Chris Yeh is an investor, writer, mentor and entrepreneur. He co-authored the book “Blitzscaling: The Lightning-Fast Path To Building Massively Valuable Companies” with Reid Hoffman, one of the founders of LinkedIn.
Chris is the founder of Blitzscaling Ventures, an organization that helps rapidly-growing companies in winner-take-most markets become global leaders by providing in-depth scaling advice and capital. He is also involved in numerous startups and business ventures and is an instructor at Stanford.
Rounding the Bases with Joel Goldberg Podcast was created to share the stories of men and women in business and entrepreneurship that are both well knowing and or hidden gems. Joel believes that everyone has a story and their story matters which is why Joel is eager to connect with individuals that are bringing value to their community through innovation, leadership, entrepreneurial journeys, and developing company culture. If you would like to be a guest on Joel’s podcast please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
CHRIS YEH TRANSCRIPT
Joel Goldberg: Welcome into rounding the bases and thanks for tuning in to another episode of the podcast about culture and leadership with a baseball twist, we will focus on some baseball today because my guest.
Joel Goldberg: I think will be just as happy talking about baseball as all his other endeavors. But I’ll push them towards those other endeavors, too, because there’s a lot to discuss. As always, if you could share the podcast.
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Joel Goldberg: What are the other ones nowadays. Now I’m not on tik
Joel Goldberg: tok that’s for my kids, I’m not doing that. But anyway, it’s easy to find.
Joel Goldberg: So I hope you’ll do that as for today’s episode. My guest is Chris Yeh And he is out of the Bay Area.
Joel Goldberg: But a Southern California, at least, growing up, which will lead to some discussion in terms of baseball
Joel Goldberg: Chris is an investor, a writer, a mentor an entrepreneur. At least that’s what it says at the top of his LinkedIn page. And that’s just the smallest summary possible he has a lot going on and he joins me right now from the Bay Area where he lives. Chris, how are you
Chris Yeh: I’m doing fantastic Joel, I can tell you, I am so happy to be on with you. The only way I could possibly be happier. So being interviewed by Vin Scully instead
Joel Goldberg: Oh man that’s. Those are huge shoes to fill. Spoken like a true Dodgers fan and I won’t even try to do a Vin Scully impersonation because a lot of people do them and I wouldn’t do it any justice but whoa what a legend. I mean, that was the voice of your childhood. Right.
Chris Yeh: Absolutely. I listened to Vin Scully broadcasts many times on the radio. This is the old days when we would listen to the radio and because I was
Chris Yeh: You know, well I guess it was at that point, my family. My family is too cheap to get cable so I couldn’t see a lot of the game. So I listened to many, many radio broadcasts. I listened to.
Chris Yeh: Listen to Vin Scully broadcasts the Dodgers. I listened to check her and broadcast the Lakers I listened to the legendary L King even broadcast the raiders. So it was a great time to be listening to radio in Southern California.
Joel Goldberg: So, Los Angeles Raiders at least growing up and now you’re in the Bay Area, and there are no Oakland Raiders anymore. As a matter of fact, I heard recently the Oakland A’s saying
Joel Goldberg: We got the Raiders clubhouse. We didn’t know how good it was. And they know that that of course is one of the worst stadiums and in all of sports but I
Joel Goldberg: digress in terms of your background and when, when we start thinking about startups in the tech world which you live in.
Joel Goldberg: My mic some sense makes some sense that you’re in the Bay Area, but I saw this to from from the LinkedIn for this covers a lot of ground high tech startups.
Joel Goldberg: online advertising sales management lead generation product management, market research.
Joel Goldberg: Entrepreneurship and general management and all of that now is making my head spin, because what it means is that you are involved in a lot of different things also an instructor at Stanford, and on and on and on. So how do you describe yourself.
Chris Yeh: Well, what I always tell people these days. I tell them I’m an author, because that sounds a lot better at a party than talking about being a startup guy.
Chris Yeh: But in addition, I do all these other things. I mean, really, is a tremendous focus on the startup world I have invested in founded advised
Chris Yeh: Over 200 different startups and it really is my life and it’s a lot of fun. There certainly is a lot of uncertainty involved, but you’re familiar with dealing with uncertainty and the times when you actually come through and when boy. It feels great.
Joel Goldberg: It’s a different perspective on your side of things, though, to i mean i one of the things when I started this podcast was
Joel Goldberg: Really trying to find a balance between say that big name CEO and that that entrepreneur that is just hoping when they go to bed tonight.
Joel Goldberg: That tomorrow is existing and that they figured out that secret sauce that that passion that they poured all their life into is going to click
Joel Goldberg: And they go to bed nervous about it because they don’t know. So tell me about that perspective, a little bit you’ve walked in those shoes. It’s a little bit different, as an investor, of course, you certainly have skin in the game. But how is that different for you now.
Chris Yeh: Well, it is so much easier. Being an investor than an entrepreneur. I started multiple companies and I have
Chris Yeh: Had those nights when I needed to lay down and go to sleep, and I would think to myself,
Chris Yeh: What on Earth is going to happen. How are we going to find enough money to keep going. What am I going to tell the investors. If we go under.
Chris Yeh: And it could just keep you up all night. Now, fortunately, I’m a good sleeper. So I would just say, you know what, I’ll figure out in the morning.
Chris Yeh: But it is a total night and day difference. I often like to tell people that being CEO is the worst job in the world. At least if you’re caring and responsible individual because at the end of the day, everyone else in the organization can think to themselves,
Chris Yeh: I’m not sure what to do. But you know what Chris is going to figure out. I’m going to go to sleep.
