good friend of mine, Mateus Hogan, and we created a consultancy together. And through my connections, I was able to bring us a lot of customers is like, hey, we, you know, we got the National Bank of Canada. And it was quite funny with that project, because we started and they wanted me because they knew me. And I was like, Oh, by the way, it’s buy one get one kind of free. And Matthews joined. And without him he would have never been a success. It is today. But But yeah. And then when that I started working too much again, I wasn’t seeing my kids, I was doing like three or four projects. And then I was like, right, I need to get a nine to five. And if I have other time after the day, I’ll do that. So now I’m working at Truman, very happy.

Michael Waitze 12:27
There’s there’s a lot of interesting stuff here to unpack. Do you remember that book, that leather book you’re talking about when you’re at the party standing in the corner? Just writing down all those ideas? I do. So I think there’s mythology in so many different places, right? entrepreneurialism, obviously, is the mythology of the day, because we just talked about it so much. And you know, frankly, I’m involved in it. We talk about this a lot, right? Yeah. And there’s so many angles to this, right? It’s like if you have a corporate job, it’s almost seen to be sexy, even risky, to go out and start your own company. Yes. Like, wow, that dude did it because everybody else is like sitting in their cubicle just going, Oh, I wish I could. But I guess I got this thing and that thing. And then like, plus I just got promoted. And then you go and you become an entrepreneur, and you have that book. And I think all of us have the proverbial book where we have all these ideas, then you get out there and you’re like, huh, and I’m not saying this happen to you. But I know what happens to me. And you’re like, Okay, none of these ideas are working. But I’m still holding the soil. Yeah, I’m still grinding it. I’m not giving up because I told everybody I was going to do this thing. This is not completely applicable to you, but maybe, and you grind for 10 years. And like you said, you’re successful, like that room you’re in is beautiful. Thank you. It’s really beautiful. And I’m not just saying that I’m envious, because it’s just gorgeous. And then when you go, like you said, like this idea of I want to teach somebody I see tomorrow. I think I’m gonna start using this because it’s so important. It’s so important, right? Because it’s like, I want to see them do the math later in a place where it’s applicable. Because just teaching them it is fulfilling, but it’s less fulfilling than just go and see, I told not that I told you, but like, I’m so proud of you for being able to do that. And then advance on that and create this thing that I didn’t anticipate. I mean, that’s the beauty of teaching, right?

Carl Heaton 14:13
Just, I mean, there’s a thing called a Cubs cubs learning cycle, which essentially is like, you look at someone walking and you go, Hmm, okay, so you try and copy and you fumble, then you kind of do on your own and you fumble and you still learn, then you’re able to do it on your own, but you’re self correcting. And then you learn something new running or, and you fumble again and you watch someone and this is the Kolb’s Learning Cycle. And this there’s so many this. There’s so many times where if you can link a to t, or B to Zed, and you can take one thing from like for me teaching and I learned something called something got for us by Dr. Bernice McCarthy. And four S’s talking about this four different types of people who want to learn sorry, this one are different ways of teaching is the white people, the white people, the how people, and the what if people, and that’s helped me with my team building. So I know that one person is just the why, like one girl I work with she’s like, you know, okay, that’s fine. Okay, thank you. But if I don’t see why she won’t do it. And there’s all of these little things that I think you can bring, and going from entrepreneur life to I think going from entrepreneur life to corporate life is akin to going from sort of like, you know, standard life to being in the Army. And you know, you realize you’ve got to change a few things, how you do and stuff.

Michael Waitze 15:38
So this is the thing I wanted to ask you. Right? And this is why I love getting the background. First, we talked about this before we started recording. You’re a kid in England, right? This amazing woman who’s getting her PhD from a country you’ve never heard of. I’m exaggerating to make a point. Yeah. Obviously, you’ve heard of Thailand.

