Episode 18 | Phill Keene on Building Sales Teams

Phill Keene builds insides-sales organizations for companies that are selling to other companies (“B2B”). We jam about what it takes to build a successful inside sales organization, staying relevant in a world that’s changing quickly because of technology, podcasting (he co-hosts a very successful podcast, #RealSalesTalk), and what I’d think of as flourishing or living the good life. Some things I really enjoyed:

  • The 3,000 phone call rule: you start to learn your market after 3,000 dials. Don’t give up before then
  • Power networking: can you do 50 coffees in one year? I might try this
  • On LinkedIn shaming: what it means when executives do it
  • 3 steps to mentoring junior sales talent: set clear expectations, give them a vision of good, give critical feedback
  • Musings on automation and the death of sales

Episode 17 | Avi Patchava on India’s Future with Artificial Intelligence

I stumbled upon Avi Patchava because of his recent post, “The 5 unexpected reasons why Indians make it as CEOs of global companies,” and I was surprised that it was so sincerely reasoned. Avi graciously agreed to jam with me  and we talked about his journey from London/McKinsey to InMobi, the tech scene in India (the last podcast I’ve had on that topic was with Azeem here), as well as tech-talent and the failure of Indian pedagogy as practiced in India today.

He is bullish on India as thriving as an AI-exporter:

A big backbone is people that can build these systems… India has an excess supply of people who are trained in those fields – engineering, mathematics, analytics, and increasingly in data science, but the applications in India are limited… so India is become an export market in this field.

The export market notwithstanding, Indian companies are preparing to move from low-skilled to high-skilled technology work:

India is trying to find a pivot in how it engages with the technology world. And I see that on two fronts – India itself is going through a digital revolution – partly from a push from the government to digitize government services… but also more naturally in the consumer tech revolution… Wipro and Infosys have explicit strategies to move into [AI].

But it’s hard to imagine that this is scalable, given India’s education system.

The education system is moving incredibly slowly – much slower than technology and needs of industry demands… and it’s a common frustration across the board in India. You get a workforce in engineering in the millions that’s being produced, and as a whole, cohorts that are coming through have not had a good setup that engenders creative thinking, how to pose inquisitive questions that push of their science and discipline. But… it’s still a numbers game so you still do produce, by sheer luck or the genetic lottery, innovators.

We didn’t get to spend much time on this but we touched on Avi’s writing on the reasons he is bullish on Indian society being able to cope with AI much better than most Western democracies (it’s worth a read: here).

If we are going to see this mass description in jobs and on the economies, how will societies will put up with it? Because… that wave has political ramifications.

Episode 16 | Jodi Kovitz – One of 100 Most Powerful Women in Canada

Jodi Kovitz. I didn’t realize this at the time I invited Jodi to be a guest on this show, and I’m fairly certain I wouldn’t have even tried to have her on the show if I did, but Jodi was named as one of the 100 Most Powerful Women in Canada this year because of her work with #MoveTheDial to increase the participation and leadership of women in technology out of Canada, and her success as the CEO of AceTechOntario. (Video)

In thirty brisk minutes between two meetings, we talked about how Jodi “is focused on how we change [women participation in technology] versus the how and what of how we got here at this moment.” At some level, what she says isn’t new:

Young girls can be what they see. What young and coming leaders need to see — are these role models.

But her medium of storytelling seems certainly to reduce the barriers to entry for women to find a community (link). She plans to collect 1 million stories within a year:

You don’t have to be an effective storyteller to share your stories… it’s really about courage.

Jodi talks about the 230% increase in female membership at AceTechOntario:

This is not only about the moral imperative, although there is one. This is also about the actual business results and ensuring that we are designing technology solutions that reflect our population.

On systematizing bias in AI, something that I hadn’t considered very deeply, although in retrospect it’s so obvious:

One of the things that scares me the most is that we could build bias into our AI if we don’t have all the right people as we are training the machines to learn.

And finally, on the recent award:

I kind of laugh to myself because while I’m honored and delighted and it’s beautiful but there are moments where none of us feel powerful. And I’ve had many moments in my life where I’ve felt anything but powerful. And the only way I’ve ever believed, I’ve ever achieved… it’s really about choosing power, choosing strength and courage, and believing in yourself.