Jan. 31, 2022

Dan Brockwell | On Startups, Corporate and Personal Branding

Dan Brockwell | On Startups, Corporate and Personal Branding

Dan Brockwell is a Product Manager at Atlassian and Co-Founder at Earlywork.

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Show Notes
00:00 Dan Brockwell
00:37 Intro
01:35 Personal Brands in 2022
04:27 How Would Dan Start a Personal Brand in 2022
07:55 How to convert your personal brand into opportunities
12:07 Startups and Corporate Comparison
22:05 Dan's Thought Process behind going from Corporate to Startups
27:32 Getting Jobs without a job opening
37:11 What Dan Thinks Of Range
46:24 Dans' Advice to New Graduates
49:14 Contact Dan
50:29 Outro

Transcript
James:

Hello, and welcome to graduate theory. On today's episode, we'll hear about personal branding and the importance of that. As we go into careers in 2022, we'll talk about corporate versus startups. And what are the pros and cons of working in an established corporate company versus working in a startup. We also talk about getting jobs without permission, and these are really, really exciting concepts. I'm so, so excited for this episode. It's one of the best on graduate theory. So please enjoy. hello, and welcome to graduate theory. My guest today is a computer science and marketing graduate from the university of new south Wales. He's worked in marketing consulting, design sales, and operations at company. Like Amazon, Uber, Deloitte, IBM, as well as a few startups. He is currently a product manager at Atlassian on the side of all this. He is a co-founder and the chief meme officer at early work, which now has an audience of over two and a half thousand people. It's been featured by the AFR startup, dairy and smart company. He's part of the angel investing program at edge revenge. He's an angel investor himself and advisor at 98, which is across the continent gen Z marketing agency. Please. Welcome to the show, Dan Brockwell.

Dan:

James, Matt. Thank you so much. I think we're gonna have some fun today.

James:

Absolutely. I'm flat out. This is going to be fantastic. I think there's so much, I want to just discuss with you Dan. And the first question I want to ask is around personal brand in 2022, and I think this is kind of something that's evolving and changing all the time. You know, how important do you think it is to have an online, personal brand in 2020?

Dan:

Yeah, super good question. I think kind of like to just kind of modifying questions, then it's like, personal brand for whom like, as in, are you a startup founder? Are you a job seeker? Are you an investor? And then, yeah, like what do you want to use that personal brand for as, and you could have around very different policy. It could be career related. It could be not career related at all. You might be a musician on the side and artists, et cetera. What I would say is that, like, you know, it's only so recently in human history that you can, you know, write something and then that can get seen pretty easily by. You write something once that scales so easily. And I think having an online personal brand just allows you to get your story out to people in a much more scalable way. It's like you do the work once. And then so many people find out about who you are and, you know, there's that old expression. Like, it's not what, you know, it's who, you know, the modifying factor there is actually it's, who knows you. And the even further modification is it's who knows you for what? And so I You know, having an online personal brand is really just like taking extra shots on goal, right? It's like, you know, you could be a striker in soccer. You might be a really shitty striker. Having an online personal brand just means more people are going to find out about what you're doing and just, you know, with enough shots, you get some goals.

Track 2:

I love what you said that, and I think it's, it's, it's important to, to like, oh, it's a great idea that you know, today as well, the online technology and things like that, you know, the marginal cost of production, you know? Oh, how you, however you want to describe it. So like, you know, giving your newsletter to one extra person, the cost of doing that is literally zero. So, you know, the ability for your newsletter to go to 10 people was the same as it is a thousand a million. You know, and, and sorry, if you like being able to scale that and really your personal brand is no limit to how many people that you can reach. I

Dan:

Hundred percent, hundred percent. I think like, yeah, and I think following up even further on that point of scalability, I know Navarro rabbit from, he was like the founder of angel list, kind of just like a tech Korea, his job site. I think he talks a lot about code and media as those two super scalable things where it's like, no one you can write code. And that software scale to millions, number two, you can, you know, create content. And that can scale with millions. I think probably the third example there, which has been around for quite a while is. You know, you write laws once and I was going affect millions of people for a long, long period of time, but compared to content and code, there's a lot more permission and a lot more hierarchy in order to effect change in the law. Whereas I think today, what you're starting to see is like young people just creating Korea's online, you know, writing content, building software, and they don't have to wait for anyone to give them permission to do so.

James:

Yeah, it's, it's really powerful. And like, how would you, like if you were going to start, you've got a pretty decent personal brand. I mean, w how would you go about starting it again today? Is there any avenues or topics, or how do you even decide what to speak about and where to put it in things like.

Dan:

So, what does it say? You have the content and context, so what to speak about and where to put it, right. Like I think content. Yeah. I mean, the only thing I look back, I don't have regrets, but like, I wish I'd started earlier as in like talking about like the things that I was learning as like, you know, a young person who just entered the tech and startup world in first year. Like my first role in uni proper role was going to start up role. So I think like w like documenting my journey early on, it would've been super, super fun just to like, share with other friends who were. in uni and maybe they didn't even know about that sort of world. I think like the beautiful thing is like, you know, you can be young, you can be pretty inexperienced, but you're still going to know more about some things than a lot of people. Like everyone in life has their own unique journey. And so you don't have to be like, you know, world number one, but you might know about something a lot more than most of your friends, for instance. I mean, you might be able to tell your friends about, you know, how to run a podcast. You could literally start running commentary on that. Right. I think in terms of context, I think this is something I haven't explored as much yet, but I think like one thing I would have been keen to experiment with more and will be experimenting with very actively is video content. Like I, I think I, you know, biased pretty heavily towards texts because like, I think like the value for money is really good. So to speak like you don't, there's not that much kind of like effort in terms of production beyond kind of just the core writing. But you can scale that to a lot of people. I think the video is a really deep and rich. Format. It's very engaging. It's very human. And so I think, yeah, definitely an opportunity there that we'll be exploring with early work, early talk on Tik TOK, stay tuned. But yeah, I think like for someone starting out, like more generally in terms of like what content to choose, just getting specifically to that question. Choose things that interest you like things that you're just learning about anyway, like all of us are most people in their spare time, often reading about things. Anyway, they often have little side hobbies and passions and just things that they're fascinated by. And I think the best content comes when it's something that you're approaching with a genuine and authentic curiosity. I think coupling that with also then what are you experiencing that some other people might not be experiencing? So maybe like. Podcost creation tips for instance. But kind of the intersection though, is like, what are your unique experiences or experiences that maybe few people have? And then one of the things you're just very naturally drawn to, and very curious about trying to find the intersection of those, I think is magic. And I think ultimately, like I don't, yeah, I have a certain perspective on content here, but I, I love the idea of content as a tool. Like what I'd be thinking about is like, okay, if you're going to go and create. And put it out and give it to other people. What's the, what's the need that you're solving for them. What's the problem that you're solving for them. Like, I love this idea of content as being very actionable. It's like someone should be able to like. read a newsletter or listen to a podcast and they can actually apply that sort of thinking very directly in their life in the next week. So in any content that you create, like maybe it starts with just solving a problem for you. And then over time you realize other people have that.

