Today’s Guest Sean Salloux
Meet Sean Salloux, a pioneering figure in the realm of digital technology and a champion of innovative disruption. From his early beginnings as an aspiring tennis player, Sean navigated his journey, overcoming personal challenges and forging a remarkable career in the tech industry. With 20 years under his belt in mobile, crypto, and banking security, Sean was instrumental in creating one of the first digital wallets on a credit card. As a seasoned CEO, he's contributed to the success of several tech startups, and his portfolio even boasts two unicorns (a privately held startup company that is valued at over $1 billion)! Sean is now pouring his knowledge and passion into the future of digital banking. He's on a mission to revolutionize the sector with B2B digital wallets and digital identity systems. Away from work, you'll find Sean sailing the seas or climbing mountains - just another testament to his adventurous spirit.
- Matt and Sean explore the challenges and rewards of being an entrepreneur, offering a candid perspective on the entrepreneurial journey. Sean coins the term "entre-manure" to encapsulate the rollercoaster of ups and downs that come with building a business.
- Beyond the realm of work, Sean reveals his adventurous spirit through his love for sailing and mountain climbing. When asked about influential figures he’d love to interview, Sean talks about his late great-grandfather, an anti-fascist in Italy who lived during fascist rule, and even the late Queen Elizabeth, intrigued by her vast historical knowledge and experiences.
- Drawing from his experience, Sean shares valuable insights on building a cohesive team at Sentinel Digital, combining familiar colleagues with new subject matter experts. He underscores the significance of nurturing a network over time and leveraging those connections for opportunities.
- As the discussion concludes, Sean reflects on the challenge that comes with running a large company. He excels in scaling businesses to a certain point but thrives in environments where he can focus on the success and realization of ideas rather than solely monetary gains.
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Matt: Welcome to Push to Be More with me, your host, Matt Edmundson. This is a show that talks about the stuff that makes life work and to help us do just that. Today I am chatting with Sean Salloux from Sentinel Digital, uh, digital, about where he has had to push through what he does to recharge his batteries.
Well, what, what more looks like for Sean. Now, the show notes and transcript from our conversation will be available. On the website, push to be more.com. And on our website you can also sign up for the newsletter. And each week we will email you the links along with the notes all from the show.
Automatically they come direct to your inbox, totally free. Now this episode is brought to you by Aurion Media, which helps business leaders set up and run their own. Successful podcast. You know what I have found? Running my own podcast to be insanely rewarding. It opens doors to amazing people like nothing I have ever seen.
I have built networks, made friends, and had a platform to champion my customers. My team. And my suppliers, and I think just about any entrepreneur or business leader should have a podcast because it's had such a huge impact on my own business. That of course, that all sounds great in theory, doesn't it?
But there's gonna be problems like with setup, distribution, get in the tech, right? Known how to do the marketing. I mean, the list goes on. You see, I love talking to people, but I'm not a big fan of all that other stuff. And so Aurion Media, They just kind of, they're like the backstage crew. They take it all off your plate.
They make it all happen. Uh, and they just spin their magic. I get to do what I'm good at, which is just chat to amazing people like Sean. Uh, and they brilliantly take care of the rest. So if you're wondering if podcasting is a good marketing strategy for your business, do connect with them at orientmedia.com.
That's aurionmedia.com. And we will of course link to them in the show notes as well. Okay, so that's the show sponsor. Let's talk about today's guest, Sean Salloux, a pioneering figure in the realm of digital technology and a champion of innovative disruption from his early beginnings as an aspiring tennis player.
We're gonna get into all of this. Sean navigated his journey, overcoming personal challenges, and. Forging a remarkable career in the tech industry with 20 years under his belt in mobile crypto and banking insecurity. Sean was instrumental in creating one of the first digital wallets on a credit card as a seasoned CEO.
He's contributed to the success of several tech startups and his portfolio, both the odd unicorn as well, which if you don't know, uh, is a privately held startup company that is now valued at over a billion dollars, which is, you know, it's a fair few quid, isn't it? Uh, Sean is now pouring his knowledge and his passion into the future of digital banking.
He's on a mission to revolutionize the sector with B2B digital wallets and digital identity systems away from work, though, you'll find Sean sailing the Seas or climbing mountains. Uh, just another testament to his adventurous spirit and he is here, no doubt, the peak of his career, uh, on the push to be more podcast.
Sean, great to see you man. Thanks for joining us. How are you doing?
Sean: Very good, very good. I wouldn't say peak, but uh, yeah.
Matt: Yeah. Sorry to let you down, Matt, but no.
Sean: Entrepreneurs, you know, were always optimistic that, that the peak is just, just across, you know, just over the bend. The
Matt: Yeah, that's right, that's right. Now, speaking of the word entrepreneur, I had an email like literally a few seconds before the call from Sadaf, who's the show's producer, and Sadaf said, uh, sent me an email where you talk about this word entrepreneur. What, what was, what was that all about?
Sean: Yeah. Well, well, people say, oh, you, you're, you're an entrepreneur. You know, when, when I tell 'em a little bit about some of the things I've done. Oh, who have you worked for? Well, I've spent most of my time working for myself and other like-minded people, but I, I, I've always used the word entre-manure. Um, I, I dunno.
