This week on Life Science Success, I interviewed Chris Yeh. Chris is the Co-Author of Blitzscaling. We will be talking about blitzscaling, key factors to blitzscale, and key things Chris looks for when working with companies.
This week on Life Science Success, I interviewed Chris Yeh. Chris is the Co-Author of Blitzscaling. We will be talking about blitzscaling, key factors to blitzscale, and key things Chris looks for when working with companies.
Please check out our Life Science Success Resources. You will find tools that will support growing companies and books for authors I have interviewed.
[00:00:00] Don Davis PhD, MBA: Welcome to life science success podcast. I'm your host, Don Davis. And today I, so I just wanted to open up just a little bit because I believe that there's a tremendous opportunity for life science companies to leverage lessons learned from the book Blitzscaling. And so our guests today actually is going to take.
[00:00:19] A little bit further into this explanation of what is Blitzscaling and what are we doing here with regards to Blitzscaling? What are some options that people should consider? When do you start? When do you stop and things like that in the industry? So this will be a fabulous conversation with
[00:00:40] I'm absolutely looking forward to that. For those of you who don't know me, my name is Don Davis and I am a consultant in life sciences. Companies manage complexity and increased performance all with the sort of thought process of helping them scale. And whenever I read this book, I thought it was a tremendous [00:01:00] resource.
[00:01:00] And so with that, I just wanted to welcome my guests, Chris. So welcome.
[00:01:05] Chris Yeh: Thank you Don such a pleasure to be here. And, I finally just realized this whole time I was looking into thinking 50 to 80. What does that mean? And with the mountains about, of course it's mile high in Colorado, right?
[00:01:18] Again, so anyway, it's such a pleasure to be here. I know that you are on the road, so I appreciate your taking time out of your vacation schedule to make this
[00:01:25] .: happen.
[00:01:26] Don Davis PhD, MBA: Absolutely. And yeah, it's funny. So learning to podcast while on the road is a completely different. For anybody that notices anything that's different about the show I guarantee you it's because I'm on the road.
[00:01:39] And so with that yeah, so I just look forward to. To really talking about Blitzscaling. But before we do that, as I was saying before, we got into the show as well, Chris, I think you're a really interesting guy. I think you've got a lot going on. Can you tell listeners just a little bit about yourself and your background, [00:02:00] what brought you to getting started with writing a book books
[00:02:03] .: Blitzscaling.
[00:02:05] Chris Yeh: Absolutely. So I'll give you the quick version because the long version could take all the time we have, but I grew up in Southern California in Santa Monica. So about two hours north of where you are right now, Dawn. And then I came up further up the coast to Stanford, to do my undergrad work, where I didn't know what I was going to do, but I ended up studying.
[00:02:22] Product design engineering and creative writing. And during the time I was growing up, I always wanted to be a writer, but I also researched things. So when I researched the economics of being a writer, I said, this sucks. I don't want to do that. And so what I ended up doing instead, when I graduated in the mid nineties is I got into this newfangled thing called the internet.
[00:02:43] And I joined a company called D E Shaw company, which is best known today as the secret of hedge fund that Jeff Bezos worked for before he started Amazon. Before you ask. I L I got there about 18 months after he left, so we never overlapped. I have no great Jeff Bezos stories or anything like that. He was [00:03:00] well-known at the firm to many of the people that I work with, but I did not know him.
[00:03:04] And therefore was not asked to join Amazon to become a multi-billionaire when he left for Amazon. Anyway. But that got me involved in the startup world. And I've been in the startup world ever since I was in Boston to work at the Shaw. And then for two years at Harvard business school, and then back out here to Silicon valley, and I've been here up there ever since it's been 22 years now of being a founder and executive investor advisor guru, and more recently turning to being an.
[00:03:34] And the reason I turned to being an author is because I realized that there is one easy way to make being an author work economically, which is to have your books be really successful. And if your books are really successful, they're non-fiction business books, you can go and get paid to go around the world.
[00:03:50] Speaking about the books, not on a podcast, but for conferences and things like that. Don sadly, you're not paying me $25,000 to appear on this podcast. So I [00:04:00] would accept that as a donation, if you so choose. And what, if you want a successful book, it really helps if you have a co-author who is a world famous genius.
[00:04:09] So there you go. I got the opportunity to write these books with my friend Reed Hoffman, the founder of LinkedIn, and it's been an awesome ride. And that's, what's brought me to the attention of grateful.
[00:04:20] Don Davis PhD, MBA: And it just seems, it seems like there's a lot of ties for Blitzscaling as well. There's Stanford teaching that's happened.
[00:04:28] I think along the way. And there's, just all sorts of things to help entrepreneurs. So it seemed like you guys were well set up with regards to being able to produce this book.
