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Creator Lab

Creator Lab

Author: Bilal Zaidi

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Conversations with leading entrepreneurs, non-profit founders, award winning designers, educators, artists and everything else in between.

We dig deep into their stories, have honest conversations about how they made their ideas come to life and the lessons learned along the way.
24 Episodes
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Fabrice Grinda, #1 Angel Investor In The World // Future Of Marketplaces
Watch the full episode on YouTube: https://youtu.be/SGPMfHxFmgo Fabrice Grinda has been called the most prolific angel investor in the world, even being ranked #1 in Forbes based on investment volume + number of exits. He’s exited hundreds of millions of dollars from 500+ investments in companies like Alibaba, Viagogo, Tencent, Airbnb, Betterment, Uber, Fanduel & Palantir. Before setting up his “startup studio” & investment fund, he started and sold multiple companies including OLX, the leading “Craigslist” marketplace of countries like India, Brazil & Pakistan. But things weren’t always so rosy. Fabrice shares stories of living on $2/day, living in his office because he couldn’t afford an apartment & missing payroll 27 times! We also discuss the future of marketplaces, how he’d think of business ideas if starting today, the science of happiness, minimalism, and why we’re still at the very beginning of the tech revolution. Here are five things to listen out for: Reasons to be optimistic – why we’re the luckiest people in the world to be alive at this time and why we’re only at 1% of the tech revolution Minimalism – from living on a 20-acre estate in Bedford, New York, to “island shopping” and then selling all his possessions – Fabrice has lived both extremes and shares his perspective on a healthy balance The Science of Happiness – factors that make people happy and hacks to maximize your own “mean level of happiness” The Future of Marketplaces – 3 trends in marketplace businesses and a framework for thinking about business ideas How Venture Capital Works – the typical startup fundraising cycle, from initial investment to venture capital at series A, B, C etc. CONNECT ON SOCIAL: https://www.instagram.com/creatorlabfm https://www.instagram.com/bzaidi212 Full show notes: https://www.creatorlab.fm/fabrice-grinda-fj-labs-interview/ Thank you to our sponsors who help make this show possible: SquareFoot, where growing companies find their place, check out SquareFoot.com/creatorlab to find your next office space Instasleep Mint Melts, the drug-free sleep aid that melts in your mouth. Use the code “creator8” to get 20% off your order on Amazon.
How To Be A Capitalist // Nathan Latka's Story + Bestselling Book
Watch the full episode on YouTube: https://youtu.be/Lc07mxx3CII Nathan Latka is making more than $100k/month from 30+ revenue streams. We go into all of the details documented in his book: “How To Be A Capitalist Without Any Capital” From his approach to building systems that scale beyond himself, growing his podcast to 10+mil downloads, investing in real estate, food trucks, buying software companies, building teams around the world and even landing a TV show – there’s so much packed into this conversation! We also go into why someone should be a capitalist in the first place, the pros, and cons of capitalism and the many creative ways he's finding success in many different areas.  Nathan is a true capitalist in every sense of the word & a savvy entrepreneur that likes to break the rules.  You can check out his WSJ bestselling book, “How To Be A Capitalist Without Any Capital”, on Amazon here Five things to listen out for: Capitalism vs Socialism – why you would want to be a capitalist in the first place and the pros & cons of a purely capitalist society. Making $100k/month – why he chooses to spread his risk by working on many things at once and examples of investments you can make to generate income Systems vs Goals – why you should focus on building, multiplying & stacking systems instead of setting goals “My Podcast Is A Massive Front” – how he’s developed a piece of code to automatically turn his daily podcast into a database that he sells to VCs for $20-30k/month His Book – what you can expect, including specific page numbers you can skip ahead to CONNECT ON SOCIAL: https://www.instagram.com/creatorlabfm https://www.instagram.com/bzaidi212 Full show notes: https://www.creatorlab.fm/nathan-latka-capitalist-book-interview/ Thank you to our sponsor, Instasleep Mint Melts, the drug-free sleep aid that melts in your mouth. You can check them out on Amazon here 
Where Do Good Stories Come From? // Tyler Riewer, Head of Creative at charity: water
