He lost his dad at 15, launched his first company on a shoestring, and sold it when he was 18. Now Jake Millar is 24 and has interviewed over 500 of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs, from Richard Branson (Virgin) to Eric Yuan (Zoom) to Cal Henderson (Slack) about how to launch, scale, manage, and sell companies. This week Alex & Bryan meet the Founder and CEO of Unfiltered.TV, who is redefining how we learn about business and throwing the conventional idea of an MBA out the window. Check it out as No Parking turns the tables on the young entrepreneur some call a one-man Davos.

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Episode Transcript

Alex Roy
Let’s talk. So Jake Millar.

Bryan Salesky
Millar. Jake’s not pleased to listen in to this right now. I just want you to know.

Alex Roy
Ya boy Jake is an entrepreneur of the highest order, not just because of the things he’s done, but how young he is…and his story. Here’s a few points for our audience. He’s a 21 year old, New Zealand born, new media and education entrepreneur on his second venture. He’s a risk taker. He did his first skydive at age five. He turned down a law scholarship when he was 18, sold his car, and founded OOMPHER. Never heard of it. Heard of OOMPHER?

Bryan Salesky
I have heard of it. Yes.

Alex Roy
Did you hear of it because he was the first person to sell a tech startup to the government?

Bryan Salesky
I actually honestly don’t remember why or how, but I did hear of it. What I didn’t understand was the incredible story of the person behind it.

Alex Roy
So after he sold OOMPHER, he founded a company called Unfiltered in 2015. He’s the CEO, and his own description is, that it allows entrepreneurs and business leaders to learn directly from the world’s greatest business minds. Richard Branson has been on it, and a number of other people. I can’t lie to you. When I first saw his videos, I didn’t get it, but now I do. He’s a great interviewer. How did you find him?

Bryan Salesky
Well, so Jake actually emailed me and said, “Hey, I interview entrepreneurs in kind of a network where people can learn from people who start companies, build companies, or who have had a lot of success in venture capital and that sort of thing.” It was a great email. I looked at the list of who he’s interviewed in the past and wow-

Alex Roy
It’s crazy.

Bryan Salesky
Who’s who of the…

Alex Roy
Davos.

Bryan Salesky
Yeah, it was. It was basically Davos. I think in fact, he may just be running down the guest list.

Alex Roy
Actually, I wouldn’t be surprised if Jake Millar, if he ended up running the millennial Davos in 10 years because I thought he was great.

Bryan Salesky
He’s too cool for school. He doesn’t need Davos. He makes his own Davos. He’s incredible.

Alex Roy
Let’s talk to Jake.

Bryan Salesky
That’s so embarrassing and ridiculous, isn’t it? No, I don’t remember what I wrote, but it was something that came to this guy looks like he’s got something special going on. We should take this. That was my-

Jake Millar
It was really kind.

Bryan Salesky
Cheers to that.

Jake Millar
Yeah, cheers. I pointed it to my team. They said, “These guys look fun.”

Bryan Salesky
Sounds like our crack comms team at it again.

Alex Roy
I heard it was a well-oiled machine.

Jake Millar
Yeah. But no, it’s such a fascinating story and I was really looking forward to doing the interview and yeah—

Bryan Salesky
Well I’m really looking forward to getting to know you better Jake. You have done some pretty incredible stuff at a young age. First off, you clearly have far more maturity than I had. So, we’ll start there.

Alex Roy
Well, look how slick. He’s polished this kid. Look at this guy.

Bryan Salesky
Well, my goal today is we’re going to get his hair out of place, we’re going to frazzle, we’re going to get the tie unbuttoned a little bit, not really unbuttoned, loosened, that’s the word. There we go. And we’re going to show him a good time at Argo.

Alex Roy
I’ve done a lot of media, Bryan’s done some and we’ve watched some interviews on television, and you seem to have an extraordinarily tight control over your personal narrative. So, I heard the fridge magnet story more than once. Your first business was fridge magnets, is that correct?

Jake Millar
Yeah.

Alex Roy
The story about you going skydiving with the former prime minister of New Zealand, is that correct?

Jake Millar
So, the former prime minister I met. My father died in a plane crash and the prime minister visited our house after the plane crash.

Alex Roy
John Key is it?

Jake Millar
Yeah, exactly. He went to pay his respects at the crash site and I wrote a letter to him just thanking him for doing that. And then we met after that, which was…

Alex Roy
The Jake Millar narrative, and to be clear your name, it went from Miller to Millar because you were being confused in SEO with the rapper. Is that right?

Jake Millar
Exactly.

Alex Roy
So you changed to Millar?

Jake Millar
Yes. I just changed it later.

Bryan Salesky
This is a detail, but are you able to rap? Have you ever rapped before?

Jake Millar
Not at all.

Bryan Salesky
Not at all?

Jake Millar
One thing I actually regret is if you’re going to change your name, change it completely.

Alex Roy
So, you exchanged letters with the prime minister and then you launched this thing called OOMPHER.

Jake Millar
Yes.

Alex Roy
Which is this career platform app. You sold this to the New Zealand government. Is that correct?

Jake Millar
Exactly.

Alex Roy
Every news outlet, and we’re not a news outlet, would say, “Oh, let’s keep going down your resume.” But I have a question and I’m going to ask it. When did you become the Jake Millar we see today? Because, having gone from being a normal person to exchanging messages with the prime minister and selling your company to the government. This person we see, the suit, the story, the polish. When did you become this? Because you’re 23 now. So—

Jake Millar
I think, you grow up pretty quick when you move to New York when you’re 21. It’s a scary place to be. The hustle, the bustle, survival of the fittest still, that sort of stuff.

Bryan Salesky
Dog eat dog.

Jake Millar
Exactly. And I don’t think I was quite prepared for that. So I think I was dropped in the deep end with that. That being said, selling the business to the government was the point where I probably, my life changed the most. That’s probably the one pivotal moment in my life I can refer to where everything changed. Because it wasn’t a huge amount of money, but I was 19, it was a six figure sum. Prior to that, I didn’t come from any family wealth. So having that in my account overnight really changed things.

