39. How NAED Serves the Electrical Distribution Industry

Episode 39

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This episode of the DRIVEN Podcast features great insights into the National Association of Electronic Distribution:
An over hundred-year effort towards the continued success of the industry. Hear from Edward Orlet, Interim CEO, Senior Vice President of Government Affairs & Strategic Projects, and Satya Sanivarapu, Technology Director, Digital Distribution Supply Chain as they share more about the association’s purpose, its mission for the near future and how the NAED helps distributors better navigate the technology best suited for their challenges.

Karthik Chidambaram: Hello everyone. We are very excited to welcome two distinguished guests, Ed Orlet and Satya Sanivarapu, with NAED to the show. I'm really excited today to have a conversation with them, to talk about NAED, and how they are helping the distribution world.

So Ed and Satia, welcome to the Driven show. We are very excited and thankful to have you join us.

Edward Orlet: Thanks for having us.

Satya Sanivarapu: Thank you.

Karthik: Cool. So, thank you again for joining.

So, why don't I just, why don't we dive right in and get started with Ed.

Ed, you are the Senior Vice President and acting CEO of NAED. So thankful for you joining the Driven show.

Can you tell us, for the audience who are new and who do not know anything about NAED, what is NAED and how do you guys help?

Edward: Yeah, happy to. So, NAED stands for National Association of Electrical Distributors, and NAED has been around for more than a hundred years. We're the trade association for the electrical wholesaling industry, that is, depending on who you talk to, between 150 and 160 billion in annual revenue.

We represent employees and business people serving more than 5,000 locations across the United States, and we do have some international members. Our members come to us, primarily for networking, employee education and industry news and standards.

Karthik: That's awesome. I didn’t know NAED was over a hundred years old, and thanks for that. So, I'm sure there's a lot of experience that gets passed on and you are able to pass it on to distributors, and that's great. Yeah. Thank you.

And Satya, you are the Technology Director at NAED. How do you get involved in NAED? You have extensive experience in technology and supply chain. How did you get involved in NAED?

Satya: So, I keep saying the universe has its way, to play with everything, and I think a lot of things had to happen in sequence for me to be here.

Firstly, NAED’s decision to be remote and, you know, throw out that net further wide across the country for talent. And then myself spending many years at the confluence of business and technology in the, and in the supply chain domain. For me, it was mostly about increasing my circle of influence.

I worked for-profit in the CPG industry, retail technology, shipping, and always your scope of influence, a circle of influence, is within the organization. You know, for the first time I had the opportunity to impact an industry, across the board and to help their digital journey. And I thought my skill sets [came] into play into a wide arena consisting of many hundreds of companies, embarking on this journey.

So that seemed like a very, uh, value propositional thing that I was, that attracted me. So that's how I got into it.

Karthik: Oh, that's great. Distributed work enabled Satya to join NAED and that's great. And also, working with a purpose where you are. Impact industry. That's really well said.

So Ed, I wanna get back to you, because dealing with the government is not easy. And you have done that for a long time. You have been handling government affairs at NAED and now you are the acting CEO of the organization.

How did you get to where you are today? You have extensive experience with NAED. Can you walk us through your career journey and some of your learnings there?

Edward: Sure. So, once upon a time, I was a struggling sales rep for a St. Louis-based industrial supply house. And, as struggling sales reps do, I was looking for a job. I would still have my job, but was looking for something I might be better at, and I came across NAED.

And I think, you know, not a lot of people, first of all, not a lot of people know what associations are. Second of all, not a lot of people know what distributors are that aren't in the business. And so I knew what both were because I had a background in, um, in state legislative work. So I knew what associations were, because I work with lobbyists all the time.

And not in the way you think. Lobbyists are actually very valuable information resources for legislative staff. It's not all golf trips and entertaining that they do. They do play a really valuable role in the legislative process. But anyway, that's how I knew what associations were.

I was hired 22 years ago as a membership person, and over the decades, I've stuck around in a variety of capacities. We have a board member that jokes that they keep changing my job till they find something I'm good at. But yeah, I've worked all around the organization. And then, you know, I'm keeping the seat warm while they conduct the national search for a permanent CEO.