Chris Yeh: Or I’m not sure what to do. Joel is going to figure out. I’m going to go to sleep and then Chris or Jules like oh my god what am I going to do
Chris Yeh: So I’m very happy to have left CEO in behind me, but I have a lot of sympathy and a lot of support for the people who are still doing it. The corollary, by the way, is that if you’re a sociopath being CEO is the greatest job in the planet.
Joel Goldberg: How many, how many CEO sociopaths are there out there are some
Chris Yeh: A surprisingly large number. And I think it’s because
Chris Yeh: If you’re a sociopath, you don’t pay the psychic cost of being a leader and a lot of sociopaths are very assertive very aggressive and that gets people ahead. So I believe that sociopath CEO is the number one occupation, but number one disproportionate occupation associate paths.
Joel Goldberg: So I’m thinking about this as the different CEOs are listening to this podcast will put you in one of two categories, either. Those that are saying right now. Yep, that’s me.
Joel Goldberg: And I’m cool with that. Or if you’re offended by it then. Well, that’s okay too. Very interesting. It’s the first
Joel Goldberg: sociopath discussion that I’ve had on this punk. I love it though. It’s actually really interesting. So let’s talk about not having to worry that CEO hat.
Joel Goldberg: And and your passion for investing and I don’t want to simplify this, but two part question one. What do you love about that end of things. And what do you look for
Chris Yeh: So excellent questions. Part one. What do I love about it. It’s primarily the opportunity to work with some pretty incredible entrepreneurs to try to make a dent in the world.
Chris Yeh: Well, not having to be the person that is up at 130 at night wondering, how the hell I’m going to make payroll.
Chris Yeh: Even today, I still get messages from CEOs all the time. They’re like, I’m not sure how I’m going to make payroll.
Chris Yeh: This thing is happening I’m being sued, all these things and I reassure them and I give that advice and then when I get off the phone. I think to myself, well, thank goodness it’s not
Chris Yeh: There. They’re smart. They’ll figure it out. I don’t have to. And I offer advice, obviously.
Chris Yeh: That’s the thing I love the most. But you know when it comes to actually working with the entrepreneurs and these are people who are just incredible in terms of their backgrounds in terms of their passion for what they’re doing.
Chris Yeh: In terms of their willingness to really dig in and work hard. It’s like talking to a Hall of Famer you’ve talked a Hall of Famers they’re different breed. It’s not just a question of their physical skills.
Chris Yeh: It’s the kind of attitude and drive. They bring two things and entrepreneurs are the equivalent of the all stars and Hall of Famers of the business world.
Chris Yeh: Now, what about entre. What about investing. Do I look for. Well, you know, I think you just heard it, you’re looking for someone
Chris Yeh: With whom you’re going to be able to work that you believe is going to have the persistence and drive to go through the obstacles.
Chris Yeh: Because no matter what every company is going to go through a ton of near death experiences. It’s only the entrepreneurs.
Chris Yeh: Who refuse to give up. We’re going to keep going, who are going to do whatever it takes to succeed, knowing, by the way, that 90% of entrepreneurs fail no matter how good they are 90% of venture capital investments fail, but the 10% that succeed can really change the world.
Joel Goldberg: You mentioned when we were talking about all the different responsibilities and and different aspects of your professional life, you mentioned author, so
Joel Goldberg: Let’s go there and talk about a couple of these books. While it’s got to be cool to be friends and co author books with a guy that has a fairly well known company and LinkedIn right
Chris Yeh: Absolutely. I tell people all the time. If you ever want to become a New York Times bestselling author
Chris Yeh: One of the easiest ways to do it. If you can manage it is to have a friend who’s a world famous billionaire that you’d write books with
Chris Yeh: So that helps out quite a bit. My friend Reid Hoffman is of course the co founder of LinkedIn. He is also the first investor in Facebook. He’s also one of the major investors and Airbnb, and the list goes on and on and on.
Chris Yeh: And it’s been a great journey, largely because you know we were friends already before we started writing these books and he’s also one of the few Silicon Valley moguls who’s truly an intellectual right
Chris Yeh: People in Silicon Valley very smart with this difference between being smart and being intellectual being curious being more of a renaissance man or woman like you are Joel
Chris Yeh: And read is one of those people who combines that with also a great heart and a desire to help other people. So it’s a pleasure to work with him.
Chris Yeh: And the great part of it is you know he’s so smart, he comes up with all these ideas that we can then turn into these books.
Chris Yeh: And it’s just something where you know every day when we’re working together. There’s nuggets that come out. I mean, you’ve heard them you’ve interviewed people you know when you hear something. It’s like, that’s cool. Let me pull that out. Let me use that
Joel Goldberg: All the time. And, and those are the people you want to follow. Those are the people, by the way, you just, you don’t just write a book with Reid Hoffman without having the trust in the relationship. And I know you’re
Joel Goldberg: You’re being a little bit self deprecating and humble with it. But it’s not just, hey, let’s go find that
Joel Goldberg: You had that relationship. There’s obviously a chemistry.
Joel Goldberg: And a trust between the two of you, which ends up working its way into these ideas. And it’s not just hey read what do you got, okay, I’ll do it. I know you’re cranking out a lot of ideas to. I just want to give yourself credit if you’re not going to do it.
Chris Yeh: But no, no, I’ll happily give myself credit and say, Listen, the reason why there’s a reason why it wasn’t just that happened be around one day and read said, Hey, let’s write a book like
Chris Yeh: Read and and our other friend Ben casnocha who’s his chief of staff and co author for his first book.
Chris Yeh: Said, let’s look at our list of friends. Let’s find someone who we think is a great writer.
Chris Yeh: And is able to write quickly and I’ve been somebody who wanted to be a writer from the time I was a child, I studied creative writing at Stanford. I’ve written over 3000 blog posts. So I’ve done a tremendous amount of writing.
