SDS 163: How to Deal with Disruptive Technologies

SDS 163: How to Deal with Disruptive Technologies

Deal with Disruptive TechnologiesWelcome to episode #163 of the Super Data Science Podcast. Here we go!

Most major industries and startups are already aware of the growth of exponential technologies. Will it change your entire game for the better? Will it take so many resources? If you are not very enthusiastic about incorporating this into their business model, let Aaron Bare convince you with benefits of this kind of disruption in your company.

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About Aaron Bare

Aaron Bare is a digital entrepreneur, angel investor, global facilitator & Innovator. He has helped multiple companies and dozens of executives with his expertise in business design strategies. He has been speaking of Disruption including topics like AI, block chain, and data science.


If you are an entrepreneur or a business owner, this episode of Super Data Science Podcast will be very helpful for you. You might have been already aware of the rapidly growing technologies right now. It’s beneficial that, early on, you already have the mindset in dealing with this kind of disruption. Will you be able to keep up with the exponential curve the industries are going already?

Be excited about the future. With this kind of disposition, you’ll be able to innovatively manufacture your products and services for your customers. Your customers’ wants and needs also changes are influenced by their surroundings. So, it is important to be aware and understand the direction we’re going. Aaron has laid out benefits you could get if technologies like A.I., block chains, and machine learning will be acquired. It speeds things up and limits errors while staying on your company’s purpose and vision.

Aaron suggests that business models should always be revisited. This is very important for your company to stay competitive. Re-establish your purpose then tweak the business model according to the available resources and machinery. Innovate on the disruption of the world. These exponential technologies are not your competition, your company has to live with them. All companies deal with data. It’s everywhere. Aaron says that data is also in an exponential curve. Using data science technologies will help a lot in the growth of a company. Keep up with the technology while expanding the human interference inside the company and serving the customers better.

If you’re having a hard time seeing the effect of these exponential technologies in your company, then you have to look the other companies around you. Aaron says to be introspective. Are they progressing more compared to yours? Are you guys stagnating at this level of service to your customers? May the answers be yes or no, you have to be your own disruption to learn how to overtake your own company.

You have to win. You have to have the mindset for this kind of disruption. Learn more from Aaron when you tune in to this episode!

In this episode you will learn:

  • Aaron tells more about his career and gives a preview about his book. (05:40)
  • Creating or innovating with a purpose. (06:00)
  • Execution, aside from marketing, sales, etc., is very important in the development of a company’s product and services. (10:10)
  • The development of exponential technologies should be taken into consideration by companies. (11:15)
  • Aaron’s expert advice to business leaders when going to the direction of exponential technologies. (16:08)
  • Your business model has to be re-visited and reinvented every time. (21:12)
  • Always think ahead and try to be the disruption for yourself. (22:50)
  • The general mindset of executives of companies has to be open in harnessing these exponential technologies. (36:30)
  • If still hesitating on exponential technologies, explore startup accelerators and incubators. (45:00)

Items mentioned in this podcast:

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Episode Transcript


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Kirill Eremenko: This is episode number 163 with digital entrepreneur Aaron Bare. Welcome to the Super Data Science podcast. My name is Kirill Eremenko, data science coach and lifestyle entrepreneur and each week we bring you inspiring people and ideas to help you build your successful career in data science. Thanks for being here today and now let's make the complex simple.

Welcome back to the Super Data Science podcast. You will never believe what happened. So I'm in Ubud, Bali at a health retreat where we fast for 10 days. And here I met a lot of interesting people. In fact, there's 12 of us and each one has an interesting and exciting story. With them and one of those people just happened to be Aaron Bare and I was super excited to encounter and Aaron kindly agreed to come on the podcast and he's going to be our guest for today's episode.

Aaron is a digital entrepreneur. He's started several businesses, he's an angel investor, he's also a facilitator of innovation. He's been on the Google board of ideas. He's helped multiple companies and dozens if not hundreds of executives get their heads around disruption, around thinks like A.I., blockchain, data science and how those things are framing the business world today. If you are an executive, if you are a director, if you're a business owner, if you're an entrepreneur, this episode is for you. You will learn all about how these technologies and the way the world is going can and will affect your business and how you can get in the mindset of thinking about that in the right way to prevent going down the hill and actually harnessing the power of exponential curves and exponential technology. That's what we're predominately talking about today.

This episode is available in video. If you're watching or if you're listening to this in audio and you have the opportunity to watch the video then highly recommend checking our where you will find the video for this episode. It's also on YouTube so you can actually watch us sitting here together chatting. Otherwise, let's dive straight into it. I can't wait for Aaron to share all his insights. Oh, and by the way, he's also writing a book and he's going to share all the ideas or some of the ideas, the structure and the content of the book with us today. That's also going to be super valuable. The books not even out yet and we're already going to know what he's accumulated over the years to put in it. Let's get started.

Welcome to the Super Data Science podcast today we have Aaron Bare, Aaron welcome to the show. How you doing?

Aaron Bare: Good, very good.

Kirill Eremenko: So first question, where are we? Where in the world are we?