So, in the meantime, we got a great team, a lot of experience, and so I'm trying to stay out of their way and just support them to keep things running, keep things moving along. And also very excited to have Satya on board. He and I have been working together quite a bit over the last month or so, to help him get into the industry and become a part of it.

He already has, in my opinion, a really good grasp of what the big issues are that our members are facing, and he's gonna be an incredible resource for our industry.

Karthik: That's great. Thank you. I was watching some of your interviews and you rightly talked about purpose and more. So, can you walk us through - What is the mission of NAED? How do you guys really help?

Let's say I'm an electrical distributor. Why should I become a member of the NAED and how can you help?

Edward: So, we say our mission is to be a trusted source for tools and resources that help our members own their customer relationships. And, you know, that may not mean a lot to folks who aren't in distribution, but when you're part of a channel, especially in the day of omnichannel, the age of omnichannel, owning that customer relationship is critical for a distributor.

Being the value, being the link. And so, you know, our sell to our members is as a trusted source of those tools. And right now, I don't know that there's a bigger investment in our industry being made than digital capabilities. And I don't know that there's been this big of an investment in a long time, and it's not traditionally been something that, you know, has been critical and central to the way we do business.

We say we're a relationship industry and people buy from people they like, right? But so there's a lot of uncertainty. There's a lot of catching up and learning that has to be done, and it's the perfect place for an association because we can bring together the best minds in the industry to kind of answer some of those questions and help our members get farther along faster.

You know, one of the reasons why Satya is here is our foundation board said, you know, we want to do something that should, that would probably take us ten years, we want to do it and like two. Um, so we wanna, it is like a flywheel effect, uh, that we're trying to do. We've historically taken on big issues within distribution, within electrical distribution for us. But the stakes are really high.

Karthik: Great. So, that's great, thank you, Ed.

And going back to Satya. Satya, you talked about making a difference in the industry. And what do you hope to accomplish with NAED in the coming years? What is your mission for NAED?

Satya: Hmm. So, as I saw, NAED plays a central role in bringing together the entire industry, providing educational resources, as well as it's a platform to push standardization across the industry. To also push best practices because there are a variety of companies at different maturity levels, and it serves as a catalyst to pass on the learnings from one maturity level of the company to another. And I think NAED is here to catalyze that.

Now, in my short journey here so far, a little over a month. And being, and looking at the industry from an outside perspective, I see, we've talked about consolidation being a game changer now over the last few years in this industry. And with a few large players and a long tail of small players. And there is a need for this, for these companies and there's a desire, inherent desire to digitize and use digital tools

And the period of Covid seemed to have accelerated that need and shown that requirement for the industry to adapt. As I see it, this role here, the seat is here to form a bridge between the members who are primarily distributors, family companies or member owned companies.

And on the other side, You have a whole new segment of players, the technology, the technologists, like your organization, who are here to provide solutions using the latest technologies like AI and machine learning, and data analytics and data science, application of data science. And I see these two groups needing a translator. And, in essence, I'm that translator who understands both the business side of it from a supply chain standpoint as well as the technology aspect of it.

And that's how I'm looking to catalyze this environment and adoption of technology for the benefit of the industry.

Karthik: That's awesome. So let's say an electrical distributor has a question, hey, how we do propel this further, or what kind of technology do I really need to use? Then they come to NAED and you would help answer that question.

Satya: Yes, as part of the background, what we're doing right now is, over the next few months, we'll, we're segmenting the members in their, based on their characteristics of the organization, based on their corporate strategy, based on the maturity in terms of digital adoption of tools.

And on the other side we're also segmenting the technology providers. Which areas are they playing in? You know, it could be integration, it could be automating certain business processes, could be product data, which is so key in this domain. Now, what I'm trying to do, what my team is trying to do in this, in this space is to validate and, and so to speak, separate the wheat from the chaff, because there are, there's a lot of marketing content floating around and members, distributors get hundreds of emails every week. And what this group's role is to help the members identify who are the top vendors to play in a particular space, and to also look at the member's business and to see where the gaps are.

It could be automating a business process. It could be adding a new tool which will help them manage a process better, or optimize something, identify a pattern. So, to meet their needs and to recommend certain organizations, certain technology companies through the preferred provider program. That's one of the key aspects of what we are doing.