Chris Yeh: For magazines for all different places. So I absolutely had the writing experience. But then, a big part of is also just having the shared background, having a lot of similar ways of thinking because it’s really important to have a thought partner that you can really jive with
Joel Goldberg: So let’s talk about the book that you referenced, which was the alliance. Right. That was the, the first one that you guys did and really fascinating because
Joel Goldberg: You know, I grew up at that you grew up at a time where people just didn’t change jobs. It wasn’t unheard of. But you know, I look my family ended up in Chicago.
Joel Goldberg: Because my dad. My dad had a job transfer from the company that he worked at in New Jersey in central jersey and Trenton, New Jersey, and we live close to Philadelphia and
Joel Goldberg: I, you know, I’ve never really asked him, actually, if he thought about turning that transfer down and looking into something else. But he basically worked his whole career with one company. No.
Joel Goldberg: I actually think that there is an equivalent here to sports in baseball. We love now that when there’s that occasional guy.
Joel Goldberg: That stays of one team, his whole career Derek Jeter did it.
Joel Goldberg: With us right now in Kansas City Alex Gordon has been here since 2007 that’s almost unheard of. Chris, I mean your team, the Dodgers.
Joel Goldberg: Just paid the largest contract to monkey bets who have been with the Red Sox forever. How many similar similarities are there to the world of
Joel Goldberg: Baseball where we grew up everybody, not everybody, but they can play their whole career now. It’s unheard of. And we see that so much in the workforce now.
Chris Yeh: And that is a perfect analogy. In fact, one of the things we talked about in the book is the metaphor of the professional sports team and with a professional sports team.
Chris Yeh: Again, we do have a couple of legendary players who may spend their entire career with a particular franchise.
Chris Yeh: And on the current Dodgers that’s folks like Clayton Kershaw course greatest picture of his generation Kenley Jansen people came up together and did together for an incredibly long time
Chris Yeh: But even so, it’s rarer and rarer and that’s true across all the different sports now where it really comes into play is if you think about professional sports team.
Chris Yeh: Absolutely. There’s a strong emotional connection. I mean, you talk with the players.
Chris Yeh: A lot of times if it’s a good team that really is like a band of brothers. It’s people who really have a great liking for each other. A great affection for each other and that occurs, even though they know
Chris Yeh: That it’s a business and that many of them may not finish their careers with the company.
Chris Yeh: And the goal is every year for every mission that you’re going after. Can we assemble the best possible team can we assemble a group of
Chris Yeh: Guys, in this case, because these are male sports. In the case of the business world it’s men and women who assemble a group of people have the right skills to go after this particular goal.
Chris Yeh: And we know that this is a team that may not stay together forever. But let’s try to get a couple championships out of it.
Joel Goldberg: So in the what I like to call the quote unquote real world.
Joel Goldberg: Meaning the non sports world. I’ve always said, I’ve lived in this fantasy land for 25 years we work as hard as anybody else but they’re paying me to talk about baseball
Joel Goldberg: It’s pretty good. But sometimes we forget about the rest of the, the real world and
Joel Goldberg: The real world nobody staying with one company for 25 years like there’s some outliers out there. Right. But I think growing up and then even as you became a professional I became a professional. I think we’re around the same age, too, but
Joel Goldberg: That there was almost a stigma to someone that didn’t stay somewhere very long, there must be something wrong with them for not staying long now.
Joel Goldberg: And I don’t know if we’re saying, oh, that’s just millennials, that’s just the way they are, but it’s normal. Now it’s. Is there an expectation from employers when they hire someone that they won’t be getting 1520 years and are they okay with that. Should they be okay with that.
Chris Yeh: And that’s the whole point behind the alliance. So if you look at the data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average tenure at companies.
Chris Yeh: Has been in decline for decades decades.
Chris Yeh: And in fact, if you go to some of these Silicon Valley High tech companies, the average job tenure someone the average person has been there for less than two years. So we are living in an era where people are switching jobs, far more often than ever before.
Chris Yeh: And the key question is well, given that, how do we actually build that sense of loyalty that sense of emotional connection.
Chris Yeh: That sense of teamwork. And again, we look at the way that professional sports teams have been able to do it. And I wrote in the book, quite a bit about, for example, the San Antonio Spurs of the National Basketball Association.
Chris Yeh: The spurs create a culture where Avery Johnson, who was a player who played for the spurs, as well as a bunch of other teams later became a professional
Chris Yeh: A head coach at the NBA level and talked about how there was a broadcaster talked about how oh you know the teams in town. So I’m going to go have dinner with pop in the guys
Chris Yeh: Right. He is somebody who would last played for the Spurs 15 years before no longer had an association with the franchise had coached other teams other franchises like the Dallas Mavericks.
Chris Yeh: And he still consider myself a part of the culture. And that’s really what you want to, you want to create an organization, a company where you have that culture, we have the ability for people to stay connected over a lifetime but it no longer depends on, are they currently employed.
Joel Goldberg: Really usually when you talk when you started talking about culture and success. I mean, it really doesn’t get any better than Popovich and what the Spurs have done.
Joel Goldberg: I’ve never covered the NBA. I think I covered one NBA preseason game once and I actually interviewed Allen Iverson but something tells me that in my role, it will be pop may not be the guy that you want to interview, Craig.
Joel Goldberg: Craig Sager hung in there pretty well.
Joel Goldberg: Craig. Craig. Craig. Craig Sager
Chris Yeh: He was truly a Hall of Famer
Joel Goldberg: Yeah, no question about it so that your other book is I think it’d be so interesting to if people don’t have it, they should certainly
Joel Goldberg: Look at both of these books but Blitz scaling the lightning fast path to building massively valuable companies, of course, everyone wants to do that not everyone does do it. Look, we all want.