[00:04:40] Chris Yeh: Absolutely. A lot of it draws on personal experience in addition to everything else. Of course, we studied and read and we interviewed people, it helps when you have a co-author who founded who's the founding board member of PayPal, who was the first outside investor in Facebook who founded LinkedIn, who is the first series a [00:05:00] investor in Airbnb and many other companies, just those personal experiences gave us plenty of grist.
[00:05:06] Don Davis PhD, MBA: Yeah. In terms of the sort of things that you do now, what are the main things that you focus on,
[00:05:18] Chris Yeh: it's a variety of things. So Reed and I still working on various bits and pieces of content together as schedules permit, of course. And we plan to write another book about techno optimism.
[00:05:28] We're going through a patch right now when people are down on technology and there's good reasons why they're down in technology. It's caused a lot of. But it's also the solution to the big problems facing mankind. And so we want to write about how do we ameliorate some of these issues?
[00:05:42] How do we learn from the mistakes of the past and how do we apply technology and innovation going forward to solving some of the big challenges facing that unkind. So there's that, and that involves writing books and podcasting and other things. And in addition, I am also busy as one of the founding [00:06:00] partners of Blitzscaling ventures, which is a venture capital firm that invests in Blitzscaling companies, which is to say the fastest growing startups that have been backed by the top VCs in the world.
[00:06:09] And that gives me a chance to work with a lot of great CEOs and entrepreneurs. And hopefully it gives me even more material for future books.
[00:06:17] Don Davis PhD, MBA: I'm just surprised after, after writing one book that you want to go back down this path another time. It's one of those things where I've got a good portion of of of a book done.
[00:06:34] Currently. You're going through that process, with an agent and, all of those sorts of things. And it's the next step of finishing things that scares me the most, because if they come back and they say, Hey, I want this thing, It's, it's going to turn into a quick grind and then try and finish it and I'm just surprised you want to do it again
[00:06:58] .: and again.
[00:06:59] Chris Yeh: [00:07:00] It is a lot of work. There's no question about it. And I work with a lot of famous authors. They're friends of mine, and everyone talks about just what a grind it is. And you're absolutely right. But on the other hand, it's something that I view as a necessary and be helpful. It's necessary in the sense that we live in a world where people have very short memories and you can have a great book that comes out.
[00:07:20] And then seven or eight years later, they've forgotten the book ever came out. So you got to stay in the public's eye in order to continue to be able to have an influence. So that's part of it. But the other part of it is, field discover this when you put a book out. For whatever reason when you have a book and it's a physical book and has your name on the cover, everyone, all of a sudden takes your ideas more seriously.
[00:07:41] It's like the greatest business card in the world. And I think it's a reflection of some realities, right? If you go through traditional publishing, you've had to run a coal gauntlet and there's all these people who have had the chance to take a piece out of you and make the product better. So the product is generally pretty good, but then there's just some sort of social [00:08:00] convention.
[00:08:00] If somebody is an author, That makes them interesting and smart and people's eyes, nobody's oh yeah, that guy over there as an author, what a meat
[00:08:07] .: head,
[00:08:08] Don Davis PhD, MBA: right? Yeah. And it's, it is for sure, a way of making sure that your work is even more, tested. Yeah.
[00:08:19] Chris Yeh: And there's an ego thing, a legacy thing, thinking the fact that. Work is stored in the library of Congress. That's just the cool feeling. When you look back on your life, you're like, what are some of the things I did oh, I did that. And it affected hundreds of thousands of.
[00:08:34] Don Davis PhD, MBA: I remember that with my dissertation. I was I was so just dumbfounded that something that I wrote actually made it to the library of Congress.
[00:08:43] So that made it just amazing. So in terms of books though, you've also written the Alliance. If you want to, it all described to folks, what the Alliance is about and the premise for that book. That was, to me, it was an initial story. [00:09:00] Set of thoughts that honestly set you and Reed up very well for Blitzscaling,
[00:09:04] .: I felt
[00:09:06] Chris Yeh: Thank you.
[00:09:06] So the Alliance is a book that really focuses on the changing nature of. How do employees relate to their managers and vice versa? How do employees relate to their companies and vice versa? And the thing we're really touching on is the fact that the world is really different than it was when you and I were children.
[00:09:23] Our parents had a very different world that they existed in, and it was unusual if somebody didn't work for the same company for decades on it. And we now live in a world where things are utterly ugly. But we still have a lot of the same assumptions. People are like, oh, it's disloyal to work at multiple companies.
[00:09:40] If that's the case doesn't mean that everyone's disloyal. Come on now. And so what we said is there needs to be a better way of thinking about this. And our approach is to say it should be in Alliance, which is to say. A mutually beneficial agreement between two parties who are more like peers than parents and child and where they're really coming together to [00:10:00] achieve something.
