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IAM623- Serial Entrepreneur Ushers in the Next Generation of Businesses

Podcast Interview with Sean Weisbrot

Sean is a serial entrepreneur with experience in technology, non-profit, and education, and speaks Mandarin after living in China for nearly 10 years. He has extensive knowledge and experience with Blockchain and cryptocurrencies and founded Sidekick in May 2018 to help usher in the next generation of businesses in the Blockchain industry.

Sidekick is a seamlessly integrated messaging, payments, and marketplace ecosystem that utilizes Blockchain technology.

  • CEO Hack: Having a to-do list every day with three levels: (1) Things I need to get done now (2) need to keep my eye on and need to get done relatively soon but they not the most important (3) Don't forget them
  • CEO Nugget: (1) Be prepared to spend a lot more money (2) Don't be so stuck on a time frame (3) Don't tell people too often when something is going to be ready
  • CEO Definition: The most passionate about the business (2) Understanding where the gaps are and helping people get what they need to fill those gaps

Website: http://sidekickapp.io/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/sidekickappio


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Transcription

Intro 0:02

Do you want to learn effective ways to build relationships, generate sales, and grow your business from successful entrepreneurs, startups, and CEOs without listening to a long, long, long interview?

If so, you've come to the right place. Gresham Harkless values your time and is ready to share with you precisely the information you're in search of.

This is the I AM CEO Podcast.

Gresham Harkless 0:29

Hello, this is Gresh from the I AM CEO podcast and I have a very special guest on the show today. I've Sean Weisbrot of Sidekick.

Sean, it's awesome to have you on the show.

Sean Weisbrot 0:39

Yeah, thanks for having me.

Gresham Harkless 0:40

No problem. Super excited to have you on and what I want to do is just read a little bit more about Sean so you hear about all the awesome things that he's doing.

Sean is a serial entrepreneur with experience in technology, non-profit, and education, and speaks Mandarin after living in China for nearly 10 years. He has extensive knowledge and experience with Blockchain and cryptocurrencies and founded Sidekick in May 2018 to help usher in the next generation of businesses in the Blockchain industry. Sidekick is a seamlessly integrated messaging, payments, and marketplace ecosystem that utilizes Blockchain technology.

Sean, are you ready to speak to the I AM CEO Community?

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Sean Weisbrot 1:16

Yeah, sure. Absolutely.

Gresham Harkless 1:17

Awesome. Let's do it. So I wanted to kick everything off and just hear how exactly you got to where we are now. Can you tell us your CEO story? What led you to get started?

Sean Weisbrot 1:26

Yeah, well, so my father has been a businessman my whole life. My brother was always really passionate about business as well. He majored in finance. I wanted to be a scientist. But for some reason, I ended up going through psychology school instead of science, although it's still a science. But when I finished university, I went to China, as you read. I was never interested in finance or business or anything like that. But using my powers of observation from my education and psychology, I started observing the way Chinese people do business. I thought, if they just did it this way, instead of that way, maybe I could like at 20%, profit instantly. Started really thinking about these tiny little things and they kind of built up over a few years of living there.

Then I ended up going back to the States to get a new visa for a job I had as an HR manager, and I ended up getting a concussion. My boss's first instinct was to fire me. So he's like, Well, you can keep the visa, you can come back to China, but you don't have a job and I said wow. I'm never going to allow anyone else to be in control of my financial future, ever again. Because that's ridiculous. Like, why should I be punished for something that it's not my fault? So I decided to start really using my experience from having been a teacher an HR manager and a business manager in different industries, to start something on my own and I started a nonprofit. The goal wasn't to be nonprofit, it kind of became nonprofit, I was funding it myself. Then we ended up going broke because we couldn't get enough money in to cover the costs and everything.

Then, I ended up getting into blockchain right around the time that I put down the nonprofit, this was October 2015. Blockchain seemed to open up this incredible opportunity for me. We don't have enough time to really go into any details. But if anyone's interested in knowing more, they're welcome to contact me, I'm happy to share in more detail. But I ended up really going through the full cycle of things you can do in the blockchain industry, from trading to analysis to advising to fundraising, and things like that. Eventually, around March 2018, I said, Hey, the markets changing, I can see it's falling apart. I think something bad's gonna happen. I don't know what it is, I can't really explain it. But what I've been doing for the last three years, it's not going to cut it anymore. I know, I can see that within two or three months, my income is going to be gone. I won't have any income.

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So I decided to take the money I made from doing those things to start a company. As I said I've been trying to start multiple businesses. The only one that really worked was you know, what I was doing in blockchain. So hey, I'm gonna focus my attention and build a startup in the blockchain space, and give it a go, see what's up. That's how I got to Sidekick.

