Aug. 15, 2022

Caleb Maru | On African Startups and the Power of Accountability

Caleb Maru | On African Startups and the Power of Accountability

Caleb Maru is the Head of Programs at EntryLevel and a Partner at Proximity Ventures.

He is passionate about startups in Africa and writes about his learnings in his newsletter.

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Content
00:00 Caleb Maru

00:11 Intro

00:30 Start of interest in Africa

03:34 Biggest differences in startup culture between Aus and Africa

12:20 Undervalue parts of the African startup ecosystem

17:35 The role of governments in Africa

21:05 Personal Learning from Africa

23:26 Caleb at Entrylevel

25:26 Caleb's reskilling journey

27:12 Traits of successful EntryLevel learners

32:32 Caleb's Inspirations

35:51 Most worthwhile investment of time or money

40:41 Advice for Graduates

42:02 Connect with Caleb

42:46 Outro

Transcript
Caleb Maru:

it's not about. How do I take, but it's about like, how do I support and like help as much as I can.

James Fricker:

Hello and welcome to graduate theory. Today's guest is the head of programs at entry level, and he's a partner at proximity ventures. He's passionate about startups in Africa and writes about his learnings in his newsletter. Please. Welcome to the show today, Caleb Mau.

Caleb Maru:

Hey, great to be here.

James Fricker:

Great. Welcome to the show mate, excited to chat to you today. Uh, all this experience that you've got in Africa with different African startups, et cetera. Um, I'd love to sort of dive into your experience there. And in particular, we can start off with how you kind of got started with everything in Africa. What was kind of your first, um, intro into the possibility of doing all this kind of thing? Um, in.

Caleb Maru:

Yeah, such a good question. And yeah, definitely a big part of like, Of everything that I'm doing is, is the African background. So I think it started it, it didn't really start as like, I want a career in Africa or, you know, this is a cool opportunity. Let me go over there. I think it was more, I, um, grew up traveling to Africa a lot to Ethiopia in particular. That's where my family's from. And, um, When I was young, I'd just go there and it was fun. And I'd just hang out with my cousins and play around and like, you know, see all the, like the grandparents. But I think it was on a trip when I was 14, when I just like, I think it just clicked like, okay, these conditions are actually very different to Australia. And it used to seem really fun when I was like younger, but now I see it. And it's like, actually just like so much worse. And these conditions leave these living conditions and the like level of opportunity and the level of. Basically access to just like human rights and resources, um, is so fundamentally different and it's unacceptable. And so like when I, when that clicked, when I was 14, um, from then it was just a, okay, cool. Well, I have like, I should be trying to do something, um, to improve it and to like really like, make a difference in this region because it's somewhere that I'm from. And like really, I just, I drew the, the luck lottery to be born in and raised in Australia. So I think that was the start of it. And it wasn't this like succinct or clear, but I just knew it when I was that when I was younger. And so I wanted to do, um, human rights law in Africa and ended up actually doing that for a while, had a stint, um, at a consultancy, which I ended up being partner of. Called Matsu consult. And we did, um, peace and security policy and economic, um, policy across east Africa. And just like quickly realized it wasn't as, um, as fast moving as I wanted it didn't do the job that I wanted, which was like, how do you push the consonant further? And so what did that job was when I spent time with startups. And when I did that, I realized like, Hey, startups on the continent. Um, they're not like. They're not just like accessories or they're not nice to haves. Um, they're actually solving really hard problems and turning those into very profitable companies. And so you have like this really, um, really ambitious young population, plus like now, like the ease of adoption of technology. And so anyone can build something online. Um, and we're just at this very exciting point in startups in Africa. So that's how I ended. Um, doing startups and investing in startups in Africa. And, um, I think it's just like the, the background that really got me inducted into, um, what realities are like and made me sort of purpose driven on, on fixing or like trying to help those, um, or just like improve conditions on the continent.

James Fricker:

Yeah, it's pretty cool. It's pretty exciting, mate. It's a big, big challenge as well. Obviously Africa, huge, uh, continent. And it's a pretty cool sort of journey that you're on. And, and the challenge you're undertaking. Um, I wanna ask, like, what are some of the biggest differences. In terms of like startup culture in Africa. I, I don't know if they're even like, I'm sure you'd probably be the most across this, uh, versus like here in Australia. Right. Is there, is there much of a difference there? Like, like what are the things that you think perhaps culture wise or whatever that African startups are just like, they do this really well. Is there anything,

Caleb Maru:

Yeah, that's such, that is such a great question. Um, culture wise, I don't know if there's that much. That's too. I mean, like. I think the way that they think about startups and NBC and like building startups is quite similar. Um, it's definitely like funnier. I think there's like more like founders who are like, who I love, who are on Twitter, who just say loose, like loose shit all the time. And I'm just like, whoa, that's wild.

James Fricker:

Yeah.

