Podcasts can be very popular. Look at the trends. The truth is, that podcasts will continue to be a growth vector of consumption in Southeast Asia, because in order to really listen to podcasts, you need a smartphone, you need good data, or at least cheap data, and you need good air pods, or headphones. To listen to. And those are honestly the cheap prerequisites. I think as Southeast Asia gets richer, gets more globalized, and has more technology, there's a very strong tailwind for podcast consumption.-Jeremy Au
Jeremy and Adriel reflect on 250 episodes of the Brave SEA Tech Podcast
Adriel Yong joined the BRAVE Podcast team in the COVID summer of 2020 and has worked across multiple roles including co-authoring the BRAVE10 anthology, running community events, editing audio & transcripts and creating cover art. Adriel is a senior at Yale-NUS College, majoring in Global Affairs. He is an analyst at Orvel Ventures, a sector-agnostic early stage fund investing across Southeast Asia. Prior to joining Orvel Ventures, Adriel was a Venture Fellow at UK-based Hummingbird Ventures which was an early investor in Deliveroo, Kraken, Khatabook and Pristyn Care. He was one of the founding members of social mobility non-profit organization Access Singapore, which has ran career exploration programmes for underserved secondary school students across Singapore. He writes restaurant and bar reviews, scuba dives and volunteers with non-profit organizations in his free time.
Jeremy Au: (00:29)
Hey Adriel, we're looking forward to this conversation. Our listeners have been asking about our reflections from publishing 250 podcast episodes of the Brave Southeast Asia tech podcast and figured that no one else will be better positioned to discuss and reflect this alongside me than Adriel, a superstar, volunteer and teammate, who is building out his own life journey in venture capital and the startup world. So want to welcome Adriel who has been a co-author as well as a great teammate, on the Brave podcast, Adriel share a little bit about yourself?
Thanks so much, Jeremy, for the superstar introduction. It's funny how the last two, three years have panned out since I first met you in the summer of COVID-19, when everyone was locked down pretty much in a scenario like this right over zoom. And then I remember I was asking you for advice around how do you build out a non-profit? How do you think about exit opportunities after that, and building a life outside of the non-profit world, which I think you have done quite successfully with CozyKin, and then now in Monk’s Hill and then with the Brave podcast as well. I don't know, of course, you gave me some feedback right around, you're going to do impact. But you know, you should also build skills. And I think that's really how I was like, “Hey, Jeremy, are you building anything right now?” I'd love to learn from you. And I think that's working together on the Brave podcast. And it's been a real ride. I think, you know, when we first started working together, it was probably episode 10. Quick introduction about myself as well. Currently a final year student at Yale College. My friends always asked me when I'm going to graduate, tell them I'll finally graduate in May next year. And I recently started working full time at Orvel Ventures stage VC fund, investing across Southeast Asia, and we are sector agnostic as well.
Jeremy Au: (02:21)
I think that's a great, feather in your cap honestly too, have started so early in the Brave journey. It is a chronology as well as it's so early in your own professional and student career. I think folks are asking a simple question for myself. And, I remember the question being, why did you start the brave podcast? So there's so many ways to answer this question. I think the short answer, of course is, I started the Brave podcast because I love podcasts. I've always been listening to podcasts and audiobooks about leadership and coaching. And that was just a longtime interest. And when I was in the US, I was listening to a lot of podcasts that I really respected. So I think the primary one is was Jerry Colonna, who formerly co-founder Union Square Ventures and eventually built a coaching organization called Reboot, where I benefited a lot as a founder, learning from his coaching and advice and from his podcast interviews. Of course, I also listen to other stuff, Tim Ferriss, a little bit of This Week in Startups by Jason Calacanis. And so there were are all these podcasters listening to and when I was in the US, it was new to some extent that there wasn't much back home about Southeast Asia, and home, this became a lot more apparent when I moved back to Singapore and Southeast Asia. And there was nothing at podcast land about adding local founders, local operators, local VCs, local human stories, there were and I think still now today, a lot of podcasts, primarily what I call that look at Southeast Asia as a region or as a business opportunity. So it's like strategy, a high level, but more from an external point of view, from an outsider point of view. And I thought that was super lacking. And so I sat down at the start of Pandemic and saying, let's start this and start interviewing. My first episode was my best friend and former co-founder of Conjunct Consulting. So that how get started. I did a Zoom call effectively, with my old buddy. And it was the easiest conversation to have, because there's this my buddy, we hashing a lot of stuff that we had learned about each other. And kept going. And that's how we started, really bringing that local story up to life, but also, starting very simply, the second part that was quite interesting, why did I continue? And that's why I always tell people, there's a big difference between why start something because you're naive, and you think that's our opportunity to get started. But why you continue something can be quite challenging. And I remember, within the first few episodes already starting to struggle. I was like, there's only so many friends, I can ask out, I'm going to start asking acquaintances who I respect but don't really know, how do I talk to them. That was pretty scary. Also, that is a global pandemic. And so I started recording during the pandemic. And I thought that was an interesting time where the pandemic kept getting worse. And then, after a while, you're like, I'm doing this podcast because I'm interested, I'm passionate about it, but the world is ending. Shall I continue doing this podcast especially when there's so few people to listen or that will be interested to talk from my point of view, I think one thing I remember was, at the end of the day, I just ended up recording podcasts for myself in those early days. What I also realized was that when you're lonely during a pandemic, it is nice to talk to friends and have an excuse to talk to them about a deeper why and a deeper story. And that's why we continuously speak, instead of trying to think about it from like, the world is ending, we get lots of views. Nobody's listening. So why bother? It would be a much more like, Okay, do I want to have this conversation? Do I want to get to know this person better? Am I having fun having this conversation? That's why I keep continuing. And that's something I keep returning to even after 20, 50 episodes.
