14 | Tim Romero, Disrupting Japan

My guest today is Tim Romero (@timoth3y). Tim is the founder and host of Disrupting Japan. Which is the first and largest startup podcast in Japan. He is also the Head of Google for Startups Japan. 

In this conversation, we cover the Japanese startup ecosystem, why Japanese companies seem to IPO earlier, and his experience running a podcast.

I hope you enjoy my conversation with Tim Romero.

Show Notes:

[00:00:32] – [First question] – What made Tim fall in love with Japan?
[00:02:19] – How Tim got involved in the startup scene
[00:03:09] – Biggest changes in the scene over 20 years?
[00:06:03] – Where the startup ecosystem in Japan can improve
[00:07:53] – What sectors Tim is excited about
[00:09:02] – Why do Japanese startups tend to IPO earlier?
[00:10:53] – Why Japan is often overlooked
[00:11:54] – Softbank
[00:13:45] – Old Japanese companies innovating
[00:15:36] – Japanese bubble popping and the lingering effects
[00:18:28] – Japan’s obsession with quality products
[00:22:07] – Disrupting Japan the podcast
[00:28:45] – Most undervalued life experience ?
[00:30:29] – Influential books?
[00:32:38] – If Tim was 18 today?

Connect with Tim:

Mentioned/Recommended Content:

Listen to this episode on Apple PodcastsSpotifyStitcherCastboxGoogle Podcasts, or on your favourite podcast platform.


Kalani Scarrott (00:32): My guest today is Tim Romero. Tim is the founder and host of Disrupting Japan, which is the first and largest startup podcast in Japan. He is also currently the head of Google for Startups Japan. And in today’s conversation, we cover the Japanese startup ecosystem, why Japanese companies seem to IPO earlier and his experience running a podcast. So please enjoy my conversation with Tim Romero.

Perfect. So Tim, thank you so much for being here today, but maybe you’re a bit … You’ve probably rehashed your origin story of Japan a few times. So I think I might start a little bit differently. And I remember reading that you originally weren’t one of those people that were in love with Japan and originally just went there through a series of coincidences and was only planning to stay a couple years. So what made you fall in love with Japan? And when did you decide this is it?

Tim Romero (01:17): Yeah. I don’t know. It’s kind of a love-hate relationship actually, not … No, Japan’s a wonderful place to live. I mean I’ve kind of come here twice by almost accident. I mean the first time I came was as a professional musician of all things. Japanese record company brought me here. My music career didn’t really work out, had a lot of fun though.

The second time I was brought back, working with a trading company. But in both times, it was just I was doing interesting work, I had friends. And there were a lot of times I thought about going back to the US, but there’s always a new project that popped up. I started forming, starting companies here. And so it was just there was always something interesting going on and always something worth doing right here.

So Japan’s a great place to live, but I didn’t come here because of a love for Japan in particular. I guess it kind of … I grew to love it over the 30 years I’ve been here.

Kalani Scarrott (02:19): Yeah, that’s fair enough. So obviously, getting involved with startups, was that always an inkling you think or is it you sort of just fell into it and fell in love with it as well? How’d you develop that I guess passion and love for it and, yeah, get into it?

Tim Romero (02:29): Yeah. It’s when I was working for the trading company, honestly, it was a good job. I liked my coworkers, but this was in the mid, late ’90s and this internet thing sounded kind of interesting to me. And so I just quit my job and started a company doing … I mean it was web page design, the first incarnation, but we ended up building out an e-commerce platform. So honestly, it was just something that seemed worth doing. There wasn’t really an entrepreneurial startup community in Japan at the time, but it just seemed like something worth doing so I did it.

Kalani Scarrott (03:09): Yeah. What’s been the biggest changes you’ve seen over the sort of 20 plus years you’ve been there?