Caleb Maru:

Yeah. I think maybe what's different is, um, there's a few things. I think what's different is speak. So like founders here, you know, move fast and get things done. But I think. Maybe some of the fastest founders that I know here in Australia is like kind of the standard, uh, in Africa, which is really interesting. Um, it's and then like the fast founders there, like, um, who we, you know, who I talked to are just like crazy fast. And like, when I, when you look at the progress, like that was, that was like six months ago, you started this thing and like, look where you're at now. Um, Speed is one thing. And then I think like, um, yeah, maybe a few structural things that are different, uh, that like in Africa, because it's a, it's a continent, right? Like you need to launch into different countries and you try to do that fairly quickly. Um, so you can get the lay of the land and then dominate that market. Um, and so. Founders are like always looking at expansion, um, and, and growing quickly. So that probably ties into speed as well. So if you have a founder, they're like, oh, we just like, you know, we're working on a launch in this country. Um, whereas in Australia, like you can take a while just like. Building in Australia and like building for the market here before you go and launch in the us. Sometimes it takes a while before you do that. So, um, that might be different. And then I think, um, they're just like more frugal. Like I have not seen, I don't know, like most of the startups are like, okay, we're, we're like, we're a break even, or like we're profitable and they're raising. And you know, you think about the leverage that gives you is like, if you're not burning cash, you're making money. Um, you're good. Like we invested in a startup that was like, we don't need this round, but. We just wanna let some of our friends in, like, that's sort of the mentality there because so many of them are doing so well. They're solving like core needs that they don't actually need VC funding in the way that startups here do where you just burn cash until you're eventually like, um, eventually like big enough and you can get like economies of scale and like, and it's profitable. So those are probably the main D things. I don't know if that speaks to the culture or like just the conditions there and the way that. Um, startups on the constant raise and think about, um, building, but yeah, it's a fun place. It's kind of, it's just, it's super fun. Um, you know, you think about, um, some of these societies and it's just like, so tech enabled, um, but so different, like, um, in Kenya, right? Like every, no one uses cash anymore. Like everyone just like transfers money. And they've been doing that since 2007. Like that's. Our bank transfers that have like become hot and heavy in the last, like 10 years is just like standard for them, like from 10 years ago. So it's just like, yeah. I think tech is like much more ingrained into society. Um, yeah.

James Fricker:

Yeah. Wow. That's interesting. Yeah, it's interesting. Cuz like probably we've had like, at least like in Australia, in, in the west, like tech, like probably for longer. Um, but it's interesting to see that they it's kind of so ingrained even, Um, earlier than we've had it. It's kind of almost, uh, overtaken perhaps in some ways.

Caleb Maru:

Totally. And like, I think, um, consumer adoption of like new technologies is so much higher there too. Um, which is really exciting. I think part of that's also because Africa has such a young population, like most of the population, I think over half is like, Under 35 and that's like, that is expected to just like balloon in the next 10 to 20 years. And so like, you know, they're on a phone from a really young age they're on the internet. And so they're like, oh, like a new app or like a new product. Yeah. Let me try that Um, so

James Fricker:

Yeah. Wow. That's cool. Well, yeah, one thing you mentioned there was around like, the speed and you're saying like um, some of the African founders are like a lot faster perhaps than, than some of the guys here. What do you think? Why do you think that is.

Caleb Maru:

Um, oh, that's a great question. Why is that? Um, I think it's because they, there are like, that's, that's a really good question. Uh, let me think about that. I don't wanna like.

James Fricker:

Do you think it's like. a, yeah. That's okay. Yeah. yeah, No no, no. Yeah. Yeah. Well, do you think it would be like, is it like, like a, do they just have more drive and it's kind of personality driven or do you think it's more of just like, there's just more. Things that can be done. So it's like, uh, almost easier to kind of just do stuff like from a more PR like in a more practical sense. Like, would it be either of those or if, yeah.

Caleb Maru:

Yeah. So there, there's a few, there's a few threads here and like none of them are conclusive. So like in Africa, um, about 23% of people, um, in Africa have their own business. Right. And so that's how most people survive and live it's because there's like, literally just not enough jobs. So you just start your own thing and you sell, right. So that's like, it's just so embedded. Like entrepreneurship culture is not just like a, it's not like going from. Nine to five culture where like, now we're seeing a shift of people being like, I wanna work my own hours or I wanna start my own thing. It's like, no, like everyone's been starting their own thing forever. Right. That's how you make it. And so being able to do that with technology, it's just like that on steroids. Um, so there's that thread. I think the other one is it's kind of like, it's a lot cheaper to build a team there. Um, so it's like easier to build a team there and it's cheaper and it's also. Um, because there's just so such a big like consumer market, right. People up like, um, will uptake new products and new services fairly quickly. So getting like your initial traction, isn't that hard. And so you can just like reinvest that into like building a bigger team and we're seeing that happen quite a bit. Um, yeah. And then maybe the other thread is like, I think it's just harder. Like it is, it is harder being a founder in Africa, right? Like it's harder than here. Um, if you think about it, it's like, yeah, like you really want your startup to die, like to survive. You don't want it to die. If your startup, um, If you start up here dies, you're probably all good. You'll get a job somewhere. Um, and you, you know, like you can hang out at your parents' house until like, you, you find the next thing there. It's probably a bit different, right? Like the founders there, like they'll probably be okay, but like, I think it's like higher sense of urgency because it's just like, conditions are not the same. Like, they're not the same. And, um, to study company is like very difficult and like, you are sort of swinging with it. Um, cuz you want that to be the thing. Whereas here, like I feel like a lot of founders or entrepreneurs. That was a cool thing to do. Like I'm gonna just go like, you know, like live a normal life, a balanced life, which is a good thing, but like not really how. You know, the Ultrafast entrepreneurs run. So, um, yeah. So maybe, maybe those are some threads on like why they move so quick. I guess they're also just in love with it. Like they love building, right? Like, um, most of 'em are self taught devs or like they, like, we invested and founder recently who, um, taught himself to code and just like is building he's shipped like in the last six months, like nine products and he's built them all himself. With a team of like, so he's the only like back end and he has a team of two front ends and it's just like incredible to watch him like run. Um, and he is a CEO as well, and he is like fundraiser. So it's just like, and he loves it. So I think it's like, um, yeah, just like insane drive. Yeah.

James Fricker:

Yeah. There's that, there's that saying, like you know, burn the boats where you kind of if there's no way back, then it will kind of, you know, and you're sort of going all in then it's you just have even more, um, you just have to punch like even harder. Right. Um, which is perhaps like part of the case there, like like you mentioned.

Caleb Maru:

Yeah. I love that framework so much where it's like, you burn the bridge entirely. Like you're like, okay, like I'm moving, um, careers, or I'm moving fields. I'm not doing any more of that work. And like, I'm telling everyone I'm not doing any more of that work. And then it's like, shit, I can't do anything else in that field. like, I have to go for

James Fricker:

Yeah. Yeah,

Caleb Maru:

Or I have to build this company. Yeah.

James Fricker:

yeah. Yeah. Definitely it's powerful stuff. um, another question I have around like the, the, the Africa stuff is us looking at, uh, at startups in Africa, Um, and, and what are some things that you think like people are missing perhaps when it comes to this or things that like, big things that are happening there, or certain ways that they do things that people in, in the west are just kind of oblivious to That like yeah, like the, like there's things that are really on fire, uh, and you know, people are smashing in, but, um, people here are just like, yeah, whatever. It's just kind of they're in Africa. Like no problem. Um, you know, is there any like aspects of the um, of the startup scene or like any particular, like, ways of doing things or even any particular?

Caleb Maru:

Think I get you. Yeah. Like what what's like underappreciated, that's going for the consonant, um, in the tech scene. yeah. Um, yeah, I think that's quite a few things and it's interesting because a lot of them aren't like, they're kind of framed as. Like they're originally problems where they're actually opportunities, right? So like, one of them is that you have just this massive population that's been shut out of like a lot of access to a lot of government support and a lot of, um, a lot of like financial inclusion. Like they can't get bank accounts because they don't have the right verification or ID or the process to doing that is just so lengthy. Um, you know, the the whole unbanked population is just massive in Africa. Like we don't know specifically how many people it is, but like, It's it's like estimated to be around like 60 people, 60% of people aren't banks in Africa. Um, there's just like so many things that are not working in Africa, which means that like, now that you have you add that with, um, a. Sort of a class of people who now have access to phones like phone penetration, Africa is just skyrocketing. Um, and now they also have internet connection, um, and connectivity, right? And so they can access products on their phones. Um, when you have like these hard problems and like phone and internet penetration, you now have like an opportunity where startups can come in and build solutions to really hard problems or things that people have been shut out of that we have in the west that now. Those consumers can have. And you see that like sort of, you know, explode it's like on fire, um, in Africa in some ways like, um, we invested in a startup called split and the problem they're solving is in, um, in west Africa, you like, it's really expensive to, um, to rent a place just to rent a place. Right. Um, and the reason for that is like, um, I think it's like interest rates are just so high that like, it makes more sense to just pay for a house upfront, um, rather than get a loan. Right. Um, and so they, um, they make it so, and so like, landlords will require you to pay for a full year of rent. And in Australia that's like $16,000. And I like cannot fork that out in one go, but that's like reality there. Um, and so they have literally just made a verification mechanism for you to come on as a tenant and pay monthly. Something we take for granted here, um, online and then the, the landlord gets their cash up front. Um, and so they're sort of like, it's kind of like rent now pay later. And so you see like there's like problems that just exist. Um, that like tech can solve and pretty easily, but like previously, um, this consumer class didn't have access to those sort of solutions because they didn't have phones. They didn't have like internet penetration, internet. Um, and so there's just like so many things that, um, that are unique problems there. Like another one is sending money across border. So between like say, um, Ethiopia and Kenya, um, costs a lot more than sending money from Ethiopias like the us or Australia. Um, and sometimes like the average, like amount of like it fee if it's fees that it eats up is like 20% of the money you'd send. And that doesn't work. If you have like a family split between countries or you have friends in different countries or you're working in different countries, Um, there's a startup that like kicked off in 2018 called chipper cash, which you may or may not have heard of. It's like a, now a $3 billion company, um, in just like four years, but basically they've dropped the fees down. So you can now pay, um, in between like cross country, really cheaply, um, Like again, another problem that people couldn't like fix, or like get over, get through, um, without technology and internet, but now they can. And so basically like anything that, like, people have been shut out of in these emerging markets that now they get access to is a huge opportunity. And I think there's even more opportunity when you go for things that are like, um, maybe a notch down, right? So like there's all these problems that like now middle class can, can like, um, access, right? So they all have phones. They have like internet penetration, so rentals or like sending money across border, um, stuff like that. But, um, I think the real opportunity is going for where like, um, not middle class, but like the sort of bottom of the pyramid, you know, less than $2 a day, less than $4 a day. Um, building products for them is really, really interesting, um, where you can actually access like way more people, um, and, and build a product that services way more people who aren't middle class yet. Um, and who have been shut out of that and gives them access to like, Inclusion in that way. Um, so yeah, there's like, there's a lot of examples of that, but if I keep going I'll, I'll probably ramble. So