Aaron Bare: We're in Ubud, Bali Indonesia and we're at a wellness retreat together.

Kirill Eremenko: Yeah it's crazy. Random coincidence we met here. This has been day 10, this is day 10 right?

Aaron Bare: Yeah.

Kirill Eremenko: That we haven't eaten anything in 10 days.

Aaron Bare: Yeah, zero food.

Kirill Eremenko: That's crazy. Just juices, water and broth. How's the broth?

Aaron Bare: The broth's okay.

Kirill Eremenko: Vegetable.

Aaron Bare: Water's my favorite.

Kirill Eremenko: If we're a bit tired or you hear roosters in the background, that's why. So Aaron, super excited to have you here, tell us a bit about you. Or, tell me, what's your background? So that we can get to know you better. You told me a few things and Google board for ideas and your business and innovation. Disruption is lots of things. In a nutshell how would you describe yourself?

Aaron Bare: I'm an entrepreneur. I think I look at myself as a global citizen. I've traveled a good deal. I would say, becoming a spiritually awakened leader from the journeys I've had. But, at the core of it an entrepreneur. I definitely understand the entrepreneur process. I've helped hundreds if not thousands of companies start over. My wife has entrepreneur residence working in several university systems. I'm very excited about the future, might even say a futurist. Very much interested in exponential technologies and where they take us and how fast they're gonna take us there.

Kirill Eremenko: Yeah that's really interesting. You were on Arizona State's University as the resident entrepreneur?

Aaron Bare: Yeah I was the entrepreneur at Arizona State University and Thunderbird Global School of Management and Arizona Commerce Authority, which is our state entity. But, in particular, that role allowed me to go in and out at entrepreneurship classes, innovation classes, but I was able to create a program called Startup School for Arizona State University that, their goal is to reach a million students. Basically built the framework for starting a business which is the foundation for a new book that I'm writing.

Kirill Eremenko: Okay cool, how's the book going?

Aaron Bare: The books great.

Kirill Eremenko: Yeah?

Aaron Bare: For the first time in my life, I resisted it for many years and now it just is flowing.

Kirill Eremenko: Nice. You mentioned that you're almost done you just need that one chapter that's left?

Aaron Bare: Yeah I think connecting it, there's a part of the journey coming here, but connecting it to a higher purpose but connecting it to everyone in the world and that energy. I think looking at purpose based companies, they've been on the rise, conscious capitalism, B corporations, I've been involved with a lot of those as of the last few years. From that, some of them are very connected to something that's bigger than themselves and some of them aren't. The book itself is about creating a self fulfilling prophesy in a business where a lot of people set up companies but they don't set them up to grow because of the purpose themselves or because hiring people and gaining more sales and these different aspects of things all help a company grow, but how does it grow, how do you create a structure so it grows by itself?

Kirill Eremenko: Oh okay that's very cool. I like your idea of purpose and so building businesses that actually bring meaning to the world, that do something for others?

Aaron Bare: Yeah. To break down the outline of the book, we talk a lot about change and the disruption and really the exponential technologies that are disrupting every industry A.I., data science, blockchain, internet things, all these things. You start putting them together and now you've got the building blocks for phenomenal new business models in the world. It goes from really discussing really and understanding the disruption in the world to actually, how do you innovate on the disruption? Because once you have knowledge of what's going on, you very much can see the next two, three, five, 10 years of the things that are starting to stack up that are gonna dramatically change the world and disrupt some of the archaic business models that have been out there for 10, 20, 50, 100 years. They're not gonna make it through this next gap.

In that, after you innovate it's obviously then define a company on purpose. What do you really want to change in the world? What do you really want to create in the world? I think companies that take the time to really step back and say "Who are the people they want to impact?" And that's where we start to see these B corporations and conscious capitalism say "We want to impact our employees. We want to impact our stakeholders." All these companies are now proving out through impact investing that they're being more successful than companies of the past. Meaning, companies that actually consider all the stakeholders are actually driving more revenue, driving more profit because they start to become self fulfilling. Any aspect of how you touch that company, it starts to grow. That's what really got me interested in that.

Then from purpose, as you define that, it's really about leadership and creating a shared vision. Obviously, developing a strategy and communicating that effectively. Often leaders, I feel like these are the cornerstone's of leaders and often you don't see that much from very many leaders out there in the world. Really I think it's going on to understand as leaders, to build it on a business model that works. So many startups, I can say from students and other companies that have come to me, including major global 100 models now, their business models just don't work. I'm working with a global car manufacturer that they at least have now acknowledged that they're going off the cliff in ten years. They're literally heading for a place where these exponential technologies will disrupt what they do.

To a small company that builds business model, not on revenue but on users, but never has really a strategy to get there. Business models are very important and there's not really actually that many different kinds of business models to explore. I love taking companies through the business model because they often don't define their business model which then they cannot communicate clearly the shared vision or the purpose of the company.