Carl Heaton 15:57
Actually, I hadn’t really

Michael Waitze 15:59
Yeah, but okay. But yeah, I don’t want to be presumptuous. Right. But I’m just saying like, Thailand is far away, particularly 15 years ago, right? And you’re thinking, I’m in love, I’m going. And you know, this your support system, your family, your friends, you’re just like, Dude, you’re insane. You don’t have a good job. You have no idea what you’re gonna do when you get there. And at some point, passion goes away. And then real life starts, like I’m going anyway. You arrive, the IT situation is not as you expected. There’s nothing here. And I want to talk about that too, right? Because it’s changed a lot since you’ve arrived. Yes. But you’ve also been, but you’ve also been part of it. Yes. You have that little book, you write down all your ideas, you start your company, you succeed. Right? You do succeed. And then you have to change because COVID comes impacts everybody. And now you’ve got to make this really hard decision. Of now do I go back and do what everybody else was doing? And you’ve got to sit down now with your lovely wife and just say, what do we do now? Because I haven’t had a corporate job in 15 years. I’ve been interacting with corporates forever, but it’s different. Yes. Having to go there every day. How hard was that? And what was that? Like? She was very happy is a great session. Because for heard security. I’m talking about you though.

Carl Heaton 17:10
Me, I was happy as well, because I was totally burnt out. And like, I mean, dude, I was at five kilograms and a six pack when I first arrived. I’ve got bigger boobs and my wife now. And I have to wear a sports bra if I go running. So I’ve got I’ve got things to fix. And that was just sitting on my ass just working 16 hours a day. And it got to the point where I’ll never hate saying this because it’s so cliche. There was a time when I said to my son, I’ve got to go work and he went okay, by now before, it was like, oh, no, no, Daddy, Daddy, that just one story. And then eventually he just went okay, bye. Yeah. And that was like, right, I need to change this. And please, I epiphany is a very, very rare and they’re only they only come if you are ready. So for example, I’ve had loads of situations where I could have had an epiphany Yeah, to change the way I am and stuff and I wasn’t ready to listen. I’m just saying that that time that happened and that but moving into corporate life, the one thing I’d say the one thing that isn’t massive change. People in corporate life stay in their lane. Right. Interesting. Yeah. From what I found. A lot of the a lot of us like I am this, I am this, I am this because because of they have to sort of take care of their lane. Me I’m cross Lane all the time, trying to start a lab, an exploratory laboratory. I’m trying to start a kind of like, meetups, so we can, you know, help the other designers creating processes. I’m trying to get the branding that there’s so many things I’m doing. But I have to one thing I must say, is here in Thailand, as a foreigner, I have to know my place. Yeah, there is and no matter what you say, you have a place as a foreigner in Tallinn and you must respect that. You can you can do what you need to do but you can just do it in a way that doesn’t ruffle

Michael Waitze 19:10
feathers. So can we have this conversation because this is really nice. As a guy that’s lived out of his home country for more than half of his life. 30 something years? Yeah. And has heard every BS comment about why don’t they do it the way we do it wherever we come from. Yeah, but then the flip side of the completely religious of you have to do it the way they do it here otherwise, they’ll never accept you. I think the one thing you learned in the same way that you talked about an epiphany where you just have to like you could have the epiphany moment but not be ready for it. So just ignore it. Yeah, I think one of the things you learn over time is that everything is kind of closer to the middle than to one side. So you’re right and I completely agree with you on this. You’ll you’ll run into foreigners that Every day that say things like, the X people, whoever they are, can’t do this. They don’t understand that and whatever. And you’re thinking, okay, when was the last time you spoke to them in their language and understood the nuances of their ideas in their language? They’re, they’re talking to you in your language. So maybe you’re missing some of the nuance about this. And that’s the key to me is like, I lived in Japan for 22 years, and so many people are I don’t understand chopsticks. Why don’t you just use a fork and a knife? And I’m like, you realize I’ve been using chopsticks for 3000 years? Yeah. Why are they changing for you? Yeah. And I always used to say, and I say it in Thailand, too. Like people complain, like, ah, rainy season. It’s so hard. I’m like, Dude, you can always leave. Yeah, yeah, no one’s making you say, I don’t see the handcuffs on you that accompanied your chair. If you don’t like it, you can leave. But if you do like it, like assimilate, figure it out. Be a better local citizen, get it? Kind of thing? No,