Joel Goldberg: The secret to how to flip the switch. Nothing in life. Is that easy. I think that I think ultimately we know that, but everybody always wants that quick fix, right. I saw
Joel Goldberg: A quote a testimonial from Adam Grant. This is the best book I’ve ever read on.
Joel Goldberg: An Austrian for entrepreneurs and executives that’s high praise from Adam Grant, who I think three times in the last month.
Joel Goldberg: I’ve been told, Hey, you need to read given take you need to read given take from Adam Grant. And for some reason, I haven’t yet. And so I’m going to add that to my list. But let’s talk about
Joel Goldberg: Your book Blitz scaling and why this is a must read for so many entrepreneurs and leaders and executives out there.
Chris Yeh: So the core insight behind Blitz scaling is this. We live in a world which is increasingly winner take most, which is to say
Chris Yeh: The company that is the market leader gain such competitive advantage that they’re able to maintain that leadership for a long period of time, perhaps even decades.
Chris Yeh: And so if that’s the case, if achieving market LEADERSHIP GETTING critical scale gives you that much advantage, then it’s really worth prioritizing speed over efficiency.
Chris Yeh: To get to that point. And that’s what the basic of blitz scaling is it’s it’s if if there’s a winner take most market.
Chris Yeh: Then the greatest risk is not taking enough risk. You got to take enough risks, so that you are moving faster than the competition.
Chris Yeh: And if we translate it to the world of sports, we can see there are times when
Chris Yeh: An a team goes all in and is saying you know what now is not the time to be efficient, like, oftentimes, you know, baseball
Chris Yeh: There’s so many trades where it’s like veteran versus prospects veteran versus prospects. And so somebody will say, well, they traded this veteran all star player, but they got these five prospects in return.
Chris Yeh: And from an efficiency standpoint, five great prospects is maybe better than one veteran. But the fact is you can only play one person per position on the field at any given time.
Chris Yeh: And so, you know, when you have the opportunity, like the Dodgers did to trade for Mookie Betts they gave up some great prospects Alex for to go look great last year.
Chris Yeh: But guess what, you only get to play three outfielders in one any given time. If you can make this three outfielders Mookie Betts Tony Ballenger and then jack Peterson, you do it.
Joel Goldberg: Well, certainly doesn’t hurt that they then turn that into a 12 year deal because otherwise, that would have been with the pandemic potentially a
Joel Goldberg: Trade for a guy for two months. But when you have Dodger when you have a dodger pocket.
Joel Goldberg: pocket book or payroll, you can certainly have the confidence of knowing. You can do whatever you want. And so that worked. Obviously for them. But I you know I look back in
Joel Goldberg: From a baseball standpoint. When Kansas City won the World Series in 2015 they traded away six pitching prospects to get Ben Zobrist and to get Johnny Quito
Joel Goldberg: First off, none of those prospects have really turned out of Shaw minaya who went to Oakland really good starting pitcher has but that they recognize the moment
Joel Goldberg: And I think that that’s what it is. Right. So what’s the key to recognizing that moment, I mean it’s not as difficult as
Joel Goldberg: picking stocks or maybe it is, I don’t know.
Chris Yeh: Well, in the business world. What we say is you got to figure out if you are going after a winner take must market that’s big enough and valuable enough to justify the risk
Chris Yeh: And so that involves basically a lot of judgment. You have to say, well, does this market. Have we call network effects.
Chris Yeh: Things where each additional user makes the whole service valuable to other users, something like a Facebook, for example, or an Airbnb, which is a two sided marketplace. And then you also look at, well, how big is the market.
Chris Yeh: Airbnb started off as an air bed and breakfast. Well, you know, what if Airbnb said we’re going to stick just air beds. I don’t think they’d be as successful as they are today.
Chris Yeh: The key is you got to look at it and say there’s a bigger picture. And in fact, there’s this great story that my co author Reid Hoffman tells about Airbnb because he didn’t invest in their first round of funding investing their second round.
Chris Yeh: And basically, in the first round of funding investor was trying to get him interested in Airbnb said oh yeah you know it’s like couchsurfing and we just like cats surfing that’s never going to get big.
Chris Yeh: And then the second time around the founders actually reached out to him and they said, Listen, you got to think about this as a global marketplace for space.
Chris Yeh: And he’s like, okay, that’s a big vision that’s something that’s worth going after.
Chris Yeh: So you’re looking at the factors like the market size like the known facts like, Do you have a way to reach the the users and customers through distribution channels.
Chris Yeh: And if those things are in place. Then you go for it. It’s like, there have been plenty of sports teams who said you know we’re going all in
Chris Yeh: But they didn’t have the foundation to actually contend when you do that, it’s the worst of both worlds. Because you’re given up your prospects and you don’t really have a chance to contend no no shade being cast at the mess or anybody else like that.
Joel Goldberg: You need to you need to know where you’re at, what you have and recognize that moment or not too. So I do want to get back to alliance, a little bit, really, actually, this would apply to both books in both topics but
Joel Goldberg: Certainly when you wrote these books or co wrote these books. I don’t think you are writing them with a pandemic in mind.
Joel Goldberg: And
Joel Goldberg: So everyone’s world worlds have changed.
Joel Goldberg: How has first and foremost look let’s let’s talk and going back to alliance.
Joel Goldberg: That for sure now will involve people picking up. Moving on, for instance.
Joel Goldberg: I was talking to the CEO of logistics company. And when the pandemic started and, you know, he said, look, we’re going to be okay, although I will be affected.
Joel Goldberg: By some of our suppliers and you know companies that are shutting down. And so we might actually need to follow for a little bit, but we’re going to bounce back to summer.
Joel Goldberg: And we think that will see a rise in hiring coming from people that may be were in the service industry that aren’t going to go back to restaurants and working at bars because it’s not there. It’s not as consistent
Joel Goldberg: And so we see the influx of new people. That means new training and culture and all of that. How is this pandemic potentially affecting the way people move around with jobs.