Bryan Salesky
This is the part I love about you Jake, is that you’re self made. I love that.

Alex Roy
I have a question though. How were you…

Bryan Salesky
Is that the right characterization?

Jake Millar
Yeah. I was fortunate my parents bought me a car. My mom bought me a car, I should say, after my dad died, and I had a $12,000…

Alex Roy
A Subaru?

Jake Millar
Yeah, exactly. You’ve done your research very well. And then I sold that when I started my first business. That was the seed funding I used as such, which is 8,000 U.S Dollars.

Bryan Salesky
But it’s not like you came from a cushion of…here’s a few million dollars to go make a bunch of mistakes with.

Jake Millar
No, it was pretty…

Alex Roy
You mean like me?

Bryan Salesky
For instance…

Alex Roy
How old were you when your father passed away?

Jake Millar
I was 15.

Alex Roy
What did your father do?

Jake Millar
He was a professional skydiver.

Alex Roy
Oh really? THAT I somehow missed.

Bryan Salesky
Come on Alex.

Alex Roy
I can’t believe I missed that.

Bryan Salesky
Come on.

Alex Roy
And so, have you gone skydiving yourself?

Jake Millar
I have and I love it. I’ve just been getting back into it actually in quite a big way. Because it’s like anything addictive, it’s when you do it a lot you want to do it all the time, then you stop and then you almost forget that sensation. And I’ve just started again. So I’ve done about 190 jumps, and I was out in Paris Valley in California a few days back, and that’s where I’m going to make my home drop zone in the U.S. I did four skydives about a week ago, which was super fun.

Alex Roy
Was the first jump before or after your father’s passing?

Jake Millar
The first one was… I did about 40 tandems with dad. First one when I was five. Absolutely terrifying. I hated it.

Bryan Salesky
So he sort of literally almost dragged you.

Jake Millar
It was actually the opposite. My father owned the skydiving company, so when I was three years old, I was walking into the office and scribbling out paying customers names from the book and writing my own name in as a paying customer. And then, when I was five, they said, “Look, you can do it.” And, it was just, it was terrifying. The leg straps were wrapped around twice. I remember the door opened and it was just such a sensory overload. But I went and did two, I’m not sure what encouraged me to do that. Dad probably said, “Look, get back,” what’s the old saying, get off the horse, the buck, whatever it is. And then after that, I was pretty unstoppable with the sport.

Alex Roy
I’ve got to confess guys. I’ve never gone skydiving. I won’t do it. I’ll drive a car 200 miles an hour but I will not skydive. Just don’t have it in me. You Bryan?

Bryan Salesky
I would do it. I would have to go through a failure modes analysis. We’d probably do a little bit of safety—

Alex Roy
Well that’s me.

Bryan Salesky
—research.

Alex Roy
In my mind, a car at any speed, it’s like a cage. I have some awareness of the different failure modes. And then in skydiving, I see two failure modes.

Jake Millar
Yeah. I had my first malfunction the other day, so my parachute didn’t open.

Alex Roy
Did you pack it yourself?

Jake Millar
No. I haven’t packed my own parachute in quite a while, which is very lazy. It’s hard work when you’re going up and down all day. Sometimes you might…

Bryan Salesky
You’re here. You look okay. So your backup went out, no problem then?

Jake Millar
Yeah. So basically it had like a line knot or something and I just started spinning towards the ground and I thought I’d better get rid of this. I was about 3000 feet up, cutaway and the backup opened fine.

Bryan Salesky
What goes through your head in those couple minutes? You’re probably not even thinking, it’s just reaction. Right?

Jake Millar
There was no time to think. It was textbook. I was very lucky for my first one in the sense that it wasn’t… Some of them can be really fast or super aggressive, whereas this was lines twisted. It got more aggressive, it started spinning towards the ground, and then you just go through procedures of cutaway. You open your own reserve and it was pretty quick. But it was…

Bryan Salesky
When you say cutaway, you’re actually, you have a…

Alex Roy
Knife?

Bryan Salesky
How does that work?

Jake Millar
So basically you have two cords on your front and one of them releases the other parachute and then the other one opens it. So the whole process from opening the first one to being under the safe second one, you’re probably talking sort of 10 seconds.

Bryan Salesky
Got it.

Alex Roy
So, this OOMPHER platform that you sold to the government, you got this check. But the next big thing that was in the media is Unfiltered.tv. So I used it last night, I signed up, I went through some of it. But could we just let you explain to the audience what Unfiltered is?

Jake Millar
Yes. So we’re an online learning platform, inspiration learning platform for transformational leaders with a focus on business. We’ve interviewed maybe 300 or so now of the world’s ambitious leaders in a range of different fields. I think we’ve interviewed maybe 50 or so, after today, 51 or so founders of unicorn companies in the United States.

Alex Roy
It’s an impressive list.

Jake Millar
Yeah. I mean, it’s been a lot of hard work, a lot of hustle. My biggest passion is democratizing knowledge and making it accessible and then modularizing and curating answers to give people a holistic perspective on certain issues, if that makes sense. So if we’re discussing the issue of building culture in a high performance organization, the idea is that we can slice and dice different answers from lots of different leaders. We’re not the ones saying, “This is how you do it,” but we’re saying, “Here are five ways in which it’s being done.” And you can learn from that.

Alex Roy
Let’s deconstruct what you just said. So there are many channels on YouTube and courses one can take, from some free, the channels on YouTube, and some free courses where you learn concepts of management and entrepreneurial growth. When I signed up for Unfiltered.tv, I saw something very interesting. You enter your email, and then you then get to a screen, and there’s three sliders and it basically asks the user, ‘where are you now?’, “where do you want to be in six months or a year?”, and the slider points are, “learn”, “scale”, “exit”.

Jake Millar
We’ve just launched the platforms so I should… I’m a little bit jetlagged this morning. There’s four stages, and it’s learn, start, scale, exit.

