The Jay Kim Show #31: Bernard Leong (Transcript)
So when I was preparing to launch the Jay Kim show, I did a little bit of research on the podcasting market in Asia and I wanted to see, which podcasts were out here, which ones were successful and it turns out that there aren’t very many podcasts at all, in Asia. There’s only two in China and one other podcast, which is called Analyse Asia. Analyse Asia is run by Bernard Leong who is our guest today on the show, and it’s been around since 2014. It is pretty much the only substantial podcast in Asia.
I reached out to Bernard because I wanted to introduce myself, ahead of the launch, and basically say, look, I’m starting a podcast, do you have any pointers tips for me. What’s the podcasting environment like out in Asia?
It turns out that Bernard is actually a very interesting entrepreneur himself. He’s done a number of ventures in the past, he currently works in a corporate role at Singapore Post. His wife works at a start up, a hardware start up, that does adjustable standing desks, which is also quite interesting.
Bernard is a graduate of Singularity University, which is something that we’ve talked about in the past with show guests, Kent Langley, so all round interesting guy, very nice guy and I’m very glad I connected with him because now it’s me and Bernard. We’re probably the only two launching podcasts, or doing podcasts, consistently right now in Asia. Which is a trend that I hope changes in the future. I think that there’s going to be a lot of growth in podcasting in Asia.
All right, let’s jump right in.
Jay: Hi Bernard, thank you so much for joining us on the Jay Kim show. We’re very happy to have you on.
Bernard: Thank you for having me on the show Jay Kim. Been a pleasure.
Jay: Great. We’re connected through a mutual contact connection of ours, but, one of the reasons why I was very interested in connecting with you is because, you’re podcast, Analyse Asia, is one of the only podcasts in Asia, for that matter. When I was doing some research regionally before I launched my podcast, I was basically looking around to see who else was in the ecosystem and that I can talk to and I could connect to. It turns out that you’re basically the only one there is. There’s a couple that are doing China focused podcasts, in that space, but, as far as greater Asia goes, and similar themes to what I look at, you’re the only one. I’m very happy to connect with you. You obviously have much more experience podcasting than I do. You’ve been around for several years now, and so … but we’ll get into all that.
Anyway, thank you for coming on the show. Why don’t you give us a little bit of background of yourself. I know you have done multiple different things and it seems like you have a bunch of things you’re working on at one time. Why don’t you give us some background please.
Bernard: Okay, my name is Bernard Leong, I have a day job as the head of the post office network and digital services, and I’m also on the executive leadership team in Singapore Post. So for today, I’m actually speaking in my personal capacity and so my opinions here does not represent any organization which I work for.
With the disclaimer gone, other than my day job, I have a media hobby project where I founded a podcast called Analyse Asia, and spent about five weeks of my time working each week for the past two years. I think now we have just reached 165 episodes and I believe that this is the conversation we’re going to have.
Bernard: I can tell a little bit of background of myself.
Jay: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Bernard: I started off in academia with a PhD degree in Theoretical Physics and my PhD thesis was actually looking for experimental signatures of extra dimensions within the cosmic microwave background radiation, that’s left over from the universe with the Big Bang. That was in Cavendish Laboratory.
Bernard: After that I worked in the Sinha Institute, on the human genome project, where I use a lot of machine learning techniques to analyze large terabytes of data in 2003. What, I guess, I need an audience to appreciate is that today when we talk about terabytes of data, it’s actually no big deal because a lot of this work has actually been done 10 years before. Now we have a lot of data that we can actually start using artificial intelligence to learn about your habits and your consumer behaviors as well.
So I actually enjoyed multi disciplinary academia. I publish in physics, I did biology, I also did economics where I wrote a very interesting paper on predicting the rise and fall of football managers …
Jay: Wow. Okay.
Bernard: … in premier league. Actually I started all the leagues and there some very interesting things that, actually for football managers, is actually pretty simple in basic economics and I wrote a few papers on management of inhibition ecosystems. I think there’s a span between 2003 to 2008.
