FINTECH FRIDAY$ (EP.21-Jan 18): Meritocracy, Decentralized Innovation and the Power of Collaboration, CEO Next Decentrum, Hussein Hallak

NCFA Canada | Jan 18, 2019

FF S2 EP21 Hussein Hallak banner1000 1 - FINTECH FRIDAY$ (EP.21-Jan 18):  Meritocracy, Decentralized Innovation and the Power of Collaboration, CEO Next Decentrum, Hussein Hallak

Ep21-Jan 18:  Meritocracy, Decentralized Innovation and the Power of Collaboration

About this episode:  On this episode NCFA Fintech Friday's host Manseeb Khan sits down with Hussein Hallak the CEO of NextDecentrum. They chat about AI in the education space, mentorship, and what decentralized innovation looks like to him. Enjoy !

  • Humans aren't perfect but we've managed to create online meritocracy through communities and value systems
  • A vision for global education and decentralized access to innovation and mentors
  • Top advice to startups and entrepreneurs launching new ventures (passion, idea, ability to add value)

Host: Manseeb Khan, NCFA, Fintech Fridays show host

Guest: Hussein Hallak, Co-founder and CEO, Next Decentrum

Bio: Hussein Hallak is the CEO and Founder of Next Decentrum, a blockchain education company. Evangelist at Launch Academy, one of North America’s leading tech incubators with over 600 tech startups incubated and over $150 Million raised. Serial entrepreneur and startup founder with over 25 years of business experience. Developed 20+ startups and mentored and trained thousands of entrepreneurs. Creator of Intro to Blockchain, The Blockchain Course, Blockchain Business Fundamentals, Make the LEAP, The Startup Course, and the Lean Entrepreneur Acceleration Program. Strategic advisor for several successfully funded tech and crypto startups including Fintrux, Interfinex, Traction Health, and Peace Geeks. Marketing advisor for leading conferences including Fintech & Funding, Traction Conf, CIX, and Van Funding. Graduate of the Oxford Blockchain Strategy Programme. BSc in Electronics Engineering. Featured in Forbes, BBC, Entrepreneur, Roundhouse Radio, and Notable. Passionate about tech, lean, startups, design thinking, impact, blockchain and decentralized innovation. I live to inspire entrepreneurship and unleash breakthrough innovation through connection, collaboration, and community.

NextDecentrum - FINTECH FRIDAY$ (EP.21-Jan 18):  Meritocracy, Decentralized Innovation and the Power of Collaboration, CEO Next Decentrum, Hussein Hallak

Subscribe and tune in each Friday to check out the latest movers and shakers in fintech.

Listen to more Fintech Fridays podcasts:  Season 1  |  Season 2


Transcription of Interview

Intro: Welcome fintech Friday's a weekly podcast brought to you by the National Crowdfunding and Fintech Association of Canada and partners.Covering all things fintech block chain be AI and alternative finance.

Manseeb Khan:  Hey everybody Manseeb Khan here and you are tuning in to Episode Twenty-one fintech Fridays. Today we have an absolutely incredible guest Hussein Hallak, Hussein to say thank you so much for sitting down with me today.

Hussein Hallak: Oh, my pleasure. I'm looking forward to it. Thank you for having me.

Manseeb Khan: Yeah. Know for sure. So just for the audience could you just give us a little bit more of. Tell us a little bit of yourself who you are and essentially what your company does.

Hussein Hallak: Yeah. So, I am the CEO of Next Decentrum. Next Decentrum is a company that builds a tool called the CXO.AI and the aim of this tool is to help Everybody learn from or everybody learn from everybody else. So, we believe, and I believe I grew up in and out of Syria Damascus. And there the biggest challenge was it's a country where there is not the same thing that we have here in Canada. where you don't have people mentoring you helping you. You really have only the education from the government and that's about it. So, I when I reached here in Vancouver five years ago to be probably in a couple of days it will be five years ago, I realized that everybody is into mentorship. Everybody is mentoring somebody else. Everybody has something that they want to contribute and give to somebody else. That was a big mind opener for me. And what I realized is everybody has something to teach and everybody had something to learn. Now I lived that for the past twelve years in Dubai but I was thinking that that's only me and the people around me but I realize now this is a mindset that a lot of successful people have, a lot of people around the world want to learn from those people instead of just reading books and instead of just attending courses there's a lot you can learn from someone that can guide you through the way. And this became very valuable when I spent over three months trying to learn how a Bitcoin transaction works. I'm an engineer but I studied engineering so it shouldn't be that hard, but the reason is I couldn't find the right material. So, a lot of mentorship is guiding people and getting them to find what they need really, really fast. So, I thought this is very powerful. Can we build a tool that help people teach through content curation? That is what we're building. That is what we're super excited about. And I think and I believe that it's going to change how people learn. It's going to be a great addition to how we learn right now. We're going to provide many people the ability to share their experience share what they're capable of doing to contribute and a lot of other people to learn from them. So that is what we're building. That is what I'm excited about and that is a little bit of my history I have a long history of building many startups. And this is what I do as an entrepreneur. All my life that's all I mean in building startup taking that idea from just an idea to a company.

Manseeb Khan: Yeah. No that's it's you do have a very incredibly extensive background in entrepreneurship and just not only just building amazing companies but also helping mentor like. It's not like thousands of entrepreneurs and giving and like you being their guiding light of like "Hey these are the mistakes I made as entrepreneur. These are the actually really rock-solid  advice that I have gotten saved my ass more time and time again. It's incredible that we have amazing people like you that are not only out their mentoring people but also creating a platform, an educational platform for everybody to kind of get more or less the same kind of mentorship or just that one tool one that you're offering for all looks for such amazing people.