So, in summary, segmenting the members, segmenting the technology companies, and informing these matches between both the groups is the approach we're taking to enable this.

Karthik: That's great, Satya. So, you talked about segmenting members and, Ed, I have a question on that to you.

So, talking about segmenting customers or segmenting members, is there a limit on how many members you can take into NAED?

Let's say, are you capped out or… Because I was talking to distributors, one concern I did have is, ‘hey, you are already a lot of people’. You know, ‘why should we add more people’ or other things, you know, because some of these also compete with each other. How do you deal with that?

Edward: Well, they all compete with each other. That's the nature of an association and we want everybody. The reality is the pace of consolidation in this industry means our membership numbers continue to consolidate as well, right?

So, the industry, when I- I know Sonia Coleman's involved in helping us put this podcast together, and we used to work together at NAED many years ago. And we were just kind of reminiscing. And when we started, there were just a lot of mom-and-pop businesses, hundreds and hundreds of mom-and-pop businesses. Over the generations, maybe the next third generation or fourth generation doesn't want to be in the family business. Maybe by the fourth generation, the family and the family business gets pretty big. There's a lot of mouths to feed, for whatever reason.

You know, we see companies selling to consolidators, to other companies, doing ESOPs, selling to the employees. So the industry is consolidating so rapidly. We've got all kinds of room and we want everybody here. The great thing about NAED is almost all of the industry leaders are there at our events and within our membership. And that's, I think that's it. We have the heft of the industry, but we do also want the breadth of the industry as well.

Satya: If I may just add one more aspect. So, as I'm looking at it, as I look at the distribution industry, there is a need and a want, as I mentioned before, to digitize. And while they compete with each other, they do realize that this is more of a journey to go along with only because it’s digital, it’s new for everybody.

And from that standpoint, one company's learnings could be very beneficial for another, and together they want to expand the value-added services that they're offering today because they see that as a key area: how distributors can make themselves more relevant in this space. And the customer is demanding that value-added services at the end of it, right?

It could be the construction industry or the utilities, or the industrial segment. And distributors see digital, so, digital tools and solutions, as key for expanding that value-added services. So, I think there is consensus that they all should work together because this is a new arena filled with minds. And they want to work together, to take this journey, to cross the bank, really to cross the river, really to the other bank.

Karthik: Yeah. Work together, and learn together, and progress together. That's great.

Satya: Yes.

Karthik: Ed, you talked about consolidation that's happening in the industry and it's getting smaller for a variety of reasons. So, what do you think is the biggest challenge for electrical distributors today, and how is NAED helping overcome that challenge?

Edward: Yeah, you know, in the 22 years that I've been involved in the industry, there are a lot more folks that have been involved a lot longer than I have obviously, but I haven't seen any time like this. And there's, it's sort of a tale of two cities, the best of times, worst of times kind of thing.

Because if you think about where we are demographically just in the workforce, generally speaking, we've got customer-facing people retiring at a rapid pace. Think about all that relationship equity that's been built up for decades and, you know, they want to go ride off into the sunset and go golf and fish and do whatever they wanna do and enjoy the fruits of their labor, right? And who could blame 'em?

At the same time, we've got that generational turnover in our customers purchasing, people. So again, those relationships are threatened. And at the same time, the, you know, statistics or the research says that the next generation of buyer has a very different expectation of their interaction with the seller, whether it be a personal seller or just self-service, right?

So the whole dynamic is evolving and shifting right now. At the same time, those customers have a proliferation of sources for material more than I've seen in the past, right? You can buy material anywhere from a lot of different places, not just electrical distributors, right? Industrial supplies online, e-tailers, and all that kind of stuff. And, there's just a lot of sources, so there's a lot of challenges there.

But at the same time, the economy is going through this period of electrification. So, the scope of that opportunity is unprecedented. So, while we face these challenges, there's also this incredible opportunity in front of us. We need the people to make this stuff, to move this stuff, and to install this stuff because we're going to sell a lot of it. We have the opportunity to sell a lot of it.

At the same time, we're kind of shorthanded in all these different places. Our contractors never have enough help. We can always use more skilled help and obviously the manufacturing as well. Because we're starting to see things either reshored or near-shored, from all the supply chain difficulties we had during Covid.