Finally, it's about execution. Which, that goes from the development of the product to marketing to sales to service to full cycle and iterating on that. Execution is an important part of that growth strategy of the self fulfilling prophesy because when things work, they just grow. I think it's the missing step in all these books about scaling up and starting up and growth and all these things is, you have to understand all those building blocks fit together. It's not something, that if you have one missing piece, you literally can have a cog in the wheel that your company just does not grow. A lot of entrepreneurs are in that boat where they can grow it to themselves to a certain degree but as they build a team and as they start actually thinking of how do they scale up their business, they don't have the pieces necessary to actually do that because they don't understand the holistic aspect of a company and how it serves all individuals that touch it.

Kirill Eremenko: Okay wow, thanks that so great around that. Very detailed. Tell us a bit more, how do exponential technologies fit into all of that? What's the difference between a company that's growing and has a self fulfilling prophesy that's ... has a mission, that changes the world but neglects exponential technologies, A.I., blockchain, data science, all the ones that you listed? Versus a company that incorporates those into their model? And how do we do that?

Aaron Bare: Well, a part of that is customer feedback and understanding where the worlds going and what you need to do to serve them. You take artificial intelligence, by itself obviously it's kind of mind blowing of what technologies can be created. But, when you start combining it with things, that creates that self fulfilling prophesy. This is where exponential technologies and the idea of self fulfilling is that you get on this curve. There's so many companies on a linear business model meaning that they're plugging away, maybe they're doing eight, 10, maybe they're doing 20% a year, their literally, they're happy in a hay day saying "We're growing, we're doing what we gotta do." If they don't understand when they're going to hit an exponential curve, when they're actually going to be able to disrupt their industry or whatever, they're likely not to exist in 20 years, 10 years.

It's understanding these technologies that have the exponential growth because as you add say a marketing automation tool, there's a lot of marketing automation tools that are doing phenomenally well out there, as you add artificial intelligence to them, now they start working without the human capacity. Now they start working into an exponential curve. The reason these things are exponential technologies is because as you add them to traditional models, and as you play with them, blockchain for an example. How can we expand without human interference and how can we serve our customers better? How can we have trusted transactions, how can we have trust on the internet? How does the internet reinvent itself with blockchain and some of these other, artificial intelligence and other technologies?

That's all happening. We need a new internet. Our internet was built off of 40, 50 year old protocols that hasn't kept up with the technology itself. All these things in companies that are thinking about the future and adding these, sprinkling in these technologies and playing with them. Because, I think first and foremost is to understand what the exponential technologies that are available. Then actually going out and playing with them with your business model and that's why the model I just described in detail is all about being iterated. At the end I say "Okay great you got to the end of the book now start over." Literally is a constant process of re-growth.

That's the self fulfilling of it is, "Hey let's re-establish our purpose. Let's re-establish what we're doing." A good example of that is Google.

Kirill Eremenko: Yeah I was just about to ask for an example, that's great.

Aaron Bare: Yeah so Google was a company to organize all the information in the world. That's kind of their mission for a long time. Then all of a sudden out of nowhere they created Alphabet and what they realized is it wasn't a self fulfilling prophesy that "Hey, we are doing this with Google but we're interested in more than just organizing information now. We've become, we have to resources and hey what about robotics? What about autonomous cars? What about?" So Google is now basically expanded themselves beyond Google itself, the mission.

So they had to create Alphabet. That is the reason they created Alphabet is because now it gave them literally the ability as a conglomerate now, a teenage conglomerate because it's not that old, that they can go into so many different areas and basically play with these exponential technologies and actually be the winner or the forerunner. They understand the mixture of these technologies and what it's going to create.

Kirill Eremenko: Interesting, on that I wanted to ask you, because you're also an angel investor, is that correct?

Aaron Bare: Yeah. I've ...

Kirill Eremenko: Yeah and you mentioned your success rate is just a bit higher than the standard of 10%?

Aaron Bare: Yeah, well 5%. I don't know if there's an industry standard but if you look at 500 startups, their goal is a, you could call it an angel incubator accelerator is, that they win on 80% and they lose on 20%. Or, they win on 20% and lose on 80% so, that angel investors don't do that well in general. It's understanding how to, with the model that I'm creating I believe it's understanding and coaching the leadership to basically think about these principles that's given me a little edge.

Kirill Eremenko: Gotcha. So the question that I have whether it's about Google or angel investors and heads of funds that invest in companies, what is your view on these technologies? Google has opportunity to go into very, lot's of different technologies, but they need to expect that some of their efforts will fail, right? Whether they go into robotics, whether they go into A.I., or they go into somewhere else, some of these might not come to fruition at all. In fact, I heard somewhere that most of the projects that Google starts, they never see the light of day because they don't go passed the testing or the code just stays lying there. How would you advise leaders to think in that direction? Because it's scary, if you're not Google you don't have the opportunity to invest into 10, 20, 100 different technologies. You might be putting all your bets into one, or two, or three, what if that fails? How do you get used to that mentality and what is the right mentality?

Aaron Bare: First of all, you're exactly right on Google. Google's pulled the plug on hundreds of businesses. Some even earning revenue, but just not going in the direction they want it to. Google Health is an example that they pulled the plug on fairly early even though it was generating some movement. But, for companies out there that are looking at exponential technologies to plug into their business, I think it's important for them to really look at all the ... you know there's a lot of them, and actually plug in to people like yourself, myself. Get into a world of people that are surrounded by these exponential technologies that can say, give them a little bit of direction and education around what are these potentially gonna do in the near future? What are they gonna do in their industry?

