"Well, so much of this tacit knowledge is transferred within elite circles and not conveyed to other people, that as I thought about the privilege that I've since accumulated, I said to myself, "Wow." It's a combination of anger and almost this question of, "Well, what responsibility do I have as someone who went from outsider status to insider status?" "- Gorick Ng
Gorick Ng is author of THE UNSPOKEN RULES: Secrets to Starting Your Career Off Right (Harvard Business Review Press), a guide on how to become a top-performing employee, based on 500+ interviews with professionals across geographies, industries, and job types. Gorick's book is quickly becoming required reading for new grads and new hires across universities, Fortune 500 companies, tech startups, and non-profits around the world. The book is also a Wall Street Journal bestseller.
Gorick's book has been endorsed by Arianna Huffington (Founder of Huffington Post), Cal Newport (Author of Deep Work), David Carey (Former Global President of Hearst Magazines), Edith Cooper (Board Director of Slack and Etsy and Former Global Head of Human Capital Management of Goldman Sachs), Ginni Rometty (Executive Chairman of IBM), Julie Zhuo (Former VP of Product Design of Facebook), Rich Lesser (CEO of BCG), and Ratan Tata (Former Chairman of Tata Group).
Gorick is a career adviser at Harvard College, specializing in coaching first-generation, low-income students. He has managed new employees at Boston Consulting Group, worked in investment banking at Credit Suisse, and is also a researcher with the Managing the Future of Work project at Harvard Business School. He has been featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Financial Times, Fast Company, CNBC, and more. Gorick, a first-generation college student, is a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Business School. Find him at gorick.com.
Jeremy Au: [00:00:00] Hey Gorick. Good to have you on the show.
Gorick Ng: [00:00:03] Hey Jeremy, it's been a while. Thanks for having me.
Jeremy Au: [00:00:06] When was the last time we hung out in person?
Gorick Ng: [00:00:09] Oh boy, it was three years ago. And I was asking you for stories for what has become a book, but that at the time was really just us ranting to each other, about how things were going.
Jeremy Au: [00:00:23] Yeah. That was Boston. It was just hanging out. I was running busy running my startup, and you were in what I call, author ideation/purgatory mode. Figuring stuff out.
Gorick Ng: [00:00:37] Purgatory is the perfect way to describe it. I was at the time, working on a startup by day, and then starting to think through what a book could look like by night. I was in many ways using both horses, to see which one would run faster. And by the end of the summer, at the time, I was thinking, "Well, by the time September comes around, whichever runs faster, whichever one has the more potential, I'll end up pursuing that." And it ended up being the book.
Jeremy Au: [00:01:05] Was that in the Harvard Innovation Lab, that we're hanging out in, and discussing this?
Gorick Ng: [00:01:10] That's exactly right.
Jeremy Au: [00:01:11] Yeah. And they were discussing that. I was just wondering, how did it shake out? With a startup, and then I know that this book has been a long, buffing process. Do you feel like this horse has run faster?
Gorick Ng: [00:01:23] It's run faster, but I feel like it's run for a long time, and I didn't expect it to take this long. Where, as I look at other founders in the Harvard Innovation Lab that I was sitting beside, folks like you. Folks have gone on to raise additional rounds of funding. People have exited their companies. Here I am, still working in many ways on my MVP. Although this minimal viable product, hasn't turned out to be very minimal at all. It's run faster. I'm more excited about it, but I'm also anxious that it's taken so long, and it's only just the beginning.
Jeremy Au: [00:01:59] Yeah. Well, excited to share about a book The Unspoken Rules: Secrets to Starting Your Career Off Right. Let's start from the beginning. What was your childhood like growing up?
Gorick Ng: [00:02:12] Yeah. We'll start from the very beginning, where I was born, and raised in Toronto. I'm the son of a working class, single mother, who dropped out of school when she was 12 years old, to support her brothers through high school. I wrote my first resume when I was around that age, I was actually 14. Two years older than my mom was, when she ended up getting laid off from the sewing machine factory job. I was the one in the house who knew how to get onto the internet, who knew English proficiently enough, that I was essentially the one who was in charge of getting us both back on her feet. I spent recesses learning to write resumes, and cover letters. Afternoons at the public library in Toronto, looking for jobs, and then evenings coaching My mom. We didn't end up actually being successful through that process.
I didn't end up actually getting any jobs for her. We spammed hundreds of companies, and organizations, ended up getting zero interviews, and she ended up going back to school on a government grant. She ended up switching careers, and ended up ultimately getting back on her feet, but not through my efforts. I didn't think very much about that at the time, but it turned out that we were going through the front door, when everyone else was going through the side door. We were applying online. We were sending the same generic cover letter to everyone, and just waiting. And it turned out, that everyone that we knew at the time was applying to jobs in that same way as well. Not realizing that the "unspoken rule" of getting a job, is to build relationships behind the scenes. To have someone advocate for you, bang the table for you, and then ultimately pull you in.
None of that was apparent to me at the time. At the time it was just, "Why is life so hard?" That was really what was going through my head. I'll fast forward a little bit to high school, where I met someone by the name of Sandy, from another school, at a student leadership event. She was wearing a Yale scarf. I didn't know what Yale was. I had maybe come across that term before in the news, but didn't really know what that was. She, and I became friends. And over the course of that process learned from Sandy, all the unspoken rules of applying to a top school, and getting in. Learned from her, that it's not just about submitting a five paragraph essay from class. It's not just about asking your teachers for the recommendation. It's about orchestrating this whole elaborate narrative about yourself.
It's about holding your teacher's hands through the process. All of those things. Those what I think of now is unspoken rules, they worked. I was lucky enough to have gotten into Harvard as an undergrad, the first in my family to pursue a higher education. At the time I thought, that these unspoken rules were behind me. Little did I know that it had just begun, because I was now among friends whose parents were lawyers, doctors, senators. Who were white collar professionals. I had never even been in a room with so many people, who could say that their parents were lawyers, and doctors. I was super intimidated, but I also was looking left, looking right, and noticing that they were approaching college in a very different way. I think back to an experience I had, spending a late night at a library, for example. Where I was walking home from that library, off to go to bed, and walking in the opposite direction was a bunch of my classmates.
They were all decked out in suits, and ties. I was wearing jeans, and a hoodie, and it turned out, that whereas I was spending the night in the library studying, they were off going to an invite only recruiting event. Put on by a company that had come onto campus, that had done a job fair, and a recruiting session. I had actually gone to that event, but I was told that this company wasn't hiring for sophomores. And so I thought, "Okay. Well, I'll show up. I'll pick up some of the free swag, and go home." Little did I know, that my friends were saying the right things to the right people, were networking behind the scenes, and had ended up receiving internships that seemingly didn't exist. How did that happen? I had somewhat of a wake up call, where I started seeing enough of a pattern of, wow.
