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Neil Patel

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John Kim grew up on computers. He has been a pro-gamer and built a gaming company fresh out of university. He was able to sell that firm for $10M, and start a social gaming site. He pivoted from a social app to his current model that has raised $200M. His venture, Sendbird has raised financing from top-tier investors like World Innovation Lab (WiL), Meritech Capital Partners, Tiger Global Management, and Emergence.

In this episode you will learn:

  • Reinventing the pitch deck after many rejections
  • Holding a team together when they face divergent interests
  • How to successfully exit a company and make a profit
  • How to successfully expand the company when cash-starved
  • Talking to investors and how to raise capital from a pitch deck
  • His top advice on how to set the right priorities for the business

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For a winning deck, take a look at the pitch deck template created by Silicon Valley legend, Peter Thiel (see it here) that I recently covered. Thiel was the first angel investor in Facebook with a $500K check that turned into more than $1 billion in cash.

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The Ultimate Guide To Pitch Decks

    Moreover, I also provided a commentary on a pitch deck from an Uber competitor that has raised over $400 million (see it here).

    Remember to unlock for free the pitch deck template that is being used by founders around the world to raise millions below.

    About John Kim:

    John is the Co-Founder and CEO of Sendbird (YC W16), the no.1 chat API for mobile apps and websites. They help businesses build direct messaging and group chat quickly on their applications.

    Their customers range from e-commerce, live-video streaming, business collaboration, and consumer apps including NBA, Yahoo!, Reddit, Delivery Hero, ServiceNow, Paytm, and DHL.

    They have raised $120M+ USD to date, backed by ICONIQ Capital, Tiger Global Management, Shasta Ventures, August Capital, FundersClub, and Y Combinator.

    His first startup Paprika Lab (social gaming) was acquired by GREE, and he was Korea’s all-time no.1 pro gamer in Unreal Tournament.

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    Connect with John Kim:

    Read the Full Transcription of the Interview:

    Alejandro: Alrighty. Hello everyone, and welcome to the DealMakers show. Today we have a very, very interesting guest. I think that we’re going to be learning a lot about building and scaling. Right now, he’s in a rocket ship, one of his multiple companies, but his latest baby is definitely going in the right direction. We’re going to be learning about the ups, the downs, fights with co-founders, catastrophic financing rounds, you name it. So without further ado, let’s welcome our guest today. John Kim, welcome to the show.

    John Kim: Yeah, thank you for having me. I’m excited to be here.

    Alejandro: Originally born and raised in Korea, so tell us about the upbringings.

    John Kim: Yeah, I was born and raised in Korea. I had the fortune of living in the States for three years when I was a kid, so I think that’s where I put my niche a little bit, but since then, I went back to Korea, studied at Seoul in computer science. Right around that time, I also delivered professional gaming in the background. I had a kind of a difficult background as an engineer, literally a geek, loving to spend time on games and trying to figure out what to do with your life. I guess that pretty much sums up my upbringing.

    Alejandro: You’re forgetting to tell everyone that is listening that you got into computers at five. Wow!

    John Kim: I guess most people who grew up around the ‘80s or mid-‘80s probably got their first dose of computers through Apple, a little bit of IBM, EDO, B6, microprocessors, and all that. One of my uncles was really into computers. I think I actually got my first dose of computers when I was three playing games back then. Then I started getting into programming around the age of five with Basic and whatnot.

    Alejandro: That’s impressive. What about getting seriously into gaming. How was that?

    John Kim: This is kind of an embarrassing story, but right around middle school, I started to get into online gaming using battle modems and paying hundreds of dollars just on phone bills on a monthly basis. I started playing a lot of shooter games, the [3:26] and then playing competitively. When I was in my late teens, I got a call from Samsung. They were putting together the first-ever professional gaming team. I was invited to play those games, but even back then, I don’t think I had a professional mindset. I just loved playing games. Frankly, I was good in the first-person shooter, so ultimately, I ended winning a lot of tournaments. I wasn’t a defeated champion in a real tournament in Korea and was number three back in 2000. There was a thing called WCGC, which was their first major professional gaming event and hosted by Samsung globally. I won some of those tournaments back then.

    Alejandro: It’s very interesting how it works there in Korea because there’s always an out there for the military. There’s not like in Israel, like many founders that we have in Israel, and they have to go and do the army for some time. But in Korea, there’s a way out, and that way out is working at a tech company. Tell us about choosing this route.