James:

Yeah. Well, yeah, I think it's so powerful. I totally agree with you in independence and age and, and yeah, it was interesting what you were saying about, about BDO as well, because I think, you know, like being across all the different media landscapes can be, can be tricky, but you know, like the video is, is something that, yeah. Is it. It's super cool. And even, even Tik TOK, I think you might've seen, it has like more views than Google, I think

Dan:

Yeah, well, more mobile

James:

amazing and incredible.

Dan:

Yeah. it just, cry.

James:

it's fascinating how something like that has really grown so much, like what would be the next step then from taking? So let's say, you know, you you've you've started like your personal brand, you know, you're, you've maybe you've got your sub stack where you put your Twitter or whatever it is. Well, it's like, you know, what's the next step from there? I mean, I guess it depends on why you've started to make it, but let's say, you know, you've saw the kind of market yourself and, you know, you're getting, you're trying to get opportunities. I mean, how do you I wonder if you have any, any experience with that sort of converting this brand into opportunities? I mean, how do you, how do you sort of go back to.

Dan:

absolutely. Absolutely. I mean, like I always had the thesis with early work of like building the customer before building the product. If you're building a brand, whether that's a personal brand, whether it's around. With that comes an audience. And if you're curating an audience of a certain niche with a certain interest, as that audience grows over time, that audience becomes valuable to each other. So the community aspect and invaluable to. others as well. And so what I would think about is like over time, like as you build a personal brand and you build a large audience, think about like, what does that audience have in common? What are kind of the common problems that they have? And then what can you do to provide solutions to those problems? So early back, for instance, it started out as a sub stack newsletter. So I started off in September, 2020 curating a list of tech and startup internships and graduate roles for 10 friends just based around Sydney. Over time. I built that out to me. It was maybe you know, 600 subscribers at the time, or getting close to a thousand and under decided to launch a community based around that newsletter, along with my co-founders John marina. And I think kind of really the thinking there is, okay, you started with this content, it's getting some traction, people are liking it, reading it. We had a small LinkedIn group of power users to be to white glove who would give us feedback and suggestions. But the thing I started to see was, wow, there's really not a strong social fabric for young people in Australia who were interested in the tech and startup space. And so the next evolution of that initial content became a community around that content. And then you start to deepen your content from a one-way conversation where, you know, we're just putting out information for free to a two-way conversation, where we're talking with our audience, they're talking with us and talking with each other and you start to build this Richard.

James:

Yeah. That's that's that's cool when it's it's yeah, it's a great example of. That, that community or that thing that you had into a community into something real I think that was a great point about, you know, solving a problem for your audience because, you know, I guess once you hit that sort of critical mass size, that becomes those commonalities where, okay, you know, most people have this problem or most people want this, like for may or those kinds of things, then it becomes more clear on how to actually solve those problems for them.

Dan:

Oh, for sure. For sure. I mean, look, if you started a newsletter about tricycles and you got to 10,000 subscribers and you know, you had 40% of your audience opening up. I guarantee you that a tragical company would love to do a sponsored placement and newsletter. You can get some great Freecycle sponsorships. That's not the number one problem space that I'm focused on, but the, the point there is it's like if you build anyone, it builds an audience of anyone with a strong interest in just kind of certain niche or a certain area. There'll be people on the other side of that interest, you can provide things. Yeah. And so it's about like, how do you kind of connect people together where there's a kind of a coincidence of once where, you know, one party wants one thing. One party wants to be able to think, and by building and curating this audience, you can create like a beautiful system that helps those people get what they need.

Track 2:

Yeah, it's really powerful. And I love what you're doing with early work, you know, with this, with this theme, because it's something that when I first heard about it, I was like, oh, this is so cool. Like all these people that think similarly to me, like, for the longest time, even like from like high school through uni, it was like, you know, I'm sure my experience isn't one that I've just had, I'm sure there's many people that have experienced it too, but you know, you're just going out there trying to work out where are the people that I like doing cool stuff and like, you know, wanting to like make a stamp on the world and, you know, do interesting things. And, you know, it's really amazing how they've just kind of managed to find the, all of them or like at least, you know, at least two and a half thousand of them and, you know, put them into one place. I think it's, it's fantastic. Yeah, but I wanna, I wanna speak more about the startups. In Australia and things like that. And typically like when you're a university, you know, a lot of people would have the goal of, you know, I'm going to get a good, good grades and, you know, get a good job and go into a successful big company. I mean, what would you say to someone that's considering that path? You know, and whereas perhaps stops would be something that might be better or, you know, what would you say to someone that's really well on the fence might be better. Yeah.

