Gary Saarenvirta on Level Up! [Video & Podcast]
Level Up! is a series of interviews featuring successful professionals from all over the world who are making a mark in their lives and others and finding out how they did it so you can learn from the very best. Rodrigo Flamenco interviews Daisy Founder & CEO Gary Saarenvirta to discuss all things artificial intelligence in the retail and insurance industries.
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Level Up! Podcast Transcription
Rodrigo: Please click the subscribe button and the notification icon. It will help us a lot. Hi, I’m Roderigo from Level Up, and today we have Gary Saarenvirta. He's the owner and the co-founder of, the CEO and co-founder of Daisy Intelligence, which is looking to become like the biggest, or largest, artificial intelligence company in the world. They are based in Canada, and pretty much what they are trying, what they are doing with this company is creating a system, as, a software service system that will help retail companies, pretty much, to analyze all their transactional data, so that they can improve on their promotional material, and also make better price decisions. They are also health insurance company to quickly discover fraud, and manage risk, and improve their profits. And also help, to help them identify their best customers. Gary was the head, the former head of IBM Canada data mining and data warehouse practice. Pretty much, he’s really passionate about artificial intelligence and their ability to transform how retailers build their business, and establish, pretty much, an edge or an advantage when it comes to, pretty much, solving a very competitive environment. So, without any further ado, welcome Gary.
Gary: Hey, Rodrigo. Thanks very much for having me on your show.
How was Daisy Started?
Rodrigo: So, can you tell us a little bit about your history? How did you get a start into all the theories? And why did you decide to build Daisy Intelligence?
Gary: Yeah. So, and I, I have a master's degree in aerospace engineering. And so, as I went through university, I went to the University of Toronto. And after completing University, there was not very much of an aerospace industry in Canada, and I didn't want to move to the United States. So, well, at the time, I got working in, working with large corporations, and I was very surprised at how little math and science big corporations used to run their business. That was very much in contradiction to what the engineering, and aerospace engineering was all about math and science. So, I accidentally walked into this career opportunity to bring more math and science to business, to help businesses operate smarter and be more profitable. And in being more profitable, that would mean that the cost of living for you and me would go down, because smarter companies lower prices. And so, if we could impact the prices that companies charge to customers, that means cost of living would go down, poverty would go down, and that became, kind of, my personal mission as I accidentally walked into this career and was able to apply my technical skills to a different domain than engineering.
How Does Daisy Approach Its Customers?
Rodrigo: And this is something that is very important to know as well, that, I think that when people look at big corporations and these huge companies from the outside, they think that they have like really smart people working in them, and that everything is running perfectly, but once you take a look inside, you've pretty much, it is pretty easy to find out, inside these big companies that there are many processes that are really outdated, that they are doing things in one way because that's what they did before in the past. But as you mentioned, like there, as time goes on like there are new solutions, there are new ways to tackle things. And I used to be an IP engineer, so I was going into businesses and, kind of, helping them out, to solve, with maintenance to their servers. But I was able to see, like, in many of these big companies, that the way that they were doing things, like, it was very outdated, and I totally understand why they did things that way. But I also could see, oh, they haven't figured out that there are better ways to do things, there are faster ways to do things, there are simpler ways to do things. But at the same time, sometimes the structure of these companies can be a little bit rigid. So, I wanted to ask you, how do you go about approaching, let's say, the leadership of the company and telling them like ‘hey, you're kind of losing money into this process’?