So after that, I actually left academia and decided to go into the start up world. Now, maybe I was just inspired to make a dent in the universe. I started with two companies. The first one is called Chalkboard it’s actually a location based advertising start up, where I raise money from Joi Ito, now the head of M.I.T. media lab. That eventually crashed and burned because we make some real strategic mistakes and it was pretty public. I actually told my failure story publicly because I actually owned an online media site called S.G. Entrepreneurs, which eventually, with my co-founder Gwendolyn Tan, I think a lot of people know her, we sold it to Tech in Asia.
Jay: Right, okay. Got it.
Bernard: I have actually done some enjoying investing work and probably one of my best investments is a company, dating company called Lunch actually, that were both online and offline dating and that was extended from Singapore to other parts of Asia, including Hong Kong, where you stay.
Bernard: Yes. Actually, after the period of the failure of Chalkboard, I actually received offers to join other start ups as their CEOs but I have decided that I will be the CEO of the next start up that I work on and also to reflection of my own start up failure, I have also decided that I should learn how to be a better manager with the capability to build skill and manage 500 to 5000 or even greater number of people. The best place I thought to learn that was going to the corporate world where they’re not as nimble like start ups but I can learn their systems and processes and the things I shouldn’t do.
Jay: Right, interesting.
Jay: You were the Co founder and CTO of Chalkboard …
Jay: … but was it you didn’t enjoy the role as a CTO or you just wanted something bigger?
Bernard: No, no, no. I enjoyed the role. I actually built and architect the entire platform while my CEO is actually doing all the fundraising in Silicon Valley because we were taking a two prong strategy for both Asia and U.S. which I think we make a mistake on that. I’ve also covered some of his work so I did a lot of sales and business development. Essentially when we failed, I thought about what would I want to do in the next company and I thought that I want to own that responsibility of being a CEO.
Bernard: Yes. I think that one of the things that you go through a failure of a start up is that you have to do things that are very difficult for example, firing people who don’t deserve it and actually helping them to find a job. Actually on the day where I fired all my engineers within 24 hours, I actually found all of them jobs.
Jay: Good for you.
Bernard: Closing down the company gracefully which was one of the most important things that I owe my apologies to my investors. Coming back to where I am right, I started off as a product manager for a company called Vista Print. Then subsequently I decided that I may want to move to the U.S. and was actually tied between an offer to become a senior product manager in Amazon U.S. or become a senior executive in Singapore Post. I took the big risk by taking the Singapore Post job where I get half the pay and twice the responsibility to be a senior executive.
It turned out to be the right bet because the former CEO Doctor Wolfgang Baier was a great mentor.
Bernard: Then some of my best works in the past 3.5 years there from redesigning all the digital properties from the post office to the parcel lockers and subsequently making the first secure authenticated drone delivery where I’ve become expert in drone delivery and have subsequently advised the U.S. postal services and other postal services in Asia, in my present role.
Jay: Is drone delivery a part of the Sing Post now, is that implemented?
Bernard: We actually did a proof of concept …
Jay: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Bernard: … to a nearby offshore island, Pulau Ubin.
Bernard: What we actually did was something slightly different. You would think of a traditional postal journey, user journey, is you have the person sending the letter and the person receiving the letter. The receiver has a mailbox and a key. It’s your form of authentication. How does it look in the drone delivery world? I actually studied everybody’s drone delivery videos. Everybody was just flying the drone, drop the package, and expect someone to pick it up. What we did differently from everybody and I also suspect that was the reason why we got global press even from Bloomberg and Fox was that …
Jay: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Bernard: … we actually create a secure process so when the drone flies to the destination, the person who is suppose to receive the package, turns on the mobile phone and authenticates whether he or she is in that facility.
Bernard: If the signal is received, the drone will land. Within three minutes, if it doesn’t, it flies back to it’s original location.
Jay: That’s great. That’s something that you would expect from a Silicon Valley start up that is doing some sort of a commercialized drone product.
Bernard: Through that process, because I was able to convince five government agencies to allow me to do that so other regulatory bodies for example, the U.S. FAA, Japan post, they have come to me for advice on how to think about regulation etc. on that.
Jay: Very interesting.