Dan:

Okay. Yeah, Chris, this is an interesting one around like, kind of like, you know what, your first job out of uni, let's say you've had a couple internships and you kind of go, okay, first full-time job corporate or stuff. And I think like, you know, it's, I don't want to be prescriptive because I don't think the answer is going to be the same for everyone. What I can do as someone who, you know, worked in startups then in corporate, then back to startups and back to corporate again and now building a startup is trying to shed some light on the patterns that I've noticed between. So when you look at let's, let's talk about startups, for instance, like let's let's first say, okay. Why, why would you go to a stock instead of a big established company? Number one, I think is like, there's a, a breadth of learning. I think, you know, the smaller the company, the broader your role, like you're expected to wear many hats. And I think when you're young, you want to just try and explore as many things as possible. And that allows you to think about problems. So, you know, I remember, you know, doing a role at offload awesome logistic startup, where I was doing, you know, recruiting market research, customer success, graphic design, copywriting email marketing, analytics, legal work, like just about everything under the title, operations and operations could be just about anything. So I'd say that breadth of lending big advantage from startups, right? As a general rule of thumb, number two, I'd say as well with startups. And this is a big one that gets talked about. startups tend to work more quickly. There's less approval systems. There's less layers of hierarchy. What that means is you can create things more quickly, release things to customers more quickly and learn more quickly. And I think when you're a young graduate velocity of learning is extremely, extremely important. So being in a fast paced team allows you to create more things, learn more things, and grow more quickly. I'd say I don't think that I really liked about, you know, kind of like my time in startups is just the very high autonomy and ownership. I say on average, it tends to be higher and stops and big companies. And there are always exceptions to the rule, but I'd say in startups, like, you know, you might be a junior person and you might be only just the entire marketing function. And when you have a lot of autonomy and ownership, it actually gives you a lot of room to experiment, to fuck up and learn from that. And I think that's really useful too, but it's not always just about the. So definitely advantage from startups there. I think probably like, yeah. Final one. Maybe it's two more, like, I think there's a piece definitely around the problem space. And I'd say that by and large. Startups are more likely, not always more likely to be working on problems that are kind of genuinely unsolved versus iterating on things you've already kind of like found a solution, found a strong customer. And they're kind of just tweaking. I like, at least for me as an individual, like yeah, working on solve problems as a ton of fun. And I think that's more common, but not always a guarantee. And start-ups final, final call out there is maybe just from like a, if we're talking like the salary perspective important to call it, like with a lot of startups, you get equity in this. And not every startup becomes an Uber. But there is kind of that skin in the game of like, you own a piece of this business and like by succeeding and growing it, you succeed in growing your own holding. And if there's an IPO or an exit potentially down the line, that there's an amazing opportunity to. But I think with early-stage startups, it's, it's very hard to tell exactly how halogen. That's so that that's the startup side of things. Right? So lots of advantages there. I had a ton of fun startups. I love startups. There are however, some advantages that you will see in big companies. And, and what I want, I want to hope that people do is like, think about these advantages and understand for them what makes sense in their career and where they're at. I'd say like on the, like, you know, working for like, say like a big tech company, for instance, like number one brand equity. BR brand is used as a heuristic or surrogate indicator of your competence, like it or not. And I don't think people should spend their lives working for big brands just to show everyone, Hey, look, I work for big brands, but when you're young and just starting out, getting that stamp, like that seal of approval, like, you know, all you have to Google all you have to Facebook. People know that you're like a certain caliber because no one you got through the interview process. And number two, you got trained up in the ways those companies work like big companies have been around so long and got to that point that they must've done something. So by being there, you're kind of soaking up the processes. And I know I've soaked up a ton of that great tools from Alaska and from Uber, from Amazon, each of them has done certain things really, really well that allowed them, them to succeed. Whereas most other companies didn't get that far. The caveat there is that you can get. Brand equity through internships. So you could do internships to these big companies, but that doesn't mean, and if you've done that, it doesn't necessarily mean you have to go and then do a graduate role when those companies, it's kind of a different consideration, but something to think about, right. I think number two, and this is kind of a big one that I hear from, you know, young people. It's like, you know, oh, I want to learn a lot starting off. You know, I, I'm still early in my career. I don't know much is big companies. As a rule of thumb, tend to have more structured learning and mentorship, you know, and it lasts. And I'm very lucky. I've got a button. I've got a mentor is kind of like an APM kind of kind of like program guide as well, who kind of like helps us out got a manager. And so there's lots of people there to support you. And we'll have say, like, for instance, like sessions with. Senior product leaders or like founders of startups outside the company. So there's a lot of events that are happening within the company that allow you to learn lots of like as well, like asynchronous, like video courses you can do through the company. So I'd say in general, bigger companies tend to be stronger on it. Taking the time to build up and build up that library and talent pool of structured learning and resources. That being said some small companies, like I I've worked at startups where, you know, I got to work directly with the founders and got a lot of mentorship from them. So I would want to challenge like, you know, that structured learning, I think structure maybe is a little bit overrated. I think the mentorship is what's really important, but I think a lot of young people can, if we're given the right tools and resources can go and lend themselves. Yeah. But yeah, general patent. I've seen, I'd say I kind of, maybe to that point, like around like mentorship opportunities, it's just kind of a really big strength there. When in big companies you're joining a talent pool of so many smart young people where those people might be your investors down line. They might be your co-founders. There might be your employees. They might be your future boss. a company like Alaska. And like, there are so many amazing product managers at this company. Like people I'm learning from people, I get to chat to see how they work, see how they think. So you get to soak up a lot of real interesting learning there just by being in a large talent pool of really smart people. I think as well, like, you know, the, the, the flip side to kind of the startups of like, oh, you know, working on unsolved problems, high ownership, high autonomy in big companies, you can work on a product that's literally being used by millions. You know, if you think of, imagine someone who's working on Google maps, for instance, like that's a product that would be used by millions, if not billion people. So being able to, you know, again, write code once and have that change, you know, that I suppose kind of task in someone's life, you know, for millions of people is, you know, it's a pretty cool and pretty attractive factor and startups take a lot of time to get to that scale. So there is an immediate scale of impact that you do get. And I, and then I think talking more to kind of like the Korea side. Finally, I think kind of the two elements there. Number one tends to be higher salary. Realistically, most startups, early stage startups tend to have like a little bit lower salary. Growth stage can actually sell them to be competitive with the big tech companies, but usually the mature tech companies. Like they they do a lot to try and keep you there. You know, they're making a lot of money. They're public, usually public listen to big companies and they've done. And because the building software, you know, the marginal cost of selling it to customers is very low. So very lucrative business model, they can afford to pay some pretty high salaries. The other thing that from a career perspective is just, I suppose, safety. And I, I want to be very careful here when I say safety. I don't mean Korea safety. I purely main job safety. I purely mean like if you join a big company, like an Atlassian and Amazon and Google the. job just goes and gets made. Redundant is less likely if you join a start up, you know, could crash and burn in six months, a year, year and a half, but I want to decouple. Joel brisk from career risk. Like I think even joining a place where, okay, maybe it's going to go under in a year or two, not necessarily bad for your credit in fact could be very good for your career. Like you're working on very high responsibility things. You're going to be learning super, super quickly. Get a lot of responsibility, deliver a lot of like really measurable impact. But Yeah. I suppose like for someone who's like, if you're in a very tricky financial sector, Then, you know, joining a big company, like, you know, maybe the safer option, that was a massive rant. But Yeah, that's kinda just like rattling off a list of like different considerations there. At the end of the day, it comes down to, you know, the problems you want to work on the skills you want to cultivate the environment you want to be in and your career goals.