Gary: Yeah. Yeah, I would say, I mean, big companies are full of lots of smart people. So, I'd say, you know, they, I think, and the reason big companies are successful is because the value proposition that they offer customers is so good that you can have some inefficiency in operations, right? And so, most companies price their inefficiency so that it's cost plus. So, even if the cost isn't efficient, you can still be profitable. And having a bank is a great idea, we need to put money in a safe place and have access to credit cards and loans. Having an insurance company, that's a brilliant idea. Retailers to go buy food, that's a brilliant idea, these are such brilliant ideas that you can make money and be relatively inefficient. And every company is competitive, they have a same level of inefficiency. So, when you find opportunities to improve efficiency, then you, then companies make changes, kind of, generationally. And once one company makes a change, then most other companies follow. And, I think, that's the cycle of evolution. So, we're at a place now where we have some very unique technology that can, what, we help companies make decisions that are beyond human ability. You know, we let computers do what computers are good at, that’s computing and calculating things. People are good at strategy and ideas. And so, the idea is to help businesses make decisions beyond human ability. In retail, merchandise planning, trying to figure out the optimal combination of products to promote every week, is beyond human ability. If you have 50,000 products, and you have to promote 2000, choosing the optimal 2000 out of 50,000, that combinatoric math, 50,000 choose 2000, is the 10 to the power of 3600, which is more than the number of atoms in the universe. And so, that's definitely beyond human ability. And so, you know, that's where the system can come in. Now, these companies have done wonderfully well, you know, we're just saying with technology you can be more efficient. And save costs or grow revenue. And so, that's what we sell. And C level executives, when you tell them we can grow your net income by 100%, that gets their attention. You know, and so that's our deliverable. We, Daisy sells net income growth, and we do that through Intelligent Automation, doing things that people are not good at. And so, that's our mission. Our mission is to let human beings do what humans are good at, and let machines do what machines are good at, and the two could work together. It's not about replacing people, it's about creating space for both.
What Would Gary Say to Those Afraid of AI?
Rodrigo: Yeah, I think that, there is a lot of, let's say, negative news when it comes to artificial intelligence. There are a lot of people who are afraid that their jobs are going to disappear. But, at the same time, as you just mentioned, there are many solutions that humans will not be able to solve on their own. And, as you mentioned, that there are things that we are good at, but there are things that there is no way that one person can come and do that math analysis on those type of problems. So, what do you say to people who are, kind of, a little bit more afraid to this new technology, and to artificial intelligence to be specific?
Gary: I think, for the most part, artificial intelligence will not replace jobs on mass, but there will be some industries where there’s displacement, some industries where, that are very inefficient. If you bring in technology that can automate some processes, there will be some job losses. But I would say the goal is to elevate the human being. Our AI system will won't tell a retailer, whether you should be the high low promotional retailer or an everyday low-price retailer, it won't tell you that your core, you should be the best in the market at produce or meat. You know, it's not going to tell an insurance company that you should be a discount insurance company. So, that's the strategy that the human comes up with. The human says, ‘this is our mission, we're going to do a promotion every week, we're going to have ecommerce’, all of those decisions are made by people. And then the computer does millions of detailed decisions that are beyond human ability, so there's a role for both. The human is the pilot. You know, if military fighter jets are not actually flown by the pilot. The pilot says ‘this is what I want to do,’ uses the joystick and the controls to say, tell the computer, this is what I'm trying to do, and then the computer adjusts the flight surfaces a thousand times a second, which is beyond human ability. So, that's a perfect match of human pilot overseeing an autonomous intelligence. And that's what we're doing in business. So, if we make room for the human to be the strategist, and then, then the two can coexist. But unfortunately, there are some industries that are highly manual. Today, with these very difficult problems, they solve through hundreds of people doing it. And in those industries, there will be displacement, unfortunately. But it's not like we're going to lose 50% of jobs, it'll be, you know, single digit percentage of jobs may be replaced. And that's where governments need to offer subsidies, and training, and other things. So, net effect of this will be more jobs will be created, but some jobs and some people will be unfortunately affected. But I don't think it's nearly as big as, as the worriers say.
What Made Gary Decide to Start Daisy?
Rodrigo: Yeah, definitely. And what made you decide to create Daisy Intelligence? I think that many people, if they had like a job in IBM, like you had, they’d be just happy to stay there. But what was the, what was the spark, or what was the drive, that you had in order to, let's say, ‘okay, let's go up, let's create our own company, let's fix this issue right now in a way that only I can do it’?