Bernard: Of course probably one of the biggest achievements for Singapore Post was the Ali Baba investment to transform the company into a global e-commerce logistics company. I think that was probably, I would say, most of the best work that I’ve done in that three and a half years until now and I’m still working on the transformation of the post office and also building on that.
Jay: Wow, okay. Quite the high achiever here Bernard. In addition to your job as a senior executive there at Sing Post, are you still an active angel investor?
Bernard: Not exactly but I have to, full disclosure, I invested in my wife’s company.
Jay: Okay. I guess you have to disclose that to your own company as well anyway.
Bernard: Yes, that’s right.
Jay: What does her company do? Why don’t we give her the plug here.
Bernard: She builds smart adjustable standing desk called the altzen.com. She actually [inaudible 00:11:59] very successful in the [inaudible 00:12:00]. I think she just started to deliver her desk. In fact the first shipment all went to Hong Kong.
Jay: They’re very popular these days. It’s the new trend right now, these standing desks, elevated desks, the ones that can adjust. You can have it sitting and standing and I’ve been looking for one in Hong Kong actually. Did you say your wife ships to Hong Kong?
Bernard: Yes, she ships to Hong Kong. In fact, hers, you can actually use the smart phone to control the standing desk and one of the things she designed it for was to get someone to go into flow … that means to get absolute work life balance and also productivity in the same go. In fact if everybody probably know the open secret is that the plug that I always give to my ad on my Analyse Asia podcast of the [inaudible 00:12:54] that was my wife’s company.
Jay: There you go. What is the name of it again?
Jay: A-l-t …
Bernard: Z-e-n .com.
Jay: I will link that up in the show notes and I will look at it myself. There is a Hong Kong site or is it ordering and delivering to Hong Kong?
Bernard: You can order it and then it will deliver to Hong Kong.
Jay: Got it, okay, cool. That’s a good little productivity tip, for us, tool. Let’s move on a little bit. You’re job’s Sing Post. You have a little bit of angel investment now on the side, I guess you have to scale that back, now that you’re working at a larger organization. I know that you’ve taught or you still teach regularly, is that right?
Bernard: Actually, I don’t.
Jay: You use to.
Bernard: I use to. I spend more of my time as an entrepreneur resident for [inaudible 00:13:48] business school.
Jay: Okay, right and that’s where you went to business school.
Bernard: No, I actually never do any business school so actually was a late professor there who invited me to be an entrepreneurial residence and truth be told, he actually gave me the advice on how to gracefully shut down the company. His name is Patrick Turner and he inspired a generation of Singaporean entrepreneurs as well.
Jay: Very interesting.
Bernard: I’m actually doing my duty as a EIR to honor him. I think one of the things I learned in life is that you have friends who are actually by your side in the bad times and Patrick was one of those people who were at my side. He actually wrote my references for my corporate jobs.
Jay: Wow, very nice. That’s a good relationship you have there. Let’s move on a little bit in your background. I know that you are a graduate of SU.
Bernard: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Jay: It’s funny, Bernard, I just had another guest on my podcast who’s actually a faculty member at SU. His name’s Kent Langley. I’m not sure if you have met him while you were there but he works in exponential technology, exponential organizations and technology. It was very interesting having him on the podcast. Maybe you can tell my audience a little bit about SU, Singularity University and what made you want to apply there and what your experience was like there.
Bernard: After the drone delivery project, I thought that there would be some time I could take out of my daily work to actually think about things and the back story is that I told my former CEO, Doctor Wolfgang Baier, that during the job interview that the next job I’m going to do is to be a CEO of a start up.
Bernard: A couple of friends have actually told me about Singularity University, about the exponential technologies and the things that they teach there.
Jay: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Bernard: I decided to take a 2.5 months sabbatical there, of course with the approval of Sing Post …
Bernard: … which is located in the [inaudible 00:15:55] center Silicon Valley so I actually wrote my application and I was admitted to the prestigious global solutions program, fully sponsored by Google [inaudible 00:16:04] in the U.S. and spent 10 weeks there.
Jay: Tell me about the application process. It must be extremely, extremely competitive right?