Chris Yeh: So I think that it absolutely is going to create tremendous dislocation mean the fact is, if we look at certain sectors like the restaurant sector.
Chris Yeh: It’s the sad fact that a lot of restaurants are not going to be able to reconstitute themselves and come back, even when the pandemic is over, simply because
Chris Yeh: They ended up having to pay rent on a space that they couldn’t make any money off of them. It’s no fault of theirs. And so the big issue is that a lot of people are going to have to switch jobs just out of necessity.
Chris Yeh: Now for the companies that are still going to be around. This is where the lessons of the alliance really come in because the alliance is ultimately all about trust.
Chris Yeh: It’s about being open and honest with your people so that they know that they can trust you and environment where there’s so much uncertainty.
Chris Yeh: It’s up to the leadership to really over communicate to say here is what’s going on here are the concerns that we have. And let’s all solve them together. There’s a great story.
Chris Yeh: I don’t know if you remember a couple years ago there was a story about a CEO who gave up his multimillion dollar salary, so everyone in his company could make $70,000 a year, you remember that story.
Chris Yeh: So that was a company called gravity payments in Seattle. It’s a payments company. So they had a lot of customers for like restaurants and things like that. So when the pandemic hit this year.
Chris Yeh: Their business went down the revenues decreased and the CEO looked at the projections and they’re not a venture backed company where they have billions of dollars in the bank, they’re just trying to run a business.
Chris Yeh: And he said, we’re going to have to cut our costs by 20% in order to make sure that we survive. And normally, that means that you lay off 20% of your people.
Chris Yeh: But again, this is a guy’s very committed to transparency and so he went to the team. He said, Look guys, here’s what the
Chris Yeh: Bank account looks like. Here’s what the business trends are. We’ve got to find a way to cut these costs the standard way to do it would be to cut these people
Chris Yeh: And the entire team came back and said, no, we don’t want to do that.
Chris Yeh: Those of us who can afford to accept the lower pay for right now, we’re going to do that and enough people volunteer to accept lower pay they didn’t have to cut a single job.
Chris Yeh: And all the people said, you know what we think that this is our chance again we’ve served all these restaurants and local businesses we think there’s a lot of them at Google online.
Chris Yeh: And we’re going to make ourselves a choice of people who are newly going online and we’re going to get new business.
Chris Yeh: And by June by last month they had become profitable. Again, they still hadn’t laid anybody off and they’ve managed to grow beyond where they were right before the pandemic started. So that’s a great example of how that trust and transparency can produce an incredible results.
Joel Goldberg: It’s like a local and I’ve said this before, a local SEO here in town. Early in the pandemic. He as an HR firm said to me.
Joel Goldberg: I’m telling my clients that there is mental equity being built right now in the way you treat people they will remember, and they will stay or leave potentially based on the feeling that you give them right now.
Chris Yeh: Absolutely, because you know what, it’s very easy for people to behave well in good times during bad times when you really see people’s true character.
Joel Goldberg: That’s true in all walks of life, we see that on a very, very regular basis. Okay.
Joel Goldberg: I want to get to my baseball themed questions and I got to give you a little freedom to talk some baseball, too. But let’s stick to the business side of things right now and then I’ll hit you with a couple of favorite
Joel Goldberg: favorite memories about your beloved giants just getting Dodgers. Okay.
Chris Yeh: Hey, you know what, there are some good years with the Giants. I enjoyed watching the the
Chris Yeh: Even number giants finally break through.
Chris Yeh: Again, you know that the team. The people have been suffering for so long. It’s like I was happy for the red sauce. When they finally one and that’s like, okay, guys. Now you can knock it off because you’re being a holes about it.
Joel Goldberg: Right, well that that might yeah you spent time
Joel Goldberg: Out there in the in the Boston in the New England area. So you are surrounded by what that looks like there which does involve a lot of passion and and sometimes some language in there.
Joel Goldberg: Too. I’m gonna miss going to Fenway the sheer love that place, but OK. Professionally speaking biggest home run for Chrissy.
Chris Yeh: So there’s really a choice between two different things. One is that I helped start a company called Ustream which is a pioneer in the live streaming space that IBM eventually bought in 2016 for 130 million dollars.
Chris Yeh: And this was a company where it had no money in a couple of founders. It hadn’t launched yet.
Chris Yeh: And the founders reached out to me through a friend of mine and I said, I think there’s something here.
Chris Yeh: And I put the first check in. I help run the company’s interim CEO help them raise their first million dollars.
Chris Yeh: And ultimately, it was very gratifying to see it work out now.
Chris Yeh: It. I couldn’t work out even better because obviously at the same time, the other company that’s getting started his company called Justin TV that eventually became twitch.
Chris Yeh: That Amazon bought and Amazon bought them for a billion dollars. So sometimes tell the founders, you know,
Chris Yeh: You sold 430 million, which sold for a billion dollars. So there’s like an eight x that you guys missed out on and you owe me a little bit of money there.
Chris Yeh: They haven’t paid up. Needless to say, but obviously, that was a great experience. And that was an example of something where I really put the bet down right I was the first check and I stake my reputation on and I was really glad that paid off than it being
Chris Yeh: A HOME RUN THE OTHER home run, of course, is making the decision to become an author to write these different books it’s opened up so many different things for me, including like yourself being a professional speaker and
Chris Yeh: Getting before the pandemic travel around the world and meet all kinds of interesting people and share ideas. So both of those are incredible home runs.
Joel Goldberg: Love them both. Alright. The flip side of that, well, any investor an entrepreneur is going to have plenty of swings and misses. Look, we all swings and misses. But in your business.