Hussein Hallak: That's so kind of you. I realized by working and having a lot of people helped me to get to where I am, and I couldn't contribute back to them. So, the only way I could actually paid back to them is to pay it forward by helping other people and my condition to helping other people for them to help other people. I think that's how we build a community of interconnected people that are committed to each other that that creates prosperity and help people thrive. Everyone around  us .Like I was telling a friend of mine that this is he asked on me why do you do that?  And I said because it gives back to me it made me feel good, but he pressed me even more. And I think it's a matter of survival. When you grow up in a place where everybody brings you down and not intentionally but just being in a place where oppression is just the norm. You grew up kind of knowing that unless people around you are uplifted going after what fulfills them you cannot realize your own dreams. So, it's a matter of survival that you need to uplift other people and help them achieve greatness for you to achieve greatness. So that's why I do it. It's a very selfish approach of why I do it.

Manseeb Khan: Just building this new ecosystem of just entrepreneurs and just helping each other and just creating bridges. What is incredible because now you can go and ask other CEOs or other founders for help and for questions and everything because they've probably gone the exact same things you are, or they are probably haven't faced that problem yet. like Oh crap. I didn't even think about that OK. What are you doing? OK. That kind of makes sense. OK let's do that too.`

Hussein Hallak: Yeah. It's very it's very uplifting. Mentorship is probably the lifeblood of successful entrepreneurs. Your basic premise is you can't get there without a great team and a lot of supporters and people rooting for you. People helping you. Yeah so definitely an essential thing. I completely agree.

Manseeb Khan: I mean I like I don't want to give a shout out really quick to Craig. Craig is the CEO and the founder of the National fintech crowdfunding association. Just what I've learned from him. Just like an arm's distance or just via a text or just via weekly phone calls of seeing where we are like. I've already grown so much as a person. And I'm like Oh my God. I'm so excited to see how much more I can grow. So, like the mentorship thing really just and like meeting amazing people like yourself from the podcast. That is so incredible because I'm just like every day I feel like I'm like growing so much more like I'm 10xing  my growth because I'm talking to like OK cool like what are you doing this week. OK. This week we're on to talk about  AI education. I'm like OK cool. What does that? I don't know. Find out my boom Crash Course. Yeah, it's awesome. It's the best it's like one of the best feeling the world.

Hussein Hallak: Yeah. Shout out to Craig. He's probably one of the hardest working people I've met. Oh my God. I agree. Relentless. Yeah. I thought I was hard working when I worked with him on some of the conferences, we're putting together like Vanfunding at a FSCon. This guy pushes it to a completely different level. I thought my God. Oh, you pushed me definitely by seeing his work ethic and what he's working on. I definitely enjoy working with him. Sometimes I hate it because he pushes way too much. And yeah. Good to push beyond the limit and kind of experience a new a different horizon. Of where you can go with what you're doing. And it's that kind of people that I've met through him are awesome.

Manseeb Khan: Yeah, I mean it's always like testing out your boundaries and like figuring out how far can you take it like what's your threshold. Like and Craig is one of those incredible people that will really test like Oh you think he can go this far. You can actually know this much further. So, switching gears could you just explain to the audience a little bit more of why  AI education is important. Given all the things we're seeing in the media like all like hey like Skynet is going to take over everything like why education is such an important factor when it comes to A.I. and how do you see services and platforms like yourself helping people understand the  AI conversation a little bit better.

Hussein Hallak: Well for us. AI was born out of the need of achieving the end, but we have in mind. So, the end we have in mind is an education that works for you. You're not locked into a system that you have to adjust to it. So, the biggest challenge right now that we see at least in the education space is that you're locked into a way of how the educators see that you need to learn about a topic which makes sense. They are the expert. They are the leader on the topic or thought leader and they know they have a certain way of doing it. However. Think to take into consideration the diversity and how people learn the different styles of people learning the different pace. It's really hard to locking people into a certain way and that's why online learning had a big problem which is learning and people committing to the courses is only around 10 percent or 10 percent of people get to complete the courses they sign up to. So, they find out they paid and then they only 10 percent completion 10 to 20 percent at best which is a massive problem. We need people to learn we need people to gain new skills. We need people to have the ability to execute their work, so we thought what the best way is. What is a better way of doing it? And we thought  AI can help. And the way we're doing it is that helping AI adapt to people's habits to people ability to learn and to their pace. So, what we do is if you sign up to the courses that we're putting together our courses are curated so we believe there's a lot of content out there so engaging people and helping them to go out of their way instead of being locked into one person's way of explaining things. So, mentors that's what we believe their role is to kind of open up your eyes to the world and lead you to the best of everything. So, if you want to learn that they helped grow. Here are the best content articles, videos, books about growth. Here are the best articles growth articles, books, and videos on let's say how to manage your people and so on so forth. So, the mentorship course is about curation during the best that is out there. And it works according to your style. So, if you want to learn at a certain pace you kind of tell the system. This is the piece I want, and the system adapts to that. The system tracks and this is not broadly across the system, so we are trying to  to be very clear on. We don't take your data and study it and kind of study all the data that's out there and kind of forced you into this is what the A.I. telling you that this is the best you could. No, the A.I. locked in your pattern and learning adapts to how you are learning. So, are you clicking on these articles, are you liking the content of this style not this style?  So, it adapts to your way of learning and tried to suggest to you thing that matches your way of learning. So, learn you gives you that feedback and also taken into consideration what the mentor had set up so it's not taking from the whole internet because we think that doesn't really work. We just so it's a mentor guided A.I. driven. And to kind of adapt to how you learn and how you prefer the best and how you how you grow better. So that's how that's what we're building we're in the process. It's not an easy process which we have to be. We have a long way to go but they're an exciting place we see for this technology and for how it can make an impact in this sector which is education.