I, you know how you have kids and they sometimes pronounce, can't quite pronounce things well, it just popped into my head one day that I'm, you know, you, you, you deal with a lot of shit as an entrepreneur. Whether it's you're making the coffee or getting the investors or selling the first product or the second product or shit, it doesn't work.
And so you're always saying, oh shit, this is going wrong. That's going wrong. And so I found, I found like, I found the word entrepr manure, you know, kinda like entering the manure. You're in it as almost a better description in both its plus and minuses. You know, entrepreneur sounds very, uh, very fanciful, I think in a way.
Matt: Yeah, entrepreneur. I, and the funny thing was, as soon as I read it, Sean, I knew exactly what you were talking about. I mean, it, it takes, having been around the block a few years myself, uh, it didn't take, uh, much imagination to figure out what, and I was just like, no, this is genius. I, I really like this as an idea.
So, so you've, you've been an entrepreneur. Uh, an entrepreneur and an entre-manure, uh, for, for a little while. So, before we get into your story, um, as you know, Sean, this show is sponsored by Aurion Media, which is, you know, they help people set up podcasts. I'm kind of curious if you had your own podcast and you could interview any guest, right from the past or the present.
And the only caveat is they've had to have had a big influence on your life. Who would you, who would be your guest? Who would you interview and why?
Sean: Well, I, I, I've thought a lot about that and I kind of have, uh, I kinda, uh, there's a personal choice, which would be my, uh, my great. Uh, grandfather, because I've never met him, and he died way before I was, uh, I was born, he was a big patriarch in Italy, uh, you know, big land owner, and he lived through some amazing times.
He, he, he lived through fascism and it killed him. He was very anti-fascist. Uh, and he positioned himself against that. And they ba they basically killed him and his, uh, the, and ancestral Lands became kind of the local Nazi headquarters.
Matt: Oh wow.
Sean: And, and so I'd be kinda curious, tell why he, you know, how he managed, you know, he was very loved by the people, and my mother would tell me stories of during the Great Depression, although the people came on his land, came to live on his land because he treated everybody very well.
And it was one for all and all for one. So he was not a. A tyrannical person. And I was kind of curious and I, I've always thought, you know, it's always inspired me, you know, to, to be like that, to, uh, to just think like that. I think from a personal perspective, that would be very interesting for me. And, and the other person I would say has made a big impact on me, but I've just, I'm fascinated by is the queen.
Um, you know, she obviously recently died. But she's just been through everything in modern history, literally from the Victorian age. She's, she was there World War ii, you know, she was, she was there in the eighties. She's lived through everything, but she's been kind of above it all because she, governments would come and go.
She knew what was really going on. She had access to all the best intel. She had best, better intel than most of the prime ministers and, and anybody in the world. And she never had to worry about where her next meal was coming. She had no stress about, you know, that, those kind of things. And I, I, if she would be honest and open, An interview, you know, and, and couldn't hide behind political.
I think she'd be amazing because she's seen it all, everything major. She's met everybody. She can tell you who was really nice and who were faking, and she knew what, she knows what's really going on. You wanna know what's going on in area 52, she'll know. So she just knew everything, every conspiracy she has the truth about everything.
And, and I think it would be fascinating to, cuz there's very few people in the whole world who have that kind of power, not power, that access to information plus that longevity, you know, through so many decades and, and, and, and not be the center of attention in a way,
Sean: and not be the.
Matt: yeah, I, I'm with you. I thought, um, I mean, you know, feelings of the monarchy aside, uh, I am fascinated by the queen, um, and what she has lived through and what she has, what she's endured, and what she's. What she's come through, and I think you're right. I think if you could get someone like the Queen to just talk openly and honestly, it would be one of the most fascinating conversations you would ever have, wouldn't it?
Sean: Exactly, and you know, politic politics aside, it's interesting cuz as an American I'm obvious I'm not a royalist at all. And the whole idea, I remember when I first, uh, moved to the UK and I was like, you don't actually buy the land, you lease hold it. It's owned by the crown. So, you know, it's owned by some, you know, some royal in Westminster.
It just that, that I, you know, that definitely turned me off. So some of the politics of that. But you're right. Kind of politics aside, I think she would be, I think she would be fascinated and she could, you know, she's met every, everybody, everybody else that you could possibly think of. So, yeah, I, I
Matt: Yeah, she has, she was, um, she was close to Churchill, wasn't she? And I mean, you and you. You go from Churchill all the way through, you know, Obama to, you know, Kennedy, I mean, all of these people that she met along the way. And it would just be a really interesting conversation. And I think you're right.
I think if you could, if you could get that open and honest aspect of it. Wow.
Sean: because you can read.
Matt: really think about, you know,
Sean: You can read a book about Churchill, but you know you're gonna get it from the Autobiographers opinion. And, and the, the, the whitewashing, you know, the good parts. They'll probably downplay the bad parts, but the queen knew him personally, but also knew the good and the bad. Right?
Knew the shortcomings cuz she had to deal with him both. Politically, you know, and, and, and probably most people in history, you know, like you, you read my bio, her the, you know, if she was meeting me, the bio she would get would have all, you know, all the kinks, both good. She would really know, you know. So yeah, I think, I think it would be fascinating.
Matt: And what do you think of, I mean, your, you said your, you know, your grandfather was an anti-fascist in Italy at the time where fascism was rife. Um, and good on him, you know, and he, it cost him, by the sound of it, you know, the ancestral land was, sort of, was taken away. Um, I assume that never came back to the family.