[00:10:00] So in the case of the Alliance, it's usually some sort of business objective, but then there's a question of what achieving that objective does for the company and what it does for the individual in question, because a big part of it is it professional? You're looking for career progression. You're looking for the things you do in accomplish to help you get to that next.
[00:10:19] And the companies that are able to really work effectively with their employees, by giving them missions that allow them to really stretch and grow and eventually reached the point where they're the VP of this or the CEO of that, or the founder of this. Those are the companies that are going to be most successful.
[00:10:36] And we see that play out in the world today where, great companies are great. Not just because they have great performance, but because the people who work there are great and go on to do other great.
[00:10:48] Don Davis PhD, MBA: Yeah. And it's such a, such an important thing right now, especially whenever, you lose a lot of people that have talked about the great resignation, which in part, I [00:11:00] could say that I fall into that.
[00:11:02] I'm, I only became a consultant primarily because of, COVID and the change in the industry and things like that. And I looked at, getting a, another traditional job and. Looked, I don't think that this really fits me anymore. I think the right step for me is to take my, take my own step and, go out on my own.
[00:11:23] And I, I couldn't agree with you more than I think, even today the Alliance. Still has an awful lot to offer. I also saw earlier today, John forte had an earlier webcast on, he was talking to one of the executive vice presidents of HR for Lowe's the hardware store company.
[00:11:46] And essentially they were saying, Hey, look we're offering free education for people who are coming to work here. If you want to go from. It is out on the floor to, upper management that there is a [00:12:00] potential way to get there now through education as well. Pretty cool to see that, especially as somebody that, had still paying off school loans, even as we
[00:12:10] .: speak,
[00:12:12] Chris Yeh: oh my goodness, Don you're younger than you.
[00:12:14] Look, you look like you, you look like you paid off those little long time ago with your massive earnings from the pharmaceutical.
[00:12:20] Don Davis PhD, MBA: Yeah, you would click, you would completely think so, but yes not the
[00:12:25] .: case,
[00:12:25] Chris Yeh: but I do want to commend you on, as you mentioned, that sort of great resignation is you're doing exactly the right thing to build up your practice, which is thought leadership.
[00:12:35] And at the end of the day, everyone can hang out a shingle. But thought leadership is the thing that gives people in a scalable way, a chance to say do I want to work with this guy? And when they hear you talking on the podcast, when they see you on the broadcast and what have you, that's the best advertising you could possibly
[00:12:51] .: get.
[00:12:52] Don Davis PhD, MBA: Yeah. And to be honest, I did this in somewhat selfish way that I describe actually on the podcast website. [00:13:00] Initially as a consultant, hire a lot of consultants in my lifetime. I hired, BCG and various other consultants, McKinsey, et cetera, in my career. And all of a sudden, I looked at the fact of being a consultant and I was like, how the heck do I find out what problems people have so they can step in the middle of.
[00:13:23] There are some things that I can help you do. And somebody had said why don't you go talk to them and and listen to them. And so I started doing that. And from that, somebody had said, Hey, why don't you record these things so that we can play them back later and listened to the things that were said.
[00:13:40] So on a broader scale, I just said, to me, that's a podcast. That's what. A podcast is meant to do is to be this marker in time for a current conversation. And people can play it back as many times as they want. And hopefully they get something beneficial from
[00:13:58] .: it
[00:13:58] Chris Yeh: in the end and [00:14:00] something that people don't appreciate as much.
[00:14:02] Podcasts medium is what makes it so powerful. Now you and I are doing a video broadcast as well as a podcast, but I bet most of the audience is listening to us speak in their ears right now. And the thing about podcasting is it's something that happens while you're doing something else. So as you're listening to a podcast, I like to tell audiences, I'm not sure I know anyone who says.
[00:14:24] It's time to listen to a podcast and they go find their special podcast room and they sit down and their special podcast chair, which looks like a throne. And they put on their special podcast headphones and their eye shades, so they can really concentrate. And then they push play and listen to the podcast until it's done.
[00:14:41] That's not how it happens. People are listening to this thing. They're at the gym, they're driving their car, they're walking their dog, they're turning it off and on all these different times. And that may be not so flattering to us podcasters, but it's our opportunity because we are providing content in a time when no one else can reach them.
[00:14:59] And [00:15:00] that's why we have
[00:15:00] .: so much
[00:15:00] Don Davis PhD, MBA: opportunity there. Yeah. Yeah. And I completely agree. It's so funny because I tell people all the time I get my best. I get my best ideas from podcasts. I feel like when it Ramana. Yeah, I'm walking and listening. All of a sudden there'll be just Epiphanes that come that I've never had, before.