Alex Roy
Right. And then one gets past that, the next screen has, I think it’s four rows, six columns of different components of a business, different aspects of operations, strategy, communications, everything. And then one selects. And then after that one gets to a screen, which has curated video snippets extracted from the interviews that you conducted with Richard Branson and many, many other interesting folks, and now Bryan will be one of them. So what really struck me is… I like this because I would never sit and watch a one hour interview with 75 leaders. I just can’t, but I am interested in very specific things, communications, public relations, strategy, counter-intelligence. And so it reminded me a little bit of, Choose Your Own Adventure books, when I was a kid, where I would select my path through a narrative that was very catered to my tastes.

Jake Millar
Yes.

Alex Roy
And that is the thing about Unfiltered that really struck me. It is a huge time saver for people who want to learn about a very specific thing. So it’s like an MBA on crack. No, it IS, because MBA programs invite speakers and you have to sit through these long lectures and it makes you go crazy. What is the business model of Unfiltered? It’s clearly a service. This is clearly something for everybody. What is the business?

Jake Millar
Yeah, That’s the great articulation of what we’re doing. We say our focus as a company is to drive fast business learning. So literally what you said is that nobody’s got time to… I personally listen to a lot of podcasts when I’m running and so on, and there’s different times where that’s appropriate, when you’re driving on long commutes and so on. But I guess when it relates to business, what we want to do is give people just really fast access to knowledge and different perspectives on all of these different issues from a huge range of people.

Jake Millar
So, the business model, we’ve evolved a lot over the years. We’ve been around now for four years, which is scary to me because we haven’t yet cracked a scalable commercial product market fit with a repeatable sales process, and all of those buzz words we talk about in the interviews with our founders. We’re still on that journey ourselves. We’re trying things. We’ve evolved. We’ve…

Bryan Salesky
Part of this is what’s so fascinating about it though is that, you are learning and doing as you’re talking to all these business greats and getting advice for yourself and others. They get to follow this journey. It’s fascinating.

Jake Millar
It’s fun. Right now, the business model is, with our new platform, the one that you just talked through. So that’s going to be focused more on a B2B subscription. In particular, helping ambitious high-growth companies with challenges around developing the next generation of leaders. And upleveling leadership and the future of leaders within organizations.

Alex Roy
And then your own subjects.

Jake Millar
Yeah.

Alex Roy
Your own teachers, are then becoming investors in the very platform that brought you together.

Jake Millar
Yes. So we have 38 shareholders or something now, which I would probably not do again. Frankly.

Alex Roy
Bryan, you would never do that. 38 shareholders.

Bryan Salesky
It depends on the business. Right?

Jake Millar
It’s complex.

Bryan Salesky
That’s a lot of people to keep happy.

Jake Millar
Yeah, and out of those 39 or so, let’s say 25 of them, we’ve interviewed. Most of them are from New Zealand. Most of them are rich listeners from New Zealand, meaning they’re worth more than $50-$60 million, meaning that they have lots of opinions. And you know…

Bryan Salesky
I was just getting ready to say that. I was just getting ready to say, that’s 38 different opinions…

Jake Millar
Exactly.

Bryan Salesky
…that Jake must compile together into a strategy.

Jake Millar
Obviously I’m super honored to have the support and there’s a lot of different perspectives, but there is a lot of advice, and when everyone’s very successful in their own right, everyone sort of expects you to listen to them. But obviously when you’ve got 38 different people telling you different things, some days it’s hard to…It can be hard.

Bryan Salesky
I have about, I don’t know, a neighborhood of probably 3,000 people at Ford Motor Company that have an interest in autonomous vehicles and have an opinion. And they’ve been a great partner to us and they have a lot of institutional knowledge about how to grow and scale a product. I think it’s great to have people who are behind you and want to see you be successful. As long as the feedback is taken with the right attitude, I mean, that’s got to also be comforting for you.

Jake Millar
Exactly. That’s a great problem, as such, to have. And the other part to the model is we run a big conference called Unfiltered Live, which is about a thousand people we host every year. So far we just do it in Auckland, but we had people like the Former Administrator of NASA down, the Founder of MasterClass, the Founder of Stonyfield, Allbirds, a huge range of particularly U.S speakers. You should come down next year, by the way, if you’d love to come to New Zealand.

Bryan Salesky
I’d love to. I’ve always wanted to go. Everyone tells me it’s the most gorgeous place on the planet, so I have to go.

Jake Millar
It’s a beautiful place and we have a lot of fun. We host our speakers down here for a week or so. We go down to Queenstown and we have a lot of fun.

Bryan Salesky
I would love to talk about self-driving cars.

Jake Millar
That would be amazing.

Alex Roy
Has anyone looked at Auckland as a launch market? The weather’s pretty good all year round, right?

Bryan Salesky
We’ll do some city scouting while we’re there.

Jake Millar
It’s a small country, so there are not a lot of people. There’s a lot of land.

Bryan Salesky
So Jake, how many interviews have you done in total to this point?

Jake Millar
With both businesses? I don’t keep an exact number…

Alex Roy
Both meaning, there’s Unfiltered…

Jake Millar
Probably about 450, I would say.

Alex Roy
When you say both businesses, there’s Unfiltered B2C, and then there’s Unfiltered Pro, which is the educational for B2B.

Jake Millar
When I say both, I’m referring to OOMPHER as well, my first company. Because that was essentially me interviewing people, but rather than a focus on business, it was a focus on career advice.

Bryan Salesky
So 450. I feel like ballpark is almost approaching 500. Out of all of those 500, call them episodes or discussions, if you were to give a Reader’s Digest version of what you’ve learned, what are some things that just really stuck with you?

Jake Millar
There’s a lot.

Bryan Salesky
I’m sure there’s a lot, but…

Jake Millar
I would say… I think when I’m drawing themes and comparisons between a lot of the interviews, the things that are standard and what stick out the most is definitely stuff that you hear quite often for that reason. These people are just relentless in their pursuit. There’s so much adversity and…

Bryan Salesky
So perseverance, tenacity.

Jake Millar
… unbelievably so.

Bryan Salesky
And with it…passion.

Jake Millar
And there’s so many stories that come to mind. One that comes immediately to mind is a company in New York called Taboola, which is a content discovery platform. The founder Adam Singolda, who I interviewed, great guy, they had four years of no revenue and investors were losing confidence. They we’re pivoting, evolving, similar to us in the sense that they were trying so many different things. And then I believe about a year later after that they hit a $100 million revenue year and now the revenues are over $1 billion. So, it’s a fascinating story of just not giving up, having that dream and just going forward.

