Jeremy shared about his life growing up, coping with grief through his experiences in the army and restarting his life and career, his journey to UC Berkeley and Harvard and founding two startups, and finally going back to Singapore and transitioning to a VC and an angel investor.
Jeremy Au: (00:00)
To be successful is different. So for example, the founders, being that person is obviously going to rely on their empathy, rely on their personal approach. If you ever want to stop someone from feeling depressed or grief, what do you give them? You make sure that they sleep very early and you make sure they wake up at the crack of dawn
I studied Economics. I was working with non-profits and social enterprises and the medical field and so even in university. I thought my goal was to provide the strategy layer for the Gates Foundation and so, so forth. There are so many beautiful stories of when everything goes right when both sides are in harmony. So we look at Facebook, it was VC-funded, right? Palantir was VC-funded. Airbnb was VC-funded.
Amanda Cua: (00:40)
Hi, I'm Amanda Cua, and this is One More Scoop. Here, we're sitting down with Southeast Asia's top founders, executives, and investors to have honest conversations about their personal journeys and find out what really happens behind the scenes.
Jeremy Au is the Chief of Staff and an investor at Monk's Hill Ventures. He's also an active angel investor and hosts the BRAVE Southeast Asia Tech podcast. Before Monk's Hill, he built CozyKin, an early education marketplace in the US. He led the startup as CEO from zero to Series A and it later got acquired by Higher Ground Education.
We talk about what it was like for him growing up, how he dreamed of being a vaccine researcher, how he transformed his life after basically flunking school studying at UC Berkeley, one of the top universities in the US, how he coped with grief after a tragedy, and how being in the army helped him pick up the pieces.
Beyond that. We also talk about how he co-founded his own impact consulting platform and how he cited his side of CozyKin and the pivot that changed it all, and of course why he came back to Southeast Asia and ended up where he is today. Hi, Jeremy. So nice to speak with you today.
Jeremy Au: (02:01)
Hi, good to see you. Awesome to finally be on another podcast with each other.
Amanda Cua: (02:06)
Now we're on opposite sides of the table.
Jeremy Au: (02:10)
Yeah, the BRAVE podcast misses you, but it's okay. Here's another conversation again, half, and I'm sure we'll take it a different way as well.
Amanda Cua: (02:16)
Yeah, totally. Well, for me, I feel like I always see on LinkedIn because of the BRAVE podcast, everybody who speaks to me talks about you and Monk's Hill, the BRAVE podcast. But for me, I feel like I want to ask about what I don't know, and I want to hear about you when you were growing up, what was life like for you? What were you interested in?
Jeremy Au: (02:34)
Oh, the tables have turned. I'm always the person asking questions and now, to reveal more about myself and my dark and tragic past. I think for myself growing up, I was a nerd, right? And still am a nerd. I grew up loving encyclopedias and science fiction. I was part of the computer club as well as the drama club in middle school and high school. So what that means is that I was playing around coding in HTML, then doing web design, going out for computer knowledge competitions, and lots of nerdy stuff. And we also ran a school-sponsored LAN cafe. We managed to convince our school to fight the scourge of our students going out to play at LAN cafes in other places. And we convinced them to build a LAN cafe on our school premises, and then we ran it.
Amanda Cua: (03:18)
What's a LAN cafe?
Jeremy Au: (03:19)
Like a computer gaming cafe. Oh my gosh. Now you made me feel so old slash you don't know what a LAN cafe is. Okay. It's like when people can't afford great computers at home, so there's a shop where you have multiple PCs, and everybody just games together with each other. Normally they sell food.
Amanda Cua: (03:35)
You're allowed to play in the cafe during like lunch break and recess and after school. Is that what the setup is?
Jeremy Au: (03:41)
Yeah, that's what we regulated it to be. So we legalize LAN gaming, or local area network gaming by allowing folks to have a maximum of two hours per week. It was only available after school hours and if you had bad grades, a teacher or parent could submit a block to us. And so we had offered very cheap prices,? That was a really fun experience, running a cyber cafe. Yeah.
Amanda Cua: (04:04)
How old were you when it was opened?
Jeremy Au: (04:06)
Oof. Setting this up was like secondary school, so I don't know. Must have been like 12, 13, 14, 15, 16. You know, the fun times.
Amanda Cua: (04:15)
Was it because you loved gaming and you wanted to play in school?
Jeremy Au: (04:18)
Yeah. It's like the whole club came together and sent in a proposal. At the end of the day, I think everybody was doing some level of gaming back then, even today. Well, you know what? You're right. Not everyone was a gamer back then. We wouldn't be adults, right? We're the nerds. I just literally said that. We were the uncool nerds playing StarCraft and Warcraft and Count Strike and these games. And I think fast forward 20 years, and I remember I was at the DOTA II finals that was being held in Singapore and obviously everybody was there. It was a giant party. It's a whole stadium worth of fans. And there were AR effects and there were all kinds of fireworks and there were millions of dollars as a prize. And I was telling my friend, oh my gosh, the nerds have gone mainstream. Because my secondary school best friend was like watching TV. I was like, Kai, we've gone mainstream. We've become cool! ? We used to be unfit people. And now we're like athletes with our sponsored jerseys and stuff like that, and the strategy and these commentators. It was fun times.
Amanda Cua: (05:17)
So if I ask you in secondary school, what did you want to be in the future when you grew up?
Jeremy Au: (05:21)
Yeah. I wanted to be a vaccine researcher and a poet on the side. So what that meant was I wanted to, really interested in Biology. I was interested in the body, I was interested in research, and problem-solving. So that was a tremendous amount of interest. I also had TIME Man of the Year. And what was interesting was that I had gone through the experience of watching some Asian American scientists really be celebrated for their work. And so, there's a level of representation that ended up kicking in hard because you can get success.
For me, an Asian writing perspective on a global stage by doing research in vaccines and so on and so forth. So I think there's a big interest on my side to explore vaccine research as a category. And eventually, I got the opportunity to look at different like shadow people now. I realized that it was a lot less fun than thought I was gonna be. And so I was like, I have to find a different path. And also my grades were terrible as well, so I wasn't really cut out for that at that point in time.
Amanda Cua: (06:17)
So they were shadowing vaccine researchers in high school?
Jeremy Au: (06:20)
No, I wouldn't say, vaccine researchers, just like medical scientists were just like a much broader group. Then it was just like, okay, you sit in a lab, you do a bunch of pipetting at that point in time, and then, it just didn't look sound. I think the idealized version of this person who's like saving the world, which is also true, they do save the world. But I think you didn't have the reality, what was the day in the life of it? And so, I thought it was nice learning to have.
Amanda Cua: (06:42)
So how did you get from running that cyber cafe to wanting to be a vaccine researcher? What filled the gap there?