Manseeb Khan: Right. I mean I absolutely agree with you like there are so many different kinds of learning styles and just reading methods and like videos my work for some person. Blogs might work  another person some people aren't even like podcasts like what we're doing right now. It's actually quite incredible that you guys are creating an A.I. that understands hey Manseeb actually learns this way. Hussein actually learns This way. Okay cool. Let's just tailor it. They are probably learning the exact same thing. They're probably very much interested of like hey how do I become a better leader. I don't become a better mentor how do I become a better Team member as well. Okay Manseeb likes audio, Hussein likes video.

Hussein Hallak: Yeah well what we have right now due to the resources and what A.I. opens up the way we see it simply is that the way we have been set up is that you prepare everything at the start, and you adapt, you iterate. As much as you're capable to with AI we see ability to constant iteration, constant evolution based on how humans evolved. So, we evolve our way of thought. We evolve our view of the world. We I mean hopefully we continue to learn hopefully fingers crossed. Yeah. Because some people are locked into a certain way of the world and that that's all we are I acknowledge that but a lot of people they want to grow up they want to achieve. You're kind of forced out of your comfort zone and you have to explore new things and as you continue to learn and you take steps forward you change and you grow and you learn new things and you might change how you learn and how you consume information and what kind of information do you kind of desire. So, having the power of AI an adaptive learning kind of adapt to your growth at the speed of your growth that is where we think there is power here. There's a big opportunity and that's what we're involved right now in exploring and testing because we are very big believers in testing and learning from what they can learn.

Manseeb Khan: I love it. Yeah, I love it. There's a there's one of my favorite Gary Vaynerchuk  quotes is always like test and learn, test, and learn it's like you don't like this thing do something else. I love that. I'm glad that you guys are building something that can actually help. Just yeah just making education fun again.

Hussein Hallak: That's where we started. We studied with our interest in block chain right. I've spent a couple of years studying and learning more and what surprised me is how little people know and because people know little and because most of the information out there is kind of guided by technical knowledge written mainly for people who are interested in the space. It was harder and harder for people who are outside even people who are super smart to kind of get in and learn. And that drove them away and said well I'll wait until this thing becomes mainstream and because of the crypto aspect of it they hear all this news about the market up market down and the three is there is a convoluted the promise of block chain what can do and what it's doing right now. It's kind of I would say covered by all this cloud a lack of understanding, of false information or sometimes information that are contradicting. So, we thought that that's a great topic to start with because we believe in things like decentralized innovation is the way forward. We decentralize power. I mean we've seen the impact of decentralizing things. It can work for us for a while but it's about time that we kind of decentralized that so that we have less problems. We have more security, we have more contribution and people being able to participate from wherever they are in the world whatever they are in the let's say in the societies that they structure they don't participate and they can't and they can actually add value and they can matter and build together from wherever they are we need that. Such a state of the world that we live in right now.

Manseeb Khan: Yeah. Hundred percent. It's all it really. What are the core principles when it comes to block chain Just like all these amazing new technologies that are coming out especially in 2019 is that we're giving power back to the people? I mean I've mentioned this in the show before. I've had people come on the show they've also mentioned this. It's giving people the power back like your background of like coming from a place with oppression and just growing up and this kind of like cool like I'm very limited on what I can kind of do. And some people like we've mentioned like some people are. Sadly, they get beaten by that and they're kind of stuck the way they are. And they have a way out there's no options or what have you. But with this new wave of technology is new like the way that we're going to decentralize education and you can actually if you want, if you're interested in learning cryptocurrency these are resources out there that can teach you if you want to learn about mentorship, starting on business, how to file taxes, X,Y and Z whatever you want to learn it's out there because there's the Internet and the top of that. There's this new overarching technology that's going to make it that much more accessible and that much more tangible from you to actually like get out of whatever situation.

Hussein Hallak: Yeah absolutely. And it gives and it gives also rise. Every time we have a movement just like the block chain it’s kind of levels the playing field because for once all of the players that are already locking in the benefit of the Internet or so you're going to get it. You're going up against Amazon well to bad for you and Amazon owns all of the areas that they are they are in space. For example, Google. It's very very hard for entrepreneurs that are coming up right now because there were other being gobbled up by these big corporations hence that promise of new technology or new innovation is taken up by that entity and kind of disappeared that you wish if they don't want that they might take on the team and say hey you are smart people just focus on our thing and don't threaten our dominance in our space. And whereas now when you when you build communities especially when it has to do with crypto communities that they like bitcoin. It I threaten let's say PayPal for example just using that as an example. But let's say PayPal acquire Bitcoin. Bitcoin doesn't belong to anyone and things like that. The promise of that so that the community that helps Bitcoin grow is the community that maintains ownership and grows. And if you want to participate you can take part right now. Obviously the longer you wait the middle role you can play but you can continue. You can actually now become a developer of bitcoin if you want. You can participate in obviously because you're coming in late you have to prove yourself. You have to kind of like how it comes in society right. How we operate as people you're coming into a community you participate, you add value. You build up your personal brand slowly by contribution and that's for me closer to a meritocracy. Obviously, we're human beings. There is no perfect solution for life because that only happens with death. You can go into that kind of conversation but to the best of how human interaction and how we build communities and how we thrive together. This is the closest that I've seen so far to a community where it's all about your contribution and it's all about what you add as value and it doesn't matter where you come from, what's your name is because in those communities you're not even known if you want to. So, it all comes down to how much you add value if you add value and you play by the rules of that community. You're welcome. You're celebrated through your work and you have to continue to do that work. So, it's the closest I've seen to meritocracy ever and so on and so forth. If you don't like that community, you can build your own community or participate in another community. Very much about choice very much about what you contribute very much about or not about who you are where you come from and what your background is about what you can do right now for the media and I think that promise if it perpetuated across different industries different sectors can level the playing field for everyone and makes it really about what value do  you add rather than what you say and who you are and what your background is and how much money you have. All of these things become irrelevant and I think that that opens up the door for you and upcoming people to. It's really a marketplace of ideas and a marketplace of actual value.