Bryan Salesky
Was there a piece of advice that you thought was unique out of all of that? That really stuck with you as something that everyone should know who’s starting or running a business?

Jake Millar
Yeah, I’m thinking about an interview we did with Don Valentine, the now late Founder of Sequoia Capital, he passed away maybe a couple of months back, and that was one of the most fascinating interviews we’ve ever done. So, I had tracked him down and tried to interview him for years. And he must’ve been in his late eighties at this point and…

Bryan Salesky
Don saw a lot of action, didn’t he? In the Silicon Valley world.

Jake Millar
And he said he would do it. And there were no publicists involved. And I thought, this is strange, because he’s arguably the greatest venture capitalist alive today, legacy wise. And no publicists involved. He said, “Look, come to my house in Montana.”

Bryan Salesky
Not enough land available in the Bay Area for Mr. Valentine.

Jake Millar
So, we wrote the script to send it to him and then two days before the interview, I follow up and I’m like, “So we don’t actually have the address yet. Can you just tell us where to come? We’ve got the flights.” I forwarded him the flights just to show the commitment that we’re actually coming and no reply. So we get there, and it’s the morning of the interview and I’ve got a flight to LAX in about six hours. And I said to my business partner, I was like, “I don’t think he’s replying. I don’t think we’re doing this interview today.”

Jake Millar
We had the rental car booked. We got in it. We drove to Hamilton, this little town in Montana where he lived, there’s about 4,000 people there, and he still hasn’t replied. I said to Yuki, just jokingly, literally jokingly, maybe there’s a phone book in this tiny city in the middle of Montana. And I Googled, I literally Googled “White Pages, Hamilton, Don Valentine”, and a number came up. I literally found online white pages. I rang it, he answered.

Jake Millar
I said, “It’s Jake Millar here, I’m here to do the interview.” And he said, “Oh, okay.” And then he gave us the address. We went around and we turned up at his house and we sat on the couch, he says, “Look, I’ve read your questions, this is what we’re doing. We’re only talking for 20 minutes. You’re going to ask me about this, this and this.” And then we spent two and a half hours.

Bryan Salesky
Wow.

Jake Millar
It’s the single longest interview I ever did, and he said some fascinating things.

Bryan Salesky
So he really switched on to you, then, at the end of the day.

Jake Millar
It was great. And coming back to your question, he said some stuff and I thought it was really interesting. He said he’ll be more likely to invest in a founder that’s had a string of, maybe not a string, but certainly big failures. And I thought that was interesting because a lot of conventional wisdom is people invest in track record and success, and you’ve done it before. He just said the opposite. He said, “If you haven’t had a big failure, I’m much less likely to invest in you.” I thought that was quite interesting.

Alex Roy
Have you had a big failure, Jake?

Jake Millar
Yeah. Absolutely. I’ve had a few companies that I’ve started or been involved with either as an investor or as a partner that haven’t necessarily worked out. And there’s a heap of reasons for that and things you learn. But the main thing I probably learned from is just staying focused as well because it’s easy to, when you start getting excited and you start a business, more opportunities come to you, people approach you with ideas, and it’s easy to get excited and want to put a bit of money into different things and maybe help out and introduce people. But all of that is just taking energy away from your main thing. And obviously, when you’ve raised capital, there is a huge responsibility to laser focus on that opportunity. So, I’ve probably learned at this point just to focus a lot more.

Alex Roy
I have a good friend who had a big exit at his tech company a couple years ago and raised money recently for a sensor company, actually. Couldn’t find a product market fit and decided to call it and return half the money to investors, and all of them said the same thing. They said they’d give him money again because he knew when to call it. He’s willing to say, “This isn’t working, but we’re going to start again.”

Jake Millar
100%. And I think that’s such a good point. Because if you look at my story, of course you’ve got business one, business two. And it looks like there’s just been two successes, as such, in a row. But obviously in between, and with those companies, Unfiltered has been going for four years. There’s been a huge number of failures.

Jake Millar
I think this year feels like a big failure, in so many ways. Obviously, we’ve just raised some money, which is a great way to end things. We’ve got a new board, we’ve got a new team, we’ve got a new platform, there’s a lot of stuff that’s gone well. But behind the scenes, I went back to New Zealand in September of last year to focus on a deal that was a $12 million deal, a big contract with one of the major banks down in Australasia. We were confident we were going to land this and, compared to our revenue, it was just transformational for the business. We had all the right people in the room, all the decision makers. I moved countries to do this deal when it didn’t happen. And then it was like, shit, we better raise some money, when it didn’t happen. Almost this year, that’s been a theme, that took up half my year, and that didn’t work out.

Bryan Salesky
That’s really hard. When to partner, who to partner with, what makes a good deal, what doesn’t. There’s so much to… And that’s where I’ve had the most of my learnings and what works and what doesn’t.

Jake Millar
Yeah, for sure.

Bryan Salesky
So how do we segue this into some self-driving car conversation now?

Alex Roy
Well, I was hoping to do that earlier with… When I was asking about Auckland, New Zealand.

Bryan Salesky
Let’s do it. Let’s use that as a hook.

Alex Roy
Do you drive a car yourself?

Jake Millar
I’ve been an ambassador for BMW.

Alex Roy
I saw that, but come on, do you actually like driving?

Jake Millar
I love driving. Driving is a massive passion of mine and that’s one of the considerations behind moving to LA.

Bryan Salesky
You’re actually a BMW ambassador? Is that what they call it?

Jake Millar
Yeah, in New Zealand. I’ve been working with them for a few years now.

Bryan Salesky
What does that mean? What do you get to do?

Jake Millar
Basically just a rotating a library of cars, which is fantastic.

Bryan Salesky
So you’re obviously, you’ve built up a network here now, right? You’re an influencer. You get these cars, you get to show off the wares?

Jake Millar
Yeah.

Alex Roy
He doesn’t like the word influencer. You can see the way his body language changed when you said that.