I had flashbacks to my own childhood upbringing. I had flashbacks to getting into college, and I thought, "There's got to be something more to this." I looked left, look right, started emulating the people who were around me, and ended up learning some of these unspoken rules. To the point where I ended up working in finance, and investment banking in New York, and then in management consulting after school. But over the course of that process, again, I thought, "I made it. I had gotten into Harvard, I'd gotten this good job. Life was set for me." Little did I know that, that was once again not the case.
Where when I got into the so-called real world I realized, that there were a whole host of unspoken rules to getting good assignments at work. To managing up. To building relationships. To getting promoted. That once again, weren't things that the school curriculum taught me, these were things that people learn through trial, and error, and then passed down from parent to child, or from mentor to mentee. And that I was only learning for the first time, through trial and error. That's the long story long there, of how I ended up from this working class household in Toronto, through to Harvard, and beyond, and into the white collar world.
Jeremy Au: [00:08:05] You've definitely managed to get from point A to point B. Harvard, then Harvard Business School together. Now you're writing for the Harvard, through the Harvard publisher system for this book. You're there, but let's go all the way back to the beginning. Why do the rules exist? And why did you not know them?
Gorick Ng: [00:08:25] It's a good question. I'm going to come at this from a number of different angles. Where one angle, is the notion of tacit knowledge. Which is a fancy way of saying, that there're certain ways of doing things that we internalize, but can't necessarily explain. If you were to, for example, talk to an NBA basketball player about what it takes to shoot a basket. They might say, "Oh. Well, you just pick up the ball, and you shoot." If you were to ask a novice, or if someone like me, I would have a million questions. "Where do I position my feet? How do I move my arms? Where should I be looking?" And so, this is what I consider tacit knowledge. And it's not my term. It's a real term, to describe that when someone goes from novice to professional, they accumulate a lot of this hidden knowledge, that they first consider to be this complicated system.
But that over time becomes common sense. It's like breathing, or looking both ways before you cross the street. It's like, "Oh, duh. Of course, you look both ways." It's not obvious if you talk to, let's say a toddler. I think a lot of these come from life experience, that people don't necessarily give themselves credit for, is number one. Number two, is around some of these unspoken rules being sometimes politically incorrect, or inconvenient to talk about. Where, as I think about some of the unspoken rules of the workplace, around showing commitment to your job. There are certain professions where FaceTime matters. Where you need to be the first one in, last one out, and always seen at your desk when your managers around. Well, is any manager really going to tell you upfront, that this is the way that the workplace works? Or would they prefer, or maybe they don't even realize that at this point, coming back to the notion of tacit knowledge, that this is even an expectation that they're imposing upon their teams?
That's the second one. And then, I would say the last one, is around different domains having different rules, around how people ought to behave. We have rules around how to succeed in school. And I think that the spoken, or unspoken rule there is, it's all about keeping up. It's all about not procrastinating. It's about keeping up with your homework assignments. In kindergarten, we learned that sharing is caring. And if you touch it, you take it. You take it, you eat it. Those are the rules of kindergarten, and of school. And then we have rules that we learn from our parents. And that is often a function of our cultural backgrounds of, this is how you behave around your elders. This is how you behave around people who are different from you. This is how you should be thinking about your career. And this is a function of how your parents were brought up, and what their lived experiences are.
And then in the workplace, there are whole host of other rules. And those are a function of the culture of the environment you're in. The people that you're reporting to, and working with, and what their upbringings are like. And so, when we import one set of rules into a different set of rules, or domains, we end up often finding a mismatch. I think in my case, working in an American corporate atmosphere, where you're expected to manage up, you're expected to push back. You're expected to speak up in meetings, that wasn't intuitive to me coming from a culture where you're you speak when you're spoken to, and where whatever the higher ups say is gospel.
Jeremy Au: [00:11:51] Lots of reasons why rules exist, and why their unspoken. Why did they not exist for you? Why did you not know them?
Gorick Ng: [00:11:59] Well, I think in my case, it was from my mom not having had this lived experience before. I often find myself thinking back to the point in life, where my life, and my mom's life ended up diverging. And I feel like it happened in high school. Where I was studying chemistry, and biology, and calculus, and these weren't classes my mom had taken growing up. Whereas, some of my friends whose parents were doctors, and professors, I never asked them, but I could imagine, that they had more of an opportunity to get help on their homework than I did. The diverging paths of me, and my mom, I think led to me really having to learn a lot of these through trial, and error, and through observation, versus getting coached over the dinner table. I would say that, that's how I came across these unspoken rules. Other people may not have ever encountered the notion of unspoken rules. Largely because the people around them, have been able to pass down some of this tacit knowledge.
Jeremy Au: [00:13:05] When did your family come to America, and how?
Gorick Ng: [00:13:12] I'm thinking it's probably been 40 years ago. My mom grew up in Hong Kong. She got sponsored to get, through her husband at the time, to go to Toronto. And so, she went that way. It was a while ago.
Jeremy Au: [00:13:27] It's interesting, because these rules, I think you certainly mentioned, a function of institution, is a function of experience, is a function of class. And I would also say it's a function of geography. Because your mother probably knew all unspoken rules of being in Hong Kong, to much greater extent than she did in North America. Encompassing both Canada, and the States. What do you think about that?
Gorick Ng: [00:13:51] Yeah. I would say that's absolutely true. Where is I think about the folks who've been most excited about my book, it's been new immigrants to North America. It's broadly speaking people who consider themselves to be outsiders. That's definitely true. And I would say, when it comes to the broader question of cultural differences, that's also something that I've been thinking about a lot. Where the way that you conduct yourself in Southeast Asia, will be very different from in the middle East, than in North America. I think it maybe remains to be seen, and largely will depend on what global trade, and commerce looks like.
But at least from what I've heard, there is perhaps this idea, that American working culture, is one that has found itself permeating the global economy the most. Where you have multinational corporations that start off in the U.S., and that have offices elsewhere. Where even though you have local ways of doing things, if you're working for, let's say McKinsey, or Deloitte, or Proctor & Gamble, there's probably a higher likelihood that even if you're working in a local context, that there are going to be American ways of doing things, that get imported. That get inserted without people necessarily mentioning it.
Jeremy Au: [00:15:16] Yeah. It's totally true. And it reminds me, I remember I took up business at UC Berkeley, studying Economics, and then I ended up taking on a Business major, and we also had ability to have Business Etiquette classes. And I was very surprised by some of those facts. I always remember. I think the one that stood out for me, was someone was like, "Hey. What do you think about leaving the restroom with your hands wet?" And if you have the shake hands of someone, what do you do? And I was like, "Whoa. I totally had this problem all the time." Because you had this sash networking session. Then you go to the title, you wash your hands, and you use the paper towel, and then your hands are still damp, and then you had to go shake someone's hand. And you're like, "Oh no, I didn't."