Bernard: Yes, it is extremely competitive. I have an interesting proposition because I was thinking a lot about architecture. Before I actually did the application, I actually read up some of the core ideas of SU for example, the books by Ray Kurzweil, ” The Singularity Is Near”, and Peter Diamandis, “Bold and Abundance”. I came up with an idea about disrupting architecture and that was part of the application process that you need to come up with an idea that is impacting 10 to the 9 people.
Jay: What that means is essentially, just for the audience, because I just went over this myself with Kent, is that you have to essentially, the way he was explaining is, you have to positively impact one billion people within 10 years or less, is that right?
Bernard: That’s right.
Jay: Wow, that’s a major problem. Global shifting problem that you’re going to solve right?
Bernard: Mm-hmm (affirmative). I actually went to the program and when I’m exposed to [inaudible 00:17:16] leaders such as Peter Diamandis and Ray Kurzweil …
Bernard: … and also the ideas of exponential technologies where they teach us a lot on block chain, CRISPR. You have self driving cars …
Jay: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Bernard: … and a lot of arduino technologies. In fact, that morning you have the lectures and in the evenings you actually do the laboratory technology work. You laser cut, you do 3-D printing, it was really like the geek’s paradise.
Bernard: If you’re a geek like myself, who loves technology, that’s a paradise for you.
Bernard: I actually enjoyed the interactions with the faculty and the staff. There were a few big topics that we were debating over the whole summer. One of them was, are we living in a simulation because of Elon Musk. The second conversation I thought would be much more relevant to today’s world is how can we solve technology’s displacement of labor? There is 80 of us who have been selected for the program and I have met my fellow classmates, some of them who are much more accomplished than myself. It was very inspirational.
One thing interesting that they did with me that I thought no MBA schools would ever have taught such classes, is this course on human performance. I’ll tell you a story. I use to have heartburn problems due to stress.
Bernard: Since I got back from Singularity University, my job has gone up by 10x but my stress level had went down to 0. In fact my doctor recently, who went through my medical reports is surprised that all my cholesterol level, all the other medical issues I had have suddenly disappeared.
Jay: How, how’d you do it?
Bernard: When they did the human performance, they did a couple of things with us. They did mindfulness.
Bernard: They did meditation but I think the meditation is not about whether you do one minutes or 20 minutes. It’s actually you do that very smooth one to three minutes but you focus a lot on breathing so they brought in people from extreme diving to teach us breathing and to teach us a lot of compartmentalize our stress.
Bernard: Some of the things that we think that stress us is actually not that important.
Bernard: You see, this probably the thing that I actually benefited the most from Singularity University. Like I told you, I wanted to be a CEO of a start up in the future right? Actually they had prepared me ready for that now because I’m able to now compartmentalize and think of difficult situations and how to control my stress.
Jay: Mmm, interesting. Mindfulness is a big thing right now. It’s a big trend. I see the value in it. I personally am not that much of a meditator or I don’t practice that sort of thing very regularly but I have in the past and it’s a lot of just like you said, compartmentalization, mind control, being able to really focus on nothing a lot of times. I think a lot of people, entrepreneurs, and high achievers have a problem where some people refer to as “monkey mind”, where their mind is just running around at a million miles an hour and they can’t bring that down and just focus or unfocus on all that’s going on and unplug. That’s quite interesting. That was your biggest takeaway.
In Singularity University, what was the, if you don’t mind sharing, what was the geographic breakdown of your class? You said there were 80 people in your class. How many from Asia were there?
Bernard: There were about five to six from Asia. Interestingly, my wife’s uncle, who is a very famous social entrepreneur, was also in the program, Jack Sim, the founder of World Toilet Organization. Then we have people from 62 countries and one of the biggest difference between the SU program and the rest of the programs is that we have 50% men and 50% women.
Jay: That’s not on purpose.
Bernard: Yeah. They also did a lot of work in making sure that the demographic is diverse.
Jay: Wow. Very nice. It’s basically people that are the smartest people in the world is trying to solve the largest problems in the world. It’s very interesting to me. Thank you for sharing that Bernard. I want to talk a little bit about, of course, the podcast because that is what I’m doing and I’ve just launched mine and I’m excited about the trend of podcasting in Asia because I think that is a trend. You know as well as I do that podcasts have been around for over a decade globally, very popular in the west, in the states and in Europe. There are millions of podcasts out there but funnily enough, there are very, very little in Asia. Tell me just a little bit about how you started Analyse Asia, why you started it and how that developed.