Sean: Uh, it came back to some members of the family, uh, not all of it, and not, you know, uh, there was, there were definitely some issues around, around it, but yeah, it did, it did kill him. They, they killed him. And one of my mother's last memories of is kind of jumping in, jumping in the, uh, You know, in the coffin and not wanting to leave.
She, she was too young to really understand death. Um, so I was definitely moving on her and she passed, uh, passed on that. Yeah. But I think there's houses now on, most of they, they built condos,
Matt: Oh, wow. Wow.
And I, I'm.
Sean: family benefited. But you know, it obviously it took a lot of time and it definitely caused a lot of, a lot of pain.
Matt: Yeah, and I, I kind of sit here and I think I, again, I mean it, if I could speak Italian now, I suppose it would help, but again, I would love to, I'd love to, I'd love to sit down with people like that and go, what drove you? What, what caused you to stand up for what was right despite the cost? You know, what, what was it that value inside you that, that, that caused you to pursue that?
Really fascinating, really fascinating conversation.
Sean: Yeah. Yeah, it'd be very, it'd be very interesting because he, and he was, you know, he was kind of, he, he ran his own property, you know, not a business, but in some ways it was running that much land with. People, you know, and I think, I'd like to think I've inherited some of his natural, you know, ability to, to understand people and to like people.
I mean, that, that's one of the things I like about being, you know, an entrepreneur. It's a part of it is, is you spend a lot of time with people, whether you're raising money, selling products, or thinking or cooking ideas with good people. You know, one of the things I used to live in San Francisco, um, I'm a London Business School grad, and we used to meet a bunch of us, the CEOs used to meet.
Regularly to just chat about things, you know, and sometimes we'd help each other out, but just chatting with other people that. You didn't have an agenda, weren't investors. I found that that really useful. And, and I think, you know, and I'd like to think from meeting some of my, you know, family members, the Italian side of my family and, and other parts of the family.
I'd like to think that besides my height, that's one of the things I, I think I've inherited it, that just, he must have been very good, very good with people, you know, to have that kinda love and, and, uh, You know, and to, and to manage the expectations of all that, you know, authority not coming from, uh, power, not coming from the church or the state, but just the personality and the fairness of it.
And I think those futile systems, not, not futile, but you know, those, those farming systems are, you know, Italy and, and I, I, I think it's, it's just fascinating because it's not like you had, uh, the power, you know, it, it was different. It was a different kind of entrepreneurship in a way.
Matt: Yeah. No, it was I be a spectacular story. So was it your great grandfather's story then that sort of. Kickstarted your entrepreneurial drive, do you think? Or is, is, is, is the route somewhere else?
Sean: I think, uh, the roots initially were, uh, were, were just, just with my own family. Um, my parents have, you know, probably a way overeducated between them. They held like three or four doctorates, uh, combined and uh, I think they got a little bit. I would say disenfranchised with, with, uh, the academic world and the, the system.
And so my father went into, went into business and, you know, went bust a couple of times, uh, over the course of my life. And so I kind of saw that. That I, I really liked the thinking and the security of academia and ideas. You know, I loved, I lived most of my life in college towns where you were meeting people from all over the world.
They were there to learn. It was open, it was most of very liberal in some ways, um, and a lot of ways. And so, but then I like then the tech side of it, you know, and, and, and then taking these ideas and then getting 'em out into the world where academic is all about writing a book and writing a paper and getting published.
To me that felt like a waste of time. Like if it's a really good idea, you should get it out in the world. And I realized, I, I wanted to work with the people with the good ideas and find the good ideas, and then take them to the world, you know? So to me, the measure of success was not how you were published or how famous you became, but you know, your product is out there,
Matt: The measure of success then for you is, is a product that is out there that is that that is doing something, I guess that has some kind of impact or.
Sean: Yes. Yes. I mean, obviously a positive impact.
Matt: Yeah. Well, yeah. Yeah. Otherwise, this would be a very short interview, Sean.
Sean: Yeah, as I've, as I've gotten older, you know, it has to have more of a positive effect the first time, wow, this is a great idea. We could make a lot of money if we did this. You know, there's a hole in the market, you know, but, uh, but as I've gotten older, it's like, yeah, but I want to be the best in the world at, I want somebody to go, ah, sh He might not have gotten rich from doing what he did, but he was there.
He was the early guard. You know, and early stuff from the internet and even just, you know, I saw digital wallets back in the late nineties, um, and I said, oh my God, this is the future. You know, people can move money. I can walk up to you. And, and then this was kind of before there were phones, before there was banking on phones, and I said, oh, it was a chip.
Chip and pin on a card and our card could talk to your card. If you put it in a phone, my phone can talk. This is the future. So I saw that and I, I worked really hard at. You know, saying, wow, this is the future. You know? And, uh, and jumping on the, jumping on the ideas and really, uh, developing them, you know, and saying, some of them were my ideas and some of 'em were other people's.
But the, the goal was to, to, you know, to see that idea come, to come to fruition. And I think like with, with blockchain and, and crypto, you know, it's really hitting, hitting the mainstream now.
Matt: mm So the. So the, the, the tech industry that you got into, then you saw the digital wallets in the late nineties, and it sounds like a quite a bit before a lot of people saw the, the possibility of those. Um, and you've, you've been in the industry since then working with that. And we read in your bio, you know, you've been in involved with some, quite, quite Goliath of, you know, startups.