It's always good to play inside your industry but look at other industries. But in general you can plug something into your business model and start to create revenue, that's gonna be the path to go. There's a lot of, the future is not so uncertain now because there's so many technologies. We don't know what the next big thing is. We don't know what's gonna be a fad and what's really gonna work out and those things. There's always a lot of bingo buzzwords out there. But, in reality if you look at your core business model and what you do and how you can serve your customer better than your competition within your industry, you will start winning. I think that's the key, to get closer to your customer, be customer facing, listen to them, understand what things that they would use, sometimes present them things with what they wouldn't think because your customers don't always know best.

Yet, bringing new technologies to them to play with them is also a great way to do it. A lot of these things don't cost a lot, that's the difference in the world as well. Your average accelerator, I'm a graduate of a global accelerator network and your average accelerator in the world is about 50 thousand dollars to prove your thesis or not and that's the global standard of "Hey can we actually prove out a business model?" I think companies need to think like that too. They also need to connect to the startup ecosystem which we're starting to. Because, as you look at the amount of innovation in the startup world, companies can really acquire that and that's always something you can look at Google. If they're not great at something they're acquiring that greatness.

Kirill Eremenko: True, like with Deep Mind the whole ... they wanted to get into A.I. and they just bought Deep Mind.
Aaron Bare: Boom. Yeah and they, the same with robotics, they acquired a dozen plus I think in the last year or whatever, so companies in robotics. Those kind of things, your big companies aren't going to go away, your platforms that are running the world are not going away whatsoever. Never think of them as your competition. You have to live within their ecosystem at this point but, how do you create your own ecosystem? How do you get your own slice of the world? It's an abundant world. There's no, there's a need for a lot more new technologies to come out to solve infinite amount of problems. We're not at the end of the problem funnel right? We're not living in Utopia.

Kirill Eremenko: Yeah true. By the way, did you hear I think it was last year, that Google had to sell off Boston Dynamics?

Aaron Bare: I didn't hear that.

Kirill Eremenko: Yeah so they bought them and then, as far as I know, they had to sell them off because of one of the videos. You know how they post the crazy ones of these videos on YouTube? Then this video was of this robot doing something crazy again like running and jumping and people were like "Google's about to take over the world," and "that's their big plan." So they were like "This is too touristy for our reputation purposes."

Aaron Bare: Yeah you gotta think about how one endeavor may impact all your other ventures. I did not know that, that's very interesting.

Kirill Eremenko: Okay so that's a great mindset and you're right, they're not expensive right? With artificial intelligence for instance, ten years ago you would have to buy lots of servers. Right now you would just go on the cloud get some [inaudible 00:21:22] from Amazon and plug in your A.I. efforts and see what happens. 50,000 is probably plenty to get the ...

Aaron Bare: To test a something. That's important as just understanding the technology, then you can start applying it to your business model. I think it all comes back to your business model, it has to be reinvented. The likelihood of your invented with exponential technology to survive and I mean really survival, and this is the average age of a company on the S&P 500 is gone down tremendously, I think it's down to 15 years now. It used to be, in the 1950's 67 years or something like that. You see this plummeting of the average age of company.

So, technology's life cycle has just increased the speed of things. Well, what that means is you have to reinvent your business model which is one of the biggest challenges facing corporate America and Fortune 500. That's where I really take the entrepreneurial mindset in exponential technologies, design thinking and really brought it into some of these major global companies to help them obviously find a new way. Unfortunately with their bulkiness of tens of thousands or hundred of thousands of employees, doing something in the traditional model that works today it's not going to work tomorrow. They're at least now starting to recognize that as different industries have gone off the cliff already.

Kirill Eremenko: If you're not in an industry that's gone off the cliff or that's going off the cliff, I don't know like the taxi industry right? Ride share came along, bam. Hotel industry, AirBnB came along. If you're not in one of those and you see the warning you see that A.I., blockchain, all these things are coming about, but you don't actually see a player that's disrupting you yet, you know that's probably going to come. How would you trigger yourself to think in a way to be that disruptor for yourself? How would you actually go about like "Where do I start? What do I change?" You were saying change the business model but where does the thinking about that start?

Aaron Bare: Peter Diamandis who is one of the founders of Singularity and X Prize and ...

Kirill Eremenko: Those were Bold, Abundance ...

Aaron Bare: Bold, Abundance, several different books. He has created something called the 6 D's which is, first you go digital. When something becomes digital it can become exponential. People in an analog business model, at best you can get linear in a very, in a way you're growing at a high rate of 30, 40, 50% maybe 100% but you're not gonna get exponential. Once something becomes digital there's this period of deception which I would even say the taxi industry and even the hotel industry is not fully been disrupted. There's this period where it gets disrupted where markets get led by the disruptive technology instead of by the main companies.

Kirill Eremenko: Yeah exponential looks like linear at the very start. Like two, four, eight feels like ...