Tim Romero (03:13): Oh, wow. Well, in terms of the startup scene, I think it’s just the general acceptance of startups as a viable career path, as something that’s important to society. Ten years ago, 12 years ago, we had national level politicians talking about how … It was called NEETs, Not in Education Training, but anyway, how these people are like just parasites and they needed to get a real job and they were dragging the economy down. And five years ago, in contrast, that five years ago, Prime Minister Abe many times got up on stage and said, “No, these freelancers and these innovators are the key to the future of Japan and they’re an important part of the economy.” And so I think that’s probably been the biggest change, just the social acceptance.

And in fact, in my first startup, there was a new graduate I wanted to bring on board and he wanted to join, and mom was saying, no, absolutely not. And it wasn’t that she was opposed to him working for a small company or that he, working for a foreign-owned company or anything like that. So I actually had to go to meet mom because she didn’t understand what this whole, how this whole startup thing worked. So to her, it was like, “Well, wait, so you’re getting these money from this one group of people. And then a couple of years later, you’re going to sell it for a lot more.” It sounded like some kind of a scam to her. So I walked her through it and he did eventually join the company. So apparently, I was persuasive, but I don’t have to do that anymore.

Kalani Scarrott (04:50): A startup’s seen as cool now, you think, maybe in the US as well or … ‘Cause you’ve said that you mentioned that Japan startup community reminds you of a lot of San Francisco 20 years ago …

Tim Romero (04:57): Yeah. It’s definitely not as mainstream as it is in America and that’s both good and bad, but it’s definitely more socially acceptable. We have a steady stream of graduates from the top universities who are starting companies. Venture funding is much more available now than it used to be. And I think the comparison to 20 years ago in the US is that … I talked about this a bit in my most recent episode, but over the last 20 years, we’ve gotten really good at building startups as a society. There’s a process. It’s streamlined now. We know how to do it. And in the US, it’s almost too efficient where like, “Why are you doing this? What’s your goal?” is just got been pushed down so far. And in Japan, that hasn’t happened. If you talk with the founders, they really sincerely are trying to make the world a better place, and it’s refreshing.

Kalani Scarrott (06:03): Yeah. You mentioned that their process obviously improved. Is there anything still room for improvement, you think, in the general startup ecosystem over there?

Tim Romero (06:08): Oh, tons. I mean yeah. No, I guess there’s always room for improvement. I’d say the most important thing to improve, but this is not something that would be changed with policy. It needs like a magic wand or just needs time. I’d say the most important thing that Japan could improve on and one of the strengths that the US has is there’s this steady stream of people who leave big companies and go to work for startups, and then come back to large companies, this cross-pollination and this flow of talent. And that makes it very easy for technology to be exchanged, for startups and enterprises to work together because there’s someone on both sides of the table who understands each other. And in Japan, that’s only starting to happen now. We’re seeing a lot of people from large companies go to work at startups, but it’s still pretty much a one-way trip. You don’t have the revolving door. So I’d say that’s the next big thing that would really help Japanese startups.

Kalani Scarrott (07:11): In terms of funding and capital over there, do you think there’s a case for too much capital, too few startups? Or is it more too many startups and maybe too little capital? What’s that balance like?

Tim Romero (07:21): For the last five years when people have asked me this question, I’ve been saying that it seems generally imbalanced, but maybe there’s a little too much capital. But for the last five years, the amount of capital investment keeps growing at 20 or 30% a year, and there’s still plenty of interesting new startups that are being invented and getting funded. So I’m going to say my earlier instinct was wrong. It seems like the equilibrium was pretty good.

Kalani Scarrott (07:53): Is there any particular startups or maybe sectors in the startup ecosystem that you’re really excited about? What’s really got your attention, do you think?

Tim Romero (08:00): I’m not so much of a macro guy. I look at individual, what problem is this team solving? But if you are looking at macro trends, I think there’s really fascinating things being done in Japan on interfaces, not necessarily what’s thought of as traditional UI, but the ways that people interact with machines in general. I think there is a huge amount of potential in healthcare for elderly in Japan. There’s a lot of interesting stuff going around the edges, but nothing I’m really excited about yet. But I think that’s a huge potential here just because the aging of Japanese society, they’re 10 years ahead of the demographic curve that we’re seeing in Europe, maybe 20, 25 years what we’re seeing in China. So Japan has a chance to really perfect this market and these techniques, and really have something unique to bring to the world.

