In this bonus episode, Jeremy answers Q&A from his four interns, Adriel Yong, Tan Yong Quan, Lyndon Lee & Pooja Sinha on Clubhouse and the future of Audio storytelling.
Jeremy Au (00:00):
The important thing about Clubhouse versus podcast thing is that Clubhouse is the Medium, whereas apodcast is the Substack of audio. What we mean by that is that when it comes to Medium, it's verymuch about the Medium, the article, being number one. There isn't much creative control around monetization, individual creators, top people. You don't really see the top writers in the world really using Medium, although they may use it as a customer acquisition tool. There's a lot of different articles. Medium is becoming a giant article or anthology of articles, which is what Clubhouses is really kind of approaching for, because it's bottom-up, it's looking for a new wave of emerging content creators, and building them as part of the library.
I think for podcasting is really the Substack for content creators on a audio format, because itallows for people to own their brand, own their voice via synchronous owner relationship, where as Clubhouse doesn't. The moment I drop off the podcast, the immediate call to action is to listen to thenext moderator, the next guest, or another room. Whereas for a podcast, if you are looking at a website,after you finish listening to the podcast, you go to the next podcast, or you go to the community. There's a very different relationship, which is similar to Substack and Medium.
After you finish one article, by a Medium article, Medium refer to you, algorithmically, whatthey think the best article will be, but they won't necessarily refer you to the next piece in the author's portfolio. Whereas in Substack, the end point of reading his article is to read his other article.
Speaker 2 (01:45):
Hey Jeremy, on that note, I was thinking that we should post our SE Tech Clubhouse schedule in termsof panels on LinkedIn, on the BRAVE Dynamics LinkedIn. I've been seeing quite a few people postingscreenshots of the schedule of events that they're hosting on Clubhouse, and I thought additionalcontent. We just need a screenshot, why not?
Jeremy Au (02:07):
Yeah, this is where the buffer or something like that would be helpful as well. More helpful than a mediaposting. But yes, long story short is, I agree with you. I think this is a good suggestion and we need tocross-post more, just because with BRAVE Dynamics, the Southeast Asia Tech Club is a tech club, but atthe end of the day, we are the backbone right now, where we're publicizing it, we're getting guests,we're managing the moderator group, we're republishing some of the content for Android users.
Yeah, I think we can feel free to share that more on the BRAVE Dynamics. I think on a parallelnote, one of the things that I'm reflecting on, because I'm part of the On Deck Podcaster Fellowship, as aprogrammer, I'm probably tightening my voice because right now my voice of course is JeremyAu.com. And I've decided that, I think BRAVE Dynamics is actually a very weak term because it's a brandobviously, but everybody knows Jeremy Au and people know Southeast Asia Tech Club is as obvious and near as possible, but BRAVE Dynamics is a little bit hollow, it's just a term I like.
To some extent, I need to tighten the aperture of my website to be more clear, I'm very focusedon Southeast Asian stories. And if it's not a Southeast Asian story, it's because is related to me as aperson, if that makes sense. Today I was interviewing [Yeshi 00:03:25], who was my roommate in Bostonand obviously he wasn't a Southeast Asian tech leader but he was talking about my relationship withhim and his relationship with me and that's meat for the system.
What we're looking at is really doubling down on some of the cross ads. I'm actually movingsome of my podcast interviews process into... I don't know for some of you may have seen it. I was recording their Clubhouse. I think the quality is not as good, to be honest, because I think SquadCast actually downloads very high res audio, whereas Clubhouse is actually optimizing for something a bitdifferent. What was interesting at least, and I'm just testing out was [Yeshi 00:04:15], Leon, which I gotvia Clubhouse as a guest, I like what he was saying. I'm getting GSP from Clubhouse to also do that. Yes, Ithink it's easier for them to interview with me via that format because they already are using Clubhouse.It's also a good way for them to get a little bit more, a few more followers, if that makes sense from their perspective.