James Fricker:

Yeah, amazing. Ah, cool. I'm interested like, Yeah. Uh, you mentioned there are sort of like high interest rates to get a, to like get a mortgage and what, and whatever, interested to know, like your perspective on the role of like governments and like, um, central banks and things like that in Africa. Cause I guess the. Perhaps a stereotype is that there's a lot of corruption and like this kind of stuff that kind of prevents a lot of, um, a lot of growth in these areas or like, you know, someone might try and do something cool, but then someone in the government like doesn't let them do it or whatever. I feel like, uh, perhaps that's a stereotype where you certainly, um, At least I feel that, that, that at least I've heard stories like that. Right. And I think that's that that's not UN unreasonable to say. Um, but you know, what do you think the role is there and like have, how have you seen that, like change over time and has it progressed better? And do you think it's like, what can, what can startups and companies do to kind of, um, support that situation?

Caleb Maru:

Yeah, for sure that that's such a good question. Um, it is a stereotype, but I think like it. Makes sense. Cuz we have had instances where it's been crazy like that, where like government's been like, oh, you know what? Like we're turning off the internet for a month. Like that happens. Um, and like, those are just like really, you know, they're fairly big problems. Um, for founders, especially ones that are building in multiple markets. It's also part of why like a lot of founders, like we need to get out of just one country. We need to be in multiple. Um, so it's a F it's like, it is a stereotype, but it is fair. Like it's found, it's founded in. What's historically happened. Right. Um, I think that it's a risk and we do need government on board, like for societal change, like if we're gonna push a whole continent forward. Government needs to like be working along alongside tech and supporting tech rather than fighting it. Um, and we have some examples of where that's happened, like Kenya, for instance, um, and like allowing Safaricom, which is like a massive telco provider to do, to use I Pesa, um, and get started on that in 2007, like really pushed it forward as a, as a. Um, and their economy has done like a lot better than a lot of the neighboring countries. Rwanda's also an example where Kame, um, the president was, um, just like we need to rebuild. And so we're gonna build up our tech scene and our, like our sort of infrastructure and make sure that this is a hub for like, um, tech. So we're seeing it work the other way, where like governments are, um, collaborating. I think that, um, We do new government on board. I do think that some of the best tech like moves too fast for government. And that's kind of my hope is that like great technology and solutions to really big problems move so fast and grow so quickly that they like they hit mass adoption and then like governments can't really mess with them. Um, we've definitely seen that happen with like Facebook, um, and Amazon and Google. I would love to see that happen with more African founders who are just solving hard problems. Um, I dunno if that's true though, like, I guess we'll see. Um, but I do really hope that. Tech that solving like fundamental problems can sort of like, you know, sidestep government until it's big enough that you can't remove it. And you look at, in Pesa, for instance, in like, um, in Kenya, if you removed that from Kenya, Kenya would been a lot of trouble. Um, it's like what the country runs on. So like, um,

James Fricker:

yeah. Yeah. cool. No, that's exciting. and yeah. Good to like, that was a great, uh, point there about. Uh, companies in the west, like going faster than to sort of the government's able to kind of keep them down, I think? Yeah. I agree. Hopefully that, that we can start to see more of those examples in Africa as well. Um, one more question about Africa for you and perhaps more of a personal question. I mean, what have you, like, what has been your personal, like some of the biggest learnings that you've learned from, from operating there and seeing, seeing people work there, um, is. there anything that you personally have kind of taken away from, from being, being a part of it?