Jeremy Au: (06:48)
Back then, growing up with technology and computer games. Today, now we're like, if you use computers, you must be in tech. But it just didn't feel like, it just felt like having computers was a way of life. It didn't feel like a contradiction to be using computers in your everyday life and playing computer games with your friends, and also being a nerd about Biology and things like that. It just felt very similar. I think the world has kind of swung around to that because I would say, even say 20 years ago, I think the thought of medical research is very different from computers.
But if you go to Boston today or anywhere, all the medical scientists, they're using computers all the time. I literally met someone and they were like, they were laughing, they coded up the robot to come of hypotheses about the test. Then they have robots to automate the testing of those hypotheses, and then they just look at the result and say, okay, this is more interesting, or this is less interesting. And so there's a lot of technology that's happening.
Amanda Cua: (07:39)
And then, when I was searching about you and your background, I came across a story that you experienced heartbreak in your secondary school year, but is that related to how you wanted to be a vaccine researcher, or do you think that didn't affect anything at all?
Jeremy Au: (07:51)
Yeah, so what a story is, is that in high school I was on track to be a medical researcher and so I studied Biology and Chemistry and Math and Economics. I was on that track, and I think that was her plan. And then my first love wanted to be a Pharmacist. We're doing a lot of that. And long story short she, unfortunately, passed away from a sudden and unexplained disease over the course of two weeks, which was a big shock for me personally, because there was a lot of grief, obviously. And it was just terrible because her family was obviously highly distraught.
Everyone was just shocked. And that was, I think, a very big moment for me in the sense, that it caused a lot of self-reflection. But two, it caused me to reset what I wanted to do with my life. I didn't really feel like I wanted to be in medical research anymore actually, cause I didn't want to be in that medicalized field actually, to be honest, because I was at a point adverse to hospitals and all these other areas.
And then of course I think another was my grades were terrible because I dropped out of school effectively for a year. So my grades, one eventually turned out to be nowhere near where you needed them to be as well, for medical research. So I think that was the start of a multi-year journey for me. Reset, figure out my career path, join the military for a couple of years, and eventually decided I would actually want to go to college, and then take all my exams all over again. And then finally, eventually decided to explore Economics, which was my second best subject as a different path.
And I think what was interesting is that when I went to university, it didn't really change as much as you thought. Because what I decided was, I wanted to continue being in vaccine research but really be more on the programs or strategy side of it. So I studied Economics. I was working with nonprofits and social enterprises and the medical field, and so, even in university, I thought my goal was to provide the strategy layer for the Gates Foundation and so, so forth. So I still wanted to help the world and make the world a slightly better place, but it just felt like it was not going to be me from being in the lab or in a medicalized space, but more working on the company slash organizational side.
Amanda Cua: (09:46)
The same goal, but just a different side of things.
Jeremy Au: (09:49)
Yeah, exactly. And so that's why in university I worked with pretty much eight different nonprofits and social enterprises, most of them in the medical side to help them with their operations, with their strategy, with their financials over the timeframe.
Amanda Cua: (10:00)
So you said that you dropped out, sort of, for a year from secondary school. What was it like during that one year?
Jeremy Au: (10:05)
I mean, it was dropping out from junior college and I was really checked out. That's the longest shot of it. I would turn up in my class, but I'm just like not there. And I think obviously, on the surface area, was Jeremy attending class just enough to not get into trouble? Yeah. But was Jeremy like mentally there? Not really. And I think one of the interesting parts is even today, I look back and I say like, what my memory of high school versus junior college versus secondary school. I would say that my memories are very fuzzy around junior college. It's just, and my doctor friends are like, yeah, this is a very common thing. So when you're grieving, your body doesn't really process memories the same way because it's just so engrossed in your internal world, rather external world.
So, I wasn't a very good student. My grades were not good. I guess that was of key importance to my parents, but they also felt like they didn't really know what to do. So that was that. Definitely in the bottom rank of my high school when I graduated. I always remember they're announcing the scores. And it was a good school and so, it was all these high scores and they were this percentage. And I was like, oh shit, I'm definitely in the bottom 10% of the school after they announced all the scoring and tiers, I was like, ah, shit, I'm definitely in the bottom 10% of the school.
Amanda Cua: (11:09)
Did they announce everyone from the top to the bottom? On the screen?
Jeremy Au: (11:12)
No. They're just like X number and it was like, four A's, two distinctions. And that's like this number of people,? And then they're like, okay, four A's, one distinction is like 5% of the school, Four A's. So they kind of like rattle off the key statistics. And then, after a while I was like, oh, my grades fit in the bottom tier of the school, which sucked in terms of feeling it. Yeah, it did suck. I was very unhappy in the sense that nobody wants to know that I had a bottom rank in the school. But it wasn't surprising to me because I also knew I was kind of checked out. So there's a lot of like an internal conversation. We're just like, of course, I did poorly because I wasn't focused. But then, I should have been focused because I would've wanted to do better. But, I don't want to do better because I don't really care.
That's, in retrospect, a very teen-ish way of it. But I think one of the benefits of the world today is there are a lot more resources for people going through grief. I think at that time, I don't think the internet was that good. So, I went to the library and I checked out. I went to a section called grief. And then you look at a bunch of like, there's like 10 books there and you're like.
Amanda Cua: (12:07)
Maybe it's Chicken Soup for the Soul?
Jeremy Au: (12:09)
And then you're like, yeah, exactly. I did have to read a lot of Chicken Soup For the Soul, by the way. It's not a joke by the way. And as well as like our Daily Bread and things like that.
Amanda Cua: (12:18)
Jeremy Au: (12:19)
Yeah. So it's what you got. And the bible?
Amanda Cua: (12:21)
I think those three?
Jeremy Au: (12:22)
Those three were like, everyone's like Chicken Soup for the Soul, Our Daily Bread, and the Bible. That's what everybody got. And then, I was special because I went to the library because I was feeling really sad. I didn't know what to do. And there's a section on grief. And then you just check out, look at the 10 books so that it covers, and you just browse through them, and then that's what you had.Today, the internet has everything. It's so normalized in terms of what to do, what you're feeling, and tactical tips.
Amanda Cua: (12:43)
For every type of grief that you have.
Jeremy Au: (12:45)
Yeah. You can go to Reddit, Reddit slash grief, or Reddit slash counseling, and it's like, I don't know, 10,000, a hundred thousand people who are like in the exact same spot as you. But I mean, to me, back then, it was this very. Don't get me wrong. I just still think it's a lonely experience for anyone in the world, but it's just that it was just a crazy time, right? It was just a tough time for me at that point in time, and I'm glad I made it through.
