In this OneHaas Undergrad episode, we are joined by Patrick Pan, a Fortune-100-bred and startup-tested leader in global strategy and consumer marketing. He is currently the Vice President of Stealth Venture, online education and media platform, and serves as the President of the Berkeley-Haas Alumni Network of Los Angeles.
Besides being a frequent speaker on international growth, e-commerce profitability, customer intelligence, and brand narratives, he is also a certified rescue diver who occasionally surveys coral reefs around the world on marine conservation projects.
Patrick talks about his MBA experience at London Business School, his passion for traveling, and his experience with early-stage start-ups and adapting to market shifts and trends.
He also shares some of the most pivotal moments in his life that greatly impacted his career and what he loves about Berkeley.
“As globalized as we can become, it doesn’t necessarily take away the uniqueness of each market. People don’t behave the same way across the world. People do not think about things the same way. Any successful company right now that’s looking to be globally-minded would need to be able to localize and think in that way.”
“What I love about traveling really, and how it leads me to what I do in my career, is if I’m talking to somebody or contacts or even a prospect in some way, in a different market, from a different background, I can try to relate pretty quickly. And if not relate, at least understand because I’ve just been exposed to so many different types of people from different walks of life. And that, for me, is a blessing.”
“I always feared not being able to meet and experience as many things as I can while I still can. I travel that much because it helps me expand myself and understand that my perspective is definitely not the only one. In fact, it’s not even one out of a thousand; it’s probably one out of millions.”
“Whenever I give talks and discuss things in any level of exploration with people of different environments, it tends to center around the theme of just being open and understanding that the perspectives out there are equally as valid. And we should be able to consider different options even if sometimes data suggests otherwise.”
(Transcripts may contain a few typographical errors due to audio quality during the podcast recording.)
Ellen: Welcome to the OneHaas podcasts, undergrad series. I’m your host. Ellen. And today we’re joined by our guest, Patrick Pan. Patrick’s a Fortune 100 trained and startup battle-tested leader in global strategy and consumer marketing.
[00:00:26] He’s 60% scientists, 40% artists, someone who can isolate the variables in startups are off the greatest impact and craft creative ways to solve for them. He’s also a frequent speaker on topics such as international growth, e-commerce profitability, customer intelligence, and brand narratives.
[00:00:45] He is also a certified rescue diver. Patrick, very excited to have you on and looking forward to digging in.
[00:00:51] Patrick: Thanks for that intro and I’m very excited to be here.
[00:00:53] Ellen: Awesome. Can you just tell our listeners your background and your origin story?
[00:00:58] Patrick: Origin story. I could go pretty far back but I split my childhood between Taipei and Los Angeles. So, grew up speaking both languages, primarily. And then a similar Asian American immigrant story found myself at Berkeley, and just rooted myself there into that world of just different career opportunities that were available to me at the time.
[00:01:20] And I wanted to go into finance but it just so happened that when I was there, and it was right around the turn of the financial crisis, it wasn’t going to be a viable path, at least at that time. So, like everybody else, I went to Silicon Valley and cut my teeth over there in San Jose, California until I got really exceptionally bored with the San Jose landscape and decided to go to New York City.
[00:01:43] And that’s really where I spent the bulk of my twenties, which was New York City in the high-flying world of consumer goods and luxury goods and fashion and beauty and that kind of stuff. Eventually made my way into some institutional funds that were investing in those sectors.
[00:01:56] And ended up just deciding that there was a bit of a knowledge gap in what I was doing. So, I ended up applying to different business schools. I ended up choosing London Business School and spend a couple of years out in the UK having the best time of my life.
[00:02:09] Ellen: Yeah, awesome! What led to your passion in consumer brands?
[00:02:13] Patrick: You know, this was an interesting development process because even as early as 10-11 years old, I remember I wanted to be in advertising. I remember because I would watch movies like, What Women Wants or Sweet November and just movies. And what if there was an ad agency involved?
[00:02:28] Obviously, agencies don’t work that way anymore but that just, that to me was the perfect intersection of the things that I felt I was good at as a kid, which was identifying the right stories to tell but also making somebody feel excited about those stories. And so, I always wanted to go into that route.
[00:02:44] And then I discovered later on that if I wanted to go into advertising right out of college, I was not going to be able to pay back my student loans. And so that was a conscious decision that I made. So, I went into tech but still did similar things while I was there. And then eventually that kind of led me down a path of being able to identify the right things to present from a company perspective to its audiences. And that’s just been paying off since then in terms of the level of enjoyment and enrichment that I get from it.
[00:03:13] Ellen: And you also wrote a thesis when you were at Berkeley, looking into consumerism. Can you speak about that and how that translated to your career?
[00:03:26] Patrick: Berkeley has this major called the Interdisciplinary Studies Field, which is you are assembling coursework from five or six different departments at a time. And you’re trying to formulate a thesis of it that you’re working to validate.