Aaron Bare: It looks failing. Actually it's if you look at any exponential curve out there, any academic, it's underneath. You can say that Uber and AirBnB and some of these companies have now maybe hit a period of disruption passed deception. There's was a period where people denied it. I think in certain parts of the world there's still denial and there's still a reason because taxi lobbies and all these different infrastructure restraints are keeping Uber back or AirBnB. Yet, over time the customer's get in demand and get what they want.

I think that that's what we're seeing with Uber as it continues to slowly create it's dominance everywhere except in Asia. But, nonetheless as it gets passed the disruption you get to a period where you're basically gonna eventually demonetize it, democratize it, it's basically gonna change the market. Where, we look at exponential business models, the unfortunate part of technology is it destroys the monetization of a lot of different things. If you look at Uber the taxi ride is much cheaper.

Kirill Eremenko: Uber is much cheaper.

Aaron Bare: Yeah, I'm sorry 10 days without food will get to the brain. This deception curve, Peter Diamandis, is a good thing to start with to think of, where are you at? Where is your industry at? Where are your competitors at? Often I've gone into a global top 10 automobile manufacturer and their biggest concern is their competitor. They've identified, and I'm like "Don't worry about your competitor. They're going off the same cliff as you." It's the other technology companies that are now, have figured out technologies to disrupt you. To actually create a replacement of services of what you're doing. I think that's an important thing to look at when looking at the exponential technologies and global companies and the changes that they need to make.

Kirill Eremenko: Let me pitch you a couple of my ideas. I've got a business and I think about these things sometimes and you could tell me if I'm right or wrong. Sound good?

Aaron Bare: Yeah.

Kirill Eremenko: We're in the business of education, teaching right? So when I look at it from this 6 D's because I actually had this exercise. Peter Diamandis' 6 D's, what applies to my business? Where can I change things? How does it all work out? And so, the first thing is that education. It's really transitioning from in university education on premise to online and I see that as an exponential technology. It's growing because the internet is growing, because people demand skills. The access of people to the internet is growing. In essence, online education is an exponential technology disrupting normal education. Another thing is that we're in the space of data science as mentioned, and data science in itself is an exponential technology because that's what, we have a lot more data right now, more ways to capture it, more ways to store it. Therefore, in essence, that's starting to grow. The demand for data science skills and knowledge is gonna keep growing. So, basically I've come to conclude that building this business around this and education is a good idea because it's on the intersection of two exponential technologies, online education and data science. Do you think that's about right?

Aaron Bare: No I couldn't agree more. If you look at what you've done on Udemy, having over a half, think about it this way, a traditional professor sees maybe 200 to 300 students a semester. You at Udemy now in the last 5 years I think, since you've launched ...

Kirill Eremenko: 3 years.

Aaron Bare: ... have seen over a half million. That exponential curve, you guessed right. On Peter D's, it's been demonetized and democratized. They can have access to your great education at much less than they ever would if they went to a university. It begs the question of "What is the value of university?" It is completely changing. As you see people go through programs like yours and get incredible jobs without degrees. Because they understand data science and data science is one of the hottest fields in the world. The pairing of those two things creates and exponential model that I think you have a bright future and I'm excited to obviously cross paths and look forward to seeing your growth. You have chosen right and you've already democratized and demonetized which is the end of goal, or not the end goal but the end of the curve and that's why your growth has been so phenomenal. Congratulations on that.

Kirill Eremenko: Thank you. You actually feel it, that's my other tip probably for those thinking well is this the right technology or not? You actually feel it. For instance we were, literally a year ago, it was 130,000 students and the year before that it was 30,000. It's more than doubling every single year and you will notice it very quickly, that even if it's small doubling, the months, two months three, four and so on, it will happen pretty fast.

My favorite way of checking these things is technology is an idea, exponential right? That you can put any technology behind, or that you can incorporate in your business, you just go on Google Trends. If you go on Google Trends and you type in data sense, bam the searches go up. You go on Google Trends and type in next course, education bam. Another one that I noticed recently, vegan. Vegetarian is kind of linear, vegan bam. It's growing exponentially. Opening a restaurant, because, especially in the U.S. and certain various places because that's what is exponential. You get on that curve and basically any effort you put in, you put in one hour of work, it turns into an exponential number of hours of output that you get out of it. It's just more time efficient to put your time into or effort into these technologies and ideas.

Aaron Bare: I couldn't agree more. Vegan restaurant wouldn't be on my things to create but you're exactly right as far as customer demand and need. The customers will come, identifying that early customer there's with data science, you can identify and take a lot of the risk out of basically approaching a market place before you even start. To understand the numbers of potential customers, the people that have the need, the psychographic demographic information is all really important to companies starting up.

That's where, there comes a point where data in the career field that you've are tapped in to becomes part of the C-Suite. The chief data officer or the chief data scientist, whatever that role would be within a company. I think you're going to start seeing that more earlier and earlier within startups. You're gonna see every major corporation, they've already kind of taken to that, but I think 99% of our data sits in databases doing nothing. Now we're starting to figure out "Wow if we knew this answer to this question," now we can look through and find that data and actually create a visualization so that not a non data seekers can actually understand it and consume it. You help people get on. Data itself is an exponential curve. Companies, part of your business model is just looking at your data and saying "What's there?" Because, beyond Google Trends and beyond your website traffic or certain pages that are doing well, you can know where your demand comes from in the future. That is the power of data.