At the time I was doing something pretty cool, which was instead of shaking hands, I innovated, and I was doing fist bumps instead [inaudible] feel like my hands are still wet, but let's do a fist bump instead. And I was like, "I'm killing it right now." And then the teacher there was like, "Well, the solution, is make sure that you dry your hands before you leave the restroom. Make sure it's 100% dry. And I was like, "Whoa, what? That's mind blowing." I remember I was like, "Write that down." And I wrote it down in my note book. And I was like, "This is so obvious." I was doing fist bumps. I didn't realize fist bumps were bad, until maybe way later in my career, where I was like, "Okay, someone did that to me."
And I was like, "Whoa. That's not cool." Or not as cool as you think it is." But at the time I was keeping my hands dry. Making sure I use multiple hand towels. A lot of it, is make sure your hands are dry, or the hand drier, or whatever it is. It's the far superior solution, anyway. That was an unspoken rule that I had no idea. I think there're must be 100 who have fist bump with Jeremy, back before 2009, I guess.
Gorick Ng: [00:17:24] This is totally off script. Not that we had a script, but to add my own hand drying experience. I feel like when I walk out of the bathroom, if my hands do happen to be wet, I'll try, and communicate to the other person that, "Hey. This is water." Or that I'm trying to be thoughtful about my interaction. I'll do a combination of deliberately showing my hand, and wiping it on my pants, and then going for the handshake. And then if I sense that they're feeling uncomfortable, I'll say it's water. This is me crazily, overthinking every interpersonal interaction, so I can relate to your experience. The second one, is around generational differences. Where so many of these unspoken rules, especially as it relates to compatibility, and commitments, I feel like are a function of how someone perceives professionalism. And that's a function of the technology that someone may have grown up with.
For example, where if you're working in an organization with folks who may not be as comfortable around laptops, and iPads, or just don't have a culture of taking notes using electronic devices, there's going to be an unspoken rule of taking notes by hand, of pulling out your notebook, and taking notes in front of them. Just a signal that, "Hey. I'm paying attention." In contrast to, if you were working with a younger crowd, or a more technologically savvy crowd. Where it's totally cool, to be pulling out your laptop without people assuming, or making assumptions about, "Are you actually paying attention, or are you on social media right now?" There are some nuances there as well.
Jeremy Au: [00:19:03] Were you ever angry about these unspoken rules growing up? If you're so calm, and I've always known you as this calm, professional person. You must've had rubbed it all off by the time I met you at Harvard Business School, or MBA. But were you ever angry about these unspoken rules growing up?
Gorick Ng: [00:19:21] I don't know, that I even knew about it enough to be angry. I think at the time it was more just, "Why is life so hard?" And when it came to helping my mom go through this job search, and even myself going through the job search, I just wondered to myself, "Wow. This is hard. Maybe like calculus. Maybe like statistics." I don't know that I had the vocabulary, or even the lens through which to look at the world. It wasn't until I started looking at this from a more theoretical, or a more nerdy way of approaching this, where I started writing the book, I thought to myself, Wow. It isn't just about life being hard. It's a matter of inequality. Where if we are in a segregated society, which, which we very much are. Where who you know, is a function of where you grew up, and it's a function of your family background, and upbringing, and social capital."
Well, you're going to have so much of this tacit knowledge be transferred within elite circles, and not conveyed to other people, that as I thought about the privilege that I've since accumulated, I thought to myself, "Wow." It's a combination of anger, to use your words if I recall correctly, and almost this question of, "Well, what responsibility do I have as someone who went from outsider status to insider status?" I can't even consider myself really an insider, but having at least been exposed to what the insiders know, what responsibility do I have to pave a smoother path for others coming after me? Yeah, there was a bit of anger, but I think it was also a bit of personal responsibility in a way.
Jeremy Au: [00:21:10] Did you feel like you were explaining the rules to people along the way? Because I remember I went to middle school, and we were a missionary school. Very much they wanted every student to be an officer, a scholar, and a gentlemen. And so, it was a very British oriented school. Don't get me wrong, I think I've benefited from, obviously the business ethics, which I mentioned with the university came in later, but I think I got some adequate training implicitly through the norms. And I remember, in a classroom we would discuss stuff together. We would be like, "Okay. To be a gentleman, it means we open doors." How do we open doors for someone walking? And we would practice a little bit with each other, because you were like, "What if we are all walking on the inside of the door, or the other side of the door? Do you go through first, and keep the door open? Or do you open the door out, with your hand push out?" Because the doors could swing in, and out. There're different combinations of doors, angles, and approaches. We were discussing that as school boys would do, because it was a very important skill for us that we felt that the school both condoned, and that we felt like we had to master for our own sakes as teenagers. What was it like? Were you ever swapping notes on these rules growing up with folks? Not just your parents, not just your mom, but other people.
Gorick Ng: [00:22:38] First of all, I wish I had such a class. I feel like, I could learn a ton even today on door etiquette. If that's part of the lesson plan. I didn't have that experience of passing it down, at least earlier in my upbringing. It wasn't until I would say, around when I was in my first job that I really started going from benefiting from others, opening doors, to me, to opening doors for others. To use your metaphor. Where, as I actually think back to my own Harvard business school application, and what I wrote about in that essay, it was about how I had gone from mentee to mentor. And I wanted to go to business school, so that I could bring this personal passion of mine together with a business mindset, to scale a mentorship to the world. So I found myself adopting more of that mentor, door opening mindset over time.
I think earlier, I found myself, to use a different metaphor, I think I was so busy putting on my own oxygen mask, that I didn't have the mental bandwidth, or time, or energy to be assisting other passengers. Nor did I really think I was in a position to do so. I think I still have a bit of that in me, where I think to myself, "Boy, someone who writes business books, often is in their mid to late career. Where they're writing after having become CEO, and a member of multiple boards of directors, and here I am still early in my career. What do I know about any of this? What makes me think that I'm in a position to pass down some of this knowledge, when I still have so much to experience?" I think I still very much feel that way, but over time, I think I started appreciating, that because so much of this is tacit knowledge, it's a quick switch from, "Why is this so hard?" to, "Oh. This is total common sense." I feel like there's almost a finite period of time, where this is still so fresh in your mind, that you're able to transfer this knowledge down. If you wait another year, or two years, or five years, or decades, this too could become common sense to you. To a point where you, like the NBA basketball player, will say, "Well duh. Just shoot." I felt like, this is a prime opportunity to hopefully pass it down. And I feel like, I've since convinced myself that, that's something that I should be doing more. And I feel like that is something we should all be doing more of. Including middle school, elementary school version of Gorick, who didn't think he was good enough, wise enough, competent enough, to be of help to anybody.