Jake Millar
I think… I read an interesting…

Bryan Salesky
What, you’ve been reading a body language book recently? What the heck happened to you.

Alex Roy
I have read some books.

Jake Millar
I think the thing is that influencers… Influencers are obviously found online and offline, and I’m not saying I’ve got either, but I think if you look at my social followers…

Bryan Salesky
I didn’t mean to equate you to a Kardashian or anything. That’s not what I meant.

Jake Millar
That’s the thing, there’s been quite an interesting lesson to me though. You can work with top tier brands and do these partnerships, even as an individual, when you don’t have these huge followings because these companies see opportunities.

Jake Millar
And we’ve done some great work with BMW. They host the Alpine xDrive in New Zealand where drifting on the ice, and we had 17 of our friends, investors, people turning up and we had a great day with them this year. Yeah, I do drive. My favorite car, the one I’m going to get in LA, is an M2. I just love the go cart feel of the car. It’s super fun.

Alex Roy
It’s a manual transmission, the M2.

Jake Millar
When I say like driving, I’m not so good with the technological side of the car, but I like getting in and putting my foot down on the accelerator. It’s an automatic car. But yeah.

Alex Roy
So let’s get into this. Okay. What part of Los Angeles do you live in?

Jake Millar
I’m in West Hollywood.

Alex Roy
And do you have an office?

Jake Millar
Yes.

Alex Roy
And where is that office?

Jake Millar
It’s in the Pacific Design Center.

Alex Roy
Okay, so that’s not a long drive.

Jake Millar
No.

Alex Roy
Pacific Design Center, for anyone, is that big, very cool, blue building.

Jake Millar
I was going to use the word ugly, but yeah, we’ll go with cool.

Alex Roy
I was born near there and I grew up near there. All right, so you don’t have a long drive?

Jake Millar
No, it’s short.

Alex Roy
But have you been on the 405 or the 10?

Jake Millar
Yeah, I’ve driven a couple… It can be painful.

Alex Roy
Because when I go to Los Angeles, I often stay in West Hollywood…

Jake Millar
Yeah.

Alex Roy
…at The Standard because I’m sentimental, because I grew up around the corner. But I have to commute to the West side of the city. So I have to take La Cienega south then the 10 west and it makes…

Bryan Salesky
This is becoming an episode of The Californians on Saturday Night Live.

Alex Roy
And let me tell you something. Every time I go to LA, I say to myself, “How can people live here with the traffic?” And then I go to other cities and I learn that every city has a 405 and a 10. And I love driving too, but I want autonomous vehicles to work because I don’t want to spend $50, every time I’m trying to get a cab, the cab doesn’t come. It’s…

Jake Millar
Oh no, I agree. And honestly, I’ve been in LA only for five months or so and I haven’t got a car yet, so I’ve been Ubering everywhere. And I think when I start driving and actually spending a lot of times sitting in the driver’s seat of these cars in LA, I’m going to probably get sick of it pretty fast.

Alex Roy
So, a common theme of successful people is they don’t spend a lot of time driving themselves.

Jake Millar
Exactly. Time is money, right? When I was researching last night on your website, it was one of the things, the efficiencies of actually just what you can do if you’re spending so many hours in the car, it’s just ridiculous. The loss of productivity of sitting behind the wheel. It doesn’t make much sense. So, huge admiration for what you guys are doing. Obviously, in terms of the numbers around how many people die, that shocked me as well. In the U.S. that’s a big number.

Bryan Salesky
It is shocking. It hovers around 35,000 – 40,000 a year just in the U.S. where there’s an awful lot of traffic rules and enforcement and so on.

Jake Millar
I’m curious to know with the… Obviously, one of the big things people talk about in terms of problems facing the world, the future of work is something that’s a big consideration. I interviewed, recently, a guy called Drew McElroy of Transfix, it’s like an Uber of trucking and I was amazed in the interview, there’s something like 3.5 million truck drivers in the U.S..

Bryan Salesky
And there’s a huge shortage. With that number there’s still an enormous shortage.

Jake Millar
Just unbelievable. What are both of your thoughts on where a lot of these people are going to…where the future of work is?

Bryan Salesky
This is where we talk a lot about the skill gap. And when I say that, I am not the elitist type who says that everyone needs to go to college. That’s not what I mean. What I mean is that there’s a lot of new jobs that don’t even require necessarily a college degree, that we need to figure out how to bake that workforce training earlier on in the education cycle. Because the fact of the matter is, the jobs are just going to change. They’re going to transform. Right? A lot of people don’t realize this, but elevators back in the day used to have somebody in it at all times to operate it because it took skill to operate an elevator. Right? Well, what’s going to happen is we’re going to see the workforce have to start to transition to well-paying tech jobs that just maintain these fleets of ever-evolving and becoming more and more complex vehicles.

Alex Roy
Like automation management.

Bryan Salesky
That’s right. That’s trucks and cars, right? Whether it be a tractor trailer or a small vehicle, there’s going to be people that need to map and continue to keep fresh the geospatial aspects of a city so that the autonomous vehicle has some notion of how the city’s changing. So there’s a huge influx and increase in the number of jobs in what they call the geospatial side of things.

Jake Millar
Yeah. And do you think, one thing I’m curious is that, and I don’t know the answer to this, but the people whose jobs will be automated, obviously the jobs you talk about are highly skilled, highly technical jobs. Do you think it ultimately comes back to education or do you think that some of those people might struggle to develop the skills? I just don’t think my brain works that way. If I was to be developing these systems and so on.

Bryan Salesky
Going back to what I was saying earlier, I don’t think that these jobs require an advanced degree in anything. But there’s training that needs to be done and thought about, but the nature of the job is absolutely going to evolve and change. We have to keep in touch with the education side of things, which is why we’re pretty big, at Argo at least, on making sure that we can sponsor school robotics teams, getting kids interested in science and technology. We host a lot of school tours and groups and we don’t even necessarily focus on just the tech piece of it, we also focus on the operations that it takes to get a service up and running. We focus on what it means to maintain and be able to address mechanical issues in different parts on the car. And the kids light up whenever they see the physicality of what’s happening. It’s not just software, right? My hope is that inspires kids to want to get into careers that will eventually be essential to keep these things on the road and operating.