Carl Heaton 20:53
I don’t local citizen. I like that. I like that. I like that with the being in Thailand. Like, for example, there was, there was, when I first started, there was, you know, some other foreigners in the company. But unfortunately, they they left because it didn’t really gel with the way it’s done. You just have to be in Thailand. Number one patience, you have to be patient. Number two, is you have to truly understand that the Thai language in English language is not very similar. It’s not like French, if at all, no. And for example, we have a we have a lead developer in in our company at the moment. And His English is okay, but it’s not brilliant. So when he says no, that’s not right. He’s not saying no, that is not right. He said it. You know, it’s not it’s not that. And so, God knew he spoke French. And

Michael Waitze 21:49
here’s it lets us super simplify this, right? You can just say this, like, can you do that? And in English, you’d say, Look, I don’t really think that’s gonna be possible. I think it’s gonna be really difficult. And in Thai, you just might say, mid thigh. Giant, mid, I just can’t can’t do but the meaning if you understand the context of the conversation is not I can’t do that. It’s, I’m just not sure if I’m capable of doing that. Is there some way you can help me possibly? Is there another solution we can talk about? But that’s not the way the language works? Figure it out?

Carl Heaton 22:20
The thing is this, I think one of the most nuanced things that you have to be aware of here in Thailand is losing face now. Oh, hold on, hold on. This this, this The hard fact of You have put me into a place where I’ve lost face. But there’s this very, very, that sort of losing face is so engrained into into Thai culture, that you just have to be what, for example, if you’ve ever gone to a place and asked, Oh, where is the cheese? They’ll go that way, even if it’s not that way. And it’s the same in meetings, they’ll say yes or no. And you have to learn to to do a three prong attack. How can you do this? Great. How would you do it? When would you be able to do it? And what support do you need to be able to do it? If they can’t answer those questions? They didn’t understand. Yeah. And they’ll just say, Yeah, okay. So what I absolutely my personality works very well with Thai people. Because I’m bubbly and stupid.

Michael Waitze 23:29
I just have the stupid thing going on the bubbly part. I’m not sure I qualify. But the stupid phrase, I’m with you. It’s just Yeah.

Carl Heaton 23:33
You know, I mean, even my boss said, you know, one of the reasons we hired you is because you know, you’re friendly. And I’m like, You mean, probably in stupid, right? He’s like, Medaka. But yeah, I’ve learned to I’ve learned to I’ve learned to, to work with type people. And if you give them the right, if you give them the right. Environment, shall we say? Absolutely amazing. And I have never met a more entrepreneurial people than the Thai people. They’re so good.

Michael Waitze 24:05
Yes. My perfect example of this is that and there’s so many of them. It’s like when a building starts being constructed, like the first thing that happens is outside the building. 1000 people set up some other business. Yeah. Whether it’s food or transportation, or cleaning or whatever it is just 1000 people set up another business outside of building it’s not even finished yet.

Carl Heaton 24:33
You mentioned that I noticed that Yeah.

Michael Waitze 24:35
That’s just pure entrepreneurialism. I want to ask you this, though, about tech too. So what year did you arrive? Was it 2007 2008? Six 2006 17 years ago now?

Carl Heaton 24:46
Oh, no way. Is it? Yeah, dude. Oh my god. Yeah, that’s about right. Yeah.

Michael Waitze 24:51
Well, because you have to subtract the COVID years like it feels like those two years didn’t happen.

Carl Heaton 24:57
They were weird.

Michael Waitze 24:59
When 2011 and 2012 happened right when Sogo got sold to LivingSocial, which to me was like a watershed. And I was there because I was, I was a limited partner in capital. So I was there right after that I had no idea what’s going on here. I just arrived. I didn’t know anything. But I’m curious from your perspective, when you saw, like, funds happening and start up starting to start and stuff like that this was before TDP k, right. But you could see at the CP group, this idea of like, wait a second, we’re not going to see the digital hub idea to some other country. But when you saw all this stuff happening, where you’re like, Yeah, this is what I came here kind of thing. Do you know what I mean? Or did you? Or is it just so organic, that it wasn’t so obvious to you, because you’ve been here for so long?