Kalani Scarrott (09:02): Yeah, that’s an interesting point. Just curious myself, why do Japanese startups seem to IPO at such an early stage? The TSE Mothers market is just full of companies that would essentially be early to mid stage startups in the west. I’m just wondering.

Tim Romero (09:13): Yeah, that’s a really good question. So traditionally, Japanese venture capital, the industry has been structured to deliver a fairly steady, fairly safe stream of these low, mid value IPO’s. That’s how VC was done in Japan. So the American style of more a couple of big bets, and if a lot of your portfolio goes to zero, don’t worry about it, you’ll make it … That’s a new, that’s a different style. So a lot of the traditional Japanese VCs would push their founders, say like, “Yeah, yeah, don’t worry about going global yet, just IPO. And you can worry about global expansion when you’re public,” which by the way is terrible advice. It’s so much harder to do anything after you IPO, but it’s starting to change.

I think that, for example, a lot of the foreign capital that’s come into the market, although it’s a very small amount in terms of the absolute percentage, it’s very influential because a lot of the foreign companies are willing to invest in later stage, but companies that could IPO, but still have the potential for massive growth. And we’ve seen a number of fairly high profile founders like Terada-san over at Sansan, the CEO of Free, who said that he was not going to IPO until he could do it in the first section of TSE, who have pushed back, who are embracing this growth. And so I think that it’s something we’re starting to see change.

Kalani Scarrott (10:53): Yeah. And you mentioned foreign capital there. And on a previous podcast, you said that you’re amazed at how little attention Japanese startup ecosystem gets internationally. Why do you think that is? Do you think there’s any reason for that or …

Tim Romero (11:03): I’ve got a couple of theories, none I’m really happy with, none really I feel answer it. I think part of it is kind of China sucks a lot of the oxygen out of the air of any discussion about Asia, about APAC, just simply because the economy is growing so much faster and there’s so much more dynamism there so that’s where the attention goes. Also, I think on a practical level, by most measures in terms of the startup investment as a percentage of GDP, the number of unicorns, Japan is behind a lot of countries. So I think there’s probably a number of reasons, some justified, some less so.

Kalani Scarrott (11:54): Yeah. Fair enough. So I think SoftBank probably gets a fair bit of media coverage in the West and something people might know about. Has SoftBank fundamentally changed the startup scene in Japan, if at all?

Tim Romero (12:03): So I think we need to separate SoftBank from the Vision Fund. So SoftBank like SBI, SoftBank Investments, has been a huge player in startup investment since the dot-com boom. I mean they’ve had a tremendous amount of influence. They’ve run it the way they run their company to encourage internal innovation. Spin out companies has had a lot of influence on how large companies run their business. So yeah, SoftBank’s been incredibly influential in the Japanese market.

But the nature of their influence is really different from the Vision Fund. So the Vision Fund was built kind of on this thesis that any company could dominate a niche with enough capital. And that headstart, that massive amount of capital would be what determined the success or failure of that firm. That was kind of … I mean I’m oversimplifying, but that was basically the thesis they were bringing to market. And the jury’s still out on that. I mean they’re not totally wrong, but they’re clearly not totally right either.

But honestly, that thesis would not be a good bet in Japan. It’s more complex than that. So I think their influence outside of Japan, they’re highly influential, both inside Japan and outside Japan, but the nature of that influence is very, very different.

Kalani Scarrott (13:45): Oh, that’s super interesting. Is there any examples of maybe old school Japanese companies that you think are able to successfully reinvent themselves? I know you’ve mentioned previously about how maybe they didn’t use to, but now they do allocate a bit more to startups and time and effort I think.