Manseeb Khan: Yeah it really is like it's the amazing part is that no good deed goes unchecked. Really like if you are  bringing value to the community that you're in you are helping people you're answering questions like you just generally being a good person and helping and being of value, being of service to other people in your community. You're going to get rewarded for that. So, we did briefly touch on decentralized innovation right. What does the decentral innovation look like to you? And what are you most excited about. Like what is something that like oh when that happens, I can't wait till we get to that level.

Hussein Hallak: Well I'm excited about the ability to definitely public decentralized innovation and just like the Internet a public accessible to everyone network and that people participate without limitation. That is what I'm super excited about. I'm super excited about being able to solve real problems. That means I mean one of them is the ability to payment. A lot of people from our world that we live in right now the Western world. When I teach about a block chain. When I teach about bitcoin, I explained that that they here you don't see the value of that because you have multiple options. But even if you go to a city like Dubai who's known the fact of the Western world are being very modern and only a few years ago entrepreneurs could not build a company that accepts payment. Because the it's very expensive to set up a merchant account with a bank it's very limiting  and it's  highly expensive.  So, you cannot accept payment. So, imagine if you're building a startup that is online and you can't accept payment you can do it. You have so entrepreneurs really friends of mine who were originally from Canada had to travel back to have access to Stripe for example to be able to build their company. And that becomes very limiting. He was Canadian By and by origin so he could travel back but a lot of entrepreneurs there don't have any choice which actually limit the ability to build a great idea. And that's why decentralization in my world is connected definitely to innovation. It's a new way of doing things that enable all these ideas to pop up to be able to accept payment from anywhere in the world. And now truly you can build a startup that impact anywhere in the world even if you're in a place where you don't have accessibility to those resources that we have here. So, I think that's the biggest promise the biggest promise is to give access. I think the word access was probably the most dominant and the most important. If you give access people have the ability to innovate. People have the ability to add and contribute and up to up to now we had all kind of innovation happening at centers that circle cities where accessibility were resources. And now with the promise of decentralized innovation you can have really people who are sitting in a rural town whether it's the US and the state or here locally in the prairies in a very rural town where you have just internet access. you can now build a business and have access and contribute to someone who is living in Indonesia out of all places. They're just top of my head. You can be in a war-stricken country and as long as you have the access and you're able to be safe you can contribute, and you can change your situation. We can contribute with ideas because there's a lot of brilliant amazing people around the world that have the ability to contribute to. Have something that we need in the world maybe can contribute to solution in the other. So that's the first let's say promise access. The second promise is collaboration, true collaboration. Right now, collaboration only happens say on a big scale when certain people come together and are committed to a goal that they even if the goal that doesn't pay the money like Wikipedia. Most likely for a goal that gives them money and there they can take care of like a company which is a corporation like Facebook for example. But then you have a singular goal but would decentralize innovation. People can now contribute to multiple things and add value to multiple projects that actually solve real problems like the problem of climate change for example like the problem of let's say war or having people for example for humanitarian crisis. So, things like that people can participate and can participate in solving it and can  be the solution. While it may not be possible a certain area or by a singular body like a corporation it can be possible by many different people participating from around the world and creating a community that connected and working together. That way. So, I think active collaboration and the final word innovation is bringing something or creating something together that. Can never or could never be perceived before or thought is possible that adds value. And I think that is where innovation happens. So, these are these three promises that I think is central organization can bring. And that's why we're super excited about it.

Manseeb Khan: Access I love that I like that that makes so much sense because you have. All of these old gatekeepers that are still sadly in power and you're having decentralized innovation you're giving access to all these people that you've mentioned. But don't have access to information, don't have the tools to actually build a business because hey the next Facebook could be built out of Like Mauritius for all we know right. The next biggest thing could be built out of who knows where. So, what are some of your core principles you have when it comes to building new ventures?

Hussein Hallak: Well I thank you very much for the question I think for me. Building a company is very similar to climbing a mountain and in particular I related to climbing Mount Everest. I haven't done it. I may do it even though I'm lazy. I kind of related to climb Mount Everest. And if you think about it climbing Mount Everest doesn't make any human sense at all. Like why you would climb that mountain.

Manseeb Khan: There's no sense. Why would you do that so crazy.