So there's these interesting sort of strange dichotomies everywhere. So there's a huge amount of opportunity and some tremendous challenges at the same time.

Karthik: No, that's great. I was watching one of your interviews where you talked about the new opportunities, which are being created with EVs, which you mentioned right now.

So, that's really, really good because I'm really thinking that, hey, there's a lot of new opportunities right now for the electrical distribution industry. And NAED can even help point the distributors in the right direction. Hey, there's a whole new EV market, how can we be doing better? Anything you want to add on the EV space? I know you were a little skeptical about EV a little earlier, but then, you know, you started believing in it. And again, you know, we’re still a long way out, but one thing which fascinated me is, hey, it's a new market, which did not exist, uh, let's say a couple of decades ago.

Edward: Yeah, I think, okay. So, I have been skeptical about not necessarily the viabilities of electric vehicles in the long run, but sort of the, some of the goals that are being set for adoption and for rollout, and there's also just a lot of nagging questions about the availability of the materials and minerals that are needed to make some of these batteries.

What do we do with the batteries when they're spent. What you do with a bad battery when you're the car owner. You know, there's a lot of questions there that I, you know, hopefully we can answer. But what kind of turned me around was the conversation of, plus I was thinking, well, you know, all these charging stations and who's going to do it, who's installing them? Who's maintaining them? Are they going direct? Is this going through supplies? You know, how's that working?

But when I was educated about the scope of the opportunity from the charger to the grid, to stuff we already sell and we know how to sell well, right? That kind of made me, that was my ‘aha’ moment, and I was like, it's not about a, okay, the chargers are fine and the EVs are fine, but if the infrastructure is going to be built out, it's going to have a ton of stuff we already do well.

And so, to me, that was where I kind of turned around on the whole thing. I said, okay, somebody else is going to have to solve for the availability of the materials to make this stuff. And somebody else is going to have to figure out what we do with it. When it's done, when it's at its end of life, we’ll let somebody else figure that out. For now, the money's going to be spent, so we might as well go get it.

Karthik: Yeah, unlearning is an important aspect of learning, and thanks. Great insights. I appreciate that.

So, Satya, talking about digital transformation for distributors and the electrical distribution industry in general. What insights do you have to share from the electrical distribution industry?

Because sometimes technology investments could be large, and I was also reading your research report where you talked about what are the priorities for distributors. Hey, ERP stands first, and then you also talked about the talent management systems. So, where do you think distributors should focus?

Can you share some insights for the electrical distribution industry? Let's say we want to make some technology investments, or how do we better our technology? What advice would you share?

Satya: Yes, so one of the big challenges for this industry is change management. And as leaders of this, of distribution leaders, what, as they're looking to make this shift, obviously the demographics that consists of employees in these companies is changing.

We're seeing a younger workforce come on with that. Some of that change will be that inertia will be broken, but it's one thing to want to go digital, and it's a whole new thing to get your workforce to adapt to it.

So, that's why they're having the right talent, being able to start using these tools, not see it as a daunting task because usually, past experiences for these companies, you know, in the traditional client-server architecture, where if you had to embark on a software implementation, it would be a multi-year rollout with multi-million dollars of spend. And then, by the time you're done with the implementation, you're ready for an upgrade.

So it's a continuous investment, large scale investment, to get into any such space. But that has changed with how software has evolved, and the delivery of software has changed. Today, Software as a Service, the software tools are a lot more accessible. So having that mindset change. For these organizations, for these leaders to suddenly realize that embarking on a digital journey, adapting or adopting a software is not really a daunting task, but could be something that can be tried and tested out.

With the cloud model, with cloud computing, and on-demand, license-based usage, supply chain departments, teams could try and test out different tools before they settle in. So to re-educate, like you said, the unlearning of the old methodology and relearning of how it can be done today is one big aspect of it. For leaders, and to re-talent, to re-skill their workforce and to have the workforce have an open mind towards it.

But I've seen many scenarios where the tools are there, that technology is there, but no users and doesn't serve the purpose. So, I'd say that change management in this industry is very key.

Karthik: No, it's great. I mean, as you know, we do a lot of work in the integration space. And, distributors having multiple systems, it's very important for these systems to talk to each other.