Subscribe and watch the full video interview on YouTube: https://youtu.be/GZAgTCFPxxk Tyler Riewer (head of creative at charity: water) shares 5 principles that can make you a better storyteller. We discuss the concept of the "hero's journey" and how the best brands, writers & politicians use this idea to tell effective stories. Five Things To Listen Out For: Role of storytelling – and its impact on every part of an organization The Hero’s Journey – how savvy brands, politicians, and writers use the concept of the hero’s journey to tell effective stories 5 Principles – that Tyler has picked up along the way as a professional storyteller that you can apply to your own life and work From Concept to Campaign – how they took an inspirational letter from a 6yr old and turned it into a successful brand campaign through the principles we discuss Stories from his travels – and the stories that make up the 663 million people that lack access to clean drinking water SOCIAL: https://www.instagram.com/creatorlabfm https://www.instagram.com/bzaidi212 TYLER: http://tylerriewer.com https://twitter.com/tylerriewer charity: water Watch The Spring: https://cwtr.org/2lJhZix Nora's story: https://www.charitywater.org/world-wa... Full show notes: https://www.creatorlab.fm/where-do-good-stories-come-from-tyler-riewer-charity-water/ Thank you to our sponsor, Instasleep Mint Melts, the drug-free sleep aid that melts in your mouth. You can check them out on Amazon or instasleep.us 
Jane Lu, founder of Showpo // The story behind her fashion e-commerce empire
Watch the full video interview & subscribe on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KgDgNfvm4qY Jane Lu has been named “Cosmopolitan’s Girl Boss of the Year”, “Forbes 30 under 30” and her company, Showpo, was crowned Australia’s “Online Retailer of the Year” in 2018. But rewind a few years and Jane was struggling for motivation in her accountancy career. We discuss what it took to take a risk to go all in on her business while having to hide it from her parents while living in their house! We dig into the details of how she took her first steps, grew the company with zero investment, built an audience on social with millions of followers, and how she would approach starting an e-commerce business from scratch today. Show Notes Here are five things to listen out for: Leaving her job + keeping it a secret from her parents – how Jane plucked up the courage to leave her job in the middle of the financial crisis Her first failed business – connecting the dots from her first failure, getting out of debt and launching Showpo Working ON her business vs IN her business – how a trip to Ultra Music Festival forced Jane to replace her work by hiring someone full time and the lessons from that experience Growing to $60mil with zero investment – we go into detail from when she was bringing in $5k/month, and the things she did to grow step-by-step, why she chose to never raise money, keep control and grow If she started again today – how she would start an e-commerce business today & actionable tactics around growing a social following, paid vs organic, youtube content strategy & more Thank you to our sponsor, Instasleep Mint Melts, the drug-free sleep aid that melts in your mouth. You can check them out on Amazon or instasleep.us 
1OAK nightclub, Ronnie Madra, co-founder // on a mission to stop people from losing their hearing
Watch full interview on video: https://youtu.be/3BHdnOiYym4 Full show notes & timestamps: https://www.creatorlab.fm/ronnie-madra-1oak-earos/   Ronnie Madra is the co-founder of the Butter Group which has an extensive portfolio of brands including legendary nightclubs 1OAK and Up and Down. They’ve hosted after-parties for events like the Oscars, Met Gala & Cannes Film Festival attracting A-List celebrities along the way. Alongside business partner, Richie Akiva, they’ve developed properties in NYC, LA, Las Vegas, Tokyo, Dubai & Maldives – building one of the leading food & beverage (F&B) brands around. However, after 25+ years in nightlife – Ronnie developed a severe hearing issue which causes constant ringing in his ears. To address this issue for the 1.1bil people who will develop hearing issues in their lifetime – he created, EAROS, an in-ear protection system & an acoustical filter. Ronnie shared stories he has never shared before. He opens up about growing up on a coconut plantation in Guyana, landing in NYC as a minority amongst minorities, personal stories about dealing with bullies as a kid, running into trouble with a gang & landing on his feet into nightlife in NYC. FIVE THINGS TO LISTEN OUT FOR: Childhood – growing up with no electricity in Guyana, landing in NYC and how his early experiences shaped his outlook Fitting in & dealing with a bully – a raw and honest chat about dealing with bullies, trying to fit in and finding the confidence to be yourself. Building a name – alongside Richie Akiva, Ronnie has built a name for himself in the nightclub space, attracting A-List celebrities like Jay Z, Pharrell, Rihanna, Kate Hudson, Kanye, Gigi Hadid, Virgil and others to their venues. We go into all the details of how they started and built a name for themselves. Coming up with business ideas & developing a product – scratching his own itch, why he started EAROS, ways you can think about finding inspiration for ideas and knowing how to take action. Building Brand & Service – learning from his experience in creating a brand, product development, making people feel safe. TIME STAMPS: 2:34 – What Ronnie is known for: 1OAK, Butter Group & Earos 5:25 – Scale of their nightclubs & restaurants 7:42 – Growing up on a coconut plantation in Guyana 11:16 – Landing in Queens, NYC 13:15 – Teenage Ronnie 13:55 – Dealing with bullies 19:38 – Early signs of entrepreneurship 