Amanda Cua: (13:05)
How would you talk about the healing and transformation process? Was there a point in time where you felt like, no, you healed, or you were able to really transform the way you felt and you processed it? Because I feel like it's a very unique situation and experience that you had, but I feel like people might also benefit from hearing about how you overcame it in a sense.
Jeremy Au: (13:23)
Yeah. Long story short, it took me years to even get comfortable talking about it. The fact that I can talk about it today is something I could never have done, honestly, for at least five years after everything happened. I think I went through my two years in the military. I didn't talk about it except with some friends who knew about it, obviously. But you know, we didn't talk about it. My parents didn't really talk about it. Nobody really talked about it.
Amanda Cua: (13:45)
It's also an Asian thing, I think, not to talk about things and then just hope that it sort of process.
Jeremy Au: (13:49)
Yeah, it's awkward. There's no easy answer. I did have a school counselor, at least, who tried to talk to me. But as a teenager, you don't really trust the school counselor either.
Amanda Cua: (13:58)
You don't trust the system.
Jeremy Au: (14:00)
Well, also, the school counselor's going to write down stuff or stuff like that, as a school counselor, not your counselor.
Amanda Cua: (14:04)
Yeah. They're not on your side.
Jeremy Au: (14:06)
They're not on your side. So then, that interesting dynamic. I went to university eventually, after studying for the exams again and finally getting good grades, and finally getting, finally applying for college and getting in. I didn't talk about it for four years, pretty much. It was, I think I was in America at UC Berkeley. Nobody knew. And I actually enjoyed the fact that nobody knew.
Amanda Cua: (14:25)
Like a fresh start.
Jeremy Au: (14:27)
It was a fresh start. Everybody was like, oh, you're the cool Asian guy. The guy who's like from Singapore with an interesting accent, that you did two years in the military and you really care about nonprofits and the medical side.Yeah. Cool. You do you. So there was no, it was kind of like a, like you said, a fresh start. No baggage. And I think it's only when I came back to Southeast Asia and then, started re-immersing myself and kind of getting the point obviously, where honestly, I think the long story shot was like, I got too into a serious relationship with my now wife, but back then I was like, we were just girlfriends and we're being serious about it. And long story short I just realized that I was just being, I just had a lot of self-limiting beliefs in terms of relationships and what was I supposed to do with my life in terms of relationships. So, don't get me wrong, I was totally functional in terms of my work or hanging out with you or whatever it was, but when it just came to relationships, honestly, I was just not great. I was just very commitment-phobic, which makes total sense the moment it says out loud today. But back then, I was like, oh, I just don't want to commit. And it was totally normal behavior for me.
And then at some point, I realized that it was becoming a bit illogical. And so I was just like, okay, I'm in a serious relationship, let me go try to figure out what's going on here. And then, I started doing my research, I started Googling, started stuff, started going, doing the self-work. So yeah, it became a lot better, pretty much. Not better, but I think I became more comfortable sharing about it about maybe seven years down the road. And actually, to double-click on what you said here, it's not really a rare thing because the moment I started sharing about it, I mean, truth is, it's very common.The one thing that's definitely going to happen to all of us is that all of us are gonna die. You're gonna die. I'm gonna die.
Amanda Cua: (16:02)
And all of us will lose a loved one at some point.
Jeremy Au: (16:04)
Yeah. Exactly. Everyone's gonna lose a loved one, unless a long life means that you're going to have many people that you have loved or have loved you, passed away. And so what's interesting is as I started being more comfortable sharing the story, and so five, I think a lot of folks were like, yeah, like they may not have necessarily lost their first love, but they may have lost their parents, their grandparents, their, their uncle, friends. and in many ways it's common. And so I think there's a lot of empathy that came out. So to some extent, I, I think what was fair was like at the age of like 17. And 16, the fact that you lose your relationship partner is totally uncommon to all of your peers. In this space.
Amanda Cua: (16:42)
But yeah, especially in the sudden death. Yeah. Sudden death, but, Look later and on in life, it's different.
Jeremy Au: (16:47)
Yeah. Yeah. But then if you talk to a 50-year-old, they probably had many loved ones pass away so there was an interesting dynamic where I'm just like, the realization that's is not a rare occurrence.
It's, it's a very common occurrence. But as you said, there is a stigma around it. But also at the time, there weren't a lot of resources for people. And it wasn't normal to talk about that. So I think that's the interesting challenge for myself back then, and even for lots of folks today.
Amanda Cua: (17:10)
How did you get into UC Berkeley and really get to decide, okay, I want to go to university now, but I want to go to university in the United States. How did you make that?
Jeremy Au: (17:21)
Yeah. I mean, I was terrible at school and I just, autopilot went to Singapore military services mandatory, but I was happy to go because I had no other plan for everyone else. They were like, pretty frustrated because they're like, oh, I got into a good university. I can't wait to go there. Or they were like, oh, I have a girlfriend who's going to the US first or somewhere else. And I have to stay in the military. So I think people, a lot of people were just frustrated. They felt like their lives were paused for two years because there was somewhere to go.
And it was a big relief to me because I'll be like nodding along like, yeah, yeah, yeah. This is terrible. In my head, I was just like, you could just go on autopilot. It was, yeah, much better for you. Yeah. And I always tell people like, if you ever want to stop someone from, I don't know, feeling depressed or grief, what do you give them? You make sure that they sleep very early and you make sure they wake up at a crack of dawn. You make sure that they're surrounded by people all the time. You make sure they get plenty of exercise, and Vitamin B, get plenty of sunlight and you make sure that they don't think for themselves too much. So just keep giving them instructions.
Amanda Cua: (18:23)
I have to agree with that. I don't think I had like a huge tragic experience happen to me, but when Covid happened in 2020, I planned to go to university, but I felt like with Zoom University and everything, I didn't think it was worth it to commit to four years of university online.
So I decided to take a year off. To all of my friends, I was pretty confident telling them this is the best decision. But then like behind the scenes, I knew I didn't know what to do or have any plans. So I told myself the last thing I want is to become a bum and be really sad. So, I actually made a schedule for myself.
I would sleep really early, wake up really early, and I'd have a schedule for every single day of the week. I would be nonstop just following that schedule. And I think it helped me a lot.
Jeremy Au: (19:03)
Yeah, exactly. So that's what the military did. It's like they gave me a very structured routine and I just didn't think for like, I don't know, six months? Effectively, yes. He's just making you run, jump, dig, shoot, run, squat, do pushups, he is just doing all these things and I think I remember about six months in, I, I think my brain started to kind of like start working again a little bit. Yeah. And I was just, Okay.
Like what do I do now? This six months of this. Okay. And I think that was a time, obviously, cause I was on autopilot for six months. I was like, oh, maybe I'll join the military cause I'm in the military. I just joined the military. I have no sense.
After six months I was like, oh no, I, I can't stay in the military. It's like, I can do this for two years, but I can't do this for like 20 years. So, yeah. It was a good reminder to be like, If I really don't do anything, I'm really gonna be stuck in the military. That's when I was like, okay, now you had a goal.
Now I had a goal, which is like, military, get out of the military, do something in my life. And so I started, it's like, okay, step one. And it's like, I started taking the evaluation. I started to take the SATs, right? The American, standardized exam because it was easier than the British one. It was all MC, So basically what I would do was I would like, buy American textbooks for the SATs. Then I would carry them into the bunks. And then I would just study at night. When we were outfitted in Jungle, I would, literally, still remember I did the chemistry SATs.
I would basically like to cut up my SAT books into page sections of like 20 or 30 pages. Now I put them in a Ziploc bag and I'll put them in my backpack where they'll kind of look nice and flat. And so yeah, everyone else would be exhausted. We're all getting eaten by mosquitoes.
And then I'll just like switch on my torchlight and just be like, pull out my Ziploc. And This is all in the jungle. So, yeah. Because in the book, I could be in the bunk, I could use the book. But in the jungle, I can't carry the whole book because it was so heavy. So I'll just 20, 30 pages, and then, it's just like, kind of slowly go through them and CQ is easy cause you can just use your pen. Just do a few. I was like that was quite an experience because I think the folks around me, a lot of them were just not very understanding. I mean, in the sense that a lot of them already had their colleges to go through, signed about the things they wanted to do, so it was all lined up for them. And for other folks, it was just like, yeah I don’t know. Just trying to burn time. So a lot of people had PSPs.They were playing Guilty Gear and all.
Amanda Cua: (21:35)
You're the only one who was really trying to fight to change their life or find something to do.
Jeremy Au: (21:40)
Yeah. Because I was the only one who had, tried to reset exams. I think later on in the second year, I met a few folks who were kind of like, Doing the same thing. It became a little bit easier at that point in time once I knew that I was not the only weirdo, kinda like staying up late to look at the chemistry and stuff like that. So, in retrospect, so many years down the road, I'm actually quite proud of myself that I actually sat down and.
Amanda Cua: (22:00)
Got yourself together.
Jeremy Au: (22:01)
Yeah, because I think before that like you're always in school, And so people, you just end up studying because it's a default thing to do and because everyone else is also studying, Yeah. So, there's a lot of imitation and emulation that's happening. So you just end up studying. But in the army, it was like literally the first time I've ever been in a situation where everybody was definitely not studying. Everybody's either trying to like survive the day, play games, and, get out or just like, I don't know, vegetate and sleep. I mean, because, it was like, cause the day is so exhausting because, you're trying to excel physically, et cetera. And I was just the one person who was just trying to study.
Amanda Cua: (22:36)
It was the first time you had to be self-motivated, I think.
Jeremy Au: (22:39)
Yeah, well, I've always been self-motivated to some extent, but I was, the first time I actually made a decision, I was like, I'm self-motivated or choose to do something that nobody else is doing.
It was, it was a really interesting time and I'm very grateful to my, 19 and 20-year-old self version of myself that chose to study, Because that person eventually ended up applying to college, going to UC, Berkeley, and then wouldn't be where I am today. A younger version of me didn't choose to like say like, okay, I'm gonna be the weirdo. They're studying. Interesting times. Yeah.
Amanda Cua: (23:09)
When you were at UC Berkeley, and you actually founded your own consulting group, How did that start? Was it because of your experience in UC, Berkeley, you saw it and wanted to emulate the experience you had consulting at UC Berkeley, and bring it to Singapore, or were there other motivations that you also had?
Jeremy Au: (23:25)
Yeah, so, I think when I arrive on campus at the university, UC Berkeley, I was very lost. But I knew that I wanted to give back to the social sector at that point in time. So I ended up lucky to join a social impact consulting group that was working with nonprofits and social enterprises to turn around the operations.
And it was such a life-changing experience because it was such passionate growth. Folks who really wanted. Improve things, but also were very committed and it was very selective as well. And so I think was able to create a very strong and loyal community. And that was something that I really needed.
It created a structure but also gave me a point of view of unlocking some skills in myself. And I just enjoyed that time tremendously at a university level. I later knew that. I wanted to come back to Southeast Asia from the US And so I ended up in a position where I wanted to volunteer at a similar organization in Singapore, and it didn't exist.
And so as a result, I was just brainstorming with my at the time and still my best friend Kwan. And we basically had been army buddies. yeah, we met the military, and became best friends after that. And he was just kind of like, Hey, why don't we just set it up, if it doesn't exist, if you can't volunteer in it, why don't we set it up?
We're is I think in Frank retrospect, very naive and adding a lot better ways. I probably want to save myself a lot of time at Heartache. Probably just told myself like, Hey Jeremy, why don't you volunteer at a different nonprofit instead of trying to create your own for the same price? , it's just such, so much work.
Amanda Cua: (24:52)
You couldn't stick the social, social sector. You didn't have to make the exact same one that you used to work at.
Jeremy Au: (24:59)
Yeah, exactly. So many ways, easier ways to do it, but we decided, I was like, yeah, let's build it. And we did. We ended up building Conjunct Consulting, which was very, very, very painful in the beginning because there were so many people, so many skeptics, and about the business model, about the approach, about whether it could work or not. But yeah, it was, I think a great experience to be able to do it and build it, and I really enjoyed it at the end of the day.
Amanda Cua: (25:20)
I think it's one thing to build a startup and it's another thing to try to build a bootstrap nonprofit.
Jeremy Au: (25:27)
Oof. Yeah. I mean, at truth is at that point in time, the language didn't even really exist, so effectively we ended up building a social enterprise, Which was, had its own revenue streams. It wasn't running on donations, but the language didn't even exist. The word bootstrap didn't exist. I mean, and the what? Social enterprise didn't even exist. We kind of knew some people calling themselves social entrepreneurs, but they were all weirdos. I used the word weirdo a lot and we were like, okay. I think that kind of describes us. So at that point in time, when we first started out, I think we were like, okay, want to build a nonprofit? But makes money from its services and not from donations. And that's effectively a bootstrap startup, you can call it.
Because we had quite an aggressive growth plan, or you call it social enterprise, whatever you want to call it, but a lot of the terminology back then just didn't exist about what to call ourselves. Even like essays on how to grow, like all that stuff.
Amanda Cua: (26:16)
You didn't have like a, for example, what we have now, like a Y Combinator startup guide. You didn't have anything like that.
Jeremy Au: (26:22)
No. It just didn't exist. So it's just like, just learning everything from scratch. And just have to like draw it ourselves, do it from ba, first principles, but we paths we somehow succeeded. Yeah. It still exists today. It's still going strong. It's concerted for hundreds of non-profits in social enterprises in Singapore and trained thousands of alumni. it's funny because I walk around in the Singapore social sector and I will just be like, they're like, oh, you're the guy who found a Conjunct Consulting.