I predict in the C-Suite the chief data scientist will be full present in the next ten years. Basically being part of the decisions made because we can only make so many decisions from gut. But, if we have gut and data, then we basically could have leadership that's making decisions on, informed. I think the beauty of this data is becoming more and more available because tools to consume it artificial intelligence, natural language processing, machine learning, all these things, all different exponential technologies, throw them all together and now you can start actually to make sense and synthesize data that was unsynthesizable. I don't even know if that's a word but something that previously you couldn't consume and understand, we're now starting to get our hands around. Stuff that maybe Einstein understood but now the common person can.

Kirill Eremenko: That's right. I like this, that we got to the executives as like, another thing I want to talk about. Let's talk a bit about the chief data officer or chief data scientist in an organization. What do you, how do you describe that role? What do you envision as the purpose of that role specifically, not like the daily tasks like set up a server, buy this and that, but on the executive board? On the executive team or on the board to ... how can they affect the strategy of a company?

Aaron Bare: I think in a way they'll replace the chief information officer that was providing information because data gets deeper and I think they work across all the different entities within a company. If you think about the fads of corporate improvement from total quality management ISO 9000, lean manufacturing, Six Sigma, all these were really data driven kinds of things, and how do we actually, or information driven. We didn't really have a way to ... now we're getting into this, say these are 2-D models, now we're getting into 3-D models where we can pair these things together and kind of figure these out and that gets into figuring out data and where it does go.

I think as you look into the future, data's gonna give us insights on where the company needs to evolve and that self fulfilling prophesy that I'm talking about. You're gonna have early indications, in fact every business, I can tell you I was in the job board industry in 2008 and we were growing, starting to have a nice linear curve of what we were doing, and we got to a point in March where our sales, and I'm a very data driven person, our salespeople just kind of tapped out. They didn't and we started to slow down.

Six months before the economy collapsed I had indicators from the data that it was not going in the right direction. Our business stalled and actually started a downward decline. All the way down, literally to zero. That company was one that we sold off. It was one of the failures that I learned the most from. When you got to a point where you're actually looking at the data and understanding it, there was nothing I could do about it. It was nothing that the whole world ... I didn't know we were gonna go off a global financial crisis as we did. I don't think very many people did. People in Michael Lewis' movie definitely didn't, trying to think what that ...

Kirill Eremenko: I don't know that one.

Aaron Bare: Money ... no. Nonetheless, we can cut that out. But ... I lost my train of thought.

Kirill Eremenko: You didn't know you were going off that cliff.

Aaron Bare: Yeah so you go off that cliff and the data said so. I think executives in the C-Suite are gonna actually have a lot more trend analysis, sentiment analysis, all kinds of different analysis that didn't actually exist previously, that'll actually help a company stay on that curve. I think that's what's very important is uncovering deep data to understand where things are going. It's not that hard to do, I think you know that best. It's a matter of getting some tools, take your [inaudible 00:36:16] learning these things, playing with these things. Just like any other exponential technology it's gonna lead you to places that you did not ever dream of because it's gonna give you the truth in the data.

Kirill Eremenko: I want to shift gears a little bit. You are an innovation facilitator. Large companies invite you into their executive team board of directors to train them on how to think like this. How to think disruptively, how to think about the business in terms of exponentials, and how to incorporate those ideas into the business to avoid running off the cliff. What would you say is your biggest challenge when you're dealing with executives?

Aaron Bare: I think you ... executives only talk to executives unfortunately and I'll say that's not in all companies, but the walk around by management and learn from, and data does not get to those executives unfortunately. Executives that I'm working with often have this very glossy, like I said, currently working with an automobile manufacturer doing eight, nine, 10% in each of their divisions, things couldn't be better. The emerging markets are still growing quite a bit.

Yet, in their own circle they're like "We're number one. We're the best." You can probably start to figure out what this company is but, in that conversation with executives they're basically only talking to themselves. They've all been in their positions for 10, 15 years. They don't have any disruptors from the outside. Then I think, first and foremost what I do as an innovation facilitator is bring in disruption. "Here are 10 different business models that are eating away and beating you at your own business model in one way or another. They're on an exponential curve and you're on a linear."

Then I really dive deep into exponential technologies and I share "What will these things do? And how fast will they grow? And how will this, how are you in the deceptive period when you don't understand that these things are exponentially starting to take over your business?" Where the mindsets of millennials and the new consumer or the next consumer is totally different. We introduce them to Gen Y. We introduce them to young people that they don't talk to. We literally get in their face when a person says "I never want to own a car." These people are like "You never want our car? Or you don't ... because you have aspirations ..." They just can't get their head around this fact that we live in a new world where assets aren't necessarily the only thing that we're looking to. We're looking at these experiences, this younger generation.