Tim Romero (14:00): Yeah. There’s a number of companies that do it well. I mean if you really want to go old school, Dai Nippon Printing is this 150-year-old company that continuously reinvents itself. It’s part of their DNA, their approach to innovation. I mean they just reward internal innovation and new productization. And I think they’re kind of unique in Japan in that they are a very, very traditional company, but they have managed this innovation.

But I think there’s also, I think people … How can I put it? They underestimate the potential innovation within Japan. So for example, if you look at the classic disruption of the digital camera, right? So the two companies that utterly dominated in the film era was Kodak and Fujifilm. Well, digital cameras completely crushed Kodak. Fundamentally, they ceased to exist as a meaningful entity, but Fujifilm did fine. They reinvented themselves. They got into different types of chemicals and coatings, and they also have a pretty meaningful internal innovation program.

So I think that the Japanese companies can be very innovative when they are forced to be so. And I think that that motivation is what differentiates the successful from the unsuccessful attempts at innovation.

Kalani Scarrott (15:36): Do you think maybe since the Japanese bubble popped, that maybe risk tolerance has changed and maybe that’s why innovation has maybe lagged, I guess?

Tim Romero (15:44): I think it definitely has an influence, but I think that, to be honest, I think the bubble itself is what killed off a lot of innovation in Japan. If you look at the pre-bubble era, the entire economy was being driven by export, by high quality exports, by innovation. And that really was this heyday of Japanese innovation in just about every sector from automotive to cameras, to machine parts, I mean just everything. And financial changes in the late ’70s and the ’80s made it much more profitable to invest domestically. It was very easy to borrow and to make profit by financial means rather than manufacturing means. And I think that really was the turning point of innovation.

The bubble bursting, ironically, I think is what has put Japan back on the path to being an innovator again. I mean it’s taken a good 30 years to get us there, but it has forced people to move away from financialization. It has forced companies to create products people want. And I think that that coupled with the fact that cloud computing had led to this unleashing of innovation around the world, but Japan had a very important, another important aspect in that.

So the advent of cloud computing came around the same time there was also some reforms in how to start companies in Japan. So as a result, it required very little capital to start companies. You didn’t need capital to buy servers ’cause you could go cloud computing. The legal framework had been simplified. So all of a sudden, you had a lot of these engineers who could go out on their own and start doing things, and they started to do so. So actually, I think that the implosion of the bubble is kind of it’s been a long walk, but it’s sort of what put Japan on the right track to getting innovative again.

Kalani Scarrott (18:02): Yeah. No, that’s super interesting. I never would’ve thought about it that way. Is there anything maybe that really annoys you when outsiders express their opinions on startups in Japan and the like? Is there any opinions commonly held that you think are misguided maybe?

Tim Romero (18:12): Oh, I don’t know. I think there probably used to be. I talk to so many people now, I guess I’m just more forgiving of misunderstandings and things. So no, nothing really comes to mind.

Kalani Scarrott (18:28): Yeah. That’s fair enough. ‘Cause I know maybe outside, there’s the obsession with Japanese quality products. And you’ve touched on this before, so can you maybe explain a little bit about the double-edged sword of Japan’s obsession with quality?

Tim Romero (18:38): Oh, yeah. That’s a very real thing. So it used to be actually a very significant problem in Japanese startup, software startups, getting better, but basically, there is this desire in Japan to strive for perfection, to get things right. Japanese consumers are incredibly demanding in this respect. And so sometimes, this can be wonderful.

However, in the software world, particularly when you’re not a hundred percent sure what you’re building is really the right solution, it is absolutely critical that you get your ideas out in front of people and have people use these things and give you feedback and improve them. And that’s been a difficult shift for a lot of Japanese founders culturally.

It’s starting to get better. There’s been a lot of progress made in that. And you can see this, that Japanese software companies do release kind of MVPs, like crowdfunding, Kickstarter-like project, programs have become popular in Japan, and expectations have been dialed back along with it. So I’d say that the expectations of perfection are still probably a bit too strong in Japan, but it’s been improved so much in the last 10 years or so.