Gary: Yeah. I just wanted to change the world and thought, make the world a better place. And I thought I could do it better than IBM. IBM is a great company, I loved working there, I learned a lot. But they're, they're good at everything and maybe best at none. There's a few things that they would be best at, but when you're a generalist company, it's very hard to be best at something. And I thought I could be best at operational intelligence, how to make smart business decisions for certain business problems. And my expertise in education was in computational science, doing computer simulation for the aerospace industry. So, I just borrowed the ideas from aerospace and brought them to business. Like the example of fighter jet, that, that's what they do in aerospace, so we, we just copy that. Neil Armstrong didn't land the lunar lander on the moon. He told the computer what he wanted it to do, and the computer fired the retro rockets, you know, a hundred times a second. So, the, aerospace has been doing this for 60 years. And so, I just thought it works. And it's being done today with drones and autonomous cars, and so why not take those ideas and bring them to business. So, that was my unique idea given my educational background. And I learned that machine learning, the way it's being done today, supervised learning, which is really just statistical analysis, that doesn't work to run complex systems. Autonomous cars are not driven by statistical models. And so, I thought that I had something unique to offer. And I wanted to change the world, was always a thing to make the world better. And so, I thought let's go out there and do it. I had learned enough, I was a technical person, but I learned enough about business working for IBM and another company in Canada called Loyalty One, a large loyalty coalition program. So, I learned how to do finances and how to manage people, saw the culture of a company. And then I had learned enough about business to augment my technical capabilities, and I thought well let's do this for myself.
The Importance of the Scientific method
Rodrigo: That sounds really, really cool. And how do you go about learning artificial intelligence? Is it like, is it very similar to what you do with aerospace, or is there some new elements to it?
Gary: For sure, it's new elements. But I guess the greatest skill I learned in school was the ability to learn. And so, aerospace calls this optimal control and using the scientific method. So, I think the world, the scientific method has been used for hundreds of years, literally everything in our lives was created with the scientific method. Not a single thing in our life was created with statistical models, or supervised learning, right? So, the chair you sit in was not built with a predictive model. So, all of a sudden, the world seems to have thrown the scientific method out the window, and they go, ‘oh, I have this data set, happy accident I have a data set, therefore it must explain everything.’ And that's completely wrong. If Einstein waited for big data, we wouldn't have the theory of relativity, nor would we have quantum mechanics. And I wouldn't be talking over the internet, because that started with a human idea, with no data, purely theoretical. And it's taken us 100 years to validate that Einstein's theory is correct. And so, I say that's the method we should use first. Theory first, then collect the data to validate that the theory is correct, and then apply it. As opposed to data first, assume data explains everything. And so, Einstein's theory of relativity could never have been learned with data. Even if we knew the location of every atom in the universe, its mass velocity, acceleration, and the history of those things. We could not have learned Einstein's theory of relativity using supervised learning. It's an interesting academic problem, but it's not reality. So, I'm just using common sense and what's been done for hundreds of years. And what's worked in the aerospace industry. And, you know, that's the founding of innovation, is take what works in other applications, and apply it to new thing, make some adjustments. And lo and behold, we can grow net income of a retailer by 100%. Not a big surprise. I say, I, you know, I, some people say, ‘wow, you're so innovative.’ And I say, ‘well, I'm on the ultimate copycat.’ I copy great ideas from other applications and try them in new ways. I think that's what innovation is, it’s not starting with a whiteboard.
Rodrigo: Yeah. And then, I'm really happy to have you here talking about this because, and I have talked about this in previous episodes, in other podcasts, or even in speaking events. And even though I didn't have like a head start in, in science, like the way you did, I did have my inspiration out of it. Like, there was a time in my life where I was reading science books a lot, because I found that the way they thought about the problem solving was amazing. And that, as you say, like the scientific method, if you put it into business like, it gives you like a, like a map, let’s say, to discover great insights that probably most people are ignoring. And I think that that's, that was one of the advantages that I had early on. That I was able to kind of see the scientific method when it comes to business decision. And I saw other friends who were putting businesses similar to mine making more like emotional decisions, and I was able to, like even if I had the same reactions they had, I was able to say, ‘let’s try it this way, let’s try to think of this in a scientific way, like, what evidence do you have that this is a good decision?, what evidence do you have that this is a bad decision?’ And try, try to put it all together. And that allowed me to take decisions that maybe didn't make sense on the short term, but in the long term they definitely made a lot of sense. And on the other hand, like, I saw the people that were lacking in this kind of thinking, making decisions that, again, many times were obvious to make for those who didn't have that kind of thinking. And yeah, I think that this is something that is being lost in the business world, I see a lot of hype. Like, there's a lot of people trying to be like, ‘oh there's, this is the new, kind of, way to do business.’ And there's a lot of hype about it. But now we have, like, the situation with the whole, we're on lockdown, and now businesses are going to have to face like a really hard reality. And they are going to face really hard problems, and solve them, in order to continue.