Jeremy Au: [00:25:30] Yeah. I know you've done a lot of mentoring over the years, and that's something that stood out for me even back then. Can you tell us more about, do you remember your first mentee, or your first mentor moment? What was it like?
Gorick Ng: [00:25:44] Yeah. First mentee moment where I was the mentee came, I would say, from a student leadership activity that I had in high school. Where I was elected to the School Board of Toronto, as a student representative. And looking back, I would say, that was a hugely important experience for me, because it put me as, I guess I must have been maybe 16 at the time, in close proximity to people who were in their mid and late careers. Who were, I call them adult politicians. Where I was the kid in the room. I was the kid in the ill-fitting suit, sitting there, watching as the adults conducted their business. One of these individuals ended up taking me under her wing, and ended up really seeing potential in me. And we ended up grabbing coffee after meetings, and such. And I would say that, that person really became my first mentor in a structured way. I would say, that there were mentors that I may not have given credit to growing up. Where there were teachers who saw potential in me, and who encouraged me to broaden my horizons.
I'm thinking about my eighth grade teacher, for example. Who encouraged me to not just look at schools within my local area, but look at what are called Magnet Programs, a specialized math, and science programs that were outside of my district. Without this person helping me appreciate what I didn't know, I didn't know, but should know, I wouldn't have applied to some of these schools. And so, even though that may not have been a mentor, per se, at least in the very rigid sense, I do feel like that person was an important mentor to me. And then when I think about me serving as a mentor, I'm actually drawing a bit of a blank on the first mentorship experience. And the way that I'd maybe justify it to myself, is I don't quite think of mentor-mentee relationships as that formal where someone says, "Would you like to be my mentor?"
And I say, "Yes," and we both signed on the dotted line, and we have a regular check-in cadence. I think that's productive. I think structure is often helpful, but as I think about people that I hopefully have helped, some of it has been just in the form of someone saying, "Hey, Gorick. I'm going through this. Could you help me? Could you look at my resume? What are your thoughts on this?" I've done that with so many people as a mentee, and I've done it with people who are older than me, and younger than me. Where in the case of my book, I've asked so many undergrads, and even high school students for their take on how I should be writing better, to make it more accessible to a general audience. Do I consider myself a mentee to them in this conversation? I would say yes, but I don't know that we ever threw around the word mentee, or mentor. We were just friends. We were just helping each other.
Jeremy Au: [00:28:35] Interesting. You remember when you were a mentee in a very structured way, but you remember your mentor relationships, in a very unstructured way. That's interesting.
Gorick Ng: [00:28:50] Maybe that's just a sign that I've done a bad job as a mentor, and I should be applying the principles that others have brought to relationships with me. That could be an explanation for all of us.
Jeremy Au: [00:29:01] Yeah. Gorick, I wouldn't sell myself short at all. I think, I too actually have a very crisp memory of them helping me. But of the people I've helped, I've often heard stories of people coming up to me later, and just be like, "Whoa. You really helped me in this very structured way." And to me, I was like, "No. It was an easy piece of advice." I make fun of you just, because I feel the same as well. Which is an interesting power dynamic, at least where, as a mentee, it's very clear what the help is, because you know what your problem is, and how much value it provides. But for the mentor, you're very much just giving a suite of advice in the conversation. And it's not so obvious, because there's a lot of stuff that you say that you feel is really obvious, and that is really obvious. And I have to say that, I would just put as big that caveat. I'd say, "You may already know this, and this is how I would think about this." I think there's an interesting dynamic there.
Gorick Ng: [00:30:02] Yeah. That's a good way of putting it. The power dynamic, so many unspoken rules there. Of how do you conduct yourself, when you know that? At least if I even just think about myself as a mentor. Where I'd like to think that we're friends first, but from the other person's point of view, especially if there's an age gap, they're probably perceiving me in a very different way. And then their unspoken rules. I don't really care about this. Partly, because I have nerded out over this topic for the last couple of years. But how do you write emails to someone who's in a position of authority? Do you write, "Hey," or "Hi?"
Do you use their first name? Do you use Mr., Mrs., Miss? Do you use emojis, and acronyms, like LOL? Do you text them? Do you email them? Do you email them during business hours, after hours? A whole host of unspoken rules there, around that relationship. But I think the ones that have been most fruitful for me, have been the ones where we can both let our guard down. And treat nothing as too basic to talk about, nothing as too uncomfortable to talk about. I think that's where we can really go from mentor mentee, which we were just talking about, as being very structured, to being much more fluid.
Jeremy Au: [00:31:18] You've got all this great advice, and I've read the book. So thank you for letting me review your manuscript, and therefore read your book for free, but also give you feedback for free, I guess. There's a trade. Obviously, I can recommend the book highly enough to anybody listening, but I guess the question is why a book? You were an outsider. You knew nothing. Worked your way up. You became an insider. Like it or not, Harvard, and Harvard MBA, is pretty much the insider for everybody. You know what they call a Harvard Business School? The West Point of capitalism. That's what I heard.
I came in, I heard that phrase, and I was like, "Whoa. This is a very aggressive military phrase at academy. I wouldn't use the word at West Point as an international student. And I wouldn't use capitalism, as to be very proud of either. But people were like, "Ah. This is the West Point of capitalism." And I was like, "What, we're the shock troops of globalization?" You've become an insider, but why a book? Why are you picking this book, versus a podcast like this today, versus articles, which I know you've helped write over time. And I know, you've also done TikTok as well. But first, why a book?
Gorick Ng: [00:32:32] It was never the plan to write a book. It was me coming to the realization, that any startup I'd build, unless the buyer isn't the user, would end up pricing out the very people that I want to help. I'll go back in time a little bit, where before I went to business school, I was already thinking about, "How do I democratize some of this knowledge?" And as I looked out to the typical media, it would be in the form of a coaching marketplace. Where you pay X amount of money per hour, to get this amount of time with a certain professional. The Ubers for coaching, if you will, or Grab for coaching. And I was intrigued by that idea, but I couldn't help but think, that these were the exact services that I couldn't have benefited from growing up. When I was going through the college admissions process, I saw plenty of coaches who are charging $50,000 with a guarantee, that you'll get into your top school, or your money back.
Well, fantastic if you have that money, I didn't. And so I resorted to this mentor of mine, to Googling to the best of my ability. And so I thought to myself, "Well, how hypocritical would it be for me to talk this talk with myself, only to price out the people that I want to help. I was really struggling while I was at business school, and you had a front row seat to my flavors de jour. Where I was just pivoting all the time, and I think so many of those pivots came from me, not being able to crack the business model. Of, "Okay. If I do this coaching thing, is it going to be by hour? Is it going to be a subscription? If I'm creating a community, is it going to be a subscription? If I create an online course, is it going to be thousands of dollars, hundreds of dollars?" All of which were intriguing to me from a business point of view, given that we were at the West Point of capitalism. And it was intriguing also, from a money-making point of view.