    John Kim: I think I played too many games during my first two years at university, so I was trying to figure out what to do with my life. I think when I won the world competition, I didn’t see myself doing more of that for the rest of my life, so I wanted to figure it out and put a pause. The way to do that was to go through the military. But as a software engineer or any kind of engineer, you can take a test and get a certificate from the government for a license to work at a tech company instead if they approve. A lot of Korean companies that got approval were in software, IT, web, and gaming. I ended up working for a gaming company called Izzy Soft as a substitute for a military program for a couple of years. That’s where I got to really understand about building a product that people love, getting the feedback, customer discovery, and also how to tie that to a scalable impact and to learn about the concept of entrepreneurship. I think that’s where I did a lot of my soul searching. Ultimately, after finishing that program, I came back. As soon as I graduated, I started my first company when I was 26.

    Alejandro: Obviously, you got that out of finishing your computer science degree, but tell us about the process of incubating Paprika Lab, which was the first company, and what was that process to really bring it to life.

    John Kim: Gosh, I just wanted to build something that people wanted to use. We kicked off this Web 2.0 company back when Web 2.0 was a big thing. I actually don’t know what version we’re on anymore, but we are spitting out the web services on a weekly basis. But even back then, I wanted to build something that had a global impact. All the web services we created were in English and targeted the global user base. We had a bunch of users come from Brazil, but ultimately because of what was at the end of 2007, as you recall, in 2008 was the financial crisis, no investor wanted to invest, especially back then when I was in Korea. None of the Korean VCs wanted to invest in companies that didn’t have any revenue, only in users. Because of my background as a software engineer, and I had also worked for a gaming company, and having been a professional gamer, an investor came back to me and counter-proposed. If we create games, they will invest. So we pivoted to social gaming because I still want to do something that has to do with social. We got into social gaming, and then we grew that for about four and a half years. We got to 5 million users, and then, thankfully, we were bought by this company called GREE. They are a publicly-traded company in Japan. Back then, they were doing [7:08] yearly revenue. I didn’t speak Japanese, but they spoke English, so it ultimately worked out. That’s how I went on my first journey as a startup founder.

    Alejandro: That also gave you access to have visibility into what the full cycle of building, scaling, financing, and exiting looks like. What was that exiting process like?

    John Kim: To be honest, this is like a retrospect, or in transparency, as you go through the startup journey, you, as a founder, get to go through a lot of self-reflection, what you’re good at, what you’re not good at. What gives you the fulfillment and purpose versus what doesn’t? One thing that I learned about myself deeply during that time was, I love this concept of building the company, getting people together, marching toward a single mission, and bringing the culture. All of those things gave me a lot of purpose. One thing that didn’t sit well with me was, what is the value of creating for society? As an entrepreneur, you can create maybe two different values. One is how to make life more fun, which would be the content business like the gaming, music, and all of that content. Then second is how to make life more useful or easier, which is more of a tool. You’re creating services that solve problems. I understood that my deepest desire was more the latter of creating usefulness and making life easier. Creating games wasn’t really that. So probably sometime, maybe three years in, I thought, “Okay. I do want to continue to build new companies, but I want to create value in solving problems for people.” I started to think about, “How do I exit and wrap up this current business?” I started to think about strategic exit opportunities. When I heard GREE was expanding into Korea, it was the perfect opportunity. We started partnering with this company early on, thinking about the strategic goals to launch in Korea and then how we, as a company, can fit into their product goals. We worked in the partnership for maybe six-plus months, and ultimately a year into our relationship, we ended up evolving that into a strategic acquisition opportunity. We sold the company for nearly $10 million. Today, $10 million may not seem like a lot of money, but back then, it was a pretty good exit. The investors made money, some of the early members made money. It was a really good exit and gave me the confidence and perspective to go do the next business, but it also gave me the financial stability to explore this with more long-term thinking. So that worked out.

    Alejandro: Your next business, your lastest baby, is Sendbird. But it did not start as Sendbird. Tell us what the process was like, especially jumping the gap with your first company and shifting and jumping into now what has become Sendbird. What was that process like?