Gary: And I think a scientific method is what should be done. I saw a great meme on LinkedIn saying every, every disaster movie starts with the characters ignoring scientists, right? And I would say, I would say the same thing now. I mean, we've seen in this pandemic, you know, the scientists have been warning about this for years. I mean, this is not new, and, you know, politicians, you know, for the most part, leadership has been very short sighted, worrying about the next election. They have a four-year horizon in many countries, or a five-year horizon, they’re not thinking about 100 years, which is what scientists, you know, trying to just explain the way the world works. And so, I think ignoring science is a dangerous precedent. And we see the effects of it now, climate issues, the pandemic. You know, all the things were big, big, big problems of the world, you know. The scientists have been looking for attention for a long time. And I think science combined with good leadership, and you need to be, take into account, it can't be purely fact based, we need to take into account humanity, and care about people at the same time. So, balance, I think the pendulum has swung far away from science and leadership today, and I think it needs to be swung back to the balance between leadership, and humanity, and facts. And so, I think, I think today, more than ever, science can help us save, save the world from the major crisis’ we're having, and it shouldn't be ignored. We should let scientists have a major say at the table.
What is Something That is Important to Know for Entrepreneurs?
Rodrigo: Definitely. And, on that end, I want to ask you like a tricky question.
Rodrigo: What is something, when you started doing this business and when you started your entrepreneurship, what is something that you didn't expect that, that came through and is really important to know?
Gary: I think that things take a lot longer than you imagine. So, if you're a young entrepreneur and you think you're going to become a billion-dollar unicorn in six months, that's not going to happen. Did you know that it takes the average company, the average software company to become a unicorn is 17 years? 15 to 17 years. So, you know, it’s not a short-term thing. Patience is the greatest virtue, patience and perseverance. If you believe that you have an idea that's worth pursuing, always question yourself, never assume that you're right, question it, but you need to stick to it for a long period of time. I saw Khosla, from Khosla Ventures, one of the great venture capitalists out of Silicon Valley, he said, ‘as a business entrepreneur, you need to survive long enough to have luck come on your side.’ And so, I would say that’s the same thing as saying, ‘be patient, and perseverant, and follow your ideas for a long period of time.’ Success doesn’t come overnight, very rarely, one in a, one in a million people have, and businesses have, success, less than one in a million. One in a billion businesses have success overnight. Most of it takes a lot of time. So, be in no rush. And good things, things worth having take a long time to happen, you know. And I’d say that that's been my greatest strength, patience, perseverance, stick to it, question yourself, look at the market, be willing to change course slightly, but the core idea shouldn’t change. And so, I thought success would come quicker. And I've learned that, in fact, it doesn't. And at the end of the day also, success is the anticlimax. So, someday, If I'm so lucky to have an IPO, and have a lot of personal wealth out of this, that’s not why I did this. If I, if I get to that place, it means I would have had, my dreams of changing the world would have happened. And it was the journey that was the reward. The fact that I've employed hundreds of people, the challenges, the successes, that's the reward. It’s filled my life, it's not the exit. Everyone focuses on the exit. It's the journey, the exit is the anticlimax. I had a, I had a very wealthy investor tell me that his brother had an exit, and he got a cheque for $6 million. And he went into a deep depression for 6 months, because he had no purpose in life, he lost his purpose in life. And he had to find a new purpose. The money was not satisfying, it was irrelevant, because his journey, 23 years of being the CEO of a business and running it, that purpose was gone. And so, people need to focus on that. Entrepreneurialism is about purpose in your life. It's not about, and it’s providing, but it's not about becoming a millionaire. That, that shouldn’t be your goal. And if you focus on the right things, passion, perseverance, doing something good, then success will find its own way into your life.
Rodrigo: Yeah, and I, I think that, as you mentioned, like you have to work for a long time in order to find luck. But, if you are in this for many, many years, you're going to find like hardships as well. Like, a lot of hardships. And, again, like this, this lockdown this, this is one of the things that is going to hit hard many businesses. And if the drive that somebody has is like, ‘oh, I just want to become a millionaire and have my Lamborghini,’ or something like that, I don't think that's going to be a drive that is going to be hard enough in order to survive all the problems that we're going to face into this year. I think that's, that's going to fall down pretty easy. And that's to say like, if you have a true purpose, a true north star, that moves you instead of the money, then that is something that can withstand even the hardest of situations.