[00:03:37] This was around the turn of e-commerce becoming much more globalized or for the first time really looking globalized. And so, I wanted to understand how different markets around the world of consumers or interacting with and buying from American brands.
[00:03:51] So I did some ground research in East Asia, in Western Europe, and just trying to understand how these brands and activities are being pursued. Ended up finding out a bunch of interesting things, right? I had done some research on eBay and Groupon, for example, their stories in China, which is vastly interesting.
[00:04:07] And it helped me to understand that, as globalized as we can become, it doesn’t necessarily take away the uniqueness of each market. People don’t behave the same way across the world. People do not think about things the same way. And so, for that reason, any successful company right now that’s looking to be globally minded would need to be able to localize and think in that way. And it’s a philosophy I’ve held for some time now and it’s one that I bring to every role that I’ve been involved in.
[00:04:32] Ellen: That’s a good transition point. I wanted to take into just your international travels. Obviously, you did your MBA at London Business School, but you also really well-traveled. How has that impacted your career and just more broadly in terms of your perspectives?
[00:04:48] Patrick: Traveling is a huge joy of mine and I don’t care to see landmarks or go to places that we want to see on a postcard. For me, it’s much more about finding myself in a random alleyway somewhere and just meeting some locals, maybe sitting down for a meal or for a drink or something.
[00:05:04] And I can say that because I think there’s part of it is the privilege of meeting who I am. I’m somewhat above average size male person which takes away some of the variables of traveling in terms of safety, just naturally. But also, I love meeting people and talking to them.
[00:05:21] And so I can find myself in the situations where I will just be lost somewhere and a local will help me and we’ll end up becoming friends. We’ll end up going to a house party that that person knows of. And then we have an awesome adventure and we’re still friends today and I’ve actually been to a few of those people’s weddings since those times.
[00:05:37] What I love about traveling really, and how it leads me to what I do in my careers that in any case, I can pick up the phone and if I’m talking to somebody, or contacts, or even a prospect in some way, in a different market, from a different background, I can basically try to relate pretty quickly.
[00:05:58] And if not relate to not at least understand, because I’ve just been able to be exposed to so many different types of people, from different walks of life. And that for me is a blessing. I always feared not being able to meet and experience as many things as I can while I still can. And that’s really the idea is that I travel that much because it helps me to expand myself and understand that, you know what, my perspective is definitely not the only one. In fact, it’s not even one out of a thousand, it’s probably one out of millions.
[00:06:27] Ellen: And how did the experience at London Business School differ from your time at Haas?
[00:06:50] Patrick: That’s an awesome question. Because it was a conscious decision of going to London versus Haas or other schools, as well as the ones based in the States, I was actually quite close to choosing Stanford GSB. Usually, it’s considered at a top school but I went to a weekend at London Business School. This was after the admissions. And then before any courses would start, I went over there for a weekend and met a bunch of future classmates and I was blown away.
[00:07:16] None of the American schools had come close to the level of international diversity that that school had. London Business School caps their British students, I would say at 10% and the other 90 is everybody else. American schools can’t say that. And It inevitably gave the class environment just, there were 80 or 90 different nationalities in a certain cohort or in a certain class year.
[00:07:38] And that was massively beneficial, I think, in every way. I was blown away by the level of talents. We had doctors, lawyers, veterinarians, astronauts, soldiers, which is true of any top tier business school, I would say, but it’s just that kind of environment. It really stayed with me and it opened my world to a lot of different things that I could not have gotten, I think, otherwise.
[00:07:58] Ellen: That’s a good point, especially for people who are considering going abroad either for a semester or for MBA. And do you think that experience brought changes to some of the topics you’re passionate about? Obviously, you frequently speak about international growth and brand narratives. So, curious if that made a difference.
[00:08:21] Patrick: I would say it did in multiple numbers, in a number of ways in that it taught me to always evaluate my own perspectives and my point of view and my opinion on something from multiple angles. One such example I can think of is I remember one class where there was just a pretty casual discussion about supply chains and about manufacturing.
[00:08:42] We were talking about cheaper labor and child labor in some cases, could be a controversial topic but I just remember everybody that was from a Western country, the United States, Canada, most of Western Europe, Australian, we all cringed at the thought of child labor.
[00:08:55] But then we’ve had classmates from other parts of the world that actually had said, I understand that perspective, but if child labor was not possible, our family would have starved to death. And that’s just something that stuck with me because, yeah, we have the environment in which we can say and hold a certain perceived higher, moral ground.
[00:09:15] But there’s a practicality aspect of things where we don’t always know the full story and that’s fundamentally helped me change or at least evaluate from a very humble perspective, ever formulated an opinion. Can I back that up with genuine understanding and sincerity behind trying to understand the crux of the problem?
[00:09:36] And if I can’t, then I’ll keep working through it because it’s one thing where I’ve made it habits and knots to not put my foot down on things. Because there could just be something that I’m not seeing. And I welcome it, whatever that happens.