Caleb Maru:

Yeah, that is a great question. Um, what have my biggest learnings been? Um, I think it's just like Yeah. I don't know. Like, I, it's kind of hard to put to words, but it's like maybe a few things around the sense of community there. Like, um, and I think that speaks to Africa as a consonant and like the different cultures in Africa where like, um, it's really, it's mostly like hospitality and caring first. Like that's like one of the first things that matters. And so I see that with like the founders I talk to and the people on the continent and the people who are building on the continent, it's all about like, you know, how not, it's not about. How do I take, but it's about like, how do I support and like help as much as I can. You know, I thought that like, that culture was sort of limited to, um, just my family and I feel like that's just been replicated, but like in my interactions with people for work. Cause that that's really cool. Um, that's been really cool. Um, and then I think that's something else there about like it, yeah, it was like a feeling I had when I went to Ethiopia and I think it's like even more real now, but it's just. There's so much potential for the continent. And there's almost like if you, and you know, this is pretty privileged, but like, if you have the tools or the capacity, there is space to create whatever you want. And like our founders, like Testament to that, um, seeing what they're creating. And I think like, as diaspora going back to the continent, it really feels that way as well. And I think like we're seeing a really big movement of like great people who have lived in Africa, but moved overseas, like really come back and like build on the continent because they realize there's so much untapped potential there. Um, and it's just like a, you know, in some ways, a more hospitable place, um, than like other countries. And so, um, so I think we're gonna see like a big sort of, um, ah, one of my friends put this really well, resurgence a big, um, I forgot what the word is, but like basically a lot of people coming back to the continent, um, and that's gonna be really cool to see over the next, like five to 10.

James Fricker:

Mm. Damn, that's exciting. no, I love your energy about this kind of stuff. It's, it's super cool. And it, yeah, certainly very excited to see a lot of the, uh, you know, a lot of, uh, growth and development happening there. I think it's, it's, it's really cool. Um, one thing I do wanna touch on during the interview, uh, is around your, your role in entry level and around this, uh, kind of idea. Reskilling, uh, you know, gaining skills, uh, transitioning career paths, perhaps things like that. Um, so I'd love if you could perhaps just give the two second intro into entry level and perhaps how, like this sort of story has unfolded. So.

Caleb Maru:

Yeah. So entry level exists to like plug a gap. Um, so basically if you are looking for a job, um, especially out of uni or like going in between careers, it takes a while to find the right job. Right. Like it, it just takes ages. The recruitment process is like hard. Um, and if you wanna, it's even harder. If you wanna reskill into a new job and you wanna learn new skills to sort of pivot careers. Um, in some cases like, you know, people think of their option is like going back to uni and studying study again, um, which just takes way too long. Then you have this problem where like, if you do formal education, you might learn how to become like a developer in three to four years. Um, by the time you finish the, you know, the coding language that you use is different. Um, and so like just us, our institutions right now just aren't built for like mass reskilling. Um, and then on the, on the other side, like if you're hiring for talent, it's just, it just takes way too long to find talent. And so we think that there's something in between that where you can, Resco people really quickly, um, teach 'em how to. A job, like in 30 to 60 to 90 days. And at the end of that, they can get placed into a company or they can find their next thing. Um, and so we built this platform that teaches you how to do a job within like that period of time. Um, and that's where entry level is. It's, it's a reskilling platform that teaches you how to do roles very quickly.

James Fricker:

Yeah, that's super cool. Yeah. How do you, I'd love to go personal again, but how do you. How have you done that reskilling process in your own, in your own life and learning new things? And what, like, how have you kind of, approached the reskilling process? Cause I know, you're someone that's, you know, is across a lot of things. you have a lot of skills. Right. But yeah. How have you kind of gone about the the reskilling process in your journey so

Caleb Maru:

Yeah. Um, I'm like kind of fortunate in that I never took on a, um, fortunate. Yeah. I'm fortunate in that I never took on like a very technical role. So like, Um, a lot of the roles I did were just things that like didn't require it. Wasn't like data analysis where I needed like hard skills than that, or product management. Um, I did learn some no code stuff, but that wasn't for a role that was more out of interest. So I'm lucky that I didn't have like, because I've almost like never had up until recently. Never had direct clarity on my, like, where I wanted my job, like career to go. Um, I've never been like, okay, I need to reskill into this role and put my time and effort into that. So, um, yeah, I think for me, it's been cool because I've been able to learn little bits of things, but I've never felt like I've had a holistic like, experience where I'm like, now I'm proficient like this skill and can do this role. And so I think that's where this comes in also. And it was part of my experience at uni. It was like, I was learning to do a law. Um, but it was gonna take me like five years on top of my, like bachelor of arts. And it was just, it just felt like too long, right? Like at the, by the time, cause I left my law degree when I did that, I was like, this law degree is actually inhibiting. It's like preventing me from continuing with my career rather than enabling it. Um, cuz five years is ages like that's so long. So, um, I think that's where like the need really resonates. Like how do we do this as quickly as.