Joel Goldberg: I’m not saying that you want to have baseball type of numbers and only be successful 30% of the time, but you do need to like baseball have the ability to manage failure. What’s the biggest swing and miss. You’ve taken and what did you learn from it.
Chris Yeh: By the way, in the venture business if we were able to have a 300 batting average, we would be just thrilled beyond belief.
Chris Yeh: That will put you at the very top of the league tables, as they say. So in terms of like a big swing and miss you know one of the things that did is when I was early on in my investing career. I got very
Chris Yeh: Full of myself and I was like, I’m a genius. Everything I invest in seems to work out.
Chris Yeh: And I started to think that is because I was smart, as opposed to us because I was lucky. And I tell people sometimes
Chris Yeh: The worst thing you can have when you’re an angel investor is early success because it causes you to just develop the wrong habits.
Chris Yeh: Well, one of my early investments occurred after a couple of investments and everything looks successful some of they’ve been acquired some of them had grown rapidly.
Chris Yeh: And this company. I thought made a lot of sense. It was in the video space. I had experienced success in the video space and I invest. I remember telling the
Chris Yeh: entrepreneur who was a guy who had a lot of success even taking a company public before, like, listen, you know, every investment. I do goes well.
Chris Yeh: I’m investing in you. I’m the first check in.
Chris Yeh: This is going to be great and the company failed ultimately never really got traction. And that’s when I began to realize there’s a difference between being lucky and good. And personally, you got to understand that sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good.
Joel Goldberg: I’m on board with that completely and we see that in all walks of life final baseball themed questions small ball. What are the little things. What are the bumps, the singles. The sacrifices in your world that lead to the home runs in the Grand Slams
Chris Yeh: Well, you know, the way I got into writing is because I pushed out all these different blog posts of us to start blogging in 2001 I’ve written probably close to 3000 blog posts in my life.
Chris Yeh: And most of them are only read by a handful of people, most of them did not generate any attention.
Chris Yeh: And it really is the case, you just don’t know which thing you put out there is going to get attention and it is only after the fact that you can see it. And so for me, what small balls about is just consistently doing things
Chris Yeh: And doing them because you enjoy them. Right. The only way you’ll be able to be persistent enough to actually benefit from your efforts.
Chris Yeh: Is if you enjoy what you’re doing because that’ll allow you to keep going, even if nobody else seems to be paying attention.
Chris Yeh: And then when you look back on it, years and years later, you say, Wow, thank goodness. I had that passion. It carried me through the valley of death. And now I have this incredible asset or I have this incredible reputation that built up because I had that initial passion.
Joel Goldberg: So the consistency of doing this on a very regular basis, knowing that big picture. It’s all going to pay off.
Chris Yeh: And you just got to understand in this world, the vast majority of things you try are going to fail.
Chris Yeh: And in fact, if you went ahead and said, You know what, every time an idea comes up. I’m going to say nope going to fail.
Chris Yeh: If you said that every single time you’d be right 95% of the time, which would get you an A on your report card and you would make zero money and had zero impact.
Chris Yeh: So you’ve got to be willing to take the chance to know that you’re going to fail, but to be willing to do it anyways. And the more you try all other things being equal, the more you’re going to succeed.
Joel Goldberg: That’s true, as a writer. That’s true, as an investor right i mean that’s
Chris Yeh: Fine. Michael Jordan said you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take
Joel Goldberg: That’s right, although there’s a major debate, I had this debate with the CEO of h&r block. There’s a major debate whether Jordan said it or Wayne Gretzky said it or did both of them say it, and I still can’t figure out which one Google says both
Chris Yeh: Well, all I can say is, just imagine the days of at the time the Great Western forum. Previously, the fabulous forum, when both Magic Johnson and Wayne Gretzky were playing there obviously the
Chris Yeh: Same night.
Chris Yeh: But wow you want to talk about some of the greatest pastors in history that would be it.
Joel Goldberg: Them to guys with these big names magic in the great one. And what more do you want more do you need
Chris Yeh: Okay, beat
Joel Goldberg: For final questions as we round the bases, I will start you out with what might be a softball, but it’s right in your wheelhouse and throwing it right down the middle of the plate.
Joel Goldberg: two parter favorite
Joel Goldberg: Baseball player growing up favorite baseball player now.
Chris Yeh: Absolutely. That’s it. That definitely is an easy one to try to get a good launch angle.
Chris Yeh: On the swing.
Chris Yeh: Because as we know it’s really important to get a good launch angle. Get those
Chris Yeh: Fly balls up there, give it a chance of getting out of the ballpark. So when I was growing up, my favorite dodge. No surprise was the great orel Hershiser you can imagine somebody picking up the game in 1988 and watching this guy go out and throw 56 consecutive
Chris Yeh: Being 58 and two thirds consecutive scoreless innings.
Chris Yeh: He ended up, you know, losing that streak than the first start of the next season.
Chris Yeh: But Wow, what an incredible player and obviously he’s gone on and lived on in the game as a broadcaster and just somebody everyone agrees.
Chris Yeh: Incredible character, there was a reason Tommy Lasorda called and Bulldog, because he was going to go out there and battle every single day. So orel Hershiser great great Dodger great champion.
Chris Yeh: Obviously in this era of Dodger baseball. It’s been Clayton Kershaw. The closest thing to Sandy Koufax and like all Dodger fans. I am pulling and I think most of baseball is pulling
Chris Yeh: For the day when he finally breaks through and is able to get the monkey off his back and get a championship.
Chris Yeh: Because he’s done everything possible. Other than that, he’s always been a class act done so much good for people in this world never scandal, never a problem and you just hope that the guy finally gets that championship.
Joel Goldberg: And all attest to that too. And I don’t know him well. I’ve talked to him. I mean, being in the American League. Now we don’t see a lot of those guys. We were supposed to see the Dodgers here this year and that now won’t happen.
