The Future of Communication Technology: Anand Agarawala of Spatial On How Their Technological Innovation Will Shake Up How We Connect and Communicate With Each Other

Spatial is taking computing into a collaborative medium by turning any room into a 3D workspace. It is pioneering an entirely new way to work through Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR), re-defining the workplace to the way it should be — blending the best of real and digital worlds by mirroring how we move, think and create in physical space but with the unlimited possibilities of digital tools. In the process, teams grow closer, think bigger, and accomplish things faster.

Imagine Zoom with Holograms. Imagine feeling like you’re working side by side with someone who is thousands of miles away. Using life-like avatars and connecting to the knowledge work tools we know and love, Spatial provides AR or VR 3D workspaces that allow users to upload, create, share and iterate on 2D and 3D ideas and documents in the space around them and in real time.


The telephone totally revolutionized the way we could communicate with people all over the world. But then came email and took it to the next level. And then came text messaging. And then came video calls. And so on…What’s next? What’s just around the corner?

In this interview series, called ‘The Future Of Communication Technology’ we are interviewing leaders of tech or telecom companies who are helping to develop emerging communication technologies and the next generation of how we communicate and connect with each other.

As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Anand Agarawala. He is a Nigerian-born, Indian-Canadian entrepreneur, engineer, product designer and technologist. Anand is the co-founder and chief executive officer of Spatial, a company that’s pioneering an entirely new collaborative computing medium through Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) workspaces. The company is re-defining the workplace from traditional work to the way work should be — mirroring how we move, think and create in physical space, in turn allowing teams to grow closer, think bigger, and accomplish things faster.

Anand is an entrepreneur, product designer and engineer who has been on the forefront of 3D technology for the past decade. Prior to Spatial, he founded BumpTop, a pioneering 3D, multi-touch, physics desktop interface inspired by real desks that he presented at TED. The company was later acquired by Google in 2010.

At Google, Anand was an PM on early versions of Android, Google+ and Google Glass. Anand has a Masters degree in Computer Science from the University of Toronto and holds several patents across 3D user interface design.


Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?

Bumptop was an accidental hit — I actually wanted to go to film school, despite my parent’s disapproval! Bumtop was was my thesis at University and became an overnight Youtube sensation gaining 4 mill views in 4 months. Shortly after that things sort of spiraled from there — I was invited to speak at TED. Within 4 years Bumptop was bought by Google (2010) — the first Canada startup to be acquired by the company.

At Google, I worked on early versions of the home screen and core user interface on Android. I also led an effort to reboot the design of the Google+ mobile apps. I later became team lead at the Google New York Creative Lab.

It was through the TED network where I met my Co-Founder and CPO, Jinha Lee. He had created SpaceTop, one of the first AR desktop projects that lets you reach into the screen with your hands and physically interact with digital objects. He believed that computers should be used by multiple people together in the same room, and later moved on to build collaborative content sharing experience for Samsung TVs.

We both agreed that the future of computing would eventually live in 3D space and started designing user interfaces for that future. As soon as we started trying AR and VR devices like HoloLens, Magic Leap and Oculus Quest, we knew we had the vision and the know-how to build the experience that hardware vendors have long been promising — bringing about this next era of spatial computing by changing how people interact with their devices and each other.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

The whole BumpTop journey was pretty wild. I’m sitting at my desk after I graduated working at an architectural firm that was interested in commercializing BumpTop and my video is #1 on YouTube. Next thing you know I’m invited to TED, Steve Jobs wants me to work on the iPhone team, I’m being flown around the world to Japan, IDEO etc to speak. I meet Larry & Sergey at TED as well as all these other heroes. It’s been a crazy ride.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

I heard Salman Khan say in a talk he was trying to have generational impact. Aka, impact that goes beyond the generation you’re in and actually impacts the next one and ideally even the one following. I am driven by having that level of impact. Since augmented reality is the next/last visual frontier of computing I think there is a chance to leave fingerprints on history.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

Definitely my parents. My dad had a glimmer in his eye when I was born in Nigeria to give us a better education. So he found a way to get to Canada. Our family of 6 slept on the floor, my mom sold samosas to make some money and he found a way to put us through school and worked really hard along the way. Their sacrifices and hard work really helped set me up for success.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

Many companies are becoming increasingly global and working with dispersed or fully remote workforces. To solve this, businesses rely on video chat, which is impersonal and doesn’t allow for interactive collaboration. Or they rely on travel, which is expensive, exhausting, and terrible for the environment.

Spatial’s mission is to empower anyone — regardless of platform or industry — to be more connected, creative, and productive. Since Covid, we’ve offered the platform for free, in a bid to aid economic progression and as a lifeline to companies trying to stay afloat and keep dispersed teams motivated, connected and productive. The strong sense of presence in 3D offers a deeper level of trust and kinship. Many of our customers have also told us how Spatial is helping their teams who are struggling with isolation and loneliness. We have church groups, youth communities and countless others who simply use our platform to feel connected and together again, helping to ease the mental and emotional side-affects brought about by remote working.

3D collaboration in Spatial reduces lag time between ideation and go to market strategies and connects the very best people to do the job, regardless of where they’re located in the world. Spatial eliminates the need for business travel, helping to decrease huge global carbon footprints of some of the big corporates. Other benefits include improved work/life balance by reducing travel and time away from family. Meetings can also happen immediately instead of waiting months for calendar and travel coordination as well as saving company money by reducing airfare and hotel costs. It also creates more connected teams and deeper client relationships by making meeting much easier. It reduces design errors — teams can catch mistakes by taking CAD files into 3D from your 2D screen. Visualizing data in the space around you also allows you to be unlimited by screens or wall space to share ideas, data and strategies. Lastly it improves efficiencies with training global teams.

Ok wonderful. Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview. Can you tell us about the cutting-edge communication tech that you are working on? How do you think that will help people?

Spatial is taking computing into a collaborative medium by turning any room into a 3D workspace. It is pioneering an entirely new way to work through Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR), re-defining the workplace to the way it should be — blending the best of real and digital worlds by mirroring how we move, think and create in physical space but with the unlimited possibilities of digital tools. In the process, teams grow closer, think bigger, and accomplish things faster.

Imagine Zoom with Holograms. Imagine feeling like you’re working side by side with someone who is thousands of miles away. Using life-like avatars and connecting to the knowledge work tools we know and love, Spatial provides AR or VR 3D workspaces that allow users to upload, create, share and iterate on 2D and 3D ideas and documents in the space around them and in real time.

How do you think this might change the world?

Computing was always heading this way — it will eventually become a much more collaborative medium, rather than the tool today that is actually largely disconnects us from the world around us. Computing will eventually live in 3D but Covid has just catapulted its progression forwards. It will change how we collaborate, communicate with friends and colleagues and will have knock on effects on so many other social- economic factors. For example, where we choose to live, as we are no longer restricted by the ‘office’ as a place we go.

Today Spatial is already relieving a disengaged and lonely workforce. When you take collaboration into 3D space, the dynamics of that meeting change — everyone becomes an active and engaged participant. Life-like avatars create a sense of presence and emotional connection, making workers feel they are once again together with teammates. In VR, Spatial allows them to step away from the confines of their four walls and into a virtual workspace where creativity and collaboration tools are limitless. Via AR headsets, workers can see holograms of their coworkers right with them in their living room, throwing up ideas, scribble notes on the walls around them — uploading documents straight from their computer, Slack or Gdrive, or manipulating 3D models in the space around them.

It’s also helping with vital Covid response work today — Government agencies and healthcare units such as Cornell Medical, are using Spatial’s holographic 3D workspaces to better prepare global teams, teach remote volunteers on ventilator support or for drug research between global physicians. A medical professor at the University of Nebraska is looking at how Spatial can give better and more affordable care to remote patients, allowing anyone access to the best care, regardless of location. It also drastically limits exposure to staff, as well as conserves valuable masks and medical supplies. Spatial also works with pharmaceutical companies working on vaccines and managing projects in Spatial.

Spatial is also saving time, money and the environment — connecting the very best people to do the job, instantly and regardless of where they’re located in the world. Spatial works with 40% of Fortune 1000 to help them improve efficiencies and productivity of global teams — training staff and sharing ideas, while significantly reducing cost, time and carbon footprints brought about by unnecessary business travel.

Keeping “Black Mirror” in mind can you see any potential drawbacks about this technology that people should think more deeply about?

One big concern is that we already spend too much time on our phones. I’m definitely guilty of this. Now imagine if your phone is on your head via a pair of glasses — it’s really hard to escape and not scroll your feeds forever. But I also think AR has great potential for creativity and collaboration. We need to be thinking about these issues from day 1.

Was there a “tipping point” that led you to this breakthrough? Can you tell us that story?

We didn’t originally start out with a collaboration tool but after testing out different scenarios, we came to the realization that a collaboration experience that merged the best of the real world and digital space was the obvious use case for spatial computing — helping people to be more connected, productive and creative. We both saw a vision for a workspace that allows you to feel as though you are collaborating side by side with coworkers who may be located thousands of miles away. Virtual space takes away the conventional limitations of the real world by creating rich, interactive 3D environments that truly augment reality out of the confines of your 2D screen. It’s how work should be.

After several years in beta, testing and refining the product, we made it available to select Enterprise companies in 2018. From the start we knew we wanted to invest in the backend to make the experience as easy to use and intuitive to navigate as possible. Our latest version released in 2020 is all about simplicity and accessibility, which includes a revamped simpler interface, availability of a VR version via the Quest — the most popular VR device on the market, and the launch of a web app for desktop/mobile. In 2020 we also launched the first public version of Spatial, allowing anyone to download the app directly from Spatial.io, for free during the pandemic.

What do you need to lead this technology to widespread adoption?

Spatial computing will be the OS of the future — 3D computing will become engrained in the way we interact with computers and each other, across any line of business, in any industry and accessible through any device.

Cheaper headsets that are untethered and with a longer battery life will help us get to widespread adoption — Quest 2 has helped hugely here, already selling 2- 3 million devices and on track to become the device to take VR to the mainstream.

Covid has also catapulted things forward, as companies are having to reimagine their office spaces and look at the tools to help them function under these new scenarios, now and for the long term. We are likely to see a much more fluid structure of remote and in person workers for the long term.

Many of our power users are using Spatial for over half the day, underlining that we are tracking towards a ‘holoffice’ experience — A virtual workspace that provides for a future of ambient collaboration, that transcends scheduled meetings in favor of VR/AR presence that’s activated as and when you need to speak up or share ideas, mirroring how humans are naturally inclined to behave at work — ‘virtually’ popping to someone’s office or desk. We’ll be announcing more on this later this year.

Spatial also launched on Mobile before the end of the year so you can now experience social AR and VR to connect with coworkers on the device you already own, opening up access to billions and breaking down hardware being a barrier to adoption.

Tele is new experimental breakthrough app that we also launched at the end of last year. It lets you video chat multiple friends in 3D, as if they were in your living room. It tracks real-time 3D facial expressions using the iPhone’s TrueDepth Camera to give a more fun and immersive experience — a sort of Facetime to ‘Placetime’. Soon we plan to integrate this into the headset Spatial experience, further progressing the feeling of connection and presence in these virtual spaces.

The pandemic has changed so many things about the way we behave. One of them of course, is how we work and how we communicate in our work. How do you think your innovation might be able to address the new needs that have arisen as a result of the pandemic?

We’ve seen 130X increase in the last year, brought about in part by the availability of the Quest 2 headset at $299 but also the pandemic and an overnight globally remote workforce. Interestingly the growth has been from the bottom up and well beyond our traditional Fortune 1000 customers — with medical companies, Universities, SMBs, Government agencies, even celebrities and more, all looking for ways to stay productive and connected.

Regular use cases include group presentations, speaker series or poster sessions, where people are able to wonder and explore different rooms freely. Panels or town hall meetings also work well in Spatial, and even virtual events with “booths”. Training and educational sessions are proving popular with customers, as well as brainstorms and 3D design and data review work sessions.

Users can transform any room into their monitor by uploading 2D and 3D images, videos, models or notes straight from their computer of the web into the space around them. Users can screen share or automatically port in content via Google Drive, Slack and Figma.

As mentioned above, it’s helped to relieve a disengaged workforce, connecting people in new ways. It’s also helped connect the best person for the job, regardless of where they are based in the world. And specifically, its helped Covid response teams — sharing vital information, training staff or protecting people from unnecessary exposure.

Fantastic. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why? (Please share a story or example for each.)

  • It’s going be ok. You’ll do fine.

I put so much pressure on myself to succeed in my 1st company BumpTop. I had taken friends & family money. This was my first real job and I wasn’t sure if I was throwing my life away. I was on welfare for a bit struggling for grant money. You can get really down and hard on yourself, “squeeze the stick too tight” as they say in hockey. It’s important to keep perspective and know hey you’ll be fine! And actually its going to work out pretty damn good. So don’t forget to have fun.

  • Oh the places you will go.

It’s going be a really fun journey so stop worrying so much. (worry a little though! As Andy Grove says, only the paranoid survive).

  • Work really, really hard, it’s about how much you want it.

The relentless pursuit and effort you put in to achieve your goals really can pay off. It’s that willingness to be gritty and grind it out to succeed that is so key.

  • Innovate on the areas that matter. Use standards for the rest.

As a young bright-eyed entrepreneur I wanted to re-invent and innovate on everything. Never settle for any convention because I thought I knew better or could re-derive things from first principles. A lot of the times this proved not to be worth it. For example, we spent a bunch of time on a really elegant gesture-based menu system that people just couldn’t figure out how to use. We should have just kept it simple and used standards that people already know how to use.

  • Make sure the juice is worth the squeeze.

This is a phrase my friends at Apple used internally. A bit related to the above, you want to put your best efforts on the areas that really matter. You could have a really crazy dope intro to your app, but where they actually spend the time in the app is what matters.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I would love to increase the level of connection & compassion people have for each other. We are all one. I feel like I see too much selfishness out there and think it’s a downward cycle. If we can help others we really do help ourselves. Maybe it’s the classic karma thought, but like when you give and are generous you are increasing the good energy in the world and that will make it a better place for all.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

Spatial.io

Thank you so much for the time you spent doing this interview. This was very inspirational, and we wish you continued success.