Track 2:

Yeah, no, I thought that was like a fantastic and very well balanced view of these two different areas. I think it's, I think, yeah. I think, you know, my experience with early work and as I saw more about the Australian startup ecosystem, is it, you know, Some of the stops probably like undervalued in terms of the good experiences that you can have there. And most people just kind of go straight towards big, secure companies. When, you know, there can be really great experiences that can be found in, you know, smaller startups. And I think, yeah, you raised some really great points that.

Dan:

A hundred percent I think. And it really wasn't quite there as well. And this is a factor, a lot of people don't get it done. People go like, oh, you know, I want to go to, you know, a Google or Microsoft. Cause I want to learn from like really experienced people with really good skills. What people forget is that those people don't always stay at those companies. They often go and join startups. So if you were to go to a startup like eucalyptus or dovetail, for instance, you're getting mentored by a lot of talent. That's come from these big companies. It's almost like that. Like the, the sweet spot it's like you're working in a very fast paced environment. Very high ownership, but you're still getting mentorship from people who've come from these, like, you know, really big, impressive companies. And so they've learned a lot of skills and processes there. So there, there is, there is an argument to be made that like, you know, that's actually like a really good kind of starting option that like growth phase or breakout phase startup, where you're interacting with a lot of talent from top companies. Anyway.

Track 2:

Yeah, that's a great point. And I want to ask something too about your own experience, because I know you kind of started off and you've interned at a lot of these larger companies, and then you kind of went in and started working at sign-ups. Was what was your thought process behind that? Because I know there's a lot of people listening are in large corporate, almost, you know, safe positions, and then going to a startup can be something that's quite. It was conceived quite risky. And you know, is it a thing's going to work out and all these kinds of things? I mean, what was your thought process in doing things like that? Not only have you seen other people that have done stuff like that and you know, what was perhaps their process and doing stuff like that as well?

Dan:

Yeah. In terms of like, what, what kind of gives you kind of that emotional safety to kind of take a leap into the startup world? I mean, I got lucky because my first role in uni was with a startup. You just kind of came from like a cold email, joined an ambassador program, ended up working for this stuff. Two months in, we got acquired by Airbnb and I lost my job and I was like, oh, that's awesome. Let's do it again. And join another startup. So I had these internships pretty early on, I think like when you're young, like I think particularly for people who were like spending a lot of time thinking about their careers and kinda like going the extra mile, doing side hustles, that sort of stuff Like you're already going to be so far ahead of the pack in terms of your level of effort and care to what was your career? It in deciding, like, let's say you're working in a big company and you're deciding, oh, do I go and join a startup? I mean, like for me, like, I'd be thinking about what problems do I really care about? like what, like, what are the most important problems I want to work on? Like what just really excites me. What would like, you know, I there'd be on the weekend just having breakfast, like thinking about how cool this problem is. So if you're going to join a startup. Don't just join it. Cause like, oh, you think, oh, maybe it will become big and I'll get a lot of money. I think, you know, startups are easy. They can be hard. Sometimes the hours are good. Sometimes the hours alone, very vary depending on the setup. So I don't wanna make a generalization though, but I'd be thinking that yeah, like what are the problems you want to solve? And like who in the Australian landscape is actually solving those problems. So you can look at stuff some of the top venture capital firms. So you look at like, you know, kind of your Blackbird air, tree, square peg folklore, look at the companies that they're investing. And then have a look. Okay. What are those companies doing? And then find the ones in the problem spaces that you care about. That for me is such a huge consideration, I think, as well? so that like, Yeah, probably at the impact side, then there's more the learning side of like, okay, going into a startup role, maybe I'll make a big impact, really cool problem space. But then you put the learning of like, okay, like what am I going to learn? And how fast am I going to learn? So the velocity of learning and the type of learning it's like, do you want to be cultivating technical skills? Do you want to be doing design stuff? Do you wanna get like a very broad-based strategic approach? Is it like product management, like being intentional at sort of skills you want to pick up and like going okay if I join this environment, am I going to learn those things? So another kind of key consideration, so kind of learning your impact. I think the final thing, and this is so important is the comradery. It's like, you know, when you look at the team, you look at the culture, you look at the manager or these people that you want to spend a lot of time with these people that you want to be more like, like if you're surrounded by those people day in, day out, give it to become more like those people. And so I think if you're considering leaving a big corporate join a startup, like you should be joining a great. Tackling a market that you really care about with a product that you think generally has a shot at solving the problem in a nuanced and differentiated way.