Kalani Scarrott (20:11): Yeah. ‘Cause I think maybe for foreign investors looking at it today, that’s probably their common gripe with it is that their products are so good when they do come out, but the product cycles are too long. And when it doesn’t hit, it just doesn’t hit so …

Tim Romero (20:20): Yeah. Yeah. It’s a huge risk. And the thing is, there’s a lot of startups where everyone kind of understands this intellectually. They’ve read the books, they understand the theory, but there is this really emotional hesitation to put out something that you know is flawed, right? It’s matter of personal pride. And the good founders feel that and kind of push through it, but it’s hard.

Kalani Scarrott (20:57): Yeah. It’s probably the same with content as well. You know that you got to stick to a schedule, but you want to do the best thing-

Tim Romero (21:02): Very much so, yes. Yeah, yeah. In Disrupting Japan, I totally feel that. You’ve got to get it out. I’m sure you feel the same way. An episode is never quite what you want. There’s always something that you can improve, but just, you got to ship it.

Kalani Scarrott (21:17): Always. Yeah, exactly. It’s my baby, but yeah. In terms of your general life in Japan, what’s your day-to-day look like now as head of Google Startups of Japan and doing your podcast? How do you balance it all?

Tim Romero (21:27): Well, with COVID, we’ve been working from home for about a year and a half now. So this beige room is pretty much my day to day. Yeah, it’s hard to comment on that. So things have been so strange with COVID, my regular working routine is kind of thrown out, but it’s still, whether it’s working with Google or Disrupting Japan, it’s still working with a lot of founders. It’s just doing it over video chat rather than in person and at events and things.

Kalani Scarrott (22:07): So like, yeah. What was the original goals of the podcast and how has that changed maybe?

Tim Romero (22:10): Yeah, Disrupting Japan has been quite a journey. This week, we celebrate our seventh anniversary. And honestly, I started it, I just wanted to sit down with my friends and talk about startups, and I never imagined it would have more than like a hundred listeners or so. And we’re up to about 9,000, 10,000 listeners per episode. And I don’t know, I think it just kind of hit at the right point. There is this interest, it’s a niche interest, but there is this global interest in Japanese technology and Japanese innovation because there is some really cool stuff going on here.

But I mean what I love about it today is still sitting down with founders and talking about startups and innovation. And if you listen to the show, sometimes you know I’ll end up just brainstorming with the founders on how to solve a particular problem. I mean we’ll go way off script, but I love that.

And over the years, it was ad supported at one time. It was my main source of income for about a year. So I’ve tried to monetize it a couple … Well, I did monetize it a couple of ways, but I really love it, just being able to sit down and talk with people.

And I try to pick guests who I can tell a story about Japan through the lens of startups, the lens of what problem is this person trying to solve? And then why is that problem important? What does that tell us about Japan? What does it tell us about how things are changing? So yeah, I love doing it.

Kalani Scarrott (23:57): And it’s not just a marketing episode. It’s a chance to chat and, yeah, tell a story I guess. Has there been anything podcast-wise that you wish you did differently? ‘Cause obviously, you got in super early with podcasts so …

Tim Romero (24:06): Yeah, yeah. There’s a lot of things I did wrong that I wish I’d sort of known starting out. So the first couple of interviews I did, I tried to do in a studio, so really good equipment, great sound quality. And my guests just could not relax at all. So if you really want to freak out like a normal person, put a big microphone in front of them and it just … you can have a good conversation.

So what I did is I bought a couple of these little lapel mics, would go to their office, bring a couple of beers, and the lapel mics, the quality is not as good, but after a minute, you totally forget you have them on and you can just have a conversation like a normal human being. That’s something I wish I realized going in.

The other thing that I came to realize, though I don’t know if I ever consciously realized it, there was no like aha moment, but there is this tendency among podcasters and journalists to try to be like this objective, detached observer, right, that you’re some sort of eye in the sky looking down objectively at the situation. And that just doesn’t work at least for me. So I found that the more you engaged yourself, the more you would share about yourself with your guests and with your audience, the more your guests will open up.