Alex Roy
The thing is, if you look at the history of how technology is depicted in the media forever, every generation has had the headline of Technology Will Replace Us. Technology Will Destroy Everything. It’s all over. Society as we know it is going to change and nothing will ever be good again. But that’s never been true. Never. Society evolves to the technology because technology is as good as we choose it to be.

Jake Millar
Yeah.

Alex Roy
It has to be built for people’s sake, not for technology’s sake.

Jake Millar
Absolutely.

Alex Roy
And so, the naysayers have been wrong again and again, and the optimists have been right again and again. One thing that Bryan and I agree on is… I came into this thinking, humans will always be better. I want to be free, but actually I’m freer when I have autonomous tech that does what I want it to do.

Bryan Salesky
Well, it gives you options. So when going back to LA, no one wants to sit in traffic on the 405, but on the other hand, I’m sure there’s some incredible backroads that you’ll discover with your BMW, where you can have a ton of fun.

Jake Millar
Yeah.

Alex Roy
Take me to Angeles Crest, and then I’ll drive on the other side of the fence.

Bryan Salesky
I don’t want a self-driving car there. I want to be driving.

Alex Roy
Yeah.

Jake Millar
There’s always a time for the fun side of it, right, but as you rightly say, it’s a completely different thing to, the functional side of getting from A to B. I think one of the things that fascinates me the most about watching this whole thing unfold from afar, as somebody that doesn’t know a huge amount about it, is just that, it’s a fascinating study and obviously disruption. And how these big companies in particular are responding. I interviewed Dan Ammann, the President of General Motors at the time…

Alex Roy
Dan Ammann.

Jake Millar
CEO of Cruise.

Bryan Salesky
Dan’s a great guy.

Jake Millar
And they had just bought, obviously, Cruise for $1 billion, I believe. And it’s just fascinating, obviously with Ford and with VW just pouring huge amounts of money into these companies. If you look at the history with the Blockbusters and the Kodaks, all of these cautionary tales as such, companies are making big bold moves. They’re certainly writing big checks. I’m interested to see how it’s all going to play out though.

Bryan Salesky
It will be interesting to see how it plays out. Disruption’s not happening for disruption’s sake. The auto business has, if you look at the core side of the business, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to sell cars in the inner urban core. They haven’t been selling cars in cities for a while. Why? Because there’s a shift to shared mobility services. Because it’s really expensive to park and maintain and fuel a car. When I was in Beverly Hills recently, driving through Beverly Hills…

Alex Roy
That’s a lot of code my friend.

Bryan Salesky
It was like $5.50 for 87 octane gas. Are you kidding me? And no one’s putting 87 in their car in Beverly Hills. They probably put 93 and I believe that price wasn’t even listed. At any rate, I digress, the point is it’s no longer sexy or cool to own a car inside a city. It’s just too much of a hassle.

Alex Roy
Well, in Beverly Hills, it is. That’s why the gas costs that much.

Bryan Salesky
Fair enough. But where I’m going with it is, I think they recognize this. And so, with the shift toward on-demand mobility services, a totally different way to get around, the car companies, rightly, are now switching onto the fact that, “Hey, we need to get a piece of that business as well.”

Jake Millar
Exactly.

Bryan Salesky
Or else we’re just going to be selling trucks to farmers.

Jake Millar
Exactly.

Alex Roy
When I was really convinced of autonomous vehicles and shared fleets was when, friends of mine in Miami Beach, who own a nightclub and invest in real estate, said that they stopped owning cars because of traffic. They want to be driven everywhere and they wanted the cars to orbit. They didn’t care what it costs. That was it. I was convinced.

Jake Millar
Yeah. One of my things, I often think about as well is… I got into drones this year, and was very reckless in how I was flying them and so I stopped. I actually crashed it into my business partner and he’s got a massive scar on his wrist. But, one of the things I was quite fascinated by is, I was blown away at how easy it is to fly. I was behind the train tip, but I got my drone and was like, “This is really easy.” And the thing I thought was…

Bryan Salesky
There’s some software behind that, that’s making it pretty easy, right?

Jake Millar
Yeah, but I just thought, why can’t we just make a larger version of them that’s human life size? And any person could fly their own drone if you were in it because it’s so easy to fly. Obviously, there’s the issue of people crashing into each other. But sensory technology and so on. I guess one of the problems still with cars, no matter whether you’re driven in them or not, is it still takes a long time, obviously, to get from A to B. If you could just get in the air and fly from West Hollywood to Santa Monica…

Alex Roy
You’ve heard of induced demand?

Jake Millar
Of what? Sorry.

Alex Roy
Induced demand? If you give it to them, they will use it.

Jake Millar
Right.

Alex Roy
If everybody has one, then… Let’s say you build another bridge, build another lane, people will just fill it.

Bryan Salesky
Fancy phrase there, Roy. Are you dropping some knowledge here on the audience or what?

Alex Roy
I like to read sometimes.

Bryan Salesky
People are working on this with the electric vertical takeoff and landing vehicles. Right?

Jake Millar
Yes.

Bryan Salesky
Hopefully, you don’t even need to pilot it. It’ll just take you there. Depending on what the model is, a couple joysticks and up, down, they could release it.

Alex Roy
Have you been in one Millar?

Bryan Salesky
With all your connections, I bet you could get yourself a… That should be the next gig that you do. Go talk to Sebastian on the electric cars. Excuse me. On the EV…

Alex Roy
eVTOL

Bryan Salesky
eVTOL.

Alex Roy
For everyone who doesn’t know. So that’s Sebastian Thrun.

Jake Millar
What’s the company, sorry?

Bryan Salesky
I don’t actually remember the name of the company but he’s leading…

Jake Millar
I feel like we’ve been in touch.

Bryan Salesky
He’s leading one of these self-flying car companies.

Jake Millar
Is it ZipLine? Or no, I’m thinking of a different company.

Alex Roy
He was leading. You worked with him back in the day Bryan.

Bryan Salesky
Kitty Hawk, was it Kitty Hawk?

Alex Roy
Yeah.

