Our next guest has led teams in over 25 countries, logged over 2 million flight miles, and drank more than 7,500 cups of coffee…
And if you’ve ever made a mobile deposit, you’re probably using his company’s technology.
Please welcome Michael Diamond.
Podcast Episode Transcripts:
Disclaimer: Transcripts were generated automatically and may contain inaccuracies and errors.
Michael diamond joins us today. He’s the general manager of payments at MiTek systems in San Diego. And if you’ve ever deposited a check by taking a picture of it with your mobile phone, then you’re probably using his company’s technology. Michael, thanks for jumping on today. Thanks a lot. I’m happy to be here.
You know, I, um, I am actually a daily user of this technology and I can’t tell you how much time it saves me. Um, and, and so much so that now my old personal banker say, Hey, where are you been? Because I never go see a marriage. Right. That’s right. Well, that’s, uh, that’s the way banking is going to go anyway.
Um, the less, a personal connection, more digital. So I’m glad to hear it. We work very hard to make sure it works well for you. Yeah. Yeah, no, I appreciate that. So, um, I assume a lot of our audience is gonna understand what we’re talking about, but why don’t you give us the, the crash course for those that may not be familiar with mobile deposits and your technology?
Sure. Uh, quite simply, uh, anybody who has a mobile banking app on their phone, almost certainly in that app, there’s a capability to deposit a check. Uh, when you receive a check from somebody, whether handwritten or machine printed, you can take a picture of the front of it. Take a picture of the back and submit that to your bank without getting in your car without leaving the, uh, train that you’re on from anywhere.
Um, we also have technology. That’s a number of banks have deployed with us with an auto capture where you just hover the phone over the check. And, uh, we, you know, kind of find the four edges of the check and grab it for you as opposed to you taking a picture. Um, so, uh, that’s used by, well, over 6,000 banks in the United States, uh, 80 million consumers use our technology.
Uh, and, uh, the company not only does that, but also does some really interesting things for identity verification, taking a picture of a identity document, the passport, and then a selfie. And then, you know, just because in a lot of, a lot of what we’re doing today in the world, are you who you say you are, you know, establishing trust.
So we’re a specialist at image capture data extraction, and all of the math that goes into making that work really smoothly on everybody’s mobile device. Interesting. So this goes, this goes way beyond banking then. Um, right. So there, there’s a couple of things that come to mind. The questions that I want to ask in the bullet points that you just wanted.
Uh, I assume that, yeah, you know, what, what is the application to watermarks on checks? Get factor into the algorithm at all anymore. Are those kind of becoming moot with the necessity of being a security feature? Well, uh, there’s a number of, um, yes, and so forth that we do, but also there’s other technologies that do tests on checks.
And ultimately it’s up to each individual financial institution to determine how they, what kind of rules, business rules they want to apply to the acceptance of checks. Uh, one thing that you may have bumped into, uh, with your bank and people have bumped into is the issue of limits. You know, bank might say you can only deposit so much.
Right, right. Your next question. Right. And, um, And that’s a, that’s purely a function of your bank and their decision about what they’re willing to allow you to deposit through that channel. Doesn’t have anything to do with our technology. Interesting. Um, now why don’t we go back a little bit in this technology and, and so my background, uh, geez, let’s see.
Probably. 15 years ago, I worked for, um, science bank corporation. So they’re a big bank that owns, you know, Zions and Utah, Nevada state bank, and trust a vector bank, Colorado, California, you know, all these places. So, um, Uh, with my, my experience there, I w I’m gonna take a shot in the dark and guests that this technology could not have existed until after nine 11 happened.
And George Bush signed the, um, you know, I don’t remember the proper thing that, you know, digital, whatever. So now that you didn’t need wet signatures on everything. Yeah. So it is somewhat related to nine 11 in the sense that, um, the checks, uh, always used to be physically moved between banks. There were tons of pumps and checks moving.
There was already a move towards digitization of this and what was, uh, and of course, a nine 11 with the air fleet being grounded, the checks all were grounded as well. And that was kind of the final impetus into what’s known as check 21. Which was a federal standard that the negotiable instrument of the check is now it can be the image of a check.
So even when you bring your check to an ATM or to your branch, and you’re handed over to your bank, the bank is taking. Amateur of that check. We’d been go shareable instrumentable between their bank and another bank. If it’s, what’s known as an office check, may not one of theirs, that, that is a, that’s done with the image exchange.
It’s not done with the pig. Yeah. Interesting. So what’s your background to, to allow you to get into this industry? Well, I’ve been in the, um, I would say, uh, interactive technologies for financial services for the bulk of my career. Um, I’m a business person and my functional background is sales and business development and a little bit of corporate development.