Bernard: Someone asked me why I started the Analyse Asia podcast. There’s a background to the story. In 2008, I’ve actually worked on earlier podcasts called This Week in Asia, or in short, TWIA, where a few of us from different parts in Asia sat down together and discussed interesting events that happening in that particular week. In fact, Dave McCullough was on that show, Joi Ito was on that show as well.
Bernard: That was actually with Dennis [inaudible 00:22:41] Lim from Malaysia, Michael Smith Jr, who’s now VC, venture capitalist …
Jay: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Bernard: … in C plus and also Michael Foong and John Lim. We had a lot of fun bantering but then the problem was that there were a few problems. One was, I was bothered by the quality of the podcast. The sound quality was not good because there were a few of us skyping in …
Bernard: … and because also, I didn’t tell you that I actually had a background in theater. I use to produce high quality plays on stages during when I was in my PhD in Cambridge. In fact I was actually offered to produce one of the Shakespearean plays that I actually turned down. It was one of my biggest regrets. It’s like getting the golden ticket to do the biggest production for your life.
Bernard: The same actually goes for digital media product. I wanted to actually get a high quality podcast which I actually can consistently built and manage in a proper way.
Bernard: I decided that because also with the varying broadband speeds in Asia, the sound quality actually degrades over time so I decided that we will make a high quality podcast but I will only do a one to one interview.
Bernard: I was listening to a lot of podcasts and what I discovered was that there were a lot of interesting technology businesses that were there. For example, Horace Dediu’s Asymco, Ben Bajarin’s Tech pinions and also Ben Thompson and James Allworth exponent …
Bernard: … where they actually do a lot of deep dive on companies you and I know, for example Apple, Google, Facebook, Amazon, and Microsoft and maybe sometimes Samsung. The question that came to my mind is why can’t we have a podcast that actually discusses, dissect and deep dive into business technology and media in Asia, and [inaudible 00:24:31] by Asians who are involved in the day to day of their respective ecosystems.
Bernard: I wanted to focus everything in Asia, I think it actually solves the 10 to the nine problem because Asia has a 4.4 billion population.
Jay: Yeah, exactly.
Bernard: Yes and represents about two thirds of the world population and houses at least three of the largest emerging markets, China, India, Indonesia.
Jay: That’s right, absolutely.
Bernard: I decided that I’m going to cover trends and business technology and media in Asia through three channels. One is industry watchers, our correspondence from media who cover Asia as a whole, business either within the technology or media industry who are operating within Asia and important top leaders come in from both start up investor and business ecosystems but I have a simple rule. I never interview a start up founder below series B, which is an untold rule and probably just revealed it here.
Jay: Oh, wow. Very interesting. Why is that?
Bernard: Partially because that I had another idea for a start up podcast for the future.
Jay: You’re saving that one.
Bernard: … for later, yeah. I think that the key is that I actually wanted to focus a lot more on the day to day running of the businesses. One example I want to talk about is, most of the Asia business giants are pretty opaque to the rest of the world. For example, Baidu, Ali Baba, Tencent, Huawei, Soft Bank, Samsung, Tata group, Reliance, and many other famous Asia family businesses for example in Hong Kong, you have the Li and Fung, Li Kai Shing, so part of the in was to mystify these companies. It’s actually much more interesting to talk about the ecosystem because you talk about the infrastructure challenges and also the funding challenges as well and how it works. I like to talk to for example, K.C. La from Hong Kong, about [inaudible 00:26:17] ecosystem Hong Kong because he worked with a lot of start ups.
That was the reason why I didn’t want to have interviews with start up founders but I actually think that it’s actually much more interesting to hear the actual business which are actually scaling up because there’s also people don’t really know how to expand in different geographies as well. I always like to tell people this interesting one, the 10 minutes before the podcast interviews ended, 30 minutes after the podcast interview are the best parts of the chat because we talk about much more interesting things. It allows me to be able to get out of Singapore and talk to and gather intelligence across Asia.