I think the part about why you continue something's an interesting point. I think a lot of people who wonder like, what does it take to start a podcast? I mean, you're in your bedroom. And then you're like, let me go and catch up with someone. Why didn't just do that over coffee? You know, why do it over podcasts? And what do you have to do to even create a podcast? I think that's something key about creating and starting your own podcasts often think about. And then the second part is also having done the first 5 or 10 episodes, what you then realize that you actually need to create a sustainable and enduring podcast.
Jeremy Au: (07:04)
I think the awkward reality is, it's quite scary to start a podcast. When I did it, I remember thinking to myself, I'm going to be such a weirdo. If you think about it is like amongst all of our friends, how many of them have a podcast? Like literally zero. I could not think of a single person in my friend network, direct close network, all my acquaintances. And I don't think there was even like a friend or friend I could think of who had a podcast. So immediately the saying, us at a podcast is like, think to yourself, the world is going to laugh at you for being this weirdo to set up a podcast. And, people want to conform. There's an actual piece where you don't want to separate podcasts, because you don't want to stick out. That's the biggest hurdle for most people, even for myself is, even look at logistics or setting up podcast is effectively zero. The awkward reality is that if your have a laptop today, and the truth is, even the past two years, it's got even easier, there's these web streaming platforms where you and I can remotely talk to each other. You have computers and mics, and most laptop mics are pretty decent. I'm not saying that the best. And the truth is, everyone has a webcam, is good enough. And you can probably upgrade to a pretty decent mic for like 200 bucks. With a Blue Yeti, or you want to go fancy even up to $500. But the truth is, once you get to that level, you're in the top 1%. So it's not actually a crazy logistical effort, just to call up a friend, set up a time, use one of these live streaming services that's effectively free, have a somewhat decent mic, and webcam and his role. Put it on hosting website, probably can get it done all in on an amateur basis. And I recommend it for most folks on a beginner basis, you can probably do it for 100 bucks. And you're gonna get professional, I'll probably give you again, after this link in and pre create, like $1,000 podcast gear list to be like, here's $1,000 menu to be pro. But 100 to 1000 is within the realm of any hobby. You play guitar, you play golf. These hobbies can scale way more than that. So the logistics isn't really the problem. But definitely it's not a normal hobby. I think the fear is a big part that actually is there. And of course, you can proxy in, you're like, it's very logistically hard to do it. But actually, you're coding for it. Because actually, you're more scared about how people think about you.
Basically requires a lot of bravery. That's TLDR you need bravery to start a podcast and you need to be able to internalize courage to do public speaking on a daily weekly basis basically.
Jeremy Au: (09:57)
The funny thing is, is not public speaking. Because I'm talking to you. The interesting thing about podcasting is one of the biggest hacks I learned and I basically tell people is, when you're podcasting, I'm looking at you and talking to you, obviously, I'm aware that some ether, maybe right now that people listening to it maybe in a year to be 10,000 people listening to it. In five years 300,000, it is kind of cascades and people are listening to this asynchronously. So there's all there, but at the end of the day, one to have a conversation with you and I'm paying attention and trying to be as helpful as possible in this one to one conversation. And a byproduct of the podcast is that people can consume that asynchronously down the road. The big difference, between listening to a podcast and being a good podcast host, is that when you're listening to podcasts, obviously, you're one of 1000s, or millions of listening to it. But when you're being a good podcast host, it's about listening to other person actively. And it's about continuing to have that one on one conversation. And one thing I do think about is when I'm listening to someone, I'm like, I'm listening to that person, as well as I can as if I was cycling, or walking or cleaning the house. And I have the responsibility. And I have the opportunity to ask questions that I couldn't ask if I was just listening instead of hosting. And so people get lost really quickly if they're doing podcasts or saying, but if they think they're doing public speaking, because I've literally seen, the opposite. I've been interviewed on podcasts. And I could actually tell because the podcast host had glasses on, I could tell that a podcast host was shopping, while i was talking. And then he was obviously thinking about what he's going to say. And then I would answer his question. And then he would literally give this mini monologue about what he said was really good, if that makes sense. He was well prepared, even though he was shopping while talking, but I think it was good points. He came across as confident. And yet, there are two ways look at it, from a visual perspective on a YouTube basis, he could see that he was shopping, and I could see the shopping. But from a recording and listening basis, I could tell that he wasn't really listening to me. And he wasn't following conversation. And so it was more about what he wanted to say, the point is he wanted to say, and it was such a shame. Because actually, the funny part was, he had another co host. And the co host was the person that I say Yes to. And co-host was amazing. She was amazing. She's going to have to do her own podcast now. She's such a great listener and such a funny person. But this main person, main thing wasn't paying attention. Being a great podcast host is different from being a great podcast listener, but also different from being a public speaker altogether.
Actually does an interesting exact segue. Because I'm sure in the process of recording 250 episodes, you will have a whole bunch of random stuff that happened to you, during the podcast recording, and people, rescheduling and all that. What are some, funny moments that you had along the way?