Carl Heaton 25:47
But me? There’s a lot to unpack on that. Yeah. Because I know the watershed for me, I know what the watershed for me was. So I’m a I’m not a startup on startup entrepreneur. I never really, I never really did that. But I was always the person that startups came to. Yeah, for sure. You don’t I mean, so for training and stuff and consulting the watershed for me. So first of all, you had like meetups is a really really great guy Jeremy to sue if you ever get

Michael Waitze 26:16
Jeremy’s awesome. to Jeremy’s he’s,

Carl Heaton 26:18
he’s right. And he set up BKK web meetup. And he did it at my school, the first time. Funny story, there was a lovely little guy who he came, it was like, I think it was around six o’clock, and he was praying to Mecca. So you know, everyone was really respectful of him. But then I was like, should I tell him he’s doing it in the wrong direction? Is that rude? It’s like, leave him alone on my side, but, but okay, so that happened. And that was fine. You know, everybody was coming together. And it was a lot of, you know, I do this, and I do that and just these weird conversations. But there was one thing that happened, which is a precursor to all this stuff. So, and that was it was down in ekkamai. I think it was, but it was a first co working space.

Michael Waitze 27:07
Hubba Oh, no, what are you talking about up on the second floor?

Carl Heaton 27:12
No, no, no, no, no, no, this was a house. It was a house down the depths of ekkamai. Got one of the first some of these probably people screaming at the radio, the radio. There’s people screaming about this. But when that that when that happened, it brought this idea of of tech being free tech being organic tech being on the move. And it didn’t have to be tech within a company. You know what I mean? And for me, that was the watershed, then the whole startup things. And one thing I felt was there was a lot of people who didn’t really understand what startup was, and how much work it is. So I remember, I’ll never forget being a networking event. And this guy was like, I said, I hate hate. Really, really nice to meet you. And he’s my air. Cool. Cool. What do you do? Because I’m a startup, I would do that. I’m a baker. So what you bake things? Yeah, bake things. And what’s your product of croissants? Bread, like, Okay, I’ve either drank too much, or you don’t know what a start up is? Well, I was just like, excuse me what’s in this wine? Anyway, but then, but then then it was like, there was a lot of this fluff and the lots of energy. But unfortunately, I can get burned out really quickly. But then it was like a phoenix rising so that the ground had been burnt out. Loads of people, unfortunately failed. But then there was a couple who rose up and said, Hey, look, if you do it, how the rest of the world is doing it, right? You don’t just throw money at things, and you take your time and you really think about the strategy. And you think about your users. You can be a success.

Michael Waitze 29:00
Yeah. Do you remember when Rocket Internet came in when Lazada started as a last resort and all that stuff? Oh, yeah.

Carl Heaton 29:07
Yeah, I remember that. And rabbits as well. Rabbit was a big company that was making a lot of changes.

Michael Waitze 29:13
Yeah, I mean, Roberts, interesting, right. Because what is it Johan Johansson, his team those guys are old rocky guys anyway right so they came up with a rocket in Rocket Internet infrastructure and then started rabbit rabbit obviously it’s a very influential company today associated with what the BTS company and also VGA. But as you saw the tech stuff change, which is besides the your, your not epiphany moment, but the watershed moment of that co working space was a big deal because it’s a place where people can get together and actually kind of exchange ideas. So you say for free and not in a corporate environment where this idea of staying in your lane I hadn’t thought about it so much, but you’re really right, right. In other words, the guy I’m just gonna use my own experience. The guy from the fixed income department, rarely came over to the equity trading desk was like your trading strategy is all wrong. Here’s the way it should work. And here’s why you should employ technology. Like this never happened. Yeah. But in the startup world, like or even at a co working space, you can walk around and it doesn’t happen like that. But it’s more just like, what are you working on? Hey, you know what? I solved that problem yesterday here. Maybe you should try this thing or that. Yeah,

Carl Heaton 30:15
exactly. Exactly. That’s cool. That’s so cool. That’s super cool, right? Yeah. Like I said, one of the things I wanted to say was going from entrepreneur into the corporate world, you can bring a lot, but you have to just be careful of how you bring it. Because yeah, for example, literally last week, I was given a huge extra product or like, right, you’re now the product owner of this. And I’m like, why says well, you know, web design? Yeah. But why? You know, web design? Well go web design. All right. And that’s literally what happened last week. So if you are an entrepreneur’s is to be careful that you might, you know, get extra work.