Track 2:

Yeah, that was really great. And those are some great questions to. When you're going through this process or even just thinking about it. Cause I, yeah, I think asking the right questions in these situations is, is really, really important in, you know, getting good answers even for yourself, like, you know, things like I've had guests on the podcast before, you know, trusting your gut on these decisions as well. And we really really useful. Like if you all, if you don't think the field in a company or the place you're at. That's your call to action to go in and investigate these types of opportunities. I think.

Dan:

For sure. I'd start. And it's actually something I really struggled with throughout uni was actually like on that point of like trusting gut, right? Like there were times where it's like, I got a job offer and I would try to write down this really extensive pros and cons list of like, oh, like, this is a good opportunity because XYZ, but it's a battle team because X, Y, Z. Internally at like an emotional level. I think. I knew like, oh, you know, I don't really want this role, but I would get an opportunity like, oh, should I do it? And then go through this like ridiculous extensive analysis, talk to like 20 people, like analysis paralysis. I'm an overanalyze about nature. But Yeah. there is this fascinating list of like learning when to trust the gut. I think you should always go and collect data. So talk to people who are in positions that you want to be, you know, more like, Kelly go, go like go collect information and advice from a variety of. But place high, waiting on the people who are doing the sort of things you're actually interested and the positions you want to be in. And then you kind of come back to kind of like your values, what you really care about gut feeling. And usually you will have the right answer within

Track 2:

Yeah. I mean, I think that's important and I think that's really great as well. Like, you know, don't just trust your gut with no information. Like

Dan:

yeah. Oh, go, go and get the information.

Track 2:

and still make it, I can important choice.

Dan:

Exactly. Like you might go and collect the information and then reject most of it. That might be the outcome, but you did the due diligence of collecting that information. And that's useful because we all have our own blind spots. We all have our own biases. We're all just dumb sometimes. So it's always good to get a second opinion. Like, there's been so many decisions like where it's like, my gut was like, oh, just go and do this. And I talk to people I'm like, what are you doing? I'm like, sure, sure. How to think that one through a bit more? Yeah, no get advice, but you don't have to say.

Track 2:

Yeah, no, that's true. And just on that, on that, and you mentioned it rotted this, John, if you get lost on, so it was around, you reached out to this company code and you got a job there. And this is a topic that I really want to speak more about it. Cause it's. Like almost everyone doesn't do this. And like people that I now speak to who work places, they're like, yeah, this is actually kind of a good idea. Just reaching out to people, call it a, like, just meeting people that work at the company you want to work at. And I'm curious about your experience doing this kind of thing. That's not sort of the traditional way of getting a job, like, you know, waiting for the company to list a job, you know, to, to then apply and, you know, kind of go, go in and try and. Get the job POS like, you know, 5,000 thousands of other people, you know, you're just sort of going in as like really sort of putting more eggs in their basket and connecting to the people that work there and things like that. I'd love to hear, you know, your experience with that, and even you'll process that, that you've done. And maybe there's other people that, you know, that have done a similar, similar thing. Yeah. I'm really interested to hear your thoughts.

Dan:

Yeah, absolutely. It's just crazy. Like job listings are the tip of the iceberg of the job market. Like people see these little things and go, okay, I'll apply for those. And they sit and hope for the best. If you think about startups, they're always growing. They're always raising money. They're always hiring. And so many things just happened through referrals or ad hoc introductions or all these hidden job opportunities. And it's like, if you want to work at a store, Like startups by the nature, like proactive people. And so the best thing you can do is be proactive. Don't wait for the job listing, make the job listing. And yeah, happy to talk to your, kind of my experiences here. So I suppose, like I, I worked for three different startups in university. One kind of initially came when I was the first one was a startup called tilt, social payments startup. And my first. And originally I was conceptualizing an app with friends, called friends with deficits, and we were trying to like track deaths between friends at different currencies. Did some competitive research, found this company called tilt. I was like, damn, they've solved it all. But they have an ambassador group, but you wanna stop you. So I emailed the country manager in Australia. I was like, Hey, I'd love to join the ambassador group. He's like, yeah, sure, man. I opened up applications, joined the ambassador group, did that for a couple of months. And then that converted into a growth internship with them leading an ambassador program with a couple of hundred students across this. So a ton of fun there, but I think it kind of that came from, yeah. Number one, the proactive reach out. So cold email and then number two, being part of something related to the company before actually having the role. So an ambassador program is a great example, but it might be like, you know, maybe there's like an, a beta test as group. Maybe it's doing user research for the company. Maybe it's, you know, helping promote the company or something that there are ways that you can kind of get affiliated with the company without actually formally being a part of it. Yeah. I kinda internship number two was a fascinating one where there's a restaurant ordering style called table kind of essentially kind of like, you know, me and you or Mr. Young, where you could kind of like, order on your mobile in your, in the restaurant and then wait for a wider this one, I saw ads running for the salad on Facebook. I was like, and it was for a referral competition. It hadn't launched yet. I'm like, oh, this is super cool. I spammed it across a bunch of university discussion groups. Top 10 and referrals and like 24 hours or something. And then I reached out to the chief operating officer or chief executive officer on LinkedIn. I was like, Hey dude, like, yeah. Love the problem. You're working on super, super fascinating. I'm actually interning at a startup right now, but so are your thing. And I was like, oh, I'm just gonna share this with like a bunch of people ended up getting to this referral position at this time. If you're open to bringing on a marketing intern, let's have a chat. And meeting them at Westfield in Bondi junction, one meeting, and then work them for like six months. So that, I think that came from that there were two things. Number one called LinkedIn DMS just amazing. And with cold LinkedIn games, like the key thing is like, who, why, what, who are you? Why are you reaching out? And what's in it for them. So explain like who you are. And maybe like you're a student majoring in this interning at this place. Why are reaching out you came across them and really liked XYZ at about them. And what's in it for them. Are you open to taking on intern? Not, are you currently hiring an internal currently seeking, but just say you open because no one wants to be closed. People might not have a job listing and then you go, Hey, you open to an intern and like, oh yeah, maybe let's have a chat. So it's it's a good way to get, kind of get a foot in the door. And the other thing there is like adding value before you've even reached out. So I reached out after I'd gone and shared the app with a bunch of. And that shows that proactivity where sound goes, oh, cool. Okay. If we hire this person, we know we're not going to have to wait to give them instructions. They're just going to go and do things that help the company. So there's a cool piece there. Final one is an interesting one. There was a job listing, but it wasn't an internship. It was at a company called offload awesome. Like a road freight logistics startup in Australia. And they had a listing for a full-time operations. I was working at Amazon all the time. So it'd been deepening my interest in logistics, but I wanted to kind of go back and hop back into the startup world. And I'd seen this listing and I went, well, I can't do full-time, but I could do part-time. So I just applied and then I just messaged the chief operating officer. I went like, Hey man, like yeah, love what you're working on. And I've got no background, like Amazon Uber. So passion about logistics space. Context is, you know, I'm still wrapping up at uni. But would you be open to, you know, taking on someone. And I had several interviews with the team and eventually like, yep. Sweet. And so that was meant to be a full-time role, but turned it into a part-time role. I ended up going full-time there. So I worked there for probably six months. It was my last role before last year. Absolutely loved it. There really, the lesson is like sometimes a job description will tell you roughly when. But they're flexible. So sometimes it might say two plus years experience apply. Anyway, sometimes I might say full-time, if you want do part-time apply anyway it's, don't sell yourself out of the opportunity, have the conversation. And if they like, you they'll make space for you, if it's not the, if it's not the right fit and that's okay. Some people go, you know what? Sorry, we need someone full-time and that's totally fine. It's not a, not a personal insult, but I think with. Number of companies that you talk to these opportunities will start to pop up where you can create job opportunities where you thought previously job opportunities didn't exist. I think kind of like wrapping that up. Yeah. I think look cold LinkedIn DMS to like founders and hiring managers at startups. It's super, super powerful, but I'd say as well on the kind of like standing out to companies side beyond just kind of like doing like DMS on like LinkedIn, Twitter, whatever another cool thing you could do is like sending like a video resume or a video pitch to stand out for other things. So I'm seeing some candidates are called like loom videos before, which is super, super cool. And it gives that real personal flavor. Obviously you can go and refer people. You can, I have really cheeky pieces. Like you can actually give them like feedback on their app. Like you could say, Hey, I actually went through and redesign your website, or I went through and like rewrote the copy of your website. So being proactive and be like, here's what I would do to improve it and just sending it to them and just seeing what happens. It's. think in general, again, I'm giving feedback on the product or writing about the company, like writing an article about like, you could write an article on, oh, like, you know, how eucalyptus has grown to become, you know, a billion dollar company by using Instagram marketing or something. I don't know if that quite a unicorn yet. You'll have to fact check me on that one. But yeah, the, the point is that I think there are so many ways to proactively stand out that a resume and then not a cover letter. If you want to stand out and you want to be in a job pool of one and not a 500, do something different.

