Manuj Aggarwal – Data is the New Gold (342)

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Manuj Aggarwal is a business mentor, entrepreneur, digital & business strategist, author, podcast host, and inventor. From working in a factory for $2 a day at age 15 in his native India to the boardrooms of Fortune 500 companies, Manuj has become world-renowned AI expert and entrepreneur expert. Besides technical expertise, Manuj has a deep knowledge of human psychology and neuroscience that he believes gives him that “extra edge.”

Manuj’s belief that data is new gold led him to start TetraNoodle Technologies, a premier data science and AI consulting company. In his 30-year career, he has worked with startups and Fortune 500 companies alike, including Microsoft, Pearson, IBM and many others.

Manuj is self-educated, self-made and self-aware. This is a fascinating episode, and I know you won’t want to miss it.

To learn more about Manuj, please see the links below:

And now here’s Manuj Aggarwal.

Full transcript below

Video With Manuj Aggarwal – Data is the New Gold

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Podcast with Manuj Aggarwal. Data is the New Gold.


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Mike Malatesta, Manuj Aggarwal

Mike Malatesta  00:03

Hey, Manuj, welcome to the podcast.

Manuj Aggarwal  00:26

Thank you so much for having me, excited to be here.

Mike Malatesta  00:30

Yeah, I’m, I’m excited too, I’m really glad that we got connected. I think it was our friend, Justin Breen, who connected us and us. He and I had a little conversation a week or so ago before we got started to get to know one another. And it was really fascinating. And you heard a little bit about him in the intro, and now I’m going to tell you a little bit more about him before we get to the question. So, Manuj Aggarwal is the founder of TetraNoodle Technologies. He’s a business mentor. He’s a leading authority on AI and machine learning with four patents, he’s a two-book author, at least two books, and a podcast host. He started his career at the age of 15. You heard that right, 15, working in a factory and earning $2 per day. While Manuj had no contacts or resources, he was determined to improve his life with hard work and insatiable curiosity to learn new concepts. He continued to make stellar progress. His company TetraNoodle Technologies, which is a premium data science and AI consulting company. Manuj has worked with some of the biggest names in business names like Microsoft, IBM, INC, and he’s been listed among the world’s AI leaders by Miami Dade College. Manuj is also a mentor, a board advisor in many startups, accelerators, and entrepreneurship circles. He is currently the leader of the Vancouver startup community. And finally, Manuj is the host of the Bootstrapping Your Dreams Podcast, one of the top podcasts in the world. So Manuj, I start every podcast with the same simple question. And that is, how did it happen for you?

Manuj Aggarwal  02:30

Oh, I mean, it has been I mean, you know, it’s been a long journey, as you said, I started my journey back in India. And what triggered was one afternoon, you know, during the lunch break, I was going through some business magazines. And I saw the success stories of these rich tycoons who have done like amazing things, built these tremendous companies. And that gave me some inspiration, although I didn’t realize that at that time. But I looked at these their stories, and I asked myself, you know, what is different about these people, how come they are able to, you know, get this much success in life, and what is different about me. Obviously, you know, there was quite a bit of difference, I had no formal education, no context or, or anything like that. But that sort of stuck in my mind somehow, and I started exploring other avenues of, you know, changing my life. And I found that in computers, in programming.  I enrolled into a computer course. And the fee for that course was more than my year salary. So I was not able to enroll in it, the first year when it was introduced, so I had to collect enough money and then try again next year. And after, you know, I got into that course, like I just fell in love, I knew that’s exactly what I was going to do for the rest of my life. And ever since, you know, I’ve been working on the cutting-edge technologies. And also, the other aspects of what I use is my knowledge of business, you know, having worked in a factory where everything needed to be built at scale, and everything needed to be coordinated between different steps of the process. All of that, you know. At that point, I didn’t realize that I was absorbing all of that. And my mind was sort of, you know, marrying all these different components, technology, business, manufacturing, all of that. And now I utilize that mix of backgrounds mix of technologies, mix of understanding of human nature, into solutions that help companies grow exponentially or individuals grow exponentially. Basically, I just tried to replicate my own success with my clients, with my people who I coach and mentor.

Mike Malatesta  05:11

So, phenomenal story, let’s start with the origin though. This $2 a day factory job, tell us, like, what exactly were you doing? How did you get into that? I mean, most of the people that are listening to this podcast are, you know, fat happy Americans who, you know, maybe have no idea how to even contextualize your experience. So could you help us with that?