Bryan Salesky
I think it was Kitty Hawk.

Alex Roy
So Bryan, you knew him. Right? Years ago you worked together.

Bryan Salesky
I actively, I do know him. Not knew him, he’s still around.

Alex Roy
You worked…

Bryan Salesky
It’s true.

Jake Millar
I’m curious to know, with these trends we’re talking about, obviously autonomous driving, with the ride sharing, what does the experience look like in 10 years from now?

Bryan Salesky
Boy, so Jake imagine, now let’s take a journey together here. So imagine 10 years from now, city traffic is flowing beautifully. The road network that’s available is being sort of like an air traffic control for vehicles that perfectly load balances vehicles on the patch of road that’s available at the time. Right? We are rerouting automatically around any construction or other roadway issues, in order to get you there on time. When the car pulls up and picks you up, it’s already set at exactly the right climate preferences; it has this music that you enjoy playing; all the amenities are there for you; and you’re able to be efficiently whisked away to your destination, as you check email, have a conversation with your son or daughter in case you’re maybe with them, helping them with their homework on their way to school. On the way to work, you are able to very easily drive right past your favorite coffee place on the way, the coffee’s already ready for you when you show up, exactly the type of order that you wanted and you move on. That is utopia.

Alex Roy
Let me add…

Bryan Salesky
That’s where we want to be.

Alex Roy
If I may speculate, Bryan. It’s also going to have accurate ETAs in the app. Right?

Bryan Salesky
Let’s not go that far, Alex. I don’t know that we can…

Alex Roy
More accurate than…

Bryan Salesky
Yeah, no. Of course. We’re more accurate because it has real time information about the roadway conditions and traffic patterns at an insane level of detail beyond what we have today.

Jake Millar
And are these cars owned by, obviously we’re doing our interview afterwards, I’m turning the questions over. These cars are owned by Uber and so on? Or are they owned by forward leasing? How does that work? I’m curious.

Bryan Salesky
It’s going to be fun to see how that shakes out, Jake.

Jake Millar
Right.

Bryan Salesky
But they likely won’t be owned by a consumer, at least initially. It will be owned by a fleet provider, to your point. Exactly who will be in this space at that point, who knows. Right? But, that’s the idea. Yup. Boy, that was fun.

Alex Roy
Well, you have a whole hour to discuss this going the other way. In all your travels through Australasia, have you been to China?

Jake Millar
No.

Alex Roy
Japan?

Jake Millar
Yes.

Alex Roy
Okay. So, in these cultures, there’s a very different expectation of privacy versus just transparency in data ownership.

Jake Millar
Yeah.

Alex Roy
Some people have suggested that there are going to be two internets in the future because of sociopolitical expectations and structures around privacy. Do you think that’s going to become true of commerce in general? That there’s going to be two cultures?

Jake Millar
Yeah, I definitely think around privacy versus transparency. I think that the trends we’re seeing at the moment, people are really just waking up to a lot of the huge risks and probably reckless behavior that’s been around data and how companies have been using it over the past decade. I definitely think that we’re going to see that continue.

Alex Roy
One of the issues that the autonomous vehicle industry has in United States is we have a patchwork of regulations across 50 States.

Jake Millar
Yes.

Alex Roy
But for the purposes of development and deployment, it would be optimal if there was, what’s the word, harmonization, Bryan, across the Pacific rim.

Jake Millar
Yes.

Alex Roy
Do you feel that in Australia and neighboring countries that regulators, lawmakers are more familiar with cutting edge technology?

Jake Millar
Yeah, I can only really speak for my country being New Zealand.

Alex Roy
Because you’re friends with the former Prime Minister.

Jake Millar
Well, I think small countries certainly, they’re wanting to… I think a country like New Zealand is trying to make itself more appealing to tech companies and to either people starting companies and basing them out of New Zealand or suddenly going there and expanding operations and actually testing this technology. A great example was Rocket Lab, which is a unicorn space company. It was founded in New Zealand but they have kept a lot of their… They’ve got their launch site down in New Zealand, developing these rockets. It’s pretty incredible, the innovation that is happening. So, I definitely think one of the benefits of a small country and a small government, is that if Bryan were to come down and speak at the event, which we should definitely arrange, it would be to come down and have a meeting with the Minister of Transport, for example. That’s going to be pretty easy to organize in comparison, probably, to the United States or China or any of these massive countries. Because they are open. It’s a small government. They’re wanting to show the innovation, show great companies coming in and trying things and…

Bryan Salesky
We’re always open to increasing the education level and awareness around the technology and having a conversation. That’d be great.

Alex Roy
As someone who has had a parachute failure and who regularly skydives, you would have absolutely no problem learning to trust a machine developed for the sole purpose of being safer than you driving.

Jake Millar
No, I wouldn’t.

Alex Roy
Really?

Jake Millar
Obviously, I’m probably someone that’s more comfortable with risk as it relates to… Obviously, you mentioned the skydiving example, but…

Bryan Salesky
Jake you’re…

Jake Millar
I trust people like you guys. I always start companies with much smarter people than myself.

Alex Roy
So it’s the people.

Jake Millar
Yeah, it’s the…

Bryan Salesky
We appreciate that, but you’re a frequent traveler. You see that the system is far from perfect today. Just so much room for improvement.

Jake Millar
Absolutely.

Bryan Salesky
I think people who are frequent travelers tend to be probably more open to, ‘how can we please fix the system.’

Jake Millar
Yeah, as it plays out, of course. I’m not going to trust all of the technology today. But I’m definitely a big believer that smart people are going to fix these problems themselves.

Alex Roy
I want to steal something from your own questions that you brought together for your video with Bryan. Lightning round. What is trust?

Jake Millar
Wow. One of the things I was thinking about a lot over the past 24 hours is, what comes back to the people? I really do believe that, it’s like, are these fundamentally good people that have people’s best interest? And the culture of these companies as well. One thing I admire about Apple is they are very big on privacy. I just think that in today’s world, there’s so much data and we’re sharing so much, and there’s so much online. I’m a relatively paranoid person as it relates to all of that stuff, and I’m certainly much more likely to use an Apple device after these stories come out versus companies and leaders you can’t trust. It’s not my domain of deep expertise, but I know as a consumer, I’m certainly thinking about it.