    John Kim: I feel like, at this point, I’m a serial pivoter. [Laughter] So with the second company, we started as a company called Smile Family. Our first product was, of course, for mom, creating a local mom’s community where you can find other moms in your area, with similar-aged kids, [10:24] playdates, and things like that. You see the common theme here. I continued to want to do something social, connecting people, making the conversation, and building communities around that. I started this company, the second company, with the buddies from my first startup, so we’ve been working for 12+ years now. This time around, my technical co-founder didn’t want to build chat again because we’re seeing a lot of users engaging with each other on the Common section, and they’re having conversations there. We’re like, “Okay, ladies, this is not how you’re supposed to use Commons.” Then we realized they want a messaging feature. I think it was around 2015 when Mary Meeker, back then, I believe at Morgan Stanley, came off the Internet Trends Report saying, “Messaging is taking over the world. There’s WeChat and Telegram, and all of these apps are really taking over the entire ecosystem as the most frequently used applications.” We saw a market trend and wanted to add a messaging feature for our own application. We were actually on the buyer’s side. We looked at all of the open sources. We tested a bunch of them. A lot of them didn’t work out for the mobile environment, so we switched over to things like Firebase. Here’s another product on top of it. Then realized that none of that was catered to a modern messaging experience that worked efficiently on mobile devices. We ended up building the entire chat ourselves, which became Sendbird, and Smile Mom gave birth to Sendbird. It’s still the same company, same cap table, same co-founders, but we ultimately pivoted to Sendbird around 2015. That was the year we applied to YCombinator at the end of 2015. Luckily, we got in. That’s how we pivoted to Sendbird.

    Alejandro: Why Y Combination? Obviously, 2015 was, at that point, Dropbox and Airbnb’s, and all of these companies were already starting to be out there to be building really big stuff. I think Y Combinator, at that point, was already even harder than Harvard to get into. How did you guys come across Y Combinator, and why did you think it was a good idea for the business at that point?

    John Kim: We’re constantly looking for opportunities to go global. Although I spoke English, I never worked globally, nor had I been to Silicon Valley other than as a tourist. It was hard for me to envision myself soft-landing into Silicon Valley without a network. Y Combinator was a perfect ecosystem where we could build a bunch of networks very efficiently and also test out your business very quickly with your group or even within your batch. And also get [13:04] on what to do and not to do and have a platform to raise money. It looked like the perfect storm if you can get in. We actually applied to YC in our first product with Smile Mom. We got to interview, and I remember Paul Graham looking at Jessica and saying, “Would you ever use this product?” What was interesting was when we switched over to Sendbird, this is a problem that we’re solving for ourselves. We have solved this problem multiple times at our first gaming company. By the time we applied a second time to Y Combinator, this was a product that we were already using, and we understood the problem inside and out. You have to see through the lens of how does the market and the product and the founder all get aligned? I think with the first Smile Mom product, all of my co-founders, at first, were guys. So, they’re not moms, and some of our members were singles. So the alignment wasn’t there. But with the second product, we were using the product for ourselves. We understood the problem, so there was a better alignment. We got into the second try but actually didn’t show my co-founders because I didn’t want to try and fail again, which was going to be very demoralizing. I secretly applied, and I went to the interview myself and thankfully got in. I remember getting the phone call that night. I was on a conference call with a bunch of team members from Korea, and I had this call from Michael Seibel. He said, “Welcome to YC.” I got so excited. I was like, “Can you get everyone in the meeting room?” I was kind of apologetic. “I’m sorry I didn’t tell you about this before. We applied to YC and got in.” Everyone was surprised. Everyone was super excited. It was really good. But again, it was the ecosystem at YC that provides someone like me, an immigrant founder, the perfect landing spot to someplace like Silicon Valley, especially before COVID.

    Alejandro: What ended up being the business model of Sendbird so that the people that are listening and watching really get it?

    John Kim: We power chat in other applications. You can chat on Reddit today or Door Dash with the delivery person. If you go on a date on apps like Hinge, we power the user messaging. We are a SaaS product where we charge by the number of monthly active users that connect with our servers. So we don’t charge for every user they have, but usually, whoever connects to our server on a multi basis, we charge for those. It’s a subscription-based service. That’s our business model. I think it’s well understood among B2B, API, or cloud-based services.

    Alejandro: How much capital have you guys raised to date?

    John Kim: We have collectively raised over $200 million. We are at the Series C stage. We have done Seed, Seed Extension, A, B, and C.

    Alejandro: It’s interesting here because it has not been a walk in the park, especially in 2014 before you guys did YC because in 2014, you actually and literally ran out of money, and you were financing the company out of your own pocket. So how was that?