About The Interviewer: David Liu is the founder and CEO of Deltapath, an award-winning unified communications company that liberates organizations from the barriers of effective communication. Liu is known for his visionary leadership, organic growth strategies, and future-forward technology. Liu is highly committed to achieving a greater purpose with technology. Liu’s business insights are regularly featured in Forbes, Entrepreneur Magazine, Tech Crunch, and more.

The Future of Communication Technology: Alex Clark of ‘Quantum Pigeon’ On How Their Technological Innovation Will Shake Up How We Connect and Communicate With Each Other

Quantum Pigeon (QP) is the first premium messaging app designed to help content creators authentically engage with audiences to monetize their brands.

QP lets you control your information and how you want to share it. For instance, you can control who sees personally identifying information like your phone number, email or profile. You can decide not to share that at all. Boosting privacy is critical. But then, there’s another big way we can help people.


The telephone totally revolutionized the way we could communicate with people all over the world. But then came email and took it to the next level. And then came text messaging. And then came video calls. And so on…What’s next? What’s just around the corner?

In this interview series, called ‘The Future Of Communication Technology’ we are interviewing leaders of tech or telecom companies who are helping to develop emerging communication technologies and the next generation of how we communicate and connect with each other.

As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Alex Clark, CEO & Founder at Quantum Pigeon.

Alex is a seasoned technology innovator and a leading expert in embedded software, massively parallel compute-architectures, service-oriented technologies, enterprise class computing, and building high-performance, secure, scalable and distributed solutions.

Alex studied aerospace engineering at San Jose State University and has authored numerous publications and patents. Alex co-founded Bit Stew Systems and was responsible for developing the game changing data integration and artificial intelligence platform. Bit Stew was ranked in the Top 100 Startups by Forbes Magazine and was later acquired by GE Digital. Alex was named to the Top 40 under 40 list for leadership and technology innovation by Business in Vancouver.


Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?

Ididn’t start off knowing that I wanted to be a tech entrepreneur. When I was young, I wanted to be a cartoon animator. Then it dawned on me: I’m in Silicon Valley, during one of the biggest tech booms ever and maybe I should consider another career choice.

My tech journey started with me crawling through the ranks with a company on their QA team. I was doing things like bug fixes and quality testing. I realized I had a knack for it and could work quickly. A typical bug basher would find about 20 by the end of the cycle. I found over 130. Fast forward a little while and when the dotcom boom really took off, I was in a good position for opportunities.

There were ups and downs after the dotcom bust happened. Then there was the day I was supposed to be installing software in the World Trade Centre on 9/11 and luckily I missed my flight. Soon after that another economic collapse ensued resulting in more ups and downs on the career path. For a while, I was serving coffee at Starbucks and barely making a living before I landed another job developing software.

Finally, I started working on an idea that became a company called Bit Stew Systems. Since I was working on developing the technology on nights and weekends while I was employed by day, I tried to sell them a license for free. Instead, my boss paid me for the license and became our first customer!

Since then, I’ve become a tech founder for several companies, including Quantum Pigeon, a premium messaging & monetization app designed specifically for content creators.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

The thing I’m probably most known for is my successful exit from Bit Stew. We sold the industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) company to General Electric for $153 million (USD). It took an unbelievable amount of work and a lot of stressful days, and sleepless nights….but we did it.

It was an incredible moment and I think for a lot of people, that would be nothing but a positive experience. Certainly, the money was a good thing. But for me, there was anxiety in stepping away from something you worked so hard to create.

“What was I going to do with the rest of my life?” That was the question. I’ve still got a lot of years ahead of me. So I started thinking about ideas for my next startup. Where could I make a difference in the world? What was the space for me to be truly disruptive?

So, the exit from my first startup wasn’t the end. It was just the beginning.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“Hire great people. Trust them to do great work.” In the early days at my first startup, I was very much involved in actually working on the technology. It was complex, so I felt like I needed to be right in there with my sleeves rolled up. But my being so involved was actually bogging the company down and limiting the talents of my team.

These days, I know to just hire a great team and let them do what they do best. But I understand that startup leaders often struggle with letting go. That’s particularly true as we’re in a distributed workforce, where you’re not seeing each other every day and building that trust factor. Today with Quantum Pigeon, I’ve brought on board many exceptional people. With that sense of trust and familiarity built in, we’re not just part of a company. We’re part of a family and that isn’t very common in today’s work world. I consciously try to encourage that sense of camaraderie and fun which is a big part of the Quantum Pigeon team culture we’re building together.

It’s definitely different when you’re building off previous successes and you can use the connections you’ve built to generate funding, build a team and take a big swing.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

My manager at one of my first jobs which was Starbucks had a tremendous impact on me. I know you’re probably looking for an example from my tech career days, but he taught me that great leaders are personable and work hard to create a great environment for their employees. That’s really stuck with me.

When people trust you and like you, they’ll work hard for you and for the greater good of the company. Later on in my career, I had jobs with really harsh managers that would say “I’m gonna fire the lowest performer this week!” That did not necessarily get anyone to work harder.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

Just look at the damage that certain social media platforms have done. You can see that the industry is ripe for an overhaul and primed for disruption. We have the vision to do big things in a space that’s absolutely ready for change.

We all know that COVID-19 has impacted people’s ability to make a living. We’re giving content creators, and really everyone, a way to adapt to our new normal and look for brave, new ways to earn a living by monetizing their content. QP is helping bridge that gap for today’s creators.

Ok wonderful. Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview. Can you tell us about the cutting edge communication tech that you are working on? How do you think that will help people?

Quantum Pigeon (QP) is the first premium messaging app designed to help content creators authentically engage with audiences to monetize their brands.

QP lets you control your information and how you want to share it. For instance, you can control who sees personally identifying information like your phone number, email or profile. You can decide not to share that at all. Boosting privacy is critical. But then, there’s another big way we can help people.

How do you think this might change the world?

We’re offering an alternative way to control your privacy online — and it’s possible that other messaging and social media apps can emulate.

Right now, with WhatsApp, we are being forced to disclose our phone numbers, peronal data, and content to Facebook. This has caused great concern for its users. It doesn’t have to be this way.

With so much in flux, trust, privacy and audience control are simply non-negotiable and users are looking for alternative messaging and social media solutions. That’s exactly where QP comes in.

Keeping “Black Mirror” in mind can you see any potential drawbacks about this technology that people should think more deeply about?

This isn’t so much about QP specifically, but a drawback of any online messaging platform or app is around how the technology is actually used.

Let me give you an example. Because one of our key tenets is privacy, we made QP so that you can edit your content at any time. What if you wanted to prove that you received an abusive message, but the person who sent it changed it after?

That’s why safety controls are built into the platforms — where chat backups would exist no matter what. Tied to this, we’re exploring the concept of a “Vault” that would help provide additional and unprecedented layers of privacy, without enabling bad actors.

Was there a “tipping point” that led you to this breakthrough? Can you tell us that story?

After my exit, I got a bit of press and media attention. You get lots of people hitting you up with the next big idea. But I didn’t want to start a company for the sake of it. I wanted to wholeheartedly believe in the idea. I also wouldn’t start a company if it wasn’t something that I would personally use. So I said ‘no’ a lot.

I was in many WhatsApp group chats (that weren’t private) and people managed to grab my phone number and reached out to me directly to pitch ideas. Which I don’t mind but in many ways I lost a sense of my privacy and that became a problem I wanted to solve for others. That’s what led me to QP.

What do you need to lead this technology to widespread adoption?

We’re building QP with what we believe is the right model: scaling up by getting user feedback early. You can’t just set out with a big vision — you also have to test where the rubber meets the road. What do users actually want? And how do they actually use the platform? We’re building out, in a data-driven way, what our content creators are showing us that they need. We’re also committed to a strong foundation of privacy. It’s not just one thing — you really need all of these ingredients to work together for us to break through.

The pandemic has changed so many things about the way we behave. One of them of course, is how we work and how we communicate in our work. How do you think your innovation might be able to address the new needs that have arisen as a result of the pandemic?

We all know that with the pandemic, many people have become unemployed. And since there are no real-live events anymore like conferences or fashion shows, that revenue stream for influencers has simply dried up.

QP offers an innovative way for people to communicate, share their knowledge and reach fans with premium content. For people who are unemployed or looking to monetize their hobby or talents, this type of innovation can have a real impact.

You see people create content online with other platforms and then Facebook profits off of it. But why aren’t the people who created the content really benefiting?

We take a very different approach. We enable our content publishers to monetize and control their own creativity. One of our key principles is value — as in, letting you get the full value of your content.

With QP, you utilize AI-powered and data-driven technologies to deliver exclusive, subscription-based content to your contacts. We have a flexible pricing model, where we pay 90% of our revenue directly to content creators. The best part is, there are no ads ever.

So, you’re not just building a presence and then getting revenue from ad clicks, like on some other platforms.

Fantastic. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why? (Please share a story or example for each.)

1. It’s gonna be harder than you think and take longer than you think, but that’s okay.

With my first startup, Bit Stew, everything took so much effort. Just the process of actually selling the company to GE was a long haul. I think about all of the meetings with lawyers and the back and forth negotiations and the stressful days when there was so much uncertainty. It dragged out. But eventually, both sides came to a realization that we both wanted a deal. Getting a moderator into the discussion helped move the last few yards to the goal line. And in the end, both sides won.

2. Change is inevitable. Don’t expect something to be perfect out the gate. With our first client, we had built something that worked for them. But as we took on more customers, we also took on more challenges and the needs were ever changing. Change was the only constant.

3. Don’t be afraid to fail. There were times when we’d scaled up too much and were running out of runway. And in those hard moments, there’s a crunch where you can see that you have to make cuts or else you won’t be able to make payroll. To be honest, there were times when me and my Co-Founder didn’t pay ourselves a salary, but squeaked by to make sure everyone else got paid. Those were hard times. But you learn. You get better.

4. Listen and support the talent of others. You don’t have to do everything yourself.

You really can’t do it all alone. That was a hard lesson for me to learn, personally. I have a bit of a take-control kind of personality. When I see a problem in the technology, my first instinct is to get right in there with the team and start solving coding problems. But everyone has their specific role in the company. Instead of trying to take it all on, you really do have to get better at finding, hiring and cultivating the best and brightest talent to pull you through.

5. Build a business next to a bakery because it will be delicious.

This may not sound like serious advice, but I’m trying to make a bigger point here. Companies thrive when there is good morale. Paying attention to amenities or work style choices that help everyone stay positive, even in hard times? That’s really priceless.

6. Remember to have fun. I believe that there’s room for fun and light-heartedness, even within a business environment. Now, I know that some people will find this advice strange. They may think of business as something very serious. And it is that. But companies are also people, striving towards a common goal. If people are not having fun, it’s not sustainable. Work is where we spend so much of our time. We need to include time for joy and celebrating the milestones whether it’s launching your latest release or company anniversaries.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

The most amount of good is something that affects the most amount of people. This is something I gave a lot of thought after I sold Bit Stew and before I started Quantum Pigeon. I had freedom to choose where I wanted to spend my time.

I decided one of the most urgent and important things I could do was to help people take control of their privacy. We see the state of technology today, but we’re not locked into this mode. By being disruptors at QP, we can give people an alternative: stop selling yourself and your privacy. Instead, engage your audience and earn a living by exploring your own authenticity and truth.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

The Quantum Pigeon blog is where we share a lot of our updates about our work and how it’s evolving. You can check it out at blog.quantumpigeon.com

Thank you so much for the time you spent doing this interview. This was very inspirational, and we wish you continued success.


About The Interviewer: David Liu is the founder and CEO of Deltapath, an award-winning unified communications company that liberates organizations from the barriers of effective communication. Liu is known for his visionary leadership, organic growth strategies, and future-forward technology. Liu is highly committed to achieving a greater purpose with technology. Liu’s business insights are regularly featured in Forbes, Entrepreneur Magazine, Tech Crunch, and more.

Krista Mashore: How To Communicate With Your Team Effectively Even If You Are Rarely In The Same Physical Space

Always give constructive criticism via voice message or Video! This way no feelings are missed or reconstrued in translation!! And don’t ALWAYS only point out the flaws! When an employee does something great for your business, congratulate them! Thank them! This goes a long way in keeping your employees excited to work for you.


We are living in a new world in which offices are becoming obsolete. How can teams effectively communicate if they are never together? Zoom and Slack are excellent tools, but they don’t replicate all the advantages of being together. What strategies, tools and techniques work to be a highly effective communicator, even if you are not in the same space?

In this interview series, we are interviewing business leaders who share the strategies, tools and techniques they use to effectively and efficiently communicate with their team who may be spread out across the world. As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Krista Mashore. She has been in the top 1 % of realtors nationwide for 20 years and has personally sold over 2,200 homes and averages at 100 homes a year. She is the author of Four best selling books focusing on digital marketing. She has been featured in Forbes, Inman News, The Wall Street Journal, NBC, Fox, and so much more! She is the recipient of five Two Comma-Club Awards. Krista, always being a teacher at heart, loves serving people and has turned her attention to sharing the secrets of her success to agents across the nation. Through her coaching, teaching, speaking and training Krista is revolutionizing the way real estate agents market themselves online. She offers an innovative step-by-step approach on how agents can gain a massive digital footprint.


Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?

After getting my master’s degree in teaching…I set out to teach third grade! While I loved it, I had recently gotten divorced and was barely making enough to take care of my family. I had two girls and no great way to take care of them financially.

However… I always say, mindset is KEY in what happens next in your life. I told myself I would provide my two daughter’s the best life I could. So, I got my real estate license and decided I would do everything I could to DOMINATE my market.

How? I did everything bigger and better than my competitors. I chose innovation, as opposed to doing what everyone else was doing. I mailed large colored brochures, I took advantage of video and Facebook ads. I decided I would not do an open house or participate in door knocking… and I became one of the top 1% of realtors in the nation for 20 years!

After this, I knew I had a groundbreaking approach to marketing for any profession, so I took what I had learned and became a coach, creating Krista Mashore Coaching and 4 best selling books!

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

When the market crashed, I sold nearly all foreclosed homes… many in my industry started labeling me as the foreclosure queen… NOT a name I wanted at all! So, I completely rebranded who I worked with and now currently only do seller transactions in my real estate business!