Joel Goldberg: With the pandemic schedule being regional but I I root for the good guys, I just do. And, and I’ve never heard a bad word about Clayton, the conversation I had with them a bunch of years back.
Joel Goldberg: When they were here in Kansas City was to me. It was heartfelt them and he’s just just just an awesome guy. So very easy to root for. And I’d love to see him have that success. Second question you have spent time in classrooms at both Harvard and Stanford.
Joel Goldberg: What’s the better school
Chris Yeh: So that is a good question, and it really boils down to. What are you looking for
Chris Yeh: So when it comes to Harvard. The reason Harvard is Harvard in part is because it is the global brand around the world for education right everyone in the world has heard
Chris Yeh: Of Harvard University. Most people have heard of Stanford as well obviously a great school
Chris Yeh: Well, you want to talk about global reach Harvard is the way to go wherever you go in this world. You can be in the deepest jungles of some country somewhere. And if you said, oh, yes, I went to Harvard, like, oh, Harvard, yes.
Chris Yeh: So whereas I remember my, my wife grew up on the east coast and her parents who grew up in a working class family so they weren’t really big on universities and
Chris Yeh: It she she she grew up in New York and you know she mentioned to her mom that, you know, I went to Stanford. And she said, Stanford. Oh, as there’s a University of Connecticut. I didn’t know that. That’s interesting.
Chris Yeh: But we’re Stanford really excels in a way that Harvard really doesn’t
Chris Yeh: Is in terms of the kind of I would call it a very warm and West Coast kind of experience Stanford is the kind of place where everyone is very welcoming and there’s a strong emphasis on that feeling of inclusion.
Chris Yeh: And the example I give since my wife went to Harvard as an undergraduate. We can do an apples to apples comparison.
Chris Yeh: And I described to her what happened on my first day as a freshman Stanford University.
Chris Yeh: My parents have driven. We’ve lived in Southern California. So we’ve driven up to Stanford, we drive up to the dormitory, we get out of the car, we start walking towards the front door.
Chris Yeh: And there are the residents assistance and they start to cheer and blow noise because like look everyone it’s Chris. Yay. Hey. Welcome. It’s so good to see you. Oh my gosh.
Chris Yeh: Everyone is carefully memorized your face. They’re welcoming you here. Let’s take you to your room. Oh, it’s so good to have you. We’re so excited for you to be here.
Chris Yeh: And I asked my wife. So what happened on your first day at Harvard University. She said, I went to the front. They said, Your room is 23 be good luck.
Joel Goldberg: There’s a difference and and you obviously spend time apo that’s really, really interesting almost like at Harvard, we only do that we’re Harvard. Right.
Joel Goldberg: Go Go do your work and and move on with it. And so I always do at Stanford it growing up out east before moving to Chicago. One of my best friend’s dad had gone to Stanford. So I heard about Stanford, you know, every time. Plus, they got the tree.
Chris Yeh: ABSOLUTELY. AND THE TREE. IT’S UNFORTUNATE without the college football schedule, but the tree is always been, well, let’s call it an interesting ambassador for the school, a way of showing that the school is not just all serious, I guess.
Joel Goldberg: So so Chris went to Stanford got his undergrad at Stanford 90 to 94 I thought we were about the same age. I’m
Chris Yeh: That’s right.
Joel Goldberg: Wisconsin graduate 1994
Joel Goldberg: Which did no badgers, yes, great school
Joel Goldberg: Not going to claim that were Stanford or Harvard and then MBA at Harvard Business School. Third question for you. And I want to ask this in a
Joel Goldberg: Fun and tasteful way because you know what happens to me all the time is, people will say, What’s it like when you meet so and so Player. What’s it like there are people, they’re just they’re just people
Joel Goldberg: You get to hang out with some of the billionaires. So I’m sure that people will sometimes who, you know, Reid Hoffman, you know, fill in the blank. What’s the best part of having a friend that might be a billionaire and I’m guessing it’s not the money.
Chris Yeh: Yes, no, although again. Again, it’s very handy to have money. I’ll tell you can try being rich and try being poor, I guarantee you’re going to find being rich is better.
Chris Yeh: But when it comes down to it, it’s really all about the access. So one of the things that you have in this world. If you’re a successful is read is access to some of the most amazing people in the world.
Chris Yeh: And so one of the things that read does is he’s, he knows that I’d be interested to meet some of these folks. So whether it is somebody like
Chris Yeh: President Obama or some other famous person. He always make sure that if there is an opportunity. His friends get a chance to shake their hands and meet them.
Chris Yeh: And again, like you said you hang out with the most famous baseball players in the world.
Chris Yeh: And their people like everyone else. And the funniest thing sometimes is
Chris Yeh: The degree to which people feel this conflicted sense about their lives. So we were interviewing read was interviewing one of his friends, who is also a billionaire ones won’t let him.
Chris Yeh: reveal his name and we’re doing this recording for a podcast and the sound engineer says okay
Chris Yeh: What did you have for breakfast, which the classic sound engineer question right and so the guy answers. Well, I had this really excellent egg white for Tata with smoked artichokes. My personal chef prepared. He’s like, wait.
Chris Yeh: We’re not recording that right. I don’t want anyone to know that I have a personal chef. I’m thinking to myself here billionaire, you’re very famous and you’re afraid to let people know you have a personal chef. It’s just the interesting reflection of things.
Joel Goldberg: Yeah, I mean, maybe just don’t let them know you have two of them that are
Joel Goldberg: Splitting shifts over over at the mansion our final question, as we round the bases. I don’t need any specifics here, but as an investor as an entrepreneur.
Joel Goldberg: I know you’re always thinking about the next thing. So I don’t want to reveal any secrets. But are there any trends right now, especially as we’re as you and I are talking right now in the summer of 2020 with the pandemic.