That's why they're a little bit more interested in doing it as well. And then 30, of course, a lot ofthe norms around podcasting is there, so they mute their mics automatically, which makes editing alittle bit easier. Again, the sound quality is lower, but they mute more, their phone speakers tend to be abit better, to be honest, mics are a bit better than the laptop mics. That is of normal quality, but therecording quality is lower on my end, obviously.
There's going to be some trade-offs along the way. I'm trying to figure out what the right mix is,but the positive side was they were like, I'll say about by the end of the podcast, it was about between 30 to 50 people who are listening at any one time. Our number amount of podcast downloads right nowis about what? 50, around 50 to a hundred, depending on the person, as I say. Effectively by having 30,50 people listen live, we technically double the number of people who listen to a podcast, which is interesting. Yeah. And if they just send us an episode, they may re-share the episode down the road with their friends, down the road. Yeah. Okay. Lyndon and Yong Quan and Pooja, ask me one question each andthen we'll wrap up today. And again, this is part of the training session. I'm recording the audio just sothat we can just consolidate all these training insights into an anthology. Yeah.
Pooja Singh (05:57):
Well, I think I feel quite intimidated when I'm on Clubhouse. Especially when it comes to moderating, Ifeel like I'm way out of my element. Is there any advice you could offer on moderating, especially whenwe're just students, we're nowhere near the community that we're in, I guess?
Jeremy Au (06:22):
Yeah. I think that's all great feedback and a great question. And I think it's a lot of... It's not just sharedby you as students but it's also shared by young professionals and other people asking me a similarquestion on LinkedIn or in person.
At the end of today, I think the good thing about Clubhouse is that simulates a dinner partyreally well, which is that if you're able to be at a dinner party with people and be a normal person, that'sactually an interesting dinner guest, then you're a great dinner guest and you're a great Clubhouseguest. And I think what we also see is that when we under Clubhouse, we've actually got to meet a lot ofpeople who we know will not, because of the way they speak in Clubhouse, we know they're probablynot great dinner guests, to have around a table because they're hogging the mic, they are boostingthemselves too awkwardly.
It's not a bad thing, it's just people have different formats. I have other friends who are terribledinner guests, but amazing writers and I know other people who are great decision-makers in a room,but having a meal and having a chat, it would be pretty awkward. I think it's not a bad thing, it's justpeople have their different strengths.
I think for the group of us, we're just trying to decide whether this is a format that we enjoy andcomfortable with. That's one. And of course, I think when we do think about it more tactically, I thinkthere are ways to speak in a more composed manner. I think that's some of the feedback that we wrote up, grounding yourself, people are giving you time, and was like, "Hey, doesanybody have questions?" And he's happy to share. He knows that he's legit. He's self-aware and he'salso aware that other people are curious about him and he wants to help.
I think people just have to be... If you're a student or I think it's not about whether you're astudent or not, it's about whether you are looking to learn or are people looking to you to learn fromthem, to share with them. If you are able to just articulate and say, "Hey, I like to learn about A, B andC," it comes a lot more genuine, if that makes sense. Versus, I think, a lot of people are trying to puffthemselves up, to make themselves sound much more legit than they actually are. And then it comes across really awkward because we all are self-aware, it doesn't come across natural.
Right. So I think Pooja, I wouldn't say like, oh, I have to say I'm a student because there's alsobeen a soft disqualification there, but again, just say something like, you're in a room where you hearsomething that's interesting, you might be like, "Oh, I never thought about it that way. Could you sharea little bit more about what it means in this Southeast Asia context?" Just keep it short and sweet.
And as a inquisitive question, it's a value added question, because we're going to get a goodanswer from there. It's really important that we focus on localizing, at least in Southeast Asia Tech Club,for example, localizing the questions to Southeast Asia, bringing it down to earth and grounding it. Wedon't want to about crypto, we want to talk about crypto in Southeast Asia, for example. But the samegrounding, reality is important. Pooja, when you speak with other guests and everything is you'regrounding them. And you're saying, "Hey, I'm looking to learn, what do you think about A, B and C?"Full-stop.