    John Kim: Yeah. When I first started the company, we raised Seed money, and then we had a specific time that we wanted to flip the company. Around 2014, we were trying to do something called Delaware Flip. Delaware Flip, although it sounds simple because it’s a known path, some of our investors in Korea were not familiar with the concept. They voted against doing the Delaware Flip, which really slowed down the process. They had proceeded with LPs and all of that, so it took us literally half a year to do it, which normally would take only a month or two. During that time, we ran out of money for close to three months. I had to keep the company afloat by funding through my own capital. So that, obviously, was very stressful, but I didn’t want to tell the team about it. Later on, of course, they figured it out, but ultimately it worked out. That was personally a stressful time. Then even towards the end of 2015 was when we actually ran out of seed financing again, but we got into YC. I remember sending the first email to my partner, Justin Khan. “I’m really excited about joining YC. By the way, there are two quick heads-ups. First, we’re running out of money, and we have two to three months of runway left. Secondly, we just got a cease-and-desist letter from a company. By the way, we didn’t call ourselves Sendbird back then. We called ourselves Jiver, which also coincided literally with a publicly-traded company some other company named similarly. We got a cease-and-desist letter from this company. It was our first exciting welcome mail to YC. I remember getting our partners responding back and saying, “Oh. Just fire everyone.” “No, we can’t do that. We’re a chat company.” Of course, they didn’t see that straightforward, but basically, their message was, “You’ve got to line up a team.” But we couldn’t do it because we had one person for iOS, one person for Android, we needed someone on the servers, so if you just count the number of people necessary for a chat to work, we simply could not afford to lose anyone at that point.

    Alejandro: Yeah.

    John Kim: I ended up raising during YC, which we’re not supposed to do back then. Now, it’s actually recommended. I actually had to raise money throughout the entire YC period to keep the company afloat.

    Alejandro: That was definitely a stressful year because also you had a big, big argument on the co-founders’ side of things. So what happened there?

    John Kim: Yes, 2014 was certainly a year with a perfect storm of running out of money, co-founder breaks up, and stuff like that. Thankfully, we didn’t break up, which is good. All of our four co-founders are still here today, the company and all of our respective works. Here’s an interesting story. It’s all about sufficient management. I recall seeing all my friends who started their own companies get into this huge fight around a year and a half to two years in. A lot of founders go through founder breakups. It was kind of interesting because these are all people with very different backgrounds, different years of experience. Why do people get into this fight around this small period? I thought about my colleagues or friends who just went to have their normal jobs. Maybe three or four years into their jobs, they’d have this doubt among themselves, or something like, “Oh, I’m literally bored. Maybe I want to go get an MBA, or switch jobs, or things like that. Then, usually, I think founders just hit what I call entrepreneur puberty a bit earlier because our lives are denser than people who just have normal careers as employees. I think people all get super tired and stressed about that time. When we first started the company, I remember telling our co-founders, “Here’s a prophecy I’m going to make. Maybe in about a year and a half or two years into the company, we’re going to have a big fight, and no matter what the reason, we’re going to perfectly rationalize ourselves that it’s not my fault; it’s someone else’s fault to blame. We probably could have made XYZ decisions better, but we’ll start blaming others with perfect logic. When that happens, realize that we’re just simply tired and burned out. So let’s not fixate on the actual content, but know that we’re just tired. When that moment hits, we’ll take a step back, maybe take a few days off, and come back together as a team.” Of course, I was guessing at that point, but what was interesting was, it was almost exactly a year and a half into the company when we had this ridiculous fight about the tiniest thing, almost like how some couples break up. I don’t even remember why we got into a fight, but I remember us cursing at each other. We were punching; we were screaming and breaking wine glasses.

    Alejandro: Oh, my gosh.

    John Kim: We made a huge scene at this wine bar, and obviously, the owner was upset about it too. I thought, “This was doomsday. Nobody’s going to show up at the office the next day.” Then, the next day, something magical happened. People showed up—of course, we didn’t speak at first, but people just sat there. We were silently working. I was like, “Guys, what’s going on?” We actually caught up later that week. “We just remembered that this was that day. We just had to recognize that we’re all tired and then accept the fact that we have to work through this. That brought our team together much stronger. Of course, there were other challenges along the way, many years down the road. But we would always be able to get back together and reconcile. Because we’ve gone through so many things together, now those small things will not tear us apart. I’m happy that it worked out. It’s a good reminder that all founders go through some level of stress and burnout. That’s okay. That’s normal. You just have to find a way and protocol to work through that.

    Alejandro: That’s great. As we’re thinking about adversity here, and also, we were alluding to the financing rounds, the Series A for you guys, the first time you took a stab at it, it didn’t go as planned. So what happened there? What was the outcome?

