The Fierce Focus Show Episode 4: Sam DeBey, the Hurricane Captain

***Scroll Right for Sam's Episode***

Sam DeBey is a digital animator and a good friend of mine. Sam’s story has brought him from being an art student in San Jose, to living in his mom’s hotel in the Seychelles, to sailing his boat down the eastern seaboard during hurricane sandy. As an animator, he has made videos you might have been exposed to - some with Vin DiCarlo, and others with Ashton Kutcher’s company A-Plus.

We explore how sam maintains his creativity, how he started his life as a freelancer, mistakes he has made and how to avoid them, and his method of keeping resolutions.

Sam descending from 10,000 Feet

Sam descending from 10,000 Feet

Sam's Sailboat in the Hudson

Sam's Sailboat in the Hudson

Sam's daily lists

Sam's daily lists

The Fierce Focus Show Episode 3: Franklin Tsung - Wall Street's Newest Activist Investor

***Click Right Arrow on player to get to Franklin's Episode***

In this episode, I interviewed Franklin Tsung, the founder and principal at BlackCrown Holdings.  He is Wall Street's newest Activist Investor. 

Franklin’s story is interesting because growing up in a startup culture - Franklin’s father created what became the first online trading platform. Seeing this, he has become hungry for higher levels of success.  

At Columbia, Franklin was extremely resourceful, cold-calling his way into some of the biggest investment banks and making deals with executives. He was in his early 20s. 

In our discussion, we talk about Franklin’s journey in creating his companies, his theories on Business as what society is created to do, and of course, how Franklin has used focus to re-invent App Crown, an financial technology platform, and how he founded of BlackCrown Holdings, all based in NYC.

Enjoy, and stay focused. 


Grew up in the startup game: 2:20
Why Columbia?: 13:15
Workout fund: 15:50
Moment he turned the corner saying this could work: 21:15
Have the mindset “I don’t lose”. 
Core beliefs: 22:00
Where does “knowing I will win” comes from: 23:14
from “workout” to Appcrown: 24:20. 
New project: 31:50. 
What was the first move? 33:18. 
How do you focus? 34:00: 
What makes you space out: 36:30
How to deal with things that aren’t expected? 37:45:
The importance of suits: 39:13
Qualities of a good company: 41:00
Who would you want to be mentored by? 43:08
3 conferences: 46:40
3 books: 49:00
Entrance song: 51:35
What is the fundamental purpose of business in society?  52:34
How to get ahold of franklin: 53:43

Links from episode:

reid hoffman’s quote about embarrassed about product
Deutsche Bank
ge capital
carl icahn
dan loeb
reuters partner connect
the obstacle is the way
crazy train
rock you like a hurricane
Franklin’s Linkedin

If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe to it, rate it in the iTunes store, and share it on Facebook and twitter

Stay tuned for another episode next week! 


The Fierce Focus Show Episode 1: Ali Hamed, Venture Capitalist

Our first guest is Mr. Ali Hamed (@alibhamed) - a venture capitalist living in NYC, who is a Co-Founder and a General Partner at CoVenture.  

In this interview we cover a lot of territory, from what CoVenture is and what they’re doing with the World Bank, the easiest email he had to send, what qualities he looks for in founders, and of course: how he stays focused.


An outline of the show: 

1:30: Who is Ali, what is coventure? 

2:00 How do you focus? 

4:35 rituals for peak productivity

6:00 Peaks/troughs

8:35: Where they came up with the idea for CoVenture

10:25: 2 types of risk

13:16: On fear

14:36: On raising money

16:20 What they look for in founders

21:10 Was there a corner that said “this could be a big thing”?


28:45 How he learned how to create CoVenture

29:25: The most exciting thing about CoVenture. 

31:20: On stress

33:45: Day in the life

36:05: Avoiding apathy

38:20: Punchable face? 

39:43: First 30 minutes of day. 

39:55: Books reading? 


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Status, belief and a really good microphone.

The box was bigger than I expected. I wanted it to be easy to carry & barely noticeable. It was neither. 