Hussein Hallak:  It's really a desire not only that if you don't have it all starts with passion. A passion for something a thought  or an idea. So those people who end up climbing the mountain are driven by a passion to experience what it's like to be at the summit. Now whatever the source of that passion. Nobody cares but it's your passion you know it. So, most entrepreneurs unless you're extremely passionate about the end  result that you're after never ever go after something because the reason things are climbing a mountain is freaking hard. It's the hardest thing you can ever do. And even if you're in the right fit body to do that it's still as hard neared the summit. So even if you get an easy start that you have the money you have the time you have the energy it gets hard at the top. There is something in the climb over Everest called the Death Zone which is above 26000 feet and above that it is closer to the summit and there because of the thin air no matter how fit you are, going to suffer it's going to be super slow it's going to take you forever to get there and fit or not you're going to suffer so unless you have a passion for that you're not going to go through the suffering. So, number one I tell them first of all you need a lot of passion tons of it because it's going to be hard. And so that's the other thing that they need to know what they're getting themselves into. Most people think my idea is going to be the best. And so, I'm going to have a joy ride. It's going to be I'm going to be difficult. There's going to be smooth sailing. I have the money, I have the time, I have the skill set. It's going to be hard regardless of what you have. So, knowing that it's hard having a passion for starting point. The second thing is you need to have a central guiding idea which is adding value to customers. Bottom line if you want to win you have to add value to customers and you have to add it in a way that  no other competitor and no one in the market can ever do. And unless you do that there's absolutely zero chance that you're going to succeed at a big scale. You may succeed to build like a small business but unless you add immense value. So, at the center you have to focus on customers, and you can't. It sounds like a very stupid idea of course people will sign up to that. And of course, they say of course what else. Why are some building. But when you started doing it. Most people get busy focused on how great the product is, adding more features you know ,building the elements and building a business and forget about why they did it in the first place which is to add value to customers and if they have that that's the principle guiding every step. They're more likely to succeed. And underneath that comes a lot of things like you need a lot of customers to build a great big business. So, you need a big size market. You need to talk to customers to know what they want. And that goes into interviewing customers and staying connected. And you need to test your product according to what customers want. Not because you think these features and benefits are great. Who cares what you think it's what the customers think? So again, there is the last thing I think is being humble as an entrepreneur. I don't mean humble as not being flamboyant and not being like you know talking the big game or humble meaning that's your opinion and what you think doesn't matter it's what the market thinks and what customers want and what customers need. And as long as you're humble and it's not about you it's about them and about the value that you add you're likely to succeed. So, passion Customers and being humble. Basically yeah. These are these are core principles that If you follow, you're likely to build a successful business. That's the last thing that I teach entrepreneurs. You can have all of that. And you may still fail. It's there is an element of luck and an element of timing of when you push idea there. So, there is no guarantee. And unless you're entering like you can climb Mount Everest and you may never reach. You have to climb it again. And you have to do it again. And that's why you have to have of passion. So, it's not about just the success it's about playing the game.

Manseeb Khan: Yeah. No. I love it. So, to wrap this up I'm going to end it off with two questions. So, having trained and mentored all these entrepreneurs what your tried and true advice to these entrepreneurs has been and how do these entrepreneurs find mentors? like how we find amazing people like you and how do we find like actual mentors that can actually help us and make us as incredible as people think we are.

Hussein Hallak: Thank you for that. Yeah. So, I think  core advice is get started now. And whatever you do get shit done in the sense that stop talking about it. Stop thinking about it and do something doing something. It's like kind of ready fire aim or fire. First and then get ready and then aim and then fire again. The key thing here is when you do something you have something that exists in the world. Even if you're doing is you creating a plan and writing it not in your head. But writing it because now that it exists you can evaluate, it you can analyze it, you can learn from it and you can that guide you to the next action. So, whatever you do move from one action to the other. Guided by testing, guided by data, guided by examination which is what the main start up  promise is that have your ideas do something. Build an MVP. Do something whatever it is. Then examine the data so build measure and then learn then from the data and then make informed action. So, this is my always advice to the entrepreneurs whoever sits with me. The fundamental line is what have you done. What have you learned from it? What is the next thing you're going to do? And if you engage in asking yourself those questions. This one game will keep you going. Now that you're going. Now that you've got going. To be second piece of advice is always taking these 10000 stages view every once in a while. So, take a step to step back and say I might head in the right direction. Is this getting me to my vision or what I want to create? Is this heading in a direction that serves the business that actually generates value? Every once in a while, engage in that and step out of your cocoon and out of the daily grind of action to make sure you're heading in the right direction. So, these are two pieces of advice that saved my life, save me a lot of time, and save the money my entrepreneurs that I work with all the time and kind of simplify the process. Obviously, the process of doing is intense. It's complex depending what you're building depending on the solutions you're building but these kind of simple advices and simple practices help people to stay on track and keep going. And don't get stopped by taking time to think and not do anything. Now in regards to finding a great mentor you have to first find out who a mentor and so I mean there is not a coach, a mentor is not an adviser and I've actually written on that so they can actually find my LinkedIn and find a little bit I've written about what makes a good mentor a good mentor. But the key thing is a mentor someone who's willing. First of all, they are skilled at what you want to mentor you on. So, they have to have the skill. You can go to someone who is mentor you for example on growth. Like I would suck in mentoring someone on how growth companies as they move from 5 million-dollar companies to 100 million-dollar companies. I've never done it. I have I don't have the skill set to do that. So, I mean I'm a bad mentor for that so. So even though they like me a lot of people pick mentors that they like and look up to which is fine but make sure they have the skillset on what you want them to mentor you on. So that's a key element because a mentor is someone who gives you access in a particular area defined niche area. They have mentors on strategy. You don't have a mentor. Overall you have a mentor on strategy mentor, on growth mentoring for example how you hire. So, pick the mentor that can give you the skill set. The other thing as a mentor is someone who is willing to do it for free. A mentor is not someone you pay if you pay them. They're either a consultant or a coach.  A mentor or someone but you don't pay for that. There’re no paid mentors. That's at least mind where I come from. You pay a coach, you pay somebody else but a mentor or someone and they are committed to your success. The reason why they're into it be because they are committed to your success. They would be happy if you exceed them and outgrow them and achieve better results than they ever even achieve. So, they're happy to do that. So, they need to have that desire so that they don't hold you back. Some people would actually not want to see other people succeed more than they do, and they are successful they've achieved success in the area of their skilled at. And finally, I would say it's someone that you connect with that you like. I don't believe in working with people that you don't like somebody you can’t be mentored by somebody you don't like. So even if they are a big name in the place if you don't like them if you don't connect with them, you're not going to learn from them. So, I believe life is too short to work with people you don't like. So, I highly recommend that you work with people that you like people who are committed to your success. People who want to see you  have the skill set and have achieved success in that area. Think that would constitute a great mentor. There are tons of  brilliant entrepreneurs especially we're lucky to be here in Canada. Ton of brilliant entrepreneurs, the biggest entrepreneur in your in your sector. They would be thrilled if you reach out to them and ask them for 30 minutes of their time. And final note. A mentor is not someone who is committed to you for life because they may be maybe all he needs is that half hour coffee, but they guide you to something and then you go on to work and that's all you needed. So, they give you kind of an access or a they open a door for you or open your eyes on something and maybe some mentors you need them for longer so don't pick on someone that's complimentary for life because they will. They don't probably have the time that they are successful. So, look at them and ask them for advice and ask them for more mentorship. Just ask them what you want. And they would want to help you we're lucky to be here.