Jeremy Au: (13:13)
All of funny things happen while you're recording podcasts. I divided into two categories. One is things that are your fault. And the second category is what's happening on the other side. And then everything else is in between. An awkward reality is this at the start, there's so many bloopers. Because, I didn't have the right hardware. It didn't speed, even though I said about unique, valuable things. But having a high internet speed is important. That's important for both sides. Sometimes your guess is in a spotty part of Bali and internet is bad. And then I used to say, well, that's a wash, lets reschedule because, it's not a fun, feasible. So that's one category, all the logistics around that. Obviously, scheduling can be a pain because people need to reschedule. I had to reschedule a whole bunch of podcasts, including work life meetings, because I had a kid coming twice. Over past few years, I literally had to have people said, we're not doing a podcast today or this next week, or next month, because I have a kid. So again, life is in a way. One funny error I remembered was, I had this recurring error, where I kept hearing this rustling noise. And it was driving me bonkers. It was like these guests were talking and suddenly I hear rustling noise and tink tink noise and I was like wind chimes or why all this and i pause and try to figure out what's going on. I notice all of a sudden, it was after a while, so many years i had this error. I noticed suddenly that it was actually this lady, and she had his earrings and they alarm and they were just bumping into either her airpods or her mic, but that was effectively what was happening, so they were like talking and obviously they are emotional. So they're like waving heads and then you are bumping earings and that noise. I was very confused. And then I pause and I'd be like, what's going on? And they would freeze obviously, because they're no longer talking. And then that noise was stopped. So it was this funny thing where I have to pause the podcast to find out what's going on, the tink tink stops, and it will continue to get worse. And so I literally had to encode this and put this in my checklist, which was like, please don't wear earrings too. Send this in an email checklist that was sent out to them beforehand. Because obviously, it's cumbersome to ask people to remove the earrings at the start the podcast, so you tell them beforehand. So that's one of the weirdest things I've actually ever noticed
That’s so funny. You're talking about sort of active listening that good podcast hosts have on the show. I think a lot of people are curious. And they often ask, what is the amount of preparation you do before with the podcast? Do you deep dive, stalk them on LinkedIn, and stalk all the other podcasts they have done? Do you have a preparation call beforehand? Like what is the extent of the work that people don't see, before shows are recorded?
Jeremy Au: (16:26)
The most important thing is, of course, is being thoughtful about what podcasts you are building. Obviously, if you're building a narrative podcast, is about a crime, then you need to do the research. And as a chronology, there's flashbacks, there's a lot of work. And so that requires very deep research. On the other end of the scale, you have these monologue types of things where people are recording their own life advice, so on and so forth. And so they are talking about the news, and so they have to understand what they're doing. I started out, the most common category, which is the interview format. There's one axis where you're interviewing a guest. And so it's really more about a rapport, you building out about the guest, the composition. And the other challenge about it actually is, is this something that's within my domain? So are you familiar with the subject? Are you familiar the person? And what's the takeaway that people want to take away from this conversation? What's interesting is that for the Brave podcast, one of the core values for us is authenticity, no BS, i.e. bullshit, no fluff. The truth is, I could probably spit out 100 episodes between now and the end of this month. If my podcast was just like, PR, BS, to be honest, because we have so many press agents, just emailing us to be like, please talk to this CEO or COO, he does a press opportunity. And you're like, this person doesn't know about a podcast, this person doesn't care what the value is, you're just trying to get this as a press mention. And the truth is, I'm sure they can do 30 minutes to an hour worth of corporate lines, to expand the business, expand the value proposition, explained the differentiation, even explain the strategy. And the truth is, I could generate content easily because they have that those lines, it's cookie cutter. But the truth is, it appeals to a certain type of listener. And the reality is, I personally am not the kind of listener, I'm the host, the first person who listens is me, I don't want to listen to that. And I don't want to host that. That was one of my big learnings I should, to be honest, was around the 100th episode, and I was starting to burn out because I was accepting these PR requests. And then I realized that I wasn't having conversation I want to have and so it becoming a job, instead of being on a passion. What it means is that zooming in, when you define your project, which is interview, when you're doing it, when you're trying to do something a little bit deeper, that means a level of preparation that we do is a little bit different. For me, the work that I have to do is to be very careful over the selection of guests actually.
And what I mean by that is probably I select the guests that I've met, I've had composition of them maybe in social life and or in professional life. The good news is, again, Southeast Asia tech is my domain, is something that I'm passionate about. And I spent a lot of time meeting other folks. And during that, you're doing a basically an awkwardly a mini interview. I'm not interviewing them, I'm having a conversation with them. But after a while, you're like, this person has a cool story, or this person has a cool take on life. And then you're like, I want to have a deeper conversation with them. And so I have that list in my head of this would be an interesting person to have a deeper conversation with. And now of course, the next step after that is inviting them, telling them very clearly that the podcast is about reflection, about authenticity, about sharing the good times and the bad times. And the truth is a quite a sizable chunk of guests actually self select out, they say no, or they don't respond in this, just evaporate, which is okay. But because you tell them upfront that these are the deeper conversations we're having, and if they're not ready to have the conversation at a time, that's okay, so they opt out, or they say later down the road. And the remaining podcast guests or people who I know can have that deep conversation have opted into that deep conversation. And obviously, I give them samples. I shared them previous episodes of the podcast that I felt were reflective of the conversation that we want to have. And so they will listen to it. I'll say about half the guest have listened to these snippets of an episode so they understand the tone. And so by the time we ended the conversation, we have a one hour recording. The truth is the first 10, 15 minutes. I'm actually warming them up, preparing, and understanding what they want to talk about, understand what they don't want to talk about as well. And actually then having 45 minute recording to go there. So, what it means is that I probably don't do preparation, the way that most people think about preparation which is doing research, writing down a lot of questions, doing a lot of literature research, doing a one hour call to prep the interview narrative. But I'm inverted that and focused much more on the selection and self selection process.