Speaker 4 (09:48):
From my previous few, very brief appearances on Clubhouse, and one thing I've been kind of curious about is how... I guess I was thinking the topic of Southeast Asia has to be. I guess maybe another way tosay is also on the tangent with Pooja. Sometimes founders or investors are come together to just talkabout Southeast Asia. And they will sometimes go pretty deep in a certain topic. And as a moderator,sometimes it's very difficult for me to find a place that I ask them or find an angle for me to ask themquestions about.
One thing I tend to do naturally would be probably be to center it on the fact that I'm a studentand that I'm here to hear their perspectives and stuff. But I think one thing that I'm still trying to learn ishow exactly do I ask that without shifting the conversation far away from what they were talking aboutand distracting the train of thought. Also, because sometimes I'm joining in midway a conversation, soI'm not sure if listeners are very intent on listening about what these people are talking. For me tosuddenly say something like, "Oh, I'm a student and we love to hear about so and so." I'm not sure ifthat will completely derail the conversation and the interest.
I think that's pretty much a main reason why I've been finding it hard, unless there's noconversation or if the room just opened. I feel like there's a lot more comfort space for me there.
Jeremy Au (11:42):
Yeah. Let's use the dinner table analogy. Imagine the dinner has been going on for 20 minutes and thesethree experts in their relative fields are eating and discussing about startup valuations over a meal of and some noodles and you came in late and they open for you to come in,so you join the fourth year table. Would you ask that question or would you deviate a conversation orwould you keep it going?
Speaker 4 (12:16):
Assuming they're very deep into their conversation, what I'll probably do is I'll quietly listen and try tofind and go to continue the conversation. But I think those are rare moments. What usually happens isthat I would probably end up just listening and just try to nod, and then only very rarely will I find anglesfor me to ask questions about
Jeremy Au (12:40):
Yeah, I think it is a super fair question. I think this applies to not just a Clubhouse but how to havemeetings with people more senior and around a social setting. I think there's a simple, fun fact, which isthat the experts like to share their expertise. And I think we learn the more they share the expertise. Idon't think we should always look at angling and saying like, "What can I ask? What kind of value add," if that makes sense? But keeping the conversation going is its own reward, does that make sense? Because you don't want the meal... If you're working by three experts, you don't want the three experts to walk away from meeting saying, "Wow, Tan, that was super awkward the way you cut in about start up valuation, asking about crypto."
They'll probably be polite enough to answer the question about crypto itself, but what they walkaway with is that they're like, "I don't think Yong Quan's a great conversationalist." Does it make sense?And so you have win the battle, but lose the war a little bit there. Just, I think you want to work theother way around, which is, how do you be part of the flow and help the conversation go deeper? Howdo you help the conversation be smoother? Does it make sense? I think the big difference between meas a moderator versus other people who have been trying to moderate and there's some feedback and you can see is, some moderators just feel like they have to answer every question and other moderators are just like, "Oh, that's interesting question. Mark, you have a good point of view on that, why don't you respond to it?" You're like traffic control to some extent, and you want to let the conversation breathe a little bit. You're not breathless trying to jump in on everything. I could jump in on everything, but I don't need to.
And good experts choose not to do that because they want... Good experts become expertsbecause they listen to other people. There's a funny pattern, you look at the best experts in the world,they're really good active listeners and are very inquisitive, because they became experts by learningfrom other people. You see really top tier, and let's go back to the dinner table analogy, three expertswhen you sit down at a table, they know that you're there. They're going to involve you at some point.The three of them are going to say something like, "Hey, it looks like you're trying to join. Obviously,we've been talking about start up valuations. As a student, what do you think about start upvaluations?" You'd be like, "Oh, I don't know anything about them. It feels like a very keen art and I'mjust learning a lot from listening to your... How did you learn anything about startup valuations?"
And then there's a very natural... I'm just giving an example, segue way for them to say like, "Oh,that's a good point, let's try to simplify our conversation and abstract that one more level down, we'llbring you into it." And I think that's one of the big things for Clubhouses. That's why the better quality rooms hav esmaller groups, higher quality experts and a moderator's actually moderating and not letting theconversation go into, what I call, very flighty, three minutes on one topic. Then seven minutes onanother topic then three minutes another topic. The best ones are actually trying to get deep into thething and we have to trust that the al... I think if you're looking at it from a follow count basis, then it's not very good because, obviously, the three and the seven gets lots of different types of folks into the room and it's like Twitter, everybody's abstracted out.