[00:09:49] Ellen: Yeah, that is definitely a really different perspective. You know, how have you been bringing that perspective out to the world? Do you talk about some of these topics during your guest lectures and speaking sessions?
[00:10:23] Patrick: I find that whenever I do give talks and or discuss these things in any level of exploration with people of different environments, it tends to center around the theme of just being open and having an understanding that the perspectives out there are equally as valid. And we should be able to consider different options even if sometimes data suggests otherwise.
[00:10:46] And that’s where you mentioned earlier that I described myself as 60% scientist and 40% artists, and that comes from the fact that yes, I do like to make sure that I’m making quantifiably informed decisions when I do. But there’s that 40% that needs to be able to take that a step further and say, you know what, there are other perspectives and other angles where you can get a little creative with things and get a little bit different with how a story is told and/or listened to and perceived.
[00:11:15] And that’s really the, sometimes, the difference-maker. And I tried to bring that theme into every conversation I have because it’s been a helpful driving force for how I am able to feel good about the decisions that I come to.
[00:11:29] Ellen: That’s awesome. You are obviously involved in a couple of ventures and startups. How do you bring that mindset to some of the startups you’re helping with?
[00:11:38] Patrick: That’s one of the most exciting parts of this, which is what startups, especially at the very early stages I’m talking about before any real series, a type of raise, it’s a mad scramble, right? And those first 5 to 10 people that you got during that time, the core group have to each one be kind of the business worlds or tech worlds equivalent of a Navy seal. Meaning that all of those, 5 to 10, five dozen people should be able to be dropped into a situation and assess the area and figure out a path forward and a plan of action, and then be able to drive and execute that plan of action.
[00:12:13] That’s a very important component. And that for me, I think is just such an invigorating environment to be in, in a ride venture, because everyone is just such a level player and everyone’s, the cylinders are all clicking and you’re able to take that and bill the type of practice that allows you to consider different options and then make decisions quickly.
[00:12:32] I think that’s been wildly valuable in every scenario I’ve been across. And it’s one where I hope I would say, my hope is that others around me start to absorb that energy a little bit.
[00:12:43] Ellen: Just definitely being nimble as the first few people in a company. As I look at your background, it seems like you’re going earlier and earlier stage in terms of a startup or company. Was that on purpose or are you just more naturally drawn to earlier stage companies these days?
[00:13:02] Patrick: Yeah, it wasn’t on purpose. Actually, it kind of was on purpose if I’m trying to be honest. I think it’s, I started the first few years of my career, I was in at the time Fortune 100 companies, they’re massive, 70, 80,000 employees and global footprint and whatnot.
[00:13:17] Think that’s a great place to learn and a safe place to try different things and get feedback and get mentorships. And I still have mentors from those days that are hugely valuable in my life even today. But I think what I’ve found was that the one thing that I ran into multiple times in the corporate setting was that unless you’re willing to play a certain game, a certain level of playground politics if you will.
[00:13:41] I felt that unless you can get really good at that, you might not be optimizing your time there. That’s my experience. That’s what I found. And so, I realized that the things that I wanted to do, we’ll have to go through several layers of bureaucracy before it was even approved for action on the market versus, with smaller companies and more agile, I would say types of early-stage companies. There’s just, if I come up with an idea in the shower in the morning, afternoon, in my morning workout, I can probably get it done by noon. And that’s pretty cool because it’s just one of those things where you have the ability and the agility to move on certain things.
[00:14:17] And then if you are empowered, let’s say by the executive team if you’re empowered by the investors to do so, and that there’s a trust there, so much the better.
[00:14:25] Ellen: That’s a good point. And I think a lot of students probably go into bigger corporations at first, thinking there’s that safety net, right? As you move along your career path, how have you just balanced that with the amount of risks you’re willing to take, as you switch different companies and go earlier stage?
[00:14:45] Patrick: And in the past couple of years, I’ve gotten very involved with the University of California, Berkeley, and like more so as an alumnus. And I’ve been speaking more with undergraduate students, both in Haas and outside of it.
[00:14:55] And the things I always say is, look, the first two or three years of your career, there’s gotta be some structure. Otherwise, it’ll be very hard to figure things out, right? There’s going to be a structure in the sense that you have to know what you’re accountable for and why and how that fits into the organization’s goals.
[00:15:13] You’ll find great mentors, hopefully during that time as well. But if you’re the type to really just have this boundless energy of trying different things and moving things forward on a faster pace, and look, the path that I chose is not one of high stability and high consistency.
[00:15:28] It’s one that is volatile and it has some interesting bumps and dips along the way, but I tend to really enjoy that because nothing ever gets stale. My days are never the same. And it also gives me the flexibility, at least before 2020. That flexibility to just be able to work from a different environment in different places.