[00:15:17] And it has something to do with just clearing my mind and being open, I think at that point in time. But yeah so back to the book Blitzscaling can do you, can you describe a little bit about what is Blitzscaling?
[00:15:31] .: is it.
[00:15:33] Chris Yeh: Absolutely. So I'm going to ask you a strange question and we'll see if it's helpful, but my question is this, are you familiar with the film Talladega nights?
[00:15:44] The legend of Ricky Bobby starring will Ferrell. So one of the things that we discovered after writing the book is unintentionally. We have created the very first management book that is based on the lessons of Ricky, Bobby. So everyone knows with Ricky, [00:16:00] Bobby, what is his catchphrase as well?
[00:16:02] There's shake and bake, of course, but there's a couple of other catchphrases that exactly summarize, let scaling. And those catchphrases are, if you ain't first or last, and I want to go fast. And that's what it boils down to blitz. Scaling describes a situation where there is a winner take most market where whoever achieves critical scale first generate some sustainable competitive advantages that let them be the enduring market leader.
[00:16:28] And when they do that, when you're the enduring market leader, no one can take it away from you. You can spend decades printing money and becoming an enormously successful company. But in order to do that, you have to understand that a, if you ain't first or last and B, you have to be willing to go really fast.
[00:16:44] You have to be willing to sacrifice efficiency for the sake of speed so that you can be the first across the finish line. So that's the quick summary of Blitzscaling, the more in depth stuff as well. Why would you do this? When do you have a Ricky Bobby market that [00:17:00] typically in the technology world is when there is a network effect of some kind, which means that as you scale.
[00:17:06] Then the value of the product or service increases for each individual member or each individual customer, which means that you can take a look at the value created by the company and multiply it ever increasing number of users by an ever increasing value per user, which means you have exponential value growth, and you have so much value from the network that you can basically have.
[00:17:29] Product that somebody clones and gives away for free. And it won't be valuable just like an Airbnb with no hosts on it would be utterly useless to you and I, because it all comes from the network effect. Now in the life sciences world. What's interesting is there's another way that this could happen.
[00:17:45] One is obviously patent protection. The entire pharmaceutical industry is built on patent protection. You literally have a legal monopoly, which means it's really important to get your product out there and to get it out there before the competition. 'cause [00:18:00] once you start locking people in there taking a particular medication, you tend to have a bit of a land grab effective comes the standard of care, and everyone begins to assign it.
[00:18:08] And that makes you have a blockbuster drug, at least in the pharma industry, same applies elsewhere in life sciences. So when you're looking for those Ricky Bobby markets, if you find one, then it makes sense to focus on going fast instead of being efficient.
[00:18:22] Don Davis PhD, MBA: Yeah, not yet. I certainly agree with that.
[00:18:28] The one sort of caveat that we also have to deal with is the right. So there's the regulatory side of it. And then there's a sort of Theranose side of it, which is. True bad blood that has been created right now where, people got out a little bit too far ahead of their skis and, never went back to fix the things that were wrong.
[00:18:49] And by the way, sat down and said, Hey, look, this is the date. We can do all this stuff. And they actually couldn't. So for sure we have competing. [00:19:00] Some competing, things, but at the same time, this industry very much is one where Ricky, in my mind, anyway, there are Ricky Bobby moments all over the place, both in the diagnostic side, which would be the sort of, testing, testing your blood or other body fluids.
[00:19:18] And you're trying to diagnose or treat something. And then on the other side, certainly. On the treatment side, for sure. You have the same sort of, I challenge as well that we're dealing with in, in the industry and and speed matters and
[00:19:38] Chris Yeh: Yeah. No, absolutely. And the funny thing is of course, and I tell people this all the time, you have to remember that Blitzscaling is relative and contextual.
[00:19:47] It's relative to your competitors. And if your competitors are also regulated and also facing some of the same challenges, it may mean that going fast, not as fast as a software startup, which doesn't have to worry about things but [00:20:00] fast. And in fact, faster than your competitors. Still allows you to blitz scale.
[00:20:04] There's no rule that says you have to travel at three X per year in order to be Blitzscaling in some industries, that's Blitzscaling in other industries you're falling behind because your competitors are growing 10 X a year. And so it's really a question of the relative speed. And then it's also contextual because the context matters as well.
[00:20:21] The fact that you are doing something like a diagnostic where people are making life and death decisions needs of the cost of failure is a lot higher than if you produced a video game that people are playing for kicks, right? One, if something goes wrong, it's no big deal. The other, it is in fact, a very big deal.