But I think if you're just trying to be a point of view and have high-quality conversation and giveto the community something real, then it's better go deeper. The trajectory conversation was greatbecause before that, he had only been talking in about a few minutes at a time and he was listening a lotas well, because I think he was himself learning the medium and he was thinking to himself, "What do Iwant to talk about?" And he was also meeting people he never got to meet. But yesterday, he wasfinally able to say, I'm willing to be deep and I'm also willing to be the moderator and I'm going tomoderate and let people ask me questions. And I'm going to be mindful that not everyone set up astartup and company like mine and he was very mindful by that.
You could see him talk about himself, not necessarily the way he would talk about himself toJeremy, if that makes sense. Or talking in a way to another founder of VC. He was explicitly tailoring hislanguage to be like, wow, most of these people in this room have never done a startup before or junior.And he was explicit about it.
I think what I'm trying to say here is when it comes to the conversation, remember that theother three people at the table are mindful that people like you exist in the audience. They themselvesare accommodating the conversation already at a dinner table and in Clubhouse. And then as amoderator, our roles are to help facilitate and be traffic control and keep the conversation flowing andbe supportive of one another.
Speaker 6 (17:59):
My question is not about Clubhouse, but it was a question that I wanted to ask on the Clubhouse but Ididn't get a chance to, but I just wanted to ask, how did you find your career mentors and maybe evenwho are your career mentors, early in your career and how it evolved to today?
Jeremy Au (18:15):
I think Paul [Thumb 00:18:17] was a big one at Bain, I was working at Bain and I was working on mysocial enterprise at the same time. And so it was a very much a tough, dwell nature that I was very frankwith him and I think the part I appreciated most about him was that he was very frank and he chose tobe more direct, not in an unkind way, but he says that if you had to choose between being more directversus indirect, he chose to be more direct and more personable. And also trying to work hard to explain the deeper level principles of what's going on actually.
And I think he kind of sucks because, when you receive feedback and everything andconversation, when it's a very direct conversation, it feels more painful, for sure. But I think inretrospect, I've always benefited more from those conversations, rather than less. Whereas thosepeople that were very indirect or very complimentary end up, not necessarily being in bad conversation,because it made me feel better, but may not necessarily be as solid for building something.
I think Paul has been a good role model in how I coach and give feedback to people. I'm notsaying he's perfect, neither am I saying I'm perfect but I think he made me feel, as a mentee and as ajunior person to him, I felt like I was able to trust him in saying something. And I was able to trust thathe'll give me direct feedback that had my interest in mind. If it was direct feedback then his interest inmind, it'd be very irrelevant, but he was like, "If I was in your shoes, this is what I would do at, A, B and C and this is where you're falling short. A, B, C."
And that's helpful because life's full of Twitter, life's full of motivational quotes and don't get mewrong, I have a bunch of motivational quotes on my phone. You can do anything. Shoot for the moonand if not, you reach stars. And now you're like, "Oh no," if you miss the moon and you aim for the stars, you're dead because instead of a couple months trip, it's going to be a forever trip into the stars, with the oxygen. But that's the dynamic for everybody.
Speaker 5 (20:45):
Actually I just want to bring the conversation back to Clubhouse. I'm so curious, over the last few weeks, how has Clubhouse helped you, professionally or even personally?
Jeremy Au (20:56):
Yeah. That's a good question. I think Clubhouse has helped me, I think, in different domains. Different spheres. Let's talk about personally and then professionally, I would say. I think personally I've gotten to actually hear a lot of interesting people speak and a couple ofmoments that stood out for me was, I got to hear a Taiwanese American cry over her Taiwanese parentslove for Trump because they believe that Trump is the most anti-China and so they are anti-China, so it'sa natural alignment. And she was distraught over that because she was looking at it more from adomestic slash values perspective, versus from her Taiwanese parents as a more transactional, not transactional, but it's more the enemy of my enemy is my friend kind of dynamic, but to hear her cry, which was very abrupt.