Do you have any advice you would offer to distributors there in terms of data flow automation, how these different systems, ERPs, ecommerce, CRMs, talking to each other, why is that critical and why does that matter?

Satya: It all comes down to the omnichannel experience that we are so used to in the consumer space, the B2C consumer space, and that's kind of rubbing off in the B2B industry. So, from that standpoint, if you look at, if you look at the electrical industry, you have construction forming a big segment. You have the industrial and the utilities.

And if you see the construction customers, they're not demanding the digital change. They are continuing to operate the way they have through relationships with the sales reps from the distribution companies. And they want a go-to person to purchase something from, but unlike, this is unlike the digital revolution, the consumer side, you know, where everyone has a mobile phone and therefore there's a need for apps.

So, it's more of a pull system. And this is more of a push system in the electrical industry where distributors are seeing the need to go digital and push back down downstream. So, from that standpoint, it's different dynamics and how leaders adapt to this change in this industry to adapt technology is key in their future.

And it's very important to align the corporate strategy with the company needs to know where they want to be and their digital investments should be proportionate to that desire to be where they want to be five years, ten years down the road. So, having that clarity and accordingly making these investments across these domains is key to their journeys.

Karthik: Yeah. Integrated commerce is the future. Really, that’s it, Satya.

Satya, I have a question on software costs, because when you talk to distributors they are usually, they're not really used to yearly licensing costs. They would like to essentially pay it for one time. They don't really like recurring costs, like because the margins in the distribution industry are really, really thin.

They want to avoid this as much as possible. Any advice you would give to them, because pretty much everything is changing to a licensing model right now. So any advice you would give them?

Satya: Yes, so I mean, as you mentioned previously, integration is so key for that omnichannel experience and with digital today, allowing for these APIs, API connectors, which is really the language between two entities here, you're talking about two software systems needing to talk to each other.

Today, technology companies are giving these API connectors, which allow for this integration to happen, very easily, unlike in the past. So, in the SaaS model of delivery of these services, be it integration, be it automation, be it transactional, as the ERP or, or CRM, or the analytics as well, it's all been commoditized through SaaS.

So, with that, the way you start using technology has changed. Unlike in the past, you don't need to have a server on-site. You don't need to maintain it and you don't need to worry about upgrades. So, all this, in the evolution of client-server technology, the first step was the Infrastructure as a Service, meaning the servers, the hardware being outsourced. And then the platform and the platform of coding .net or Java being outsourced. And finally, the third step in the evolution, the Software as a Service. So, we've seen this evolution and all this has been possible with advances in cloud computing and faster data transfer speeds now with 5G, now with edge computing.

So, a rapid pace, but not to be considered as daunting again, because tools have become much more accessible, much more than was possible previously. That would be the big shift in thinking for these leaders, for these companies.

Karthik: Yeah, change is the only thing that's constant. Thank you, Satya. That's a good segue into my next question to you, Ed.

You did an amazing research, a really good research on building a connected business, and it is a 300-plus page research report. And I also learned that the market size of the electrical construction industry is about $170 billion, which is huge. And there are new opportunities being created.

What are some of the key learnings from that research?

Edward: Yeah, and I guess this may sound a little repetitive, but the journey kind of begins, the foundation really relies on accurate and complete product, customer, pricing data. I kind of feel like new economy companies really treat data as a valuable asset, and I think that's something we're still learning to treat. We're learning to treat our data that way.

I think our leading companies have been moving in that direction, and they're looking at their data strategically. And I think that again, that's why Satya is going to be such a valuable resource for our members. He's, he totally gets this and he's, you know, he said, he talked about translating earlier, and he does, he has a real knack for kind of putting this in terms that people understand.

The research that we have produced so far, it was meant to inform our members' journey, again. And, but it's sort of, it's sort of static research that we did a few years ago. What we're hopeful is that we, as we continue to invest in our members' journeys on digital transformation, that we can keep that information more updated and make it more dynamic versus a 300-and-something page report, which again, was great and I know a couple people that literally read it cover to cover.