[00:20:37] That's part of being a responsible blitz scale, or making sure that you are considering the potential harms that could be created. The final thing is just in terms of Theranose what's interesting about Theranose is there are actually some things that Theranose did. That were very smart. They somehow managed to actually work closely with the regulators and get folks like the state of Arizona to waive [00:21:00] the need for doctors to order tests.
[00:21:01] Now that's an actual regulatory innovation. They see, however, you cannot pair that regulatory innovation with a product that just doesn't work. And then where you lie about the results. What they're doing is not Blitzscaling per se. It's just plain old, lying and plain old lying is rarely going to be the right thing to do.
[00:21:22] I will say. Again, this is a little bit of context famously one of Elizabeth Holmes, as mentors, as Larry Ellison, the CEO of Oracle and Larry Ellison was famous for just flat out lying. He would create products or a vaporware he'd promise people, things that were years away he'd do anything to get the sale.
[00:21:42] And I think that some of what he said rubbed off on her.
[00:21:48] Don Davis PhD, MBA: Yeah. And it's a really interesting case study. I think for years to come, it will be something to continue to pick apart the details and try and understand. What [00:22:00] specifically happened and made anybody think that this was okay, especially whenever there are patients on the end making life and death decisions.
[00:22:08] Some, one of the people I know that was affected by this and it's publicized as well and been bad blood that the, cancer tests that that they ran essentially said that, somebody's cancer returned. And that wasn't true. It wasn't actually true.
[00:22:31] I really unfortunate in that case. So in terms of Ricky Bobby moments, maybe it would come back to the, to your Talladega nights example. W when is it right to to blitz scale? So how how do you pick out those opportunities or see on the horizon? I think you've touched on this, but at the same time, I think there's maybe an opportunity to draw out even more here with regards to when is the opportunity.[00:23:00]
[00:23:00] Chris Yeh: It's funny. The odd, the question is very similar to another question that I often get, which is just for entrepreneurs in general. When should I quit my. Because both of these represent this sort of all out commitment. We're going to burn the ships as they say, and I'm going to quit my job and it's either going to succeed or we're going down, or we're going to blitz scale.
[00:23:22] We're going to go all out in terms of getting to scale and we're going to get there. We're going to fail. And for both of them, I offer a similar piece of advice. So for entrepreneurs, I tell them, Hey, you got to understand that you should not quit your job until you cannot stand still having it.
[00:23:42] Because the fact is that if you're starting a company, while you're working another job, a you're getting money deposit in your bank account every two weeks, which was pretty amazing. I got to tell you, you may not think it's a big deal, but once it stops happening, it's a big deal. And the second is, [00:24:00] I tell entrepreneurs, look, if you're starting your company, I bet you're robbing your employer blind right now.
[00:24:04] You've probably thought about your company four hours a day while you were at the workplace. So you think that quitting your job is going to allow you to suddenly have all this time, but. And so it's much better to wait until you feel like you can't stand anymore. You absolutely have to. There's this incredible opportunity.
[00:24:21] And I had this in my own life. One of the companies that I helped run as a company called Ustream in the live video space, and I was trying to get involved. Not on a full-time basis. I was trying to get involved as an advisor and just help out along the way. And eventually we got to the point where things were really taking off and the industry was going there was this company called Justin TV that had also launched Galvez tension company is growing like wildfire.
[00:24:48] And I faced the choice. I was like, okay, I can either commit to this or not. And I look deep inside and I say I enjoy the fact that I have a job that pays me. It's really nice. And I [00:25:00] get to work with people. I like, I couldn't take it if I miss this chance to take a big swing when I'm so sure that it's going to be successful.
[00:25:08] And so I quit my job. And raised a quarter of a million dollars from people over a single weekend. When I quit my job to hit certain milestones and it just took off from there. And the net result is in the end, we sold the company to IBM for $130 million. And by the way, that doesn't justify it, it could very well have failed, but the point was at that point in time, it was like, I could not live with myself if I didn't do this now let's turn this over to the blitz.
[00:25:36] Oh, the Blitzscaling side. Sometimes you might do it because you reach a certain point where you're like, I've proven to myself. I think this is going to work and it's killing me not to be able to just go all out. And therefore, we're going to blitz scale. We're going to sit, we're throw caution to the winds.
[00:25:50] We're going to focus on speed. We're going to spend the resources because this is our time and this is the moment that we have to make it. That's great. That's [00:26:00] one way of doing it. The other way of doing it is you may have your you may have your hand before first. So the case of Ustream, my hand was forced by the tip by the fact that Justin TV came out and began growing very quickly as well.
[00:26:12] The company couldn't take having a part-time person helping to run it needed a full-time person, and the same thing could happen for your Blitzscaling opportunity. Maybe all of a sudden, somebody else comes into the market and starts to grow. You're like, oh crap. Unless I want to let them just take this market.