Joel Goldberg: We know what’s happened with the world of zoom and things like that. Are there any trends that have your I
Chris Yeh: Said, there are a couple of obvious ones. And when people ask me about what this pandemics gonna do I tell them
Chris Yeh: Listen what the pandemic is all about, is it’s giving people a chance to try new things to break some old habits and potentially form new ones. The big question becomes,
Chris Yeh: How stronger those habits because I believe very strongly that medical science is going to come through human ingenuity is on this problem, we’re going to fix it.
Chris Yeh: And we’ll have the chance to go back to normal. The question becomes, what are the things that people will say, you know what I want to keep doing them.
Chris Yeh: And so a couple of big ones I think pretty obviously telemedicine is something that’s advanced by at least a decade, just in the past couple of months because
Chris Yeh: What was holding it back was regulation and people saying, you know, I’m unwilling to do this, this isn’t safe. It’s not gonna be high quality enough
Chris Yeh: Anybody who’s seen a doctor. During this time, via telemedicine is like, Actually, that was just fine.
Chris Yeh: And I didn’t have to go somewhere and wait in the waiting room with a bunch of sick people. Maybe we should do more of this.
Chris Yeh: Another area that I think is really exciting in general is just artificial intelligence, not in the sense of having a Oracle in our home that can answer all our questions.
Chris Yeh: But rather just in being able to do all this kind of stuff that right now requires human beings to do and that’s not very interesting. So
Chris Yeh: You mentioned when we were talking earlier about how there are Transcription Services, and most of the ones the way there they were. They work is they have human being to the transcribing
Chris Yeh: And the AI based transcripts is not good enough yet. But it will be in a couple of years.
Chris Yeh: Than anyone ever gained from having to sit down and transcribe a talk. No. Right. That’s not something that’s actually useful. And so there are all these things that aren’t actually useful that are painful to do for human beings that computers should absolutely take over.
Joel Goldberg: It’s gonna be fun to see. I always love it because the, the world is keeps getting
Joel Goldberg: easier and a lot of those ways and better, of course, sometimes it opens up a Pandora’s box. But that’s all part of what comes with it and it’s fun.
Joel Goldberg: To watch that evolution. I’ll give you one bonus question as we close because I would feel like. Like you were completely unsatisfied. If I didn’t ask this. Is this the year for the first time since 1988
Chris Yeh: Well, as you know, the Dodgers are heavily favored in terms of their overall projections. They’ve got a great team they added Mookie Betts. They have great pitching. So as you know, baseball is a funny sport.
Chris Yeh: And the best team does not always win. But I gotta feel like after being cheated out of the World Series by the Astros
Chris Yeh: And then proceeded out of the World Series by the Red Sox that the Dodgers are do and I certainly hope that this is the year and that in a couple of months.
Chris Yeh: We are watching Clayton Kershaw pour champagne over his own head as he can finally take satisfaction in winning that elusive ring.
Joel Goldberg: Well, if that happens in late October I will be thinking of you. I remember exactly where I was sitting watching the Kirk Gibson home run.
Joel Goldberg: Back in 1988 in New Jersey and my cousin’s house. I don’t know if anybody else that was there remembers it, but I remember it. Exactly. I’m sure you do too.
Chris Yeh: Absolutely. My dad and I had gone out for pizza. We watched the game from the pizzeria saw, I think it was Jose Canseco Tim beltre gave up a grand slam and the first thing we’re like oh how this is not going to go well.
Chris Yeh: And then, of course, by the time the ninth inning rolled around, we’re at home. We’re just desperately hoping waiting seeing, could it possibly be.
Chris Yeh: You’d see Gibson up at the plate. Basically, unable to walk, you’re like this could never happen. And then when he hit that home run. My God, I don’t know if I’ve ever had a feeling like that.
Joel Goldberg: Well, we shall see what happens if anyone wants to get ahold of Chris, I know the website is Chris gay.com why eh, really simple. Chris yea.com that the best way
Chris Yeh: That is absolutely the best way. And if you enjoy hearing my voice. You should also go ahead and look for the Chrissy a podcast wherever fine podcasts are found, I cannot guarantee that all the other people I speak with will have the great radio voices of a Joel Goldberg
Joel Goldberg: Oh god. I’ll
Chris Yeh: do my best.
Joel Goldberg: Chris. This was a lot of fun. Also make sure to check out his books. The Alliance and blitz scaling along with Reid Hoffman and the alliance also with Ben Casanova
Joel Goldberg: Really enjoyed the conversation nice blend of of investing and entrepreneurship in the tech world and also your favorite baseball, a little bit of basketball reference in there to Chris. Thanks so much for joining me today.
Chris Yeh: Thank you so much. So, and I’m looking forward to 2021 when you’re going to come out to the Bay Area for a road trip and you and I can get together in person.
Joel Goldberg: That will happen, provided we don’t have another pandemic that sidelines us. It’s already on the calendar. I thought that was going to happen this year but
Joel Goldberg: A big thanks to Chris yay for joining me here on the podcast.
Joel Goldberg: Again would love it if you would give me that five star review on iTunes. I don’t want a bag, though, if you want a great. If not, that’s fine. Just hope you’ll share it with your network. This has been a lot of fun and awesome conversation.
Joel Goldberg: And that’s going to do it for this episode. Hope to catch you next time on rounding the bases
Rounding the Bases with Joel Goldberg Podcast was created to share the stories of men and women in business and entrepreneurship that are both well knowing and or hidden gems. Joel believes that everyone has a story and their story matters which is why Joel is eager to connect with individuals that are bringing value to their community through innovation, leadership, entrepreneurial journeys, and developing company culture. If you would like to be a guest on Joel’s podcast please email us at email@example.com.