Gary: I think so, yeah. And I think, you can’t put values on any individual. So, I've seen lots of people do lots of companies. They flip them quickly. And, you know, that's certainly a way to go through life, and there’s excitement in that. And I don't, I don't discount anybody's personal choice, or personal, personal goals, or ambitions, and their choices they made. I’m just, kind of, sharing what worked, what’s worked for me. And, I think, you know, we’re in a pandemic, it's harming our business a little bit too, but I know we'll get through it, because we have something valuable that we offer, and we're gonna do what we need to do to survive. And I know businesses, our clients need what we do, even more than ever after this pandemic than they did before. And so, for me it's, that's been my north star. And, you know, each person can choose their own path, I don’t denigrate anybody's path, but for me this path has worked. And I look at very successful businesses, they were not quick, quick events, they were long events, driven by entrepreneurs with some kind of north star, and a passion, and an ability to change course a little bit as the world changed, you know. I think those are the common wildly successful businesses, and I want to be a wildly, I want to be the largest AI company in the world. Not for, not for financial gain, because I know if we achieve that, I will have changed the world in some small way, and made, made a contribution. And that's, that's why I want to be the largest company in the world.
The Importance of Failure
Rodrigo: Awesome. And through this path, have you ever had something that looked like a failure in the beginning, but actually helped set you up for success later in the road?
Gary: Absolutely, many times. I think you learn more from failure than you do from success. Success is fleeting. And if you have success too quickly, you become arrogant and think you know everything. Failure is the best teacher. And even this pandemic, I view, the silver lining in this pandemic is that we were growing headlong, crazy pace of growth, you know, more than 1,000% in the last three years. This is giving us a little pause, and a breather, and an opportunity to, kind of, reset, build some, correct some foundational things. And so, you know, there's a blessing in every, in every failure. There's been many times that we've failed, and we, we learned from that, and rebuilt our product, and made fundamental changes that you can only learn through mistakes. So, I'd say look for a silver lining in this situation. And so, we’ve certainly found a silver lining in this situation. We also learned a lot of cool things. I used to have everyone come to the office every day. We figured out that we can all work from home. Maybe after this pandemic, some people who like to work at home will say, ‘great, work from home.’ Some people want to work at the office, ‘great, come to the office.’ We’ll need half the real estate after the pandemic than we thought we needed before. That's a learning that we wouldn't have had if we didn't have this pandemic, you know. So, there's amazing silver linings in everything. And you have to be open minded, and be willing to admit you're wrong, and learn from everything, and figure out how to survive, you know. Perseverance is key, find creative solutions to incredible challenges.
How Does Gary Deal with Feeling Overwhelmed or Unfocused?
Rodrigo: Definitely. And I imagine that you must have felt overwhelmed or unfocused many, many times during this, this time building Daisy Intelligence. So, when you're overwhelmed or unfocused, what do you do to come back to your centre and keep on working?
Gary: Yeah, I mean, I always focus on what can I control versus what I can't control. And so, I focus on the things that I can control, and do those as best as I can. And so, in this case of a pandemic, I can't control the pandemic, but I can control what the company works on. I can control how much money we spend, I can control the priorities, I can build a plan, I can meet with my investors and my banking partners to assure them that we're doing the right thing. So, I come up with a plan for all the things that I can do. And when I do all the things I can do, it brings me back to my centre. It makes me feel better. That if I try my best, and the company tries their best, and we all fail together, I can accept that. But, you know, because it's out of my control. And so, I always tell my team, let's win together and let's lose together. Never lose alone. So, when you're in trouble ask for help. And if we all work the best we can, then I can accept it at that point. So, that, that gives me calm. And I focus on those activities.
What Advice Would Gary Give to Students Entering the Industry?
Rodrigo: If you were to meet like an engineering student that has a lot of potential, a lot of talent, who is about to enter, let's call it the real world, what advice would you give that person, and also what advice should they ignore?