But, you know, it's the way, the way this stuff is changing so rapidly. It's our challenge to kind of figure out how to continue to present this information in a really fresh and quickly responsive way to the industry. We've invested hundreds of thousands, hundreds of thousands of dollars, and we plan on investing hundreds of thousands of dollars more. And you know, that investment begins with Satya, who's essentially kind of running a startup within NAED and we're thrilled that he's there with us.

Satya: Definitely.

Karthik: Definitely. I did find that research helpful. Especially, I mean, let's say if I'm a distributor depending on what I need or what my problem is. I mean, there's a lot of different options you provide for distributors out there.

I'm just curious, how often do you guys do research like this and how many, I mean, do you do that often or how many reports does NAED produce every year?

Edward: So, historically, and again, I'm going to get the year wrong, but it was early in my time at NAED, we actually created a research endowment. You know, leading companies in the industry donated hundreds of thousands of dollars each to fund an endowment to continue to do this research.

It used to be that we'd do two or three projects a year, and they weren't necessarily related, they certainly weren't related to digital transformation. We used to do a lot of things on theft and fraud, on reverse logistics, special pricing, you know, SBAs. We've done a lot of different things. But in the last few years, we've really focused and prioritized this digital journey because of all the money that's being invested by our members. We want to help them invest it wisely and make good decisions.

But, you know, now I think we are also looking at other areas because we don't, you know, we do feel like there are larger issues that we need to look at. And I personally have got some interest in doing some public policy-type research.

We're thinking, you know, we talked earlier, briefly, about workforce and how we really need to develop our next generation of employees and leaders. And it's something NAED is invested in with the Leadership Development program. A lot of employee training and education. But also from a public policy perspective, I don't think we have a real handle on how we're going to treat work differently in the future, because it's kind of happening to us now.

And, we don't, you know, we have this sort of leftover, 20th century, 1920s labor industrial relations model to our public policy that doesn't even make much sense anymore. And the policy leaders are not coming up with creative ways to address how people are going to work in this new economy.

So that's, it's something that I personally would like to see us invest a little bit in. But we'll continue to, we'll continue to- primarily, it's what our members tell us of their priorities, that's where we go.

Karthik: We need a lot of help in public policy, so thanks, Ed.

A couple of last questions. So, can you talk about some of your failures, you know, what is your biggest failure and what does that learn from it in the

Edward: Okay. Who’s starting here?

Karthik: We'll start with you, Ed.

Edward: Okay. I love talking about my failures. I- we could do a whole podcast on mine.

I guess the biggest thing I've learned the hard way is that the most effective leaders need to think of themselves as servants. Servants to their team. And I think ego can get in the way. For me personally, I'll say ego can get in the way of me being my most effective leader. And it's a challenge to have the self-awareness to realize how others do see you, right?

And I've worked on it a lot, but you may think you're being collaborative and supportive, and others may still not see it that way. And that's, that's been, I've taken plenty of lumps to see that. And it's something I have to keep top of mind every day because it's always going to be a challenge for me.

Karthik: Great. Always be serving your people. And that's really well said. That was very, very interesting. So thanks, Ed. And, Satya.

Satya: Alright, so I'll talk about specific projects. I was working for a CPG company where we spent a couple of years and a few million dollars on relationships, partnering with a data science organization.

At the end of it, the objective of this engagement was to create visibility in the supply chain all the way from manufacturing to the retail stores, and to have stocks and the flows between all these entities in the supply chain. It involved a lot of data harmonization from across multiple systems, bringing them all together and harmonizing and normalizing the data so they can be consumed. With an objective being to democratize data across the departments, functions of the company.

A couple of years down the line, as I went through this journey, we realized we built a great tool, a system, a great visibility system, but there were no takers, there were no users. And the demand planning, supply planning, customer logistics, warehousing, transportation, they continued to, these functions continued, to do processes the way they were used to. Going to SAP, pull data, use their spreadsheets for their analytics and decision making.

And that taught me a big lesson that it's not the technology that is important, per se, but it's really how the people, the processes, and the technology all fit in together. I think it was a good lesson for me at the end of it, and which I am able to now tell as a story. But it is a fact that people think or companies think that to digitize is just about bringing on newer technologies into their environment. Not really. It's about how those people and how the business process at the end of it, at the outcome of how the people and the technology come together to enable the business process. So, that would be one big learning through my career journey.