Manseeb Khan: That's true. I mean speaking of which I got to have some are calling for some refunds I don't know. I can't pay mentors. Hussein thank you so much for sitting down with me today. I mean this has been an absolute pleasure.  I think open up a lot of people's eyes when it comes to mentorship and just when it comes to leading and mentoring and essentially why it's so important. So again, thank you so much for your time. This was a pleasure I can't wait to have you back.

Hussein Hallak: Thank you for having me. I had a blast. So great. Keep up the great work.

Manseeb Khan: Oh, I will. I will meet amazing people like you. I mean cheering me on I mean of course. And on the behalf of the NCFA Canada's leading fintech and crowdfunding association I wish you amazing Fintech Friday and weekend.

Outro : you've been listening to fintech Fridays brought to you by NCFA and partners. Tune in weekly for the latest fintech Friday podcast by subscribing to this channel. The National crowdfunding and FinTech Association of Canada is a non-profit actively engaged with social and investment fintech sectors around the globe and provide education research industry stewardship services and networking opportunities to thousands of members and subscribers. For more information please visit and see if a Canada dot org. Oh yea.

 

End of Podcast

 

Subscribe & Listen to more Fintech Fridays podcasts:  Season 1  |  Season 2

Join NCFA's weekly Podcast series 'FINTECH FRIDAY$' where we sit down with the incredible people in the Fintech community and talk about leading fintech products, innovations, developments, and challenges!

Interested in getting involved as a partner or participant? info@ncfacanada.org

 


NCFA Jan 2018 resize - FINTECH FRIDAY$ (EP.21-Jan 18):  Meritocracy, Decentralized Innovation and the Power of Collaboration, CEO Next Decentrum, Hussein Hallak The National Crowdfunding & Fintech Association (NCFA Canada) is a financial innovation ecosystem that provides education, market intelligence, industry stewardship, networking and funding opportunities and services to thousands of community members and works closely with industry, government, partners and affiliates to create a vibrant and innovative fintech and funding industry in Canada. Decentralized and distributed, NCFA is engaged with global stakeholders and helps incubate projects and investment in fintech, alternative finance, crowdfunding, peer-to-peer finance, payments, digital assets and tokens, blockchain, cryptocurrency, regtech, and insurtech sectors. Join Canada's Fintech & Funding Community today FREE! Or become a contributing member and get perks. For more information, please visit: www.ncfacanada.org

Latest news - FINTECH FRIDAY$ (EP.21-Jan 18):  Meritocracy, Decentralized Innovation and the Power of Collaboration, CEO Next Decentrum, Hussein HallakFF Logo 400 v3 - FINTECH FRIDAY$ (EP.21-Jan 18):  Meritocracy, Decentralized Innovation and the Power of Collaboration, CEO Next Decentrum, Hussein Hallakcommunity social impact - FINTECH FRIDAY$ (EP.21-Jan 18):  Meritocracy, Decentralized Innovation and the Power of Collaboration, CEO Next Decentrum, Hussein Hallak