23:02 – Listening to all types of music and wanting to fit in 26:32 – Becoming comfortable not fitting in 31:26 – What lead to 1OAK being formed? Finding an A-Team. 36:15 – Starting 1OAK with Richie Akiva & early investments 38:06 – “Pioneers of the pop-up” 41:40 – How to choose partnerships 44:24 – What is next for 1Oak? 47:40 – Attracting A-list celebrities 51:20 – New venture – Earos 55:10 – Developing hearing issues – tinnitus 58:52 – Idea and need for a new type of ear protection 60:50 – Going beyond looking like a hearing aid 66:48 – The process of developing a new product 69:45 – Sound vs. noise 71:35 – The process of reaching out to great people through Linkedin 75:58 – Working day vs. night 79:44 – Pitching the idea to investors 85:16 – When do you know you’re finished? 87:06 – 20 years into the future 91:10 – Closing remarks
Erika Alexander, Get Out & Cosby Show actress // reinventing herself, representation in film + mental health
Erika Alexander is an actress, writer & co-founder of Color Farm Media. She’s well known for her role as the iconic character Maxine Shaw, Attorney-at-Law in the 90s sitcom Living Single. She was a regular as Cousin Pam in The Cosby Show & appeared in the Oscar-winning film Get Out (2017). Full show notes & timestamps: https://www.creatorlab.fm/erika-alexander-actress-get-out-cosby-show/    Here are five things to listen out for:   Childhood – her candid experience growing up as a child actor from the age of 14, her relationship with her parents & how this impacted her throughout her life.  Being the “other” – feeling like an outsider when she first had some success Importance of Diversity in Film & Media – how she’s approaching this challenge with Color Farm Media, why it’s important to hire the best people regardless, but find a balance to tell diverse stories Role of Therapy – how she dealt with depression, navigated lows and the importance of mental health The Future – hip-hop in Bollywood, collaborations of color, the projects she’s working on with Lionsgate & the importance of long-form conversations Time Stamps: 2:32 – Introduction of Erika 4:45 – Her role on Living Single 8:38 – Erika’s childhood 12:15 – Was Erika always outgoing? 15:36 – The “look at me” gene 18:26 – First time acting 23:12 – Erika’s mom’s influence 25:46 – Becoming famous and losing her family 27:31 – Religion and belief when growing up 30:40 – Early pain struggle & depression 32:40 – Being the “other” in the family 36:45 – Ways to cope with parent pain 41:05 – Therapy and mental health 50:41 – Race and misrepresentation in work 51:52 – Race is an illusion 54:13 – Color Farm Media & it’s mission 57:06 – Ben Arnon help & info 61:17 – Current work 66:25 – Black Lightning 71:53 – Making diversity authentic 77:02 – Importance of diverse writers 82:25 – How to change in industry 85:33 – “I’m a badass at acting” 93:00 – Collaborations of color 95:50 – Hire the best writer, but include all 98:14 – The impact of long-form conversation 101:56 – Looking to the future
From an ice cream truck to 44 states // Ben Van Leeuwen, Van Leeuwen Ice Cream
    I visited Ben Van Leeuwen at his Brooklyn-based ice cream factory!  They have a truly remarkable story, starting from a single ice cream truck 10yrs ago, to building an epic brand with a cult following.     They’ve since grown to a $20mil business, going from 15 stores to 25 in the next few months after taking investment for the first time. They’ve also grown their wholesale business where they now sell their ice cream in over 1000 stores across 44 states.     We discuss their humble beginnings, meeting his co-founder, falling in love,  a focus on product excellence by sourcing the very best ingredients & you’ll hear what it took to build their business with zero investment after their modest friends and family round.  SHOW NOTES Here are five things to listen out for:   (1) Travel – Ben leaving college to travel and explore the world.   (2) Kaizen vs 10x Moonshot Thinking – continuous improvement in all aspects of their company vs a mindset of massive transformational change   (3) Starting a business with his wife & brother – navigating a breakup, working with family & how they’ve made Van Leeuwen a huge success   (4) Product & Customer Excellence – focusing on using only the very best ingredients & bringing joy to their customers   (5) Growth – stories from starting their first ice cream truck to growing to 25 stores & 44 states & why they decided to take major investment for the first time Times Stamps  3:02 – Who is Ben Van Leeuwen 3:58 – How did Ben get into ice cream 10:45 – Where Ben’s food awareness came from 13:23 – Ben’s parents and his upbringing 16:56 – How Ben developed his entrepreneurial spirit 18:00 – The “ice cream idea” 20:44 – Being healthy in an ice cream world 23:46 – Ben’s travel memories 26:38 – Ben’s craftsmanship in his work 29:35 – Company values 30:54 – Ben meeting his cofounder 33:10 – How the company began 36:21 – Writing initial business plan 42:09 – Logo, branding and naming 45:55 – Tactically building your team 48:34 – Beginnings of the business 50:25 – Putting the best ingredients into their first chocolate ice cream 55:47 – First real day of business 65:19 – What the business looks like today – 15-25 stores, selling in 1000 stores across 44 states 67:02 – Ben’s thoughts on expansion 70:38 – First year revenue numbers 71:33 – Focus moving forward 73:30 – Working with brother and wife 74:35 – Working with ex-wife 75:42 – Difficulties with raising money 79:18 – Dealing with rejection 80:58 – 20 years from now… 83:45 – Admirable trait: not taking shortcuts 84:54 – Other products for Ben to explore 86:29 – Final remarks and advice