It blows my mind, how many incumbents there are in the space. How fragmented this coaching advising space is. You see it with Testprep, for example. Not a day goes by, when you don't see someone create their own SAT prep course, and make a killing off of that business. And I think to myself, "This defies all business principles, or at least what I learned in business school about entering a market that's not saturated." Well, how much more saturated can you get, than SAT test prep, and college admissions? And yet people make a killing. And so I have to admit, that I had a lot of envy for folks who had built those types of businesses, and they're great businesses from the HBS case study mindset. But I just thought, "I don't know that I would continue to be excited about this, knowing that I wasn't serving the people that I want to serve."
Which then brought up the question of, "Okay. Well, do I write blogs online, and start generating revenue through sponsorships, through advertising? Do I create a podcast?" What came to mind, was the idea of creating a single go-to resource. Without needing to go online, sift through all this information. I was intrigued by the idea of having a single resource. At the time, when we were jamming away at the Innovation Lab, I was actually creating a text-based coaching service. Where you could ask any question you want, and you would submit your question into almost a hotline. And there would be someone behind the scenes, it was me at the time, and a couple of my friends. Who would then answer in real-time. What I learned from that experience though, was that people don't know, what they don't know, and so can't ask questions that they can't even put into words.
Through that, I guess MVP, it was already 16.0, because I had iterated so many times even before getting to that point, where I started realizing, "Wow. The people who are taking advantage of this service, were the people who, again, were already privileged." Because they knew, "Oh. I should be preparing for meetings. I should be navigating my manager one-on-ones a certain way. I should be approaching this performance evaluation process in a certain way." They were asking really nuanced questions, and I appreciated those questions, but I couldn't help but notice that there was a large share of users, who weren't engaging at all. And so I pivoted slightly, where instead of waiting passively for someone to ask me questions, I then started prompting people. And saying, "Hey. It's your first day on the job. Here are some things that I wish someone could have told me, about how to navigate this first day. Where, I then thought, "Maybe there's something to proactivity that helps."
But even then, different people are going to have a different first day, first week, first month experience in a new job. That me saying, "This is how you should navigate your first day," may make sense to one person, only to not make sense to another. Which meant that dripping content to people, had its limitations as well. I then met a Harvard Business School professor, who then said, "Why don't you just put this into a book?" And I guess it makes sense, because he's an academic, and academics write books. My first response was, "No way. I didn't come to business school to write a book. I don't think I'm a good writer. My high school English teacher, would probably spit out his tea, if he knew I was writing a book. This is not what I'm going to do." And then I started realizing, that actually a book did make a lot of sense. From the perspective, I'm going to drop in some more business terms, of price discrimination.
If I wanted to make this accessible, how much more accessible a medium can you make something, than to put it into a book? How much more accessible can you make it from a technological perspective, than putting it into a physical medium? Instead of requiring people download a certain app, or get onto a certain platform that requires a certain login. And I also started along the way, really nerding out over this process. Where at the time I thought, "Oh. I could just pass down what I wish someone could have told me, and hopefully my personal lived experience would be relevant to someone else." But I started realizing, that I too had a lot that I don't know, I don't know, but should know. And so, I had already interviewed 200 people at that point, about what separates top performers from mediocre performers in the workplace?
What are the most common mistakes, early career professionals make in their first jobs, and internships? Then I started realizing, "Wait. This can't all just come from me. This needs to be a crowdsourced effort." And when I realized that, I started really thinking about, "Wow. This could be a really meaty research project, that isn't just about reaching the local maximum of you talking to one person, you getting that one person's perspective. But what if I could have a compendium of knowledge from, now over 500 people? That would be so much more valuable, than anything I could say alone. I don't have all the answers." That's a long meandering approach, which was honestly the real story of how I arrived upon writing a book.
Jeremy Au: [00:39:51] To paraphrase what you're saying, is you could have dripped out a bunch of content, but then people would never discover the content, because they didn't know what the question was. You're almost implying, that this book is going to be given by someone, who knows that the other person doesn't know what the question is. Like, managers giving to they're teammates. It's parents giving to the kids. Is that what you envisioned this book is going to be?
Gorick Ng: [00:40:22] Yeah, exactly. There will be a certain share of folks, who will buy it for themselves. I think of these, as the super career-minded people, who know what they don't know. But the folks who will more likely be the buyers, I hope, will be parents for their kids. Older siblings to younger siblings. Mentors to mentees. Managers to their employees. HR directors to their teams. CEOs for their companies. Where there are a number of ways to frame the book. From a consumer's point of view, it's all about helping you get further, faster in your career. I also think about it, as demystifying what you don't know, you don't know, but should know. But that's catered to the individual. When I think about this from an organization's perspective, some of these unspoken rules are a matter of etiquette, and professionalism, and those are going to be a function of geography. But there are also some pretty, I'd like to think, principles, on how to be a better manager, and how to better manage your team, and how to build a better culture that creates a sense of belonging. And that is also more productive.
One example I'll raise in this case, is the experience I had in my first job in consulting. Where I was importing the rules of doing your work in school, where you passively wait for the assignment. You read the instructions at the top of that assignment, and you do whatever's asked of you. And if you get the question wrong, but it's because the teacher, or professor wrote a bad question, well, you have license now to argue for extra credit, and to have your test be regraded. That may be the rules in school, but in the workplace, assignments aren't so clear cut. And so you have instead, manager saying, "Jeremy, can you look into this?" Or, "Can you respond to this?" These are instructions that may make sense to someone who's more experienced, who has that contextual awareness of what their manager is looking for.
But even then, they're actually asking themselves a certain set of questions. They're going through this mental decision tree of sorts. That becomes tacit knowledge, and it's the question of asking four questions. One, why do I need to do this? Two, what do I need to do? Three, how do I need to do it? And four, by when do I need to do it? So I think about this as why, what, how, by when? If you don't answer for yourself, those four questions, you're definitely going to do the wrong work. You'll do it the wrong way. And/or you'll not do it on time. That's an unspoken rule, to receiving an assignment in the workplace.
Those are unspoken rules, that I wasn't taught. And that led to me pulling late nights. To doing the wrong work. To stressing myself out. To stressing my manager out. Where I would love to see this resource be given to any new hire to a company. Really, any employee in a company, and manager in a company. Because a situation like that, shows how so much of the everyday friction that we experienced in the workplace, is a function of us not having common guidelines, around how to interact with one another, communicate with one another, manage expectations with one another.