Forbes | Ron Shevlin | July 1, 2019 OBSERVATIONS FROM THE FINTECH SNARK TANK A Seeking Alpha article titled Why Fintech May Not Be Fit For Public Consumption states: The year 2019 seems set to be a record-setting one for venture capitalist exit value capture by means of tech IPOs. But fintech doesn't seem to be a part of this picture. VCs are certainly putting money into fintech startups. There were 170 financings in the US in the first quarter of 2019. But, as Pitchbook says, 'not one of the most valuable fintech companies in the world seems particularly close to an offering.' " The article chalks this up to three primary causes: 1. Poor IPO performance in 2018. According to the article, "One reason nobody is in a hurry to go public is that the results of the last crop of fintech concerns that did go public have been unimpressive. Adyen and IntegraFin are prospering, but neither GreenSky nor EverQuote is "lighting up the heavens" according to Seeking Alpha. See:  OurCrowd Double IPO Success Provides Crowdfunding Validation 2. Mega-round financing. Seeking Alpha postulates that investor interest in mega-rounds--e.g., Qatar Investment Authority's investment of $500 million in SoFi and Tiger Capital leading a round that raised $300 ...
Read More
fintech IPO shortage - FINTECH FRIDAY$ (EP.21-Jan 18):  Meritocracy, Decentralized Innovation and the Power of Collaboration, CEO Next Decentrum, Hussein Hallak
CNBC | Kate Rooney | Aug 12, 2019 Money spent in venture capital and other alternative investments is surging as investors look for riskier, but higher-yielding investments. The trend coincides with relatively low returns from more conventional Wall Street investments such as stocks and bonds, and a drop in the number of publicly traded companies. “In a world where big institutional investors find themselves starved for returns, it’s not surprising that they have steadily increased allocations to private markets and you’ve seen capital continuing to flow into the asset class,” says McKinsey Partner Bryce Klempner. Many global investors are turning toward Silicon Valley instead of Wall Street in search of returns. The total invested in private markets hit all-time highs last year and continues to break multi-decade records this year. In the first half of the year, total investments in venture capital hit a 19-year high of $53.3 billion, according to data from Refinitiv published last week. That marked a 21% increase by total dollar amount compared to the first half of 2018. See:  $5 million Equity crowdfunding extended to private companies The steady stream of funding comes alongside a drop in the number of publicly listed companies, rock-bottom global ...
Read More
unicorn - FINTECH FRIDAY$ (EP.21-Jan 18):  Meritocracy, Decentralized Innovation and the Power of Collaboration, CEO Next Decentrum, Hussein Hallak
TechRepublic | Mary Shacklett | July 23, 2019 Learn how artificial intelligence and analytics can be used to improve customer service in banking. When I was a CIO for a financial institution, I worked with executives on the operations side to see how we could improve relationships with customers at our branches. Our front-line tellers at these branches were more like order takers—they did what customers asked, but no more. These employees were in low-wage positions, and they often had limited skills. One of the skills we wanted was interpersonal engagement with customers that you would typically find in a salesperson. We decided to hire people with retail and/or people-facing experience, figuring that we could train them to be tellers. We implemented systems that would prompt a teller to ask a customer about new products the customer might be interested in, and we offered financial incentives for enrolling customers in new products. The experiment yielded mixed results and likely would have gone better if we'd had some of the analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) automation tools that are available today. See:  How Jack Ma’s $290b SME credit engine is changing Chinese banking "Most customers tend to keep their accounts with ...
Read More
banking with AI - FINTECH FRIDAY$ (EP.21-Jan 18):  Meritocracy, Decentralized Innovation and the Power of Collaboration, CEO Next Decentrum, Hussein Hallak
Guest Post | Aug 14, 2019 You see a need. You know that your new business can fill that need. The problem is that it takes an incredible amount of capital to start a business. Besides purchasing equipment, raw materials, and computer systems, you also have the expenses that no one ever thinks about when opening a shop. Did you figure in the cost of hiring an accountant, a lawyer, and paying for workers compensation insurance? Instead of heading to the bank with your business plan in hand, you may consider whether working with a crowdfunding site might be another feasible way to raise cash for your business expenses. Here’s how crowdfunding sites work. Cash in Exchange for Equity Have you seen Shark Tank? On this TV show, investors decide whether or not they would like to provide capital for startups in exchange for a piece of the company. Sometimes the hosts compete against each other for the opportunity to invest. Sometimes they pool resources and form investment partnerships for a portion of ownership in the company. Occasionally budding entrepreneurs are sent away empty-handed. See:  Regulation Crowdfunding Surpasses $250,000,000 in Commitments The Model is Working but its Potential is Much ...
Read More
Funding meeting - FINTECH FRIDAY$ (EP.21-Jan 18):  Meritocracy, Decentralized Innovation and the Power of Collaboration, CEO Next Decentrum, Hussein Hallak
Forbes | Biser Dimitrov | Aug 13, 2019 2019 is the year when the blockchain ecosystem and the crypto industry as a whole had to get sober. After a wild 2017 and a bear 2018, the blockchain space is back on an upwards trajectory with new developments. There are no more Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) to distract the crypto ecosystem and the building mentality is back on. This post-ICO and post-useless-PR-partnerships age urges the blockchain community to be less focused on the current price of bitcoin and more focused on producing meaningful services and advancements. Big projects from established enterprises like Facebook Libra are taking all the media space now and this is net positive for the enterprise blockchain space as well. The first half of this year was full of blockchain developments led by large enterprises in almost all important sectors, including insurance, financial services, supply chain, healthcare and trade finance. There is a huge benefit in joining a specialized industry-focused blockchain consortium because you sit at the same table with your main competitors but at the same time you work toward the same goal. You are not alone in figuring out the benefits, implementations and roll-out of distributed ...
Read More
Blockchain and enterprise - FINTECH FRIDAY$ (EP.21-Jan 18):  Meritocracy, Decentralized Innovation and the Power of Collaboration, CEO Next Decentrum, Hussein Hallak