Activism Through Art // Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez
Edgardo embodies the word creator.  He’s a writer at Marvel Entertainment, Editor-in-Chief at Darryl Makes Comics working with the legendary hip-hop icon: DMC from RUN DMC, Art Director & founder at Somos Arte production studio, and the creator of La Borinqueña, an original comic book character that has grown into a cultural phenomenon and a nationally recognized symbol of Puerto Rican patriotism, social justice, and equality for all. His work has been featured on CNN, The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Atlantic.     Full show notes and time stamps: https://www.creatorlab.fm/edgardo-miranda-rodriguez-activism-art       SHOW NOTES:     Five things to listen out for:     Growing up as a Puerto Rican in NYC – what life was like growing up poor in the Bronx, memories from being a young activist, poet, and creator.  Comic Books – how he got into creating comic books, writing for Marvel + creating his own publication: La Borinqueña.  Teaming up with DMC from RUN DMC – how they met, their creative process and how they split up responsibilities.  Direct-to-Consumer – publishing directly to people and spreading his creative work to fans.  Generating Buzz + Press – Edgardo has been featured on CNN, New York Times, The Washington Post, The Atlantic and more – how did he approach this and get his work out there? TIME STAMPS  2:38 … who is Edgardo and what does he do? 4:14 … Edgardo describing pictures Bilal shows from growing up 9:50 … power of the arts, reflecting on what’s going on in society 10:09 … challenge of being viewed as a second class citizen 11:10 … hypocrisy within Latin American communities and media 12:05 … “I’m not a race, I’m an ethnicity” 13:31 … stories as a form of evolution 15:00 … self-awareness from an early age + growing up 17:03 … learning about Mandela + apartheid 17:57 … college + local activism 23:30 … comic book has become a  symbol for people + the women’s march reaching out to him 27:19 … being proud of his heritage 28:40 … distributing book directly to the people + direct to consumer trend 30:37 … comic book world / who’s buying books 35:36 … working alongside DMC from legendary hip-hop group: RUN DMC 40:12 … our heritage and culture is the true superpower 40:38 … approaching press and social media to promote his book 42:13 … people want to know who you are and “why” you create … not “what” you create 49:51 … an ask for the people who are listening
Detecting patterns // Julien Smith, Breather, Founder & CEO
Julien Smith is the co-founder & CEO of Breather. They provide an on-demand network of private meeting rooms designed for work, meetings and focus. They’ve raised over $80m to date and are on a strong trajectory of growth. Before that, Julien was a best selling author, speaker & podcaster. In this conversation, Julien and Bilal discuss how he thinks about pattern detection, how he used these frameworks to develop the idea for Breather & how you can apply this to your own work. Full show notes & timestamps: https://www.creatorlab.fm/julien-smith-breather-detecting-patterns/ Time Stamps: 1:52 - Who are you/what do you do 2:30 - Detecting patterns. Is that that what you’re good at? 4:10 - Scale & growth of Breather, how did Julien get there 6:43 - When Julien started Breather, how many units did he start with & how do they keep them secure? 8:09 - What does Breather's customer base look like? What are their customer segments? 8:58 - How big is this market? How do you estimate market size? 9:50 - Thinking about security for a physical space - digital vs analog locks. 11:30 - Growing up in Canada & what did Julien want to be when he grew up? 13:20 - Learning what you’re good at and 360 reviews  17:10 - How Julien thinks about detecting patterns? Is this something we can learn to become better at? 20:25 - Is detecting patterns a skill or luck? 24:10 - Detecting patterns: is it a learned behavior? Discussing Charlie Munger and Warren Buffet.  28:30 - the value of the expert generalist 30:00 - What sources of information do you follow? Books, podcasts, people, etc? 33:30 - What can people do to accelerate the process of growing and connecting with people they can learn from? 36:00 - Jeff Bezos story of the regret minimization framework 39:30 - What were some of the macro trends he identified to help start Breather? Are there certain macro trends that he sees right now? 42:20 - Cities + network effects + timing 46:02 - Bilal discusses idea for supper clubs platform 47:50 - Omnifocus app he uses for tasks 48:10 - Developing healthy habits? Streaks app 51:40 - What is Julien’s routine and a typical day? Morning pages. The creative habit.  55:05 - What is motivating Julien right now? 56:30 - What does success mean to you? 
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Comments (7)

Bilal Zaidi

Thanks Alex! Trying my best to challenge myself with bringing on all sorts of people and even though I didn’t agree with everything Nathan said, I learned so much from that convo and will continue to try and bring different folks on the show. Appreciate your message! Amazing episode dropping in the next couple days with the #1 ranked angel investor in the world. We talk about the science of happiness, minimalism, how he invested in 500 companies, marketplace/platform businesses and so much more! Hope you have a chance to check it out and some of my fav episodes from the backlog include: ep. 2 with Scott Harrison from charity: water, ep. 5 with Erin, ep. 14 with Gary Vee and the recent one with Erika was a great chat too. Very lucky to have only top quality guests so I think you’ll find some you’re interested in. Cheers!

Apr 1st
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Peter Mcilwain

ignorant right wing views that cause great damage. you need to balance this with someone who actually knows economics. have a listen to Pitch fork economics and see if you can interview the guy on that (who by the way was an investor for Bezos)

Mar 19th
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Bilal Zaidi

Alex Strauss Also looks like you’re from Australia so you may enjoy the amazing chat I had with Jane Lu in ep. 20 - cheers mate

Apr 1st
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Alex Strauss

Bilal Zaidi Nice response Bilal, I was scrolling through the home screen of my podcast player and saw this comment. You handled it well, I'm gonna give your show a listen.

Mar 30th
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Emmanuel Galanos

Terrible way to start a new podcast with ads and rattling off all the contents. 3 minutes in and no content yet. unsubscribing

Dec 26th
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Bilal Zaidi

Emmanuel Galanos Thanks for the feedback Emmanuel - were you referring to the "five things to listen out for" in the first few episodes? When I first started the show I used to share some highlights but scrapped that after a few episodes in. Hope you'll have a chance to check out some of the latest ones, but thanks either way for giving it a listen in the first place :)

Mar 25th
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