And I'm like, yeah, I did. And then they're like, wow. How did you make it happen? How, how did you make it, self-sustaining? Why is it that you managed to leave and find a successor? It's a takeover. Like, Cause, like nonprofits, when you build a certain way, like the founders still there after 20, 30, 40 years. If I have a, that they, they can't really make enough money. They're very reliant on donations.
Amanda Cua: (27:07)
I couldn't even really find your name on the website either. I think a lot of social enterprises, nonprofits, I look at, they always have this, the founder page and it's huge. And this long story from that guy, that lady.
Jeremy Au: (27:19)
Yeah. And for me, that was one of the big goals. I had a friend, I was like, yeah, I think for me, my first principal was like, you can't really have a talent letter if the founder's there all the time. Then who's gonna be the high-performing executive? Who's gonna take over? And if there are no high-performing executives, then who are the high-performing employees and volunteers?
Amanda Cua: (27:38)
How did you think of all of this?
Jeremy Au: (27:40)
I just love talking to people, but it was just like, yeah. like if I have the plan to go, then that forces me to have a succession plan. But me forcing me to have a succession plan means that that forces me to have a coaching and a leadership training plan which forces me to have a very strong recruiting plan. So I think it was kind of like working backward, And that forced me to build all those things so we could find a successor over time. So, yeah, I'm glad people have taken over. There's been a good, change of hands and a com organization keeps growing and keeps going.
And I honestly, that's a beautiful story, Because I think, obviously when I was younger, it's like, oh, this thing could go so huge. It could grow all over Southeast Asia, the marble cities, marble countries, and then you. like, no, I think, I think when it comes to, at least for the first company, as you said, bush strap, social enterprise, like the fact that it's able to be, have that long-term game?
Is this, I think it's underrated, It's criminally underrated. I think people are trying to be like that billion-dollar company or trying to be like that from the first company. Yeah. Yeah. and I, I just think that what was the goal, The goal was to like deeply impact the clients that we were serving as well as the deep impact, the members of the community that we were training, and so I think everything worked out from that. and more honestly, because the truth is I always tell people like, my successor, she was better than me. . that's great. And it felt sucky to acknowledge that because they like, oh, she's better than me. You mentioned, but you're like, oh, that's good.
I mean, I take credit for it. For my, it's good for your clients, it's good for, it's good for my clients’ community, it's good for everybody else, but, it's a bit bruising for your ego. when you first kind of like go about doing it. But that's all you wanted to do.
Amanda Cua: (29:20)
Did you already know that you wanted to find a successor when you sort of hired her?
Jeremy Au: (29:25)
I think, I mean, I don't think it was like at a point of founding, you're like, oh, I want to leave, but nobody really does that. But at some point. But she was there super early on. But I think pretty early on I was very much like, okay, if this is a really high-performing organization, what does it need to have? And kind of like working backward. Is this kind of like going through all of that logic, For better or for worse? So, yeah. I, I think it was more like saying like, okay, it was more like if you want an organization to have great talent, you need to have promotion opportunities.
You need to have that coaching and grooming. You need the upper mobility.
Amanda Cua: (29:55)
Yeah. So it's not like, for example, as Conjunct Consulting grew over the years, this talent developed over the years and you told yourself maybe she should take over and I should leave. It wasn't like that case.
Jeremy Au: (30:05)
That's the way to screw it up, honestly a lot of organizations like that, it's like, okay, I'm just gonna hover around and, eventually, oh, this one's good enough to take over maybe.
And then, kind of like this very reactive way. Like that's definitely the worst way to do it because truth is, high performance. Have other opportunities. Yeah. So you want to sit down with them and just tell them like, Hey, you have a shot. and you need to tell them like, the shot is not now, but a shot is in two years or three years, or four years.
And then high performers are excited about it. those with the rough mindset and they say like, okay, I want to give it a shot. Whereas a lot of folks are just like, yeah. if you don't think they have a shot, then they're just gonna leave. yeah. to a place that promises. upward mobility. So I think that's really the crux of the dynamic for loss succession planning is like, yeah, you can't wait. I think you have to start, honestly, probably like five years in advance. Like, I mean, I don't think it should be like, oh, I want to leave. Oh, I can leave in five years. Okay, let's start planning now.
But it's more like that way around. We're just okay. I built a great. Place to hire an,d recruit the great best people. I created a ladder for them to learn. I've created the structures and opportunities for them to improve and advance their career, and I'm in serious about letting there be a space for the best of the best high performers to get rise all the way to the top. That's really the chronology that people should be focusing on.
Amanda Cua: (31:26)
then years after you founded content consulting, you ended up at Harvard Business School. Was that something that was influenced by your time building your own venture?
Jeremy Au: (31:35)
Yeah, so, I think I had the opportunity to go to Harvard MBA with an offer, and I thought that was a tremendous opportunity to do and take and.
Yeah, I took it. I actually ended up deferring my admission to Harvard by a year because I felt like I hadn't found the successor yet. I needed more time to train and coach and find, and vet the right candidates, but also to get to the next stage. So yeah, I thought it was a great experience. I went to Harvard.
I told myself, I said, Hey, I'm happy with my performance as a consultant at Bain. I'm happy with my performance as the co-founder of Conjunct Consulting and leading it to the next stage of what needs to be done, and I would like to learn. And so for me, I was very much in a learning mode about, tech, about being an executive, about the world. So that was a really fun experience to go to Boston.
Amanda Cua: (32:29)
So that time it was sort of the next stage for you, like focus on yourself again and learn. But then during your time at Harvard Business School, you ended up founding your own startup. How did that happen?
Jeremy Au: (32:40)
Yeah, I went to Harvard and I did my MBA and then, I very much had, I think, three goals.
I think the first was to meet a new person every day or have a good deep discussion. The second was that I felt like I wanted. Learned to be a good leader and c e o as well as learning wasn't meant to be a good founder. And the third thing was I wanted to join something that I cared about and if it didn't exist, to be able to create it.
So I think my two years at Harvard, very much, a function of me, honestly, just visiting a lot of different companies and. different verticals, So I was like, I was part of the healthcare club. I was like hanging out with the doctors, and the hospitals to understand operations.
Cause I was like, Hey, what would it be like to work at, in a hospital as an executive? , What would the dynamics be? Yeah. And then I kind of realized that I had been a co-founder and so, so forth. So I was like, yeah, exploring the various startups that opportunities. So I visited all kinds of startups, right?