[00:15:50] That kind of change in scenery tends to invigorate me a lot and so, depending on your style, depending on the type of career you want to drive, I would say the priority is always to try to build skills in a structured environment early in the career. But as you start to find the things that you’re great at, that you can do better than most of your peers can, right?
[00:16:10] Those two or three things, whatever they may be, you think about in what environment and might those things be most valuable. A lot of times, especially people of our generation, a lot of times you find that those environments tend to be some earlier stage or more agile and more easily pivoted type of companies.
[00:16:25] Ellen: And obviously there are a lot of companies out there these days, right? What is your decision point, let’s say, to join one company over the others? How have you historically made that decision? And then how would you encourage young grads, two, three years out in the world, trying to make that decision?
[00:16:45] Patrick: That’s a great question. So, a lot of times I’m sure people are hearing, Okay, yeah, you got to talk about who your manager is going to be, you have to talk about the benefits, the compensation, the company’s trajectory, that kind of stuff. All the typical things are important. The way I do it though, are two things.
[00:17:00] The absolute number one most important thing for me is the type of product and market alignment. And what I mean by that is it’s usually there’s a lack of alignment but needs to get there. That’s where it’s most interesting to me. Even if it’s an industry I don’t have much experience in. I’d have such an insatiable curiosity where right now I’m working with online education, online learning platform.
[00:17:22] And I have zero background in that. I’ve never done content. I’ve never done education. Seriously. I’ve never done personal finance and that type of stuff. But for me, it’s that I’m now seeing just such a fundamental gap for the market in terms of one, how education is approached. Because now I’ve seen how different countries are doing education, right?
[00:17:43] I think in the United States, we’ve got long ways to go. But also, just the level of financial acumen that the average populace would have. These are two things that I see as massive problems that I personally don’t know how to solve if I were going to go back to myself. But now in what I’m doing, I’m learning about this space and satisfying that curiosity.
[00:18:00] But at the same time, bringing my own brand of value to it, trying to solve some of these product-market alignment issues, and figure out these things puzzle by puzzle. And as long as that opportunity exists in something that I’m considering, it’s usually a no-brainer for me.
[00:18:16] The second piece I would call it not number two, but maybe a one B type of priority is the leadership in that team. The environments that I love working in, and I’ve only found this maybe two or three times ever in my career, which is there’s gotta be just this massive intellectual energy and curiosity around the decision-makers.
[00:18:35] Right? If you’ve become templated and you believe that what’s always worked will continue to work, that’s just not the type of environment that I would feel that I might thrive in. I think I love sending out random articles of learning to my team or to my peers or it just didn’t say, look, Hey, here’s some Friday lunchtime reading for you just to get you to think about things in a different way.
[00:18:57] And sometimes it’s just about something completely different. I have different interests out there. I’ll send people an article about the Marine ecosystem and why it’s important or it could be something that’s very much business-related.
[00:19:09] But either way, my goal is that the people around me and the people that work for me need to have that kind of curiosity and energy to learn something else. And I do one thing in my weekly team meetings where I’ll ask people are from this week, what did you like and what did you learn?
[00:19:25] Pick one thing, right? Because for me, I journal every day with something that I liked from that day and something that’s something new that I learned from that day. I’m asking my team to do it once a week because I think it’s important to reflect on the things that made you feel good about what you’re doing, but also the things that you feel has enriched you from a knowledge base perspective, from a style perspective, whatever it may be, something’s gotta be able to continuously drive growth for yourself. And that’s something that I tried to bring around.
[00:19:53] Ellen: That’s interesting. Especially the first part where you mentioned try to find where there’s a market misalignment.
[00:20:13] Patrick: Well, I have to also see a path forward for that too. It can’t be so fundamentally missed the line that I just say, you know what, that’s a pretty bad business. Usually, it’s that, maybe it’s 70% of the way there or 50% of the way there. I don’t know. But the things that I do well, can that be the big inflection point for something like that? Can that be a catalyst? Right? And if it can, that’s when it gets really interesting.
[00:20:34] Ellen: Yeah. So, perhaps it’s the market seeing an inflection point where you think you can add value to a company you believe in with great leadership, to just step on that gas pedal. Awesome.
[00:20:48] Let’s talk about now. With a company you’re actively involved with, maybe it’s just my ignorance but from your perspective, why would a company do a stealth mode?
[00:21:00] Patrick: Interesting. That’s a great question. I would say the company is not so stealthy at this time but I am, and that’s for a very specific reason in that I know that the moment I put it on my LinkedIn, people will ask about it. And I want that moment to be when I’m ready to get it out for media and the press to actually talk about it too.
[00:21:20] And so, I’m just trying to dam up a little bit of momentum for it, but that’s really the only reason. As far as generally why a company would be in stealth mode, usually, it’s just that maybe it’s something that’s such a cool idea. And you want to keep it under wraps. But more often than not, it’s just more about all right.