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

It’s not the direction of the wind that determines where the boat ends up, it’s the set of the sail — Jim Rohn — this quote helped me learn that we cannot blame our past environments for our lack of success or happiness. We simply have to adjust and keep sailing.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

My husband and girls of course ! For supporting me when I decided to go rogue from my million dollar real estate business to coaching in a matter of days! They supported me 100%!

And 110% MY TEAM! I couldn’t do it without them! As one of my sales reps, Annamay always says…. “JLO doesn’t enter the stage looking like that on her own! She has a whole team behind her polishing her technique, her figure, etc!” I couldn’t do it without my dream team!

Ok wonderful. Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview. The pandemic has changed so many things about the way we behave. One of them of course, is how we work and how we communicate in our work. Many teams have started working remotely. Working remotely can be very different than working with a team that is in front of you. This provides great opportunity but it can also create unique challenges. To begin, can you articulate for our readers a few of the main benefits of having a team physically together?

Working in a single office space can be beneficial in:

  • Encouraging team building
  • Creating a corporate culture
  • Facilitates social interaction and bonds between employees
  • Can allow for more spontaneous idea sharing and problem solving
  • Enables mentoring, especially with new hires and interns
  • Provides ability to monitor employee performance
  • Helps in fostering of social skills required in business

On the flip side, can you articulate for our readers a few of the main challenges that arise when a team is not in the same space?

My team works completely remote and we LOVE it!!!!

However I do recognize working in different spaces can provide a few challenges such as:

  • Overwork. It may sound counter-intuitive, but overwork is a growing concern among remote workers as it can be difficult to turn it off.
  • Unwanted interruptions and distractions working from home.
  • Communication challenges especially for those jobs that require mainly work alone tasks.
  • Technology problems, sometimes hindering the ability to conduct meetings seamlessly.

Fantastic. Here is the main question of our interview. Based on your experience, what can one do to address or redress each of those challenges? What are your “5 Things You Need To Know To Communicate With Your Team Effectively Even If You Are Rarely In The Same Physical Space ? (Please share a story or example for each.)

I use several means to communicate effectively while running a completely virtual business that makes over 1 million in revenue each month!

First site on my list: Voxer, this platform works almost like a walkie-talkie, in that employees can voice message back-and-forth utilizing on the spot notifications. This is my team’s single most used platform when needed to get in contact during short notice. Within Voxer , users can create group messages, entire team messages, and private messages extremely easily.

Next: Hubstaff! Hubstaff is an app that one can download to their computer or phone and can be used as an outlet to punch in and punch out daily. We have all team members, even those on salary, punch in and punch out! Hubstaff also offers the ability to look at every employees productivity each day. For example, top employees should be at or over around 50% productivity most of the time. This app also takes screenshots of employees computers every 10 minutes.

While this app can seem a little overwhelming and overbearing… It’s extremely helpful in keeping employees on track and ensuring employees are working their paid hours!

Next: Of course Gmail. We utilize Gmail daily not only for email purposes but for scheduling meetings easily, for creating a cohesive company signature that can be changed frequently, and so much more.

Next: Monday.com, monday.com works to keep track of employee tasks and help the entire team understand what projects are being worked on in each department. monday.com acts as a mega scheduler for your entire team.

Next: Loom. We love Loom! Loom is a site you can use to record your screen! We use this super frequently to show clients how to optimize their marketing. We use it frequently to share how to navigate sites and CRMs when onboarding a new employee as well!

Finally: Zoom, while everyone seems to be using Zoom nowadays it is for a reason. Zoom helps you seamlessly meet with employees, clients, and so much more. We hold our live events and coaching calls on zoom as well!

Has your company experienced communication challenges with your workforce working from home during the pandemic? For example, does your company allow employees to use their own cell phones or do they use the company’s phone lines for work? Can you share any other issues that came up?

My company has truly moved into COVID times seamlessly in terms of work and work ethic. We utilize our own phones, along with email and Voxer to communicate frequently.

We have a Voxer thread between the entire company as well, to make sure nothing is missed!

Let’s zoom in a bit. Many tools have been developed to help teams coordinate and communicate with each other. In your personal experiences which tools have been most effective in helping to replicate the benefits of being together in the same space?

Voxer 110% ! Like I said my teams single most used platform is Voxer! We send voice messages daily! We brainstorm, collaborate, laugh together on their and so much more!

My particular expertise and interest is in Unified Communications. Has the pandemic changed the need or appeal for unified communications technology requirements? Can you explain?

Yes! But I believe these platforms do exist in my list above! Creating a successful company virtually is not impossible! We did it!

So far we have discussed communication within a team. How has the pandemic changed the way you interact and engage your customers? How much of your interactions have moved to digital such as chatbots, messaging apps, phone, or video calls?

All of our interactions with students are completely virtual and via Zoom, email, Kajabi, etc. While this may seem like it could effect a company negatively… it 100% helps us! I help real estate agents internationally now! Working towards a greater goal of aiding their success!!

In my experience, one of the trickiest parts of working with a remote team is giving honest feedback, in a way that doesn’t come across as too harsh. If someone is in front of you much of the nuance can be picked up in facial expressions and body language. But not when someone is remote. Can you give a few suggestions about how to best give constructive criticism to a remote team member?

Always give constructive criticism via voice message or Video! This way no feelings are missed or reconstrued in translation!! And don’t ALWAYS only point out the flaws! When an employee does something great for your business, congratulate them! Thank them! This goes a long way in keeping your employees excited to work for you.

Can you give any specific ideas about how to create a sense of camaraderie and team cohesion when you are not physically together?

  • Company Trips (each year)
  • Team Meetings (each month)
  • Team Group Chats
  • Team email threads for birthdays, employees of the month, anniversaries, etc.

Ok wonderful. We are nearly done. Here is our last “meaty” question. You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Every single business out their should focus on SERVING their customers/clients instead of SELLING them. Develop trust, provide value, and nurture your clients… it will make all the difference in your company, lead generation, and sales!

How can our readers further follow your work online?

Check out KristaMashore.com/ClientConversion to sign up for my FREE course!

Thank you so much for the time you spent doing this interview. This was very inspirational, and we wish you continued success.

Thank you !!!!


About The Interviewer: David Liu is the founder and CEO of Deltapath, an award-winning unified communications company that liberates organizations from the barriers of effective communication. Liu is known for his visionary leadership, organic growth strategies, and future-forward technology. Liu is highly committed to achieving a greater purpose with technology. Liu’s business insights are regularly featured in Forbes, Entrepreneur Magazine, Tech Crunch, and more.

The Future of Communication Technology: Leon Papkoff of The CXApp On How Their Technological Innovation Will Shake Up How We Connect and Communicate With Each Other

Prior to COVID-19, communication in business was ok. There were emerging tools that streamlined collaboration and new channels for keeping in touch. But they were geared more towards intranet and productivity use cases.

But now, as we emerge into a new world of work, it’s not just business as usual. There is a distinct shift in the types of information we should be sharing internally and externally. Especially with a distributed workforce, there is a higher reliance on new and more current ways of sharing company information and keeping employees informed beyond just content and collaboration itself.

Typical use cases now, require employees to be connected to the workplace whether they are at home, at a coffee shop, sitting at a desk in the office, or even working from a remote location. At The CXApp, we like to think of ‘communication’ from the 50,000 ft level, where communication means mobile-centric, employee-first, contextual interactions as part of a smart campus approach to business.


The telephone totally revolutionized the way we could communicate with people all over the world. But then came email and took it to the next level. And then came text messaging. And then came video calls. And so on…What’s next? What’s just around the corner?

In this interview series, called ‘The Future Of Communication Technology’ we are interviewing leaders of tech or telecom companies who are helping to develop emerging communication technologies and the next generation of how we communicate and connect with each other.

As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Leon Papkoff. As Founder and Chief Strategist for The CXApp, Leon is a highly-skilled, results-oriented visionary with 20+ years of executive leadership paving the way for emerging technologies shaping the future of work. Leon oversees product, people, and process for The CXApp in addition to ongoing executive consultation with innovative Fortune 500 companies managing their own digital transformation.

The CXApp SaaS platform offers digital workplace tools in one mobile command center, serving as a digital front door for operations across events, meetings, digital communities, desk management and the smart campus.


Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?

Wow, it’s a long story, but I’ll try to shorten it. I started off working right out of college at an advertising company in Los Gatos, California. It was right at the beginning of the Internet boom. My title was webmaster and I got to work on some really exciting websites. Some of the first websites I worked on were for Silicon Valley Bank, Match.com, and a few other dot com companies that aren’t around today.

From there I decided to start my own business and jumped head first into creating websites for a number of Fortune 500 companies. I had the opportunity to work in the entertainment space doing projects for Disney and similar production companies in Hollywood. At that time, Hollywood was trying to do more technically savvy activations that were prime work for Silicon Valley engineers.

Coincidentally, those projects opened the doors to opportunities with some of the larger Fortune 500 companies in Silicon Valley creating interactive multimedia demos for retail centers at Fry’s Electronics, Best Buy etc.

Word spread to other tech companies in the area and we were gaining a lot of attention for our user interface and experience design. That transitioned into strategy and design for Executive Briefing Centers (starting with Cisco Systems), where we consulted on content, interactions, and vision for the overall user flow and experience that customers would go through when on-site. This was the very beginning of what we call a customer journey map.

From that point on — it was a snowball effect extending our purpose and our reach into the smart campus at major tech campuses across the country — building and shaping what connected ‘experiences’ look like in the business world.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

Sure, I’ve had a lot of interesting encounters and projects I’ve been fortunate to work on, and just as many interesting people I’ve worked with. But, I think the most interesting thing that I’ve experienced, in that it challenged me as an entrepreneur and leader, dates to a few years back when we transitioned our company from a strategic consulting firm to a SaaS company.

Now, you’d think those have nothing to do with the other. And you’d be mostly right. But, a lot of the lessons learned from running and operating from an agency model actually propelled our SaaS company, The CXApp, to success.

From a business and operations standpoint you’re doing two completely different things. As an agency, you’re creating bespoke products and tailoring isolated strategic campaigns to large customers. They are high-touch, low-volume, one-off projects. As such, your approach to each potential project changes as you focus on impressing the customer by spinning a customer golden story to ultimately win the bid. We were hugely successful at this running from projects creating product demos for Apple to working at the Oscars, and launching private tools for top Silicon Valley tech companies.

About 8 years ago, through work with tech companies, we began to see an emerging demand for solutions that keep customers, partners, employees, and stakeholders connected and engaged across different business segments. That is when our evolution began and we looked at building native software to solve these business and workplace challenges.

As we laid the foundation for our SaaS platform and built a brand around The CXApp, we were able to apply principles from our agency DNA, such as good user interface, earning customer’s business on a quarterly basis and crafting a story around how our technology meets industry demand.

Though the product we deliver is different, the things that made us successful in our past has differentiated us amongst competitors in the software world. The experience is everything.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.” — Wayne Gretzky

I realize this quote is often used by many and has been challenged with inherent flaws in theory, but it sticks and it works. I’m an innovation chaser and a serial entrepreneur. Throughout my career, I try to anticipate the next swing or pivot in the industry. Yes, other strategic thought leaders are doing the same and we may end up there in a pack, but I believe that with the talent and team I surround myself with, we’re able to get to the puck faster, iterate quicker, and build some really cool technology that can outpace the competition. It’s an internal drive to succeed, be the best, build the best solutions, and attract the best customers.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

There have been a lot of influences in my life, too many to name, so I’ll share a couple examples.

My first mentor took a chance and brought me under his wing. I was young, eager to make waves, and had an appetite for finding the next big thing. He groomed me and helped lay foundational elements for how I wanted to shape my career trajectory.

Also, there are several clients that I’ve worked with that I’ve learned greatly from. While typically I’m providing the goods, the service, and the strategy, it’s the way I’ve been able to partner with clients — from projects with Apple, Disney, and major tech companies — to learn about their industry and their needs that have really changed my perspective.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

I believe in people. I want to surround myself with the best in the business, no matter what stage they are at in their career. People that are always learning, always growing, always challenging themselves, and share in a common goal. In business, I strive to invest in and nurture talent by instilling a sense of ownership and providing the space to think, speak, and be creative. I like seeing team members and employees flourish and find their own voice in different work environments. So, to think that I can be a part of someone’s business success journey in that way, makes me very proud.

Ok wonderful. Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview. Can you tell us about the cutting edge communication tech that you are working on? How do you think that will help people?

In the workplace, communication is everything. It starts, stops, influences, and enhances all experiences for employees, customers, partners, vendors and so on. But communication is multi-way. It’s about how we communicate with our peers, our managers, our teams, and even how we communicate with devices and how devices communicate with us and each other.

Prior to COVID-19, communication in business was ok. There were emerging tools that streamlined collaboration and new channels for keeping in touch. But they were geared more towards intranet and productivity use cases.

But now, as we emerge into a new world of work, it’s not just business as usual. There is a distinct shift in the types of information we should be sharing internally and externally. Especially with a distributed workforce, there is a higher reliance on new and more current ways of sharing company information and keeping employees informed beyond just content and collaboration itself.

Typical use cases now, require employees to be connected to the workplace whether they are at home, at a coffee shop, sitting at a desk in the office, or even working from a remote location. At The CXApp, we like to think of ‘communication’ from the 50,000 ft level, where communication means mobile-centric, employee-first, contextual interactions as part of a smart campus approach to business.

A few main areas for a robust communication in a smart campus platform are:

  • Real-time news and bulletin messages (this is your traditional wiki/intranet use cases, but better)
  • Instant notifications to keep employees informed no matter where they are located, and often times specifically dependent on where they are located
  • Location aware digital touchpoints that offer up helpful information such as special offers, indoor navigation, and wayfinding
  • The ability to book a desk or conference room (this an employee communicating with physical spaces in the workplace)
  • Employee to employee communications
  • And other automated interactions that aid a seamless workplace experience for employees

The future of communications in the workplace is providing employees with a centralized platform where to manage day-to-day office scenarios from one mobile command center.

Mobile apps are the only technology that can clearly communicate with employees across a distributed workforce cohesively when they are on-site, in-transit, or working remotely

How do you think this might change the world?

The new workplace is all about connecting people on-site, on-the-go, and in-between moments.

I believe, along with many industry analysts, that the post-COVID workplace will be dramatically different. We’re experiencing a cultural transformation around our expectations of where and when work gets done.