Um, What's, what's been some of the challenges that you've faced along the way on that journey, because it, it sounds like a pretty impressive journey and I imagine it was an all smooth sailing.
Sean: No, I think, yeah, it, it's hard to know. Uh, I think the biggest challenge is there are more good ideas out there than there are people to execute them, right?
Matt: Such a great answer. Yeah.
Sean: I mean, I, I've come across some amazing people and I've come across some amazing ideas and I'm like, wow, if only you could put the two together.
And, you know, if you look at the successful companies, it's a lot less about the idea than it's the people executing.
Sean: Some of these people, you know, if you look at even, you know, apple and, and, and, you know, Microsoft, Jobs, good example. And, uh, well, the founder of Microsoft, um, you know, bill Gates, he didn't come up with the ideas.
He basically took them from. The lab, uh, uh, in California where he had access to IBM, paid for a lot of it, those ideas, but he saw, oh my God, look, this is the mouse, and he could do this. And the processor, this is the software. He saw it and he was able to pull it out, put it together, and run with it. Where the people who were inventing it didn't even see, didn't even see it.
What was these, what was it famously said? Yeah, I think PCs are great. There's gonna be a need for a hundred of them in the world. Right? People, people miss that. So, you know, seeing that and, and you don't always make the right decisions, like hindsight, if I, I look at all the ones, you know, I, I, I'm lucky enough to have been involved with two or three, you know, unicorns.
Some when they were 10 people, some when they were 30 people, um, you know, And, but I, I think I, I often lose, I wouldn't say lose sleep, but I think about the ones I missed. Like I had a chance to invest in ringtones, right? When I was, uh, doing the mobile stuff, uh, I was, I obviously would, I was investing people's, you know, I was working for Gem Plus, which was seeing a lot of stuff happening in Mobile Telco.
And then these guys came, oh yeah, you have your phone, your ringtone. We can put a music song and everybody can load their song. I said, who the hell is gonna pay 99 cents for? For, to, to listen to, you know, it wasn't Taylor Swift, but who you too on, on your phone. Like what? That's crazy bad idea. So I, I, I, that's when I passed, I passed on, I, I could have made a lot of money doing that and I actually, years later I met the guy who said, that's a great idea, you know, and he has a much bigger house he, right.
So, so it's hard to know which ideas, but as I've gotten older, you know, the hardest thing is always. Picking the idea and then raising, raising the money. Because as an entrepreneur, you always, you know, early days you wanna put in your own money and you wanna double down. But you have to realize that even the venture capitalists, the successful ones, the famous ones that you know, that have the big yachts, they only have to hit one outta every 10.
But as an entrepreneur, if you hit one out of every 10, you know, it's, it's tough. Y you know, and there's.
Sean: I have a few investors who've backed me multiple times, um, and they say, Hey, you did what you could. The company got sold. Yeah. We, we didn't lose as much, but, you know, and, and they say it's about the team, you know, and what I've found is, uh, it's less about the idea and more about the team because you take a good team, you take two good.
A good team and a bad team give 'em the same ideas and the good team will will figure out how to pivot and be success. The other thing is a lot of entrepreneurs don't realize is it's never the first idea, you know, that makes you the billion,
Sean: So, It's where you are, two years down the line when you've been working at it and suddenly you go, oh my gosh, because we have this, we have something else.
Like, look at Amazon. I mean the, the, their shipping makes very little money. You know, what makes the money is AWS the services, which they just said, oh, we're building all these services. We might well open 'em up to outside. That's where they're making all their money. And you say, well, that, that's brilliant.
But you know that they stumbled upon that. And most companies I know, if you look at what they started off as, it's not what they ended up as.
Matt: That's so powerful. I like that. Never the first idea that makes the billion. And it, and you're right. You know, and I, I think about. My own business journey and where we, where we started and where we've ended up and where we will end up in a few years time, I imagine are gonna be quite different places, you know, and you, and you do stumble across these things.
I remember, you know, the, at one time we had a beauty e-commerce website, you know, it was a pretty big website. We were selling millions online and, um, I, I remember joking with somebody once, you know, never once did I go into. My school and when, when I was at school at high school, you, you talk to a careers advisor, that's what we called them, the careers advisor and, uh, Yeah, yeah.
Trying to figure out what the right career was, you know, what the right pathway to take was. And never once did I sit down with that guy and think, you know what? I want to, I wanna sell beauty products. I wanna be the king of beauty. It just, it never
Matt: you know what I mean? Even, even when I was in it, I was still shocked that I was in it.
And so, um, I. It's quite, it's quite fascinating that you, that you say that, that actually there, there are these pivots, these changes that have to take place. How have you, um, how have you remained adaptable in that and not cuz if you have, if you start with an idea and things seem to be changed, changing at a pace, how do you know when to sort of stick with, with your guns and go, no, this is what we want guys.
And how do you know when to let go and, and change a little bit?
Sean: That's really hard. I, I, it's a hard, hard one. Um, and I don't think I've always gotten it right, but I think it's, again, it's the people you're with. It's the team. You know, you have enough people that you trust around you that say, Hey, maybe it's time to go left, not right, um, or, or, you know. Then, then you have to, you know, even though it's not a, it's not a democracy, you know, it's a, it's more of a dictatorship.