Michael Waitze 30:59
Do you think that that Yeah, exactly. Do you think that the teaching stuff transfers from what you’re doing before at your own sort of school into what you’re doing now? Like, do you have an outlet for that as well?

Carl Heaton 31:08
I wonder percent? And I’ll tell you, why. Tell me because the the most from my experience, and any recruitment person may be aware of this, I don’t know. But there is one factor. There’s one factor that keeps people at your company is one thing, just one thing, you want to

Michael Waitze 31:28
join a guess on the front, you can see me turning my head to the side and trying to figure out what it is. What could it be? I’m not good at these one things, because I’m not a big believer in one thing, but I’m sure this is impactful. Let me think about it. One thing that keeps people going. So one of the reasons why I always say like, I’m a bad guesser. So I’m a bad guest. I have no idea. The answer is development. Yeah, learning. Fair enough if

Carl Heaton 31:55
you’re being developed, right, and like your money is, unless the money issue becomes a problem in your life, the salary things not as important as developers, my team. All the teams I’ve worked with, the one thing I focus on is making sure they feel they’re learning and developing. And so 100% of what makes me a design leader that I am today is based on wanting them to learn. So for example, so this is a true story from last week, I nearly killed one of my team.

Michael Waitze 32:29
Good. It’s when you’re dead is

Carl Heaton 32:32
necessarily me, it was the fact that she didn’t she couldn’t stop laughing. She was like taking your glasses off, rubbing her eyes, coughing splurging. And okay, the reason why was this. So when I tell people to do stuff in Asia, they never ask why. Right? It’s not in their culture, to to ask their boss why? I want them to always ask why. So they know the reason for number one for trust. And number two is so they learn from me. So we were doing this ideation session, and I put a picture of the Backstreet Boys, you know, the song tell me why. And then every time I said anything, I was like, telling me why. And then they were just laughing their heads off. I don’t think it was a very productive meeting, because they didn’t really do anything, because you were laughing too much. But I was like, seriously, if I tell you to do something, please Oh, cow. Why? Why do we do it that way? But sometimes they’re not that comfortable. But one thing if you want to keep your people is okay, pay them at least the market rate. That’s number one, right? You can do about number two is all of the benefits and stuff, they are just icing on the cake, to make them feel good, right. But to keep them and keep them in the same job is development. Right now. I’m gonna learn this. I’m gonna learn this at the end of this month, Michael, because it’s bonus season. Yeah, I keep my team Past bonus season. I know that I’m a good, good leader.

Michael Waitze 34:02
So I’m so glad you brought this up. Because this gives me the opportunity to tell you that I was bad at managing people. And one of the first things that I’d one of the first things that I thought about doing I took over a trading desk at UBS, right from a guy who everybody loved and was super successful and had built a pretty incredible business. Yeah. And I was hired to follow him. And I will say that the I left Goldman Sachs to go have an opportunity to run my own trading desk at UBS. And the culture there was very different, let’s just say, right, but also the salary structure was really different. And I was dumbfounded by just how I’m gonna get in a lot of trouble for this. I was dumbfounded by how little people got paid. Oh, yes. And I was committed to just bringing them up to industry standards. Yeah. And my mistake was that I thought this was gonna make everybody happy, because I didn’t know what you knew what you knew. Yeah. And there was this one woman who did most of the work on the desk. She knew who she was. She was great. And if she hadn’t been there, I mean, obviously we would just have arrived, but it would have been hard at the beginning, right? Because she just had so much little stuff that nobody saw. And I literally doubled her salary, her base salary. So but actually, that’s not true. Her total compensation, I doubled. I was like, This is ridiculous. And even Goldman, you would have been underpaid? It didn’t matter. I was weird. It didn’t. She didn’t leave. It wasn’t like that. But I honestly thought it was gonna make her a lot more excited and a lot happier. And you know what, she wasn’t growing and learning. And that was the thing I think that made her the most disappointed was you can pay me another $150,000 on top of the 150. You already paid me but I’m doing the same thing. Yeah, I want to grow.