Um, So I’m not an engineer by background. I’m not technical. And in terms of my formal education, I’ve been in the software tech business for really just about my entire career. Um, so I was involved in, uh, the early days of online banking, you know, when that was the beginning of really the internet banking, um, and people being able to.
It’s the balance of their accounts from their banks and pay bills and all these sorts of things using online banking and that morphed into, um, and before that I was involved with some interactive voice response with the telephone. And then after that, I got involved in more mobile banking and mobile payments P to P payments.
If you think about Venmo or something like that, I was involved with a company very, very similarly, analogous to Venmo. Uh, and I did that for, and then that company was active in the United States and India and Africa. Uh, and then, uh, uh, and then I left that company. Yeah, join this company. My tech headquartered in San Diego where I am not, by the way it worked out in my home, in the Midwest.
Uh, but, uh, the company is headquartered in San Diego and I’ve been with that company for seven years. That’s a terrific company. And so, uh, I’ve been involved in enabling people. To get information from their bank using a lot of digital technologies. Okay. Earlier you had mentioned different ways that image image, capturing technology is moving and, and the, where the technology can be implemented.
Is there an area of opportunity in the future that excites you the most about implementing this type of technology? Yeah, I think that this, uh, area of identity are you, who you say are, is keenly important. All of us have tried to, um, open an account somewhere. If you imagine trying to open an account with a bank right now on your mobile phone, we, it would be painful.
Uh, maybe it would be painful, but if you could, but over time, you’re financial institution, a payments company, a money transmitter, uh, a sharing economy type company. They want to know who you are and they want to have a high degree of assurance for that. And they want to say yes to you as quickly as possible if you’re a good customer.
But what happens is there’s a kind of a green path. If everything looks good, they send you right through. There’s a red path that things look really bad. For some reason, they’ll hard reject you, but in the middle is a thing called the yellow path. And the yellow path is often where good customers go to die.
You know, they’re good customers, but be a. But the institution, or I want some additional information. So they might say something to you. Like you come into the branch and bring your driver’s license. And the percentage of people that ever follow up on those sorts of things is very, very low. Um, so the, uh, the, you know, we have, there’s a lot of biometric authentication, these sorts of things, but these, but you have to first find that identity to that thumbprint or that Iris or whatever it happens to be.
And so increasingly if you can enable people to take a picture of their government issued ID, Take a selfie, do a face compare. Um, a lot of times in an identity it’s, you know, you know, is it something then you are, um, something you have and something, you know, uh, if you have a government issued ID and, uh, and you pass some basic tests, that’s going to replace a lot of these knowledge based authentication questions you’re probably familiar with, which is, did you have a, uh, 1995 Chavez and, uh, you know, that was blue or did, what address did you live in?
And these sorts of things. Oh, the joke in the industry is that the people who really know the answers to those questions are the fraudsters. Uh, but we know the fraudsters answer a hundred percent correct. And the average, you know, regular people are always getting them wrong. No, I’ve, I’ve been a victim of that myself.
There’s been times times were the question. I was 100% certain that none of the options were accurate and, and I, and I couldn’t get anywhere, you know? Um, so, you know, one of the first thing that comes to mind as you talk about, uh, identities and pictures and selfies obviously is privacy and security. Um, so does, is there any, I mean, that’s got to open this whole other discussion.
I’m sure. Um, what is done in this industry because all of the assets you touch are way more sensitive than other industries. That’s right. Yeah. No, the, the financial industry is, uh, takes privacy and data quite a bit more seriously than some other industries. I think that we can all think of. Um, and so, uh, they’re very, very careful, particularly after 2008, the government and regulators really.
Made the banks have to be answerable for the actions. And the quality of their, uh, their providers. Um, so it’s not good enough if you’re a bank to have, uh, somebody, um, uh, one of your providers, uh, create a situation that would allow a breach and then say, well, it wasn’t us. It was, you know, this supplier of ours that that’s not, it doesn’t pass muster with the regulators and the banks know this.
And so, uh, they, they are, uh, they look very, very carefully at all this. Um, and, uh, it’s, uh, you know, it’s a, it’s an ongoing, uh, it’s a journey, you know, there’s, there’s no perfect destination. Uh, but I think that. You know, as we you’ll see these like knowledge based authentication type concepts going away, you’ll see more and more people, really anybody who’s like taking a check and routinely driving into a branch and handing over to somebody who’s just really wasting a tremendous one time.