Track 2:

Yeah, that's so important, so important. And I think, you know, even like something like a personal brand, like we split earlier, you know, things like that combined with a little bit, it's like, yeah, it's, it's really, really powerful when you going to apply for jobs like this.

Dan:

For sure. I think also like, I mean, coming back to that personal brand thread, it's really interesting because I think having a PESTEL Brennan one just creates luck. Like I've gotten lucky many, many times in my life. And I think a lot of my career success was almost used down to luck, but I do think that having a personal brand like amplifies. Just more lucky opportunities come up. For instance, like I was pretty active on LinkedIn. I was one of those Koreans, you know, LinkedIn names for career minded, teens type of people. And I would like make posts on LinkedIn and stuff. And I won some award in like the business consulting space made a post about it and actually ended up getting a message from a guy who was working at Google and he's like, Hey, like, love your profile. Would you have interest in internship at Google? I was like, And now this guy ended up moving to Uber. I think a couple months later, like we kind of lost touch and then reconnected. And he's like, Hey, actually, I'm not Reuben, but when I'm bringing on interns and like, we've got like one spot left, would you be interested? And I was like, Yeah, show up. That's awesome. And ended up getting an internship at Uber in sales, purely from just someone who had seen my content on LinkedIn. So that's what I'm saying. Like, is it like having the PESTEL brand it's yet? Not who, you know, it's who knows you and for what? They just encountered. Your content and that's kind of like the initial funnel into okay. Then opportunities with you. It's advertising for you pretty much.

Track 2:

That's cool. And it's exciting that everyone has this ability to, I think, you know, there's no wall barrier between you and, you know, doing lucky, having that story, like what you just mentioned, like getting people coming to ask you for jobs. Like there's absolutely nothing in the way. So yeah. It's so, so.

Dan:

Yeah, I think that's super important, right? Because like from an equity, diversity access inclusion perspective, you know, you look at traditional hiring and nutrition industries like consulting law and banking, and there's often been a perception of nepotism or like, you know, all, you have to have friends in the phone where you have to know people at the firm. I think the beauty of. Online content is anyone can do it. It's permissionless. You don't need to know anyone, you just start creating. And if you're creating good stuff and you're creating consistently, it'll attract people who care about those things. I think the really important thing there then becomes, okay, how do we actually help more young people, particularly people from underrepresented and disadvantaged backgrounds actually take advantage of the power of content creation for their careers. Because I think it just gives you a massive, massive.

Track 2:

Yeah, totally. And speaking of advantages, I want to dive in a little bit more about your, you know, we've spoken about all these different roles you've had and really you've covered so much ground in terms of you've done marketing, consulting, sales, tech, like all these areas, you know, how do you think that's benefited you in, in getting to where you are now and having that range of experiences. Do you think that's something that's been really valuable in your.