[00:21:36] The founding team is just not sure yet. And how do you put your name behind something that you’re not even sure is going to work? And so sometimes it’s usually a balance of the two, but I think that’s just the question of how much outright confidence you might have. And that comes from you can be a little bit humble and then under index there, or you can be a little bit arrogant and over-index there, neither I think is a bad scenario to be in, but I would say, it really just depends on the priorities and then what your schedule looks like.
[00:22:05] Ellen: Got it. It’s interesting that you’re not disclosing that to the world right now. Your decision point would be when you are more ready to talk to people about it.
[00:22:17] Patrick: Yeah. And it’s not, I feel ready now. It’s just that I haven’t had the time to. And so, for the most part, I’m just trying to build a few more things to show for it in terms of the traction of the business. And then when that happens, I’ll be able to pretty, to start engaging with different folks and seeing what investors are actually apt for talking to, what media channels and media outlets should we start looking at and engage those conversations. Normally, how I go about stuff like that is I would fly out to a place like New York City and start buying people dinner and going around and seeing who’s interested in talking about what and where and when, right. Can’t really do that at this moment. So really more of the sequencing of priorities.
[00:22:55] Ellen: And obviously used to travel a lot, probably meeting investors, other companies, how have you seen the environment change because everyone’s doing a lot of Zoom sessions? Do you think the community will go back to more in-person once COVID is over?
[00:23:14] Patrick: I have to think about that question often because I’m also the current president of the Berkeley Haas network of Los Angeles. And normally, in a given year, that chapter and all the other chapters actually are doing quite a few in-person events, engaging things that could bring in good networking, good community engagements, sometimes revenue.
[00:23:34] This year is very different, right? And so, I took on a role that we really have to navigate a digital world. It’s probably good that this is the time where I step in because it’s much more of a space that I’m just very well-versed in. And I think one key change, and this is something that sounds very simple but I think it has a very long-lasting impact, which is that my parents now know how to use Zoom.
[00:23:57] If you asked me a year ago, could your parents learn zoom and use it effectively? I would have said no, I don’t think so, because it’s really just not necessarily intuitive when you ever have it to troubleshoot certain things or try different things, for a different generation. I get that.
[00:24:11] But now they’re both incredibly good at using Zoom. And that, to me, I think it stretches across a lot of people of that generation because what can you do now as a business when your almost entire audience top to bottom in terms of age range can be engaged in a digital way. It used to not be the case, in 2019, it wasn’t the case.
[00:24:28] And because of that, it’s an exponential effect because globally, now the market is seeing this type of shift. And so, globally you have a more viable and scalable market to address and somebody to talk to you, right? And this translates also into e-commerce, people being more comfortable buying online and procuring online, and then you’ve got the entire world just scrambling to make sure that something from click to the moment it arrives at your door can be done as 72 hours. In a lot of cases, it can be.
[00:24:56] And that’s very impressive. That’ll happen, I think, in 2020, and we’ll continue on in 2021. And we don’t know exactly what that means for the businesses that are primed to absorb this kind of shift.
[00:25:07] Ellen: I’m sure the current environment has a lot of impact on some of the topics, obviously international transactions, e-commerce, customer experience, Omnichannel, terms of just market knowledge, how do you keep up with what’s going on in the market just foreseeing some of the changes that will come?
[00:25:27] Patrick: There are many people that are much better at foreseeing what’s common in the market than I am, countless people. And I think so that’s not really what I spend a lot of intellectual capital on, cause I think it’s, yeah, like I can I have an idea of what might happen and where things might be headed.
[00:25:44] And then try to plan for those continuing agencies. But on my end as much more, I think agility is one thing. I don’t know how markets and trends might shift but I know it will shift. I know it will evolve, right, one way or the other, it will evolve.
[00:25:57] I can kind of plan for that and I can say not everyone will be right about what’s going to happen. But for those that are wrong, how quickly can you actually shift to adapt to the right course at that point? And so, there’s another thing that I bring up with my team frequently, which is that, even as an early-stage company, I use the example of a cheetah, right?
[00:26:17] A cheetah is an effective hunter. Not because its top speed is 70 miles per hour. It’s an effective hunter because it can pivot on a dime. If it can be running at 70 miles per hour and the next millisecond, it can be headed in a different direction, 90 degrees off. That’s very impressive. And that’s exactly why it’s effective.
[00:26:34] Because it doesn’t need to be that fast. It’s fast as prey is probably half that speed. And so really the idea is that you’ve gotta be able to adapt and turn and really try to adjust course when you need to and if you can do that at the drop of a dime, then Hey, that’s a pretty powerful tool to be able to draw on.
[00:26:53] Ellen: That again, just being nimble, as a person, as a company, both very important, looking back at your career thus far, what have been some of the most pivotal moments that you think made a great impact in your career?
[00:27:20] Patrick: The pivotal moments that I think made a great impact to me and probably to the company, usually they’re one and the same, it happened only in times of great stress and great volatility and unpredictability. I find that that’s just where I’m maybe not where I’m most comfortable, but it’s where I’ve done the best work I’ve ever done.