Employees will move toward an in-the-office model that matches their daily work needs.

Prior to COVID-19, we had begun working on use cases to support the need for a native desk booking application, as the puck and industry would go, to create ‘safer spaces’ in the workplace.

Workplace reentry is a highly complex challenge companies are facing, and it encompasses people, technology, and the environments we work in — all part of a comprehensive communication and worker engagement strategy.

Desk scheduling and room reservation software for example will help shape the way workers organize, occupy, and manage spaces within the workplace through transparency and accessibility around on-site capacities, availabilities, and occupancies.

Offices will continue to be hubs for collaboration, creativity, and networking. — but they must also accommodate remote experiences, seamlessly connecting the workforce through real-time communications and contextually-aware experiences whether workers are on-site, at-home, or somewhere in between.

Keeping “Black Mirror” in mind can you see any potential drawbacks about this technology that people should think more deeply about?

No, it’s quite the opposite actually. I believe, if anything, smart technology for the workplace gives employees greater flexibility (less restrictions) in regards to when they work, how they work, where they work, and how they get work done.

Many workers actually enjoy working from home, but do still miss that connection point with colleagues, collaborative spaces, and spontaneous innovation or cooler talk. Which is why the ‘office is not dead’. It just looks a little bit different and serves a new purpose.

So, as we move forward with a distributed workforce model, employee communication tools and technologies are going to converge into the smart campus or smart office model where we’ll see a convergence of systems to create a more holistic workplace ecosystem.

This is what today’s employees want and this is where the future of work is headed.

With any good technology however, there are a few things to be mindful of, such as:

  • Taking responsibility for the product itself and ensuring that all policies and procedures a carefully documented, communicated, and adhered to
  • Using moderation to keep the channels of communication safe and respectful
  • Following all security guidelines to protect users and members
  • Having a champion that can turn a piece of technology or a mobile app into a beneficial and valuable tool

Was there a “tipping point” that led you to this breakthrough? Can you tell us that story?

A few months before COVID-19 hit, we saw a few companies working on desk booking solutions, but we didn’t feel like any of them met all of the industry demands. In fact, we looked at integrating with some early stage vendors to build on our smart campus infrastructure, but found that there were other more important use cases that needed to be solved for than just the ability to ‘book a desk’.

So, like any good innovative team, we scoped out native desk management technology as a means of organizing and communicating with employees and operations as part of a robust workplace reentry strategy and ended up building our own solution.

The need for large organizations, with densely populated offices and buildings, to have a way of opening their offices safely — is there. But I do not believe we’ve hit the tipping point yet.

What we’re looking for is the point when 20% of employees go back to the workplace in-person at major companies and enterprise organizations. That is yet to come. However, as a workplace experience platform rooted in employee communications — we are prepared for the tipping point — when employees and teams scramble to have the right tools and processes in place to support a flexible workplace.

What do you need to lead this technology to widespread adoption?

Factoring in the 80/20 Principle, I believe that once 20% of all employees within one company use this type of technology to engage with a smart campus, then with its own inertia and momentum it will quickly expand to 80% of workers per organization.

As organizations adopt a mobile communications hub for employees and use it as the standard for daily operations, it will become a benefit for acquiring and retaining top talent. Smart, automated, connected, and personalized experiences in the workplace are no longer a ‘nice to have’.

The pandemic has changed so many things about the way we behave. One of them of course, is how we work and how we communicate in our work. How do you think your innovation might be able to address the new needs that have arisen as a result of the pandemic?

Times of crisis or uncertainty lead to an increased need for information. Transparency and communications are important stepping stones to keeping people informed and educated in and around the workplace.

This comes in the shape of increased communications, up-to-the-minute updates, on-demand access to content, on-the-go access to spaces, and fun and engaging activities for employees to take part in.

The distributed workforce will remain with us for a long time, creating the demand for a connected workplace solution that can manage people, places, and things in real-time.

The office is and can be anywhere. Remote work capabilities make it possible for employees to set up shop at home, in transit, and at work. So, with a distributed workforce you have to bring the connection points to them and give employees and teams the ability to manage different types of ‘office scenarios’ from their personal device will be the dominating path forward for a lot of companies.

Fantastic. Here is the main in question of our interview. What are your “5Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why? (Please share a story or example for each.)

  • Invest in people. When I started out, I didn’t take the time to really learn from and invest in people. It’s a tough lesson to learn, but now I strive to hire the best people, empower them with a sense of ownership, and encourage them to bring their ideas to the table. I want to cultivate talent and give back to the people that give so much to this business.
  • Be more nurturing. In addition to investing in people over product, the ability to slow down and lead with mindfulness has greatly paid off in the latter years of my career. When you’re young and leading a high-growth team, some of these traits can unfortunately be sidelined.
  • Treat customers as equals. At the end of the day, we’re all human. It’s important to not be intimidated, but also equally important to not intimidate others, be disrespectful, or make presumptions.
  • Build for scalability. That’s of course a great goal to have in mind, but it applies to so many different aspects of running a successful business. From the software itself, to teams, operations, and processes — the ability to start each segment or project from a clear state of mind and put in place a proper foundation to scale is paramount.
  • Deliver good user interface (UI) and customer experience touchpoints. In a mobile app, UI that is easy to learn, easy to use, and looks good is 50% of everything required to reach success. If you have good design and user experience built into your product, adoption and growth will follow.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I’m going to address that on a much smaller scale, maybe in the likeness of ‘pay it forward’. I want everyone to treat each other as equals and fairly as individuals in this world.

It’s the way I aspire to manage and lead teams. I value all of my employees, team members, colleagues and even competitors. It doesn’t come easy. As a leader you have to continually check in with yourself and re-align with your goals as a person and as the head of an organization. People-first.

The way that our management team leads is a trickle down effect, that I hold myself responsible for, and that is to give everyone a sense of ownership and a voice in what we do. Innovation does not come from one voice or one mind alone, it is a beautiful collision of different perspectives and experiences that speak both at once and in-turns.

I believe that respect should be present in all organizations of all types and sizes so that we can break down the walls of intimidation in the workplace.

Thank you so much for the time you spent doing this interview. This was very inspirational, and we wish you continued success.


About The Interviewer: David Liu is the founder and CEO of Deltapath, an award-winning unified communications company that liberates organizations from the barriers of effective communication. Liu is known for his visionary leadership, organic growth strategies, and future-forward technology. Liu is highly committed to achieving a greater purpose with technology. Liu’s business insights are regularly featured in Forbes, Entrepreneur Magazine, Tech Crunch, and more.

Mary Lemmer of Improve: How To Communicate With Your Team Effectively Even If You Are Rarely In The Same Physical Space

Notice your facial expressions. Especially in a Zoom-world, we must rely more heavily on facial expressions to indicate emotion and intent. 9 times out of 10 people think they’re smiling when they aren’t. So smile, and actually smile! Pay attention to what you’re doing with your face. You can always practice in front of a mirror!


We are living in a new world in which offices are becoming obsolete. How can teams effectively communicate if they are never together? Zoom and Slack are excellent tools, but they don’t replicate all the advantages of being together. What strategies, tools and techniques work to be a highly effective communicator, even if you are not in the same space?

In this interview series, we are interviewing business leaders who share the strategies, tools and techniques they use to effectively and efficiently communicate with their team who may be spread out across the world. As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Mary Lemmer.

Mary is the founder of Improve, a company that improves peoples’ lives with techniques combining improv comedy, behavioral research, mindfulness, and neuroscience. As Mary likes to say “we give people M&Ms laced with vitamins. They taste good and they’re good for you!” In her TED talk “How improv can improve your leadership and life” she shares more about the importance and impact improv.

Mary has worked with tens of thousands of leaders and companies to improve innovation, problem solving, growth and team culture. She started her first company at age 14, did early stage investing, was a Director at a Silicon Valley unicorn, wrote a book and has performed on the same stages as comedy legends. She graduated from the University of Michigan and studied improv comedy at The Second City in Chicago, Upright Citizen’s Brigade in NYC, The Groundlings out of LA, among other improv theatres.


Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?

The abridged version of my backstory goes a little something like this. I started my first business, a gelato business, when I was just barely a teenager. That peaked my entrepreneurial interests and I continued to follow that thread into college, when I’d find researchers at the labs and convince them to commercialize their technology (and to let me help them turn it into a business), while running my own business, and taking jobs at other startups I admired and could learn from. Once I graduated college I started working at a venture capital firm, investing in early stage companies, while, still, running my own business. I was running a zillion miles an hour and suffering from extreme anxiety, especially when things wouldn’t go as planned (which is basically 90% of the time!) I was experiencing panic attacks, fainting episodes, and illness, so much so that I’d end up in the hospital. So, after one too many panic attacks, I decided to take a break, a real break, and then signed up for an improv comedy class, as an attempt to give myself something fun to do and scratch the acting/performance itch I’d had my entire life, but was always too shy to act on. That class changed my life. For the first time I felt relaxed, free, and not overthinking and worried about saying/doing the ‘right’ thing, because, in improv, everything is right. There are no mistakes. That was game changing for me. Over time, I noticed that practicing improv comedy was helping me improve in my leadership, my work with teams, and my life. I started teaching “Improv 4 Entrepreneurs” workshops to startup accelerators and saw significant improvements in entrepreneur’s pitching, presence, and ability to communicate their ideas to investors and their teams. I started developing techniques to improve with improv and used them with teams. Fast forward, and for the past ten years I have now empowered thousands of leaders and teams to improve with improv. I gave the TED talk “How improv can improve your leadership and life” and have worked with companies and conferences around the world to share these techniques.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

Just one?! Gosh! I began my career when I was 13 and often worked several jobs at the same time, so I have a lot of material to pull from! The first story that pops up is in my first business, the gelato business, we were catering a high school graduation party. I wasn’t yet old enough to drive, so my mom drove, with the trailer and gelato cart in tow. The event itself was a series of unfortunate events. On the drive there the lid of the cart flew off (I guess without us noticing), so we had nothing to cover the cart. It was summer in Michigan so the mosquitoes were particularly happy there was an uncovered sugary treat at their disposable. The woman hosting the event was not particularly in a joyful mood. She demanded we push the cart on the grass, down a hill in their backyard, and since it had recently rained, the cart eventually got stuck. Imagine a 13-year old scrawny girl trying to push this catering cart up a grassy hill, followed by a pack of hungry mosquitoes. The cherry on top was that on the way home, while driving in the dark, I looked out the rearview mirror and our napkins were flying in the back behind us. Somehow the napkin dispenser got exposed and the napkins were exercising their freedom and flying in the wind along the freeway (obviously we stopped, as we were horrified we were unintentionally littering). I’d say that is pretty interesting.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“Hakuna Matata” — it means no worries, for the rest of your days 🙂

When I was a kid I LOVED the movie “The Lion King”, to the point of imagining I had pet lions. I would dream about my lion pack, Simba, Nala, walking to school with me in the small town in Michigan where I spent my early childhood.

This phrase was so relevant in my life, even though I didn’t always abide by it. I’m a pretty anxious person. I’ve literally passed out over 30 times from anxiety, so maybe ‘pretty anxious’ is an understatement. As I have gotten older and especially when I started practicing improv comedy, this philosophy really started to resonate and really help me improve my anxiety and way of life. Improv comedy is also a “worry free zone”. There are no mistakes in improv, and when I brought that way of thinking and living in for myself, my life improved tremendously.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

There are so many people who have supported me along the way. It starts with my parents and my grandmothers. My mom and dad were so instrumental in starting my first business. I wasn’t able to drive, and they would drive me to all of these different events and help me set up my business. They were really encouraging and supportive of me exploring this entrepreneurial itch of mine!

One particular story I’ll share — my parents owned this big red conversion van, and at the time, that’s how my catering cart would get to different events. My dad built these wooden ramps to push the cart up to get in the van. Him and my mom would drive me to the events and then I’d serve straight from the van, or we’d take the cart out. I needed their help with the cart, since it outweighed me by quite a bit! They drove me to sports tournaments, art festivals, I did a fundraiser for Hurricane Katrina relief once. Each year they’d help me set up at the Ann Arbor Art Fair. I’d stand there all day giving out samples and selling cups. They helped arrange everything and my paternal grandmother would invite me to stay at her house nearby and stay up late with me to count the money. My maternal grandmother also showed so much support along the way.

Ok wonderful. Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview. The pandemic has changed so many things about the way we behave. One of them of course, is how we work and how we communicate in our work. Many teams have started working remotely. Working remotely can be very different than working with a team that is in front of you. This provides great opportunity but it can also create unique challenges. To begin, can you articulate for our readers a few of the main benefits of having a team physically together?

We’re human. We’re social creatures. Being physically together is satisficing biological needs to communicate, be in communicate, hug (though, not without consent, especially in the workplace!) There is so much communication that happens nonverbally with facial expressions and body language, and those are best experienced in person.

On the flip side, can you articulate for our readers a few of the main challenges that arise when a team is not in the same space?

When we’re not in the same space it doesn’t exactly feel like we’re together, in 3D, and we miss out on those nonverbal cues. How someone carries themselves, their pace, how fast they’re breathing, hand gestures, facial expressions — these all add the conversation and connection. It’s also way easier to be distracted when we’re looking at someone on a screen versus across the table. It’s hard to really make eye contact. Be honest, how often are you actually looking at yourself in the video chat, versus the person your with? And even if you are actually looking at the person you’re with, they might not be able to even tell, because they’re looking at you. It’s really hard to make eye contact when we’re not in the same space, and our eyes hold so much information about what’s going on for us at a given moment. In improv we have a saying, “if you’re lost for words, look in your scene partners’ eyes.” The eyes hold a lot of emotion and when we make eye contact with someone it’s like we’re looking into their soul and really connecting with them. Virtually, it’s really hard to make that connection.

Fantastic. Here is the main question of our interview. Based on your experience, what can one do to address or redress each of those challenges? What are your “5 Things You Need To Know To Communicate With Your Team Effectively Even If You Are Rarely In The Same Physical Space ? (Please share a story or example for each.)

1. Notice your facial expressions. Especially in a Zoom-world, we must rely more heavily on facial expressions to indicate emotion and intent. 9 times out of 10 people think they’re smiling when they aren’t. So smile, and actually smile! Pay attention to what you’re doing with your face. You can always practice in front of a mirror!