I visited the headquarters of Casper, Zocdoc, and Ooma Health. So, it was a nice visit right to all the various, campuses of these startups to just understand what they're doing in the building. So yeah, some interesting times and you go to the point where, Sitting down and exploring different, different ideas, and what we ended up doing was we said, oh, I was interested in, kind of like mental wellness as a category. So we started interviewing lots of folks who had struggled with mental wellness. And then we ended up finding out that, there are different clusters and one of the biggest classes was postpartum depression.
And so as we interviewed mothers with postpartum depression, we found. The vast majority of them were struggling with their return to work and also the provision of high-quality childcare. And so that was causing them a lot of stress that was precipitating their postpartum depression. And so we sat down, we brainstormed about it. I always remember there was a doctor and then he was very much like, even when I treat this, maybe you should build like something that creates like group therapy and counseling to accept the fact that there's no good childcare, and I was like, and I thought was, I mean he was very serious,
I mean he was like very much like from, Cause you're a doctor. You're like, okay, I have all these women who are depressed because there's no good childcare and they can't go back to work, and therefore their identity is being shredded and therefore their postponed depression. Then you're like, as a doctor, you're like but the answer is like group counseling and putting them in a room with other moms who have also lost their jobs because they can't find childcare.
And then they all commiserate and then they feel better about it. And then, they can go back to work. you can go back to work after maybe two or three or four or five years when they finally figure out a childcare situation. But, and I was like, yeah, that makes sense from a medical perspective.
But in practice, by practice, maybe what you could do is help them get back to work and help them find a childcare one.
Amanda Cua: (35:28)
So this is how it started. I thought it was because maybe you had your own, your own kid at the time already, and then that it was an experience that led you to make this.
Jeremy Au: (35:36)
Yeah, it was just like, yeah, it's just like meeting like 107 very sad, frustrated, angry mothers, new moms. And this is like, where's the childcare? And everyone's like you want group counseling? Do you want pills? Do you want a massage? Like, s, like, everyone's like, they're like, no, I dunno. Just need, I need childcare.
Amanda Cua: (35:55)
How did you find them? That's a lot of mothers.
Jeremy Au: (35:58)
That's not hard, right? I mean, mom's like easy, You just ask all your friends and he's just like, Hey, do someone who's a new mom? Or going to be a mom?
Amanda Cua: (36:06)
So you would meet with them face to face?
Jeremy Au: (36:08)
Yeah, I'll do calls with them or, so it was, I think it was pretty, I mean, moms are easy to find. I mean, it's like, come on. Like you, I mean, Facebook is still around and in trimester one after that's done, Everybody puts their little photos saying, we're expecting. Okay. That's true. I mean, it's, joy and those are not that , easy, not that hard to find after they're all. I think people underestimate how easy it is to find your target user if you're just very specific about who they are. Do you know what I mean?
Amanda Cua: (36:40)
Yeah. And then how did you get figuring out, okay, this is the problem, childcare and then building up the solution? What did the earliest version of that look like? Were you a babysitter?
Jeremy Au: (36:50)
Yeah, we were. You know, we were just taking to childcare. We, we, we observed them at home. I think there's in, yeah, we still have like, the brainstorming and the pictures that we have, Where we're just like very much like, okay, what happens if.
Invert a childcare model, How do we look at in-home childcare versus a network of homes with, childcare providers in them? So I think lots of different iterations of it. and there's no easy way to say it, but I think the easiest way of saying it was, at the end of the day, I think when it comes to childcare, and I think one of the things we realize is that at the end of the day is a highly regulated space in a sense that, there's a certain ratio of kids that allow per teacher, and obviously it's a high-risk activity,
Because you're think you have children, they're risking, they're crawling, they have a chance of sudden infant desk syndrome. So there are a lot of high-quality standards that you need. So the parameters that you have around childcare are actually not that many. So it's more about being creative, about how you go about solving it.
So for us, we ended up building up a nanny-sharing network. today we call them childcare pods, actually. So that was an interesting ride where, we built the company over many years, from pre-seed, the seed, the Series A, we grew that out to about 8 million of revenue. And then eventually we sold that to higher ground Education.
Which was a global daycare chain. And then there we kind of like worked with them over a year to kind of like integrate that across the country and get nanny sharing and childcare ports legalized across many states. So it was kind of an interesting experience and I think the tricky part is like, I think our founders were asking about how to build something.
I think he's just gotta start from scratch, I think he's just gotta start from day one, just build, solve the problem, and then you keep trying and trying and trying different iterations of it. So I think that's how we went about doing it on our way, but I think it's still not solved, honestly.
We cracked and solved maybe 5% of the problem, to be honest, from a solutions basis, which is I think 5% of childcare is still quite in terms of creating a new model of childcare. But even today, I think the problem is that I think America's a uniquely broken place for childcare and families.
Mm. And so I think a lot more needs to be done. And, I was just like, literally today just looking at a startup deck, the end, they're just talking about how they want to solve childcare problem. And I was like, well.
Amanda Cua: (39:04)
Surprise, I'm an expert. somehow.
Jeremy Au: (39:07)
Well, I, it wasn't, I wasn't surprised because I had seen different iterations of this approach. And I think America has a unique problem just fundamentally, which is not enough childcare providers, So I think everyone's just trying to like different parameters of dealing with the same problem, but it's just like that's not enough. You know, if you're living far away from family and when you don't have federally protected maternity leave, let alone paternity leave, I think you're in for a lot of demand, right? For childcare that is not well served. Full stop.
Amanda Cua: (39:38)
What's it like to actually build a startup for, a target customer that isn't you? I mean, you didn't experience the same problem yourself, right? So did that code as a huge challenge, or were you able to augment that with all of the speakings that you had with your users?
Jeremy Au: (39:54)
Well, actually our team actually had quite a lot of experience with nursing as well as with education tech. I mean, personally, I'd also interned at a China series, a startup that was building preschools, which is not the exact same segment, but a little bit different in terms of the target demographic.
And long story short would be, it is a. But it's an overcomeable challenge, What I mean by that is, at the end of the day, it's about empathy for the target user. I'll give you an example would be like, you wouldn't go to a homeless clinic, I'm giving an example, You did. You don't need to be homeless in order to build.
An organization that serves homeless people. Do you know what I mean? Like there are bonkers, you know what I mean? Like, there are so many other ways examples would be like there. There are so many companies that people built FedEx, right? They're not mailmen.
Amanda Cua: (40:43)
I think it's just that there's so much startup advice that I see, especially on Twitter and outside. They say like, oh, you should be somebody who has experience with a problem experiencing this. And it's always a plus. I would disagree. It's just like, that's just why I'm asking you.
Jeremy Au: (40:57)
I think it helps, Does it make sense? But the question is in what aspects does it help? And is the founders self-aware about their strengths and their gaps to bring on the right people to help them to do it right?