[00:27:38] And I can think of some examples. There was a time when one of the companies I was working with a few years back went through a pretty national PR crisis. And it was a scenario where, yeah, we had a partnership with ABC, the television network. And so, we had a lot of reach and then we couldn’t make good on that reach.
[00:27:56] We couldn’t make it on that promise. And ABC was pretty upset. And I was pretty upset and we were all just in a crunch. And I just remember spring into action and trying to the one thing about me that I think every single one of my bosses and or colleagues and or team members will attest to is I am never panicked.
[00:28:14] No, I’ve never actually panicked in any situation to be honest. And I think that’s just an environment that I operate in as a hazardous that operated, not intentionally. It just happened that way. I’ve been in car crashes where I’ve been completely able to steer myself away from certain things just slowly because maybe my reaction time is too slow to panic.
[00:28:31] So the first thing is whatever’s more natural, but, yeah, that’s just always been the case. And so, in times like that, some people may be “freaking out” but for me, I’m just always thinking about what do we need to do now? What’s manageable now that we can effect that will be a positive outcome.
[00:28:48] Right? And so, you kind of navigate through those things. And that PR crisis I was talking about, it took some time to go out three to four months to actually sort everything the right way, I would say, but we did it and I think we did it in a way where it was organized and it had clarity and it had direction.
[00:29:04] And no matter what your work style is, a lot of times clarity and direction are the two things that can really help guide people to move together. And another example might just be there was a time with a startup called Paragon, based in LA, it’s that device that treats muscles.
[00:29:19] Yeah, it was part of that early team. And there was a time when I remember we were just aggressively launching in different markets because different markets were already starting to see some traction and we needed to be able to serve those markets effectively. And we couldn’t just do it all from our base in Los Angeles. And so, for four months straight, I don’t think I slept a whole lot. And we got a launch in about 35 new countries during that time. And it was massively exciting and I went through all the exercises of pricing and VAT calculations and infrastructure and fulfillment and local deliveries and localize marketing and that kind of stuff.
[00:29:51] I was pretty tired but I was still definitely young enough to actually handle it. And one where I would say gave me just such a great enjoyment because going back to an earlier point, at that time that they’re going to team, it was made of A-level players. Like all of them, every single one. And it’s such an invigorating experience to work alongside those people.
[00:30:11] Ellen: Wow. That’s awesome. And definitely very exciting. It is hard work, an early-stage team trying to expand, trying to grow, but you’re also really active outside of work as well. How do you balance all of that? Yeah.
[00:30:24] Patrick: Not well. I would say I’ve gotten busier and busier in the last couple of years where most of my days, I would say, I’m probably actively doing something that’s not considered a relaxation for about 15 hours, 16 hours a day. And I think that’s not sustainable. I know that.
[00:30:41] So, I’m trying to manage that a little better, but at the same time, I made a commitment to myself years ago, I think just after leaving Berkeley, that I would learn a new physical activity or sport every single calendar year, no matter what it is, I’ll pick something before the year’s end and I’ll learn it and get serviceable and competent at it.
[00:30:59] And if I really like it, I’ll continue and actually get good at it. And that’s sort of been my thing to help really keep things moving. And so, over the years, the things that I would say have made it through that nets, and I’m continuously working toward it, is scuba diving, skiing, and I would say rugby is one, yeah.
[00:31:17] And all three of those things I just mentioned have each given me some interesting injuries to take away from. But I do them because one, I would say for scuba diving and skiing, they’re a little bit more costly. And so, as a hobby, I would say that they’re a little more costly.
[00:31:32] And for that reason, I never could have attempted any of it when I was growing up. But now that things are a little bit different, I think it’s to be able to try those things and in a sense, I’ve met some wonderful people doing those activities and just wonderful environments and new friends and such.
[00:31:49] And so it’s just such a joy to be able to do that. And I know that I’m still athletic and physically able and I will keep pushing those things for as long as I can. And 2021, the sport is shaping up to probably be golf. I haven’t decided yet but I have another month to decide.
[00:32:05] Ellen: I actually picked up golf at the start of COVID.
[00:32:08] Patrick: Oh, very good.
[00:32:09] Ellen: It’s been a good, COVID friendlies, socially-distanced sport. And it’s a good way to get outside and I’m enjoying it so far.
[00:32:15] Patrick: I think so. And that’s the thing is for me, I’ve golfed before, I use that term loosely, but for some strange reasons so un-intuitive for me and so unnatural for me much more so than the other, any other activity I tried. Diving, I picked up on the first day, skiing to me a few lessons.
[00:32:30] Sure. But I got it right with golf, it’s just, it’s wildly unnatural for me for whatever reason and to commit to actually, a few months of just non-stop lessons, I think is something that I might just have to do. If that turns out being the sport of 2021.
[00:32:44] Ellen: Well, fun fact, my dad actually picked up mountain biking when he was 40. So, I think anything’s possible.