Dan:

Oh, it's been mission critical. Like I just like, I thank my my youngest self for being so like, like ADHD and just like, oh, I'm just gonna try everything. Like it seemed to be like a wacky and uncoordinated at the time, I think. Yeah. I think pretty early on I had a thesis. I was like, okay. I have no idea what the fuck I want to do. So why don't I just try a little bit. And I think that helps in two ways. Number one, you uncover things that you do. And don't like, like I tried, you know, sales, marketing, design, operations, project management, front-end web dev. And, and so you pick up a lot of different skills. You, you test out different things, you get to see the world in different ways. Ultimately you'll come to skills. You like more so for me, I think like what I loved most was kind of like product marketing, sales content, things that like very much have that human element. I think that's what I was always drawn to less. So kind of like purely the tech side or the numbers side. But the other really powerful thing, I think like, if you want to start your. own thing someday, if you're a CEO, CEO's say, I don't think you should like wish at the CEO title, but like if you're starting something right, like creating something from scratch, going from zero to one, I think having that generalist skillset is advantage. And in particular, a holistic problem solving mindset, being able to see a problem from different angles, just like when I come to a problem right now with early or even. I'm not just thinking about it from like a, oh, here's the technical perspective, you know, I'm considering the design because I've worked in design, I'm considering the customer side of marketing because I worked in marketing, even though the sales pitch I've worked in sales. So when you're young and you're still just early in your career and you're like, I dunno, what the fuck I'm doing? Like get a lot of different data points. And the more data you have, the more lenses you have, like all the angles you have of like, the same problem. You can just see it from different ways and that. I think allows you to come to on average, a more robust and more successful decision-making when it comes to solving problems.

Track 2:

Yeah, I think it's so important to, and something I've spoken about on the podcast before is there's a book code range and it's by David Epstein and he's kind of has this theory. That range is like the way to go in terms of, you know, traditional successful. Finding the right career and things like that. And that's in contrast to the classic, like 10,000 hours rule where it's like, you know, you've, if you want to be good at something, you've got to just do only that for like, you know, 10 years or whatever. And then like you've said, there's this other way of doing it, where it's. I'm going to have all these experiences in different areas. And then one, like somehow I'm going to do something and all these things, it's just kind of going to interconnect and I'm going to have such an advantage of everyone. Cause I've had all these diverse things that just line up. And it just gives me, like you've said a much better perspective and you're able to just look at things in a new way. And it's it's so.

Dan:

Yeah, it's a real interesting one. Like the specialist Fest generals thing. Cause I think there's a balance here and people talk about, you know, the T-shaped model of being. G decent across a lot of things in great at like one or two things. And I think that's broadly the, the model that I've subscribed to. I've I've always loved Scott Dilbert. What's his name? Scott Adam. Sorry. Are you familiar with Scott Adams. The guy here at like a Dilbert comic. I might be getting his

Track 2:

Scott Adams.

Dan:

yeah, Cool, cool, cool. I mean, he, he, he is one of the, he is one of The best examples of the talent stack. He's one of the best examples. Scott Adams was, you know what? He was a funny guy. He could tell jokes, but he wasn't the world's best. He was a decent, honest, he could draw, but he wasn't the world's best, you know, artists. And he worked in kind of like in a corporate culture and offices and all that, but like, it wasn't like the best corporate worker, but the intersection of those three things allowed him to create a really unique intersection. It allowed him to create like a humorous comic about office culture and. So just by being better than average at several things, he found the intersection of those things and then was able to get a really big win on the board. And so when it comes to being a generalist, like, okay, the range thesis, and I haven't read Ryan trust. So forgive me if I misinterpreted the thesis, I think like, yes, like it's great. Like start off early, explore a lot of things, but you'll find some things that you more naturally gravitate towards or some things that really, you really enjoy things really energize you. I think the magic comes from finding like, Two to three things you're best at maybe three to four and thinking about, okay, what's the intersection of those. And when I say best at it could be a skill or it could be an knowledge about a certain area. So maybe you've spent a lot of time in the sustainability space. Like you've been working on sustainability and maybe you also love making tick talks, right? As in like, you know, you're a very avid users of social media. You're, you're good at like, you know, short form content creation and go to doing funny stuff. You might then create like a sustainability Tik TOK channel. So it's about like, I always think about intersections intersections in. Every person has such a beautiful, rich and complex story in a life. And we will all encounter different things and we'll all be great at certain things. And so it's like, how do you just tap into, you know, what your strengths are and combine them into? I think what's a unique offering that no, one else can do it because no. one else has you like James, you're the best at being you, James specifically, there are other good James is. I don't want to insult them. I have several friends named James But I, I think it's such a, it's such a fascinating pace that, right. I, I think people go like, okay, so like, yeah, like I, I'm not sure people sometimes will go like, oh, I'm not sure like what my strengths are. I don't know what I'm good at. What I'm bad at. There are a couple ways you can do this, right? Yeah. You can go. Okay. Like what subjects do you enjoy most in school? What subjects do you do the best at, in school? But also what were the things when you're a little kid that you were just drawn to, like things that you found fun or exciting and interesting. I got childlike self. gravitate towards trying to kind of reflect on that was really interesting. Like I actually remember, I'm not shitting here, here. I'm not joking. My friend and I in year three, we both wanted to be more. Well, we're like, oh yeah, marketing advertising. That's like, so cool. Like we saw ads on TV with like, hilarious, like so creative and like didn't really find stuff. And I was like, yeah, I want to do marketing so bizarre. And then I, like, I ended up doing uni. I didn't even start in marketing. I started off doing like finance and like biology. And I ended up in marketing anyway. It's like, I almost came back around to the child self. I was like, I bet I'm so myself. I'm like, oh wait, I actually just love this idea of like, how do you like capture the story of why something is like a valuable solution for someone. That, that paradigm is really fascinating, but I mean, another way to, this is like, you could ask your family and friends, like, like if you, if you don't ask you a five closest friends, Hey, like what do you think? Like I'm much better at than most people? Or like what, when you think about like, you know, kind of like my skills and my strengths, like, what do you, what do you associate with that world? You could also ask them for weaknesses to definitely do that. That's a good one. It was good to get kind of feedback, but I'll ask your family and friends, like, you know, like what your you'll be surprised. You will see patterns. People will know, oh, James is just like, really. Hosting podcasts. I don't know what it is. I think that, but yeah, th there will be, there'll be several skills here that will just kind of come up as patents that like, even if you don't get, have that, self-awareness the world around, you will have at least a perceived awareness of your strengths and skills. And so, yeah, I, I think for every young person, you know, when you're trying to work out what the hell to do, it's really powerful to be able to just try and find those. Early intuitive strengths and inclinations, and then start to think about how to combine them massive ramps. But yeah. Harp that vibe was vaguely. What you're looking for.