[00:26:27] And when. I've got to jump
[00:26:29] Don Davis PhD, MBA: into. Yeah, I think that, it's a similar sort of story happened with square, right? They had a choice, key choice with regards to Amazon or they get a row or, bull over them or not. Luckily tied to this good strategy, bad strategy book as well.
[00:26:47] Luckily their sort of core strategy and principles couldn't be easily duplicated from the outside. I think, lucky for them, it played out nicely. And it's funny to [00:27:00] me, whenever I look at those moments in the history of any company that I've worked with or been a part of I've been with GE healthcare they had acquired eight different companies in my time.
[00:27:15] Luckily I got to work with a lot of great companies that were smaller organizations inside of GE and help them build scalable processes inside of GE. And it was the same sort of thing. You would get to this sort of moment where you had to make a decision either you're serious and you're going to go full boar.
[00:27:35] Because GE had tons of salespeople out there that could push products and things like. But at the same time, a lot of these companies, if they were, $50 million coming into GE healthcare, they didn't have the scale that they needed to shore up their products and keep moving things along.
[00:27:53] And so it was a, an instant struggle. And I look at it kinda like that that show with how he Mendell [00:28:00] deal or no deal. There's a point in every single show. I think everybody's screaming at their TV, stop opening cases, quit opening cases you've done really well, but it's that point of decision where you either have to decide, am I going to go all the way or am I going to stop?
[00:28:17] And it's one of those, one of those two moments and for the deal or no deal, folks that should be stopped for the entrepreneurs. I would say no, hopefully it will be go,
[00:28:28] .: in scale.
[00:28:29] Chris Yeh: But just like with dealer, no deal, you don't really know. What's going to happen. You don't, if there were certain, anybody who says they're certain are full of it, even somebody, or we have Elon Musk, he's the richest man in the world now, and obviously enormously successful, he went and he did these things and they very well might not have worked out. It was there's luck. There's chance. He's a genius, but there's luck and chance involved as well.
[00:28:55] .: Yeah.
[00:28:57] Don Davis PhD, MBA: So in terms of [00:29:00] Blitzscaling, when should companies stop when to they think about stopping blitz
[00:29:04] .: scaling.
[00:29:05] Chris Yeh: So the key thing to look at is what I call the leading indicators, because there are certain trailing indicators, like the most important trailing indicator is revenue, right? Yeah. We are working like crazy and the revenue is still not growing.
[00:29:19] Probably we shouldn't be spending that money. Probably we should be very efficient, but revenue is a trailing indicator. It comes last after a whole bunch of other things. So I would say is you would need to look more like leading indicators, things like how many people are signing up for the product or trying it out.
[00:29:36] How much are they using the product? Those are the things you're going to find out moment by moment, rather than waiting to see. If the revenue's actually be to begin to climb a great example of this, which we talk about in the book is Twitter. Twitter got to a certain point and then its user growth just went flat.
[00:29:52] Twitter has been basically at the same number of users for the past, almost a decade, but their revenues have [00:30:00] gone up. They've gotten better at monetizing, but even though the revenues are going up. The point at which their user growth went flat was probably the right time to stop trying to grow.
[00:30:10] Probably the time to start thinking about efficiency, but instead they kept hiring more and more people. Cause they're like we got more revenues coming. Guess what? You don't have more users coming in. This is temporary. And they have had even a lay off a lot of the people they hired.
[00:30:23] Don Davis PhD, MBA: Yeah.
[00:30:24] Yeah. And it's, really. Amazing sometimes that people don't see the tea leaves. As any leader in any company, you've got to be looking ahead at the horizon and what could possibly, stop you or truly hurt the company. And there are unfortunate circumstances.
[00:30:47] Yeah. I think with, COVID is a good example. I don't think anybody could have predicted exactly what was going to happen with COVID. But at the same time, as it started to happen, you saw plenty of companies making decisions. I'm either going to [00:31:00] invest in my future and try and figure out how to build through this, or I'm going to shrink through this.
[00:31:06] And because I don't know how long it's going to. And there were those clear decisions that I could see, happening over and over again with the different
[00:31:14] .: entrepreneurs
[00:31:14] Chris Yeh: that I work with. Yeah. And again, different circumstances meant different things, there were some businesses that came roaring back relatively quickly, and there's other ones that took a lot longer.
[00:31:25] And what you needed to do was to be able to adapt and look at your particular circumstance because your circumstance would be different. The example we often give is Airbnb, which immediately lost all their business right away, but they adapt. They went ahead and they did a good job of trimming some costs.