James Fricker:

Mm. Yeah. That's. I think you're, you're a great example of that. Someone that's gone out and done a whole bunch of stuff. uh, super cool. I'd love to like ask about as well, like entry level. and when we spoke recently, you were saying a lot of the guys that, well, a lot of the people that are sort involved are um, perhaps not even in Australia, right across the world, but I wonder if there's Like I wonder if you are exposed to people. Do like are successful, I guess, through the, programs and kind of end up doing well and then getting jobs and whatever afterwards. And perhaps if you've thought about what are the common threads of these people. I wonder if there's something that, someone that performs well in this, in, in the reselling program and then goes off and, and gets a job anywhere. I wonder if there's certain things, themes that these kinds of people tend to do well in.

Caleb Maru:

Definitely. Yeah, there definitely are. So like, there's quite a few examples. Like we get a testimonial. You know, we get like something coming up in our, like, um, we have a channel cuz like our whole thing is like reskilling a billion people. And so we have like a couple stories each week, which is like, oh, this person got a job here or this person landed a gig and they told us about it or they tagged us in this thing. Um, so we definitely see that. Um, I think from the people I spoke to who have like who I spent like quite a bit of time with at the beginning, trying to understand how they landed their roles. One of the learnings is that, um, I actually think this goes for anything, is that like when you're transitioning jobs and you're very serious about it, it comes with. A, like a pretty firm commitment. Like I want this job. And so like, this is what I'm going for B it's like setting up like, um, or like being really particular about what things you need to learn. And then C is like, um, just actively applying, like learning, sorry, learning those things is probably C and then like D is just like actively applying for all the whole time. So it's like we capture someone and like, ideally. Yeah. So we capture someone at like one part of their reskilling process, but the reskilling process. Um, or like transitioning roles or getting into a new role, takes about six to nine months. If you're starting from scratch, if you have no other skills. Um, and so those people are just like, basically they're pretty PLA like they have planned it out, like planned out how they're gonna learn. They're like take initiative and they're just like trying everything. I think the same thing goes for like, if you're starting a company or like you are, you know, trying to get like trying to build something from scratch, it's like, you just need to relentlessly try and throw like darts at the air, um, until something lands. So I think that's like what comes in common? Like that's, what's in, um, yeah. In common with the people who find roles yeah. From our program.

composer-1660028817716:

Yeah. I think it's cool there. I think, um, one thing I've been thinking about a lot is like clarity on things that you, things that you'd like for your own life. And I think you mentioned that in, in that answer there, these people are quite clear about this with end state that they want. And even, I think earlier you mentioned that you were sort of been unsure about where your career was gonna go, but recently you've discover. Uh, or had some moments of clarity perhaps around like, okay, this is really where I want to take things. Um, how, like, I guess, like for those people listening that perhaps are in that state of like, they don't necessarily have a certain thing they really wanna pursue yet. Is there any, and this is difficult cuz perhaps the journey is just different for everyone. But I wonder if you, if you do have any words of wisdom for those people. Still hunting for something that they're really get excited.

Caleb Maru:

Yeah, definitely. Um, and just to add to that point as well, I like there's a really good book on productivity called. Getting things done by David Allen. And he's like, one of his things is that like the very first thing you do, if you ever want to get anything done is just like, figure out exactly why. And like, who are you in the world? And what does this mean to you? Otherwise it's like, almost like dissonance between yourself and the task. If you're doing things for the sake of it, it doesn't really like, you'll never really like get into it in the same way that someone else does or you might, but then you'll be like, why do I do that? So I think it's so important to understand what that is for you. Um, I like, yeah, I don't know. I. For me, it was a combination of like what I care about in the world, what I think I can do. Um, and like what I'm good at. And then it was also, um, really just like a lot of. It was a lot of testing as well. Like it, to be honest, it's just heap of testing. And I think maybe a better approach, like to like an approach that's better than being like, I want to do this thing is like, actually just canceling out the things you don't want to do. So like I tried law and I was like, I do not wanna do law. Like just, that's not like the field I want. And then I tried, um, I tried nonprofits and was like, Feels good, but it's not a place I wanna stay. Um, I tried like policy and then I realized like this also isn't like the place I wanna be in. Um, I don't wanna build a career here. So I think like, it, for me was more of a process of elimination. Um, it's like, I know why I'm doing it. So let me try all these ways to get there. And then like, I eliminated all the things that didn't really work. So, um, yeah, like don't stress about finding the right thing. I think just like try as as many things as you can and then figure out. As many things as you can, that like, seem like they'll be enjoyable and then figure out what works and what doesn't. Um, cuz yeah, like you can't really like think your way to like the next thing. Like you really just need to experience.