Gary: I think, you know, the idea, the advice of, you know, start a business, start a business should be carefully considered. I think a lot of young people are pushed by incubators, and the universities and schools have all these entrepreneur programs. Don't be in a headlong rush to start a business. If you want to, go for it, but I'd say learn, become more well-rounded. Get some real experience, work in a big company. If you're a technical person, work in a big company, learn about finance. If you're a finance person, work in a big company, learn about technology. Get more rounded, see what a culture is like, see what a job is like. And then learn, you know, become more rounded, then the, you know, find practical problems that need to be solved in, in big commercial enterprises. And then once you do that, then I'd say go start a business. So, ignore the pressure to start a business until you're ready, you know, to do so. And be patient, as I said earlier. Be patient, find a passion, and then stick to that passion. And recognize that it could take several years to have success and people believe in what, what you do. It took me, I'd say a good 12, 13 years before I got outside validation that what I was working on was on the right path. But I always believed it. And, you know, I didn't start this business till I was, you know, in my late 30s.
What Advice Would Gary Give to His Younger Self?
Rodrigo: Nice. Also, if you go pick up the phone, and called your 17-year-old self, what advice would you give yourself?
Gary: I would’ve started my business maybe 10 years earlier. I would, I, you know, gotten 5, 6, 7 years’ experience. And so, I would’ve started a little bit earlier. I would have also said focus more on the human side of things, as I'm very technical, scientific, logical, that was my young self. And so, recently, my last several years has been all about how to build a culture, how to motivate people. So, learning more about how to interact with people and be more of an outgoing, you know, network, meet people. Great things started to happen for me when I just decided to go out and meet everybody. And so, I said, ‘be less introverted, worry about human interactions more.’ And I think those are the things I would have told myself. Because, back then, I was all facts and figures, binary, black and white, it's fact or not, it's wrong or right. And I think, I think learning that human beings are not black and white, we’re very grey. And I think the, focus more energy on the humanities side of things would have been advice I would have given myself.
Rodrigo: That's good to know, because I think I'm still more on the side of being very analytical, like very facts oriented. And yeah, I definitely know that I need to work more on the human side. That, that is something that I have --
Gary: That’s the challenge, you have to convince people, you have to be able to rally people around your, whether you're selling an idea or rallying people to work for you. So, it's most important to get people aligned to your vision. And that, that requires understanding of how human beings operate. And so, that's been a lifelong learning for me. And really in the last, I'd say the last three four years, I probably spend, 80% of my learning is about human psychology as opposed to the technology, I think to balance out myself as a leader.
How Do You Become a More Human Oriented Individual?
Rodrigo: And, this is pretty much going to be maybe a little bit of a selfish question, because again, I’m having an issue, issues with that. But what were your first steps into trying to become this more human oriented individual?
Gary: I took some executive coaching. So, at some point I hired some executive coaches to help work with me. We, kind of, meet once a month and work on things to improve the business. You know, I started taking some non-technical courses. Just reading about psychology, and going online, and was fascinated. And realization, I started to listen to what people have been telling me all along that, you know, my wife would tell me for years, it's not about IQ, EQ is just as important, maybe even more important. And, you know, finally listening to her and saying, you know, you're absolutely right. So, I think taking coaching, and I started going to conferences, and meeting, meeting people, and networking. And I would just get into the habit of, I’d get over my fear, and just walk up to a total stranger, and say, ‘Hi, I'm Gary, you know, what do you do?’ And, you know, getting conversations going with people. And that, kind of, overcoming my fear of meeting new people was, that was the very first step. And then executive coaching was, kind of, a second step. Learning about social sciences and humanities a little more, that was, kind of, something I've been doing. So, those are the three things I started doing.
If Gary Had to Start All Over, What Would He Do?
Rodrigo: I definitely will start doing more of that. And this is going to be one of the hardest questions that we have developed. Is, let's say you wake up tomorrow in a different dimension, where nobody knows about you, but you still have all your experience, all your knowledge, all your skills, and $500 in your pocket. What do you do to get back to this point, professionally speaking, as soon as possible?