    John Kim: I remember going out for our Series A in 2017. We were a bit over $1 million in ARR. We were trending in the right direction. We were excited. I thought that was a big milestone. About $1.5 million is where you raise a big Series A. I went out and spoke to about 30 investors. Twenty-nine said no. With a lot of data warehousing, all the things I should share, they all said no, and one gave us a pitiful term sheet. It was like a flat round to our seed round. I said, “This is not a Series A.” This was pre-COVID, so I was driving up and down Sandhill Road in San Francisco, going back and forth, listening to this music from La La Land. Whenever that music comes on, I relive that memory, and tears come to my eyes. I’m sitting in this car in-between, trying to practice my pitch, and every time I’d get a no, you’ve just got to pick yourself back up and get to the next meeting with high confidence. At the end of the day, when we got about the 30th rejection, I remember sitting in the car, not knowing what to tell my team. It was a complete failure for our team. I told them, “When we get to this milestone, we’re going to go out and raise a successful Series A.” It was a painful process. I was most worried about the morale of the team. Thankfully, at that point, I was sending monthly investor updates. The inside investor had pretty good confidence, so I asked, “We’re, yet again, running out of money, but because of the trajectory of our company, I think we’ll do well. Then I asked for a million-dollar extension, and World put it together within a week. I think that’s part of the investor update is that you can build confidence and trust with investors as long as you have a good fit about that. Actually, I thought to myself, “Is this some form of racism that I’m a big part of that I cannot cross? Or is it because I didn’t go to Harvard or Stanford.” I went to college in Korea, but none of that mattered here. Nobody knew. “Am I having this glass ceiling moment? I started to have a lot of self-doubts. At the end of the summer, I had no choice but to raise because we were going to run out of money if I didn’t do it. I remember relooking at the deck, completely redoing my pitch. The second time around, we started getting three term sheets in the second weekend. Obviously, there were a lot of things that we changed, but that was a moment I was like—I keep telling myself, I think it was a quote from Andreessen, “Be so good that nobody can ignore you. Just keep executing, creating business value, have good customers, and good things will happen to you.” I think that’s what Silicon Valley is about. If you execute well and have a good business, people will invest in you regardless of your background. That was a really good turning point for the company and me.

    Alejandro: And the Series B was a little bit different when Tiger Global came in knocking. So how was that?

    John Kim: Yeah. The second time, Series A went well, and by the time we did the Series B, it was also a pretty quick round. I think we had a few terms sheets by the second or third weekend. It was a relatively good round. This time around, our story was simpler, clearer, and the traction was there. So I initially led our Series B along with our easy investors in Parada and whatnot. Then as soon as we announced our initial $52 million Series B, it was about a weekend, and probably people in the leader stage know this. When you announce your growth stage round, all the hedge funds and everyone comes out of the woodwork introducing themselves, “We’re XYZ Bank. We’re a private equity, blah, blah, blah.” Everyone comes knocking on your door just to start building a relationship. I remember getting an email from Tiger Global, a new series of emails. I’m like, “Wow. This guy is really tenacious.” One of the emails said, “We’re based in New York, but I’m actually in San Francisco. I’d love to stop by and say hello.” I’m like, “Okay. That’s great.” We had around a 45-minute meeting, and this guy, John Curtius, thankfully visited our office. Ten minutes into the conversation, the moment he sat down, he asked questions about metrics. I had just closed our Series B, so I knew all of the metrics in my head. I was answering all of his questions. “Do you have room to take an extra $40 million?” I said, “No, I just met you. My mom told me not to take money from strangers.” I thought it was his way of briskly building a relationship. We had a good talk for 45 minutes, and he went to take his flight. The next day, he sent me a follow-up email saying, “Have you thought about it—” I clearly had not because I thought he was half-joking and was just trying to test me. I was like, “My initial goal was to say no because we just raised a round.” I thought it would not be super comfortable with that. Initially, I tried to say no. I said, “Instead of $40 million, I’d like $50 million in increments of valuation of x; no [27:23]; no extra due diligence. It was my polite way of saying no. Forty minutes later, he came back and said, “Let’s do it.” I’m thinking, “Wake up. This guy is serious.” I’m like, “I just met you. I barely remember what you look like. I’m not going to believe it until you send me a term sheet.” He sent me a term sheet right away. “Is it really happening?” I still don’t believe you. Can you send me a signed term sheet from your end so that I can talk to the board about it?” It was my first vacation in five to ten years, so I was just on my way to Hawaii, and I landed in Hawaii, opened my email, and there was a signed term sheet. Now, I really have to talk to the board. It’s my fiduciary duty to do so. I was unpacking my stuff at the hotel and immediately pinged our investors. “Hey, folks. Have you heard of a company called Tiger Global?” Back then, Tiger Global wasn’t as active as today. They just started getting into B2B and SaaS. I started calling board members, and we had an emergency board meeting. “I actually have a term sheet in my hand. What do we do?” Of course, we had some back and forth, but the deal was too clean not to do it. So we ended up taking the extra $50 million from Tiger Global, which expanded our Series B from $52 to $100-200 million in Series B. It was a good buffer. In hindsight, it was a good decision with the COVID. We had a good buffer to power growth through COVID without extra financing.