Carl Heaton 35:40
I remember one question I had in an interview when I was looking for jobs, and they said, if you leave your current job, would people come with you? So interesting question that very interesting question. You know, but the thing is, is like Simon, Simon Sinek talks about this a lot is you get a lot of first time managers who don’t really know how to manage. Whereas I was I’m, and then there’s a wonderful guy in here, we get to talk to him. Fantastic guy called Paul, Mark’s here in Thailand. He does kind of leadership coaching and stuff. Paul, Mike’s really good, really good guy. Shout out path sup my friend. And he was talking about leader leader as coach, you know, and that really, really works. You don’t have to be this big. Yes. Do this do that is you teach a man to fish? And they’ll they’ll want to stay fishing with you. Yeah. Are women? Well,

Michael Waitze 36:35
yeah, I had zero training for managers, for being for managing team. And to be fair, most of the people that manage the teams that I won, were horrible at it just horrible, because they had no training either. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I used to say when I was a golden age, so you don’t have to be addicted, be smart. And that tells you what the environment was like. I actually said it in a way that was a lot stronger than that one, you know, this is PG, much of a stronger way. Yeah, there is PG, this is PG podcasting. But I do think but I do think at some level, you have to care about the people that you work for. And I think this is one of the things you take potentially from a startup to a corporate, which is harder to take from a corporate to a startup, which is, like you said at a corporate you’re in this lane. Yeah. And you’re taught less to be a coach and more to be a manager? Yes. When you’re building something from scratch you like you have two people, you actually have to have people believe in you because they don’t need to be yes. Right. And from there, you have to care about them, as well. Oh, how disgusting. You do, though? No.

Carl Heaton 37:35
You do. I mean, I’m running the school. That this my school was a very strange place, like we had, I had a little bit of a problem with with true recruitment recently, because they kept moaning that, you know, we you’re asking us to find interns. I said, Yeah, I’d love to do an internship program again. But true, doesn’t compensate with a salary. There’s other things that we do. But there’s not a direct salary for interns. And so I said, Look, I am very, very confident that I can add enough value to their careers, to make it worth their while. And so we found two interns, one of them, unfortunately, he had to work because he had no money. So he dropped out the one girl called Brewer, amazing girl. And she’s now got many opportunities, and potentially we’re going to be working with Jeremy. So she might be working on morphosys. I hope anyway, and and I realized that, you know, you again, the whole development thing, because she was learning she stayed, and she didn’t get paid for three months. You know, so development was developments, that is an absolute key to keeping your, your teams engaged. One of the one of the few little tips, one of the few little tools that I use, if I can share, please. Number one is one to ones. Now I want to once I do half an hour, 15 minutes to half an hour, it’s gotta be sure. However, every week, Oh, well. Now, that’s only because we’re slow at the moment, I would normally like to every two weeks, but a one to one for 15 minutes, is very easy. I asked five questions, how you feeling? anything on your mind? Do you wanna discuss anything, anything I can do to support you? And what can I do better as your as your leader, as your coach, whatever. Second thing we do is, so that’s very, that’s very qualitative. Now for the quantitative side, I bring up a spreadsheet, I share my screen, and we have five things that so what’s your overall feeling out of 10? How’s your feeling about your team, not other teams, our team three is processes for his tasks. Five is development and six is fun. And what we do so give me give me a rating from one to 10 and we get to see it right. Oh, well, we don’t have six How come? That’s not a seven what what happened? Oh, well, you know, it was this and this. Cool. Okay, let’s put that on our little tasks for this week. And they build it together so that I keep saying to them, like only me, and you see this. So the only reason I want to do this is I want to know what happened. And then I can fix it, because that’s my job. Right? And you will, yes. So that’s one thing I do. The second thing we do is we went through all of the, we went through all it’s very easy to do this as well went through all of the skills it takes to do your job. So even if you’re a trader, if you’re a digital marketer, exotic dancer, whatever it may be, you can highlight a whole lot of the skills you need to be you know, what you need to be. And then what you do is you just rate it, and then every, say, month or so you can start to say, right, how can we build this? And it’s amazing when you show people start and end. So you say, right, you gave yourself a four out of 10. A month ago, now it’s a five. That’s it, that’s a 10% increase or a 20% increase. Right? Well done. And so I started to go, wow, okay, but the thing with development is you must show the road that’s been traveled, you must show that if you don’t show the road, they’ll only see where they are. Now. They’ll look down at their feet and go, I’ve still got two feet, so I can’t develop that much. But you must show the road that they’ve traveled to get where they are now. And that’s what we used to do. With the internship program. I used to force them every Sunday night to write a diary. And I said, Write and look back, see all the stuff that you’ve learned? Oh, yeah. Wow. Because if you like I said, if you just if you start looking at the future all the time, are we going to do this and you’re going to do this, but what about where I was where I am now. And that was a powerful tool.