You don’t need to, you don’t need to do right. You just need to take a picture of the thing and move on with your day. Um, and so when people start using that, then they like you, uh, you’re a power user, you know, he wants you to do that. You. Rarely go back. You know, you know, there’s no reason, really the reason you go into your bank and this is a good thing for the bank.
By the way, is the reason you go to your bank now is for more substantive questions are relating to your personal financial situation, loans, things like that. And so as the bankers want to spend more time with that, the other irony is that’s kind of interesting is that. People who use the digital apps the most in effect, they’re spending less time touching people in the branch because of that.
They’re actually happier, more loyal customers and the people who don’t. Um, and so it’s a, there’s a net promoter score for active digital users as high as, uh, and so, you know, your, your people who use the mobile device are usually happier. Uh, and then the, uh, investment for the bank and the bank is focused on other things as well.
You know, another thing that comes to mind is kind of comparing this technology to medical records. So you go to your doctor and then you, you know, years later you relocate. And so you go to a different doctor and then there’s almost no consistency being able to share that, that data between the providers.
Is that something that is starting to happen or will happen as I’m assuming there’s some sort of. Scope of competitors out there that are fighting for the same business or, or do you guys have, you know, the good market share? And so that problem doesn’t mean, well, I think it’s less a question for about our company and what we’re specifically doing a more question about the industry and a difference between the U S financial industry and other countries.
So in the UK, they pass something called PSD two, which is forces. In effect those large banks in the UK to open up certain data about customers to third party, certain third party. So for instance, if you were to sign up with a, um, a payments company that enables you to pay your bills, that payments company, uh, the, your bank has to enable your, that payments company to have access to your information so they can move the money back and forth.
Now that kind of a. Uh, uh, uh, that bad inspect turns more control over to the consumer. Cause of course you can say yes or no to whether or not they have access to it, but you, by saying, yes, I want this provider to have access to it. The bank has to share it. There’s no real analog of that in the United States.
But what you’re starting to see is, uh, a girl with a, something the, the categories. Is generally known as FinTech, where you have specific companies that are focused on, uh, a discreet financial problem, auto loans, home loans, you think of rocket mortgage, you think of a lending club, things like this, and they’re focused on specific areas.
Yeah. So increasingly the financial services that you consume, uh, will be offered through a set of API APIs between, you know, different providers, um, so that the information can flow ultimately to your following. Many people will, I have this many people have and some sort of an aggregation program. You might think of mint as an example on their phones.
And they might say, okay, if it pulls the information from different accounts, Oh, that’s an example of what I’m talking about. Gotcha. So, uh, changing topics a little bit, you know, one thing I found interesting as we spoke offline was, um, I really liked this little comment you made about your military experience.
And so between your career and your military experience, you said I’ve either carried, I’ve carried either a computer, a backpack, or a weapon through over 25 countries. And of the three. I prefer the computer. I. I think that’s, um, that’s a really interesting statement just because of how dynamic it is. And just such a, just a little one or two sentence line, uh, you know, with those diverse backgrounds, how does, how does that all come together and overlapping in your current scope of work?
Well, I was in the, um, I was in the U S army reserve for about, uh, eight years. Seven eight years, seven, eight years coming out of college, but I’ve been in LTC for four years. I went through school on an ROTC scholarship. So I was in the military for about a decade in one shape or form. Um, but that, so that you know of itself is not particularly long, but I was in desert storm.
I was pretty active and I was in court city, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Northern Iraq. So I was, my, my desert storm experience was a pretty busy one. My. My branch in the military was military intelligence. And, um, and so while it was only a decade, it was super formative decade. If you think about whatever you were doing between the ages of 18 and 28 is a pretty important part of your life.
Um, and so it, uh, makes, uh, so it’s a key part of who I am and that having been said, um, I think, or some things from the military that were really helpful to me in my civilian tech. Career, uh, because most people, these days don’t have experience of being in the military, my dad’s generation and the other is still a draft and sorta everybody, men, any way back then kind of put in their two years or whatever they had to do.
But now there’s, there’s a lot less of that. And as a result, people who haven’t been in the military have a, just kind of look a lot of things. They have kind of a, the wrong idea in certain cases, as it relates to what what’s involved. And one of them. Is that, of course the military is hierarchical and of course there are orders given and so forth, but civilians have a tendency to, uh, Do not understand the degree to which there’s a lot of freedom of maneuver.
And there’s a lot of expectation for people to make correct decisions at a very stressful point in time. Um, the concept of it, people sitting around waiting for an order is not how, you know, the 21st century, uh, and late 20th century military operates. It’s a move shoot, communicate sort of operation and people are expected to make.