And there's stuff that individuals should be doing. I.e, asking these questions, but they're also things that managers should be doing. In terms of setting expectations more clearly upfront, especially in cases where you might be managing someone who doesn't have that tacit knowledge. It's going to be your responsibility as a manager, to not assume that people can read your mind, but to manage more explicitly. And I'd like to think, that this could be as well as a tool for managers.
Jeremy Au: [00:44:07] Who doesn't want to give out your book. Who doesn't want the unspoken rules to be spoken in this way? Let's talk about it.
Gorick Ng: [00:44:20] Yeah. Well, I hope that's a rhetorical question in a sales pitch. Of, "Who doesn't want to give this out." And the answer is, "Absolutely everyone should want to give it out." I appreciate the plug. I'm going to take it as the rhetorical question, but assuming it's not the rhetorical question. I think it's folks who might feel uncomfortable, about what some of these unspoken rules mean for their internal corporate culture. in my book, I have a framework which I call the three CS. which stand for competence, commitment, and compatibility. And the idea, is that when you enter the workplace, or when you're looking for a job, and when you're interacting in a professional setting. And actually for the founders, I would say, when you're interacting with VCs, perhaps even. The other person, is asking themselves three questions. One, can you do your job well? Which I call competence. Are you excited to be here? Which I call commitment. And do we get along? Which I call, compatibility. Competence, commitment, compatibility, the three CS. And your job as a professional, is to convince the people around you to answer, "Yes," to all three questions all the time. In the case of competence, we get into rules like why, what, how by when. Where, if you aren't asking those questions to yourself, and/or to your manager, you're going to have misunderstandings. And that's going to reflect poorly on you, because you're going to end up doing the wrong work. Not because you're incapable of doing the right work, but because you just didn't ask the right questions upfront. And so that's a matter of perception versus reality. Where the reality is you are competent in your role, but the perception, is because you didn't ask those questions, and no one prompted you to ask those questions, you came across as incompetent.
Just as I did when I was in my first job. In doing so, if you have this pattern of not improving, there could be negative implications for how people perceive your commitment. That there's an unspoken rule I talk about, of don't make the same mistakes twice. And don't make others tell you the same thing twice. If you do, you should ask someone else, or acknowledge that you're asking the same question twice. Or you should acknowledge that, "Oh. I know this happened earlier. This is what happened this time around." And that could have negative implications for your perceived commitment. Especially for competence, I see those as productive rules that I would like to see every company adopt. And I've had managers now say, "Wait a second. I know you pitched me on this as a tool, a giveaway for our new hires, and interns, but I want to give this to my management team." And that's music to my ears. When it comes to who might not want to see this, it would be on the diversity inclusion, equity, belonging side. Where I talk about compatibility, that last C.
Where, to what extent is your willingness to invest in a certain employee, a function of how well they small talk with you? And how much is smalltalk a function of their personal upbringing, and cultural differences? Are you as a manager going to admit, that actually there's a flawed performance management process happening at your company? Where, it's not a matter of competence, compatibility, commitment, but it's really a matter of who's drinking buddies with whom? And who knows whom. And/or who is able to play workplace politics the best. I think it really does shine a light on corporate cultures, that may need some fixing. In my book I talk, about an example where there's an accounting firm that I interviewed, where they had all these managers sit around a table, to discuss who is a top performer, who's an okay performer, and who's a low performer?
Who's exceeding expectations, meeting expectations, and falling below expectations? And they were going around the table. And talking about Jeremy, and John, and Sally, and Jenny, and all these people. Little did they know, that the people that they always saw as exceeding expectations, and who ended up getting promoted, weren't necessarily the hardest working. Or even people who generate the best output. These were instead people, that were showing up that the company's happy hour, because there was this unspoken culture, where you could only speak about someone, if you knew that person. Well, who are the people who are perceived as low performers, and not meeting expectations?
They were the people that no one knew. Why did they not know anyone? Because they were hard at work, while other people were going to the company happy hour. I would like to think, that for a self-aware leader, who wants to build a more productive workplace, where people feel a sense of belonging, and where retention isn't a problem, that these are going to be welcomed discussions. But I also know, that not everyone may feel that way. That may be the one segment, but I'd like to think that there's hopefully more benefit to be had, from having this conversation than not.
Jeremy Au: [00:49:21] Yeah. I think it's very true. And I always remember in the military, I had an instructor, and we were just okay. And the most important thing, was that they would go for smoke breaks, and some of the other recruits would also go for smoke breaks at the same time, and they would go for smoke breaks with the instructors. And those recruits, would always somehow get that five to 20% easier ride. And it was enough to be like, "Okay. I felt it was massively unfair," but I didn't know why I felt was unfair. I wasn't self-aware enough to understand it. And I also didn't know how to react to it. Right. Maybe if I read your book, maybe I would've picked up smoking, put another gate in the crowd. Or maybe I've looked at it in a more constructive way. And figured out different approaches, to build a rapport with the instructors, or whoever it was.
Gorick Ng: [00:50:16] Yeah. I think there are certainly boundaries to all of this. I'm not trying to say, that building rapport with your supervisor isn't important. I think, especially in the day and age that we're in, where so many more of us are working in white collar jobs, not tilling the fields really, compatibility is important. So much of our everyday lives, is spent engaging with other people, engaging in teamwork. Where work would be a miserable place, if you didn't get along with your coworkers. So I'm not saying that we should outlaw smalltalk. I think that's important, but I do think that there are constructive ways to create a culture, where people feel a sense of belonging. And it may just be a matter of providing more structured ways for people to socialize. Where instead of, again, not outlawing small talk here by any measure, but in addition to the small talk, could you have... A company that I've been working with, and I've spoken at, plays a game called Two Truths and a Lie. Where new hires, will speak before the entire company, and give two truths and a lie. And we're all going to have something to contribute in that situation. It's a very different experience though, from a different interaction, which is, "What did you do this weekend?" Which very much will have maybe classist undertones. Where, "Oh. I went wine tasting, and I went rock climbing, and I went skiing. What did you do this weekend?" I think we could do a better job of augmenting, some of these otherwise unstructured ways of interacting with each other. Just to level the playing field a little bit more, for people who may not otherwise be able to contribute.
In your case, I do not condone picking up smoking for the record. For anyone listening, and wondering, "Where's this conversation going?" There's something that we as individuals need to do more of. Could you have done more to build rapport with that supervisor? Maybe, I wasn't there, but as the author of a book that tries to equip people, with the tools they need to be more proactive, and to be more self-aware, I'd like to think that we can all do more. But could that supervisor have done more? Assuming they wanted to do more. And that comes back, to who wants to read this, and who doesn't. I'd like to think so.