Gresham Harkless 4:37

Nice. So I definitely appreciate you, breaking everything down and I have as somebody who has been laid off, it's not exactly the same as having that concussion but I know that you feel frustrated because you feel like Why was the company mismanaged to this point that we're at that level and you feel like you're not in control, similar to you having that concussion where you're saying, Okay, this is something outside of what I did. Why am I being punished for it? So you start to have that or taps into that entrepreneurial mindset, because you're like, I never want this to happen again, because that feeling doesn't feel good at all.

Sean Weisbrot 5:08

Exactly.

Gresham Harkless 5:09

Awesome. I know I touched on it a little bit when I read about Sidekick. Can you take us through exactly what it is that you do, but it does it for people who may not know about blockchain? I know it's very complex, even a little bit more about that so people can understand.

Sean Weisbrot 5:25

Yes, so the problem with the blockchain industry is, that it was started by a bunch of people who understood tech but didn't understand people. Even now, 11 years later, a lot of the companies are founded by people who understand tech but don't understand people. While I am a person who's been always very interested in technology, I'm self-taught in a lot of areas. When I was seven, I was taking apart computers and putting them back together. So I have a pretty deep understanding of tech that with no formal educational background in the area, where I've always been about people having studied psychology, and being an educator for many years. So for me, it was all about the people and not the tech.

A lot of people said blockchain needs to go mainstream cryptocurrencies need to go mainstream. But the methods that people were using in the development of their products, were in no way useful to the average person. So I realized, what needs to be done is put it into the technology to a point where you don't know it's there. Right, if you don't know that you're interacting with it, then we've succeeded in making it mainstream, right? So for example, a lot of the problems people have is you have a wallet address, right and the wallet address is like 64 characters that are a 514 2x Ray, it doesn't make sense, right?

People can barely remember a phone number, let alone a bank account number. So one of the things we decided to do, which I thought people would have done years ago, but they did was tie the wallet address to the user account. So in Sidekick, you can send bitcoin from yourself to somebody else, just by clicking on the contact list, and selecting the contact in your list, right? So you don't need to remember their wallet address. Just send it to your friend. So we've hidden the blockchain in a way that it's friendly enough for anyone to use. So there's a lot of little things like that, that we've done that nobody else is really doing. But what Sidekick is, as a whole is actually quite a large endeavor, in which we strive to put together messaging, which there's what there's WhatsApp is messenger, there's Telegram, Lion, Kakao, and WeChat. There's a bunch of different platforms.

But a lot of them don't have payments inside of them. Then you've got your Venmo and your Zell and your transfer wise, and their payments, but they don't really have messaging. If they do, it's very basic messaging. But there are a lot of apps and if you want to do something, you have to go to that app, if you want to do another thing, you have to go to that app. So what we're trying to do is take knowledge from Asia, right? Because I'm in Asia, right now I'm in Vietnam, I've been an agent for 12 years and I watched WeChat grow up and dominate the market. I watched how they fundamentally changed the way people in China exist on a daily, hourly, and even a minute basis and what they do and what Line and Cacao do as well for Japan and Korea respectively, is they are an app that does as many things as possible for the user, so that the user just needs that one app.

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What the West does is there's an app for everything. But it's not one app, it's one app for one feature. I'm trying to build something that mixes them, right? Because, like, Spotify wants to be the streaming service for the whole world. Right. Google wants to be the search engine for the whole world. But China for WeChat. For example, let's say I want to do everything for China. Right. So there's this disconnect between the way East and West approaches business. So I want Sidekick to be something that can be almost everything or a lot of different things in one app for the whole world.

It's extremely ambitious, and it costs a lot of money to build. But the way that we're approaching it from the point of view of gamification, and making things as easy as possible for users to engage with, we think will change the way people interact with their phones and the way they think about communication.

Gresham Harkless 9:51

Nice I love that and I appreciate you for breaking that down. I always usually say, and I don't know if you've heard the same where a lot of times true intelligence is so true mastery to some degree is not and knowing something by being able to communicate in a simple form to everybody so that they understand. I think we forget that aspect of communication. So as you're talking about being able to understand that technology will be able to basically communicate it and help people understand it. The way that they understand that is through an app, which is through making payments, which is through communicating, then a lot of times you have made it mainstream, but you've also made it so I guess, integral to everyday life that you can kind of live without it.

Sean Weisbrot 10:32

Exactly. One of the things that's really important to me in the way I approached this company, is that a lot of the messaging platforms and other social media platforms out there have spent probably billions of dollars focused on how to hack your psychology to make you continue to engage. A lot of it is damaging, it's very bad. I don't have a Twitter account, I have a Facebook account, but I only use it for Messenger, I only have 30 people on there. I have a LinkedIn account, I only use it to tell people who I am and to hire other people. So I'm really anti-social media in a lot of ways because I know it's damaging. So I'm trying to figure out ways that we can develop features in a way that gets users to engage but doesn't abuse their psychology, because it's really important that we go beyond what we've been doing the last decade, it just doesn't work anymore.