Good decisions quickly. And so, um, so as a result, you train a lot in how to handle ambiguous situations, uh, and being in a tech space and getting into the tech space in the 1990s and throughout the intervening, you know, 25 plus years, I’ve been involved with the tech space. All I do is deal with ambiguous situations.
You know, every there is no, uh, there is no field manual to tell you how to handle this particular customer problem or that particular issue with a channel distribution partner or whatever it happens to be. Everything sort of has to requires you to take the information available to you, which is never perfect and make the right decision.
And then also get buy in from your team. Um, and so again, in the military, you can, you know, in theory you can, I could say to soldiers who were in my platoon or my company or whatever, and say, go do this and that. And they would, but if I don’t have buy in from them, if we don’t talk about the why, if we don’t talk about the, um, the, it gives and takes and understand maybe some observations that they have about how a plan can be improved, uh, then you’re unlikely to be as successful as you possibly can.
And that’s very analogous to what a lot of us experience in the civilian world. Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. Um, uh, kind of on the, on the softer side of, of the military experience, are there any travel and cultural highlights that stand out from that timeframe? Um, well, yeah, there were cultural. I did a blog post once on, um, Uh, it was just interesting.
Cause I watched all this happening right in front of me, but we were involved with a, um, uh, for those of you who remember what was all going on right after desert storm, the Kurdish people kind of Rose up against Saddam and the bath party and so forth and, and, uh, And that did not go well. And there’s a whole long story as to what, what happened there.
But we got involved with a set of refugee camps that we, we built and created in conjunction with the UN HCR and the state department so forth in Northern Iraq. Um, and. Uh, we brought in, yeah. You know, the UN brought in these huge, they were like bail. They look like I asked him gigantic will be questions, but actually what they were was like water limits.
They would for drinking water. And of course the drinking water would run off. The Kurdish people would, would dam up kind of runoff and create these little pools of water and wash their feet, which is a part of their culture. And they would wash their feet. Um, and to my, and so you watch this and, and a us army.
Engineers look at that. And what they see is not a cultural tradition. What they see is the potential for disease, because people are washing their feet by a water point. So the U S army comes in with a huge earth movers, gravel, and, and writes in a span of a couple of hours. It was really funny to watch.
They, they built a really sophisticated, fabulous, you know, water eagerness kind of a thing to let all that water like run away from it. And the meantime, so you’ve got the. The American saying, man, this is amazing work that you’ve just done. You’ve got the curse going. Like, why can’t we wash our feet here anymore.
Right. And, and so, um, so you, you find a lot of those situations when you travel. Uh, and, um, and uh, they never stopped happening. I was just traveling internationally, uh, about a week ago. Um, those it’s that never stops that always, that’s just part of it. Um, and so, uh, but my travel experience has been very helpful to me in some of my work.
No, you’re, you’re infinitely more well versed in the travel space than I am. I, I travel a lot, but you know, you’re obviously travel a lot more, but, but just to kind of extend on what you were just saying, it’s really interesting to me, how much we take for granted and the infrastructure in the U S just simple things like roads and plumbing.
No, I’ll, I’ll talk. Some of my team is overseas and, um, you know, at one point or another, we’re exchanging pictures of our yards and our house and, and they say, where’s your fence? And I’m like, I don’t need a fence right here. And then they show me theirs and they say, why do you got bars on your window?
And then they laugh back at me, like, why don’t you have buyers? Right, right, right, right, right. Yeah. That’s exactly right. I’ve asked some of my friends from India. Uh, if a, what they think when they come here and they said, you know, at first we were laughing at you, you know? Cause we thought it was ridiculous.
Like the amount of improvements you have run your roads and keeping you brought up roads. And they said, now we, we think that maybe there’s like, you know, some good thinking behind that, you know? Yeah. Yeah. You, you had mentioned you had done a blog post and you know, I had looked at your blog and you have a lot of extensive.
Uh, content on there. Is there any particular place that you draw inspiration from when you talk about your, your posts on leadership and innovation, or is it just for the most part from your direct experience? Yeah, I try and make things actionable. Try to make them interesting. Try and keep it reasonably short.
What I tell people is that I focus on leadership innovation and personal effectiveness is my kind of three broad topics, but it is my blog. So I get to write what I want, you know? And so sometimes I, I will divert off in a slightly different direction just because something. No occurs to me. I think the last post I did was just a coincidentally, we were talking about travel was just kind of some travel tips and advice and things like that from just a lot of years of doing that.
Um, but yeah. Uh, but I find that there’s so much, there’s so many interesting topics. There’s so many interesting ideas out there. I don’t know if I’m going to write on this soon. I think I will, but I ran across a quote a little while ago that I just loved a lot of times. I’ll help talk about the importance of when you’ve heard the phrase, fake it till you make it, you know, sorta like act a certain way and then sort of things will catch up.