From there I give them some tools to design think and how to actually apply these exponential technologies in new ways. How do they actually insert them into business models. We use a business model canvas, we have ... I have my own simplified business model canvas where I simplify it for senior executives at major corporations so that they can actually play with it really easily and move "What if we did this and what if we did that?"

We get them to have a conversation about their overall business model. I think part of it is also just understanding how do they relate to the world in a better way? A little bit about, connecting to their employees and connecting to the world. We take them through a customer journey exercise that brings them back. You know "Hey, go back and ask a hundred customers, a thousand customers, go through the customer journey with them. What are their decision making?" And let's look at different demographics and psychographics, map it back to your own marketing plan and understand "Where does this go? What are the differences what are the gaps?" Because the data then becomes very clear, where they're going off a cliff.

The next generation consumers don't even consider buying a car, let alone buying a status car or a luxury car. That changes the whole ball game. Executives, so in a way to answer your question, executives talking to each other, building each other's confidence in their own company, and not understanding the world around them is completely, the environment around them has completely changed. We see that every day politically, economically, socially, every single thing is on exponential curve to change because of the technology's that are being applied today.

Kirill Eremenko: Probably the tip would be, for an individual executive, would be to not only communicate within the company with their peers but to go outside and communicate possibly with other executives and business groups, but also communicate with the laymen, the people that are not in business, that are the consumers, that are different generations, noticing their perception and how they think about things.

Aaron Bare: Part of the great thing of what I do at WDHB which is a company out of Switzerland called Warm Decent Human Beings ... basically when we take executives, we take them to people who aren't going to tell them what they want to hear. Unfortunately people are surrounded by circles that tell you what you want to hear and our goal is to take them, that's where WDHB basically takes these organizations into cities like Tel Aviv or London or San Francisco, Boston, New York, Shanghai, Shenzhen and when we take these executives to these markets we basically take them to a variety of different startups, we do some of these deep dives I talked about, but as we go into those startups we basically get them in front of people that don't necessarily have a reason to tell them anything but the truth. We frame the conversation up in a way that creates honesty and creates a candid conversation.

I think that's where the mindset can change. When you hear something, as I say something and kind of bring an introduction to disruption, but when I say it they're like "Oh, okay it's just another guy in a seminar, whatever," then they go into three other companies and they say exact say thing, with this same language and everything. It doesn't matter where they're at, in Shanghai, it does not matter in the world. Tel Aviv, Shanghai, London, does not matter, Copenhagen. That language of disruption and how they're changing and exponential technologies is impacting every single city in this world.

Now you've basically opened the eyes of the executives who say "Oh wow." You put them in front of millennials that basically say "You know what? I never aspire to have your car. I never aspire to use your bank. I never aspire ... it's just not cool enough. It's not mobile enough." Whatever it is, its a shock to the system that over a week period of time of being an innovation facilitator, we take them and basically build a strategic plan of "What are they gonna do to change when they go back?" Because, they have to start on a path to disrupt themselves. That's very hard for executives.

They need to create a support system and that's why we bring groups of people and then when they go back they have this support system go back. Potentially over time, as you get more and more executives that go through this program you have more and more disruption in the company. Innovation is hard, it has to be done from the edges, and that's where taking them out of their own environment, we couldn't go in and do this and disrupt them. We couldn't go, "Hey we'll do it in your conference room for five days," doesn't work. Have to get in the real world with real people with real disruption and you have to see little companies doing things dramatically better than these big companies to understand "Wow, they are gonna take that over from us."

Kirill Eremenko: Interesting. That whole boardroom reminded me of Tony Robbins' three, what are they called, levels of mastery. The first one is cognitive or intellectual, cognitive mastery. So the first one is intellectual, where you just talk to people. Then emotional, where you get them feeling what you're trying to get across. And finally, physical. When you actually take them to Shanghai or Tel Aviv, you get them to be somewhere else and it's completely different. That's very cool.

Aaron Bare: Taking them out of their element [inaudible 00:44:14] that's the beautiful thing about it. It happens faster. There's a great Chinese proverb "Traveling is greater than a thousand words," I don't know the exact thing is. But the idea is to get out and see the world and I think that's been part of my mission, is to get out and see the world because you can learn so much from people. You can also learn so much about yourself. Then once you understand yourself, then you can apply that as a leader to Tony Robbins' principles there, as well as to help being a disruptor because if you're not becoming a disruptor you will be disrupted.

Kirill Eremenko: My next question would be, if you have a big business, I guess if someone is watching this they're an executive at a large corporation, one of the scariest probably things is the momentum that the business already has right? It's great to talk about this but for a startup that's just starting out they're just building up, it's very easy to experiment, to try new technologies, to fail quickly start again and so on. They're much more nimble I think the word there is, nimble. Whereas for a big corporation it's really hard to introduce change. You can even, like we said at the start, experiment with A.I. for $50,000 or something and you get good results but, the whole process of introducing, integrating it into your business from start to finish is just a mammoth effort. How do you help executives overcome that psychological barrier?