2. Use your tone. If you speak monotone it’s really boring to listen to. Use variability in pitch and change up your tone to go along with what you’re saying. Practice adding variety to your tone and then be aware while in meetings what your voice is doing. Are you inflecting? Are you endings statements as statements and not questions? (A very common tactic!)

3. Listen! How often have you been in a virtual meeting when either no one is talking or everyone is talking at the same time? You’re not alone. With internet speed differences, freezing faces over Zoom, these challenges are quite common and make it even more difficult to communicate with one another. The temptations to talk over each other are even greater, usually unintentionally, because it’s harder to read the nonverbal cues that someone is done talking. So we need to practice listening even more, and take our listening skills to new heights.

In improv we practice listening in an exercise called “First Word, Last Word” and have a conversation using the last word someone else says as our first word of whatever we’re going to say next. Doing this forces us to listen fully to what someone else is saying (rather than start thinking about what we’re going to say before the other person even finishes talking). Try this in your meetings. Listen fully, without prematurely formulating your response. Your conversations will be richer and you won’t have to repeat yourself a thousand times because no real listening is actually taking place.

4. Say what you see. Be human. If your dog is barking or scratching at your leg, don’t just grin and bear it. Your virtual colleague may not see the dog scratching at your leg, but they will see the grimace on your face that looks like you either really don’t want to be in the meeting or you really need to use the bathroom.

5. Use humor! At the peak of laughter is the height of listening. Using humor is a great way to relate to and entertain your audience. And remember, tone and facial expressions are key to incorporating humor. A monotone joke doesn’t typically land as well as one that has variability of tone and animated facial expression, unless, of course, that’s part of the bit.

Has your company experienced communication challenges with your workforce working from home during the pandemic? For example, does your company allow employees to use their own cell phones or do they use the company’s phone lines for work? Can you share any other issues that came up?

Technical connection issues — internet going down or freezing, sound challenges.

Let’s zoom in a bit. Many tools have been developed to help teams coordinate and communicate with each other. In your personal experiences which tools have been most effective in helping to replicate the benefits of being together in the same space?

Zoom has been great for us!

If you could design the perfect communication feature or system to help your business, what would it be?

One that, at least virtually, can send you feedback real time about how you’re coming across and the level of understanding on the other end. Something that can tell based on all the people involved and communicating, if they’re understanding and how they’re perceiving the communication interaction. Basically a mindreading technology to improve self-awareness and understanding in communications online.

My particular expertise and interest is in Unified Communications. Has the pandemic changed the need or appeal for unified communications technology requirements? Can you explain?

Yes, I think so. It would make it a lot easier and effective to communicate with each other.

So far we have discussed communication within a team. How has the pandemic changed the way you interact and engage your customers? How much of your interactions have moved to digital such as chatbots, messaging apps, phone, or video calls?

100% of our interactions have moved to phone or video calls and email and text messaging.

In my experience, one of the trickiest parts of working with a remote team is giving honest feedback, in a way that doesn’t come across as too harsh. If someone is in front of you much of the nuance can be picked up in facial expressions and body language. But not when someone is remote. Can you give a few suggestions about how to best give constructive criticism to a remote team member?

I actually think it’s easier to give honest feedback virtually. The stakes are lower. Think about it. It’s easier to break up with someone via text message, then phone, then in person. When we’re not actually in front of someone physically feel more confident talking about tough topics. We don’t have to face, head on, the scary possible negative or angry reaction that could lie on the other side.

For giving honest feedback virtually I recommend starting by asking, for example, “Are you open to hearing some feedback?” which invites the other person into the conversation, versus out of nowhere sharing criticism, which, when done in that manner oftentimes puts the other person on the defensive.

Pay attention to your tone and facial expressions! Especially virtually, tone and facial expression are really important because body language doesn’t come across as much.

Be honest. Don’t sugar coat the situation. Don’t dance around it.

Practice empathy! This is where tone and facial expression can really come into play here. Be empathetic toward what is going on for that other person. Ask before assuming.

For example, If someone is missing deadlines or their work has been decreasing in quality, say “I’ve noticed the past couple weeks you’ve missed some deadlines. What’s going on?” This gives someone the opportunity to share what might be affecting their work performance. For instance, “My child has been sick at home and I’ve been struggling to get enough focused time to work on projects.” We don’t know until we ask. So don’t make assumptions. Share objective observations and then allow the other person to respond.

Thank the person for the conversation. Recognizing “these aren’t always easy topics to discuss, so thank you for your attention and participation in this conversation.”

Bonus points if you ask team members “how can I best support you?” especially if you have the bandwidth and resources to support them.

Can you give any specific ideas about how to create a sense of camaraderie and team cohesion when you are not physically together?

Check in with each other! Even if it’s just a text or email once in awhile with a funny video or story you heard, that helps mimic the social dynamics we had (and often miss) from the workplace. The water cooler talk, the jokes, the laughter while getting lunch together.

Schedule time for fun! Take your team to a virtual improv class, go see a virtual show together and then Zoom afterwards to talk about it, schedule fun activities that you want to do together to keep some social interaction with each other.

Most importantly, take a few minutes at each team meeting to share what’s going on in your life. I recommend taking this improv-inspired exercise called “3 Things” to inspire connecting during meetings. You can use a different prompt each time, like “3 things you did over your weekend”, “3 things you’re watching on Netflix” or “3 things you’re struggling with this week” and ask people to answer. It doesn’t take long and is a great way to have some social dialogue and learn about each other’s lives while working remotely.

Ok wonderful. We are nearly done. Here is our last “meaty” question. You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

That everyone practice improv comedy. Commit to a weekly class (you could do so with Improve 🙂 for 3-months. I think it would improve peoples’ self-awareness, empathy and compassion, joy, and resilience in ways that will benefit them and those around them.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

Visit our website, www.chooseimprove.com and join Club Improve to get daily improv comedy exercises designed to improve your life sent to your email and weekly virtual live drop-in sessions to start improv’ing your life with humor.

Thank you so much for the time you spent doing this interview. This was very inspirational, and we wish you continued success.


About The Interviewer: David Liu is the founder and CEO of Deltapath, an award-winning unified communications company that liberates organizations from the barriers of effective communication. Liu is known for his visionary leadership, organic growth strategies, and future-forward technology. Liu is highly committed to achieving a greater purpose with technology. Liu’s business insights are regularly featured in Forbes, Entrepreneur Magazine, Tech Crunch, and more.

Brian Petro of Bright Productions: How To Communicate With Your Team Effectively Even If You Are Rarely In The Same Physical Space

Repetition- Plan to repeat yourself when communicating. Explain things. Explain them again. Use a different method to explain it. Ask to have it explained back to you. Put it in writing. And after all that, understand that probably about 75% of what you think was communicated actually made it from your brain to someone else’s. This is true with clients as well. I caught myself yesterday telling a client that they had never told us something. Then I stopped myself, I apologized and I told them that I was very sure that they had told us, but that communications are challenged nowadays and that the message simply hadn’t made it all the way to us for full comprehension.


We are living in a new world in which offices are becoming obsolete. How can teams effectively communicate if they are never together? Zoom and Slack are excellent tools, but they don’t replicate all the advantages of being together. What strategies, tools and techniques work to be a highly effective communicator, even if you are not in the same space?

In this interview series, we are interviewing business leaders who share the strategies, tools and techniques they use to effectively and efficiently communicate with their team who may be spread out across the world. As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing​ Brian Petro.

Brian began his journey in marketing midway through the ’90s when the internet was taking off. He’s worked with businesses in various industries from WestAmerica Bank and Chevron to Bubbies Pickles and First American. He prides himself in his extensive experience in the specialty foods space, where his exceptional branding, design and advertising expertise shines. With a proven track record of over 20 years and hundreds of satisfied clients, Petro and his team currently manage millions of dollars in advertising, high-quality content, in-house writing, photography, video production and more.


Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started? Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

The most pertinent thing in my backstory is that it’s diverse. Although my work now is solidly white-collar, I know what it’s like to get your hands dirty. My first jobs were working as a construction laborer for a few years and subsequently I was a chimneysweep for another few. These experiences have given me a much broader perspective than I would have otherwise. Additionally, right before I opened my agency, I traveled throughout the world backpacking through Asia, Europe, and the US.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

My favorite motto is “Family first.” Not only does this philosophy serve my family well, but having that perspective builds positive relationships with clients and staff. People want to work with people who have good priorities and give more than lip service to family.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I’ve had many mentors that have helped me along the way. The one that plays the biggest role for me right now is my Creative Director, Steve Rustad. As he approaches an age where many would consider retiring, he instead has taken myself and my staff under his wing as his personal project to help in any way he can.

Ok wonderful. Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview. ​The pandemic has changed so many things about the way we behave. One of them of course, is how we work and how we communicate in our work. Many teams have started working remotely. Working remotely can be very different than working with a team that is in front of you. This provides great opportunity, but it can also create unique challenges. To begin, can you articulate for our readers a few of the main benefits of having a team physically together?

For a creative agency, being in a room together to brainstorm ideas and pitch approaches is extremely beneficial. There is something about the energy in a room full of smart creative people that is tough to beat.

On the flip side, can you articulate for our readers a few of the main challenges that arise when a team is not in the same space?

Hiring and training is more challenging remotely. As good as technology has gotten in 2021, it is nowhere near transparent. There is always a little window of technology that you are working through. It’s like building a ship in a bottle.

Fantastic. Here is the main question of our interview. Based on your experience, what can one do to address or redress each of those challenges? What are your “​5 Things​ You Need To Know To Communicate With Your Team Effectively Even If You Are Rarely In The Same Physical Space? ​(Please share a story or example for each.)

  1.  Encourage Video Calls — Our agency has a standing Google Meet address that we all have a shortcut to on our browsers. We call this virtual meeting room “The Clubhouse.” So much is lost in translation when you can’t see each other’s face. We’re constantly messaging each other but as soon as the communication gets the least bit tricky, we say “Want to jump into the clubhouse?”
  2. – Maintain Work/Life Balance — We encourage our staff to unplug outside business hours. We ask them to turn off their computer once they are “clocked out.” Moreover, we ask them to turn off phone notifications and even ignore work emails. Our agency is smart about how we plan our work, so we rarely have unexpected “work emergencies.” With our planning tools and scheduled review of each client, we avoid huge setbacks. As much as possible, our code is to work hard when you are working, then try not to think of it at all when you are not. Life is too short.
  3. – Be Extra Understanding — Give everyone even more flexibility than you normally would. Not only are we dealing with working remotely, but there are all these extra stressors with COVID-19 and national politics. As much as we possibly can, we try to cut everyone some extra slack. We actively encourage dog-walking or yoga breaks in the middle of the day. When someone has to run an errand, they just do it.
  4. – Repetition- Plan to repeat yourself when communicating. Explain things. Explain them again. Use a different method to explain it. Ask to have it explained back to you. Put it in writing. And after all that, understand that probably about 75% of what you think was communicated actually made it from your brain to someone else’s. This is true with clients as well. I caught myself yesterday telling a client that they had never told us something. Then I stopped myself, I apologized and I told them that I was very sure that they had told us, but that communications are challenged nowadays and that the message simply hadn’t made it all the way to us for full comprehension.
  5. – Don’t Mistake Tools for Good Management — There are all kinds of fancy communication and online project management tools to help make remote working easier, but they are no replacement for actual competent human management. Because we’ve been successful at building such a smart, effective team, I tend to let people go and do their own thing with minimal oversight. However, when you are working remotely, it is not a time to under-manage.

Has your company experienced communication challenges with your workforce working from home during the pandemic? For example, does your company allow employees to use their own cell phones or do they use the company’s phone lines for work? Can you share any other issues that came up?

We do have somewhat of a mess with phones right now, but we’ve gotten away with it because we really don’t use our phone system much. Both internally and externally our go-to communication methods are video calls via Google Meet or Zoom. Our existing phone system contract will be up in a few months and we’re looking at a fully virtual system.

Let’s zoom in a bit. Many tools have been developed to help teams coordinate and communicate with each other. In your personal experiences, which tools have been most effective in helping to replicate the benefits of being together in the same space?

Google Hangouts is what we use for messaging. It’s as close as we’re going to get to being able to poke your head into someone’s office with a question. For video calls, we started out making calls from Google Hangouts as well, but the call quality wasn’t great, so we switched to Google Meet for in-house calls. For sales and dealing with clients, our default video call tool is Zoom because it’s the tool that our prospects are most familiar with. For our clients, especially in sales, we want to try to avoid a learning curve and use what everyone already knows.

If you could design the perfect communication feature or system to help your business, what would it be?

That balance between enough communication and too much communication is a difficult one. I’ve been talking about how much we encourage video calls, but I have heard horror stories of people stuck in Zoom calls all day, every day. That isn’t the case in our agency. That being said, for internal communication, I think it would be really interesting if there was a way to set up open, ongoing communication channels (be it with voice/text messaging/video), so you could easily reach out to someone you wanted to communicate with, without specifically “calling them,” BUT would automatically filter out irrelevant chatter.

My particular expertise and interest is inUnified Communications​. Has the pandemic changed the need or appeal for unified communications technology requirements? Can you explain?

Until recently, I thought of unified messaging as a system where phone messages were sent to your email. I suppose that’s still true, but now that in-house messaging and video calls are so common, I find that we’re using many different tools again. It would be interesting if they could all be combined into a single system; however, we are somewhat spoiled by the individual solutions that we currently use and like. It would be a challenge to find a single solution that would satisfy all our technical requirements as well as all personalities and what we’re used to.

The technology is rapidly evolving and new tools like VR, AR, and Mixed Reality are being developed to help bring remote teams together in a shared virtual space. Is there any technology coming down the pipeline that excites you?

I’m still thinking of VR, AR, and Mixed Reality as a novelty. My son has an Oculus and has fun with it for gaming. I’m not aware of a good way to put it to work in the operations of my business yet. With that being said, I am very open to this technology as a marketing tool for our clients.

Is there a part of this future vision that concerns you? Can you explain?

Until there is widespread adoption, this type of tech will remain expensive and technical. There will probably be a rough transition period where clients are learning to use these tools and I foresee a lot of calls dropped or sales opportunities lost. However, in the end, everyone will adapt to the future just as well as they have adapted to iPhones and other tools in the present.