Yeah. I heard a quote the other day that, uh, I don’t know who it’s attributed to and I’m going to have to find out if I write about it, but you said basically, um, It’s easier to act your way into a new way of thinking than it is to think your way into a new way of acting. And, um, and I thought that was interesting and I think that’s true.
And so, you know, those are the sorts of things where it just kind of sticks in my brain and it kind of sticks there until I think I was going to write about that and yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Now you’ve been published on, I believe it was NBC and some other great columns, you know, how did those opportunities come up?
A lot of our listeners that are content creators and, and they they’re eager for that exposure. How do those opportunities come up for you? Um, I live in, uh, in Northeast Wisconsin, so I ended up writing, uh, my local paper. Uh, was open to content from what they called community columnists. And so I ended up writing probably 80 columns over, you know, 10, 12 years for that newspaper.
Uh, and so one of the things is now that’s easier to do in Appleton and green Bay, Wisconsin than it is maybe, um, Oh, you know, Chicago or New York or something like that. Obviously you can’t do that as much there. Um, but. Uh, but I do think that, uh, that was one place to start. Uh, some of the NBC stuff is, um, is tied to some work I do with every town for gun safety.
Um, and, uh, uh, so. Yeah. Uh, I, I, one thing I, I try to do is make sure that I, uh, that you have a point of view, um, and it helps to, you know, success begets success. So now I’ve been published in NBC and some other places. And then as a result, the next thing that I go and send that I submit something, I just have that much more credibility because I’ve been published and, and, uh, and driven, uh, you know, around a hundred thousand page views on some of those articles.
So, um, I don’t know, let’s say, you know, and you know, honestly, you just got to do it, go do it someplace where only 12 people are going to read it or six and they leave. Then you have that to talk about and then build up. And that’s, that’s what I’ve been doing. Yeah. Also on your blog, I noticed that you you’re an avid reader and you have a lengthy list of, of book recommendations.
Um, and on there, I know you said that you don’t necessarily have a favorite, but can you tell us maybe about some books that have had a direct impact in I’ll let you to choose between business or personal life? You know, one book that stands out more than another. Um, sure. Uh, well on the business side for me, it’s, uh, I think I put it at the top of the list, which is the seven habits for highly effective people with Stephen Covey.
Um, I, uh, I think that book was remarkable. It was remarkable for me. So it was it’s and to people who haven’t read it, I urge you and encourage you to do so, but I’ll tell you that it’s not a book you read, it’s a book you do. Okay. And, you know, be ready to stop and pause and do some thinking and writing as you’re going through that.
Um, the thing that’s remarkable about that book is that. It’s, you know, it’s nothing. Entity is new. Um, it wasn’t new when it came out as core have been around for a long time. The remarkable thing about that book is that everything in there is ancient, um, and true, and they’re all Stephen Covey, uh, did, was come up with a kind of, uh, a model for it.
And you synthesize these things into a way of. I’m talking about them into public and private victories and so forth. I had a chance to meet him a number of years ago, uh, obviously prior to his death and, um, uh, just, we just talked briefly about it and, uh, and, uh, you know, I, I just think it’s a, it’s a great, great book.
Um, so I read that book at a really important point in my career and yeah. But you go gain back. Like even when I do business negotiations, now, things like seek first to understand then be understood. You know, I can’t tell you how important that is and how infrequently people actually do it. And when you do it well, The other party feels listened to.
They feel respected. They feel more open and they’re more likely to actually, you’re more likely to find your way to a good deal than you are. If you’re in a win lose zero sum sort of orientation. And a lot of people find themselves in a zero sum orientation because they haven’t thought through what is the other party really?
What’s their motivation, not what are they saying to me, but what are they really motivated by? And that requires for you to have a lot of humility and the ability to sit and listen and quiet yourself. And be, and when you’re in a mode like that, the only thing, the only time you need to speak is to ask clarifying questions, not judgmental, not argumentative.
Just speak back. Okay. This is what I hear you say, you know, you said this, but did you mean this or do you mean that, you know, write down the answers, those are the sorts of things that are timeless or they have, and Stephen Covey didn’t discover them by any stretch of the imagination, but I found that book to be, um, extraordinarily powerful.
Uh, from that perspective, when you say nothing new, it reminds me of Tim Ferriss’s book four hour workweek. And I think he admits it in his book. Like, Hey, none of this is new. It’s just, I, I cataloged it and organized it. And here you go. Right. And that’s sort of, that’s a form of that is that’s a legitimate form of it.
Right. You know, the idea that innovation has to be tied to like a brand spanking new idea that nobody’s ever had before is not totally true. I mean, if you’re good at synthesizing information from a different lot of different directions, putting it in, packaging it together in a way that makes it relevant for a new audience.
That’s that requires a lot of the innovative thinking. Yeah. You hear that a lot in business, right? You don’t necessarily need the new thing. You just need a better thing, you know? Well, I mean the old saying about a mouse trap, so, right. Well, you also do, um, a lot of conferences and, and, and keynote speaking.
What are some of the topics that you tend to touch on in those speeches? Well, I have a, as I kind of alluded to earlier, I have a very unusual life and that I live in the Midwest by work and my career has been, uh, California tech. Um, so when you spend all of your sort of work life in the Silicon Valley and California tech in general, and you live in the upper Midwest, you gain observations Hmm.
Uh, about, about boats. Yeah, neither have of the other. Um, and so I’ve done some speaking. I call it the tale of two valleys because I live in an area called the Fox Valley of, uh, Wisconsin. And, uh, of course it’s Silicon Valley. So we’re talking about the tale of two valleys about how those valleys are different from one another, uh, is something that I’ve, I’ve talked about.
I’ve spoken about things as they relate to, uh, financial services and the coming disruption in financial services. I had a piece published this week. Maybe we can get it. For you for your show notes, uh, with the university of California, San Diego’s business journal, they publish something this week. Uh, and that I wrote called a, I call it a being a bank in an Amazon world.
Um, and so, uh, uh, so I, uh, I, I, I talk about a lot of different things and enjoy doing it. You had mentioned, um, you know, the, the different valleys and, and are you familiar? You know, there’s Silicon Valley and me being in Utah. Uh, are you familiar with the term that’s been going in the last two or three years?
Silicon slopes? No, every I’m sorry, I haven’t heard that one because everybody’s got their Silicon something. You know. Um, and so you got your Silicon alley, uh, your Silicon Prairie. I didn’t know there was a Silicon slopes, but I’m glad to hear there is one, um, you know, you know, so, uh, uh, but I assume that’s all your direction.
Yeah. It’s just South of salt Lake. Um, you know, the, the main area it is, is in a city called Lehigh and it used to just be real. Remote area. And in the last 10 years, it’s exploded. There’s a massive Adobe building. That’s out there. Um, eBay’s out somewhere in that general area. Facebook was tentatively going to be out there.
Um, but it’s just IX and they’ve really embraced the, you know, uh, modern architecture and the, you know, Oh, that’s cool. Okay, that sounds great. The, uh, the air of the Silicon Valley being the, be all and end all and owning the geography and of the, of the internet and the technology. I mean, they’ll always know the foreseeable future.
It’s always going to be exerted credibly. Um, impact, but those days of everybody having to go there is just, those are gone and they’re not coming back. And that’s the whole point of technology is that diffuses ideas. And that geography doesn’t matter as much. And, uh, you know, people used to come from other parts of the world who live in the Silicon Valley to make their fortune they’re coming.
They’re going home. You know, they’re going back to Lehigh, they’re going back to Bangalore India. They’re going back to where they’re from. And in many cases they’re not even coming out there because you know, there’s some real good cost of living challenges out there and all the rest of it, just the nature of the game.
And that’s, that’s never going to be like, it was a, you know, 10 or 20 years ago out there. Yeah, we see a direct impact of that, Utah, just because on the, on the Southern end of Utah, there’s only a short gap between, you know, Nevada only has a little, a little window between Utah and California. And so it’s real easy for Southern California.
Uh, California residents to migrate to Utah. And there’s just been a huge explosion with, um, you know, real estate and cost of living starting to creep up here too. Yep. Now, um, as you think about up and coming generations of entrepreneurs, is there something that comes to mind that you’d like to see them better understand or directions that you’d like to see them go that maybe they’re not there right now?
Well, I don’t know if I presume to say, I can tell you what that is, but I can tell you what, um, at least something to think about in case, you know, in case if it, if it fits, you know, that’s good. And if not, you know, don’t, don’t worry about it. Um, I think, uh, first of all, I think the importance of curiosity can’t be overstated and, uh, and one of the ways that that can manifest itself.
And people very infrequently do. This is, um, through the use of interviewing, um, informational interviews. Somebody might, you might refer to them as, but ultimately setting up time with people. In an industry around an industry who are a few steps ahead of you, whatever it happens to be and asking them smart questions, writing down the answers and do, and then repeat that and do that again.