[00:31:41] They did a really nice job when they laid people off, making sure they felt welcomed and appreciated and making sure they could participate in the upside by allowing them to exercise their stock options later, not have to do it right away. And that ended up being very important because Airbnb pivoted people began doing longer stays outside of major cities because they were tired of [00:32:00] doing the zoom and a hundred mil, a hundred square foot apartment.
[00:32:04] And Airbnb's revenues came roaring back and in 2020 they went public. And so all those people who were laid off six months earlier, Because the company decided to extend and allow them to exercise their options. Anytime they were able to profit from this IPO. And so even if they were forced to leave, their contribution was recognized and it boils down to the company was able to adapt quickly companies that didn't adapt quickly, that didn't have the flexibility or the will to adapt.
[00:32:32] Those are the companies
[00:32:33] .: that.
[00:32:34] Don Davis PhD, MBA: Absolutely. Chris, what else do you have going on? What sort of other things, if somebody wanted to to find you, where would they find you and things like that? It's, it seems to me like you have so much, so many places where people can hear you and frequently,
[00:32:54] Chris Yeh: The central repository is just Chris Yeh.com.
[00:32:57] That's [00:33:00] CHRISYEH.com. And they can find me there and there'll be pointers to most of the things I do. Like for example, the day I just put out a post talking about imposter syndrome in honor of international imposter syndrome, awareness day. But you can also find me pretty much anywhere else just by searching for Chris Yeh.
[00:33:19] Whether it's on Google, on Twitter or somewhere else like that, LinkedIn, you name it and them all was putting out new content. I also love being a guest on various podcasts like yours, which is why Don, when you approached me and said, Hey, I'd be interested in talking. I said, you do realize, I know nothing about life sciences, right?
[00:33:38] No. We'd love to have you on okay, great. Fantastic. I love a new audience. I love speaking to people. So please do look for me. And if you can't find me and you have an audience of people, you want to talk with me, reach out to me as well, and you can do that. Chris Yeh.com as well. You can go to the speaking page and a contact us page, and there's various links for you to send me a
[00:33:57] .: message.
[00:33:58] Don Davis PhD, MBA: And then there are three [00:34:00] questions that I like to ask every guest, what inspired.
[00:34:04] Chris Yeh: So what inspires me, most of all are entrepreneurs and not just any entrepreneurs, but I especially am inspired by the entrepreneurs who are looking to make a social impact. So just this morning I was working with an entrepreneur whom I'm coaching.
[00:34:18] I don't really do much coaching of executives anymore. I really am too busy for this, but this is an entrepreneur who is building an organization. That's probably. The fastest growing organization in history in terms of actually getting homeless people employed and housed. And so they are touching lives in a so important way.
[00:34:38] And that's inspiring to me, somebody who could use their talents to just make a lot of money and kick back and, go to fancy vacations and clubs and things like that instead spends their day. Yeah. Working through the process of building out someplace, that's going to house and employ people. I love that kind of thing.
[00:34:58] So that's, what's [00:35:00] inspiring to me. I think that if you look around and oftentimes we're caught up in the entrepreneurs who are the loudest on social media and they may not necessarily be the ones who are the most inspiring keep looking because there's plenty of people out there who are doing amazing things.
[00:35:13] .: Yeah,
[00:35:14] Don Davis PhD, MBA: absolutely. And what concerns.
[00:35:18] Chris Yeh: What concerns me is what concerns a lot of folks, which is that it feels like we are starting to lose our grip a little bit on the fabric of society. Society is something that is so important to us. If we look back on history and look into previous areas, Steven Pinker wrote a book on this.
[00:35:36] But this is the greatest time ever in terms of people being able to live to a ripe old age, as opposed to being killed by violence. And that's thanks to society, right? It's our ability to come together and agree on doing things even when we don't agree with every single last thing that happens that has made all this possible.
[00:35:54] And we seem to be at a point where people feel like I should just always get what I want whenever I [00:36:00] want. You gotta be kidding me. It doesn't work that way. And if you try to make it work that way, all you're going to do is be disappointed. And everyone else is going to realize what an asshole you are.
[00:36:10] So while I would like people to do is to recognize the society doesn't mean you get everything you want. Society means that we collectively agree on a certain baseline and by doing so, we make mankind. Humanity safer and more productive than ever before. And we have so many amazing people and so many amazing things going on.
[00:36:28] If we just got out of their way and did not blow ourselves up or do all these other crazy things, we would be fine because human ingenuity is living.
[00:36:38] Don Davis PhD, MBA: Yeah, I do. So in my sort of travel for the last couple of weeks, the interesting thing is we've been the most disconnected overall from the news.