Jeremy Au: [00:52:29] Yeah. I'll make an argument, that those who benefit from the current unspoken rules, wouldn't want this book. Those have already benefited from the unspoken rules, and are at the top of the pyramid, they don't mind giving out his book, because they're not going to be threatened by people learning the unspoken rules, because they made it to the top, or they're on the escalator up. Of course, if you don't know the unspoken rules, there's no harm reading, or giving out this book, because you don't know the rules. But I think it's for the people in the middle, who have just crossed the threshold. Who have figured out, to some extent, the spoken rules. They're going to read it, because they want to know about the unspoken rules. Because they know what they don't know, and they want to get deep into this. But they may not necessarily share with everybody. Especially if they were like, "I don't know, 100 other people applying for that same job." They wouldn't necessarily recommend it, to the 99 other people applying for the job. What do you think about that?
Gorick Ng: [00:53:34] Yeah. Such a good point. And one that I continue to wrestle with myself around. To what extent is success, in this case, specifically career success, to what extent is it a zero sum game? Where you getting that promotion, means that I don't get that promotion, and vice versa. And I'd like to think that, that's not true. And I'll double click a little bit here, by saying that this was actually what contributed to one of my pivots, in the startup journey. Where I was, and I still am passionate about this entire transition, from school to work. And really, it's in two phases. It's getting a job, and then succeeding in the job. And for a while, I was playing around with ideas to help people get jobs. I was thinking about, "How do we improve upon job postings, and job boards? How do we have better match between employer, employee, and job seeker?"
And so I started thinking, "Well, at least at the entry level, to what extent is it a zero sum game?" Where you're going to have Unilever have a certain number of entry-level positions. You're going to have, Grab be open to hiring a certain number of interns. Where, me helping person A, necessarily means that I'm disadvantaging person B. And what makes me think that I'm in a position to help person A, over person B? I can't be the judge. And often, because this is a startup, and hopefully a revenue generating enterprise, I'm going to be benefiting once again, the person that has the means, over the person who doesn't have the means. So I went into a big analysis paralysis, downward spiral in that. Where I thought, "Maybe instead of focusing on pre-hire, let's focus on post-hire. And in the post-hire segment, maybe we could..."
I have since convinced myself, and I'd love to get your take on this. Where, unless you and I, are both trying to get to the CEO position of JP Morgan, where yeah, it probably is a zero sum game in that situation, that different people are going to have different definitions of success. And as a result, career success not being a zero sum game. However, within an organization, I think they're still very much is that dynamic at play. One thing I talk about, which I hope allows people to maneuver around, and selfishly helped me sleep better at night on this zero sum game question, is the idea, of how do you get promoted? And in the last chapter of my book, I talk about how you'll get promoted, depending on the type of organization you work for. You can have an upper-out culture, where you get promoted let's say, every two years, or you're out. You can get promoted based on a vacancy. For example, if your manager retires, or gets promoted themselves. Or you can have a new need. Where the company, sees the need to create a new business division. Or launch a new product. Or serve a different segment of their client base. In which case, they're creating a position from nothing. In which case for you, instead of just waiting for that promotion to come to you, to what extent could you figure out what matters to those who matter, what goals the CEO is trying to reach, what goals your department head is trying to reach, what goal your own manager is trying to reach, and align yourself with that work that matters. Such that, you can be a problem solver, instead of just a passive, problem reactor. Or problem taker, or observer.
And to what extent might that unlock opportunities for you. Not only for your own career, but that could ultimately grow the pie for other people in the organization. I would like to think, that it's not as much of a zero sum game. And I would love to see a world, where we don't have that zero-sum game thinking, because I think that's where also a lot of these diversity, and inclusion topics get really hairy. Around one person feeling like, "Oh. Well, if this person from this group ends up getting this job, that's one fewer opportunity for me." I too am still trying to figure out how to best frame this. as evidenced by my long meandering answer. But I do think it's worth talking about as a society.
Jeremy Au: [00:57:48] Yeah. Well you asked for my opinion on this. My quick reaction, is that I think if you do know the rules, you do understand that is not a zero sum game, and that it is a multiple round game for the next 60 years of your life. I think in game theory it is very clear. Which is, if you know there're multiple rounds in the game, everyone acts in good faith, and looks to create a pie. It is when you think there's only one, or two rounds of the game left, that's when everybody starts acting in bad faith, and be very competitive. Another way I like to say, is there's plenty of pie to share. I'm making this up. But, when times are good, everybody is happy. And we all are very communal.
And then when things are going bad, that's when people become very tribal, and the tribe shrinks. I think that's a big dynamic that, half is I think the people's definition of the tribe shrinks when times are bad, and expansive when times are good. I just realized, that this is actually pulling directly from a science fiction series I love, called The Expanse. It's on Amazon, I'm plugging in Amazon, but also it's a great book. Leviathan Wakes, a series by James Corey, and they use that explanation, in the midst of a planetary apocalypse catastrophe.
Gorick Ng: [00:59:17] I've heard good things about that show.
Jeremy Au: [00:59:19] It's a fun one to watch. Yeah. I'll send you the scene after this. I'll try, pull the scene. It's a nice one. But I think at the end of the day, it's more of people who need to know, understand that giving out a book to a peer, or something like that, does not detract from them. And it's net accretive over the long term. But I think for people, who are looking at this as a very short timeframe, because times are bad, could be one reason. Or other reason is because they'd already understand the unspoken rule. That this is a long term game, that the end up over optimizing for this one role. And you're right. I think there's some people looking back at this stuff in such a zero sum way, that I would never, ever work with them ever again. And to some extent, it's probably to their detriment that I would not be their champion. If I was being asked to do a reference check, or something like that.
Gorick Ng: [01:00:12] Yeah. One thing, if I can add to this, is completely agree that having a non zero sum game mindset, just makes you a happier person. Even if you were to approach this in a selfish way, go for it. It's even productive. Even if you were to be thinking selfishly about this. That if you want to get promoted, the best way isn't to wait for that promotion, it's to create more opportunities. What does that mean? Working with other people? What does that also mean? Supporting other people, and building a good reputation for yourself as a team player? The other way that I've been thinking about this recently, is beyond the zero sum game framing, is the notion of a meritocracy. Where I haven't pulled enough people to know, I should probably Google this, but I could imagine that meritocracy, is probably something that most of us, if not all of us could agree upon as being a good thing
If that's true, and again, I have to fact check myself, but I'd be shocked if that were not the case. If we believe in meritocracy, then what are we really believing in? We're believing in one's efforts, and output, as being the primary driver of one success. Well, if that's what we believe in, then it raises the question of, are we able to really assess people's competence, and output, on an objective scale. Where we may be able to do it today, if you are a baker. All we have to do is taste your cake. We may be able to do it as a sales person. We just have to look at your sales quota. In certain contexts, maybe you could do it as a software engineer. Where we could test your code, and see how elegant your solution is. But when you're working in marketing, when you're working in human resources, operations, when you're a middle manager, it's much more difficult to discern how good of a job you are you're doing, because that feedback loop is much more long-term.