You still have to listen to the people because they're the team that got you there. Not, not always. And sometimes, you know, they'll look back and say, Hey, you were right, but you got, you gotta know which battles to, to pick. And I think, you know, I think some of the most successful entrepreneurs, you know, like if you look at, you know, bill Gates and stuff, they were very lucky when they started off.
They had a really. The team around them was pretty good. You know, some of them stuck with them to the end, right? And sometimes it takes two or three versions. Same thing with music. You know, it takes two or three versions. That person leaves, this person comes. But when you have that team that can execute you, you stick with them.
You know, and if you look over the course, you know, I, I haven't really done an interview, like a job interview, even between companies. You know, somebody will always call me and say, Hey, you helped me out here, or you did this. I saw, can you help me here? You know, and it's, it's because they know you, they know your work and whether you were successful or failure, they said, this is the right person for this job.
And in your mind, when that opportunity opens, they'll come. And then you bring the same people I've worked with, you know, some of the key people in multiple jobs. Various countries and various parts of the world.
Matt: Mm, you just bring them. So have, have, is this some, is the team then something that you've kind of acquired over time, uh, and build over time, or is it, um, is it a case of when you start something new? You, you pretty much are starting from scratch again with the team. How, how have you dealt with that?
Sean: Now I think most of the team, uh, Well, it depends cuz there's usually subject matter experts. So with Sentinel Digital, I took a, probably about half the team I'd worked with before in this space and then half of it was like, Hey, I need a CFO. I went through my Rolodex and I called four people that had been my CFO.
Before that I could say, Hey, here's the share options you're gonna get. Here's the salary. You know, can you wanna take a punt? Kind of thing. And they, they look at it and they, they don't, they kick the tires around, but it's like, Hey, if they have the time and they wanna do it, they'll do it. And then half of it are new or like subject matter experts that, you know, some, some of the people, like half the team I haven't worked with before, but I, I might have heard of them or somebody I know has worked with them or they come recommended or, you know, they have 20 years at Goldman Sachs.
Uh, running, you know, scaling Goldman Sachs back office. So you're like, Hmm, who do I want to scale my back office?
Sean: who knows how to do it. You know? So if you look at some of the people associated with Sentinel Digital, um, you know, some of 'em have come, they met me at previous companies. Uh, we have one guy who had a 13 billion budget.
He spent more on banking technology than any single person in the world. So he now sits, he retired from uh, one of the world's largest banks and now he sits on the board of other banks. They call him because he knows everybody in the industry, right? He knows banking tech cuz he spent 13 billion a year buying banking tech.
Um, and so he looked at banking tech and he said, Hey, I like what Sentinel's doing, or this is previously, uh, my previous company said, Hey, I wanna invest in your company cuz I've looked at, I think this is the future too. And, uh, there was no, not an opportunity before I exited that company, but I kept that in mind when I started this one.
I said, Hey, listen, we're gonna do this. We're, we're gonna take what we learned at another company and do it a little bit better and go after a different market. He said, Hey, I'm in, you know, um, And, and so that I hadn't worked with him before, but yes, we had, I spent a lot of time with him and he helped us raise money and he made some introductions that were extremely valuable.
And so, yeah. So I think it's kind of like the team, but it, it's hard to know. You could really only know in, in hindsight.
Matt: it's an interesting one, isn't it? Cuz listening to you talk, Sean, I think this is, uh, one of the benefits of getting older is actually your network expanse and you meet more people. Yeah. And actually if you are half decent in your twenties and thirties at, um, talking to people and building connections, actually that sets you up quite nicely for your forties and fifties I think, because you, you've got this sort of pool of people which you can draw on cuz you've met and uh, connected with along the way.
And that kind of sounds like you know what you've been doing there.
Sean: Yeah, and I think what, what, when you're younger, you know, everybody really wants success and it's more, it's more important I think to get competence in something. You know, and to, to be good at something, whether it's music or whether it's business or art or, or programming or whatever, whatever it is, find accounting, whatever it is.
If you, if you have a few expertise and you have passion about that, and then you meet a lot of people, you know, if I, you know, when I need a good accountant, I've got five guys that I know are good accountants that I trust. You know, they might not be available, but, you know, even in music, uh, I was, I was making a video.
I invested in a video game years ago, Martial Arts. I always wanted to do martial arts, and I, I got to meet Bruce Buffer, uh, and we became business partners and we launched a, a mobile fighting game years
Sean: And, uh, before EA lured him away with a big paycheck, uh, in the UFC. But, um, you know, and I needed, uh, you know, I needed, uh, somebody to do the music.
Right. Well, I, I, my wife, you know, I've been going to vacations with somebody who I knew was a very good composer, mostly classical music, and, um, I liked his music so, And so, you know, I picked up the phone, I said, Hey, can you write music in this style? You know, uh, a video game. So, oh, he goes, Hey, I've always wanted to do video games, you know, um, and so it was just somebody I knew, you know, so it was luck for, from his perspective, it was luck.
Um, and it was a number one game in like 20 countries for a while, and I sold it to a Brazilian, a big Brazilian mobile games company, um, to take it to the next level. And, uh, so you could say it was luck, but, you know, I knew him. And I knew he was competent. I knew, you know, he had had stuff produced by the bbc and so it was, for me, it was safe.