And also, another thing we do is, we also lean a lot on editing, which is to make sure that we edit out all the parts that are inauthentic, or the parts that are boring, and go from here. So I would say the live stream as a result probably has pretty close to the final production. If you think about it from a mood basis, even from a content basis. One last thing to add is sometimes I did try prep, really doing a lot of those question prep or being very fixed on a script. But the thing is, if you script everything out, at some point, they're going to give you a really good answer. Because they thought about this was a false. And that's normally like, question one, question two. And if you have this large script that you're supposed to follow, then you're stuck in and it's like a railroad. And as a listener, you are like, women should take back our power, and she said something really interesting. That's how he said it in Southeast Asia. But if you had a script, you keep going and ignore it. And the podcast listener is going to be like, what's going on, versus that's interesting. I want to go deep, you're interested in that phrase, let's go deeper into it. Let's understand why you mean by that. And that's more interesting, from my perspective. But then again, that requires you to also have very strong, active listening skills and ability to improvise. And that's something to be aware of is, again, I'm not saying they can’t script, I'm not saying they can’t prepare, there's one format of doing it, adding beginners often have to do it. It's the idea of the day. Humans are really interesting people. And they have these interesting stories, that going down the rabbit hole of them can be a waste of the entire script, but it can be an amazing journey for everybody.
I'm super curious. Over time, obviously, a lot of the guests have became people that maybe I've only met once or twice in your professional or social life, but I'm sure you also have like multiple good friends that you've known for years on the show, do you feel like you was surprised by what they said on the show, and you got to uncover a deeper layer to your friends from like, multiple years.
Jeremy Au: (23:28)
That's a really good point, because that's 100% true. I think for my best friends, I don't find that there's anything new on the podcast that I discovered. And obviously on the other end of the scale for acquaintances, you've met them once. So obviously, this next podcast is always a joy, because you're accelerating, like 5 to 10 conversations into an hour. In terms of understanding their personal why and their challenges and what they find the stories that are important to them. The surprising chunk is that obviously, people live life in that middle category of like, you think your friends are friendly and warm, and Buddy, but actually, you don't really know a lot about each other, you game together. You go to events together, you drink together, but the conversations were never deep. And so there's that joy for me, where I have realized that I have a lot more conversations in the middle category. Where I thought I knew them, but I didn't really know them. And that's a wonderful part about this podcasts, title and the mood and the values. Because we want people to share the stories that are most important to them. And so they share about them. And then in a year, in retrospect, you're like, of course, I was hanging out in a professional mixer with Wily Arifin for like, 10 minutes, and no way that a person was going to have that conversation about his exposure and his family coaching him to be a family business entrepreneur. That's not going to come up in a 10 minute mixer. And he talks about his four burner in life theory. And again, that's not something that comes out in normal conversation. So there's something to be said, that's why I enjoy it and as I keep doing it.
I really like your point about how you really accelerate relationships and understanding of the people through the pod culture, especially if you've only met them like once or twice, which is, maybe a sad reflection of humanity, where we could meet someone a few times, have a few like cursory conversations with them at different socials whether personal or professional, but you never really get to the heart of like, the multitudes that they embrace, and their personal backgrounds and histories. That's pretty much a skill and what sort of questions have you found most helpful, effective and breaking the ice and getting people to open up and share with you in a more vulnerable and authentic manner.
Jeremy Au: (26:00)
You've raised a really good point, which is that it's such a shame that modern societies that were having these conversations are very shallow. And actually, I will say almost the opposite. The truth is like Dunbar's number, it's like you can only have five good friends. You can probably know 50 people pretty well, again, know 250 off the top of your head. And that's a human psychology limit. It's hardcoded to your brain. And obviously, your external brain where your contact book is 2500 people, maybe you're across Facebook and LinkedIn and Twitter and TikTok get 20,000. So it's not a set thing that's modern society has shown a conversation. Is more like all humans are geared to have these small conversations? That's actually the bread and butter of everyday life. And everybody wants a deep private dinner party conversations or five other people that actually really goes to the heart of it. That's like drinking water instead of wine. That's eating like bread is the dessert. That's eating like steak, instead of bite sized appetizers. That's the real meat of human relationships, its just that modern society has pushed us to get to meet more and more people? And, we don't live in villages or towns, or even cities where like, we work across multiple countries, are expected to perform across that, we're expected to travel around the world. It's not a shame that the modern world needs that we are sharing conversations, is almost opposite. It's like the modern world has given us this privilege and honor of being able to meet 10s of 1000s of people, heck, even millions, if you're an influencer, or billions, even before certain Twitter people. So it's almost like the concentric circles going out. So modern society is more like this, these outer circles now exist. So where it goes to the questions that let you get under the core of it, there's a really good question, because what that means is that, people have different masks for different levels. And what you can say in front of like 2 billion people is very different, what you can say to your relationship partner, or even to yourself. I often say to folks is like, individuals about truth, and they look for truth, groups look for consensus. They look for peace. And what that means is that as an individual, you're always looking for the most truthful thing by yourself, you want to hear the most truthful thing about the other person, you want to understand the reality of things. But if you're in a group of 2 billion people, then you're in a position to say stuff that makes everybody happy. A consensus. Similar to how if you had a birthday party with 50 people, there's so many things that you wouldn't say because that you may, unfortunately, frustrate someone or irritate someone or someone may disagree. And that's often I call the core of political correctness, the truth is, everybody's in politically incorrect if they're in front of a very large audience, because, is this impossible to say anything, and it's why everybody has politicians. Because politicians had to say stuff in front of 2 million people, 20 billion people, they end up saying stuff. That's very motherhood statements. And so the tricky part about a podcast format, in some ways actually where the questions that become harder is that as a Brave podcast has become larger and larger, now we have over 10,000 subscribers, listening to it, and the guests coming in are aware of it. Where the podcasts are smaller, and they knew they were doing me a favor. They knew that was a very small conversation.