Jay: Right, interesting.
Bernard: I also want to tell you that there’s also a personal reason why I decided to do a podcast like that.
Bernard: One of my guests asked me about this and I actually told her that I wanted to leverage the podcast interview to a better listener. One of the core traits I often hear of good CEO’S is their ability to listen, accessing facts of a situation and make well informed decisions. By actually using the podcast to talk to people, it actually help me to listen better. It also helps me in terms of being a better manager in framing my conversations with my teams at work and even put the [inaudible 00:27:33] prospect who are interviewed for hiring.
Bernard: This is one of the reasons that I actually never told people that I was using that to do that.
Jay: You bring up a good point Bernard because one of the things that I noticed when I am preparing and doing podcasts is conversely on the flip side, in addition to being a good listener, it also makes you a better speaker and public speaking is not one of my fortes and it’s something that I want to improve on and it kind of makes you get into this mode where you are speaking more eloquently. You don’t say “Um” or “uh” and “you know”, you iron those things out. I also find that when I know I have a podcast booked, just for example, even just or you, I did a couple of hours of just reading and research and if there’s a few things that I don’t know about you, then I’d like to research that. I’ve had authors on and some entrepreneurs, and New York Times Best Selling Authors. I’ll go in and actually read all their books and do several hours of research to be prepared. I find that just keeps me current. It keeps me on the ball and it always forces me to learn something new. I like that you say that about listening and I think that it will make you a better CEO.
Analyse Asia, it’s been going on now for two years, is that right? You started in 2014?
Jay: You’re all around the region. How do you manage your work flow? This is more of a personal question because I’m trying to figure this whole thing out myself. Do you do all the editing yourself, and booking and marketing of your show?
Bernard: I actually broke the whole production of the podcast into five stages. The first is actually the gathering, which I actually email or write to someone to get them on the show. Of every guest I get on to the podcast, I get nine rejections. It’s the hustling process.
Jay: That’s right.
Bernard: Most of the time, I’m very thankful for people who come to my show, actually through referral or direct hustling.
Bernard: That’s the first part. The second part of it is the research bit where I actually research about the guest like you. I read up, I check out their LinkedIn profiles, I also watch their Youtube Videos if they have any and past interviews. I try to frame the questions. That usually takes me about half an hour.
Jay: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Bernard: After that, put them into a set of questions and set it to them a week before.
Bernard: After that, we have the actual recording so we would use a very basic calendar invite. In fact all my work is done through using project management [inaudible 00:30:25].
Jay: Mm-hmm (affirmative) yup.
Bernard: Which I’m actually given [inaudible 00:30:28] then I will just fulfill that five [inaudible 00:30:29] …
Bernard: … in the five stages.
Jay: I’ve seen Asana, I’ve used Trello, which is similar.
Bernard: Yes, it’s similar. It’s the tool that you use. Research material, I usually do in google docs and I actually keep a spreadsheet like a CRM where I track every guest I ask to come on the show, even if they reject me, I’ll put down second try, third try.
Jay: Yep, yep. You are doing the entire work flow. It’s just you.
Bernard: Yes, correct. After that there is the editing part which I spend most of my time but I told you I spend five hours per week.
Jay: Wow so you edit everything yourself.
Bernard: Yes, I do.
Bernard: For Asia podcast, because of the way we speak, we have a different accent. In order to attract an american audience, you need to focus a lot on editing.
Bernard: It came up because of my theatre experience as well in the U.K when I work with English speakers as well. That takes up most of the time but I’ve actually started to automate certain processes. One of the things I did was adopt a Japanese craftsmen’s mentality called Shokunin, where every stage of the process, I’ve innovated and reduced the amount of time to be more efficient. Over the two years, I’ve build up a work flow that is actually less than three to four hours of doing it.
Jay: Wow, how do you have time to do this? You’re working a full time job.
Bernard: Sometimes I do it during lunch. I’ll spend half an hour doing it in lunch time or usually I do it in the weekends where I just get two hours of grace from my wife for Saturday and two hours of grace on Sunday and then I’ve basically finished the entire editing process itself.