Aaron Bare: I think there's so many ways to get at this. You can invest in, there's corporate partnerships at all accelerators and incubators today where you can, partner and see these technologies and have a very small payment to play and see and first strikes to invest and different things like that. You can create your own incubation within there. You may create your own competitor. You're likely to do it from the edge or outside of your company. Your company will kill it because bureaucracy or companies that have been around 10 or 15 years plus basically know how to reject change. That's their goal.

Even though you look at organizations that have reorganization after reorganization to create change, to create disruption. The reality of playing with these technologies is you have to see them working considerably before you're ever going to bring them into your major business model. I guess that's, in a way, if you look at the companies that are really growing, they're doing this. They're actually out there investing on the fringes. They're learning, they're actually getting their executives out there doing these innovation with WDHB and a few other organizations.Not many organizations will do that.

Once they've invested in that it's the part of taking back and the action of it. I think most importantly, Delloite has, I know you used to work for Delloite, Delloite has something about the edges in Silicon Valley and part of that is, you have to innovate from the edge. I think big companies, their biggest opportunity is create their competitor themself and then basically overtake their own company. That only benefits their shareholder. Otherwise, investing in technologies or acquiring technologies that will get them there faster, I think these are all parts of the landscape of what companies that are really understanding the exponential curve, what they're doing today. This isn't necessarily anything new. Acquisitions have often just been able to keep up with market share or whatever. Acquisitions won't be able to keep up with the exponential curve and that's what's gonna be interesting in the future as, there'll be a lot of winners, and there'll be a whole lot more losers.

The idea of startup risk is now coming into the corporate world just because things are moving so fast. Within a couple years, just the other day Trump mentioned ZTE in China is going out of business because of some trade policies and Trump actually had a change of a little bit of his program around "Let's help save this Chinese company," because of our policies, that's not right. It just shows you how fast major corporations in the world can fail. We could go through a graveyard list of companies that if you were in them, or if you worked at them, you would never have thought that they were doomed but almost every company.

That's where, if you look at some of these companies like Google, they're reinventing their business models. Apple, reinventing. I mean, it's completely always coming up with a new product, a new service, as well as how that service is delivered. You look at IBM, maybe they're not so great to reinvent right now, but they've done it a few times. GE is like the only company that's on the DOW 30 that's still plugging away. They're actually reinventing into a platform company forming manufacturing, which I think is a bold bet, but if you look at all their bets on their future, they want to become a platform company like the other major companies that control access to the world. Maybe they will, maybe they won't, but they understand they have to reinvent themselves.

I think they're building these technologies from the inside out and then obviously letting them gains some traction and then potentially bringing them into their business model. It's not an easy thing to do just as any change initiative rarely works, creating a new business model is a risky proposition, but again it comes back to with data, with using exponential tools, you can actually de-risk the investment that you're making. And obviously, be more iterative and lean then you are in your current business model that pretty much is very stable maybe, or feels stable.

But if it's starting to lose ground, you're already on that downward curve. Unfortunately there is a downward exponential curve which leads to that corporate graveyard that many companies are ...

Kirill Eremenko: Yeah gotcha. Well I think we'll end it there. This has been fantastic. Can you tell all the listeners where they can find you, get in touch to get to know more?

Aaron Bare: Yeah you can, or my email is [email protected] Welcome any questions or open working opportunities or what it is. Definitely looking forward to engaging with more companies that are excited about exponential technologies and less resistant as well.

Kirill Eremenko: Gotcha. And LinkedIn is okay to connect as well?

Aaron Bare: Yes, LinkedIn you can find me, LinkedIn Aaron Bare.

Kirill Eremenko: Thank you very much Aaron.

Aaron Bare: Thank you.

Kirill Eremenko: So there you have it. That was Aaron Bare, innovation facilitator and digital entrepreneur. My favorite part of this podcast or video was when Aaron talked about just the general mindset of executives that they need to get into in order to harness the power of exponentials, rather than just stay in that linear curve where we talked about the 6 D's of Peter Diamandis and how all of this effects companies. Specifically for me, the whole mindset, I think mindset is a lot of the time is half the winning factor. If you're in the right mindset then you're company will go in the right direction but if you're resisting change, if you're resisting all of these technologies, disruption so on, and you don't believe or you think that your company is immune to it then that is a red flag that could be a problem. It's great to hear how Aaron gets across to people and hopefully that you got a lot of value from this episode of the podcast. As always make sure to follow Aaron on LinkedIn. If you want to get in touch with him on a more personal note go to

We will include all of the links in the show notes at so make sure to check them out there. Also, if you've been just listening to this episode rather than watching on video you will find the video there as well. If you ever want to refresh all this knowledge then head over to and you'll find it there. And finally, if you have any friends that are executives or directors or business owners or entrepreneurs, forward them this episode, this video and maybe they'll get some valuable insights from there and that'll help them build their business and direct the company in the right way. On that note, thank you so much for being here, can't wait to see you next time, and until then, happy analyzing.

Kirill Eremenko
Kirill Eremenko

I’m a Data Scientist and Entrepreneur. I also teach Data Science Online and host the SDS podcast where I interview some of the most inspiring Data Scientists from all around the world. I am passionate about bringing Data Science and Analytics to the world!

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