[00:00] Radu: And to kind of link through the last segment and a couple of short questions on the personal notes as well, right? Then we talked about learning. We learned about keeping ourselves flexible about kind of being prepared for jobs that don’t even exist. How do you learn? I mean, do you have some very specific practical information websites. How do you get information? How do you keep yourself in touch with the new developments? How do you learn?
[00:31] Radu: It’s a loaded question. I guess I like to focus more on specific resources. Maybe there’s a specific website.
[00:37] Paul: Well, first of all, I have always been restless. If I build a company, if it’s freight forwarding and it’s running well, then I want to move on. And then 3PL and then 4PL and then with Li&Fung and then with Arshiya building integrated infrastructure in India, then I find what else can I learn.
There’s so much to learn and so I kind of flipped over to also be a CEO mentor for SMEs. And one of the reasons I’ve started working heavily with the startup community in the last 3 years, even the Kyro society which led to Silicon Valley where we worked with startups already at the college level is I know how I can help them in the structure with strategy, the business model, even with raising capital. And they’re teaching me at the same time.
So every time that I interact with a startup which could have a college student or that could have senior mid-career entrepreneur that quit his job and started it, I know when I can help them but they’re teaching me at the same time, which is a beautiful experience.
And so one of the things I did was I forced myself into the space for the last 3 years because I believe disruption is going to rip apart every business and I wanted to get more involved with that piece and go through that new learning curve and so I’m heavily involved with the logistics space but I’m also touching med tech and fin tech.
And it’s all a learning curve, right? I didn’t know what crypto currency was until a few months ago and then I immersed myself in it again with a very steep learning curve. But I will look at the web and a lot of articles. I usually read about 3 books on a Kindle/iPad. But I flip between them actually while I’m reading because I always like to read a biography of a famous leader for inspiration.
I like to read something about new business models or technology and then the third one could be on any issue but especially history. And then I like audio book where I can also when I’m going on a train or I’m in the gym, I actually have a book read to me because we just don’t have time to read to keep up with that stuff. And we’re so used to little bites on the internet. We move across, I do the same to collect information. I do a mix from political to business, to tech, to different themes, try to be diverse and pick up knowledge that way but then you still have to read books. You still have to have a full story, and because time is so short, I like electronic books and I also like audible books. And you know what, I’m still not getting enough time to observe what I wish I could. But we all need to manage emails and things like that more efficiently too.
[03:39] Radu: And also talk about others, that’s why we started doing the podcast.
[03:48] Paul: It’s a great way to learn from each other.
[03:52] Radu: You can listen to it wherever you are. It’s fantastic. When you think of the word successful in the industry, what would be 2 names that come to your mind?
[04:06] Paul: Well, if you wanted who I really admire in terms if our industry, redefining it in unique ways, one is the bias I have to Li&Fung becasue Victor Fong already 20 years ago took a family trading company as a former professor from Harvard, he turned in to the largest virtual manufacturer of the world way back then with roughly 20,000 virtual factories in 54 countries, producing major brands around the world, aggregating more material and feeding it in and executing the supply chain.
When he did this back 20-30 years ago, unbelievable, so he is one of the radicals of the industry, a visionary, and I never thought I had the privilege of working with someone. And in the end, even that I worked for them, and I learned a great deal, I still get to meet him and get his advice and you got to have mentors in your career.
We all have to have mentors. People who are way beyond their level who can teach us and guide us in every stage no matter who you are. So Victor Fong is the one that I admire and I’m really grateful that I’ve had the privilege to work with them.
I think Jeff Bezos is building the most radical business on the planet, through G20 and WF and others, I’ve met some amazing leaders in artificial intelligence and cutting edge technology and they are all telling me not only is Jeff Bezos redefined the whole retail experience on a massive scale. That was a big vision when he built it. He took tremendous steps for over a decade in order to create this. But he has accumulated a database on everyone. What we read, what we look at, how long we look at things. That database is unbelievably valuable.
Then beyond that retail experience, he has created the largest cloud network in the world. He owns the largest cloud network in the world. Microsoft, Google – they’re all large but he has the largest cloud network in the world. I didn’t realize that until recently and therefore he is building the entire infrastructure for the global economy for every industry as a separate piece.
And then he is going to continue having volumes feeding to leading companies like DHL and FedEx and others. But he has started to build his own logistics piece. I don’t believe he’s going to do it for a hundred percent of his business. I think he’s going to build it as an additional enhancement tool beyond the partnerships that he will also have. And he literally can drive his own customer volume unto the planes that he is now buying and chartering; and in future trucks and in future 3D printing trucks. But I think he is also going to have excess capacity which he will allow other logistics company to come on his asset which will further squeeze down the cost of his products or improve his margins even further. I think he is a genius who is creating a 20-year vision ahead of what we can see today. And he is going to be incredibly powerful.