So they knew that they're having a one on one conversation with me. And that sounds like, the only people who listen is going to be, Jeremy's mom, my dad, my friends, when a podcast is small, people are more honest. And it sounds like they didn't have that looming thing. Versus now they noticed that 1000 subscribers, and then they're having this conversation with you and me. And they're like, shit, it's always in the back of your head. And for me, it's less about the questions, it's more about me, making sure that I'm fully engaging the other person. And I want my picture to be the picture they're looking at, I want them to see me nodding, I want them to see me laughing, when they're saying a joke. I want to see them concerned when they say something sad, because I am listening. And they should just focus on me because I am at one level a proxy for the stuff, of course, but also because I am here. I’m the host, I’m the one listening, I’m the first listener and the only listener at this point of time in a very real way. And I am the compositionist. And if the interview guests is paying attention to me, only, then the stage consciousness drops away. And then they're having a normal conversation with me. Things go bad when they start thinking about all the other people, they're like, can I say this? I said a curse word. Can other people unlike. I'm like, yes, of course, you said a curse word. Because you use the curse word initially, because you were talking to me, you felt comfortable saying this curse word because you're talking to me. And then suddenly, you're like, you said it and you're like, snap, my lagging brain says, no. 10,000 people are going to hear that, can it be edited out? Because curse words are politically incorrect in front of 10,000 people, but totally okay, on a one on one conversation. So that's the way to break pause and get to that authentic level.
That's such a fascinating point. Because, most people would think that it gets easier and easier to push our podcast episodes as you build a process, systems, building out the brand, people know that you're doing podcasts. But on the other level, people know that now you have a following, they get more and more that which is counter intuitive to the conversations you actually want to have on podcast. Thanks so much for sharing that, insight there. It'll be super helpful for those who are thinking about starting podcasts or even scaling their own podcast. I want to zoom out here. Now we briefly talked about listeners, we eventually attracted on the show. How as your understanding of who listens to the Brave podcast, you evolved and changed over the last one or two years. Who do you see reaching out to you? Engaging with the podcast, sharing feedback. People are super curious, who listens to Brave. Like, is it people who are really brave or people who are scared and looking for bravery? Or people looking to hire brave or people investing in Brave people? What do you think?
Jeremy Au: (32:48)
You're pretty much spot on. The way I think about it, frankly, in terms of three groups of people, the first group of people is what I call friends, family, and supporters. The second is why I call it affinity. That that is why I call hawks, I will explain that. The first category is quite simple. My mom is a fan. And the truth is, for any guests that we bring on, their friends or family who want to hear their story. The 5 to 50 people and your friends, frankly, deeply interested and so, probably in this podcast, five to 50 people who are really interested in content about you because they like you as a person, that's okay. And so there's a very strong support network that tunes in. And, I don't want to say they are tuning in for Jeremy , but they are tuning in for interested by the profile, the guests, or maybe even to some extent, the topic, that's why I call it the support network. That's a key right. And that's why adding every podcast, if you actually do an interview podcast, I tell people all the time is, you should very easily be able to expect 50 people to turn up to every episode, if you think about it. I tell people that's amazing. Here, imagine, recording a podcast with 50 people. If you do an interview podcast as someone's interesting, and both of you have a good rapport, it's pretty easy to get about 50 downloads since per episode, because of that natural support network. Everybody has. And a lot people are like that's really small. 50 is really small, but I tell people, that's amazing. Imagine if there were 50 people in a room. That's like a fireside chat. That's a salespersons dream, to sponsor 50 people to listen to this thing. That's a really good cocktail party that I love to sponsor. That's a lot of people. And starting to that is ease at. So that's the first group. There's that core segment is there. The second segment, is why I call affinity. And obviously, the truth of the matter is, that's our biggest segment by far. This is people, who resonate with Brave or bravery. People who want to be brave, and people who are brave. What I mean by that is, if you are brave, you want to be brave. And people who want to be brave, will in small ways, be brave. Because there's no such thing as a brave person who doesn't want to be brave. Is this impossible. Because it's one of those virtues that require the pursuit of it in order for you to do that thing. Bluntness can be a virtue, or directness. But I don't think direct people want to be direct, they are just direct. You don't need to desire to be direct.
Obviously, if you desire to be direct, you become more direct over time. But it's more of an inherent attribute. But bravery is a higher order virtue, is one of those weird things where it's like, grace under pressure is courage during fear. And all those things require you to have some self-awareness to be like, I feel my fear, I understand uncertainty, there's a certain level of change. And I still want to do it. I wouldn't differentiate. I don't think there's a psychographic difference between people who are brave and people who want to be brave. Those are the same category, as the people who are externally profiles brave, but they did not see themselves as wanted to be brave, are probably naive. They were ignorant of the risk, and therefore they didn't have to be thinking about the bravery risk. But that's different, or they are professionals, like a professional firefighter, who was very clear about the risks, maybe you're seen as brave by society, but to themselves, to see is their job is a very calculated risk that they do day in and day out, which is another type of bravery that we profile on a show. But at least when a context of consumption and listener basis, those two are the same. And so we see a mixture of operators, we see a mixture of professionals, we see a mixture of people who are interested in technology, obviously, because we're talking about bravery in the context of Southeast Asia in the context of technology. So it's folks, Filipinos in Philippines, is Vietnamese folks in Vietnam, it could be expatriates in these countries as well, we've noticed as well, we also actually see a lot of Southeast Asian diaspora, actually.