    Alejandro: No kidding. John, imagine a vision as we’re looking ahead here for Sendbird. Imagine that you were to go to sleep tonight, and you wake up in a world where the vision of SendBird is fully realized. What does that world look like?

    John Kim: Wow. That’s a fun exercise. There are roughly five billion people on this planet earth who use messaging on a monthly basis. These are not just consumer messaging, but any app that has a messaging capability, whether it be food delivery, gaming, dating, doctors’ applications, all of those things. On average, out of five billion people, people use about four to five apps every month that have messaging capabilities. If all of our vision is realized, we’ll be powering five billion people’s conversations every day, plus times four to five, so basically, from our view, that’s 125 billion conversations on a monthly basis, which is phenomenal. There will be not only foreign chat but also voice and video. We’re trying to build [29:51] vision of building out a trillion using digital platforms where we’re having all of the conversations that happen on Sendbird with an application as well as some other omnichannel. All of those conversations flow through Sendbird, and we can track all of the analytics related to it and also run sentiment announcements to it, automated moderation to keep the conversations as clean as possible because there are a lot of spammers out there. So empowering are all of those rich conversations that happen in real-time or synchronously on pretty much all significant businesses or applications globally. That plugs in nicely with like Salesforce, Genesis, whatever those things are. We’ll be the household name for all things communication over IP. I think it will be a great place to be. Yeah, I guess that would be the first step of the vision.

    Alejandro: I love it. Imagine I put you in a time machine, now, John, and I bring you back in time, perhaps to that time where you were getting your computer science degree and then thinking about a world where you could build a company. If you could go back in time and give that younger John one piece of advice before launching a company, what would that be and why, knowing what you know now?

    John Kim: Oh, boy! 1) Storytelling is very important. 2) Expectation management. I had no idea how to manage expectation back then because I always am very, very positive and optimistic. I’m like, anything can happen. I remember seeing my first business projection, where raising half a million dollars will get us to conquer the world, which now, in hindsight, doesn’t make sense—so managing expectations of all of the stakeholders, whether your customers, your employees, your co-founders, the investors. I think I did a horrible job when I was running my first company, so really learning about expectation management. 3) Really understanding the difference in people’s personalities because back then, I was trying to force my way of doing and my worldview onto other people. I thought there was one clear way to be a great entrepreneur and great employee, so I tried to force my mode of operation, forcing installation of my OS to other people and realized that’s not how people work. You have to understand and see from where they are and really understand their worldview to align. That’s how you can rally people towards a similar mission. It’s not about trying to force them to your worldview, but it’s meeting them where they are. I think those things—I think I probably spent all of my 20s and half of my 30s understanding human beings. I still am a student in that capacity, but I think those will be critical lessons, for sure. 4) Lastly, just have belief in yourself. Things will work out as long as you work hard, assist your desire to do good in the world; the world will tend to help you over a long period of time, so just keep going and don’t give up.

    Alejandro: That’s it. And John, one book that you wish you would have read sooner?

    John Kim: Too many books, but I certainly would recommend anything to do with the field called complexity science—emerging phenomena, understanding the network science, and all of that. That really helped me understand and broadened my perspective of how the world worked, how the human race works, how society or how organizations work, those super organizations work, and that helped me bring together all these different parts of the world and different parts of business into this framework that I can understand and really iterate on, so I would certainly recommend consuming all of those books. If I had read those books in my teens, I think I probably could have made a lot more skill impact early on.

    Alejandro: Nice. John, for the people that are listening and watching, what is the best way for them to reach out and say hi?

    John Kim: Just drop me a note by email. Sometimes, if I’m swamped, it may take me some time, but I try not to forget. So email me at john@sendbird.com.

    Alejandro: Amazing. John, thank you so much for being on the DealMakers show today.

    John Kim: Yeah. Thank you so much for having me.

    * * *
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    Neil Patel

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