Gary: Yeah. I mean, for me, I can continue to just, just do what, I can replicate what I've done quickly. I built all of our original technology, so I think I have a blueprint for that. I think I would take all the mistakes that I learned, and I would do it better a second time around. And I think I'd be much more laser focused. Probably the first time around, you know, I founded the company in 2003, so it's taken us, you know, 16 years to get to this point. I could probably get to this point in, in a third of the time, I think. You know, I may also, might also choose a completely different path and say, ‘you know what, I'm 55 years old, I don't have the time to go rebuild it. Maybe I should mentor some young people and teach young people everything I know.’ That's one of the things I'm focused on now, is I would love to pass on everything I learned to young people. And my dream is to have some of my employees come to me and say, ‘Gary, we got it from here. What you started was great, but we can make it so much better.’ I would have, I wouldn't start crying. I'd be so happy to know that somebody could take what I've done and improve upon it. So, I might choose a completely different path and focus on mentoring, and teaching, and enabling someone else to take what I learned and make it even better. Which, I know this next generation, the next generation can always do better than the previous generation. So, so I think, I think I would likely choose the latter path. Because at the age of 55, starting all over again, I don't have time, I don’t want to have another 5 or 10 years to go fight for it. I would maybe energize young people to do it and teach them.
What Are Daisy’s Current Goals?
Rodrigo: Nice. And what do you, what is the goal right now that you have for Daisy intelligence? What are the next, let's say, yeah, what is the next goal that you are building up right now, like, what are you working on right now to achieve at this moment?
Gary: Yeah. The most important thing for us is to service our customers better. And so, I've, we’ve learned, you know, we've got, you know, 20ish customers today, and we've had, you know, done work for over 40 companies over the life, you know, 50, 50 to 100 companies over the life of the business. And so, take all those learnings and service our customers better, that's the focus. Improve our product interfaces so it's easier for the customers to use, fill in the gaps in the product. And with more resources, we did venture capital raise last year, more resources allows us to service customers better. Because I think if we service our customers better, and we have more word of mouth experiences, that'll make it easier to grow. So, my big priority is service customers better. And number two, make Daisy a great place to work for employees. If employees find fulfillment here, then I know we'll service customers better, because they'll solve the problems for us. And so, focused on building a great culture, and focused on servicing customers better, and then the other things will come.
The Importance of a Positive Attitude
Rodrigo: Awesome. Is there any lesson that you would like to give people listening to this podcast that we haven't talked yet in this interview?
Gary: I think have a positive attitude. I think that's the last thing we hadn’t talked about. Is that, I've learned over time that your personal feelings are your choice. You can choose to be happy or sad and choose to be positive or negative. And I think being positive, people like to be around positive people more. And so, choose to be positive as much as you can. We're all humans and have bad days and good days, but I think choose to be a positive influence, and find the positive, and choose to be happy, not angry, and grumpy, and sad, and frustrated. And I think if, that, that personal choice will be, make people around you more motivated, and positive, and more aligned to what you're working on.
Where to Find Out More About Gary and Daisy
Rodrigo: Awesome. And if people want to find more about you and more about Daisy Intelligence, where would be the best place to do so?
Gary: You can go to our website at daisyintelligence.com. You can look me up on LinkedIn and find my background. My name, my name is pretty unique, so you'll only find me and my immediate family there. So, Gary Saarenvirta, S, double A, R, E, N, V, I, R, T, A. You'll find me on LinkedIn and you can see the stuff we've done on LinkedIn, our blogging, and posting, and articles. So, either the company or the, my personal LinkedIn profile would be great way. And if you want to connect with me, I'll accept connections from people, if you make a little introduction saying, ‘hey, I heard you on Rodrigo’s Level Up podcast, I thought it was a really great topic, I would love to connect with you.’ If you introduce yourself like that, I'll accept the connection. But if you just sent me a LinkedIn connection request with, for no reason, with nothing, I tend to turn those away. But I'm always interested in collaborating with people who want to do interesting things.
Rodrigo: Awesome. Well, thanks a lot Gary for giving us your time, and your knowledge, and experience. It is really appreciated. I know that you must be very busy, so I really thank you for making the time being here and sharing your knowledge with us.
Gary: Well, great. Thanks, I really enjoyed being on the, on your podcast. And thank you very much. Best of luck in this pandemic, and hopefully the world comes out better than it was before.
Rodrigo: Hopefully it does. So, this has been the last episode of Level Up. If you like it, please click the like button below and also subscribe to our channel. Or if you're listening through the podcast, click the subscribe button and follow our podcast so you will be notified when the next episode comes out. Until next time.