After I bought the Tascam DR 40, the Podcast would be a go, I thought. But after the unboxing, I was a bit taken back and felt I should re-calibrate what would go into the production. I should have just got a plug in mic for my iPhone, I thought. 

Then, Meg, my Fiance, shifted my perspective on the microphone totally: it looks LEGIT.  It looks professional, not like a home-production tool. When people see that, they will believe this is the real deal. 

And they do. When I pull it out for interviews, people take note - “damn - that mic is so badass - this is the real deal!” - and it is. It is similar to what NPR uses, after all. This led me to recall a realization I’ve had before about status. 

Law #1:  Perceived high status begets actual high status. 

Status is almost ALWAYS derived from something external from the subject, and there is a lot of persuasion involved. People believe things they are told by authority figures, because they have been told to believe authority figures.  Authority comes from clothes, accessories, and titles: As Machiavelli would have put it in The Princehow you “seem”. When you’re getting out of a nice car wearing a classic business suit and a nice watch, people will mimic your actions - even if you rented it -  if you act with confidence. Because, when you act with confidence, your initial perceived status will be elevated, because you seem legitimate. 

Con men are experts in authority. Think Matt Damon’s Character “Linus Caldwell” in Oceans 13 or Frank Abagnale Jr. (inspiration for Catch Me If You CanThese guys were smooth, they knew all the right phrases, and they were masters of persuasion. 

The term con man comes from “confidence man” - someone who intends to exploit their victim’s appeal to authority by appearing to be an authority. Appearing to be an authority is done by appearing confident and trustworthy.  

What separates a confidence man from a good businessman is the goal of their exploit: theft vs. value. 

If the microphone didn’t uphold its side of the bargain by sounding terrible, I would have felt robbed, and I would have taken the piece of shit back to the store. Fortunately, I had done some research, learned that this was the microphone used by NPR, so I was confident in my purchase. 

So, there is a corollary to law #1: Consistency creates legitimate authority.

If NPR uses the microphone, I could trust that the mic would also work for my  purposes. 

Another reason I was confident in my purchase was because of the elite technicality of the device. How did I know it was an elite device? The size of the owner’s manual. 

Originally I didn’t think about how complicated recording could have been. Press record, conduct interview, stop, right? 

Wrong. Good sound is produced by quality electronics, and you know it when you hear it. Determining which levels, over-dub preferences, and ambient vs. primary noise all must be taken into account. This was more complicated than it looked, but I finally figured out how to make the mic pick up just the right amount of sound. This brought me back to the concept of status: 

Law #2: The knowledge required to master a subject affects status because it affects the confidence of the holder of the knowledge. 

In conducting my interviews, I would first have to set the recording parameters. I happened to do this in front of the person I was interviewing - and the simple act of doing this got both me and my interviewee to get ready for the interview. Using the knowledge of how the mic worked primed both me and my subject to get into the “mode” of interviewing. 

The technicality of the device acted as a primer, enabling me to conduct a quality interview. It also allowed my interviewee to conduct themselves in a way that would be appealing to the audience. Technology is nothing without something of high quality to use it on: my content had to be valuable

To ensure this, I kept a theory in mind: everyone I know knows something I don't (thanks Bill Nye). I'd find people to interview by asking them simple questions, figuring out what they really enjoyed, and digg deep to see if they'd be a good candidate. I'd research them as much as I could to figure out which questions to ask. Finding good questions has become a huge focus of mine.  

My huge takeaway: Status is caused by belief. Belief comes from Confidence. Confidence comes from hard work. 

The legitimacy of my podcast existed in my eyes because I believed that producing the podcast through quality equipment is only done by people with the experience needed to use the equipment - which I finally owned and understood -  to its fullest capacity. 

Because I believed in the legitimacy and long-term usefulness of the podcast - through the high status of the microphone & the value that I seek to provide in the content  - I unconsciously conveyed that legitimacy to others. 

Who would have known you could learned all this from a microphone.