And do that again and do that again. What happens is that when entrepreneurs tend to be focused on their business and they get it’s, it’s natural, you get focused on a problem, the products, the software, whatever it is that you’re building or that, that marketplace. But getting outside of that and getting outside of your, that is difficult to do.
Going back to cubby, he talked about kind of like the important, but not urgent tasks. What I’m describing is an important, but not an urgent task. And that’s why they don’t get done because it’s not urgent that you have an interview with somebody and go take somebody out to lunch on a given Tuesday, you know, the world’s not going to change if you don’t do that
And so we don’t, you know, you get focused on your internal thing. Uh, and so I, um, Uh, I think that it’s, um, really good to get outside of your problem of the moment, cause there’s always, always a problem of the moment and goes and start talking to as many people as possible and just keep that going by the way.
It’s, um, one of the reasons, one of the interesting things is this is an underused, uh, uh, information gathering capability, but it’s an also an underused networking capability. It turns out that most people. When you call them and say, Hey, can I take you out to lunch? I’d like to learn about something are like thrilled.
Right. And it’s not because of the lunch. They like to be asked about something that they might know about. And so when you’re done with that meeting, that person tends to go back to their authentic, right? Yeah. You know, she was really, she was really cool or that guy, you know, he really asked me some smart question
And so that’s like a gift that’s just laying there and very few people bend over and pick it up. Yeah, I agree that the more successful in my experience, the more successful the person is, the more open they are to whether you want to say paying it forward or, you know, just helping out. But it seems like they’re.
I very rarely run into somebody that because it’s not willing to help out, you know, the higher, the higher they get. Yeah. The ladder of success, the more willing they are. Um, and, and also what you said reminds me of something that Gary Vaynerchuk had said, uh, he said to go. Go find the best person in your space and go work for him for free for a year, you know?
Yeah, yeah. Yeah. Well, Gary, Gary made a lot of money and that he can begin to talk like that. But I, I do, I have read that phrase recently, which I think is smart. Don’t choose a job. Choose a boss. You know, I think people, I mean, getting yourself lined up with somebody who’s really smart and going places and can teach you a lot.
It’s just, uh, it’s. It’s uh, it’s it’s it makes so much sense when you’re earlier in your career. Yeah. Now, if you had to summarize what’s contributed most to your success over your career, uh, could you distill it down to anything specific? Um, well, I, I think, uh, Uh, I think, uh, uh, comfort with ambiguity and, um, uh, I think it’s, uh, good to be a lifelong learner.
Um, when I kind of moved into the technology space, it wasn’t anything obvious about my background that suggested that that was a smart move. I wasn’t, you know, I’m not an engineer I don’t have, but I didn’t have a deep technology background by any stretch of the imagination when I got into it. Um, but I went into it with kind of a, a beginner’s frame of mind, and I’ve always sort of kept that.
Um, and. So the, uh, you know, there’s kind of a, a way to say it. I’m ripping off a guy named Richard Saul Wurman, who had said this many, many years ago. He said most people try to get ahead on based on what they know, which has really limited. I get ahead based upon my ignorance, which is unlimited, you know, so, so whole point was, you know, I asked a lot of questions and I don’t assume that I’m the smartest guy in the room.
And, uh, and, uh, that’s been very helpful to me. Um, It’s been very helpful to me that I’ve been I’m on a reader by nature, and there’s another phrase. Readers are leaders and leaders are readers. Um, and so, uh, reading, uh, You know, it expands your vocabulary. And by the way, when I say reading these days, it can mean it can be blog posts.
It can be an audible account where you listen. I mean, the concept of reading is not like natural, you know, everybody’s got their different ways of acquiring information and it might be Ted talks or videos or whatever it happens. But, um, I think, uh, I I’m always, yeah. And when I hear a. Somebody who went to college, got a degree, got out of school.
And he asked him, we were like, Hey, what, you know, what’s something interesting. Like you asked me like, Hey, what are some good books that you’ve read that sort of thing. And when they just kind of look at you like, and you know what, that nobody says like, Oh, I don’t read for the most part, what they say is on too busy read, but you know, I, I, and I get it like, like we everybody’s got busy lives and all that kind of thing.
But setting aside a little bit of quiet time, I think is, uh, is, can be very, very helpful. Yeah. Yeah. Well kind of speaking to that, as we get closer to wrapping up, what do you like doing in your downtime? Uh, well, uh, reading and writing, obviously. Um, and so the blog is, uh, is a, just kind of a labor of love
Um, I, uh, uh, when I’m not traveling and, uh, when my back isn’t acting up, I’m on a bike or like to, you know, like to go for a run or a kayak and, you know, those sorts of things. Uh, I love movies. Uh, I’d like. Hanging out with my wife and, you know, I just kind of, I’ve got to go, I’ve got a good deal. A Wisconsin’s a good place to hang out.