[00:32:50] Patrick: Very cool. Yeah. I actually picked up rugby when I was 30 and I thought that it’s probably a little late because you play on the same pitch as a bunch of 22-year-olds that had played on junior teams and national under 20 teams before and national teams. And when you get hit at the age of 30, I would say even then, you take a few seconds to collect yourself, right?
[00:33:08] When you’re 22 though, and you get hit, you really bounce back up as if nothing happened. And it’s nice but it was just one of the things where I noticed myself starting to be a little different than before.
[00:33:19] Ellen: Yeah. Just gotta be nimble again. Thanks a lot for all of that. Unless there’s anything else you’d like to add, we can go to our fun fire round of questions to wrap up. Awesome. The first one is a seasonal one. What are you doing to keep yourself sane during this time?
[00:33:39] Patrick: Oh, I keep myself sane by doing a lot of learnings actually, because I’ll watch documentaries on what or two, or I’ll watch civil war documentaries, or I’ll watch something on different marine ecosystems, or read something about that. I listen to a lot of podcasts that I very much enjoy and certainly there’s a joy to that.
[00:33:58] But for me this year in 2020, we actually adopted a dog who is much older. He is 11 years old. His name is Chubs. And he’s quite small. He was like 15 pounds but he was around. And when he came to us, that’s the reason he came to us because he had already been returned to the shelter and to the rescue three times, because he’s not friendly and kept biting people.
[00:34:18] And so even right now, my hand has a scar on it from yesterday morning when he did bite me, but we’ve had him for six months now and I’ve just seen massive improvements in his behavior. And he’s very sweet, very cuddly, and really just an all-around nice dog. Still likes to bite. So, I keep him away from strangers for the most part but I know how to handle him.
[00:34:38] And I just, we were basically his last chance before being put down. And I think right now it looks like he’s going to have a wonderful life and a wonderful home. And I’m very glad to be able to have that. And he’s been such a joy for me since May, I said, as long we adopted him.
[00:34:53] Ellen: Have you been doing some sort of training to help with the biting?
[00:34:57] Patrick: Some training. Yeah, certainly my girlfriend does a lot more of the training. And she’s quite good at it too. And we’ve had a trainer come by and work with them too. But for me, it’s just, I’ve been around a lot of rescue operation dogs have come from pretty rough environments.
[00:35:10] And so I know how to work around them and being been as long as they’re all being tested and healthy, doesn’t really scare me. It doesn’t bother me. I’m not a hand model.
[00:35:18] Ellen: Doing a lot of things, hand models. It’s not one of them. What content are you consuming right now? You mentioned some movies, documentaries, or what’s been your favorite?
[00:35:26] Patrick: So, Netflix has this shell from a documentary from a few years ago called The Greatest Events of World War II in color. It’s 9 or 10 episodes. And you can imagine in which 9 or 10 chapters they might be for World War II but it’s just massively interesting to me, trying to watch those things now with the clarity and understanding I have of our current global geopolitical and global economic environment. It’s an interesting reference point to have and being able to consume that, I think, and thinking about things that way, I really love, evaluating history and seeing, why decisions were made, and try to understand the people of that time.
[00:36:02] Fortunately, very fortunate I would say, our current environment in the world right now, and especially in the United States, gives me the perspective to be able to see why certain philosophies or ideologies could be getting traction. And for that reason, I think it’s just an interesting way to digest that kind of history.
[00:36:21] I’d love to do that. Another thing that I did in recent months was I finished the book by Robert Iger, the former CEO of Disney, the current chairman. He was pretty much a homegrown network television guy that went into Disney via the ABC route. And so, his journey and sort of his kind of interesting strangely to say outsider perspective of the corporate culture of the Walt Disney Company, was really refreshing to see.
[00:36:47] And I think that makes certain types of people really want to play in that kind of stepladder game of that corporate executive world. It’s interesting. And it’s very political, very pragmatic in some ways, I would say, but I just really love his take on it because he’s one of the best storytellers I’ve ever come across in any sort of media.
[00:37:05] Patrick: The book is called The Ride of a Lifetime, very interestingly named. He doesn’t actually talk a whole lot about his leadership and what he does to get things out of people. It seems to be me that he just has had people that were incredibly exceptional around him the whole time, at least, one or two. And so it’s much more about his internalized reactions to certain things, the challenges that are thrown his way, what his mindset was when he goes about it and why, and provides context to that. And that to me, I think is good because as you can tell already, just from this hour, I like to reflect. I like to think about things and dissect things and I think that Rob’s type of philosophy. It just drives really well for me.
[00:37:43] Ellen: Yeah. Awesome. What’s your best productivity hack?
[00:37:47] Patrick: My best productivity hack, which is, I’ve been trying to adapt that in 2020, but before it was always just, I would actually book a week or so at a hostel. Either in the city that I was already in or somewhere completely different and just go there for a week or two weeks and just do work from there.