Karthik: Yeah, adoption. So how much do you adopt, and training goes a long way.

I always like to end with this question. I'll start with you, Satya. So what book are you reading right now?

Satya: I- if you asked me a few years back, I would give you a name, but honestly I'm not much of a reader nowadays. My only reasoning for this is that, I mean I do listen to podcasts and I do ideate and think, and not to say that my thinking and ideation has paused, but to say when I read a book, I'm very conditioned by the view of the author, so to speak.

I possibly limit myself just like a horse is with its eyes covered just to see what the road ahead is. So I don't read as much as I used to, but that has helped me open up my mind and to form my own journey and path of what the truth is. And it's helped me come up with solutions that would be considered out of the box.

Karthik: Thank you, Satya. And Ed, what book are you reading?

Edward: So, I knew this was coming, so I thought about it and I'm kind of going through a Napoleonic Wars phase right now, which sounds a little weird, but two books that recently I've been kind of going through again are Waterloo by Bernard Cornwell, and Vienna 1814 by a guy named David King.

And neither one is particularly new, and I don't know that either one contains a ton of business lessons. But I will say the Congress of Vienna sounded like it was a really good time. I'm sure everybody smelled bad, but they seemed to have had a lot of fun. And it- mostly, I'm fascinated by that period in history, western history.

You know, from 1776 to the end of World War I was kind of the beginning of the end of Monarchism. And, you know, when you look in the scope of human history, it was always the rule of the big man. And that lasted, you know, what ten thousand years, and it may take us another thousand years as a species to figure out what we're going to do next. If we move away from the rule of the big man, what's next, right?

And I'm fascinated by that idea because I think we're in this weird time in our history where the old way doesn't make sense anymore, but the new way hasn't yet emerged. And so it's fascinating, it's a fascinating time to me. I try to keep a larger perspective on things.

And I will also just mention, because I agree with Satya, I do a lot more podcasts than I do books these days. And as far as the business stuff goes, I'd recommend the a16z podcast. It's something that Andreessen Horowitz puts out, and it's really tech and future-focused. And the people that do that work for Andreessen Horowitz are scary, smart, and the people they invest in are even smarter.

And I also am listening to a thing from a couple of eggheads at the University of Chicago called Capitalisn't. Capitalisn't. And I'm a capitalist, but I also worry that we haven't quite figured out, again, how we're going to divvy things up. And the financialization of our economy is kind of doing some weird things to our incentives and who gets rewarded, and how we assess value. I just think we haven't, again, we haven't figured out how we assess that value and redistributing wealth is not something that works real good.

I just, again, I don't think we've got a really good hold on that. And, you know, for how long in human history did upper body strength, was that the most valuable thing that you could bring to work, right? And that's gone, right? And now we're saying, okay, well the knowledge and wisdom is the most important thing you can bring. Well, apparently machines do that better too. So what are we gonna do with ourselves? You know? And I just don't think we have creative ideas about what comes next. And I'm fascinated by it.

But, you know, I'd love to see more creative thinking in terms of just how we're going to, how we're going to work and how we're going to assess value in our, in the economy in the future. Sorry for the long answer.

Karthik: Yeah, that's great. I think you are thinking and working on very, very interesting problems. Yeah. I think these are great problems to solve. Thank you so much, Ed.

I am actually reading a book written in 1936, How to Win Friends and Influence People, by Dale Carnegie. I think that's a great book, which I'm reading. And thanks for your podcast recommendations as well.

I just wanna say thank you to both of you. I really enjoyed this conversation. There was a lot of learning for me in terms of, it's not about the technology, it's about the adoption. So it was great, Satya. So, thanks for that.

And thank you so much, Ed, for your words of wisdom. We learned a ton about NAED and what it does. And not just that, I really love the problems you're working on or even you're thinking about in terms of public policy. I feel there's a lot to be done there. And also I love the phase in history you talked about, and I'm also curious on what's next. So thanks so much, Ed, and thank you, Satya.

Thanks for joining me on the Driven Show. Thanks for joining DCKAP’s Driven show. Thank you!

Edward: Thanks for having us.

Satya: Wonderful. Thank you.

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Episode 39