So far, we have discussed communication within a team. How has the pandemic changed the way you interact and engage your customers? How much of your interactions have moved to digital such as chatbots, messaging apps, phone, or video calls?

With clients, because of COVID-19 our main “communications move” has been from phone and face-to-face meetings to video calls. Surprisingly, it was a very smooth transition and honestly in a lot of ways it was an improvement. Video calls are much better tools than plain old telephone calls. Video calls don’t require the driving time that face-to-face meetings require. As far as chatbots, we have discussed adding chatbots to some prospective client websites but haven’t had a bite yet.

In my experience, one of the trickiest parts of working with a remote team is giving honest feedback, in a way that doesn’t come across as too harsh. If someone is in front of you much of the nuance can be picked up in facial expressions and body language. But not when someone is remote. Can you give a few suggestions about how to best give constructive criticism to a remote team member?

I think this is more about being an effective manager than it is about the technology. It is true that remote work is harder, but if you are a caring human being who really wants what is best for everyone, that will come through regardless of the technology. I had to dissolve a position during this pandemic and let someone go through a video call. It was really tough, but because we had established a good relationship with this person, I don’t think the technology got in the way.

Can you give any specific ideas about how to create a sense of camaraderie and team cohesion when you are not physically together?

Our agency encourages the use of our messaging system to share personal info. On any given day, we may have paintings that someone’s child (or cat) made, or we’re sharing links to old favorite songs, or we’re teasing each other about being sore from working in the garden over the weekend. We all know more about each other’s households than we probably would if we weren’t working remotely. We also have weekly all-staff video calls where each person runs (quickly) down what’s going on with them business-wise and what they did over the weekend.

Ok wonderful. We are nearly done. Here is our last “meaty” question. You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement, that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I’m a devoted Christian, so I have an easy go-to answer, which would be to inspire a world-wide Christian revival. That’s not an especially popular or politically correct answer so my backup (more printable) answer would be:

I see a driving concern especially with millennials to make businesses a force of good. You see that exemplified with organizations that have qualified to be a “B Corp.” I would argue that every well-run business is a force for good already. Every business that truly wants to do what’s best for their customers, their employees, their community, and their bottom line is, by definition, a force for good. I would like to inspire people to embrace this idea.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

Website: www.brightproductions.com

LinkedIn Profile: www.linkedin.com/in/bpetro

Thank you so much for the time you spent doing this interview. This was very inspirational, and we wish you continued success.


About The Interviewer: ​David Liu is the founder and CEO ofDeltapath​, an award-winning unified communications company that liberates organizations from the barriers of effective communication. Liu is known for his visionary leadership, organic growth strategies, and future-forward technology. Liu is highly committed to achieving a greater purpose with technology. Liu’s business insights are regularly featured in Forbes, Entrepreneur Magazine, Tech Crunch, and more.

The Future of Communication Technology: Simon Glass of Discuss.io On How Their Technological Innovation Will Shake Up How We Connect and Communicate With Each Other

Discuss.io is a leading enterprise-level smart video platform allowing companies to take their consumer conversations to the next level. Traditional enterprise video technology is generic and built for broad use. The Discuss.io platform is purpose-built with different features and workflows to enable meeting rooms of the future that allow companies to get more out of their video conversations. Brands like Unilever, PepsiCo, Dole, AARP, NetGear, and more use the platform to connect with customers anywhere around the world and easily and securely record, categorize, transcribe, share and store insights.


The telephone totally revolutionized the way we could communicate with people all over the world. But then came email and took it to the next level. And then came text messaging. And then came video calls. And so on…What’s next? What’s just around the corner?

In this interview series, called ‘The Future Of Communication Technology’ we are interviewing leaders of tech or telecom companies who are helping to develop emerging communication technologies and the next generation of how we communicate and connect with each other.

As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Simon Glass, Chief Executive Officer of Discuss.io, the only enterprise-level smart video platform helping business professionals make better decisions, using smart technology to capture conversations, analyze them and create intelligence at scale. At Discuss.io, Glass is responsible for overseeing all facets of the business and driving the company’s global development strategy. He first joined Discuss.io in 2019 as Chief Revenue Officer where he successfully transformed the company’s business model and rebuilt the sales and marketing teams.

Glass has a proven track record of achieving significant success growing and scaling large global companies over the nearly 30 years he has held leadership positions, most notably at P&G, PricewaterhouseCoopers, and eCommerce analytics company, Clavis Insight (sold for $120M in 2018). In his current role at Discuss.io, Glass continues to use his strong leadership and enterprise technology expertise to successfully implement the company’s mission to create a universal platform for deep, purposeful connection that yields intelligence at scale. Simon lives in Beverly, MA with his wife Susannah and three daughters Isobel, Thea and Tilly.


Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

My most interesting story is when I lived out the start-up ‘pivot’ moment over the course of one 45-minute meeting. I had been leading Business Development for a Data Quality-focused start-up, and one meeting with a Global CPG Executive changed the course of the company overnight, turning us into an e-Commerce firm focused on online store audits. Everything about the company changed over the course of the next several weeks. It was very exciting to be involved in that big of a shift, and looking back we were in exactly the right place at the right time as we managed to significantly grow the company and create over $100M in shareholder value!

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending” — CS Lewis

This quote has always resonated with me. CS Lewis and I share the same country of birth! On a more serious note though, I’ve gained a lot from his writings and teachings over the years. Specific to this quote, it fills me with hope and a realization that we can and will fail, and we can and will make mistakes, but we always have the option to refocus, replan, adjust and rededicate ourselves to the task at hand. It’s very liberating!

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

Without the support of my wife I would not be where I am today. Over the course of the last 20 years we have moved a number of times — twice to different countries. Big moves are exhausting and setup on the other side can take quite some time, as can building a new community of friends and support services. We have three kids, and my wife constantly juggled her career of freelance writing and college teaching to enable me to pursue my dreams. I am deeply grateful for this and also for her holding down the fort while I did a lot of international travel for about 15 years. We’ve come out on the other side strong and excited for the future, and the last year with the pandemic has meant no travel, which has been a welcome relief to us all.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

I have always aimed to be an example of honesty and integrity in leadership positions. I hope I have inspired others to do the same in both their work and personal lives. I believe this kind of stuff has a snowball effect, and setting my team up for success can help bring more good to the world now and down the line.

Ok wonderful. Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview. Can you tell us about the cutting edge communication tech that you are working on? How do you think that will help people?

Discuss.io is a leading enterprise-level smart video platform allowing companies to take their consumer conversations to the next level. Traditional enterprise video technology is generic and built for broad use. The Discuss.io platform is purpose-built with different features and workflows to enable meeting rooms of the future that allow companies to get more out of their video conversations. Brands like Unilever, PepsiCo, Dole, AARP, NetGear, and more use the platform to connect with customers anywhere around the world and easily and securely record, categorize, transcribe, share and store insights.

Our platform offers unique features like auto-transcription, “save the moment” video capture, translation, and interactive whiteboards to generate more actionable insights that can be securely captured and shared across their organizations in real time. We have a number of exciting developments in the pipeline as well, including the upcoming launch of our mobile screen sharing feature, which will allow respondents to share their mobile screens within the online meeting room, giving insights and UX professionals the opportunity to seamlessly incorporate mobile testing into live research sessions for better learnings in less time. We’re also laying the groundwork to incorporate NLP and AI technology into the platform to open up opportunities for brands to pull insights and key points from meeting transcripts.

How do you think this might change the world?

As a company, we’re committed to revolutionizing the consumer insights industry. Our platform and the technology we’re building will help elevate the customer and brand relationship (and even the employee and client/employer relationship) as a result of the many digital changes we are seeing take shape, and as Covid-19 reshapes organizations’ investments in video and consumer insights.

The pandemic has accelerated digital transformation across industries, bringing the concept of utilizing video platforms for market research into the future. As more and more organizations prioritize speaking to and understanding their consumers as a strategic focus, Discuss.io is strategically positioned to support global companies during challenging times as organizations shift in-person conversations and marketing budgets online.

Traditional market research practices, in many ways, will never go back to how they were. Discuss.io is helping to scale online qualitative research to meet this paradigm shift; brands will need to look for ways to get to know their customers, speak to them regularly to meet them where they are, and understand the “new” customer lifecycle.

Keeping “Black Mirror” in mind can you see any potential drawbacks about this technology that people should think more deeply about?

I really don’t believe this to be the case, as long as the highest possible standards of information security and data privacy are adhered to. As video collaboration for business communication becomes the norm, I expect to see a significant body of work revolve around how users can get the most from video meetings and how best to interact as a participant. The one possible early concern I might have is that we begin to lean too heavily on AI to determine what people are really saying and thinking, be it through facial recognition or sentiment analysis. There is definitely a time and a place for these tools, and a balance to be struck with humans and AI working together, but I hope the industry can learn its way into the potential for AI and not try to get to an automated level of insight too quickly.

Was there a “tipping point” that led you to this breakthrough? Can you tell us that story?

I think we’ll look back in a year or two and realize the pandemic was really the tipping point for Discuss.io. Prior to 2020 we were evangelists as we attempted to shift the Market Research and CX industries towards our tech enabled solutions. We made steady progress in the years leading up to 2020, but with the pandemic and the rapid shift to digital collaboration tools x10 the number of users got to experience our platform and realize consumer conversations could be better, faster and cheaper when done through Discuss.io. Now they have experienced the benefits of our platform they are very unlikely to go back to the manually intensive, slow and costly ways of engaging with consumers.

What do you need to lead this technology to widespread adoption?

I really believe we need more people to know about the ways in which qualitative research (much like quantitative) is able to be scaled. We’ve been really heads down as a team during the pandemic to bring the market research industry into the future. We want more people to understand that there are better, more digitally driven ways of speaking to customers. The world is making a large shift to digital collaboration tools, and we’ll see this trend stick around for the long-term, so this is the perfect time to get ourselves out there.

The pandemic has changed so many things about the way we behave. One of them of course, is how we work and how we communicate in our work. How do you think your innovation might be able to address the new needs that have arisen as a result of the pandemic?

When the dust settles and we’re able to look at the pandemic with a sense of clarity, we may realize that we lived through an epochal technological revolution. There are few major shocks to the system that have occurred in the last century: the advent of TV, the rise of the Internet, and the rise of smartphones are three of these big shifts. The emergence of the remote workforce and the necessity for video platforms may become the next phase in this evolution, which is where Discuss.io sits. These tools have the capacity to change population disbursement and alter both the way we view cities but also how we structure our relationship with people and with work.

In this story of revolution in technological agility has been the rising prominence and adoption of video platforms integrated into nearly every facet of our work and personal lives. What felt like a novelty when we started using video communication platforms early in 2020 quickly — at a pace none of us could have imagined — became the cliched “new normal”. Now, not only are individuals turning to video platforms to connect with friends and family, but it’s become the engine behind corporate interactions and the preservation of corporate culture, and is now leveraged in major ways by brands and agencies to understand their customers.

Fantastic. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why? (Please share a story or example for each.)

  1. It’s OK to fail and make mistakes. In fact, failure often germinates the next seeds of success.
  2. Look to disrupt and smash the norms. Leaders need people who can make it happen.
  3. Focus on the few really important things and do them really well.
  4. Prepare for internal meetings with the same degree or rigor you would for external meetings.
  5. You don’t have to travel so much!

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I would feed the world’s hungry and malnourished kids through redistribution of food wasted by the world’s middle and upper middle class kids. There’s so much that goes to waste and plenty of opportunity to help feed those who need it most.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

Readers can stay up to date on the latest from Discuss.io at www.discuss.io.

Thank you so much for the time you spent doing this interview. This was very inspirational, and we wish you continued success.


About The Interviewer: David Liu is the founder and CEO of Deltapath, an award-winning unified communications company that liberates organizations from the barriers of effective communication. Liu is known for his visionary leadership, organic growth strategies, and future-forward technology. Liu is highly committed to achieving a greater purpose with technology. Liu’s business insights are regularly featured in Forbes, Entrepreneur Magazine, Tech Crunch, and more.

The Future of Communication Technology: Xavier Parkhouse-Parker of Cambridge Future Tech On How Their Technological Innovations Will Shake Up How We Connect and Communicate With Each Other

Cambridge Future Tech is a deeptech venture builder based in Cambridge, UK; we work with top innovators in several scientific fields. We both work ventures within our portfolio and innovators, still developing technology in the labs.

One of the trends we see at CFT is a significant number of telecommunication technology innovation coming from edge computing and the cloud. Over 20 billion IoT devices are currently connected to the internet, all collecting data from apple watches to automotive vehicles and almost every manufacturing process. A self-driving car, for example, would generate 40 terabytes of data for every eight hours of driving time. This data needs to be processed, and it’s too slow to send this data back to a cloud data centre to do the processing, and without processing, this data is just noise. This is an extreme example, but all of those 20 billion devices produce data, and this data needs processing.


The telephone totally revolutionized the way we could communicate with people all over the world. But then came email and took it to the next level. And then came text messaging. And then came video calls. And so on…What’s next? What’s just around the corner?

In this interview series, called ‘The Future Of Communication Technology’ we are interviewing leaders of tech or telecom companies who are helping to develop emerging communication technologies and the next generation of how we communicate and connect with each other.

As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Xavier Parkhouse-Parker.

Xavier is COO of Cambridge Future Tech, a Deep Tech Venture Builder. Cambridge Future Tech is a Tech Venture Builder with a vision to help facilitate the next generation of Deep Tech innovation. We work to commercialise scientific discoveries, platform level innovations that fundamentally improve the way the world works.

Xavier Parkhouse-Parker is a serial entrepreneur and founder who started his first company at 15 and jumped full-time while pursuing an undergraduate degree. Xavier has led several startups with technologies such as AI, media, marketing and HR tech. Xavier holds a masters from the University of Cambridge. He has been featured in The Guardian, USA Today, Tech Nation and other publications and was one of CVC Capital Partners Young Innovators for 2017 and NACUE’s National Entrepreneur of the year for 2016.


Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?

Ihave always been interested in starting companies. I got my first exposure at 15 through the Young Enterprise programme at school in the UK. I very soon afterwards began selling products online through e-commerce platforms like Amazon. Since then, I’ve always been engaged and interested in founding exciting businesses. When I was an undergraduate, I helped to launch a number of companies such as PLATO Intelligence, an AI for HR and recruitment.