James Fricker:

Um, well we're on a bit of a deep thread at the moment. I'd like to continue this. Um, so I wonder, so I've got a few more deep personal questions to finish off with. And one of those is, um, about inspirations. I wonder if there's any person or thing that inspires you and perhaps it's someone that you really look up to, or someone that is a mentor for you or someone that you really, um, you know, you look at them and kind of aspire to be like them. Perhaps. I wonder if there's any one or anything, uh, in your life that, that fulfills that

Caleb Maru:

Yeah, that that's a really good question. Um, to be honest, and this might sound really cocky, but like, there are definitely people who inspire me. Um, and I I'll get to that, but I think like when I used to put people on pedestals, I think I like. Kind of realized that they were humans as well. Um, and so instead of being like, oh, I really like want to be like this person. I kind of, I kind of reframe it to think of like, these are the traits I want from this person. I wanna be as good as like investing as them. And I actually, I think I turned it into like, not like I wanna be like this Veta or I wanna be like, I wanna have like the intellect of this person. I think I just made it more of like a, how do I have. do I become a better invest in this person? Or how do I have more insight than this person? Um, I dunno if that makes sense, but I kind of reframed it from like, I really look up to you to like, I want that. So I'm just gonna like work towards that. Um, and so like the people who I look up to, I'm kind of competitive with in, in my own head. So like, um, I don't know if that sounds like cocky or not, but like that, that, that's sort of the way I think about it. I think, um, there's probably a hand. I think that actually like a lot of my own community, like a lot of the people I spend time with and hang out with, I really look up to, and that's why I spend time with them. Um, you know, they are like super empathetic or they're super intelligent or they're like brilliant investors or they're like great operators. Like a lot of the people I surround myself with, um, Few of them you had you've had on the podcast. Like I think I really look up to, um, and they're my peers at the same time. So yeah, I think like for me, it's been really cool because I've, I've sort of switched it from like really looking up to people and idolizing them to being like, I actually wanna be more like them and just bring those people in and like keeping them close. And I feel like I learn a lot from that.

James Fricker:

Mm, I think that's a great point. I think. Um, Yeah. I, I think that's really cool. Cause I, I feel like if you idolize someone too much, then perhaps you'll, you'll almost never be as good as they are. Um, right. Cuz you'll just, oh, I wish I was as good as them. Uh, I'm just, I'm just the little, little boy that can't do anything. you know, like I'll never be that good, uh, that sort of thing. Whereas if you, if you view them more as like an, an equal and really striving. Actually be as good as them, like you said, it's perhaps a, a slight reframe of that. Uh, then it's much more of a, we are, we are both capable of the same things and I'm, I'm like working towards being as capable as you in a, you know, and I'm on the journey that makes sense.

Caleb Maru:

Exactly. Like, I mean, like idolizing, people's fine, but like one frame of mind really like, like really pushes your own self belief. And I think I'd rather have that than be like, I really love this person. It's like, well, like I'm striving to be that person or better, or have that person respect me even. Um,

James Fricker:

Yeah, definitely. No, that's cool. I like that a lot. Um, one more question for you. Similar thread is, uh, this is a classic Tim Ferris question, but I wonder for yourself getting to where you are today. What has been your most worthwhile investment of time? Or a money, uh, related investment. I wonder if there's anything there that, uh, you've invested in that has, uh, you know, been something that has really propelled you, uh, looking back.

Caleb Maru:

Yeah. Wow. That's a good question. Um, for why has been the best investment I've made? There's probably two. So. Yeah, there's two and they're kind of generic, so sorry. They're not straight up answers, but one is just like in relationships. So like I invested, um, almost to a fault, like I invest a lot of time into like relationships and maintaining them and making sure that like I'm connecting with people, um, and that I'm appreciating them and like, um, sort of. Really that I'm like present as well. Um, so I think that in itself is, has been one of the best investments, cuz tho those are relationships like bring about like amazing opportunities. Like a lot of the opportunities I've had have just been from people I've known or people who have just like really appreciated that I've given them the time, um, or people who I have. Like sort of given as much as I could to. Um, and so those relationships in general have paid off a lot. Um, and it's just like bought me sort of like people who back me, um, and like really support me and who I really wanna support as well. So I think I'd just say like, honestly, my like group of peers and like, um, and people I, I work with and. Yeah, my network is like, is really like one of the best things you can invest in. Um, and then, yeah, I guess like the personal side, so one of the best investments I've made and like one of the best systems I've had. There's probably two. So like one is, um, like one is the system called elephants, which is like a group. Uh, you may have heard of it, but it's like, have you heard of it, James? Oh, okay, cool. Um, a lot of the tech scene is like familiar with it cuz uh, um, yeah, there was an article on it that went, that got pretty big, but it's basically a system where you have, um, a group of people and you catch up every week, um, to talk about how you went basically in your week and you have goals that are like personal, sorry you have like professional, um, Uh, physical financial, like career, like all these different goals that you set and you set them like 10 years, three years, one year, three months, one month. And then like, you sort of do these weekly reviews. Um, and so that long term view is just like, it just frames your goals. Right? And so you have this thing where it's like, okay, that's my 10 year goal. And like these, this is how it feeds in. And that weekly accountability with those people who you really trust is just. You know, no, no bullshit like this, what happen this week? This is what I struggled with. This is what I'm like thinking right now, um, that support network and that group of people that I do it with, um, are just like amazing. And that system has just meant that, like, it's not just me, who's invested in my goals. It's like my team, like, um, and if I don't do it, I'm not disappointing myself. I like I'm disappointing the guys. So like that has been one of the best investments I've made. Um, for sure. Like,