Bryan Salesky
You’re totally right. And that was a good example of where big tech put the consumer first and that’s really how it should be done.

Jake Millar
Yeah.

Alex Roy
It’s funny, trust: 50 years to build it, an hour to lose it. But you can solve that if you do it right.

Jake Millar
One of the things I was thinking about over the past 24 hours is the difference, sort of relates to trust, but is definitely one of the biggest problems facing the world today is, what is truth now? I feel like no one knows what’s true anymore.

Alex Roy
You know one of the things that we all I think can agree on, is that if people have new, better, more efficient sources of learning that are true, that the world will be a better place.

Jake Millar
Absolutely.

Alex Roy
And we are surrounded by garbage. So what you’re doing with Unfiltered, the ability to cut through, not have to spend a fortune on an MBA, and go through a path towards learning what you want to know, has some value.

Jake Millar
Thank you. Likewise.

Bryan Salesky
It’s good stuff. You’re doing great stuff.

Jake Millar
I really appreciate it. Thank you so much.

Alex Roy
We need to wrap this up. We have a final question. Having watched you do a lot of interviews of others and done a number of interviews yourself, what is the question no one ever asks you that you wish they would?

Jake Millar
I guess the question is just, what sparked you to actually do that? And I don’t know the answer. And I’ve often thought about my father’s passing in the plane crash, and did that spark something? And in some ways it did, the association with the Prime Minister or whatever that may be. But, I think back to when my dad was alive and I was still ambitious and still driven and so on. And I’m just like, why? I don’t know the answer to that. And certainly, this may end in a massive failure. I’m not saying I’m successful. I do know that I’ve been driven to create things and to do things and to move from a very small town and a relatively small country and come to the U.S. and try and do things. I’m quite fascinated by, not just for me, but for everyone I interview, what sparked that, to make change in the world?

Alex Roy
I can definitely say that when I lost my father, it did change something in me. There was something in me, but a switch went on and he’s with me every day.

Jake Millar
Yeah, absolutely. And I think the other thing, as well, is just what you can be. It’s that whole thing of like the iceberg, people only see the tip, the success, but below that is so much hours of failure and struggle and challenges and so on. And it’s not easy. Some days I wonder, why the hell am I even doing this? Not specifically this business, but I go skydiving and I’m like, I could be living in a van, skydiving every day and here I am.

Bryan Salesky
I could be in a barn doing woodworking every day.

Alex Roy
That’s the real Bryan.

Bryan Salesky
I’m with you. We all go through these moments where we reassess things.

Jake Millar
And then there are those pinch me moments where you’re just like, this is crazy. And I try and… There’s the old saying of beware of your own shadow, because you’re never really going to know what you’ve become or who you’ve become, because you always think you’re that 16 year old kid just getting started.

Bryan Salesky
That’s the thing about starting a business is there is all these ups and downs and highs and lows and if you’re not resilient, it can drive you a little bit crazy because you go from these moments of euphoria to moments of, oh my god, this is never going to work.

Jake Millar
100%.

Bryan Salesky
And you can oscillate between those moments kind of frequently. Right?

Jake Millar
100% yeah. Couldn’t agree more.

Alex Roy
Jake, the links for your projects. Unfiltered.tv

Jake Millar
Yes. Unfiltered.tv is our… We’ll put a promo code up there. We’ll call it NOPARKING1. That’s NOPARKING1. Then we’ll put a three month free trial to the Unfiltered Pro subscription.

Alex Roy
Are there any other places online that you’d like people to follow you or learn about you or is that the one.

Jake Millar
I probably use my Instagram as my main channel of what I’m up to.

Alex Roy
We looked at that.

Jake Millar
Yeah.

Bryan Salesky
We did look at it and you got some interesting stuff on there.

Alex Roy
You came off really human.

Jake Millar
Oh, thank you.

Bryan Salesky
Yeah. It was a good way to get to know you.

Jake Millar
I appreciate that.

Alex Roy
Well thanks so much for coming on.

Jake Millar
Thank you guys. It’s been a huge honor. I really appreciate it.

Alex Roy
I better up my game room. Jake’s going to be doing this podcast with you.

Bryan Salesky
I got to tell you, Director of Special Operations, I’ve got a new candidate in mind for this job.

Alex Roy
Well, Jake, I mean this kid, he’s not a kid. He’s great. So when you were 21, Bryan, what were you doing?

Bryan Salesky
I was in college.

Alex Roy
Were you entrepreneurial at that point?

Bryan Salesky
No. I was trying to get through engineering school.

Alex Roy
How’d that work out?

Bryan Salesky
I did graduate. That feels so marginal though when I compare it to what he’s accomplished.

Alex Roy
At 21?

Bryan Salesky
Yeah. I think to myself, “Oh, maybe I should have started a business.”

Alex Roy
But, listening to him talk makes me a lot more optimistic about the future. Because as I get older, I get trapped in… I listen to radio. I watch television less and less. I get trapped in this nihilistic dystopian thing. Everything sucks, except the people I disagree with and they’re all wrong too. And then you meet the next generation entrepreneurs and they don’t care. They’re just building it. They’re just doing it.

Bryan Salesky
He’s just doing it and he’s interviewing some incredible people. The script he goes through, it’s not really a script, but the questions he asks are deep. They’re insightful. He actually really does a bit of an analytical treatment on the people he interviews, which brings out the best in these people and it’s on display for all of us. So, I think we should all subscribe and check out what he’s got.

Alex Roy
You can check out Jake’s project, which really is awesome at Unfiltered.TV. I really recommend it. It’s like a Choose Your Own Adventure for MBA students, a lot of great lessons there. You can like and follow the NO PARKING Podcast on Twitter @NoParkingPod. You can check out our website where we have complete transcripts of every episode at www.noparkingpodcast.com. If you would like to be a guest on our podcast or know someone you think would be a great guest, please email us at Guests@NoParkingPodcast.com. You can like or follow me or send comments to me on my Twitter @AlexRoy144. Look forward to hearing from you next week.