Uh, and, um, uh, you know, uh, just went cross country skiing a couple of weekends ago. And also a week before that I was on the beach in San Diego, you know, so I spend a guy, like I said, one foot out in the West coast and one foot in the mid West. Yeah, I love San Diego, but you know, the listeners will be familiar.
I T I do trips where I’ll just catch a morning flight there and it’s just an hour and a half, and then I’ll catch anything flight back. Yeah. Oh great. You know, I actually want to, uh, just more for my, my personal insights. Um, so I’m a family man. I have kids and, and your, your worldly travels and combining that with.
My love for the beach in San Diego. What are some other, um, you know, beach, um, family friendly, safe beach destinations that you might be able to recommend. Um, uh, I’d probably, I, I, I wouldn’t be able to, because I’m not a big, you know, I’m like a San Diego guy, but I’m not like a beach guy or the family. We did our obligatory trip to Cancun once, you know?
Uh, and, um, and then that was fine. Although it turns out that the whole, uh, you know, pay a big amount for the. You know, everything is included, all inclusive, sort of a price tag when you have three little girls like we did at the time. And like, that was just like a bad financial deal for us way too. We’re we’re subsidizing all the people that are just drinking all day kind of a thing, you know?
So, um, so that, that, that would, yeah, that was nice. But we, you know, I would say, uh, what I’d say is I want, when kids are little don’t, are you afraid of the international trip? Um, when, you know, the, the kids are, are very, uh, they’re, they’re, they’re adaptive. Uh, it’s a lot of fun. We went to London and Ireland with our kids when they were fairly young.
I mean, you, they gotta be, I heard a great podcast interview with the fellows, James Fallows, as a writer for the Atlantic and he and his wife, Debbie went to some remote part of Asia. I forgot where very early in their career. And they said that they would go as soon as their youngest child could walk one mile.
Um, and, uh, and you know, but I remember being traveling in my youngest daughter at the time was maybe a call it like nine years old or something, you know, and the escalators were out and she’s pulling her really luggage, you know, up a staircase in a train station, kind of bouncing up and up the stairs.
You know, she could do that. And she was old enough to do that and the kids had a blast, so it was great. So one of the things that I find is that people who don’t travel internationally, push it off and they think it’s a big expense thing and all that it’s, it’s, it’s, it’s doable and, uh, don’t be afraid of it.
I appreciate that a well, Michael diamond, everybody. Why don’t you give her your contact information, feel free to, you know, throw anything out there that you want to throw out there. Sure. I think I only ask audiences two things when I do these things. Um, number one, uh, swing by the blog, which is Michaeldiamond.com.
Just like it sounds www.Michaeldiamond.com. Someone needs to reach me. They can do that through there and the about me page. Um, And secondly, when you get a paper check for the love of God, do not take it into your bank. Take a picture of it with your phone. Like everybody else’s, it’s the only way to go.
And you’ll never go back. Fair enough. All right. Well, last thing we surprise our guests with a random question generator. Let me push a little button here. Okay. Random question generator. What is your ideal way to celebrate your birthday, Michael? Oh, I’ll tell you have a great one. I just heard a little while ago.
Um, uh, and this is for people. Uh, I think for me, it’s just, it’s almost like I just wanted like have a relaxing day, you know? Um, but, uh, uh, but I heard a great one the other day. And this is for people who are in like a, like a, you’re an accountant you’re in for any business with you, for yourself, or you’re an attorney or these sorts of things.
And the thing is on your birthday, fire, your worst client, right? So everybody, everybody is in that line of work, knows what I’m talking about. You’ve got one client somewhere in your life. Who’s just causing you so much. Aggravation is impossible to work with is not really worth all the aggravation because you, you, you say to that person, you know what, I’m not going to be working with you anymore.
And I’ll write you a check to help you go work with one of my competitors, firing your worst client on your birthday is a great way to celebrate. You know, I told you I had a call run long, right before we jumped on the podcast. And they may be at the top of the list today. There you go. There you go.
Right. It’s a, it’s a, it’s a, by the way, it’s a, it’s a smart thing to do. You know, if you’ve got somebody who’s really like there’s faucets and dreams, faucet to give energy and drains, take them away. And if you’ve got somebody who’s really draining energy, get rid of them. Yeah. Well, Michael diamond, 25 countries over 2 million flight miles and self-proclaimed to have drank more than 7,500 cups of coffee.
Thanks for joining us today. Thanks for the opportunity.