Sean Goheen (Host) 00:00:01
Greeting scholars and welcome to Following the Gong, a podcast of the Schreyer Honors College at Penn State.
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Following the Gong takes you inside conversations with our Scholar Alumni to hear their story so you can gain career and life advice and expand your professional network. You can hear the true breadth of how Scholar Alumni have gone on to shape the world after they rang the gone and graduated with honors and learn from their experiences so you can use their insights in your own journey. This show is proudly sponsored by the Scholar Alumni Society, a constituent group of the Penn State Alumni Association. I'm your host, Sean Goheen, class of 2011, and college staff member. If this is your first time joining us, welcome. If you're a regular listener, welcome back.
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Connor Sattley, class of 2011 from Penn State Behrend is an entrepreneur and startup mentor based out of Amsterdam in the Netherlands. He spent the last 11 years alternating between starting startups and supporting other entrepreneurs. Connor joins following the Gone to discuss his experiences as a scholar at Penn State Behrend as an entrepreneur and startup coach, and life as an ex-pat living and working abroad. Connor earned his BA's communication and political science, the former with honors from Penn State Behrend. This episode is great for any scholar to come old campus, those interested in starting a business or interested in traveling abroad for any amount of time, and certainly for any looking to live or work abroad. You can read a more detailed breakdown in Connor's bio, in the show notes on your podcast app. And with that, let's dive into the conversation following the gong.
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Join me here today. All the way from across the pond in the Netherlands is Connor Sattely. Connor, thank you so much for joining me here today.
Connor Sattely 00:01:52
Thanks a lot for having me, Sean. It's nice to be here.
I'm, I'm very excited to have our conversation today and talk about startups, talk about living and working abroad. But as is the M.O. here on Following the Gong, I wanna come back to your time at Penn State first and ask how you first came to Penn State and to be a scholar in the Schreyer Honors College.
Yeah, well, uh, nice to be here. Thanks for having me. I guess, uh, the journey started there in western Pennsylvania. I grew up in Cranberry Township, and, uh, I've gotta be honest with you, I, I wasn't one of these kids that grew up dreaming of always going to Penn State or something. It was just the place you applied to. Uh, I applied to a bunch of universities there in Western Pennsylvania and, and across the state. And Penn State's the one that said, yeah, I didn't really have my, uh, oh, hey, are we allowed to swear on this podcast or no? Keep it light.
Sean 00:02:36 I was, I I, I tried to avoid the explicit ratings, so keep it, keep it pg.
Connor 00:02:40 Back in high school, I didn't really have my poop in a pile, and so, uh, I didn't, uh, really get the grades to get into a lot of the places that I want. But for some reason, of all the places that I applied to Penn State, Behrend took a chance on me. So I was really far away from Schreyer Honors College. When I got to university, uh, I sort of snuck in there, and that's sort of where the Penn State journey started.
Sean 00:03:00 Now you, you double majored at Behrend. Um, so what drew you to both the communications and media area and the political science majors?
Connor 00:03:07 Well, I didn't really know what I wanted to do. As I said, uh, poop was not so much in a pile when I arrived there. Uh, so I just started out with comms. I started writing for the student newspaper and really fell in love with journalism. I really loved finding out the truth behind stories, finding out things that people in positions of power didn't want the students to know or, or things that were happening in the community. Uh, really inspiring stories that people had no idea about. I got taken with that right away, but I found it very difficult as well to quiet the side of my brain that was following politics and was diving in on that. And especially after I studied it abroad, I realized sort of the international political scene is, is so, so interesting. Um, so that was always with me. It wasn't until my senior year at Behrend that I decided to change political science to a, a major thanks to the help of Dr. Gamble and plenty of other professors. I managed to sort of upgrade it to a, a double major there in the last year, but it was always journalism throughout my time there.
Sean 00:04:01 Working really closely with your faculty members is a common thread on most of the episodes of this show. So having those relationships is probably what allowed you to do that at the last hour, right?
Connor 00:04:12 Yeah, absolutely. To upgrade the major for sure. Uh, that was Dr. Gamble and, and his team there at the political Science department. But to study abroad that the credit goes, uh, to two people, which is Ruth Fluger and Dr. Katherine Wolf, who was the French professor, is the French professor, was the French professor there. Without those two, I never would've left the, the states. Ruth sat me down and said, you know, here's the Penn State tuition at the approved study abroad location. It's whatever it was, 17, 18 grand for the summer. I was like, well, that knocks me out. I'm not doing that cuz I wasn't a French major or anything. And then she said, okay, kind of closed the book, put it to the side and said, let's figure out where you can go so that you do go and you might also be able to get schreyer credits for it. Uh, maybe not class credits, but Schreyer credits. And that turned out to be the case. Uh, and also I got a Schreyer scholarship to study abroad too. So Ruth was just pragmatic and great. Uh, all the folks that I, that I studied with and, and, uh, and met at Behrend were just topnotch.
Sean 00:05:07 And regardless of what campus you're at that you're listening, come talk to the staff at that campus or Zoom with us here at University Park. If you're, if you're not at University Park, we can help you figure these things out. There is money available specifically for study abroad programs like Connor found to make sure you're taking advantage, if that is of interest for you. Now, Connor, you mentioned the student newspaper and I think most Penn Staters, regardless of when you attended and where you attended, are probably familiar with the Daily Collegian, but many of our other campuses have their own student newspapers. So can you tell us about your experience with the Behrend Beacon?
Connor 00:05:38 Uh, yeah, sure. Well, I showed up and uh, it was a cool group of guys and girls that were there in the basement of the student Union building. And, uh, they said, Hey, I think some kids are living in hotels. Does anybody want this story? And I said, I'll do it <laugh>. So I didn't really have any idea. They just knew that it was, I think the days in or, or something like that. So I called the days in and I, hello, do you have students living there? And they were like, yeah, we do, we have the whole floor of students. And it turns out that some of the student accommodation wasn't ready and these poor students had one bus ride in, in the morning at something like eight and one bus ride back at nine. And they were living in hotel rooms, which was a, a really weird experience for them as freshman to the university.
Connor 00:06:17 And so we told the story, we put it on the front page, and ever since then I, yeah, I kind of got addicted to that and the folks there at the Beacon were like, Hey, you do things, why don't you do more things? Uh, so I just started to learn how to do newspaper layout and design, how to edit, uh, how to assign things to, uh, other students to cover. And yeah, by the end of my time there, I had spent two years as the editor-in-chief, a year as a managing editor when you're running one of the page sections. And as I said, that just sort of helped me fall in love with journalism and yeah, what can I say? It was a, it was a scrappy little newspaper that mostly didn't publish too much that was interesting for anybody. But every once in a while we published a really cool story that told about something meaningful or that exposed something or, or showed the truth behind something. Not all the time, most of it, I'm sure was probably illegible and just completely, uh, unintelligent, but some of it was, was really important stuff I really carry with me. And it was a, a pretty good formative experience too from like a workplace perspective. You know, the forcible deadline, the print deadline of a newspaper is, uh, is something that you can really structure your work style around. So it was great for sort of organization and discipline, I would say.
Sean 00:07:23 So you mentioned in that story, Connor, that the folks at the Beacon were like, Hey, in your words you do stuff. So not surprising that you ended up in the honors college. You came in as a current Penn State student. Can you tell us about that experience and what initially interested you in becoming a scholar midway through your Penn State career?