[07:41] Paul: I met Bill Gates when he came to Singapore before and he is just an amazing individual in his own way. So those would be the 2 in our industry who I think he had been transformational.
I think Steve Jobs at Apple also played a big role in building out the supply chain industry because the way he developed the phones, the way he designed in California, the executions through virtual manufacturing, right?
Even today, virtual manufacturing and then the iTunes is actually a model for that technology. And even Victor Fong and Steve Jobs had quite a few discussions. So I think there’s another example of these creative geniuses.
Now if you ask me as an entrepreneur, who I admire most in the world today, it’s Elon Musk. He is an amazing human being because he literally and I just want to build this into the interview because we want everyone to think more radically. Here is Elon Musk and he creates Tesla, the electric car. Almost his whole factory making the car is robots, right? So he’s already changed the way cars are made, beyond Ford, Chrysler and Toyota. It’s almost all robotics. He’s created the electronic car. I drove one in California. It’s a beautiful car. It goes zero to 60, faster than a Ferrari or almost equal. He now is changing the price point to hit the middle class.
He’s already built an electric grid across the United States which other electric cars are going to end up using, so he’s creating his own fuel company. You know, the fix and variable cost structure and now he is building that overseas. Then he created solar city, the largest solar panel company in the United States is his also, solar city with his cousins. And now he’s creating the largest battery plant in Reno, Nevada which is I think 7 billion dollar factory or something to that level. And it’s not only for cars; it’s also for homes to store energy and changed the cost structure.
No, that’s not enough. Then he gone out and he’s created Spacex and they’ve already docked with the space stations 3 times. So he’s created the first rocket that can actually – the boosters can land back and be re-used which reduces the rocket cost by several hundred percent for re-launches. I mean absolutely amazing. And then you have his new venture which is the tube train, right? So there is a genius entrepreneur that everyone says his companies are dead or he doesn’t get it. He’s changing the world at multiple platforms.
We have these amazing people out there but he and Bill Gates and Stephen Hawkings are also warning about how to leverage AI but not to let AI overtake us. And the estimate from any of these leaders is by 2035, the AI will meet and exceed human knowledge, excessing all human knowledge through the cloud. We have to worry about that. So that’s not 500 years in the future; that’s 2035 roughly.
[11:13] Radu: And that’s something that we need to in-build some system or policies. I don’t know what it is but definitely we need to figure it out because there can be a great threat.
[11:25] Paul: And that’ll come out of Silicon Valley or out of China more likely. These are the two places. So we have already talked about it. I love leaders that create new things. And that transform, taking over something and just incrementally improving it is not that exciting. It doesn’t take as much as talent as we think but being able to take a business and grow it but to break out and create transformational solutions. Those are leaders that I really respected and admired. They inspire me. And whatever we do in our business that goes back to your earlier question. How can we encourage people within our organizations in this industry to become mini-transformationists? So still there’s talent in our companies. How do we get them to do their own miniature breakout opportunities, right? How do we reward that uniquely? I think these are issues we need to do much better job at in our industry.
[12:33] Radu: And it’s creating this micro-culture of creativity, fostering innovation, empowering people to get some great examples. So yeah, I think that’s a very interesting point, great sharing Paul.
[12:56] Paul: So I think we’re in an industry that actually is full of excitement, full of opportunities, full of transformation. So if we market that to the next generation, this is one of those amazing places to touch the global economy, to integrate with technology, to work collaboratively and to drive change that impacts all the countries of the world. So how does not an exciting industry with what’s coming in the next 10 years? But we better be prepared for it and we better embrace those changes coming because they’re coming whether we’re prepared for them or not.
[13:35] Radu: The train has left the station. You better hop on the train. Don’t stand in front of the train because you’re going to get hit. So I think we just need to brace ourselves with technology, innovation, all these block chain, IOT, automation, robots, drones. They’re coming, they’re happening, happening faster than a lot of people are realizing and not exactly realizing how fast it is happening, maybe they’re a little bit stuck in the comfort zone or incremental type of business change or increase zone and it’s exciting times in the industry, is already there, it’s entering.
[14:18] Paul: So rather remember this that the Apollo spaceship and lunar module that went to the moon, landed on the moon and came back – that technology was far less than your iPhone has on right now? And we went to the moon and we even drove solar-powered buggies but the technology is a fraction of what we have on an iPhone. Imagine that Elon Musk in 10 years docked with the space station, created a large vehicle for space that is reusable when NASA, Russia, China, India, none of the governments could. So we’re in an era where human ideas have no limits and technology will be our ally as long as we put ethical controls around it which is a big issue. But there are no limits to how we redefined this industry and space going forward, right? And I think that’s the most positive message to go forward with.
[15:27] Radu: Thank you and on that note Paul, thanks a lot for the sharing, for being with us today. Great podcast.
[15:35] Paul: Thank you. Great pleasure.