So obviously, these are Singaporeans and Malaysians who are in America, primarily, I would say, to some extent, in the UK and Europe, who want to hear stories about home. And so they're looking for that local voice. So this is the affinity group that's very strong and the largest but also the largest in terms of praise and vocalization and testimonials, recommendations, and adding the third group as I call hawks, and what I mean by that is doing due diligence. So, we are profiling leaders and operators and hearing their personal story. And so we do see folks who are exploring new jobs with that, CEO, founders or exploring an investment opportunity by that venture capitalists, VCs, who are trying to understand what to invest in a founder. And so maybe they're Googling for that person. And then our podcast comes up. And again, because we're profiling people who are brave, but may not necessarily be seen by the mainstream as brave, because there's a high level creation by my side, because I'm disqualifying all the people who are being shelled by PR and highly exposed, we tend to perform well in search engine optimization for this Hawks. And then as a result, they come in, and then they're often reading the transcripts and trying to understand very quickly, what makes this person tick, to try and get download that story. So that's the last category. And of course, some of them eventually will become category two, or even category one, people can cross all these three categories. Those are the three purposes. Are you there? Because you're there to support and understand that one person? Are you there because you're looking to be inspired and to feel like this community? Or are you there because you want to evaluate somebody? And I think those are three different purposes folks listen to the Brave Southeast Asia tech podcast.
I really liked that thorough and comprehensive, characterization of the listener profile. Because that matters and helps you also represent the listener as you interview each guest and get to the heart of the matter of what that listener profile actually wants to hear from a guest. Beyond, the platitudes or BS or PR or corporate BS. Basically, zooming out here, over the last, 200, 250 episodes, their stories where you went in and you're like, this is a very good story for me, I really resonate with it. One of the most impactful podcasts. People always want to find out what is the favorites of the host, if they're just trying to check out from the first few episodes of the podcast.
Jeremy Au: (40:10)
Often I get this question. The technical answer is the top 10 within Singapore, it has to be curated. So you and I co-authored a book, Brave 10 is a direct answer to the question. Which includes top leaders they were the top 10 within the Singapore circle. Long story short, they were created based on authenticity, obviously representation, but also they're very good snapshot of the Singapore ecosystem. Obviously, as a result, you disqualify stories in the Philippines and Vietnam and Malaysia and Thailand, Indonesia. So we're talking about is like, we want to recreate this book in the future, when the timing is right for other countries as well, once you build that out. So definitely check out that book at Jeremyau.com/book, hashtag self promotion. So check it out and get a copy if you want on either ebook, or one of the few remaining hardcover left. The other category that I do think about is reflecting on the personal side, which are the episodes that have really mattered to me. For me, at the end of the day, episodes that I really resonate with are the ones where I felt something. And that's a little bit different from the curation approach. And what touches me may not necessarily touch, other folks. And that makes it awkward to recommend sometimes, because, you know, this is the podcast that will really appeal to other folks. And you also know that some of these episodes are something that's really more personal. Personally, one of my personal favorite episodes, actually, is Goh Yiping which was also in a book.
So she shares how she started out as a child, helping our parents who are running a stall, and being very entrepreneurial, in her own way of studying in the local university, to get exposure to entrepreneurship, to being a founder as a scrappy hustler in ecosystem and how she worked her way up, across multiple startups, to eventually come across to come back and be successful and eventually become a VC. Woman VC that's representing venture capital for a lot of women across Southeast Asia. That was interesting because, obviously, it was a good story, obviously, narratively . It was something that I got to know in a very deep way, I got to hear her unvarnished way of it. We've got very good rapport. We laughed at multiple points of the episode. And, we went through the history. And all that was really helpful to get at a deeper level of conversation really quickly. And at the end of that process, I really want to know her even more. I knew a little bit, I invited her. And then for the conversation reaping, I was able to say, I really, really, like her as a person. And I really like her story. And that came across, because in the future, what happened was, and other people have reached out to her and have reached out to me to say like, I really enjoyed this episode. Is it that this episode resonates the most with everybody else? No. I think a huge part of what resonates to folks is actually affinity. One thing I've also noticed is that the best episode often comes when someone shares a story that resonates with someone else's personal background. So for example, we had Amanda Cua, so she's from the founder of Backscoop, which is a Filipino content creator. And the people who, likes the story, the folks who are from the Philippines, who are content creators, so many different Philippines and a woman and so they like a story, other people or their content creators in Singapore or Malaysia, and they resonate with that story. So affinity is actually a huge part to which episode resonates most with you. So that's how I think about it from which episodes I like most versus which episodes are the best.