I didn't know anything about music. Right. But I knew I could, this is somebody I could trust. And if he couldn't do it, I knew he, you know, he said, listen, I'm gonna put 10 pieces. If you don't, I'll find you the right person. Cuz I know
Sean: And then there's a guy, you know, who's, who's, uh, had a couple of hits that he's, yeah, he's on the, a board of the big, one of the big music companies.
And I just know that if I call him, he's not gonna screw me. He's, I can trust him, he can, and he'll find me the right person. So in life in your twenties and thirties, yeah, you might meet the right people and, and fall in and make a lot of money and do something. But if you're, if you're honest, if you're hardworking and you care about people, if you develop those good skills, they will pay off in the later because, you know, people will call you some of the best jobs and the most money I've ever made.
You know, it's because I worked for somebody. I, I did a project, you know, cause one of my companies, we did a lot of consulting to pay the bills. Instead of finding investment battery research, we did some handheld battery tech. And so we were consulting to the VCs that were investing money into companies.
Anything related to batteries. This was, you know, in the eighties and nineties, um, fuel cells, batteries. So we worked for everybody, Bows, Hueing, all the space guys. Um, and I told these guys were gonna invest in a car company. I said, you know, I wouldn't do it. I don't, I think they're gonna go bust, right? I, I, I think they've got great tech.
They can't manufacture this in volume. There's no way. My guy said, there's no way they can make this in volume. Um, you know, 10 years later, five years later, something like that, I got a call. I said, Hey, we're, uh, we're gonna invest in a a fund. It's gonna be listed in on in Germany. It's gonna be water, about all about water, water purification technology.
And it's similar to some of the stuff, you know, we need a CEO to run it and to build a venture capital firm. We know you, we trust you. The other guys are in London, um, and they're looking for somebody in London. We're in America. We, we couldn't agree on the last CEO. We're ready to put in the money, you know, and I use that to buy the, the down payment of my house, right?
So that was somebody we knew and they said, well, we'll send somebody over. Um, you know, you go meet them in London and uh, if they like you, you're in. And it turns out the guy went to university in my hometown from the other side. So my guys knew me and he sent somebody, he says, uh, we're sending a car to your house.
I said, great. I, you know, you give the day. I'm like, yeah, sure, I'll give the day. And they said, bring your passport. They flew me to a private thing. I flew to Switzerland with the guys from London. They talked to me. They met the money guys in Switzerland,
Sean: and they both said, yep, this is the guy. Oh, we talked about, you know, where I grew up.
And um, you know, and he had gone to that college, same college town in Amherst, Massachusetts. Um, so we, you know, we knew the same. Restaurants and stuff. And he's like, well, thank you. Americans trust you and I trust you. You just gotta get by the Swiss guys. And the Swiss guy said, Hey, he knows what he's doing.
We'll back him. And so I had, you know, my first public, you know, first CEO of publicly traded company then, you know, a week later. But that was because I worked hard and I gave good information. It was, I was honest. And even some of the companies that have gone bust, those guys have called me, you know, those investors, Hey Sean, I'm thinking about putting money in this tech.
What do you think?
Sean: So if your heart and that will, that will come back in in your later year, right? You know the people that you've met in your life that you will do business again, whether they lost money, made money, or failed, but you know the ones that might have made you money, but you do not trust.
Matt: yeah, yeah. Absolutely.
Sean: it might be small, but it accumulates over the course of a lifetime. And even the guys that do make a lot of money because they were in the right place at the right time, they'll never be respected. And people will hate them, you know, and I, I, I just, you know, I, I didn't, for me it was less about the making the money.
I just wanna be associated with the right things and the right priority. Would you make money or not? You know, after a certain amount, it doesn't really matter anymore. You know, after f the first fits.
Matt: Yeah, I, and again, everything sort of points to that, doesn't it really? Um, but the quality of relationship does matter. And that's what, that's, that's quite an interesting point that you pulled out there. And I'm, I'm curious, Sean, though, listening to you talk. Um, you, you talk about this company and then you exited that company exited.
How do you know when it's time to leave or time to exit is probably a better expression.
Sean: I, I think it's a personal thing for me, it was, it was never about the, the money side of it. Usually when the company is like 150 and 150 people and I can't, and I don't know everybody, it's hard to keep figuring out what's going on. Like I'm not. I'm not the guy to take, you know, to go from a hundred million to a billion.
I'm the guy to get it to a hundred million, right? When it's smaller and, and I can, I can meet with people. Cuz as the companies get bigger, it starts to become more and more politics, right? Everybody who's reporting to you, everybody you meet, I mean, I say this kind of facetiously, but punch. Everybody's gonna lie to you, right?
As the CEO and the founder and the chairman of the board or whatever, everybody's gonna lie to you. It's not a bad thing. Because you know that, but you have to understand why everybody's lying to you and understand the
Sean: and even the team, even the people, cuz everybody's gonna come and give the world from their perspective.
Right? And when it starts to get, you know, a hundred, 200, 300 people, then you're relying on second and third hand information. It becomes harder and harder. And it's a different set of management skills that I, I don't think I have. And um, I, you know, I might have some of 'em, but I've, I've never explored them.
Like, you know, I'm not, I'm not the guy to sit behind a desk and run a really big company. And I know that, and, and I've always been really straightforward with my investors. I said that, listen, when the time is right, you know, a year before I p o, two years, whatever, I'll sit on the board. Heck, I'll find somebody else to, to make me rich.