Kalani Scarrott (25:41): Yeah. No, I’ve definitely found the more I buy in and the more interested I am in the guest, it just makes it so much easier. Things just flow better I think so …

Tim Romero (25:48): And that, I guess maybe the third thing that I wish I knew, or maybe it’s good I didn’t know, was how much preparation time is required. Yeah, to put a decent show together, it takes a ridiculous amount of time doing research and sketching out notes and … And if you don’t do that, you end up with a hot mess you’re trying to put together in post-production.

Kalani Scarrott (26:12): And it’s never enough as well, no matter how much pre-work and research I do, I’m like I’m just never happy with … You know what I mean? I’m never like overload so it’s just like it’s tougher.

Tim Romero (26:20): Yeah, I agree. It’s never right. I’ve never shipped a show I was totally happy with. What is funny is like, so after you do an interview, you get an idea in your head of like, okay, that was a good interview, that wasn’t a good interview. And then when you go down in post-production and edit it all down, you get a different idea of like, okay, this was a good interview, this wasn’t a good interview, and they’re almost unconnected, right? Sometimes an interview you thought was mediocre turns out to be really good when you listen back to it. And then you put it out into the world and again, it’s totally disconnected between like people will say, “Oh, man, that’s a fantastic episode.” And I was like, “Really? I thought that was … I really felt dicey about that.” And other times, I’ll be like, “This is a really good one. I felt like we really explored it.” And like, “Yeah, it was okay.” And so I give up trying to predict. I just try to put out the best thing I can every time and see how it goes.

Kalani Scarrott (27:16): And listeners pick up on random things. I had a person the other day said, “Oh, I love this question,” and it was just an off-handed stupid comment by me, curious, it was just like a random question. He’s like, “I love that, more of that.” I thought, “Oh.” So, yeah, it’s just given up trying to predict. Is there any favorite experience or what’s been the biggest positive or benefit do you think come out of doing your own podcast?

Tim Romero (27:34): I mean the biggest kind of personal benefit, it’s clearly been kind of been the networking and better connected to people. I can’t point to any one thing that the podcast has given me, but it clearly has opened up some doors and let me meet people that I wouldn’t otherwise. I think probably the most rewarding thing is so far, I’ve had five different Japanese founders tell me that listening to the guests on Disrupting Japan tell their stories gave them the confidence to start their own startups, and that’s pretty cool.

Kalani Scarrott (28:13): Plans for the podcast? What are you thoughts for it going forward? Do you have any big plans for it or …

Tim Romero (28:18): Well, I think the biggest, it’s going to stay in the same format it is now. I’m looking forward to COVID getting put behind us so we can have the big live events again. I certainly miss having those, but long-term trying to predict what it’s going to be like in five years or so, I don’t know. I’ve given up trying to make long-term predictions about anything.

Kalani Scarrott (28:42): ’cause yeah, it always veers off in a totally different direction. Yeah.

Tim Romero (28:44): Exactly.

Kalani Scarrott (28:45): Maybe to move in my closing round of questions, what’s the most undervalued life experience do you think university-aged students don’t give weight to? What’s an underrated skill or an experience that you think they should have?

Tim Romero (28:55): Huh… That’s really good. I’m not sure how to define this in one word, but I think it would be flexibility towards goals or something like that. Well, let me explain. I think that a lot of university students that I talk to come out of school and they’re really passionate about whatever their current goal is, right? Whether that’s startup related, whether it is going into consulting, they’re focused, they’re driven, and that’s awesome. But I think that what you want to do when you’re 21 and coming out of university is probably going to be pretty different than what you want at 31 or 40, and that’s okay.

So I think if I could give one piece of advice, accept that’s going to happen. When you look at people who are in a certain position in their 40s or 50s or whatever, they almost never took a straight line to get there. It was an odd series of coincidences. And my career has been an odder series of coincidences than most, but I think almost everybody, it has done that and that’s just kind of how things unfold. And I think people could be a lot less anxious if they realize that they will change and what they want to do and what they enjoy doing will change and that’s all a good thing.