Gresham Harkless 11:28

Yeah, absolutely. It's definitely not sustainable and obviously, with your psychology background, and of course building the app and building the ecosystem that you guys have, I think you definitely understand that. I think so many times those things that we become attached to you, they become like a drug for maybe lack of a better term, that's something that actually helps to build you to help you grow, helps to make you more efficient. It's something that you need, because you need it not because it's integral, and it's kind of helping out your life as much, most of the time, at least.

Sean Weisbrot 11:58

Exactly.

Gresham Harkless 11:59

Awesome. So I know you probably already touched on this, but I wanted to ask you for what I call your secret sauce it could be for Sidekick, or it could be for yourself personally but what do you feel kind of sets you apart, it makes you unique.

Sean Weisbrot 12:10

I think what sets me apart personally, so to me and the company, what sets me apart personally is that I've traveled to about 40 different countries. I've taught myself, three languages, German, Spanish, and Chinese. I've actually taught myself how to read Psalm japa. Sorry, I taught myself how to read some Hebrew in Japanese, but I can speak German, Spanish, and Chinese. So having not only the education in psychology, but the experience of living in different countries and traveling to many places, and just trying to get a sense of who people are and how they're different, and then why they're different and step outside of myself, I meditate every day for 25 minutes, I've done this for almost 16 years. I think it's just this sense of trying to see where I fit in the world and trying to connect to the universe really.

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Gresham Harkless 13:07

I wanted to switch gears a little bit, and ask you for what I call a CEO hack. So this could be like an app or book or a habit that you have, you might have already mentioned this with a meditation, but is there something else, or is that the real thing that you feel gives you that edge and makes you?

Sean Weisbrot 13:20

I have a to-do list every day. I have it set up so that there are three levels. The top level is the things that I need to get done now. The next level is the things that are like I need to keep my eye on they need to get done relatively soon, but they're not the most important thing. Then the things that don't forget them, but like there'll be important later on.

Gresham Harkless 13:45

Yeah, I want to ask you now for what I call a CEO nugget. So that could be like a word of wisdom or a piece of advice. Or if you can happen to a time machine what might you tell your younger business self?

Sean Weisbrot 13:55

Well, I would have told myself to be prepared to spend a lot more money and to not be so like stuck on a timeframe, not tell people too often when something is going to be ready because it's always gonna take at least two or three times longer than you expect. Right?

Gresham Harkless 14:17

That is exactly what I was going to ask you. So is that how you would define being a CEO and what exactly that means to you?

Sean Weisbrot 14:23

Well, I mean, yeah, CEO is a multi there's multiple things. One is you're like the public mascot of the company, right? Nobody's going to be as passionate about your business as you are. So if you're the founder and the CEO then it helps because you understand hopefully what it is the business is trying to solve. But it's also being able to understand what, and where the gaps are and then help people get what they need in order to fill those gaps.

Gresham Harkless 14:53

Good Sean, I truly appreciate that. I appreciate your time even more. What I want to do is pass you the mic so to speak, just to see if there's anything additional you can let our readers and listeners know. Then of course, how best they can get hold of you get access to the app and all the awesome things you guys are working on.

Sean Weisbrot 15:06

So yeah, we've got a website and that's probably the fastest way. So the website is sidekickapp.io. I'm sure you'll have a link somewhere for that. Through there, you can send us an email. We also have telegram. So if you go to our website, you can see all of our different social media channels. If you want to get to me directly, you can just contact the team and it's pretty easy to get to me, I'm pretty open. So they'll just tell me if there's a message and I'll respond, the app isn't exactly out just yet. So when you go to the website, you can sign up for the waiting list, and then relatively soon, I'm not going to give a date, because you never know when it's actually going to be ready. But at some point, we'll start getting users on but we're getting much closer to that point.

Gresham Harkless 15:57

Awesome. Definitely sounds good and exciting as well, too. So we will definitely have the information in the show notes as Sean said, and then you can sign up for the waiting list so you can find out all the updates as it gets closer and closer to that launch date. Super exciting and I definitely appreciate this interview. Appreciate all the awesome things you're doing and hope to have you back on to see as things progress and how things are going as well. But thank you again for your time and I hope you have a great rest of the day.

Outro 16:20

Thank you for listening to the I AM CEO Podcast powered by Blue 16 Media. Tune in next time and visit us at iamceo.co. I AM CEO is not just a phrase, it's a community.

Be sure to follow us on social media and subscribe to our podcast on iTunes Google Play and everywhere you listen to podcasts, SUBSCRIBE, and leave us a five-star rating grab CEO gear at www.ceogear.co. This has been the I AM CEO Podcast with Gresham Harkless.

Thank you for listening.

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Mercy - CBNation Team

This is a post from a CBNation team member. CBNation is a Business to Business (B2B) Brand. We are focused on increasing the success rate. We create content and information focusing on increasing the visibility of and providing resources for CEOs, entrepreneurs and business owners. CBNation consists of blogs(CEOBlogNation.com), podcasts, (CEOPodcasts.com) and videos (CBNation.tv). CBNation is proudly powered by Blue16 Media.

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