When I was an undergraduate, I was also President of Southampton’s entrepreneurship society, Fish on Toast. I loved running this society, primarily because I had the opportunity to work with so many exciting founders and helping them to build fantastic startups. My love of tech startups and assisting incredible founders are why Cambridge Future Tech is such an exciting and interesting venture for me. At Cambridge Future Tech, we have the opportunity both to work with some of the most innovative nascent technology in the world, produced by inventors at the bleeding edge of their respective fields.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

It was probably one when I was most out of my depth from when I was just starting at around the age of 22. I was a panellist at a JP Morgan and University of Southampton leadership debate, alongside very senior banking executives and founders of highly successful businesses. In front of an audience of 300 people at a similar level to the panel, I was asked the opening question. I do not recall precisely what it was about; however, I had no idea about the topic and had not seen or read a single news story about the subject. I was left to bluster an answer which was mostly unrelated before I could pass the question to another panellist.

Thankfully all for all of the rest of the discussion, I was able to participate fully. This event made a lasting impression on me about how meaningful experiences are and how different my bubble is to other peoples.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

I have two!

‘Every Experience Is Of Value’ — Oscar Wilde. Apart from the previous story, the understanding that everything we do adds value to the mosaic picture of our lives is essential to grasp and understand. Every success, every failure and everything in between matters and this experience becomes a tool we can use. Learning, education and reading are important, yet when I look at my growth, it isn’t primarily from books but from the sum of experience.

‘Opportunities Multiply As They Are Siezed’ — an apocryphal quote attributed to Sun Tzu has been core to my believes and actions. Every time we ‘say yes’ to an opportunity, take an initiative or complete any activity, more opportunities spring up. This is great and pushes me to take as many opportunities as possible, casting a wide net to bring back new, better and exciting opportunities. This quote is also a warning since, very quickly, we can become overwhelmed.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

There are numerous, too many to speak about in this interview from mentors, to family, friends and co-founders. However, very early in my career, when I was still an undergraduate, the then director of enterprise for the business school, Paul, helped me develop considerably (mainly by throwing me into the deep end). Paul kept meeting me at various events around the ecosystem. He invited me into very high-level events, which significantly developed my network and challenged me right from the beginning of my career. I developed a fantastic platform and foundation to create new and exciting ventures from a broad and high-level network.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

Right now I’m passionate about climate change innovation. I’m an advisor of a number of cleantech startups in stealth mode and am a founding member of the University of Cambridge’s ESG society. I am also a co-founder of the first ESG focused licencing agency, DoubleGood, as I believe that our global economy needs to keep ESG issues at the core of everything we do.

Ok wonderful. Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview. Can you tell us about the cutting edge communication tech that you are working on? How do you think that will help people?

Cambridge Future Tech is a deeptech venture builder based in Cambridge, UK; we work with top innovators in several scientific fields. We both work ventures within our portfolio and innovators, still developing technology in the labs.

One of the trends we see at CFT is a significant number of telecommunication technology innovation coming from edge computing and the cloud. Over 20 billion IoT devices are currently connected to the internet, all collecting data from apple watches to automotive vehicles and almost every manufacturing process. A self-driving car, for example, would generate 40 terabytes of data for every eight hours of driving time. This data needs to be processed, and it’s too slow to send this data back to a cloud data centre to do the processing, and without processing, this data is just noise. This is an extreme example, but all of those 20 billion devices produce data, and this data needs processing.

Traditionally this would have been done in remote data centres, but increasingly we see that this data will be produced at the edge. This is the next big wave in communication since we will see device to device communication without ever coming to a ‘central unit’ and producing smart information. When combined with automatic processing, we will see more ‘computing’ undertaken at the ‘edge’ than at the ‘centre’. This seamless communication is already taking out the human element from communication.

This is primarily happening in a business to business (or within large government organisations), and decisions are frequently being taken without human intervention — Seemless communication without the possibility of human error.

How this trend jumps into the human world is unknown; however, imagine arranging plans with friends without having a conversation and everyone’s preferences taken into account, so an optimal restaurant choice is chosen (no more arguing about where to eat). Imagine brain sensors being able to predict how successful you will be at a test or exam and then automatically informing your teacher so you can improve in specific weak areas? Imagine technology telling a doctor that you’re beginning to get ill or getting stressed or struggling with mental health challenges without you having to articulate a single sentence.

All of this without human interaction, seamless, smart communication.

How do you think this might change the world?

One of the best things about a lot of innovation being currently developed and released is that it means we can spend more time doing what is uniquely human. Firstly this innovation will begin to save incredible amounts of our time, and this is happening now.

The future of edge computing technology is even more exciting as we begin to solve some of the most fundamental human challenges. Ever since Plato and Aristotle (and perhaps for all human pre-history), we have struggled to communicate accurately. As said by the Austrian-British philosopher Wittgenstien ‘The limits of my language mean the limits of my world’; however, the future of this world of technology will allow us to communicate beyond the limits of our language. Using sensors and biometric devices connected to our body and processing that data at the source, linking in to other people’s devices, means that certain things can be communicated like never before in human history. Particularly game-changing in medicine, but this innovation will fundamentally change and improve how we live our lives.

One area I’m particularly interested in is how the future of this technology will affect the climate. Currently, a lot of the way we use energy and resources is based on outdated technology, frequently not even digital but still analogue (although this is changing rapidly). Once new, edge computing-based IoT devices, we will be able to predictively manage energy usage and even production perfectly, increasing efficiency and reducing the negative impact significantly. As well as more accurate weather prediction which allows companies to manage their resources more effectively, reducing the effects of extreme conditions such as the recent crisis in Texas and other southern US states.

Keeping “Black Mirror” in mind can you see any potential drawbacks about this technology that people should think more deeply about?

Cybersecurity. We hear about cybersecurity all the time, and we all know how important this aspect fo technology is becoming. However, with the rise of edge-enabled IoT devices, devices’ security will become exponentially more significant.

Imagine that a nefarious actor could manipulate a powerplant’s sensors remotely and made it so that the sensor’s algorithms were generating incorrect information. Imagine this was the case at every powerplant in a country, and then they were producing at 10% capacity — the country would grind to a halt. This is an extreme example but also a very realistic possibility. The challenge comes as we rely more and more on remote and edge sensors; the greater the damage can be done through interference. Organisations could impact a nation’s security or manipulate the global economy.

On a more micro and individual scale (closer to black mirror), all the data generated by a human could be used to manipulate human action, and perhaps the least damaging use would be for marketing. Look at how we are all influenced by social media, with the comparatively limited data they have for each of us. Imagine if Facebook were able to utilise our brainwaves, our heartbeat or the chemical balance of our body? Imagine a government had access to this data and could use it to control a society. It sounds like a science fiction dystopian nightmare, but it’s entirely possible.

The need for privacy will become more and more critical. We will greatly benefit from this technology; however, the ethical, security and privacy implications need to be considered and protected against.

What do you need to lead this technology to widespread adoption?

This technology trend is happening now; however, there are key challenges that need to be overcome before this is widespread.

One of the significant challenges is the bandwidth necessary to transport information from remote devices. This is currently being overcome with the spread of 5g, which exponentially improves the amount of data that can be transported.

When we are looking at remote devices or devices which are hard to access (such as within the body), there is always an issue of power. Batteries always have a limited life span, and even chargeable batteries become less able to maintain power over time (think how your often your phone needs recharging when it is only a year old). If a sensor is in your body, then we need it to last for a long time to minimise discomfort or replacement. There are incredible advances in technologies such as photovoltaics or technology using harvesting kinetic energy, which will begin to overcome the power challenge. However, longevity is still frequently a challenge which means prohibitive replacements restricting widespread adoption.

The pandemic has changed so many things about the way we behave. One of them, of course, is how we work and how we communicate in our work. How do you think your innovation might be able to address the new needs that have arisen as a result of the pandemic?

This technology will be extremely important as we move to remote working. One of the biggest challenges we’ve all experienced is communication. We are all spending our days on back to back zoom meetings. Conveying information that sometimes might require human to human interaction; however, a considerable amount is just processed data. Imagine the freedom from reduced meetings due to seamless non-human communication.

Fantastic. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why? (Please share a story or example for each.)

1 . Time. It always takes time and it’s easy to underestimate how much time things take. As a new venture, it’s a challenge to predict how long things take, sometimes things move faster than expected, but usually, things take longer. Even with this fact and lesson in mind, it is still easy to underestimate time considerations since a new venture has different levers around which the velocity is based and makes prediction a challenge.

There are, of course, rules of thumb to take when predicting time, such as doubling everything, yet these are equally inaccurate. The best way is to be comfortable in the uncertainty of time and not to tie the company’s success to arbitrary time-based targets but instead to milestones. This lesson is especially important when waiting for external parties, who are unpredictable and mostly uncontrollable.

2. Have the difficult conversation early. I’ve been involved in several startups, and when founding a company, there is always a difficult conversation about equity. This is one of the most critical conversation’s you’ll have as a team, which is necessarily awkward. At Cambridge Future Tech, we had this conversation almost on day one, we knew it would be awkward, but everyone felt better after; no one felt resentment, and we have been able to work effectively ever since.

I have been in startups where we did not have this discussion until 18 months after starting. Needless to say, this did not end well. Have the conversation as soon as possible, whether it’s about equity, who is CEO or anything else, do not let it linger.

3. Know what you do not know. In my first venture, we needed to build a complicated machine learning algorithm, and we hired a fantastic data scientist with glowing recommendations. However, after six months of work (and a lot of money), we had as much built as we did on day one. The person we hired had never led a project of this type and was out of their depth; as CEO, I was out of my depth and did not understand the problem. I should have asked advisors and mentors to help, to understand the project and to have done this from day one. Every experience is of value.

4. Pick-up the phone. Slack is great, Whatsapp is easy and email accessible, they take very little time, and you can easily share ideas and express your thoughts. However, it’s very challenging to convey tonality. How many arguments have been caused by the lack of contextual tonality? Probably millions. If ever you think there is going to be a misunderstanding or an argument, pick up the phone and call them. Better the extra time was taken for a phone call than to waste time arguing. Startups are intense and high pressure; it’s easy to accidentally seem angry or arrogant, or dismissive through text. Just pick up the phone.

5. Talk to customers on day one. Do not build something that nobody cares about. The first idea I ever worked on (before it was even a company) was an idea-sharing software. My co-founders and I spent six months (and a fair amount of cash) developing software that no-body cared about, nobody would ever buy it, and nobody would even use it for free. Why? We didn’t speak to any potential customer. I always advise founders to build relationships with customers as early as possible, both to gain necessary feedback but also to have customer sales meetings prepped and ready as soon as the product is prepared.

You are a person of significant influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

An insistence from everyone to only invest in impact and ESG. Environmental, social and governance are important to make the world a better place. The most significant change will happen once investment capital starts to insist on investing in to companies that are doing good, making the world a better places. Both an investment into clean and green technology, as well as companies, are enabling social mobility and the elimination of companies who are damaging the world and the environment. The time is now.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

The best way is via our website (www.CamFutureTech.com) or directly via LinkedIn (https://www.linkedin.com/in/xavierparkhouseparker/) always happy to speak with founders, innovators and entrepreneurs.

Thank you so much for the time you spent doing this interview. This was very inspirational, and we wish you continued success.


About The Interviewer: David Liu is the founder and CEO of Deltapath, an award-winning unified communications company that liberates organizations from the barriers of effective communication. Liu is known for his visionary leadership, organic growth strategies, and future-forward technology. Liu is highly committed to achieving a greater purpose with technology. Liu’s business insights are regularly featured in Forbes, Entrepreneur Magazine, Tech Crunch, and more.

The Future of Communication Technology: Tony Park and Daniel Cho of Stipop On How Their Technological Innovation Will Shake Up How We Connect and Communicate With Each Other

Daniel: Technologies made our communication much more convenient and changed our lives. We are talking online more and more, but even though it became an essential part of our daily routine, it is still far from being perfect in expressing emotions and feelings. What we are currently experiencing in the world is what we call communication 2.0. We are provided with tools like GIFs and emojis, which are great for having fun in conversations, but they become less effective when transferring emotions that’s more on the personal level. It’s because GIFs are a product of entertainment — TV shows and movies. But as a communication tool, they don’t cover all the depth and variety of emotions we share while talking online. Stickers, however, are specifically designed to carry an emotional variety, enabling users to share their real feelings online.

Tony: We are trying to help communication services provide better expression tools to their users, so they can communicate more effectively and be well heard and understood. The cutting edge part of this is distributing the correct stickers to the right users at the right time, so the experience becomes seamless.


The telephone totally revolutionized the way we could communicate with people all over the world. But then came email and took it to the next level. And then came text messaging. And then came video calls. And so on…What’s next? What’s just around the corner?

In this interview series, called ‘The Future Of Communication Technology’ we are interviewing leaders of tech or telecom companies who are helping to develop emerging communication technologies and the next generation of how we communicate and connect with each other.

As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Tony Park and Daniel Cho, founders of Stipop. Stipop helps apps provide stickers for messages, chats, video calls, and live streams. All the stickers are created by global artists and are thoroughly curated by Stipop, ensuring high-quality content in 25 languages. Tony and Daniel founded the company at the age of 25 and successfully ran it ever since with offices in Santa Monica and Seoul.


Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?

Tony Park: We met in high school, and by lucky coincidence, we became roommates and then friends. We spent lots of time together and naturally talked about the future and how it would be great to start our own company. This passion led us to brainstorm ideas of what we could do, and this is how we came up with the idea of the sticker platform we are working on now.

That was six years ago. Back then, there were hardly any stickers in global messaging platforms — Facebook Messenger, for example, had less than ten sticker packs, which meant over a billion users had to share the same stickers all over again when expressing emotions online. This, and also the fact that different people like different things, made us gather sticker creators in one place. And this place is Stipop.

Daniel Cho: We witnessed online communication changing and becoming more indispensable for the past years, so we expanded our services and now provide stickers to apps worldwide. Users who use these apps have the freedom to choose stickers they like.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

Tony: It happened last year when I flew over half of the globe from South Korea to Santa Monica, where Snap’s headquarters sat. We had been accepted to the Yellow Accelerator Batch 3, which only selected ten companies a year. It was an unforgettable experience, and I had a chance to meet many great people both inside and outside of Snap.