The affinity part is really interesting. And again, goes back to listener profile that we have, if you're someone like me looking for bravery. I would love to listen to a founder, who's also a student, just venturing out into the world of startups and things like crazy and blowing up every other week. And finding the bravery in those moments. The bravery and starting a company and, telling and selling to people, fundraising to investors for way older than you, or, nonprofit founders who are like, I have this vision of how the world should be more equitable. And I want all of you corporates to do more CSR and come along with me on this ride. And contribute funding to that organization as well. So I definitely agree with you on the affinity piece. I think just wrapping up. When you first started the podcast, obviously, there weren't that many Southeast Asian representations in the media scene. Over the last few years, you have been featuring founders across all Southeast Asian countries, what's on your hit list?
Jeremy Au: (46:04)
Well, I would love to feature some stories from Myanmar. So I've literally actually met my Myanmar friends, and like, is there anyone you could recommend to feature? Obviously, there's a very tough domestic situation going on, in terms of conflict. And the technology ecosystem there, unfortunately, has been unable to scale without that, social political stability. That being said, I do think it's an important story to have. And so I feel I pretty much covered other countries, but Myanmar is a big missing one. And last week I sat down with someone who was from Myanmar. He said, I love your podcast, is a great way for me to understand who's who and the ecosystem and feel a little less lonely. And I was like, do you know anyone else? Who gave you other guests from Myanmar. So anyway, if anyone that you're listening, you know, someone from Myanmar, feel free to recommend and, the truth is, obviously, we'll see where compositions goes from there. Maybe we won't make the cut of the prescreening call or conversation. But, I've got a search and look.
So I am going back to the question, just wondering, having represented like Southeast Asian founders, VCs and the media landscape, what do you see, the podcast evolving to over the next two, three years? How do you see the media landscape and Southeast Asia evolving as well, people will be super curious to hear your thoughts on that?
Jeremy Au: (47:29)
The truth is, I'm a niche topic. We appeal to folks who want to be brave in Southeast Asia tech. If you want to be transactional, and get the job done in Southeast Asia tech, you are not interested as podcast, which is a lot of people, if you think about it. We broadcast in English. So in Southeast Asia, the number of English speakers is very small, actually. So it's, again, even more of a niche audience. And technology is a very small industry, again, across Southeast Asia. So people are like, podcasts are dead. And there's hardly any podcast. And I'm like, maybe you're right, because, the kind of podcast you listen to is like, how I built this and Tim Ferriss, and, of course, you speak English and listen English. There's so much great American content, frankly, to listen to, like Serial, and crime and so forth that the production values from Los Angeles and New York, and, I hung out with those people, and they're incredible, and they have the economics of the entire industry, supporting them to create world class content. Is this that, there's also some great content is this. I found out recently that, the most popular podcast in Southeast Asia is a wrestling podcast in the Philippines, and i was like, mind blown. It's Tagalog, it's about wrestling, and boxing, and it's a hobby and everybody Philippines, it's like a national sport and something that you tune into, and why would you listen to a radio, you should listen to it on a podcast. It's super popular. It's, way more than 10,000 subscribers, I tell you that.
So, podcasts can be very popular. Look at the trends. The truth is, that podcasts will continue to be a growth vector of consumption in Southeast Asia, because in order to really listen to podcasts, you need a smartphone, you need good data, or at least cheap data, and you need good air pods, or headphones. To listen to. And those are honestly the cheap prerequisites, because if not, then anything else is easier. A radio, a book, a Kindle, like there's so many great ways to consume content. But without those three things, is this hard to consume a podcast. I think Southeast Asia gets richer, gets more globalized, and has more technology. There's a very strong tailwind actually, for podcast consumption. From a toggle angle obviously, technology and English literacy will continue to improve. Technology continues to be about the future, it is not just technology, it's about science fiction, it is about the future, it is about hope and economic growth. It's about business sophistication at some level. And so obviously it is a function of literacy which is also correlated to some x trend obviously, to also English literacy levels. So these tailwinds make consumption about technology topics higher, obviously, interest in entrepreneurship and technology and venture capital as a career profession is increasing. As the media lionize this entrepreneurship as a career path. So these are all things that I think from a topical basis also is a good tailwind from that perspective. And if you fast forward it, we'll link to this conversation, I had a previous conversation with Valerie Vu. She's in Vietnam. And she was also asking for advice for podcasts. And like give us some advice, which we recorded. And I told her, I said, there isn't a Vietnamese podcast about technology, in Vietnamese. There's podcasts about Southeast Asia, tech in English like myself. But if you are a local listener, you don't have that. And so that's a big opportunity for her to tackle. And I'm never going to touch that. Frankly, technology podcasts in the Philippines that there's going to be Tagalog. Obviously, probably a simpler level, more conversational level.