There's a lot of scientifically to, to show that there are lots of founders who have experienced the target problem and who are successful. There are lots of people who have, did not have experience in that. But also turned out to be successful. But I think the path to be successful is different, right?
So for example, the founders being that person is obviously going to rely on their empathy, rely on their personal approach to do it, and they had to be careful not to over-index on their own personal experience, but to generalize their experience to more folks, Yeah. Versus I think folks who don't have that experience, they're very much making a decision to say, okay, I don't have the experience, but I have something else. Maybe I have the skillset, I have the knowledge, I have the determination. and I'm self-aware of this enough to really focus on learning as much as possible from as many people as possible, and also being thoughtful about bringing on the right people to help me avoid the pitfalls, but also maximize for success.
That's a very different model of success. and I'm not saying that. If you have experience in being successful, I think there's, you can be unsuccessful easily, but I'm also not saying that if you don't have that personal experience, you would be unsuccessful. I, I think this really goes back to like what is your level of self-awareness?
And in our situation was like, okay, we knew that we understood education tech, we knew that we understood startups, we knew that we understood product design. We knew we understood how to do, engineering, and we made sure we had brought on immediately, right? You know, the first folks that we hired were like, for example, daycare teachers, right?
Our principals, effectively, managers of these daycares could provide us with that. For example, the point of view on what the education pedagogy should be like, for example. So I think that's the story for almost every startup is like. The truth is the normal set of two co-founders, there's no way they have all the knowledge at that moment, nor the bill they're building. So they have to learn and they have to focus. I mean, look at the Airbnb founders. Had they ever worked at Hilton or Marriott?
Amanda Cua: (43:05)
They just had an airbed in their place.
Jeremy Au: (43:07)
Yeah, exactly. They as product designers beforehand. But they had to learn. I think what predicts success, really, is the personal rate of learning for all these. Founders and startups.
Amanda Cua: (43:17)
So what's it like exiting your company and then coming back to Southeast Asia now being on the opposite side of the table yourself? What's it like to be a VC now? Angel investing?
And I think you also mentioned before that you want to be a different kind of VC. So in the past, I guess almost two, or three years of you being a VC, do you think you've been able to do that, be a different VC?
Jeremy Au: (43:40)
Whew, the hard questions. So I think after being acquired by Higher Ground Education, I was the GM there for a year and, we were doing a Covid pandemic and a response to it and emergency childcare.
It was a crazy time and then there was an opportunity to join Venture Capital. I think venture capital was interesting because I had worked with VCs, They were on my board and they were pitching me, collaborating with me as a founder. So I very much had experience on the other side of the table, but I thought that was an interesting experience too.
See what the venture capital site was like. And I think the big thing I realized about the space was that there were like a thousand Jeremys out there. Do you know what I mean? Because as a founder you're very focused on your domain, your space, your work, and obviously you hang out with other people.
So, I was hanging out with like Danielle and Jaw and LA and all these. all these great folks I really enjoyed because they were great founders and I respected what they were doing. And yet what was interesting was as a VC, I think you're on our side of the table, you see like. A thousand Jeremys,
There are a lot of people who have a dream to be a founder, have built up teams, and are selling to customers. So I thought it was a very interesting inversion, I think to see the other side of the table similar to how, like when I was a founder, I saw hundreds of VCs, to be honest.
Yeah. And so they're all kind of saying the same stuff anyway as well. So that was a really interesting experience. And, I remember I Transitioned to become a VC, and then, yeah. You know, I sat down and does a VC and she sat down with me and she wanted to ask me what was it like to be a founder. Because she was like going in another direction and she was like, Jeremy, what advice do you have for me as someone who wants to be a founder? And I'll just be like meeting of the minds there.
Amanda Cua: (45:25)
How are you sort of trying to be a different VC or a humane VC now? And do you think you're able to do that differently already? Or do you think it's like a constant process?
Jeremy Au: (45:34)
You know, I think that venture capital idea of the day, it's about building the future, And so, which is similar to founders in the sense that everyone's aligned at Ruda trying to build the future.
But I think for founders, I think you actually have this interesting dynamic where you represent the team, the talent, the vision of what needs to be done. And you have that time horizon, So if you really care about a problem, you have a time horizon. Yeah. 20 years, 30 years, heck, 50 years. And so for example, I was like, like John Kamar, He's been doing VR and Doom and, like very big on VR, And, but he's been a founder multiple times. And in HR matter executive, I, this person has been doing, His career for like 30 years in a row. And he's still growing.
He's still got another 20, or 30 years to go. And that may be at different companies or different approaches and different roles, but you know, he has that passion of that category for that dynamic. So he's bringing his vision, his leadership, and his point of view. And I think VC is actually a very different thing because they represented the capital side,
Which is, what limited partners have. Relationship and contractual agreement. They say, Hey, we're looking for companies that are going to become a billion-dollar company effectively in 10 years. And so in some ways, the VCs are looking to invest in companies that are going to reach that billion-dollar valuation, I guess you can call it, pathing right in. 10 years. And so VCs are representing capital, right? , also representing some level of board collaboration and strategy, but also representing actually the time horizon. Actually, there's a 10-year dynamic to it, right? For every investment. And so there's an interesting marriage that happens between founders who need capital and are willing to go fast within 10 years, and VCs who are willing to co-own a company that's highly risky and underwrite at risk in order to be part of that journey. And I think there are so many beautiful stories of when everything goes right and when both sides are in harmony. So, you know, we look at, Facebook being VC-funded, right?
Palantir was VC funded. Airbnb was VC-funded, and Uber was VC-funded. Grab was a VC fund. Gojek was VC funded. That's, I think there are a lot of good stories if that makes sense. That could only happen with the marriage of both capital and leadership. And I think those are all good stories, but I think where everything else happens is like, what happens before that?
What happens when things are not going well? Yeah, and I think that's really, I think the debate and the struggle that really exists.
Amanda Cua: (47:55)
So I think we talked a lot about who you are at work, what you've. But you're also a father, you also have a family, and obviously, you have a good life outside of all this work.
I mean, you're super busy. You even have a podcast and everything you do sometimes I wonder how on earth you have the climb, especially with kids. So what are you like outside of the work side? What does your weekend like? What hobbies do you have? What do you like to do with your kids?
Jeremy Au: (48:19)
I think I'm funny and fun. and cool.
Amanda Cua: (48:22)
What does a cool dad look like?
Jeremy Au: (48:24)
Cool dad. I like the dad.
Amanda Cua: (48:26)
Do you tell your kids "I'm a VC"? So I'm cool.
Jeremy Au: (48:30)
Amanda Cua: (48:30)
You know your dad had an exit that, that makes him cool among other adults. I'm sure you don't tell them that.