Daniel: For me, it was when we participated in TechCrunch SF.

This was when our ideas got supported not only by people we know but also by various people from various countries and industries. That was such a surreal experience, and it felt as if I am an Olympic sprinter waiting for the run to start.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

Tony: I always loved the quote from Charles Bukowski, ‘If you’re going to try, go all the way.’ I like how he speaks the truth in a very bold, frank manner. I believe there are times when all the odds are against you, which will make you doubt yourself, but you have to keep going. This quote was always an encouragement for me, especially when we started this business.

Daniel: I like the quote ‘It matters if you just don’t give up’ by Stephen Hawking. Many people give up too early, so they can’t see where the process leads them to. It’s important not to give up until you try everything.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

Tony: Yes, we consider ourselves very lucky — we met many great people on the way. I feel grateful to Mike Su and Alexandra Levitt, who I met in Snap’s Yellow Accelerator. We didn’t have much of a network in the US before, so it wasn’t easy to find where to start. They gave us valuable advice on many things and introduced us to people that we are friends with and who have been helping us learn about business since then.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

Daniel: Since we started business at a pretty early age, I am trying to be a good example for the younger generation, so they can see that doing something you are passionate about is worth trying even without having any work experience.

Tony: Being a platform for sticker creators, we have managed to give over 6,500 young creative artists all over the world a chance to share their content with the global audience, get experience even before graduation, get recognized, and grow their fanbase.

Ok wonderful. Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview. Can you tell us about the cutting edge communication tech that you are working on? How do you think that will help people?

Daniel: Technologies made our communication much more convenient and changed our lives. We are talking online more and more, but even though it became an essential part of our daily routine, it is still far from being perfect in expressing emotions and feelings. What we are currently experiencing in the world is what we call communication 2.0. We are provided with tools like GIFs and emojis, which are great for having fun in conversations, but they become less effective when transferring emotions that’s more on the personal level. It’s because GIFs are a product of entertainment — TV shows and movies. But as a communication tool, they don’t cover all the depth and variety of emotions we share while talking online. Stickers, however, are specifically designed to carry an emotional variety, enabling users to share their real feelings online.

Tony: We are trying to help communication services provide better expression tools to their users, so they can communicate more effectively and be well heard and understood. The cutting edge part of this is distributing the correct stickers to the right users at the right time, so the experience becomes seamless.

How do you think this might change the world?

Tony: On the individual level, we are improving the way we communicate. On a larger scale, we make the world a more peaceful place as most conflicts are caused by miscommunication..

Daniel: Additionally, we empower people to be themselves online — everyone can choose stickers they like, send them in messages, use them in video calls, live streams, as profile icons, you name it.

Keeping “Black Mirror” in mind can you see any potential drawbacks about this technology that people should think more deeply about?

Daniel: We don’t think there are any potential drawbacks. Our team carefully screens all the contents we provide to end-users, so we are sure that our technology is safe for all the parties involved.

Was there a “tipping point” that led you to this breakthrough? Can you tell us that story?

Daniel: Until 2019, we supplied stickers through the Stipop app only. During TechCrunch SF, many app owners asked us to provide stickers to their service through API, to our surprise. This is how we realized that there is more to it.

Tony: Also, building partnerships with companies like Google gave us a drive. Since last year we are powering stickers in Android Messages and Gboard, and after just three months, we got 1.5 billion sticker views. It was the biggest traffic we got, and thanks to this, we were able to build a stable in volume product and gather sticker usage data.

What do you need to lead this technology to widespread adoption?

Tony: Building partnerships with chat/video SDK companies will give us a leap to reach out to more users. There is a vast pool of clients who are already using a chat/video SDK to build and maintain their services. We can make it ten times easier for them to add the sticker feature to improve user engagement and generate revenue from paid sticker sales through partnership. We recently partnered with PubNub, 2019 AI Breakthrough Awards winning chat SDK provider, and we are looking forward to meeting many new clients and users through them.

Daniel: We also believe that making strong partnerships with artists that create stickers are essential. Stipop is a unique ecosystem that consists of artists, content, technologies, partners, clients, so cherishing all the elements is highly important to provide high-quality content and good services.

The pandemic has changed so many things about the way we behave. One of them of course, is how we work and how we communicate in our work. How do you think your innovation might be able to address the new needs that have arisen as a result of the pandemic?

Tony: Before the pandemic, online communication was optional. Now it is pretty much unavoidable. Personal and work-related conversations come in so many different forms — all of them require the right tools, so every message and emotion is well heard. That’s what we are doing — we help people have better communication online.

Daniel: We provide tools that help people feel closer to each other when there is no chance to meet. That is what stickers are for. We want to make an optimized environment for people to communicate online as much as offline by using stickers.

Fantastic. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why? (Please share a story or example for each.)

Daniel:

1. Stop thinking; just do it.

Not long after we started our business, we wanted to make our services perfect, so we spent a lot of time thinking. Looking back now, I realized that rather than overthinking, it is better to try and see where it goes. Making modifications on the way is often easier and brings good results faster

2. Make fear of the unknown work for you.

Before we got invested, the funds we had were close to zero. This gave me huge stress levels, and I had no other way but to channel this energy into work. This helped us solve the problems one by one, and we could see the growth.

3. It’s not over until it’s over.

Things are unpredictable. You can worry about something, and it will eventually get resolved, or you can be excited about something, and then it fails. We were very close to signing a good partnership with a big company that could lead to many incredible opportunities. However, the partnership got canceled for reasons beyond our control. Thinking about this now, it is better to celebrate the wins when they happen rather than doing it prematurely.

4. Keep learning.

Running a company means doing a lot of different things. It is about the competition on the market and how to survive it, leadership, and not failing people who work with you. The only thing that helps to keep up with everything is learning.

5. It can take longer than you think.

Things don’t always go as we plan, especially in business. There have always been more variables in developing a product than we thought. I have come to believe that this should always be kept in mind. Unexpected situations can happen anytime and anywhere, even if you think you know your business like the back of your hand.

Tony:

1. Start early.

We started business at 25, but I regret I hadn’t started it earlier. There is no other experience like running your business. It teaches you to look at problems from multiple angles simultaneously, face failures, and try things to figure out which ones will work and lead you to the next step.

2. Learn to code the basics unless you have a founding member who can code.

Not having done this in the beginning has slowed us down in some way.

3. Winning pitches and getting compliments mean nothing.

Unless this leads to meeting your future clients or gives you insights on your customers and product-market fit.

4. Make decisions fast, even if they are not perfect.

Making quick decisions rather than waiting for a perfect decision is much more efficient. There’s no ‘perfect decision’ or ‘perfect time.’

5. Keep studying even after the business is up and running.

When your business is growing and prospering, you need to grow too. There are so many things to learn about everything. You never know what skills you will need to have later on.

You are people of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Tony:Everyone is capable of creating something unique and valuable. This is what I learned over the past few years. As we closely work with sticker creators, we realized that there are so many artists who’ve had over a million sticker downloads in just a few months, even though they have never learned how to do character illustrations. But many people never try things unless they are provided with an opportunity. I think this is already some kind of movement. We want to continue making people believe that they can create whatever they want by simply starting.

Daniel: We want to inspire people to share ideas and creativity with the world by making unique content that can change the world one sticker at a time.We also want to encourage apps to help their users with it as the software is the best way to bring people together.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

Daniel: Keep your eye on the Stipop homepage and follow us on Linkedin.

Thank you so much for the time you spent doing this interview. This was very inspirational, and we wish you continued success.


About The Interviewer: David Liu is the founder and CEO of Deltapath, an award-winning unified communications company that liberates organizations from the barriers of effective communication. Liu is known for his visionary leadership, organic growth strategies, and future-forward technology. Liu is highly committed to achieving a greater purpose with technology. Liu’s business insights are regularly featured in Forbes, Entrepreneur Magazine, Tech Crunch, and more.

The Future of Communication Technology: Jeff Gorwitz of ‘InCamera Content’ On How Their Technological Innovation Will Shake Up How We Connect and Communicate With Each Other

Over Communicate.

Find the right project management software for your team.

Know your teams’ boundaries.

Be Inclusive.

Be Transparent.


The telephone totally revolutionized the way we could communicate with people all over the world. But then came email and took it to the next level. And then came text messaging. And then came video calls. And so on…What’s next? What’s just around the corner?

In this interview series, called ‘The Future Of Communication Technology’ we are interviewing leaders of tech or telecom companies who are helping to develop emerging communication technologies and the next generation of how we communicate and connect with each other.

As part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Jeff Gorwitz who has an extensive and unique business background. Mr. Gorwitz first started his career as a media salesperson selling both radio and tv airtime. In 2008, Jeff decided to go out on his own as an advertising agency and was fortunate enough to bring along clients he worked with in both radio and tv sales.

Having both the sales expertise and sales perspective along with an agency owner perspective gives Jeff unique insight in how to sell and how to determine which product, service, or other opportunity is worth the investment.


Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?

Ihave the unique background experience of having been a very successful salesperson and then an agency owner who was fortunate enough to work with client’s who had understood the “game”. I am a fan of Gary Vee and he always says to not waste time with those that don’t get it or refuse to learn.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

The most interesting thing that has happened to me since I began my career was being able to be front and center during the digital revolution. I was one of the first companies to bring their clients to Pandora. I pride myself on being extremely tech savvy which has allowed for me and my agency to be “beta” testers for a lot of nascent digital advertising opportunities.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

It’s not what happens to you, but how you respond to what happens that makes the difference.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I’d have to say I am most grateful to my clients that had the courage to join me as I was moving from a very secure job to starting my agency and handling their businesses.

Ok wonderful. Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview. The pandemic has changed so many things about the way we behave. One of them of course, is how we work and how we communicate in our work. Many teams have started working remotely. Working remotely can be very different than working with a team that is in front of you. This provides great opportunity but it can also create unique challenges. To begin, can you articulate for our readers a few of the main benefits of having a team physically together?

The main benefit is having that person right next to you or down the hall. If you need to explain or show how you want something accomplished, it’s a lot easier to do that in person than over a conference call or a Zoom meeting. There is something about having a team working together under the same roof that helps build teamwork, creativity, and camaraderie. We are all in this together.

It also helps as a “boss” that you know they are working. I am not saying they are not working remotely or that maybe they are even more effective when working remotely, but if everyone is under the same roof, you simply know that the work is being done.

On the flip side, can you articulate for our readers a few of the main challenges that arise when a team is not in the same space?

The complete opposite of my previous answer. The work gets done, but it may not get done as quickly as it would have if we were all under the same roof.

Fantastic. Here is the main question of our interview. Based on your experience, what can one do to address or redress each of those challenges? What are your “5 Things You Need To Know To Communicate With Your Team Effectively Even If You Are Rarely In The Same Physical Space ? (Please share a story or example for each.)

Goal Setting and Communication are the keys to any challenge since COVID began.

  1. Over Communicate.
  2. Find the right project management software for your team.
  3. Know your teams’ boundaries.
  4. Be Inclusive
  5. Be Transparent.

Has your company experienced communication challenges with your workforce working from home during the pandemic? For example, does your company allow employees to use their own cell phones or do they use the company’s phone lines for work? Can you share any other issues that came up?

No major issues. I wanted to be as accommodating as I could. If a problem arose, we dealt with it on an individual basis.

Let’s zoom in a bit. Many tools have been developed to help teams coordinate and communicate with each other. In your personal experiences which tools have been most effective in helping to replicate the benefits of being together in the same space?

Slack, ClickUp, Zoom, Frame.io, Gain

If you could design the perfect communication feature or system to help your business, what would it be?

In my world of advertising or marketing, the biggest feature I would like to see is a way to have my clients be able to see all the behind the scenes work we do on their behalf in real time.

My particular expertise and interest is in Unified Communications. Has the pandemic changed the need or appeal for unified communications technology requirements? Can you explain?

I don’t think it’s changed the need or appeal necessarily. I do think it has shined a brighter light on the need to communicate efficiently and effectively.

The technology is rapidly evolving and new tools like VR, AR, and Mixed Reality are being developed to help bring remote teams together in a shared virtual space. Is there any technology coming down the pipeline that excites you?

If there are more tools to bring the two worlds together, I am all for it. However, I don’t think anything can replace in-person, face-to-face meetings and collaboration.

Is there a part of this future vision that concerns you? Can you explain?

Yes. I don’t want technology to replace human interaction. There is so much to learn from meeting in person that I think everyone will suffer if we begin to live in a virtual world.

So far we have discussed communication within a team. How has the pandemic changed the way you interact and engage your customers? How much of your interactions have moved to digital such as chatbots, messaging apps, phone, or video calls?

I try to stay away from the chats, messaging apps, phone calls, etc. as I have eluded to above. I feel very strongly about meeting in-person. However, all of those are great tools to compliment an in-person meeting, but not replace.

In my experience, one of the trickiest parts of working with a remote team is giving honest feedback, in a way that doesn’t come across as too harsh. If someone is in front of you much of the nuance can be picked up in facial expressions and body language. But not when someone is remote. Can you give a few suggestions about how to best give constructive criticism to a remote team member?

That can be a big problem What comes across in a text or e-mail can be very different than in person. I handle giving constructive criticism the same way. I really don’t criticize, I just try and have the person look at it from a different perspective and take an ownership of the project rather than just being a means to an end.

Can you give any specific ideas about how to create a sense of camaraderie and team cohesion when you are not physically together?

In the beginning, the Zoom happy hour was fun and different, but as we’ve all experienced Zoom burnout, I think the best way is simply to keep everyone informed.

Ok wonderful. We are nearly done. Here is our last “meaty” question. You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

As corny and cliché as it sounds, I would like to influence people to follow what they love. If you love what you do, you won’t work anymore. And if you love what you do, you will become an expert in that area and you will find your road to both personal and financial freedom are closer than you think.

Aside from that, I would like to take a big vacuum and clean the oceans and beaches from all the plastic and garbage.

How can our readers further follow your work online?

www.incameracontent.com (new site coming soon)

Thank you so much for the time you spent doing this interview. This was very inspirational, and we wish you continued success.