It was a big shock to listen to because that was in my first week, listening of it. But it was so realand so raw. And I never thought about it that way. I was like, "Oh yeah, that makes a lot of sense. That'sa real reality." And it would have been a very difficult conversation for me to hear or be part of becausethe Taiwanese dinner table, everyone's a Taiwanese, but it was a group of, I don't know, a couple of hundred Taiwanese people. I was just listening in and I didn't bother raising my hand or trying to speak or moderate, I was just part of the audience listening. And I was like, "Whoa, that's a real conversation, it's authentic and raw and I learned something."
Not just the physical reality of how and what they're supportive about, again on the politics side,but again also the emotionality of the identity to be torn between the parents and her own values. Thatwas a really real value. Now on a conversation I had a few days ago, got to hear some interestingSoutheast Asia diaspora across the world, kind of stories. And so I was able to hear interesting storiesabout Vietnamese people who grow in France. They're first-generation French people, last name's are Vietnamese, they look Vietnamese, but they're in between France and Vietnam and you're like, "Oh wait. Yeah, you're right, Vietnam spent many years in France." Sorry, Vietnam has spent so many years with France and so obviously there's got to be some migrant flow.
And I was like, "Oh I need to hear that story." I also got to hear someone, she was, I guess,ethnically she was half Filipino, half black, nationality wise, she's American and she's in between worlds,those are three very in between worlds because she's what? Asian dash black American, Blasian, if youcan call it. But she's also a Filipino and she was just wondering what her role is and identity. I think thatwas a very real moment. I mean, I don't think I learned anything particularly new about valuations or technology maybe because I already spent so many years as an expert in those things, but those were the stories that was really interesting to me to listen to it here.
I think that's how I think about it professionally. I think just hearing some really raw humanstories was really fun. I think that's one of the benefits of going deeper in stories is getting to hear thosemoments. Professionally, sure I've got followers, 6,000 followers soon. Obviously there's a large club. Iwouldn't say that anyone's... And I think obviously people have been adding me on LinkedIn as a result, so they're reaching out and asking me for more advice.
And obviously I steer them towards the discussion boards because I think a lot of the people askme for advice are pretty similar in terms of what you're looking for. The more we can consolidateresources and summaries and notes and helpful comments there, the more the whole group benefits.There's about a hundred folks now, who are kind of dipping in from time to time to share notes and discuss stuff.
I think what has been interesting as well is being able to find good guests, if they are greatClubhouse host or speaker, from my perspective, then I've been reaching out to them and saying, "Hey,would you like to share your story more via podcast?" And because I think for them, they are helpingfacilitate, they're helping moderate, but they're not necessarily getting the go, I want to hear their ownstory. Because you're like, you're such a good moderator, you know your stuff, you're able to chip inwhere you need to have. I'm like, "You probably have a really interesting story."
And they wouldn't necessarily be the people that are absolutely brand name, but now I knowthat it's going to be an interesting and fun podcast to do. Obviously I had no idea that, he's not a brand name in Southeast Asian tech per se, but based on how he spoke, I was like,"Wow, this would be a good conversation to have."
I think professionally there's that on the podcast and then obviously people reach out and feellike I have something to share. I guess you could say people are starting to see me as helpful because Ithink when I speak, I also try not to be too cookie cutter, PR press release, vanilla. I try very hard to beunderstanding what the question is, and this is being as direct as possible and then saying, for example, not everyone can be a VC and not everyone can be...
Well, everyone can be a founder, but not everyone will be a successful founder. You got to bemindful of the risks, the outcomes, the approach. And that's a tough conversation to have in any forum. Especially in a public one. But I wouldn't say it's necessarily Clubhouse Clubhouse, but I think is a misher masher of what I've gotten to hear as a consumer on a personal side, and also tosome extent, to showcase my expertise on a professional side.