James Fricker:

yeah. that sounds so good. like, yeah. I, I would, I would, uh, participate in one of those in a heartbeat. I think, I think cuz like I feel like one of the hardest things is like, um, creating a, a long term vision for yourself is, is quite hard. And I think breaking it down. To, like you said, the yearly monthly, whatever sort of breakdown makes things, you know, you're sort of turning the dream into things you can actually do. Uh, and, and the accountability as well is it's um, yeah, that's a high power you know, extremely useful thing. Definitely. I think that's

Caleb Maru:

It's so over accountability is like scary how high powered it is. It's just like, if you have accountability on something, it just makes you do things. That's why, like I only turn on the accountability trigger, like. When I know I need to do it otherwise. I'm like, no, no, I don't need that yet. Like

James Fricker:

Yeah. Yeah, yeah. yeah, That's super good. Damn. I like that a lot. Yeah, there was, uh, we, we haven't got much time left, but there was this one Ted talk. I, I'm not sure if it's still up, but. It was probably a few years ago now it was called extreme productivity. And this, the guy that gave it had like bruises on his face. Um, and he was talking about like extreme productivity and like accountability, where to the point of like, Physical like physical punishment. Like if you don't do something, uh, which is, that's like why it's called extreme but

Caleb Maru:

That's so hectic.

James Fricker:

like, um, the guy had gone and done like some pretty cool stuff and obviously giving a Ted talk as well, which is, um, which is pretty cool. But Yeah. Interesting Ted talk. I don't, I don't, I'm not sure if it's still up, but I remember seeing that obviously.

composer-1660028817716:

That's a extreme don't don't do this sort of thing. Yeah, no anyway, that just, uh, uh, I just remembered that while we were talking, but anyway, Side sidetrack. Now we've got, uh, we're right at the end now. So I've got one last question for you, Caleb. Uh, and this is a question that I ask all the guests and it is if you were graduating or perhaps, uh, quitting university early again, uh, like this time, like, again again now, right? Uh, you know, what would, what advice would you give someone that's kind of at that stage in their life?

Caleb Maru:

yeah. Um, Hmm. Yeah. I think the main thing is just like, take it easy. You have so much time ahead of you. Like your twenties are like made, you're made to screw up. Like you're supposed to screw up as many times as you want in your twenties. And it's cool. Like, cuz you probably like, I don't know. I think here is like, there's, there's quite a lot of safety, right? Like if everything goes wrong, you can probably get a job somewhere or like you might have a support network to help you out. So don't worry too much if things don't go well in your twenties, like it's meant to be kind of shit. And also like really. Um, and I'm definitely experiencing that now where it's like, why don't I have my shit together in like some aspects of my life. I'm like, it's cool. It's cool. Um, so yeah, I think it's just like have fun, have as much fun as you can and, and just do things that you enjoy. Um, yeah. And just say yes to as much things as you can, that like are helpful for you.

composer-1660028817716:

Um, yeah. Bang. no, that's, that's great advice. I think we've, you know, you've, you've given us a lot of wisdom in the chat today. Cal really appreciate it. Uh, but for folks listening, if they want to investigate more about yourself, find out more about what it is. You do follow you, uh, in various places. Uh, where should they go find out?

Caleb Maru:

Yeah. So I share a lot of like what I'm up to in Africa on LinkedIn, um, which is just like Caleb Maru. Um, M a R U C a L E B Caleb. Um, and then I should post a bit on Twitter. So that's also Caleb Maru.

composer-1660028817716:

so nice. you get around it folks? No, it's been fantastic having you on the show to day. Caleb really appreciate you, uh, spending some time with us and yeah, we'll catch around soon.

Caleb Maru:

Thanks, James. This was super fun.

James:

Thanks for listening to this episode I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. If you want to get my takeaways, the things that I learned from this episode, please go to graduate theory.com/subscribe, where you can get my takeaways and all the information about each episode, straight to your inbox. Thanks so much for listening again today, and we're looking forward to seeing you next week.