Jay: Amazing. What about booking your guests? Do you batch process those? Yours is a weekly podcast right? Do you do four in one day and then you just have them done for the month or is it just on a rolling basis?
Bernard: Actually nowadays, I’ve reached a point where I just plan a month in advance.
Bernard: I will actually send out about eight emails and hopefully all eight will come back, usually it doesn’t happen. About six will come back and I plan each week, I will get two recordings. I like to stack them together to do the recording so I have all the files with me.
Bernard: After the editing process of course, then I go into the publishing process and distribution process.
Jay: One of the challenges that I found so my podcast is slightly different than yours because I have a global guest roster.
Bernard: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Jay: I like to bring a lot of U.S. western entrepreneurs and business leaders to expose them to the Asian audience because there’s interest. For me, my challenge is booking the timezone because I have to wake up very early or sometimes I stay up late to record episodes. Most of your guests are within Asia right? Are you able to pop out during lunch and get a recording in or?
Bernard: Actually I actually have U.S. guests as well. I typically do either very early morning or late in the evenings.
Jay: Oh, okay so just like me then.
Bernard: Very similar. In fact, when you propose this timing to me when we do this recording, it was perfect because that’s my podcast recording time.
Jay: Right, excellent. We’re talking about this earlier, before we started, some of your stats, where your audience is from, and what kind of audience do you have.
Bernard: Over two years, I have gotten about 15,000 subscribers.
Jay: Wow, nice.
Bernard: I have reached about almost .3 million about 300k downloads today.
Jay: Wow, that’s very nice.
Bernard: Of my audience, 40% are from the U.S. and they have actually contacted me. Many people from institutional hedge funds, private equity funds, or entrepreneurs who want to bring their companies to Asia.
Bernard: It gives me a lot of indirect access to my audience or even people who are doing industrial analysis on Asia for their companies in the U.S. That’s one of their demographic groups. Through distributing my content, I have recently gained 10% each in China and India. Of course the rest is distributed across the more developed cities which is Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Australia and U.K. I also have about 5-10% listeners from Europe.
Bernard: Yeah, and I know who they are. That’s the most interesting part.
Jay: How do you track your data? When you say 15,000 subscribers, is that on iTunes or across the different …
Bernard: Across the different channels.
Jay: I see.
Bernard: I use mailing lists as a form of tracking.
Jay: Oh, okay.
Bernard: That’s the only one that you know you have an email right?
Jay: Right, sure.
Bernard: That’s the best way to actually put that subscriber on the list.
Jay: Okay, but if someone let’s say, I just go on your site, Analyse Asia, and I listen to an episode or I go to iTunes, is there a way to track that?
Bernard: There’s a way to track depending on the hosting solution you use.
Jay: Right, right.
Bernard: There is a story behind that actually. I was actually using archive.org, which is free and subsequently, thanks to one of my guest from the U.S, who happens to be a very famous CPO, the former CPO of Microsoft, which is Ray Ozzie.
Bernard: I actually got a hosting for my podcast. I use Blueberry.
Jay: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Bernard: Some people use Lip Sync. They will actually give you interesting analytics for example, your downloads, your unique downloads and also where is it from. One of the interesting data points I thought I should share is 95% of my audience actually coming from Apple products.
Bernard: It means they’re either using iTunes or they’re using ios. Very little is from android.
Jay: That’s generally the stat in the U.S. At the U.S. being the largest podcast consumption market and over 80% is iTunes.
Bernard: Because there was nobody in Asia that I could actually compete with, I used the U.S. podcast as my base to compete. In doing that, it actually help me to be better.
Jay: Sure, absolutely. Competing with the best right?
Bernard: Competing with the best but I don’t think I’ve reached that kind of numbers that they do but I’m still trying.
Jay: No, no. It’s very interesting though. You say that 40% of your listenership is from the U.S. and the types that are reaching out to you is quite interesting. It’s basically testament to what you’re doing. They want some on the ground research and information and color and that’s exactly what you’re providing them right?
Bernard: That’s right.