I, I'm happy to step aside when I'm not comfortable, you know, and I'm not, you know, I'm not the right person. I wanna see. For me, it's about getting the idea, seeing it successful, like the digital wallet saying, oh my God, this is amazing. And seeing it come to fruition with the blockchain and knowing that I met some of the founders of.
You know, Ethereum, I helped the Ethereum guys. Um, they hired a classman of mine at LBS. I, I introduced him to one of their first accountants. Cause they said, Hey, how do we, how does this work? We, how do we account for it? I said, I, I don't know. I'm busy, but let me introduce you to somebody. So I was, you know, the, on the, on the proof of, but I, now I can see it, it's a huge success.
Did I make money? Yeah, I, I had a few, a few digital assets, you know, five years before other people and, you know, Uh, the accountant is retired now, but you know, it, it was just to be around those people and, and to see the stuff that they were doing. But, you know, those are the ones that made it. But, you know, five of the other groups never did.
Matt: Yeah. Yeah. Fascinating. So, I mean, it sounds like Sean, life is busy and we said at the start, I mentioned, um, sailing, uh, getting into the mountains and tennis. Is that how you recharge your batteries?
Sean: Uh, not tennis so much anymore. Um, I was really competitive at it and, you know, had rankings and stuff in my youth, but it, it's bad on my knees. On the hard courts, and I played mostly on the hard courts, so I've had to give up tennis. I watched my kids play a little bit of tennis. Um, but mostly it's the sailing and the hiking and, um, I, I really like being up at high altitudes and, you know, where it's hard not, I mean, beautiful walk is always good, but sailing and hiking, I, I think it's the meditate, it's the meditativeness, the
Sean: and that, that, that, that part of you is really focused on what you're doing and part of you can go somewhere else, right.
Which is, uh, which is rare in sports and physical activity, maybe like swimming, um, if something like that. But I really like the meditativeness and if you've ever been on a, uh, a really, really high mountain, like, you know, I've done. I made it past the base camp in Everest. I've summited Kilimanjaro. I wanna kind of, you know, and I, I don't have to get to the summits.
When you said likes to climb mountains, the, to me it's not about getting to the top, you know, Everest, I, I was not gonna pay the money it took to get to the top, nor was I gonna put my life in danger. But I got to the base camp, which is very, very safe, right? And you can watch the idiots going by you, you go to the ice balls. And I remember seeing that ladder and I was, you know, like, what am I gonna do? So I was helping on ferries and stuff. Packages. You get to the, uh, you know, aluminum ladder, two ladders lashed together over crevice that's moving. You know, you could go back three days later, it fallen through and they put it somewhere else.
I'm like, no, that's not for me. I can look at it, I can appreciate it, but, but it, it's like when you're, you know, it's very hard to take a step. It's like meditation. You're doing the same thing over and it doesn't matter how rich, how. Doesn't matter whether you're married, divorced, everything in your mind falls away and the only thing you're focused on is putting one foot in front of the other.
It's hard cuz your body is saying, sit down and go to sleep. The altitude, it's just hard. You're like, it's making you dizzy. You have to put one foot in front of the other. And that's, it's, it's this repetitive, you know, it, it's like a meditation. It's like a mantra. And then an hour later you're, you're, you know, you've moved a hundred yards or something.
Um, and so it just strips away everything else. And so when I have big decisions, it was always really nice because you come back and it almost, it makes you know who you are because all the things that aren't important fall away. Right. You could be doing that with somebody famous or somebody, you know.
It doesn't matter the person next to you if they're good, if you get along, it comes to the forefront because nothing else matters. And so I, I find it's like very, it's like cleansing, you know, and it's physically challenging, but for me it's more the mental, it's, and sailing, when you're sailing with the right people or aren't crossing oceans, like, I don't race boats, but a, a little bit.
But, you know, sailing across an ocean is, is, is similar and I don't get to do that much. Anymore, but you know, you can do a day here, a day there, and it's fun.
Matt: Yeah. It sounds, I mean, I, I get that, uh, that need, uh, like you say, just to that meditative state, just to clear your mind of everything and just, and just, and it's a beautiful, powerful thing, isn't it? It's just incredible how that, that impacts. Yeah. Let me, um,
Sean: comes back to you? What, when you're done with that, what comes back is what's important. That that always rises to thing, things that aren't important. Fall by the wayside.
Matt: Yeah. And it's, it's great to get that rebalance in life and just remind yourself what are the big rocks, right? And just, um, and focus back in on those again. Um, question box, Sean. This is where I rifled through some questions. You're gonna tell me when to stop and we're gonna ask that question.
Matt: Okay. So, Talking about Bill Gates, if you were in charge of the Bill Gates Foundation, but could only spend the funds tackling one issue, what would it be?
Sean: Hmm. That's a good one. I actually know some people who've worked at the Bill Gates Foundation.
Sean: was a, that was a good internal debate. It's interesting. A few years ago I would've said the environment, and now I would have to say climate change.
Matt: So you separate the environment and climate change into two different things?
Sean: I would definitely say it was, well, I think they've merged into two things. Yeah, because climate change there, there, there's definitely a technology play, but there's also a humanitarian play. I think it, it affects everything else. So if you look at all the things the Gates Foundation is investing in, a lot of it is starting to become climate change driven, you know, and I think that's the biggest issue, you know?