[00:36:48] And as much as I, I completely sympathize with what's going on in Ukraine and I would be, after hours, pretty much glued to any network that was talking about, [00:37:00] what was happening in Ukraine. It's been nice to just have that little bit of mental peace. I don't have, I don't have everything that's going on all the time being thrown at me, all, day after day.
[00:37:13] And it's honestly been peaceful. I've spent a lot more time writing and working on other things for my business, which has actually been helpful, as well as a little break.
[00:37:24] Chris Yeh: And I tell people all the time, I'm like, listen, You're suffering and feeling bad does not help other people. So if you are going to, if you want to help them, please do help them.
[00:37:35] But don't feel like suffering and feeling bad helps them at all because it doesn't, they don't care. And all it does is make the people around you miserable. So don't just sit around, feeling sad and sorry for yourself. If there's something wrong, do something about it. If you can't do anything about it, find some other way to help someone or make the world.
[00:37:54] .: Yeah, great
[00:37:55] Don Davis PhD, MBA: advice overall. And what excites you?
[00:37:58] Chris Yeh: So what [00:38:00] excites me is that this is ironic. The pandemic has shown that we have a much greater capacity to change, and I think anyone anticipated at the ability of mankind to change, to pivot, to be able to continue to make our society work. Incredible hardship.
[00:38:21] Incredible changes is something that is under appreciated. Everyone's oh yeah, of course we did that. I'm like, no, that's crazy. If you remember back to the early days people were picturing, oh my God, it's like a zombie apocalypse. The streets are going to be empty. It'll be years before we have a vaccine.
[00:38:36] This is the end of days. And I'm like, no, because our ingenuity rose to the occasion and we have amazing scientists and they built great things. And as a result, we came through. And so I look at that and I say if we could band together and despite all the problems we've seen as a result of this and people on planes, getting kicked off or biting flight attendants, it makes you feel bad.[00:39:00]
[00:39:00] Oh my God, really? This is who we are. And yet that's because we just hear the bad stuff in the news. If we stop and think about the amazing stuff that we now take for granted. We actually have the ability to change and we can actually do it a lot faster than anyone thought. And that's something where we should be looking at that and saying, okay, now that we know we can do it, what are the things that we can do that are not being, we're not being forced to do, but that we're choosing to do.
[00:39:25] Don Davis PhD, MBA: Yeah. Amazing, absolutely amazing thing about the sciences that I feel being closer to the stuff that. People are even more prepared inside of life sciences companies now than they were before. I rewind the clock back to whenever we first were hearing, early sort of news about COVID one of the clients for one of the, one of the customers that I work with essentially came back and said, Hey, look, we want zero blood samples with COVID patients.
[00:39:55] We didn't have a COVID test at the time. And they were saying, this is [00:40:00] what we. So it wasn't possible then, but it honestly wasn't that much further in the future where we did have a test to say, whether you're positive or not. And then even whenever you were positive, we didn't have a treatment.
[00:40:13] And then amazingly enough, and I was one of the people, honestly, that was coming along saying, look at, it could be a while before we actually have something. And lo and behold, somebody said, somebody came back and said, actually there are other. There are other viruses that are similar to this one that we might be able to use a treatment from.
[00:40:31] And I remember that sort of moment, cause that was like, maybe there's hope short-term after all. And lo and behold, all of a sudden you started to hear more and more about, Hey, there's a vaccine around the
[00:40:42] .: corner.
[00:40:44] Chris Yeh: Yeah. And then the science behind is amazing. I feel very grateful early on during the pandemic.
[00:40:48] One of my friends Safi Bahcall the author of loons shots is very well connected in the pharmaceutical industry. A bunch of us authors are getting the ring together and it's what the hell is going to happen? Sophia is our one sort of life science has actually [00:41:00] said, listen, guys, They've already got the vaccine designed the incident.
[00:41:04] They got the genetic code. They turned that around in 48 hours later, they had a vaccine design. Everyone who says it's going to take four years. They don't understand this thing just has to go through testing now again, I don't know how long it's going to take and it might take, the rest of the.
[00:41:19] But we are going to have vaccines. They are going to be effective and we are going to get through this and having someone say that in, April of 2020 was very comforting to me.
[00:41:28] Don Davis PhD, MBA: Yeah, absolutely. Chris, Yeh. Thank you so much for your time today. I greatly appreciate you being on the life science success podcast.
[00:41:36] So thank you for that.
[00:41:38] Chris Yeh: My pleasure, Don, as always, you guys can find Blitzscaling at bookstores everywhere. You can find me at chrisyeh.com. I have my own podcast. You can find there as well. And of course, Don, I'd love to come back again. If you think
[00:41:50] .: it'd be
[00:41:50] Don Davis PhD, MBA: helpful. Absolutely. Thanks so much, Chris. Take care.
[00:41:53] Thank you.