Track 2:

no, no, I definitely, I think, I think you're spot on there in working out your strengths and you know, that that squad. You know, stacking is a fantastic example and, you know, just shows that, you know, you don't have to be, you know, the best, like, you know, someone's always going to be better than you at most things. So it's just combining those things together and then working out where you can really thrive is, is a really, really cool. And you gave some great examples there of like finding your strengths and weaknesses, I think is so important to this is sometimes it can be hard to know that about yourself when you're just going about your day. And it's so useful to get other people. You know, thoughts on you? Cause yeah, sometimes you know, it's, it's so hard to tell like, oh, what am I like? Am I funny? Like, am I, you know, what am I, what am I good at kind of thing. It's sometimes hard to know that. So, maybe I'm funny. It's yeah, it's, it's, it's really cool to, to be able to get other people's opinions. Definitely. I think that's really what.

Dan:

Yeah, I mean, that's what the caveat of like, you know, other people will give you their opinions, but that's not necessarily a reflection of like your energy internally. Like some things might just energize you and you might just love them. And maybe who haven't seen examples of them, like you, for instance. Okay. You could be someone who's like, you know, like done very well at math in school, but maybe you didn't actually enjoy it. Maybe. Worked really hard and it'd be like, oh yeah, James, he's like the math guy, but maybe that's not, maybe you actually just love drawing and painting and like maybe a, not as good there yet, but you just have the passionate energy. And to be honest, like I back like the passion and the energy, like as like a long-term bet more so than just like, oh yeah. Like, you know, like I just happened to get like good grades in this thing. I mean, I think usually it tend to coincide like usually like the things that you're really passionate about. And tending to do well at, because you're just thinking about them a lot. It's just the way your brain operates. But you know, it's not always a one for one mapping. Yeah,

Track 2:

Yeah, totally. Well, yeah, I've got I've led so much through this. It's been really, really fascinating and the so many takeaways for myself, but I do have one more question for you, Dan. And that is around, you know, people that are graduating and going into jobs at the start of this year, that it's 20, 22, they're starting out in their career. And what is some advice that you would give someone starting their career?

Dan:

Ooh. And I mean, yeah, regardless of whether they go into a startup or a corporate, I would say optimize. Like I'm, when I say optimize for the learning that you want, if you like, so not just like, oh, okay, here's the structured program, but like, you know, your company, but like find out the things that you want to learn and your, your priorities should be like, how do I learn those things as quickly as possible? You know, how can I practice them? How can I teach them? How can I engage with them? Like maybe you want to become a really good public speaker. Maybe you want to become a really good sales person, a really good develop. But I think like being very intentional about like the way you spend your time and it's not every second of the day, you always need breaks, but like, you know, at work or maybe it's like side projects yeah, just, just really thinking intention about like, what, like, what am I learning and how fast am I learning it, having a clear framework and plan there? I think probably the, the other piece is as best you kind of try and find other people who care about similar things to you Find other people as in like, I mean, that's a two part one, right? Number one. And this is an ongoing question life, but start exploring like, what are, what are the problems that you'd want to work on like 10 plus years in your career? Like, what are the things you're like, wow, that's crazy. Like maybe it's climate change or like nuclear warfare or, you know, artificial intelligence. There's all these cool areas. And it takes time, you know, reading, exploring, but I think one of the best things you can do is just talking to other people like co-learning is such a beautiful thing. So find people with good values who have really high aptitude who care about similar problems and are doing something about it and just try and learn from them, teach each other. Like I look back at uni and like, you know, there are several friends, like even that I have to this day and we've actually gone down quite different. Friends who went super deep into cryptocurrency friends who went very deep into the law space friends who went into video game design friends who were doing other PhDs but kind of a common thread there is kinda just like, Yeah, like I think like, like a really strong core set of values, that shit, and just a really, really strong curiosity and intentionality to the way that And so I think like just, yeah, finding people that you resonate with, like that the people you surround yourself with will just have a huge, huge outsize impact on how your career progressions. One more thing before I forget, stop creating content. Now find the things that you care about and just start creating newsletter, tick talk, social media, posts, art, whatever it may be. It doesn't even matter. But when you create content, you will find people who care about things similar to you. Um, and that is just going to be a super power for years and years to come.

Track 2:

Yeah, that is fantastic. There's this episode's been fantastic. There's so much valley for me today, Dan. So thanks so much for coming on the podcast today, but before we let you go, I just want you to say, you know, where can people find you and where can they connect with you?

Dan:

Yeah, absolutely. So on Twitter at Dan Brockwell, B R O C K WWL. I should post a lot there early work. My baby and my love is early work.co co as the website, our. Well, we write free career advice and resources on the future work for young people. Early work dot sub stack.com. So sub S T a C K. That's one of our newsletter. And like on the early work.co website, you? can find our slack community. So we have a slack community of 1000, maybe 1,800 people. Young people across Australia and New Zealand co-learning and their careers across product management, marketing, design engineering stuff, like crypto sustainability. We're, we're trying to build the number one community for young people creating the careers career tomorrow. So if you're someone who wants to like, you know, do some really cool shit in your career, create your own things, like make a really positive impact. We'd love to have you in the community. So I'll see you there. Easy.

Track 2:

thanks so much, Dan. Thanks for coming on. We'll see you say.

Dan:

Absolute pleasure, James. Thank you so much.

James:

Thanks for listening to this episode with Dan. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. I think there were so many nuggets of wisdom throughout this episode. If you want to get my takeaways, the three 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.