Connor 00:07:42 Yeah, sure. Well, I mean, I think I just didn't really have my stuff together in high school, uh, and wasn't getting very good grades. I managed to sort of turn it around my junior and senior years cuz I knew I could succeed. But yeah, I wasn't really focusing in school and for plenty of reasons just wasn't, wasn't doing great. And by the time I got to Penn State, I thought, all right, I snuck into this place. Now's my chance to actually start from a fresh slate and be at the top because I know I can do it. I, I had just done it for a year and a half, but if I start now, then yeah, Schreyer Honors College obviously didn't let me in. Why would they? But then after two years I got in and so that was sort of the first stop o on the journey.
Connor 00:08:19 Not really a destination, but it was a nice checkpoint for me that this new slate, this new start that I had, I had begun there. Yeah, I was working, I was sort of at the top of my class and in addition to the stuff I was doing as a student in the student organizations and clubs, uh, I was also succeeding in the classroom. So it was a nice little check-in moment, I think. Then obviously I think it paid off down the line in understanding more about how to do academic level research, which I had no idea how to do prior to doing my dissertation. And it was, uh, Dr. Troster Rodney Troster, who advised my Shire's Honors college dissertation about digital journalism education. And I was like, yeah, here's a bunch of articles I wrote, and I wrote a report on it. He's like, yeah, that's nice for a, a class, but you know, you're gonna be adding information to the world now, so you've gotta go discover some. And that sort of helped me understand things about, okay, how to do a content analysis or a quantitative qualitative analysis or, you know, how to code for content analysis in job descriptions, for example. All that stuff was new and then the study abroad opportunity. So then I think once I reached that checkpoint of the Schreyer Honors College, things really started to get fun.
Sean 00:09:17 Absolutely. So you talked about that you were involved in some other clubs and organizations at Behrend, and you got involved with research with your professor. Could you talk a little bit about what the campus culture is like at Behrend as opposed to, say, university Park and how you, you know, leveraged all these opportunities as a installer?
Connor 00:09:34 Yeah. Well, I don't know what it's like now because I was only there, uh, what, 12 years ago, <laugh>. But, um, when I was there, it was sort of wild west in the club scene. It was, it, there was probably everything was there, but if it wasn't there, just make it, you had a very entrepreneurial or very flexible kind of student. What, what do they even call it? Like student activities department or office. Ken Miller was there and just whatever you wanted to do, they would usually embrace that no matter how crazy it was. Uh, we just decided we wanted to do Behrend Idle, and we're like, Hey, can we, can we book out the biggest room at the, at the uh, school and have like a thousand bucks in funding and this and that and the other thing and use all the expensive equipment? And they said, okay.
Connor 00:10:14 It was like, yeah, it wasn't there, so you just do it. And there were a bunch of smaller clubs. I mean, certainly at University Park, it's like, yeah, I mean, working with the Collegian would've been great. That would've been a lot of fun, but I don't think I would've gotten the opportunities right away at the collegian that I got at the Beacon, because at the Beacon I said, Hey, I'm hearing a lot of people complaining about break-ins at these apartments. I think I want to go talk to them about it at the collegian. That's probably like a sophomore or a junior or a friend of the editor or the senior that gets that story. And for me, they were like, Hey, oh, you're the guy that does things right in your second week here, never studied journalism. Go for it. You know, don't get stabbed <laugh>.
Connor 00:10:47 You know, <laugh>, yeah, that was easy. You could jump in and do whatever you wanted to do, by the way, that's a crazy story. You wanna hear that one. So yes, please. There are a bunch of break-ins at the off-campus apartments and everybody was saying, these apartments have terrible security, they're easy to break into. Okay, so step one, I go to the apartment manager and the apartment manager says, people aren't locking their doors. What do you want me to do? And I thought, well, that's pretty reasonable, but like, how do I prove this <laugh>? Ah, man, this is gonna get me in trouble. So I went around at the external apartments and I took a little credit card and I just slipped it in all of the door handles just to do a quantitative analysis on how many people actually locked the deadbolt and how many people locked the room door.
Connor 00:11:23 And it was like 78% of apartments weren't using their deadbolts. And like 30% of apartments were completely unlocked. I never broken entered, I just wanna say for the legal reasons, I never entered anybody's flat. But it's like, that's the type of stuff you could do there. And then everybody's like, Hey, yeah, cool, I guess people need to lock their doors. And it was like, ah, there's the truth behind the issue. And so, I don't know, I think the campus scene at Behrend was a little bit, was, was really open. You could do whatever you wanted to do. There was always support for it. And no matter how wacky your ideas were, yeah, you were probably the first person thinking of them. And that led me to really explore a lot of things I don't think I would've explored otherwise, both on the academic side and from the student organization side. You can feel free to use that story or cut it out if you think it's gonna get me arrested. <laugh>.
Sean 00:12:04 Well, I'd have to do some deep dive on the, uh, statute of limitations on, on that, uh, for, for, uh, Erie County, but we'll, we'll
Connor 00:12:12 See. It's in the Behrend Archives. Anybody can look it up. It's public information.
Sean 00:12:16 <laugh>. So you, you also talked about your, your research. Can you talk about the academic side of your experience there and what you wrote your thesis on? Yeah.
Connor 00:12:25 Well there were two really research focused things. Uh, one was the mandatory, uh, dissertation, which was, which I wrote on, I was trying to see whether or not job descriptions in the journalism industry actually correspond to what journalists are being taught in university. So you do a content analysis, you see how many, this is 2011. Okay, so this is gonna sound super old, but like how many job descriptions are mentioning social media, Facebook, Twitter, and then how many schools? Uh, and I picked the top 10 rated, uh, masters programs in journalism at the state. So like nyu, Berkeley, Cal, how many masters programs in journalism also have those words in one of their courses? So I downloaded the course catalogs and I don't downloaded like, I don't know, several hundred job descriptions. And you see what's matching. And at the time it was really clear that job descriptions were asking for things that universities weren't teaching <laugh>.
Connor 00:13:14 At least that's what I remember. If I go back and read it again, maybe I con concluded something completely different. The other one was a bit more like, uh, with the newspaper. It was like, Hey, you do things. It was, uh, Dr. Gamble and the political science department, he had something called, oh boy, it's been a long time. The comprehensive statistical database of multilateral treaties, csd mt or something. Yeah. Which is this database of thousands of multilateral treaties that had data points for each one on, you know, when it was signed, who were the parties, you know, what was it, the topic it was about, et cetera. And he could run really interesting research off of that. And he was doing, he wanted to do a paper on choice of language in multilateral treaties. It was published, uh, four or five years after I left.
Connor 00:13:55 And as part of that, I helped out with the research on just literally going through the official text of multilateral treaties and seeing what language it was in and then filling that into the database and doing that several hundred times. And that was also a thing where he was like, Hey, here's somebody who does stuff around here, how about do this thing? And I think I kind of owed him one cuz he helped me upgrade my minor to a major. So I was like, yeah, I'll do some statistical analysis for you. But those are the types of skills that, yeah, it's really nice to put on a, on a CV when you're applying to grad school or something like that. You can say, yeah, I've, I've done that analysis. Yeah, which is cool, I guess.
Sean 00:14:26 But you, so you did go on to get your masters and you studied outside of the United States. So can you think back 10 or so years as it was, and think back on your process for how you picked the schools that you were in, the countries that you were looking at, and what your, your thought process and your criteria were for students that may be looking for opportunities after Schreyer outside of the us?
Connor 00:14:49 Yeah, well, as I said said earlier, it all comes down to Ruth Fluger and Katherine Wolff. Ruth Fluger was the head of the Learning Resource center and, uh, was the head sort of took up the lead on a lot of the Schreyer stuff and Katherine Wolf was the French teacher. And Katherine Wolf's classes were brutally difficult, let me tell you, I still remember how hard those were. I had all the French tenses, uh, laid out on the floor, the Beacon Newsroom, just like this is the, uh, <unk> this is the p this is, you know, the ee and how they were constructed and putting these just, just to get like an A minus in her class. I, I worked harder on that class than anything else in Behrend. And she was, uh, I was brutally difficult, but at the end of her classes you spoke French <laugh>, like, it, it wasn't just hard to be hard.
Connor 00:15:35 She actually, and we, we would meet up one night a week at the Olive Garden and just speak French, which is wild for I was born in Oklahoma, man, I never, you know, I never left the States <laugh> prior to that, you know, I didn't speak any languages. My, my dad's from New Jersey, my mom's from California. Like, I didn't grow up speaking any other languages, you know, but suddenly I was at an olive garden, stammering out some French, and, uh, after I finished a couple classes or as many French classes as I could, I knew I needed to study abroad. If I really wanted to learn French, which I did, I wanted to speak another language. I needed to go be in France. Ruth Fluger really helped that. And she helped find an affordable program. And I got a little sch, uh, Schreyer scholarship. It was like one K.
Connor 00:16:14 Okay, so kids listening to this, maybe they do other stuff, but, you know, don't expect too much, but hey, one K is better than nothing. And it was a pretty cheap French school for two months there. And when I was living in France, I thought, man, this is amazing. Like my roommate was this cool Colombian dude named Carlos, and like it was me and him and this, uh, Mexican girl and, and, uh, this Canadian girl that would hang out and this guy from Syria that wanted me to come visit him in Syria. I never did, but sadly, at least not in time, not yet. But it was so cool, this international scene, and I thought, man, I've gotta, I've gotta live abroad. And I passed through Geneva on my way to Lucerne. Uh, after that, uh, course I just went and visited some Swiss friends in a, in Lucerne, which is a city in the middle of Switzerland.
Connor 00:16:59 It's beautiful. And I thought Switzerland is the most beautiful place I've ever seen in my whole life. I need to study here. And so I googled international affairs schools, Switzerland and some school in Geneva came up and some school in Zurich and whatever. And then I eliminated all the ones that didn't have German, but instead just had English and French. And that left me with one called the Graduate Institute in Geneva. They were listed online on some forums like in the same paragraph as Johns Hopkins and Georgetown. And those are the ones that I was applying to American University and stuff like that. Those are the ones I was applying to in the state. So I figured, what the heck, uh, I'll toss in an application. They said you had to have a political science major. So I came back and I was like, Hey, Dr.
Connor 00:17:36 Gamble, <laugh>, you think I can just tell him I have a major and then sometime, sometime over the next year get enough credits? And he was like, eh, probably. So, uh, I upgraded it there to a major and did the proper coursework and everything and, and managed to get in. So that was the only one I applied to abroad. I didn't know anything really about the school. I had been to Geneva for two hours to have breakfast at a hotel, uh, with my Colombian friend, and that was it. Uh, so all I knew is I wanted to live abroad and if I wanted to study international affairs, which is what my master's degree was in, it made more sense to do it internationally, you know.
Sean 00:18:11 All right. So I want to pivot to the next section of our chat here. And it's gonna be all about startups because that's the space that you were in, and I'm sure some of the students listening are here for this specifically. Now, you weren't a business major, you went in studied abroad, you did a master's abroad in international affairs, but then you got into startups. So how did that come about? Give us your, your, uh, your, your Batman origin story, if you will, first your startup
Connor 00:18:35 Life. All right. My Batman origin story begins with a cheeseburger. I was sitting at home and my roommate, a guy named John Mark, he's from like Tennessee or something like that, but we were living together when I was in Geneva. He comes home and he says, I just had a cheeseburger with this Mexican guy and he has this social media website in Mexico called <unk>, uh, which means like political faces. And he's like, people can go on that and talk to their politicians, and the politicians are using it, they're answering. And I was like, oh, that's kind of special. He said, yeah, this guy, uh, Daniel Gomez, he wants us to, he wants me to maybe take this thing over and do it in in Europe and call it gov Faces <laugh>. And I was like, that's never gonna work. That's a dumb idea. No one's ever gonna use it.
Connor 00:19:14 But then after about a month of talking back and forth, he got this meeting with the secretary of state of St Shes to like pitch this and he was preparing all the political sciencey stuff, but I was like, what if she says yes? What if she says yes, please implement this in the Ches as a political social, do you know where the St Charles is? Or like how many islands or like a level of internet infrastructure? And he's like, yeah, I mean, I figured that'll be on the next step. So I, I put together an implementation plan for him about what it would look like to a political social network in St. Charles's. And he's like, Hey, you're somebody who does stuff. Why don't you be my co-founder? So I, I started gov faces with them, uh, worked on it for three or four years.
Connor 00:19:53 We implemented it there at the European Union and in the uk. And I think it was sort of the start of my startup journey, uh, because it taught me everything I needed to know about how not to start a startup <laugh>. It taught me about how I needed to validate the concept with customers before building it and how we needed to do way more experimentation on what people actually needed and wanted, uh, and how we needed to have a more fleshed out business model that we could very quickly test just to see can we get a dollar in. Those are some of the key lessons. But I got really addicted to this idea of I could wake up in the morning and create something and at the end of the day, now there's a thing in the world that wasn't there when I got outta bed. That was cool. And if it was like a business or, or a job or like some sort of a career opportunity for somebody, that was really exciting to me. So I've been hooked ever since.
Sean 00:20:40 So what are some of the other startups that you've been a part of? Cuz you've done a few, can you tell us about, this is your chance to just brag, reflect whatever, whatever verb you want to use here. Going back to, you know, grammar that we were talking about just a minute ago, but just give us, give us your startup life, your, your experiences.
Connor 00:20:57 Yeah, well I left Gov faces, uh, they kept going on with it for a couple years and they made some really great sales there in Geneva at the UN and everything. But eventually it shut down because yeah, it had been something like four or five years since we built the tech for it. So that was a bit outdated and we couldn't pay full salaries. And then the business model just wasn't fleshed out, so they ended up shutting it down. Uh, and I wasn't even around for that, but I'm still friends with John Mark to this day. He's a very, very close friend of mine. I took some time off, uh, and then I started working at a startup accelerator. Uh, there's a startup accelerator in the Netherlands called the, uh, Hague Institute for Innovation of Law, which I'll just call Hill as h i i l.
Connor 00:21:32 And Hill, uh, ran a startup accelerator called the Justice Accelerator. And so this was a startup accelerator for startups focused on justice issues, helping people prevent or resolve the pressing justice problems. Problems like with the police, for example, or with legislate like with courts or maybe with land or with neighbors, uh, or with even domestic violence, so around the world, but with a big focus on, uh, Africa, uh, and the Middle East and Ukraine. So I worked with them for about four years and that's where I started to put together the pieces on, hey, maybe there were some issues with my startup <laugh>. Like I'm telling these guys to go experiment and talk to their customers, but we never did that. I'm telling these guys to like, Hey, do a test of your business model, get the first dollar in. But we never did that. So that's where I started to connect those dots and I started to see hundreds of business models, hundreds of startups.
Connor 00:22:19 I started to see what works and what doesn't work, what, what type of team structure, what type of ceo, what type of sort of intellectual approach or emotional approach is really interesting and what do I want to emulate. That's also where I met the co-founder of my next startup, uh, Natalie Dykeman. Uh, we started a startup called sema, uh, which is still going, it's in Uganda. It is a, uh, feedback system for public services. So when somebody goes to a police station in Uganda, we collect feedback from them on how they were treated by the police there. Uh, which <laugh> Yeah, I can see your reaction. See this is why you need video cuz your eyes just got big as half dollars. Yeah, yeah. That's a strange proposition, but, uh, it really is needed. And the Yugen police incorporated the feedback and made measurable improvements in how they treated people and their wait times and the quality of their service in the disparate nature of how they treated men and women.
Connor 00:23:06 It had measurable improvements. We worked at Uganda, police stations, hospitals, immigration bureaus, I think they were gonna implement at the airport. And yeah, that I'm really proud of that I left Hill to go work on sema. Uh, I lived in Uganda for a little bit, uh, last year running that, but in the end, yeah, I think the stresses of of running it and as well my desire to want to keep residency in Europe in the end, plus a desire that, you know, this is now a, a successful startup that's funded by the Ugandan government. Uh, i, I believe that some dude from Pittsburgh <laugh> doesn't need to be running it, uh, there in Uganda. And so I saw that as an opportunity to step away. So I did. So I left that about a year ago now and for the last year I've been working with the Social Enterprise Academy.
Connor 00:23:48 They're really, really cool. They're based in Scotland and they're focused on learning and development for social entrepreneurs and uh, social entrepreneurship. So how do social entrepreneurs develop their leadership capacity? How do corporates become more like social enterprises by understanding how to really measure their social impact? How do charities become more like corporates or more like sustainable businesses by understanding about how to create a sustainable business model and really kind of, yeah, I think a really fascinating experience. They're really diving into the pedagogical aspects of a learning and development for social entrepreneurs. So that's what I've been working on this last year, but this year's gonna be something different. I got my third startup coming, I'm not ready to share it yet, but I'm already ideating and, um, and starting out with the first steps, the things that I wish I had done with my first startup I'm doing now for my third startup and feeling so much more confident about it even before the first step is even taken cuz I, I kind of know how to take those first steps. Now
Sean 00:24:47 You make a really interesting point, Connor, about trying of those first steps and it really shocked me when you made your comment about why should some guy from Pittsburgh be running this tech app in Uganda. You know, I think that's something you read about a lot of times with founders is they don't quite always are in a place to be the c e o type once it's up and going and you seem to really gravitate towards that initial phase of the startup. So for students who maybe down the road have a startup, how do you advise them to think through that process of, do I continue or do I sell or hand off or bring in other people to be my own boss? What do you mentor other startups on? Like, can you talk us through that process or your, your thinking?
Connor 00:25:26 Every situation is gonna be so different, man, even mine, like, I feel uncomfortable sitting here while you characterize my second startup experience like that. Not that you did anything wrong, but, but just because you almost made it sound like I made some wise choice as to when to step away, when in reality there's 85 wrinkles that I'm not saying here because this, every single situation is different in terms of your mental health, in terms of your physical health, in terms of your, your relationship with the business on an emotional level in terms of your desires and what you wanna do in your life. As I said, I mentioned I wanted to keep my residency in Europe. So you see there's gonna be some selfish reasons in there that I say I can't run a company in Uganda while I'm trying to keep my residency in the Netherlands.
Connor 00:26:04 I just can't do it and I wanna, I wanna maintain my residency there, so I need to step away. So it's not always this altruistic business decision that we read about. It's not always so simple. But I guess the core couple bits of advice I would say is always find time to reflect. You need to, as a founder, take some time off. I hate this grind culture crap, man, of like, you know, I'm a founder and I spend 120 hours a week <laugh>. Yeah. Like, uh, there's no evidence that that makes startups that much more successful, sorry. Like that is like the hustle of the founder. I I just don't, I don't buy it. It doesn't mean you can be lazy, but it's like to stretch yourself, to neglect your family, to neglect your personal health, to neglect your hobbies, the things that make you joyful, ah, that's not a healthy way to live.
Connor 00:26:47 I don't wanna start any startup that makes me do that. So that's number one. If you give yourself some reflection time, I think you'll just know. And I know that's really simplistic, but the second thing is to surround yourself with good people. Make a board of people that you like and people that you trust that have a genuine interest in you and a genuine interest and love for the business because then they'll tell you when the right time to step aside is. And if you've surrounded yourself with the right people that you trust and like you'll believe them. So I, I guess those are the two bits of advice is leave yourself some room for reflection and think about things like a board, an advisory board, uh, not just, and and also obviously your investors choose investors that you trust. You know, here's somebody putting in 20 K at a really critical moment when we really need to do it. We really need that 20 K. But you have to think, I'm gonna sit down in my living room with this guy two years from now and discuss a crisis. Is that the kind of guy that I want to be discussing it with? And, um, it might realize it's more expensive to take it than it is to, uh, turn it away. That
Sean 00:27:41 Is really good insight. And kind of tease up my next question a little bit here, Connor. So you've been a founder, but you've also done this mentoring, this coaching for startups. Maybe this is a silly question on my part, but what is the difference between, or how do you approach that, those kind of different roles there
Connor 00:27:57 Between doing it and mentoring it? Yep. Uh, man, there's not much of a difference. I don't know. Look, when I mentor startups, and again, mentors should be in quotes. Like I just talk to people, most startup founders don't really have somebody that they can just talk to about what they're afraid about, about what keeps 'em up at night. And that's a question that I ask what's currently, what do you currently think about as you're rolling around in bed? And that's, that can be kind of rare for a startup founder to have. And so, I don't know. Yeah, I think as a mentor it's really easy because you just help people talk through things. And what my goal is as the, at the end of an hour is not that I've given some solutions, but that they're trying to hang up on me because they just want to go work on it.
Connor 00:28:38 Like, I think you sometimes you just need to push to solve the problem and you need to reason it out somehow, or you need to validate your way forward is the right way forward. Or you need somebody to tell you, Hey, if this doesn't work, it won't be so bad. Let's tease out the worst thing that can happen. See, it's not that bad. Go let's go. Whereas being a founder, yeah, I think that's what your co-founder is for. I, I think in all cases that I've started a startup, my co-founder has also been my mentor, John Mark with Gov faces and with Natalie, with sema, we mentored each other and we're always there to bounce each ideas off of each other. So I think when you're a startup founder, you should also mentor everybody that you're a co-founder to and the people that are on your team. That's why I say they're kind of the same deal. You just talk to people and see what's keeping 'em up at night and talk through it with them.
Sean 00:29:19 And a common theme on the, and really the point of this whole show is mentorship. And so if you're a startup thing, you made a really good point there, Connor, about finding somebody who's kind of like a neutral party who, who cares about you, but is gonna give you that real feedback and, and let you just walk through. And I like your goal for the end of the conversation is they want to hang up because they want to go solve whatever problem that they're
Connor 00:29:40 Trying to talk. Yeah. Like they're impatient with me. They're like, yeah, yeah. Okay. Okay. Yeah. Well I know what I need to do now. Okay. Yeah. Uh, let's talk in a couple weeks, <laugh>.
Sean 00:29:48 I think that's a great goal for that conversation. Now I wanna ask one last question here about startups. And basically I have no experience in startups, I work for Schreyer, you know, I have a completely different viewpoint on the world. Is there anything that I should have asked you about the startup landscape, about being a founder that just through my own bias of not being in this space that I didn't think to ask that would be helpful for our students to hear?
Connor 00:30:11 No, man. Um, well that's a great question. Um, I think probably the question I get the most often at startup events is, what's the number one mistake that you see startups making? And it's a really, really common question, but it's also a good one and I have an answer for it, which is a lack of understanding of lean startup methodology is the number one mistake startups make. They don't validate their ideas in a lean and measurable way before they go building millions of, uh, dollars of, of tech stuff. So the idea that you can do an experiment in an afternoon, you know, like a friend, a friend told me in the park one day, I would really like to sell ice in the park. It's really hot. I'd like to sell ice. I I could get an ice cart and bring it around and sell people ice.
Connor 00:30:57 Cuz look, everybody has drinks, but they're warm. Who wants to have a warm beer in the park? Uh, sorry, that's a European thing we could drink in public anyways, but who wants to have a warm beer in the park? How about getting some ice in a cart and selling it? Because I bet you would pay five euros for a beer, wouldn't you? And I said, I would, what's the quickest way you could test this? And he's like, well, I don't know where I'm gonna get an ice cart. And that, that type of thinking is the mistake. There were actually two mistakes. The first is he tried to validate his idea through a hypothetical you would pay five euros, right? As opposed to here's some ice, it costs five euros and now do it to 10 more people and see who buys it. That's a really, uh, a really evidence-based experiment.
Connor 00:31:35 And most entrepreneurs don't do that before they go buy the ice cart, which is the second problem is like, that's not the simplest way to test the issue. Uh, the simplest way to test the issue is go over to that supermarket and buy a five pound bag of ice and before it melts, try and sell it all. If you lose, if you don't sell it, uh, well you've wasted 10 bucks and what 15 minutes? But if you sell it all now try it with two bags of ice, try it with another bag of ice, right? Where you just sold it. Oh, you didn't sell the second bag. Well that means that you're gonna need to be moving around, but try it with five bags of ice in one park. Now you're out 50 bucks if it fails. So small incremental, experimental steps that are based around your customers and what they want.
Connor 00:32:12 Or even before you sell the ice, go talk to people, Hey, how you doing? Are your drinks cold? It looks like you, you're having warm drinks. Why are you having warm drinks? And they say, well, we don't want cold drinks. We're having Belgian beer. Belgian beer is, uh, craft beer. You can't chill. That ruins the taste. So go understand your customers is the number one advice I give to startups. That's the one thing I would say. There's a book called the Lean Startup. It's very outdated. I don't like it, it's not a good book, but it gets the fundamentals across of what these experiments are that you can run and do going and tucking to your customers before you run outta time and money.
Sean 00:32:43 Absolutely. And you know, you, you mentioned if you're out the five euros on the bag of ice, but the amount you saved in time and another money that you didn't waste by buying the ice cart and now you can go onto the next idea.
Connor 00:32:55 Yeah, yeah. As opposed to like, well the first thing I should do is look up the food and drink reg reg regulations in the city because I bet I can't even have an ice card in the park. I bet you need a permit for that. So I'll, I'll send an email to the Dutch police and I'll see if they have the permit for the ice card. And then I'll send an email and people start doing all this desk research too. It's like, get out of the office, just get off your laptop, go talk to people. By the way, is this the only time anybody's ever quoted a price to you on this podcast in Euros, <laugh>,
Sean 00:33:20 You are the very first person I I've talked to who's been outside of the United States. I've had people all over the country from Florida to San Francisco, Las Vegas, obviously a lot in Pennsylvania, but you're the first one abroad. All right. Speaking in euros, so,
Connor 00:33:35 All right, very cool.
Sean 00:33:36 I also, I did notice earlier you you called it, uh, you, you mentioned you're flat, not your apartment, so
Connor 00:33:42 Oh, yeah, yeah. Well that's the thing, man, is like a lot of this language that like I even had to, you know, earlier when I said mentor in quotes in my head was mentor in inverted, comas, <laugh>, like all of this British or, uh, generally international language. It's, it's in everything I say and it's not a desire to be pretentious.
Sean 00:34:01 No, absolutely. I I live down south for a few years and there's definitely some things I've picked up, you know, saying, y'all bless your heart. So you, you pick these things up when you embed yourself in the culture. Which is a perfect segue. Go us into the, the next third of, well quarter. So the third quarter of our conversation about living and working abroad. So basically I just wanted to kind of open this up for you to talk about what you've experienced. You know, you are living out our, our mission tenant of building a global perspective. You lived in Switzerland for grad school, you've spent time in Uganda, you currently live in Amsterdam, I believe, right in the Netherlands. Just give us some insight on what that is like coming from, you know, you grew up outside of Pittsburgh to living in Europe.
Connor 00:34:42 Yeah, well I wish I knew it was this easy for Americans, you have this tremendous privilege of what's called <unk> zone. So if you have an American passport, you can just get on a flight to Paris and land without any visa application or anything. If you have an American passport and they just like stamp you at the border and you can chill there for three months in the schengen zone, which is every country, you know, in Europe, period. So it's like, go to Paris, zip around Europe, you can do all that. There are cheap ways to do it with buses, with hostels, with things like couch surfing or you meet some friends, you stay with them. I just wish I had known it was this easy and I wish I had known how incredibly fulfilling it is, man. It's the coolest thing in the world. It's like when, when you're sitting down, I still get these chills of, where was I just the other night?
Connor 00:35:28 Ah, we had Christmas and for Christmas I don't go home and visit my family too often. So I tend to try and reach out and see who else is, doesn't have plans, doesn't have family around. We are, it's a very international city, Amsterdam. So my Christmas this year was with my cousin for once. It was like he was just traveling through randomly. Then the other guy was like my Greek roommate, an Argentinian guy that I'm really close to. We, we met doing some Brazilian dancing out in the Brazilian dancing scene in Amsterdam, this South African girl who I just met who was really cool and a Russian friend of my Greek roommate. And there was a point at dinner where I'm like, ah, this is cool. But sometimes you get so used to it because it's so international and, and the depth of the conversations that you can have there, it's so, so cool.
Connor 00:36:10 You know, I mean that many global perspectives on what goes on in the states. Sure. But then also what, what's going on in the EU and, and here's a South African and an Argentinian and an American that have all made Europe home and are going to, but for different reasons. And so you start to tease those things out. Yeah, it's, it's a beautiful existence, man. It, it's a lot of fun being out here. And for anybody who's sort of just playful with learning things about people and likes discovering new stuff, go study abroad, travel abroad, find any excuse, you can just go go cuz it'll be one of those leverage points that'll, that'll really set you off. I look back at that study abroad that I did in France, just this stinky little two months and it changed everything. Uh, that was the most important thing I think I, I did for the trajectory of my life was scrounge together some pocket change, get a little one K scholarship. I think my school was like, classes were like three K or 4K or something like that. And I managed to get one K outta Schreyer or two K was it. I managed to get a little bit like 500 outta somebody else rotary or something like that. So I was just scrounging every little bit of cash I could. It's uh, yeah, what can I say? It's the biggest transformational moment in my life. So I really, really recommend it to as many scholars as possible.
Sean 00:37:18 And if you haven't picked up, you mentioned Christmas, we're recording this in early January, so I'm sure your Argentinian guest was still probably riding a high from the end of the 2022 men's FIFA World Cup. Uh, and, and Argentina's triumph there. So I'm sure he was probably still pretty happy about that.
Connor 00:37:33 He was pleased
Sean 00:37:35 As uh, versus, you know, I believe the, the US team fell out to the Netherlands. I'm sure that was probably an interesting dynamic for, for you there. I don't know if you're a soccer fan, football fan, but I'm sure that was interesting <laugh> Yeah.
Connor 00:37:47 Living, yeah, stadium. But that's also the thing is like, it's interesting being the token American in the room. So it's like when it's the Dutch and the Americans facing each other, it's like people kind of look at you and they go like, Hey, uh, what do you think about this one? It's an interesting thing. I I think going abroad also because you are a bit of a, a very informal anecdotal diplomat and so people are gonna look to you to understand what are Americans like. And there's a lot of work I think that we need to do, Americans need to do around the world to be more engaged and to show that we can be engaged, that we can be kind and humble, that we can learn other people's languages and cultures. And so I also see it as like, yeah, if there's anybody listening that feels that at all, Jess, go do it. We need you out here <laugh>. If you feel that. And if you feel like, yeah, Americans need to be more in the world, love the world, make any excuse you can to go do it, uh, we need you. So
Sean 00:38:34 Last question on this topic topic, what was just like the most surprising thing or one thing you, other than, you know, you said it was really easy, but like what's like, just maybe like a really micro level thing that you were really surprised by that you wish you had known about before taking the, the bold leap to move.
Connor 00:38:47 Surprising it's been a while since I moved abroad, so it's hard to put myself back in the feet of the guy that just arrived out there, man. It was, I can't say anything was surprising. It was like, um, it was like being thrown into a whirlpool or something where you can't tell which way is up. It's just, there was so much sensory overload of, of these beautiful Swiss mountains that I was seeing of these people from different countries that I had never even considered getting to meet us, a person from that place. It was languages all around me all the time. I mean all of it now sounds like, well obviously, but I don't think anything really surprised me cuz everything surprised me, <laugh>. It was just every single day there was something new and interesting and I guess it maybe as I think back to that time, I, it felt a little bit like when I was back in the States, I understood all of the social cues.
Connor 00:39:36 I could go out to any bar or any club or, or a church or an ex throwing competition and chat with the person next to me. And I know what the social cues are as far as whether this guy is wanting to talk with me or not, or whether she's uncomfortable or whether it's cool to go chat with strangers or eye contact or how to dress. It was all sorted out. I had spent my entire life learning that in the states and then suddenly you take all of that away and you don't know where to buy toothpaste anymore and you don't know if it's okay that in Germany that you speak to somebody next to you at the pub versus in the uk if you speak to somebody next to you at the pub versus Ireland versus Scotland versus France and you need to speak French with the guy that's in France, what if you meet the guy that's in France, in Germany, but you speak French, should you, it's like all of this was suddenly new and yeah, what can I say? I, I think it was tiring at the beginning, but now I couldn't imagine living without it. It's a really stimulating way to live. I think it's fun.
Sean 00:40:25 That is really, really good insight. You know, especially even for if you're just thinking about studying abroad, you listening to, to think about those and just, uh, the new possibilities that opens for you. Now Connor, I do wanna ask one question for you before we go into our reflection questions that I asked everybody. You've been involved as a volunteer with the college, despite living across the Atlantic for the past decade. What drives you to give back as a volunteer despite the demands of work, family travel and getting to live in Europe and experience all these new things as well as kind of the practical thing of there's a time difference and a continental difference?
Connor 00:40:57 Yeah, I, I mean I did it cuz they asked man. I think probably 90% of the things that people ask me to do, I just do. Um, I've become pretty good at setting boundaries for myself. I'll say no when I need to say no, but almost every time I just say yes to some things. It always ends up being interesting, you know what I mean? <laugh>, it's like some guy was like, Hey, do you want to interview potential Schreyer honors college people? And I was like, yeah, all right. And then my first phone call was with some terrified 17 year old that he's like, I don't know how to do a thesis. I was like, yo ho. Oh, I didn't, I didn't know how to write a thesis. What are you talking about? I dunno how to do that stuff. But like, I found a good teacher, I found a good prof, Dr.
Connor 00:41:34 Troster, and he walked me through it. He and I had to do it again for masters. He's like, I wanna do a master's. I was like, well then you're gonna need to learn it. And it then, ah, that was cool. It was a nice conversation I had with some random guy. And so I did a couple years of that and then, yeah, I don't know, um, Dr. Mather, uh, just reached out again. That's a dean of the, or Dean, is that what you call him? Yeah, Dean of the, uh, Schreyer Honors College just reached out a a little while ago and um, now I'm working with them on, on sort of this community and global outlook effort within Schreyer Honors College about, uh, sort of how the, how the college can, can work on its community and, and its international reach. And so you never know where it leads to. I just say yes to stuff, man. It's, I gotta be honest with you, it's not totally a schreyer Honors college. It's just when people ask me to do things I'm usually like, yeah, all right. Unless it's, you know, a, a ton of free work that I can't do while keeping myself healthy. I just say yes.
Sean 00:42:19 And I think that's pretty much how you ended up here on this podcast. I DMed you on LinkedIn and you're like, sure, send me an email with more details.
Connor 00:42:26 <laugh>. Yeah, but even then, even when I got your message, I was like, ah man, podcast. Like I'm just gonna sound like some whiny white dude that's uh, you know, bloviating about study abroad. Ah, whatever. I guess that's what I am. So yeah, that's a good email. I just say yes to things, that's
Sean 00:42:42 All. Well, Connor, I do wanna pivot into the last part of our, our time here with questions I asked everybody first, I want to, and I'm cur very curious on your answer given what you've shared so far. But what would you say is your biggest success to date and what you took from
Connor 00:42:55 That? I think it's creating jobs. My first startup created a whole lot of volunteer and internship sort of bs unpaid opportunities, which were still really interesting learning opportunities. We had like 120 people working with us, but not really working. We weren't paying them a salary. It was not Okay. I, I don't look back on that. Uh, with Pride. My second startup created about a dozen full-time jobs in Uganda of people that I knew and worked with and went to the office with every day that are incredibly talented cool people, many of whom went on to, uh, already went on to master's universities or great jobs with other companies that I'm, I'm, so, I hate to see him go, but I'm like, you know, we lost this tech guy named Joel. He, and he, he just, Connor, I, I just got hired by this like, AI company <laugh>.
Connor 00:43:38 I'm like, Joel, that's fantastic, man. They're like, there's nothing I can do to keep him, cuz we can't afford, you know, to match the salary that they've offered. But I'm like, I'm so happy, I'm so proud When I look back on the people that worked with sema, I think that's the biggest success that I had was we didn't miss a paycheck in, in, in all the years that, that we hired them. And just to keep the revenue flowing enough that you, that you are actually, when you hire somebody, <laugh>, this is gonna sound so dumb for your listeners that actually run businesses, but like, when you hire, like let's say you get you Sean, you get a job that pays you like 50 K a year, you're happy about that, but, but then, hang on a second, you gotta take some taxes out of that. So you're only getting, what is it, like 32 net or something?
Connor 00:44:17 But the business has to think it's not just 50 K, it's something like 75 k cuz I've gotta pay these payroll taxes on top of what I pay Sean. So on the budget it's 75 K and then, oh, you live in a country where you've gotta invest in somebody's, uh, pension as well. Well, so that's an extra 10%. So actually it's like 82 or something like that in some places in Europe. That's how it works. And so as a business manager to do that legitimate, real full-time employment with long-term contracts, investing in pensions, paying the taxes, I'm so proud of that. I think of everything I ever did. I think that's the thing. I'm Oh wow. Let's say, uh, on the startup side, I think that's the thing I'm proudest of. That
Sean 00:44:52 Is really, really good insight there. And I think probably something that doesn't get talked about a lot on kind of the startup space is actually hiring people. And, and like you said, there's the full compensation package and especially here in the US you've got health insurance and other things to consider too. Yeah. But on the flip side, Connor, what would you say is the biggest transformational learning moment or mistake that you've made and what you took from that so far?
Connor 00:45:11 Yeah, it was working at the Hill Justice Accelerator, that startup accelerator after my first startup, because we had this, uh, session from a Dutch company called Blue Whale Ventures. And they came in and they told us stories about how they only support startups that have not taken their first step yet. It's only people with an idea. And I thought that was really cool. So we had them over and they talked about how they walk people through taking their first steps of, today, I want you to go out and talk to a hundred customers and what's your hypothesis? Your hypothesis is 80% of them are already using an app that does this on their phones. Great. That's measurable. That's about their past actions. Go out and measure that. Oh, only 20% are, well, your ideas flawed. What do you wanna do next? And I love that, that, that made me realize about, uh, you know, what I was talking about earlier as far as Lean Startup. And that changed everything for me, man. It changed how I plan things socially, like personally, like start small without a small idea somewhere and just see how people think about it and then plan a giant trip somewhere with 50 of your friends or something, you know, but start something small and validate that it's something interesting first, and then go and invest your time and money into it. That was the biggest transformational moment I think for me.
Sean 00:46:20 Excellent. Now I typically talk and ask about mentorship at this point. Yeah, we got that one. We, we've already covered that quite a bit, so we're gonna skip that. Um,
Connor 00:46:28 Next question too. Yeah,
Sean 00:46:29 I was gonna say, is there any, is there, I know you've mentioned a couple of faculty, um, and, and, and some support staff from Behrend. Um, is there any additional folks that you wanted to give a shout out to?
Connor 00:46:39 Oh man, I can go all day on this one. So I mentioned Dr. Wolf and Ruth Luger who are, uh, so instrumental in me studying abroad. I mentioned Doctors Troster and, uh, gamble, uh, really helped me on, uh, on my political science and, and communications front. Dr. V Braz, uh, was the music was is the music teacher, uh, band teacher at Penn State Behrend. We had so much fun, man, I, there's plenty stories I can't tell you on the podcast, but he was just a fantastic, fantastic music professor that I still play saxophone all the time. And of course it's due to my great high school teachers as well. But Dr. Vbr Braz helped me learn love for jazz again, and I will always appreciate him for that. There's, there's a ton more man. Uh, Dr. Champaign was great. I asked him before I moved to France, I'm like, Hey, Dr.
Connor 00:47:25 Champaign, his name's actually Dr. Champaign and this guy's like the most most fashionable person you've ever met in your life. And he like spends a lot of his summers in Italy and all this stuff. So I was like, Dr. Champaign, what do Europeans wear? <laugh>? And he's like, I, I still remember his response. He's like, jeans, but they fit. And I'm like, oh. So Dr. Champagne was great for me. Yeah, Dr. Ford and of course, uh, Dr. Burke, uh, uh, the chancellor there. Dr. Ford's now the chancellor at Baron, so say hi to him as well. And I'm sure I'm missing a bunch, but those are some of the highlights.
Sean 00:47:57 Fantastic. Is there any general last piece of advice that you wanted to give scholars that are listening that hasn't come up previously in our conversation?
Connor 00:48:05 Maybe, you know, with all this startup stuff, if this is gonna be listened to by people who are talking about startups and if it's startup week, there's no way to say this without sounding like an old person who's saying like, if I were your age, but I'm gonna try anyways. And if people wanna tell me to shove it, they could tell me to shove it. But like when you're in university, you have a tremendous bubble of protection that you're not gonna have after university in order to start your startup because you'll be able to start every single customer interview or every single client interview or user interview. You'll start it with, I'm a student at Penn State and what we're doing is we're starting a startup about this, this, this. There will be immediate goodwill there immediate goodwill that you'll never have after you graduate.
Connor 00:48:45 You'll never have it again. It's so cool. And there are resources within the, sorry, honors college of course, but also within Penn State, but also nationally, like look up competitions for like student entrepreneurship. There's a million of 'em. You can get money, you can get support, you can get mentorship and then like, sorry, but like as soon as you're outta university, like that protective bubble goes away. So man, like if I could go back in time, I would've been starting startups left, right and center. Like I forget all the student organizations I was in. Man, I would've been starting companies cuz it's like I look now at university kids and they're so incubated, so protected, privileged in a way during their university times with things that people outside of university don't have. I'm not saying it's not hard and I'm not saying you won't have to work and uh, but I'm not saying it won't be hard. I'm just saying take advantage of that bubble you're in every single label you can attach to yourself, whether it's student, whether it's where your family comes from, whether it's whatever, use the label at you can't that you can at every single point in life to see what opportunities are out there for you. And the label of student is always a really good one.
Sean 00:49:42 Absolutely. And do you have a quick plug here to invent Penn State and the Launch Box programs and everything that's available for you, not just at University Park, but across the commonwealth as well for false affiliated with Penn State who are looking to do startups and some of the great programs like Summer Founders and others that are supported by Schreyer Scholar alumni. So great opportunities there. Connor, if a scholar wanted to reach out to you and take this conversation further, they have follow up questions for you. What's the best way for them to connect with you
Connor 00:50:08 LinkedIn? Uh, you could, they can type my name in as a website, so www.conorsatlee.com and it'll just send you straight to my LinkedIn or just uh, search my name there on LinkedIn. Sorry. Uh, if they wanna reach out, they have to send a message with their connection. This is the dumbest thing in the world, Sean. Like 98% of the connections that approach me on LinkedIn. They just connect, send a message with your connection always, even if you're sitting next. Okay, wait, no, hang on a second. We're going on a tangent here. Every person that I connect to on LinkedIn I send a message to. So if I'm at a conference and somebody next to me says, Hey, you're kind of nice, let's connect on LinkedIn. I will sit there and put a connection request and then send them a message saying, dear Sean, it was really nice to meet you at the 2014 conference on social entrepreneurship in Bulgaria.