Jeremy Au: (48:36)
No. I think the best part of having kids is. You know, they love you so much. And I think there's an unconditionality to it that's so simple and easy and honestly refreshing, So what it boils down to is like, yeah, I think weekends very much are like, wake up on Saturday breakfast with the kids, then go for lunch together. Then they go for a nap. Then I start, in the afternoon.
That's when I record the podcast. During that time, or, like, just, record a podcast cause the kids are asleep. Yeah. And then, I like to read science fiction. So at night, I'll probably be reading a science fiction book or a self-help book about Psychology.
Amanda Cua: (49:16)
But not Chicken Soup for the Soul anymore.
Jeremy Au: (49:18)
Yeah, it's more advanced Chicken Soup for the Soul. It's still chicken Soup for the Soul, but it is rooted more, in analogies, I guess. Yeah. So, yeah. And then so that's the weekends. I also do some improv as well, so I like comedy as well. so, I'll take a class every weekend.
Amanda Cua: (49:37)
Oh, it's class?
Jeremy Au: (49:37)
Amanda Cua: (49:38)
Where do you perform? Is that a public thing or is it a private thing with your class?
Jeremy Au: (49:42)
Well, it's a private thing that some friends do. You don't want anyone to take care and I don't really, well now the world knows, I guess. True. against back scoop. You got a scoop now, is that if you turn off our improv performance, maybe you'll see me, but I would be desperately not trying to talk about the tech of EC or setups because it's a comedy.
So I think it's a nice way to switch off your brain and just be in the moment and really be about doing improvisation with folks who are good-hearted people. So that'll be my weekend. Oh, try to go for walks, hiking in nature, not many hills, but. I'm not very fit either. so he walks around Singapore.
I like eating too. So just, what's your favorite food? Or the games or the walks I just mentioned.
Amanda Cua: (50:28)
What's your favorite food for anyone who's listening and wants a recommendation in Singapore?
Jeremy Au: (50:33)
I think the, my favorite food. Oh. I have a long list. If people are interested, hit me up. I have a Google Maps list of all my favorite food places in Singapore.
Amanda Cua: (50:43)
Okay. I'm gonna take you up on that myself.
Jeremy Au: (50:46)
Yeah. it's quite an esoteric mix because, but I think in terms of, obviously if you travel to Singapore, you probably want something that's very much more representative of Singapore. The benefits of Singapore is that it also has that diversity and range, So you can eat Vietnamese, you can eat Filipino food, you can eat Italian. So I think Singapore food is actually a little bit of melting. Where you lost of different things in the same day. At different times.
But yeah, if you, when it comes to Singapore as a tourist, then I think very much you have to eat, Parak, which is, a mixture between Malay Indian, and Chinese influencers. There's some good recommendations. My favorites probably would be like, if you're looking for that bit of a modernized easy introduction, it'd probably be like Godmama and Una.
It's a, it kind of made it much easier, modernized, very accessible pricing. I think if you want to go truly like fusion, I want to make it European fine dining obviously Candlenut is a great place at Dempsey, but I think the one that, for those who are more of history buffets and really want to see like the old school, traditionally done, probably you will go to like True Blue at Armenian Street, and those are all good places. You can go to my website to website, have this list. Okay. Yeah, yeah, yeah. There we go. bravesea.com. Yeah. I'm gonna leave that for anybody com. Yeah. Yeah, exactly. It's like everyone's like, I don't care about this Jeremy's tech startup leadership podcast.
Amanda Cua: (52:10)
I don't care what Jeremy said. I just want to know about the food.
Jeremy Au: (52:13)
I just need a food list. There we go.
Amanda Cua: (52:17)
Oh, okay. This is super fun, and I feel like now I have even more questions to ask, but I think because we have to wrap up, I'm gonna ask you the same question I'm asking everybody I'm speaking to, which is, what's something that you want to accomplish in your personal life that doesn't have to be something you need to accomplish this week, this month, or even this year, but off the top of your head, what's something you want to accomplish in your personal life?
Jeremy Au: (52:38)
You know, I think that one thing I would love to do in my life is, I love walking and I love walking with good company. And you know, earlier in my life I had a one-month walk from Los Angeles to Yosemite across the Pacific Crest Trail. I was very much inspired. One month walk. Yeah, yeah. It was a hike in nature.
Yeah. I dunno if you read a book while Month by Sheryl Street. No. It's like Eat Pre Love, but for like, But we have a hiking twist.
Amanda Cua: (53:04)
I'm not gonna read it 'cause I might end up walking for a month.
Jeremy Au: (53:07)
Yeah. It was a, it is a beautiful walk and I really enjoyed it and I was walking with my then girlfriend and now she's my wife, so that month was tremendous.
Amanda Cua: (53:15)
She joined you for one month?
Jeremy Au: (53:17)
Yeah. She didn't want me to die from bears and stuff, even though she's not a fan of walking. And then we walked there and then we had the hike. I was like, oh, she could be the one. Then of course, immediately we had a fight once we returned to the city and I was like, oh no. Then after, the one-month walk was good. But, you know it's just like, so it's an old pilgrimage walk that you can do for spiritual, non spiritual reasons. But basically, you walk from France or from Spain and you walk across, the country and then you end up in the ocean.
But of course, you walk from town to town, you're backpacking, everyone's doing that personal pilgrimage and you get to walk across some beautiful countryside. You know, all the roads are well-marked. There's food every day. There are different towns along the way, so you don't need to pack too much food, you know, that places asleep, so you don't need to like bring your own tent.
But, it is more about the camaraderie of tens of thousands of people just taking this pilgrimage and just walking. And I think that'll be, I'll love to do it one day. I'd love to cover a month and just walk, listen to an audiobook along the way, and talk to other people who are also doing a walk for whatever reasons they're doing it. Eat bread and olive oil and I think that would just be such a fun walk to do.
Amanda Cua: (54:41)
Okay, now this is convincing me. This is why I'm not gonna read the book because I might end up on that one walk. And then I won't be able to send out any newsletters. I know at least with you, you could pre-record the podcast.
Jeremy Au: (54:55)
Yeah, exactly. It's you just like the three months before I'll just be like recording on the podcast in advance. Yeah.
Amanda Cua: (55:00)
People might not even realize that you're not there.
Jeremy Au: (55:04)
That's the plan.
Amanda Cua: (55:06)
Well, thank you so much, Jeremy, for joining me. It was so great getting to know you so much better.
Jeremy Au: (55:10)
Thank you. It was a pleasure hanging out with you. And so if you're interested, go to www.bravesea.com. If you want to get at Food List or anything else that you want to check out.
Amanda Cua: (55:21)
And listen to all of Jeremy's other great podcasts. He's the expert.
Jeremy Au: (55:27)
And also check out BackScoop and subscribe. Alright.