What can we learn from TECH entrepreneurs?
Reflecting on my interview with William Johnson, the founder of the Vancouver Tech Journal.
We live in a time where a lot of conversations revolve around technology. New features on iPhones, amazon delivering products to your door, cars becoming safer, and new innovations to allow people to live higher quality lives for longer periods.
At the same time, the speed of advancements makes it difficult to keep up. Non-fungible tokens (NFT’s), voice command systems, cryptocurrencies, virtual reality, and artificial intelligence all seemed a little far fetched, yet hear we are. A lot of these things seem wild to my brain, yet a lot of these are likely the future. Now, before you roll your eyes and go “not in my lifetime” remember that change makes most people uncomfortable, and it can be very easy to say “alright this is where I draw my line.
I get it. But, you should also know it is a sign of a lack of a decrease in neural plasticity to think that way. It’s the same with music. According to Andrew Huberman, listening to new music (as uncomfortable as it may be) actually encourages neural plasticity. The same goes for adapting to new technological innovations. The early adopters often, but not always, reap a reward.
One example is Twitter. Apparently, it wasn’t always this divisive. Early adopters such as Farhan Mohamed and William Johnson describe those nascent stages as community driven, a place where you could connect with likeminded peers. Today, most people know it for its mob mentality. YouTube was once a place filled with funny cat videos. Today, we wonder whether it is dangerous to give everyone and anyone a voice. It is not uncommon for people to describe individuals like Alex Jones as dangerous. YouTube is no longer the simple fun place it started out as. Now, platforms like Twitter, YouTube and others influence much of our social discourse.
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The great thing about the problems with technology, is that they all came about because entrepreneurs were trying to fix problems. Once we identify problems, through research, we give entrepreneurs the roadmap to make a positive difference (and make a lot of money). It’s not a half bad system. It’s a little hectic at times, and for sure a little crazy but that seems to be where us humans thrive.
I think some people think the world would be a better place if there were no problems. Obviously, some problems are so dark and twisted that we should eliminate those altogether. But most problems are an opportunity for someone to shine. Take streaming services like Netflix, Disney and Prime as examples. Are they an untrammelled good? No, they come with their own pitfalls like causing people to binge a bit too much, and impacting the incentive structures around selling new movies. But they found a way to make watching movies more accessible. Now, it’s the role of the entrepreneurs to figure out how to fix the problems the streaming services create.
The technological space is fascinating because it is a constant race to fix problems. Some solutions come from just rethinking how to use an existing tool, while others create new inventions. The space is a constant rollercoaster with some entrepreneurs succeeding and others failing. That is why I wanted to sit down with someone more well versed in the area, an individual who has their finger on the pulse of new technological innovations.
Allow me to introduce this weeks guest, William Johnson, the founder of Vancouver Tech Journal. I first heard about William from Farhan Mohamed who talked about how great he thought it was that someone could focus on a niche topic and create a community out of it. Farhan has a great vision, which was clearly illustrated when he said that he was less focused on fixing journalism and more focused on reconnecting communities. To have the support of Farhan peaked my interest, so I hit the follow button on Mr. Johnson.
Some of you may not know this but this newsletter is hosted by a company called Substack. Substack is trying to support writers from all backgrounds in sharing their voice, while also protecting free speech. Their goal is to make being a writer easier by helping them grow an audience and monetize their passion. When I saw Vancouver Tech Journal was on Substack I subscribed, and began reading through their articles.
I began reading headlines for topics that had never crossed my mine. The one that stood out the most was “23 Vancouver tech and business power players to know”, as the host of this podcast I was very interested because, ya know, potential guest ideas. It became clear after reading a few articles that William is far more interested in the individuals than just the mere technology.
That is very much how the conversation went as well. William finds people who chase their passion in the tech space, and highlights them. One of his comments is that he loves learning about the journeys of entrepreneurs and the ideas they are trying to share. We talk about individuals who chased their goals like Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, Chris Best, and Ali Taylor. We talk about the personality traits great CEO’s/leaders must have to make their dream a reality and the sacrifices they must make.
To put William Johnson into context, he is much more like Walter Isaacson than a man focused on the new IOS 2000 or the latest fudge token. Walter Isaacson wrote biographies for Benjamin Franklin, Steve Jobs, and Albert Einstein. He was a man fascinated by the outliers in our society, and I think the same can be said for William. In fact, when I asked William who his white whale interview would be he said it was Mr. Isaacson.
As previously mentioned, William founded the Vancouver Tech Journal which provides the most complete coverage of Vancouver’s innovation ecosystem. They work to connect their readers with stories that matter. When you subscribe, their writers will work to fill the gaps in your knowledge, increase your awareness, and help you understand the people, ideas, and technologies shaping your community and world. Vancouver Tech Journal reaches more than 20,000 people each week through their website, the weekly Sunday Briefing, the daily Morning Report, social media, job board, and our in-person events. What they are building out is fantastic.
It was such a pleasure to hear the development of the Vancouver Tech Journal, and learn more about the creator of it. Did you know William has an incredible origin story as well? He was brought to Canada from an orphanage in Kingston, Jamaica over 32 years ago. We talk about how that beginning sounds like a story from a movie. Yet, it is true, and he discovered this information later in life.
I highly recommend you check out this episode, and learn about the brilliant William Johnson! I had an absolute blast drinking Brother’s Bond Bourbon with him and talking about innovations in the agriculture and health industry. The full interview is available now on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, YouTube and all other podcast platforms. Also, make sure you subscribe to the Vancouver Tech Journal, and connect with them on LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter.