Guest: Cory Minton
Episode Transcript (Click to expand)
Ramesh: Okay. Hey, hello everybody. This is Ramesh Dontha, the podcast host for the agile entrepreneur podcast. And this year 2020, this is my first podcast and also, we are also doing the video cast as well. So I'm very, very excited to introduce today our guests, Corey Minton, who is the editor in chief of Big Data Beard. So Corey, welcome.
Corey: Hey, thank you very much Ramesh. Glad to be on another podcast. It's pretty fun.
Ramesh: Yeah, this is going to be a video cast as well. So I came across your Big Data Beard and I met you in Las Vegas for the BrightTalk interview. Impressed with what you guys are doing and you talked a lot about Big Data Beard and then switching the direction. So why don't we take it from the beginning? So what is Big Data Beard and then how you got involved with it?
Corey: Absolutely. So Big Data Beard is a creative media company that's really focused on talking about the trends, technologies and the talented people that are really making big data a big deal. And big data is certainly evolved over the last few years, has becoming an in-vogue term that people didn't really understand completely. And it was exciting to now it's almost, it gets polarizing, right? But it really, what we try to focus on is finding those nuggets of wisdom with smart people and smart companies that are leveraging AI, Big data, machine learning, deep learning, IOT, this modern emerging technology landscape to really do something transformative. So whether that's, you know, talking with the founders and the CTOs at cool, interesting startup companies to talking with industry executives who are actually using these technologies to impact the quality of human life or their business. And so really, it's really a great way for myself and our other contributors and members of the podcast team to really get to talk to the best and the brightest in the industry. And we really, that's how we started. We really just wanted an excuse to talk to the best and the brightest so that we would constantly stay as educated as possible on these emerging trends. So that we can continue to be great technologists in a variety of ways.
Ramesh: Okay, fantastic. So that is fine, actually you're doing a very interesting thing Corey, one is that you're fully employed, but started Big Data Beard on the side as a side hustle I would say. So talk a little bit about the Corey not the big beard guy. What do you do?
Corey: Yeah, so not Big Data Beard, my job is, I'm a strategist for Splunk, which is a big data software company, a publicly traded company. Very interesting, cool software used really to help make machine generated data usable, accessible, and valuable to everyone. And so my job as a strategist is very much to help understand where is the industry going, where are organizations leveraging these technologies and helping our company understand how to bring the tools and technologies we have to market effectively and just make sure that we're conveying the message and we're solving meaningful problems in a repeatable and scalable way. So it's a really fun gig. My past was actually pretty new at Splunk. I've only been there about a month. Prior to that I was the principal engineer at Dell technologies responsible for a lot of the emerging technologies work that we did in terms of architecting hyperscale solutions for artificial intelligence, machine learning. In the past it was building large scale storage systems for things like Hadoop and spark. So really have been in the big data ecosystem for a number of years. And my day job actually was part of the reason why I felt like I needed to start Big Data Beard. It was because in my day job I am very much an engineer and a hand on, you know, a technologist. And a lot of times I do things, you know, in my lab, in the cloud, in different places that is really interesting. But it is totally inappropriate for me to publish on my employer's websites. And so, that's originally how the blog started out. That's really where this thing started was, I started the blog about six years ago and that's what I was publishing was, Hey, here's the things that I'm doing that are technically interesting but probably aren't appropriate for like a corporate blog. So I was actually like breaking things and finding like limits and finding things that didn't work and things that did work. And so I started publishing, you know, sort of technology opinion pieces and really hands on kind of experiences. And then it evolved. I started finding other, you know, other engineers who are hands on like me and that frankly just love technology. And then they started saying, Oh, I would love to, like I did this cool thing, but I really don't have any outlet for it. And so we started thinking, Oh, well, Hey, why don't you just publish on Big Data Beard? And the we handful of us got together. We said, I think we have something here, but we kind of need this thing to be funded. Like we can't afford to just, you know, have all this hosting services for podcasting and traveling to conferences and doing all these things. And it's not appropriate for our employer to pick up those tabs on many cases. So we started the Big Data Beard inc as a, as a company incorporated in the state of Alabama because of that day job. But we did it because we wanted to continue, and we wanted to expand our capabilities. And I kind of tell the, I kind of tell the joke from time to time that it's like, you know in the podcast, in the early days, if I'd called somebody and said, Hey, I'm this engineer who works for Dell and I'd like to talk to your founder and your CTO, that most organizations would be like, I don't have time for you. Like, why would I, why would I let them talk to you? But if I call them and I say, Hey, my name is Corey, I run Big Data Beard. It's one of the fastest growing podcasts in big data and AI. I'd love to give you an hour of time to talk to our, you know, crazy numbers of listeners. Then It's nuts. We've been getting, you know, we're over 160,000 downloads now, so it's crazy. So anyways, we started it and it bloomed because we actually incorporated it and we got it funded and now we're actually able to enter in, you know, really cool partnerships with companies like Microsoft, with info works and others in sponsorship relationships and as a media influencer. So really, it's my day job. I continue to have a great day job. I think that Big Data Beard as a company is interesting, but it absolutely keeps me Polish and better at my job, at my day job because I'm able to get experiences that are so far outside the realm of capability without Big Data Beard.
Ramesh: Actually that was very, very interesting. That's why I was interested in talking to you because what I consider, you're living your dream life, which is many of dream about. Be employed and getting the benefits and all that stuff, but also have the entrepreneurial spirit and do something on the side, right? Not a conflict of interest to anybody.
Corey: Yeah. That's really the beautiful thing. And I’ve had to be very open and honest with my employer. And I think that's always the case. Like there's, you know, there's lots of legal things that, you know, people get wrapped around, but if you're honest with the people you work with and you're up front, then I think it avoids any of those challenges. And frankly, the companies I’ve worked for while I’ve been part of Big Data Beard, have been super open to it because they understand that they actually benefit from it. And having you know, an employee who's getting perspective that they'd never get as part of their day job. But it's also great because it helps from, you know, from an expense perspective. Like I’m, we're keeping these activities completely separate. And I know that's sometimes a hard thing. People may see the blurred lines, but we're able to keep them, you know, totally separate. We act as an influencer in the market and yeah, I do. I will say it is kind of the dream and you know, I think someday as entrepreneurs have to figure out their revenue cycle and how do you become a sustainable revenue. That's where we are today. I think our long-term vision is that Big Data Beard becomes a full-time employment opportunity. As we grow our media base and we glow our revenue models. I absolutely believe it could be a full time gig, but it's, as you said, it's a great balance to be able to continue down the path of, you know, have an employment benefits and all the good things that come for working for great tech companies and at least in my area of industry, but also being able to kind of triage and test and like try out some of these entrepreneurial things while still having some of that parachutes. So yeah, I totally agree. It is a perfect world scenario.
Ramesh: Exactly. I myself you know, while I was fully employed, I wanted to get my feet wet with web development. And so buying the domains and all that stuff, that's how I got started. But one of the things that people will keep asking is, and you talked about the legal aspects of it, is there a checklist of items like somebody who is fully employed, still wanting to do something in the side gig, you know, top three or five that come to your mind that people should not do as opposed to what they should do.
Corey: Yeah, I think the number one thing you should do is you should absolutely be communicating with your leadership team. So in my case it's direct and you know, layers of leadership above them and then it's initiating conversations with corporate legal teams to establish a full understanding of what the relationship is. And in my case that was covered fully in like as I moved from working for Dell to working for Splunk, we had those conversations with the Splunk legal team and made sure that they understood the scope of the company. We shared our legal documentation. So when I say be open and honest, that's what I mean is number one rule, you know, if you have a side hustle and it's going to create revenue and it's a company and its taxable and those things, you need to communicate that to your employer to make sure there's no conflict of interest. Because whether you think there is or not ultimately it doesn't matter. It's really what the legal team, your employer thinks is the most important. The other thing I would think is, you know, best practices, try to separate church and state as much as you can physically. And by that, I mean, you know, really you shouldn't be doing a work for your side hustle using your day jobs company resources. So whether it's, you know, what laptops you use for recording like this recording now, this is being done on my personal laptop cause we're talking about Big Data Beard, my Splunk laptop is right over there. It's okay. I keep those separated for that purpose. And from an information privacy perspective, I think that's incredibly important because the last thing you want is, somebody thinking that your side hustle is leveraging some intellectual property of the cover your day job for that reason. So I think separating those, having very clear distinction lines of resource utilization and information and data I think is really the other top thing I would say. And then three is just common sense. Like if you have a day job and it's in a technology area, let's say it's in security. You probably shouldn't have a side hustle that is a hacker job or like a, or even starting your own security. Like it really shouldn't be in completely similar industries. It should be in pretty well defined separate where you know, if you did have a, you know, a noncompete, you could totally say like, I'm never going to go sell what Big Data Beard is doing to somebody who would buy Splunk for what Splunk does. You see what I'm saying? Like you just got to use some logic that like if you think there's conflict of interest, it probably is like if you think they could convey it that way, you're probably doing the wrong side hustle. But if it's beneficial to our parties and you use logic and common sense and say, you know, there really isn't a reason why and it's beneficial for all parties and you've been open and honest, and you've done a good job of separating the two. I think you're, I think you're generally down the path.
Ramesh: Fantastic. So now I'm switching gears Corey. When we talked, you said the prior podcast that Big Data Beard was doing were more episodes, like you would talk to some guests. So you share the knowledge that you have you know, with people. But you told me that your planning has shifted to an editorial kind of a podcast. Can you talk a little bit more about it?
Corey: Yeah, absolutely. So really, if you go back and listen to the last 110 episodes of the podcast, we've done almost every single one of them was what I'd categorize as a conversation very much like we're having today, where, you know, we'd find somebody really smart doing something really cool and ask them to tell us their story. We'd get some background on them. We don't ask, you know, how is this cool thing that you've built being used and you know, to impact human life or business or, you know, wellbeing or something. Or we'd ask them, you know, they would be highlighting some use of technology for that reason and we'd go through it and explore it and it would just really act as an inspiration hopefully to people to, you know, explore technology to tinker, to try things. And it was frankly just a good way to stay abreast of like, what are people doing today in technology and what's interesting. But what we decided was one that is, it's a lot of work to publish a podcast every single week as you Ramesh know. I mean it's, doing a podcast is, it is a big, it's a big lift. But one of the things that we wanted to do was I think we've, we've moved from this place of our value is just finding other people to talk to and really highlight and given them a platform to, I think our value is shifting to, we've had a bunch of really good conversations. We've got some really smart folks on our team. What if we go tackle some topics and we really start to unpack what's going on in a particular area of technology and really start to understand the polar sides of it. And so I’ll give you some examples. Like we're looking at things like ethics in AI as a conversation. And it's really like, we're not just going to go sit down and talk with one, you know, PhD in ethics and have their opinion. What we want to go do is we really want to tackle a topic and say, what does it mean and why is it important to have ethical AI? And start to understand, you know, what are multiple perspectives of opinion and really uncover both the, you know, the good and the bad, the for and the against, right? The, sides that pull. And then based on our conversations and the things we learned, hopefully start to have some opinion about, hey, based on what we've experienced and what we're researching, our opinion is this. Our opinion, our taking this as that, and you know, that's kind of the ideal scenario. We're also looking at more less about just about technologies that are being created and more about how technology is being used. And so we want to shift into, you know, these great kinds of deeper dive converse topics, you know, episodes where we look at a topic and from a variety of lenses. But we also want to look at some episodes where we look at how is technology being used in real life. And I'm excited about this first one we're working on for the season. It's actually about how AI and machine learning technologies have collided with IOT to help race car drivers go faster around race tracks. And so there's this really interesting startup that we found that's got this driver feedback device that's actually using some pretty advanced accelerometer technology from an IOT perspective, integrated with a real time feedback system and does a ton of data collection that in real time is helping drivers understand how much grip they have remaining on the tires in a corner and giving them real time feedback to say, Hey, you could go a little faster or you could break a little later into the corner. So we're going to be exploring, you know, what does that technology, was it taken to build something like that. But then how is it impacting the racing culture or the high-performance driving you know guys on the weekends and gals on the weekends, like myself who go out and try to drive our cars around a track fast and really explore what that means and try to get some perspectives not only from, you know, the people that founded the company, but actually go talk to some professional, you know, racing drivers and weekend warriors who are using it to get their perspective on it. Just again to explore more than just one person's opinion per episode. Really to have a malty lens kind of conversation.
Ramesh: On a specific topic. So that is fantastic, that's very good. So now, I alluded to Corey, the personal side a little bit. You said you race on the weekend. So now let me switch. So we know a little bit more about the Corey beyond the Big Data Beard, but the guy with the beard. So what does Corey Minton do in weekends and just to give us a little flavor of your personality.
Corey: Absolutely. So obviously Big Data Beard is a big part of what I do on the side, but my weekend life is, I’ve got two beautiful children, seven and five, a wife and they're crazy travel adventurer. So in my role I get to travel around the world and I'm crazy enough that, well, one, I love my family and I don't really like being away from them for extended periods of time. But as you probably know, traveling around the world, going for four days, like during the work week, kind of stinks because you end up spending half the time jet lagged and awful and feeling terrible. So over the last three years, my wife and I started www.gowithdaddy.com which was her little travel blog where whenever I go on international trips, I try to make them, you know, multi-week long trips and try to make, you know, obviously if the company's going to spend money to fly me to Australia, maybe I should use that time to go, not just for a week, but maybe two. And I could visit multiple cities, maybe tack in a trip to Tokyo cause it's on that side of the world. And so what I’ve started doing is putting together these longer multi-leg trips for a month to six weeks at a time and actually take my family along with me. So I use my miles and points to pay for their flights and then they, you know, I pay for hotels on the weekends, but they get to enjoy while I'm working in a steady, they get to go explore it as a mom and two young kids. So we've, my kids are, like I said, seven and five. They've been to 19 countries. They've spent more than 30, I think it's like 36 weeks of their lives outside the US and you know, we live in Alabama and people think of Alabama as being you know, small back water, kind of, you know, Southern place. But what we are really trying to do is we live in a beautiful area. We have our own personal beliefs and things that we hold very true. But we want our children to have perspective on the world and that the ways that we do things and that they see things done in their home, in their city, it's not the only right way, like the right way for other people to live is highly dependent on their belief system, on the geography, on the food supply, on the water supply, on economics and socioeconomic things that absolutely make people different. And I think exposing them as young children to those differences, I hope will make them more empathetic. More just better general citizens and nicer people to deal with as they turn into adults. And I think that's our thing as parents is, we're trying to turn our kids into great adults someday. And that's what we're really trying to do. So we love to travel. I do race as often as I can, when I say race It's really, let's be honest, it's high-performance driving. I have a, I have a car that’s, it went from being a daily driver to, it is full on, like set up for the race track. It's got a roll cage. There's no, there's no, like, it's racing seats. There's no backseat. There's, you know, all the metal is exposed in this thing. It's loud and it's awful. It's still slightly street legal, but that's only because I live in Alabama. If I lived in California, I'd be out of here. So there is a beautiful race track that is about 20 minutes from my house called barber Motorsports park. And Mr. Barber is the, like the largest dairy farmer in the Southeast of dairy millionaire. Huge racing aficionado actually has a vintage motorcycle museum that's the largest collection of vintage motorcycles on the planet right here in Birmingham, Alabama. But it is a beautiful two plus mile course with lots of undulation, great turns. It's actually where the Porsche driving school has one of their locations. So I get to go out there about once every other month and just absolutely rip it on the racetrack.
Ramesh: So you have a very fascinating life Corey. Started off with the second sentence, so you have a dream life, now you have a much dreamier life. You're able to mix your work with your passion of entrepreneurship. And so traveling the world and of course the racing as well. So you have a full whole circle of stuff.
Corey: I'm a very lucky and blessed guy. There's just no question about it.
Ramesh: So towards the end of the podcast here, so what are the next steps? I know that you started with Splunk recently and then pitching the gears in the Big Data Beard. But what other bucket list items that you have?
Corey: Yeah. So next for us is really looking at how do we expand the Big Data Beards ability to help and influence for good. So we're actually taking a couple of segments this season and we're going to focus on some nonprofit organizations to give them some exposure. Because we are, we're huge fans. We obviously know we're blessed in many ways. We're lucky to have you know, I live in American and it's a great country. I know you live here. But you know, there's lots of good things going on in our lives. I'm a pretty happy guy. But it's really about how do we help to do more for those around us. So I really want to start figuring out ways to leverage our influence for nonprofit organizations, those organizations trying to do good in the world and really expose them to more audiences so that, you know, frankly, if you're, you know, benevolent and you'd like to give and you have a philanthropy kind of a background, then you know, hopefully we'll identify some organizations that could use your help. So that's really kind of the big next step. The kind of the longer term is, you know, for the company, for Big Data Beard, we're really trying to look at our sponsorship model to see if, you know, how we could really create more of a sustainable model to actually bring on a full-time employee. And probably I wouldn't be one of the contributors today. We're really thinking if we could start to build enough to get a program management kind of brand and social creative person, a full time to take the content that we're creating and actually help promote it more, to increase awareness of our brand, increase consumption of our content, then it really starts to spiral into that ability to, you know, increase our sponsorship fees, to get more opportunities for advertising. And so that's really the long-term is how do we, you know, like most entrepreneurs trying to figure out the next revenue cycle, how do you improve your revenue stream. That's a big one for us. And trying to expand into potentially a headcount someday. And personally I think it's all about the next adventure. So we're you know, in the short term we're going to the beautiful city of New Orleans, which is really not that crazy for the weekend. But one thing that we're trying to do is we're riding the train. So I know in the, like everywhere else in the world trains are totally like common. They're not really commonly used in the US. So we're actually taking our kids on the Amtrak from Birmingham to New Orleans on Friday. But then we're also planning a, we've got a trip to, our first trip to Africa this fall. So my mother-in-law has actually been kind enough to invite us on a Safari with the whole family. So there's going to be a nine of us going over to Tanzania in November to experience the great migration. And that is, it's like a bucket list goal for me. It's going to be incredible. But I think my son is obsessed with animals and I say obsessed, like it's crazy. I fear his head may explode. So a part of my job is going to be cleaning up the mess of my son's head exploding on Safari.
Ramesh: Fantastic. You are a Mr. experience. So the family up for experience is fantastic man. So I'm so happy that I'm starting my 2020 podcast, video cast episodes with you, Corey. You know it's a fantastic experience. So what are the websites that you would look like to talk about that people can come and visit?
Corey: Yeah, absolutely. I encourage your listeners if they like podcasts, which they clearly do, check out www.bigdatabeard.com is our website. You can also visit pretty much any of your favorite podcast platforms. The most popular for us is iTunes. But if you're into Spotify or player FM, Stitcher, tune in, we're in there. Just type in big data. We generally come up pretty quickly, Big Data Beard. And honestly the Big Data Beard is because I'm into big data, I have a beard and I'm not that creative and the domain happened to be available. So that's how we landed on it. But we do have a pretty sweet, we have a pretty sweet logo. The beard is the likeness. And if you find me at a conference, I’ve got stickers. You can also check out if you go to www.bigdatabeard.com, we have got some really cool T shirts, hats, and stuff that people have really dug. Cool hoodies, all kinds of cool stuff. So check it out and represent with pride.
Ramesh: Myself. Yeah, that's great. So fantastic Corey, thank you very much.
Corey: Ramesh thank you so much. Have a great year.
Ramesh: Yeah you too.