In the absence of those outputs, and that clear immediate feedback loop, we end up with inputs. Inputs like competence, compatibility, commitment. At least, the perceived competence, compatibility, and commitment. And where we have a system, where people are playing a different game, based on a different set of rules, leaving behind those who don't even know that they're playing a game until they've lost. Well, I don't know if that's a meritocracy. If we could demystify some of these unspoken rules of the workplace, to what extent could we level the playing field? Achieve that goal of a meritocracy, which I hope most, if not all of us can agree upon.
Jeremy Au: [01:02:58] Love it. Honestly, I think you're right. If you don't know the rules, you can succeed in a meritocracy, because the meritocracy is not just your output, but it's also the communication, and the norms around that I'll put anyway. Hey, it is what it is.
Gorick Ng: [01:03:17] Fingers crossed. That's what I tell myself when I go to bed at night.
Jeremy Au: [01:03:24] Second last question. I noticed, and I got to watch some of your TikTok stuff.
Gorick Ng: [01:03:30] Oh boy.
Jeremy Au: [01:03:31] I'm just curious, your first modality you went for was the book, and then your second modality is the TikTok. I just want to hear, what was it like experimenting with TikTok. What's experimenting like? Do you like it? You're going to keep doing it? What did you learn from it?
Gorick Ng: [01:03:47] Oh boy. Yeah. It's still an experiment. Boy, where do I begin?I have so many thoughts on TikTok. Where over the last year, I would say, I've had people on and off telling me, "Hey. You should be on TikTok. That's the new medium. That's where your audience is. That's where you can get an audience." And I thought to myself, "Yeah. Okay, cool." I hear about TikTok, and I think of it as really a platform for people dancing in their kitchen, and making a mess of things. That doesn't seem serious enough for me. And then as I went on, I started hearing more content creators who are serious. Therapists, life coaches, lawyers, doctors even, on the platform. Not necessarily giving medical advice, but at least sharing their experience, and sharing their expertise.
Where I thought, "This feels like a platform that's going somewhere. Let me park that off to the side." That was one thing. The second thing, is I first started having students who were younger than me tell me about this. And I thought, "Okay, cool. Of course, every generation has its social media platforms has what it considers to be cool. I'm not cool enough for TikTok," was basically my mindset. And then I started having people who, no offense to them, but that I perceive as being less cool.
At least not as cool as the young people telling me that, "Hey. You need to be on TikTok. And I thinking to myself, luckily I don't have to name names, "If the less cool people are telling me to be on TikTok, there's something happening here. Where maybe this platform, is reaching a point of crossing the chasm. Where it's really getting widespread adoption." And if that's happening, then we end up with the third thing that I been thinking about a lot, which is the idea of being a first mover. Where if were a first mover on Instagram, if were a first mover on Twitter, well, there wasn't as much of a follower base there on those platforms back in the day. The earlier you start, and I think here we are talking in March 2021, I think people are talking about this in the context of Clubhouse.
Is it a winner-take-all, is it a land grab that's happening on those platforms at the moment? Before it starts getting saturated. I started thinking about it from a business point of view, and I started thinking, "There's that business concept, and then there's me juxtaposing that business concept with, I think some hidden envy within me over time." Where first I see something as crazy, or too high risk. And then all of a sudden I'm too late. And I think to myself, "Oh. I should have been on Instagram sooner." Right now I have just a 200 followers, and I only started posting about a month ago. And I think about all the moments where I felt regret, and a lot of those regrets, and as a consequence, envy, I think come from me not having taken action, versus me having taken action.
I've seen that as a pattern now, for enough instances in my life. Where there's the law of inertia. An object will keep moving, unless something gets in the way. Friction, you pushing it, you stopping it. It seems like there's a pattern that's emerged in my life, where I have started seeing this pattern in my life of me discounting something, and then only to realize that I'm too late. And I think a lot of content creators probably feel that way as well, where I'm like, "That seems like the reality for me. I can either act upon this realization, or I can try and suppress this realization. And I think suppressing it is probably not as productive of a mindset." Then I thought, "Okay. Maybe I should just give this a shot. Everything that's ever happened to me, has been the consequences of me saying yes to things, rather than me saying no to things. Let's say yes to it."
And let's be real, it's just an experiment. What's the worst thing that could happen? The worst thing that can happen, is I don't get as much of a follower base. I create that great content. I turn it off. There's really nothing that's backing me into this forever, so I started doing it, and I've had a lot of fun, actually. It's been, I think, personally enriching, in the sense that TikTok at least today, has a 60 second limit on videos, and ideally should be getting it down to 30. Ideally, your video should be 30 seconds. And as you're experiencing here, I'm a meanderer in my speech. And so I think it's helpful for me imposing some discipline, around how I talk about some of the concepts in my book, number one. Number two, it's helping me reach an audience that I wouldn't have otherwise reached. And three, it's helping me actually achieve my mission more. Of making this content accessible to those who otherwise, would have not known, what they don't know. I do have anxieties on the platform. There are a lot of really compelling content creators, that I look up to. And it's a high velocity platform. Where you go onto the platform and you start seeing videos, and videos, and videos. When you're competing for mind share, and eyeballs, I'm competing against a monkey in a diaper right now. I don't think of that monkey in a diaper as being a competitor from a business perspective, but when it comes to attention span, it is a competitor. At the same time, let's be real, I follow that monkey in a diaper myself, so I'm not saying that they're not doing a good job. I love what they put out. It's just, it does raise the question of, "How can I, as someone who's creating educational content, which is not as interesting as someone jumping off a cliff, and doing parkour, how can I stand out?" That remains the question now.
Jeremy Au: [01:09:29] You should put a TikTok, where you say, "If you don't follow these unspoken rules, you'll be the monkey in the diaper at the office. That could be a way to spin it. Last question I have here, is everybody promoted the book on here, I think it's a great place to get started. How do they even get access to this book? Where did they find it? How do they find you?
Gorick Ng: [01:09:59] I appreciate you asking that question. I have my own website. It's gorick.com. That's, G-O-R-I-C-k.com. And on the homepage, you'll find different retailers that have my book. For example, Amazon, Barnes and noble, Indigo in Canada. At least here in north America. For those who are listening in from overseas, there's a website called bookdepository.com, which is actually an Amazon subsidiary. All of those links are on my website, and you'll also find my social media links on my website as well. Looking forward to meeting some of your followers, and engaging with folks I wouldn't have otherwise met.
Jeremy Au: [01:10:38] Yeah. Awesome. Well, thank you so much for being on the show, Gorick.
Gorick Ng: [01:10:41] Thank you so much, Jeremy. This was a lot of fun.