Kalani Scarrott (30:29): Yeah. I love that. Has there been any maybe books, classes or experiences that have been very influential in shaping your worldview do you think?

Tim Romero (30:37): There have, but a lot of them are just kind of books I think that came to me at the right time, rather than being particularly fantastic books. So I hesitate to recommend them because people might read them and like, “I got nothing out of this.” Like “Yeah, but you’re in a different place. You’d already solved these problems that I was trying to solve in my life at the time.” Yeah, so … Sorry. I hesitate to answer that just ’cause it might get strange and …

Kalani Scarrott (31:08): No, that’s fine. I totally have the same thing ’cause yeah, especially some business and finance books, I’m like “Yep, such a good memory for me.” And I look back and I’m like, “These suck. This is terrible.”

Tim Romero (31:16): Actually, I’ll give you one that I do recommend unreservedly and the story that goes along with it. So when I started my first company … So I’m an engineer and a bit of an introvert actually. And so suddenly, I had to do sales and I have this image of sales as being like the typical used car salesman type of sales. That was my metaphor and experience with sales, and it was not something I wanted to do. And the way I learn any new skill is I just read everything I can find on it. Well, read all of the seminal books, the books everyone’s recommends. Until they start repeating themselves and then you’re just kind of like, “Okay, I think I get this body of knowledge now.”

And the one person who really kind of resonated with me was an author named Zig Ziglar who wrote, I think it’s called The Secrets of Closing the Sale and it’s a good book in of its own, but what it kind of showed was a way of approaching sales honestly, with integrity, with the metaphor of you are trying to help your customer. And it totally reshaped the way I thought about doing sales and I think still very much, I model my sales on his philosophy.

Kalani Scarrott (32:38): Yeah. I have to get onto that ’cause I have a similar sort of maybe icky feeling toward sales sometimes, but you got to promote, you got to promote the podcast, you got to promote your work, but it’s tough. Obviously, it’s a hard one to say ’cause it could be so broad, but what do you think maybe are the biggest opportunities today for you? If you were 18 today, maybe, where and how would you be spending your time?

Tim Romero (32:56): Wow, that’s a great question. I’ll give you kind of a formula for it rather than an answer because I think someone who is 18 or 20 might have a better sense of what will be important in 20 years than I might. So I’d say kind of the formula is you look for what is important, what is getting traction, whether that might be video streaming or whatever you see as moving in society that is becoming important, and then try to move upstream in that.

So if you look at something like Uber or Line or TikTok-ing, these are social trends, but rather than being a driver, being a creator, and there’s nothing wrong with it, that’s fine, but to differentiate yourself, try to move one level up. What could you do to leverage either that platform or the people in that platform? How can you take this trend and use it to your advantage in a slightly different way? So don’t play the game that’s set up for you to play, right, but look at these trends, look at what’s happening, and figure out how can I use this in my life? Or how can I use this to solve somebody else’s problem?

Kalani Scarrott (34:28): Yeah. I love that. Tim, it’s been an absolute pleasure.

Tim Romero (34:30): Oh, it’s been my pleasure. Thanks for having me. I really appreciate it.

Kalani Scarrott (34:33): Sorry, Tim, lastly, anything else you want to plug or where can people find you?

Tim Romero (34:36): Yeah. Please check out Disrupting Japan at disruptingjapan.com and thanks again for inviting me. It’s been a lot of fun.

Kalani Scarrott (34:45): If you enjoyed this podcast episode, be sure to check out the website, compoundingpodcast.com. On the website, you’ll find every episode complete with transcripts, show notes and other related resources. Either way, links to all content mentioned will be in the description below.

Also, be sure to sign up for my weekly newsletter, Curated by Kalani where I share what I’ve been reading, learning, and watching for that week. Same as the podcast, it’s compressed to impress and I aim for maximum return on your time invested. Sign up at kalanis.substack.com, so that’s kalanis.substack.com. You can also connect with me on Twitter @scarrottkalani, but until next time, have a good one.