Um, so, uh, a year ago, uh, the May 4th, uh, there's, may, may the fourth be with you. Things all over the world. Yeah. Yeah. And so last year I was at this gala event. Uh, a friend of mine invited me. Um, he had one of his companies does something in space. And so I got to go meet one of the last people who ever walked on the moon, um, an American astronaut.
And I got the, they had probably about 15 other astronauts there. And to me that was like a best night out, right? Talking to, cuz I always wanted to be an astronaut. I was too tall and I was too blind. Like I'm blind almost in one eye, which made me tennis hard cuz
Matt: was gonna say, yeah.
Sean: Um, and so I got to talk to them and one of 'em said something that has stuck with me forever.
Um, you know, it, it is, I think it's something that haunts me forever. She said this, a Japanese astronaut and she said, When I was up there, I was far, and I, I could see the whole earth and there was a thin layer that was the atmosphere. And she goes, and it was that big. And I could see the whole curvature.
It was that big. It was nothing. And then you look and there's the blackness of space and all the stars, and you realize, one, how small the earth is, and that's what's protecting us. If that's gone, you're Mars. And she goes, and you're far enough away. It's so small. Relative to the earth. It's such a small, little thin layer.
It's like, I felt I could go and blow it away.
Sean: And I, and I said, so what do you do? She goes, I'm an environmental style. I just, you know, and, and that kind of dawned on me, and I think if, like, if everybody, you know, if everybody could see that, you know, go out there and see how, how small this world is, uh, you know, that's one of my favorite pictures I have right over there.
Uh, Earth rise, you know, from the Apollo, you see the earth small. Um, I, I keep it there as you know. I, I look at it and that's what she said. She said it's so small, that thin layer that we're in. And, and I think if everybody saw that, I think it would, you know, it would help things.
Matt: Yeah, that's powerful. I'd have to agree with you actually. I think, I mean, there's a few things that you'd spend that many on I suppose, but you know, the environment and climate change I think is is definitely high upon the list, isn't it? It's got to be.
Sean: I think that would the quality for more people. Anything else
Matt: Yeah, it's,
Sean: and just.
Matt: Yeah. Wow. Listen, Sean, I'm aware of Time Bud, and it's, it's got away from me yet again. Uh, as it always does. Um, if people wanna reach out to you, if people wanna connect, find out more about what you're doing over at Sentinel Digital, how, what's the best way to do that?
Sean: Sure. Well, I don't do social media. Um, I don't know about you, but for me, life is way, way too busy, uh, for that. Um, but you can always find me on LinkedIn.
Sean: And, um, I'll connect with people on LinkedIn that I, that I meet, but I'll, I'll, I'll answer. I try to answer everybody on LinkedIn, you know, and, uh, and, and try to see if there's a connection.
Matt: Yeah. Fantastic. And we will of course link to that, uh, in the show notes on the website for Sentinel Digital. What's that?
Sean: Uh, it's www, uh, sntnl-digital, or sorry, Sentinel spelled s n t n l.
Sean: -digital.com and that, that's all also on my LinkedIn page.
Matt: Yeah. Fantastic. Well, listen, Sean, it has been an absolute treat, man. Uh, I've really enjoyed the conversation just talking about stuff I don't normally get to talk about, which is always quite nice. And, uh, pick your brains a little bit. So thanks for coming on the show. Um, thanks for sharing your wisdom and just putting it out there, man.
And, uh, it sounds really exciting what you're involved with. Really exciting and, um, I'm, I'm imagining you, you're quite a cool bloke to meet down at the pub for a pint.
Sean: Well next time you're in, uh, my neck of the woods, not that far from London, you know, feel free, Matt, it, I'd love to have a pint with you. Hopefully a nice afternoon.
Matt: I'll hold you to that. That sounds great. Uh, Sean, thanks for coming on, man. Uh, it's been a real pleasure.
Sean: Okay, thank you. Bye-Bye.
Matt: Well, we will of course link to Sean's information in the show notes, which you can get along for free, along with the transcript of Push to Be more.com, or it'll come direct your inbox if you've signed up to the newsletter.
So a huge thanks again to Sean for joining me today, and of course, a big shout out to today's show sponsor or media if you are wondering if podcasting is a good marketing strategy for your business. Do connect with them at aurionmedia.com. That's A U R I O N media.com. Uh, and reach out to the guys. Tell 'em I said hey, but be sure to follow, uh, the Push to Be More podcasts wherever you get your podcast from because we've got more great conversations lined up and I don't want you to miss any of them.
And in case no one has told you yet today, You are awesome. Yes, you are created. Awesome. It's just a burden you have to bear. Sean has to bear it. I've gotta bear it and you've gotta bear it as well. Push to Be more is produced by Aurion Media. You can find our entire archive of episodes on your favorite podcast app, the team that makes this show possible.
It's Sadaf Beynon, Estella Robin and Tanya Hutsuliak. Our theme music is by Josh Edmundson, and as I mentioned, if you would like to read the transcript or show notes, head over to the website. Site, pushtobemore.com. Where incidentally, you can also sign up for the newsletter that I mentioned. That's it from me.
That's it from Sean. Thank you so much for joining us. Have a fantastic week wherever you are in the world. I'll see you next time. Bye for now.