Connor 00:50:48 I hope we can stay connected. Let me know if ever any of my contacts are used to you send, I'll do it when they're right next to me when they're watching me send the message, I'll do it. I don't care. Or on the plane or when I get back to the hotel or whatever. Why? Because in seven years somebody will ask me, Hey, does anybody know the Minister of Trade for Bulgaria? And I'll go, oh, well I can look. And then I go on LinkedIn and he's got a first degree connection with the Deputy Minister for Economy and Entrepreneurship in Bulgaria who I happened to sit next to at the conference. So, hey, I wonder, I forgot this guy, but I'll open up messages and see where I know him from and there's my message to him, hi so-and-so, and look at me. I was all kind and polite. Let me know if ever any of my context can be of use to you, you know, and that now eight years later, I'm like, get me the Minister of Trade for Bulgaria. Yeah, you owe me. It's to send a connection without a message is insanity and you're not using LinkedIn, right? So please do connect with me and send me a message, not that anybody's Okay. If you've made it to the end of this podcast, <laugh>, then you're awesome. I love you and connect with me on
Sean 00:51:49 LinkedIn. Absolutely. And I would agree if you are still listening here, thank you so much. And you know, if you are,
Connor 00:51:53 Wait, hang on. Before you ask me the ice cream question, is there anything you would like to say to viewers who made it to the end of the podcast? Let's put a little Easter egg in here from you, Sean, wait, let me ask you one or two questions. What's the, what's the coolest thing you've learned on these podcasts?
Sean 00:52:07 Oof. Honestly, I think the coolest thing is that I had a lot of trouble trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. And so I went into student affairs cuz I just didn't leave the university setting. And I have learned about so many different industries and a lot of the intricacies and I've been able to challenge my assumptions on what some of those are just from like, I have to have some like very cursory level of knowledge and to ask about like, tell me about bedside manner or tell me about how you get startup funding or whatever the question is. And so I I really just have learned about so many different careers, ones I didn't even know existed or the, or the deaths and, and variety one recently I did, uh, that aired in or published in November, you know, uh, just as an example, I was talking with a classmate of mine, Katie Poole, who is the senior athletic trainer for the women's volleyball team at the University of Kentucky where I worked before coming back to Penn State.
Sean 00:53:00 And I never really had thought about athletic training as, and she put it, you know, it's a healthcare profession. I never really, I thought it was athletics, but she was like, no, it's a healthcare profession. You are responsible for the health and wellbeing of these athletes. And the week we're recording this, never more press or or more in the zeitgeist than what happened with the Buffalo Bills safety DeMar Hamlin during the game against the Cincinnati Bengals right after the Rose Bowl game. So that was just, you know, one example. But learning about so many different industries and being able to share this with students who if they take one thing outta this conversation, then I'm happy.
Connor 00:53:30 And is there anybody that you would like to give a shout out to Sean?
Sean 00:53:34 Oh my gosh, well I'd have to give one out to my boss, Sean Miller, honestly, cuz I had pushed for this idea and he's been a champion of it from the get-go. And, uh, just the rest of the staff here in the Honors college are just really great. And we have a great marketing team here that's, um, working on getting this out there to more people now. And I'm very appreciative of them obviously. Dean Mathers a big supporter. He was on here a few episodes back Fall 2022. If you wanna go back and listen, that's a very long one with him. We just trying to kept going when we were in the G ffc, we did it in person. Um, so appreciate all those. And then obviously wanna give a shout out to my wife Elizabeth, who I talked through issues and and stuff for work and she's kind of like my little board, if you will. So,
Connor 00:54:13 Ah, oh, nice man, good one.
Sean 00:54:15 And I give a shout out to the scholar alumni society board leadership. A lot of them were kinda my Guinea pigs when I got this going, so I definitely would give a shout out to them as well. Uh, Natalie Keller, John Hemmer, Sam Bonk, Asia Grant, Kat Zwanger, and a whole bunch of others that were some of our, my early, early faults who helped get this going. So appreciate
Connor 00:54:33 That. Nice man. Cool. Now see, now you gotta tell Sean Miller and all those folks that you just mentioned, hey, make sure you watch this one and then if they say thanks to the shout out, you'll know they actually listen. Just don't say anything else to them and see if they come back to you.
Sean 00:54:46 Well, it got me thinking about, uh, James Dunn out there. It's eight years later and they're nine years later almost. And there's still some Easter egg and guardians of the galaxy that apparently people haven't figured out yet. So <laugh>, I I guess this is a good test. Now we will wrap up here. Uh, you, you know what's coming if you do re regularly listen to the end. May it have been a while since you've had any Connor, but if Burkey Creamery ice cream, if you were a flavor, which would you be? And I'm not asking for your favor, but which would you be? And as a scholar alum, why would you be that flavor?
Connor 00:55:14 Yeah, well I thought long and hard about this one, and by long and hard, I mean 45 seconds. And then I googled it to get something interesting to say. Usually I asked, answer these questions with the worst creamery flavor because it would mean that you had stand the largest chance of survival because nobody's going to eat you. So I started googling what is the worst flavor at the creamery? And I found like lists of the top 15 that put vanilla down at the bottom, but I couldn't say vanilla. So then I found that Bill Clinton once ordered two flavors and he was allowed to do that. And he's the only person ever to do two flavors. So I'll just say this, I wanna be the next guy to come in and get two flavors and be allowed to do it at the creamery. They say that they were so overwhelmed they shut down the whole store. Bill Clinton came in and mentioned two things and they didn't even think about it. They just gave 'em two flavors. I'd like to do that someday. I'd like to someday be that important that I can get two flavors. I don't care what they are.
Sean 00:55:59 That is a great, great answer. I I really need to go back and catalog all of these. They've gotten progressively,
Connor 00:56:05 But mine is the one that's, mine's gonna completely mess up your methodology on classifying them. Cause mine is two and it doesn't matter which one. No. See mine's
Sean 00:56:14 The, well if you're listening to this one, go back and listen to our episode with Elena Auerbach. Uh, her answer was, I kid you not the cereal bar at Pollock. So that would really mess up any kind of, uh, quantitative analysis on, on the
Connor 00:56:26 Ice cream. But now you can quantify me and her in nonsensical answers.
Sean 00:56:30 Yes. In, uh, cool, anything but actual ice cream. Yeah,
Connor 00:56:33 Yeah, exactly.
Sean 00:56:34 Connor, thank you so much for, for hopping on here. It's great to have you visit us, uh, virtually from Amsterdam. Really great insights on startups on Penn State Behrend, and on living and working abroad. And even if it's just for a couple weeks while you're studying abroad, really appreciate all of your insights and thank you so much for coming on here on following the gong.
Connor 00:56:52 Thanks very much, Sean. Nice to be here. And, uh, yeah, good luck with the continued episodes on the podcast, man. I'll be a listener from now on.
Fantastic. Thank you, sir.
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