Michael Waitze 41:40
So Carl, I’m gonna end there because you’ve just titled the show. You must show the road that’s been traveled. Thank you. Thank you so much for doing this today.

Carl Heaton 41:48
My pleasure. It’s absolutely my god. Dude, I’m seriously seriously impressed by you. I’ve never felt so comfortable and confident with someone in Ireland in because I’m asked a lot to do a lot of different things by people. There’s always a reason with you is genuine. And you are one of the most genuine people I’ve met and I’m so happy to have done this with you me. Seriously, that comes from the heart bro.

 

 

Latest Episodes:

EP 325 – Building a Marketplace and Democratizing M&A for SMEs – Marcus Yeung – Match.Asia and SEAbridge Partners

EP 325 – Building a Marketplace and Democratizing M&A for SMEs – Marcus Yeung – Match.Asia and SEAbridge Partners

So it’s actually very interesting how technology is taking a lot of the grunt work out of investment banking, which allows the real investment bankers to focus on the important stuff, which is, you know, the negotiations and the closing of the deals and more personal stuff. There is a good company in Japan, which has a good precedent called M&A Research Institute, which is a listed. And within it’s a listed company, it’s a similar business, and we’re following basically the same path as they have. And they closed 150 deals last year. And they made $60 million of revenue. And it’s a very profitable business model. – Marcus Yeung

read more
EP 324 – Creating a Canon for Progress: Empowering Global Entrepreneurs with Essential Knowledge – Tamara Winter – Commissioning Editor of Stripe Press

EP 324 – Creating a Canon for Progress: Empowering Global Entrepreneurs with Essential Knowledge – Tamara Winter – Commissioning Editor of Stripe Press

“Well, we think of this catalog as, ideally, a kind of cannon for progress, both in a very sort of explicit sense when it comes to, again, growing the GDP of the internet, making it much easier for people who have very ambitious ideas about a company they want to build to do that, and in an easier way than they might have to do if they were just trying to figure out everything themselves. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel.” – Tamara Winter

read more
EP 323 – Building Businesses and Breaking Barriers: A Global Entrepreneurial Odyssey – Meenah Tariq – CEO of Metric

EP 323 – Building Businesses and Breaking Barriers: A Global Entrepreneurial Odyssey – Meenah Tariq – CEO of Metric

In this episode of the Asia Tech Podcast, ⁠Meenah Tariq⁠, CEO of ⁠Metric⁠ and an experienced entrepreneur with deep roots in emerging markets, shared her journey and the lessons she’s learned along the way. Meenah discussed her early introduction to entrepreneurship in Pakistan, beginning with childhood ventures that sparked a lifelong passion for business.

read more