Jay: Very interesting, right. Thank you for sharing that. I appreciate that Bernard. I’m sure I’ll be asking for your advice in the future since you’re much more seasoned at the podcasting game than I am so just a few more questions. Again, I really appreciate your time and taking your time here. What goals do you have for 2017, where do you see things going? Are you going to keep pushing out on Analyse Asia? Is there any other ventures that you’re going to explore?
Bernard: I guess for 2017, I decided this year that I have no resolutions but I’m going to let my action do the talking.
Bernard: One of the things that I’ve been doing which comes to your point about something that I like about your podcast is that you talk about your daily habits. One of the things that I want to do is that my daily habits and rituals are intact.
Bernard: I can share some of them. One of them is to read a book for 30 minutes each day.
Jay: Very good, yep.
Bernard: One minute of zoning out where you just breathe and meditate in a mindful way.
Bernard: That’s one of the things that I have been striving to do almost everyday. Why it inspire me to do that is also because I like the Japanese concept of the Shokunin where you work as a craftsmen to get yourself better by practicing each day and iterating on top of yourself.
Bernard: That actually helps me in terms of stress management was probably the best thing that ever happen to me. One thing that I use to love to do was to take long walks but because of a lot of my work commitments these days, I couldn’t actually do that. The other thing I thought I’ve done recently is to wake up and work in the early mornings.
Jay: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Bernard: It seems to be my most creative time and typically, my emails are sent out at 4:30 am and I’m also a inbox zero person by the way.
Bernard: When I need to really unwind and totally take something off my mind, I’ll just go and play a co-op game in Starcraft.
Bernard: Play a strategy game because it just helps me to think …
Bernard: … be awake.
Jay: It’s like your chess right?
Bernard: It’s like chess to me basically. You do that so these habits I want to solve keep them in making sure that they work and as for Analyse Asia, I guess I have some plans in taking it to the next stage which I will talk about it in about two to three months time.
Jay: Excellent. We’ll have to have you back on in a few months so you can give us the big reveal. One last quick question. You were speaking about inbox zero and I love that because it actually sounds like some of the very similar habits. I’m a very, very much so a morning person. I exercise in the morning. It is absolutely the time during the day where my mind is the clearest and I am the most productive. I also am known to send emails at 4-4:30 in the morning. I also do some podcasting in the morning as well. What productivity tools if any, do you use? You mentioned google docs in the past, Asana, any other good tools that you might want to recommend to listeners?
Bernard: Actually … for tracking, I actually like to use my Apple watch. For meditation, for the one minute, I use something called Headspace.
Jay: Headspace, yep, that’s a good one. I’ve used that before.
Bernard: I have yet to try the The Muse, but I actually have the equipment but I haven’t had the time to open it and test it so I’m actually going to get myself on that pretty soon.
Jay: Mm-hmm (affirmative), okay. Great, interesting. All right, thank you so much Bernard. I guess the last question is where can people find you, follow you, and connect with you?
Bernard: As per always, what I say on the podcast, you can find me at bleongcw@twitter. I actually respond most of the time or at bernardleong.com or you can actually subscribe to my podcast Analyze.Asia and you can find me on any of the distribution points for example, iTunes, [inaudible 00:41:54], Soundcloud, Acast, Tunein and even google play but for the U.S. Feel free to reach out. I’m happy to be of help to other podcast listeners as well. It’s good that you are actually doing podcast because one of the biggest difficulty for podcasters in Asia to actually have a bigger market access is actually the ability to guest star in other people’s shows which is one of the success factors for a lot of U.S. podcasts because they’re able to go to each other’s shows to actually cross promote. I love your effort and I think you should continue.
Jay: Absolutely. I’m glad and I’m thankful that you’re open to helping me out and likewise, I will try to do everything I can to help you. To anyone that’s listening, please go over and subscribe to Analyse Asia. I’ve actually listened to it myself. How many episode do you have now?
Jay: 165. There’s plenty of content there. He’s a seasoned podcaster, pretty much the pioneer in Asia so go over and subscribe to Analyse Asia. Thank you again Bernard, we really appreciate your time.
Bernard: Thank you for having me.
Jay: All right, take care.
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