[00:38:04] Because for me, I don’t know what it is, but a change of scenery for me has massive payoffs in terms of my focus and in terms of my ability to get things done. And of course, as a day, some of the best ideas I had, for a previous company I would say is when I spent a week and a half at this hostel, sort of a surfing hostel, and I’m in Fuerteventura, which is one of the Canary Islands, I’m part of the Spanish territory. And I don’t really surf and I’m terrible at kind surfing. I was trying to learn, but, No, I would spend the mornings like sitting in the common area with my laptop, writing things, putting things together, doing certain things and the activity that was happening around me, people coming back from their sunrise surfing sessions, people coming back, having just gone fishing and they bring in this massive fish to grill for everybody at the later that night or just travelers coming through. For me, it’s very invigorating and it keeps me really on my game because I feel like there’s just so much life happening around me. How can I afford to not be tuned in right now, how can I afford to not be focused?
[00:39:00] And so it makes me so much more, just locked into what I’m doing. And some of the best ideas I’ve had, some of the best work I’ve ever done has come from those environments. Even when I moved to LA, I was living in Culver City, California at the time, which is pretty central in terms of that Los Angeles goes.
[00:39:15] And I would check into a hostel in Santa Monica for a week and people would say, Hey, where are you from? I’m going from 15 minutes the other direction. But, it’s still just, it’s nice to get that kind of energy and bustling around me because it really helps.
[00:39:28] Ellen: Got to say I have not heard that one yet, that’s great. I think.
[00:39:32] Patrick: It’s not someone’s first, probably not one’s first choice of what they should do if they’re trying to be more productive. But yeah.
[00:39:39] Ellen: Yeah. The last one, what’s your favorite thing about Haas or Berkeley?
[00:39:44] Patrick: Ah, that’s two very different questions, but I think my favorite thing about Haas honestly, is, it’s just, it’s a very small school if you think about it from a top tier business school perspective, it’s very small. And it’s bigger now, I would imagine. Back then it was very small and the ideas that they were, Haas has always been such a sort of a mission-driven type of school, more so than other schools I’ve come across. They’ve always wanted to accomplish certain things. They have these principles, I’m sure you know way better than I do, that Haas tries to stick to. And it breeds a certain type of friendliness among its alumni and among the people that have been affiliated with Haas. And I just liked that environment very much because it sits at the center of a lot of different types of new innovation in the world, just based on proximity too. And so, it’s sort of adapts to that in place with that a little bit.
[00:40:32] And I’ve always loved that culture. Plus, I think I really just enjoy being able to grab a cup of coffee at Haas and sit around and that similar type of not like a travelers’ hostile environment, but like a, just high energy, fast-paced type of place.
[00:40:46] I like that about Haas very much. The Berkeley thing I think is a, there’s always a bigger question for me because Berkeley has a very special emotional tie to me. Meaning that my grandfather, he’s passed a long time ago, but before he passed, when I was a kid, he talked about Berkeley.
[00:41:01] This is when we were living in Taiwan and he was talking about Berkeley, like some magical place, because he knew about it because he was a very well-traveled international guy. You know, there’s no way for his kids and my father and my aunts who have gone in their generation, it was really next to impossible.
[00:41:16] But the fact that I went, I think it was a special moment for him, for my family. To me, I still remember moving day very well. I still remember all of my first year and second-year memories, from those times, there was a special emotional time for me that over the years I’ve been consistently going back to, not going back to the school, but going back to that community and try and do what I can for her.
[00:41:36] So when I lived in New York, I was part of the New York chapter of the Cal alumni association, used to do interviews for the alumni scholarship awards and leadership awards for hose candidates, helped in whatever way I could, used to host events for them as well. When I went to London, part of a much smaller alumni group, but there was a community there that we could work with.
[00:41:53] And we would invite the Cal alumni of Dublin to come over and we would be able to throw a little party and stuff here and there. It was very fun. But that involvement for me is just, it’s very close to my heart and I hope to always be able to contribute in some way back to that Berkeley environment.
[00:42:10] Ellen: That’s incredible. And certainly hope to see you at some of the Berkeley alumni events over Zoom or in person, sooner rather than later.
[00:42:19] Patrick: You will, you’ll see me there. That’s for sure. Yeah.
[00:42:22] Ellen: It’s great having you on Patrick, and it’s been a pleasure.
[00:42:25] Patrick: Yeah. Pleasure is mine, Ellen. Thank you so much for hosting this. I really enjoyed the conversation.
[00:42:29] Ellen: Awesome. Thank you.
[00:42:29] Patrick: Take care.
[00:42:31] Ellen Chan: Thank you for listening to this episode of the OneHaas podcast, the undergrad series. If you’d like our content, please like and subscribe to our channel and give us a review. You can also check out more episodes and hear from past and current Haas students on Spotify, Apple podcasts, and on onehaas.org. Until next time, go bears.