I think that's another opportunity. It's really happening in Indonesia, to some extent already. Malaysia and Singapore are pretty English literate. Thailand, obviously, there should be another podcast in Thai. So I think local languages is a local opportunity. And it's a trend. And another trend is in this more niche. She knows, you could not just do Southeast Asia tech, you could do subdivided further and maybe even niche here. You could do Thailand, fintech. The nicheness is defensibility or core. Because goes back, if you're doing a podcast on Thailand Fintech, then everybody, anti FinTech will listen to it, because it's so hyper focus. So I see the trend towards more niche stuff. And as long as you're passionate about it, then it doesn't matter. You don't need to worry about, only 1000 people listen to Thai Fintech. And it didn't had conversation in Thai. But 1000 really passionate listeners is worth way more than, a bunch of people with touch and go. And that brings us the conversation about brave. Like where do I see this going? The truth is, the podcast was born in a time of the pandemic. So it was virtual, everyone's very distant. It has a lot of digital communities. And so, as part of them on deck, slack groups and WhatsApp groups and discord groups. The return to reality and touching work, there's no more pandemic in the future, or the near future. People are looking for affinity. The truth is, if you're a hawk, and you're here just to do due diligence, you're probably not listening to this podcast, because you're not reviewing someone explicitly. If you're someone's affinity, you want to build a relationship. And the truth is, at some level, our relationship is parasocial. Which means that, you know me, but I don't know you and that's okay. Because life is like that. Goes back to talked about modern society is the joy, the privilege, but the craziness of it is, we get to meet 1000s of people, I get to listen to Tim Ferriss talk about all stuff. And I know him, but he doesn't know me. I get to learn from him. And I think all that is right, but I think where I spend alot of time thinking is like, how do I build this relationships in a deeper way? How do I build this to be called a synchronous life? So a podcast is asynchronous digital, in that sense, where you can listen to this conversation, one year down the road, 10 years in a row. Who knows 100 years down the road? But how do we also bring that community in person dynamic, why really foresee is the brave podcast is living the values. One thing that we're starting to beta test, for example, is this is an off site for founders who have failed. The startups have failed to take off, or they've crash and burned, we have a beta test going on, that's coming on next few months, we're putting down a date. Is it a very good community event? No. Beta test is an event where people who have failed, and I remember, I got some feedback from folks like, why are you hanging out with people who have lost money?
Why are you helping people who have failed to return money to the customers or the investors and I'm like, that's a fair way to look at it. I'm hanging out people who are losers, or even worse, from the view of people, maybe criminals or negligent. I think if you're a criminal, I don't think we're going to allow that type of profile to enter the upside. But for so many founders, startups are hard. 90 to 95% of startups fail, even though they receive some venture capital funding. We can say have all the minister speeches about how to make, failure more acceptable and encourage people to be courageous and tell people to take risks. But the moment people fail, then we just like, evaporate and stop helping them. Because they're afraid to be, affiliated with people who potentially have been negligent or dumb or not done a fiduciary duty. And it's so dumb. We keep talking about is like the worst event to hold, hanging out people who fail. But to me, it feels like how do you be brave and shit on failure? That's terrible. But it goes back to why you asked me, why I started, I started because I want to feel brave. A lot of folks don't have it as brave. But I want to be brave. And so I hang out people who are brave and want to be brave. And the natural flip side of it is you have to support folks who were brave, and are brave and failed. That means this, if you only have brave people who succeed, why don't you just create a podcast called winners only winning podcast. And then it goes back to affinity. It's like, you got to take care of people who have tried their best to fail gracefully, who try their best to be brave. And then you do those things. And then you can do more. We talked about making sure that events were curated, we're planning to do hikes and walks and tea sessions and things that at some level, you can call them a mixer or socialization, by a deeper level is really about having brief conversations. So the problem is going to a club probably doesn't work. Even though it could be a mixer, it could be efficient, and could be fun, but you may not necessarily be conducive, to that deeper conversation. So because at the end of day, this is a passion.
You call it affinity, you can call it a hobby, you can call it whatever it is, but at the end of day is just like talking to the founder of Radiolab. And he's like, any other day, and I was asking him like, I want to do Southeast Asia tech, its very niche, is very small. It's very weird. No one's going to lie, that’s the mechanical transactional side of me. You want to talk about project as big and large or whatever. And he's like, Jeremy, say something that sets your soul on fire. You've got to speak on something that you will talk and talk, even though no one's listening. And he was like, because, if you're talking about something that you don't care about, then no matter how good an actor you are, whatever it is, everybody's going to know that you're not passionate about this topic. Similar to how actors have to be passionate about the scripts they choose. They don't act, any script, they don't want, they wanted the role. They wanted the character. So for me, for us, and the theme is we care about mission, we care about the impact. So let's talk about something we care about.
Let's talk about bravery. And let's be very consistent. And yes, that means doing stupid things. That means doing very non transactional things, is about doing relational things, doing things that don't scale, but that's real to us. That's why you want to do that. So be it right. And then the awkward reality I can tell right now is that yeah, we have lots of people who like us and relate to us and say nice things about us and say thank you, or say that they appreciate a particular episode, and I get some nice messages about those they really appreciate that this message. I really appreciate the summary. The end, that’s a key takeaway. So the very specific things they like, the awkward reality is that people who hate us, it always this, I get really enough, I get hate mail. I get people who don't like what we're saying and what we represent. And it's so awkward. They're like, Brave is too high volume. And I'm like, what does that mean? You're saying things like, why is he talking about bravery? We should talk about other things. And I'm like, these are the things that I'm interested in talking about. These are things that resonate with me as a person, and that's okay with me. And if you don't like it, then don't follow me. Unsubscribe. Choose not to tune in. So there's this awkward reality, which is that the more we do things that are closer to this reality of brave or like that stuff. I do believe that long term folks who resonate this affinity will increasingly be okay. And I said before we are and that as I also know that the more we do these things, the more people dislike us, and that's okay.
Opening the doors to authentic conversations with guests, and also uncovering the persona profiles we have across Southeast Asia and understand what sorts of podcast representative listeners as well. So a lot of interesting tidbits around, what the future of Brave podcast will look like. So thanks so much for sharing with us, the backstory and your thoughts as a podcast host, Jeremy.
Jeremy Au: (1:01:49)
Yeah. Thanks so much for being a great teammate in terms of brainstorming, collaborating.
Jeremy Au: (1:02:07)
Awesome. Thanks, Adriel. See you around.
See you, Jeremy. Bye.