Wired UK Gov | Information Commissioner's Office | Aug 12, 2019 Reuben Binns, our Research Fellow in Artificial Intelligence (AI), and Valeria Gallo, Technology Policy Adviser, discuss some of the key safeguards organisations should implement when using solely automated AI systems to make decisions with significant impacts on data subjects. This post is part of our ongoing Call for Input on developing the ICO framework for auditing AI. We encourage you to share your views by leaving a comment below or by emailing us at AIAuditingFramework@ico.org.uk. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) requires organisations to implement suitable safeguards when processing personal data to make solely automated decisions that have a legal or similarly significant impact on individuals. These safeguards include the right for data subjects: to obtain human intervention; to express their point of view; and to contest the decision made about them. See:  How Data-driven Strategies Can Improve Impact Investing Outcomes These safeguards cannot be token gestures. Guidance published by the European Data Protection Board (EDPB) states that human intervention involve a review of the decision, which “must be carried out by someone who has the appropriate authority and capability to change the decision”.  The review should include a “thorough assessment of all the relevant ...
Read More
Automated AI decisions - FINTECH FRIDAY$ (EP.21-Jan 18):  Meritocracy, Decentralized Innovation and the Power of Collaboration, CEO Next Decentrum, Hussein Hallak
TechNode | Nicole Jao | Aug 12, 2019 China’s planned digital fiat currency is nearly ready for release after five years of research and development, a senior official at the central bank said (in Chinese) at a forum on Saturday in Beijing without confirming a timeframe. Why it matters: The People‘s Bank of China (PBOC) aims to steal a march on global counterparts by accelerating the development of its national digital currency. The central bank has been researching and developing a digital currency since 2014, though specific details remain scant. The government’s fast-tracking of the national digital currency was reportedly prompted by fears that the emergence of cryptocurrency projects like Facebook’s Libra will bring disruption to its economy. “As one can imagine, to issue digital fiat currency in a country as big as China, the employment of pure blockchain architecture cannot fulfill the throughput required for retail usage. Eventually, we decided that, at the level of the central bank, we should remain technology-neutral and not preset a technology roadmap, meaning not relying on a specific technology.” —Mu Changchun, the deputy chief of central bank’s payment and settlement See:  Central banks should consider using digital currencies: China think tank Details: Mu ...
Read More
Peoples bank of China - FINTECH FRIDAY$ (EP.21-Jan 18):  Meritocracy, Decentralized Innovation and the Power of Collaboration, CEO Next Decentrum, Hussein Hallak
Gowling WLG | Jeffrey Roode, Partner | Aug 12, 2019 In its budget released in March, the Canadian federal government confirmed that it plans to introduce legislation in 2019 to implement a new retail payments oversight framework.  It is proposed that the Bank of Canada will would oversee this regulatory framework. This is a significant development as it will mean that a number of payments industry participants that are currently unregulated, including many fintech companies, will now be regulated. Background While the recent federal budget provided few details about the proposed regulatory framework, we expect that it will be based on a 2017 discussion paper released by the Department of Finance.  The discussion paper noted a number of problems in the way retail payments are regulated, most notably that regulated financial institutions, such as banks, are subject to detailed regulation with respect to their retail payments businesses, while other payment service providers (referred to as PSPs) are not subject to a comprehensive regulatory oversight framework. See:  JP Morgan is rolling out the first US bank-backed cryptocurrency to transform payments business The Department of Finance is concerned that this will create risks and confusion for consumers who might expect similar levels ...
Read More
new retail payment regs coming to canada  - FINTECH FRIDAY$ (EP.21-Jan 18):  Meritocracy, Decentralized Innovation and the Power of Collaboration, CEO Next Decentrum, Hussein Hallak
Guest Post | Aug 12, 2019 Blockchain is the hype today. The talent is in high demand and the technology takes over many of the headlines in publications and news. Investors keep piling their money into it. Blockchain is known to be the best thing that happens to public services. As a result, we are witnessing an increase in blockchain education. In the past few years, universities slowly began introducing blockchain technology courses and designing special programs that teach you the skill. However, as we mentioned, this usually goes really slow. By the time the education designs great programs and lists new courses, the technology will have switched and advanced. This is why your choices in terms of blockchain courses and education are still rather limited. However, the number of universities that offer them is growing by the minute. Blockchain Today In our list, you’ll find about the most prepared universities that offer a blockchain degree. Finding a university that has this course can be truly beneficial for your career and future, which makes this a serious decision to make. If you enroll onto a program that excludes blockchain from its curriculum, you’ll be left out in the modern job ...
Read More
Blockchain tiles - FINTECH FRIDAY$ (EP.21-Jan 18):  Meritocracy, Decentralized Innovation and the Power of Collaboration, CEO Next Decentrum, Hussein Hallak
NCFA Canada | Aug 9, 2019 JOIN US ON A STORYTELLING JOURNEY EVERY FRIDAY. Aug 9: Autonomous Alternative Lending with Vit Arnautov of Turnkey Lender EP35 HOST: Manseeb Khan, Fintech Friday's show host GUEST: VIT ARNAUTOV, Chief Product Officer of Turnkey Lender, (Linkedin) BIO: Vit is a skilled business executive with more than 10 years of experience in managing and delivering innovative fintech solutions. Since its foundation, Vit has been a part of the TurnKey Lender, a company creating intelligent AI-driven solutions for alternative lenders. Over the years he’s become its Chief Product Officer which gives him an incredibly deep insight into fintech in general and lending industry in particular. His areas of expertise include FinTech, digital lending, AI, and big data. Vit is happy to share his expertise with striving entrepreneurs and anyone else it can be helpful for. About this episode: On this episode of NCFA's Fintech Fridays Podcast, our host Manseeb Khan sits down with Vit Arnautov from Turnkey Lender. They chat about how AI will help the lending space, underbanked countries and why cloud lending is a trillion dollar industry. Enjoy! Subscribe and tune in each Friday to check out the latest movers and shakers in ...
Read More
FF EP35 Vit Arnautov Turnkey Lender - FINTECH FRIDAY$ (EP.21-Jan 18):  Meritocracy, Decentralized Innovation and the Power of Collaboration, CEO Next Decentrum, Hussein Hallak