Manuj Aggarwal  05:39

Yeah, see, growing up in a third-world country or a developing country, you have to survive, you have to fight for the basics of the survival like, you know, food, shelter, water, you know, even drinking water is, in many places, a luxury. $2 a day, frankly speaking, you know, we’re talking about like, 30 years ago, so $2 a day was not like, you know, dirt-poor situation, I could afford food and, you know, basic education and stuff like that. But at the same time, I had to work 12 hours a day for it, I had to do everything that was needed on that money. And, you know, doing jobs like loading 50 kilograms of steel components, so that this factory used to manufacture industrial fasteners built of steel, each of those packages used to be 50 kilograms, or, you know, loading, helping load the trucks, when, you know, the material needed to be sent out to the customers, get the raw material coming in, focusing on, you know, the fuel supply, because the furnaces that used to heat the steel, they consumed a lot of fuel. So, there used to be a huge tanker of fuel that used to be filled up every week or so. So, you know, all of these things, you had to keep in mind to make sure that the factory is able to produce the, the fasteners or the goods at the right pace at the right measurement. And then quality control was another aspect where, you know, these industrial fasteners, they are used to build bridges, they are used to build, you know, heavy machinery. So they have to be precise, they have to be strong, they have to, you know, satisfy certain specifications, industrial specifications. So you had to keep an eye on every aspect of the assembly line, even though it was not like a modern assembly line, per se. But you had to like make samples, every hour or so, you know, make sure that you measure them, you pass the specification, if they don’t pass the specification, then obviously, there is something wrong along the assembly line. So you need to figure out, Okay, where is the problem? And, and to give you a picture, this was all very manual work. So you know, when I say assembly line, people maybe thinking automated robots, CNC machines. No, nothing like that. It was like, very heavy manual work in front of you, these hot furnaces. And, you know, I have a couple of pictures of those of the factory to give an idea of the environment we used to work on,

Mike Malatesta  08:41

I’d love to see the picture, if you wouldn’t mind sharing. I’m very interested in that. You mentioned education, you had enough money for basic education? Were you going to school? Or were you still being educated while you’re working 12 hours a day in this factory?

Manuj Aggarwal  08:58

Yeah. So it was like, you know, had to figure out how to get the education. So after high school, you know, I enrolled into a distance learning program where I used to, like study over the weekends, and evenings and stuff like that. And then I used to go for the exam every six months or so. So that was how I got the got the education while working.

Mike Malatesta  09:26

And just for context, you were 15. At the at the time, were there a lot of 15-year-olds or people that were your age at the time working in the factory as well. And how’d you get in? Was it a relationship or was it just something that you did?

Manuj Aggarwal  09:41

Yeah. So, first of all, this factory was owned by my dad, he raised me as the factory worker, because he came from a very like conservative background and he was raised in a very strict manner. So he had believed that you know, if I get educated, I will not have the grit or, I mean, whatever their, you know, whatever the parents’ sort of mindset was, at the time, it was very, very difficult for me to digest that. Because it’s one thing to, you know, to say, okay, you know, I was born as a factory worker, and that’s my fate, but to be born in that family and then raised as the factory worker, it was like, okay, you know, you have access to these things, but only after you are 30 years old, or 35 years, or until then you have to live this life. So, you know, I have never actually, I never actually experienced life outside of that identity as a factory worker. So yes, there were many people of my age, working in this sector. And even today, you know, that these, I mean, in a developing country, you hear the stories of, you know, goods being manufactured by minors, and all that. So that’s still true, it still happens, you have to do what you have to do to survive. That’s just the bottom line.

Mike Malatesta  11:12

We’ll get into, you know, how you made your way to Vancouver, but was there ever a time or a discussion or plans for you to take over the family business or, you know, become an executive in the family business, you know, like factory floor to the C-suite sort of story?

Manuj Aggarwal  11:31

Um, you know, that’s always the carrot that is the hand, that is the carrot that is sharing, yes. But the thing is that, you know, you have to realize these are very small businesses. So these are very, very tiny businesses in the context of Indian economy, Indian economy is nothing compared to the western economies. So even if you have a business, you’re competing with 2,000 other businesses within a kilometer, or within a 10-kilometer radius. So imagine, you know, India has a population of 1.4 billion, back then it was around a billion. So for every piece of resource, every opportunity, whether that’s a job, whether that’s a business opportunity, anything like that, there are 1,000s and 1,000s of people who are competing for that. Right, so these are all businesses trying to survive, trying to, like, you know, put food on the table. So yes, there was a plan to, you know, become something in that factory. But then, I saw that that goal itself was so small for me, that I needed to venture out because even my own family had a very small sort of a vision of what life can be.

Mike Malatesta  13:03

Yeah, okay. Right. And when you picked up these magazines at lunch, and you’re looking at them and stuff, did you have discussions with your parents, or your, I don’t know what your sibling situation is, like, hey, this is what I want to shoot for, and or was it sort of like…

Manuj Aggarwal  13:23

It was an interesting conversation. It was like, first of all, you know, who the hell do you think you are? And then, you know, then the discussion changed and said, Okay, you know, whatever you want to do, you need to do it on your own, you know. If you think you are, you’re worth it, then prove it then, and that’s sort of the how my work at the factory sort of became solidified. And, you know, I said, Okay, whatever it takes, I will do it, I’ll go find a job in some other factory, if you want that. If you’re gonna do that, just work at a factory, work in this factory. So I had to basically, you know, raise myself in a way to pay for whatever education I wanted, whatever resources I wanted.

Mike Malatesta  14:19

Okay, and how did that end up? manifesting itself in you, you know, getting out of there and getting to Canada?

Manuj Aggarwal  14:32

Yeah. So that’s another interesting story. Because what I find in life is like, you know, once you make up your mind and you work towards that, the universe starts to align. So, that computer course where I enrolled in, I met my future wife, and she was a Canadian, and, you know, we belong to different religions. So society did not really like inter-caste marriages back then even now it is taboo. But anyway, we got married. And, you know, after the marriage, we were having lots of challenges once again trying to assimilate into the society which was very rigid. So that’s when we decided to move to Canada in 1998. 

Mike Malatesta  15:43

So, when you came? How was it that like? How did you decide where you were coming? How did you get here? And then how did, you know, what did you do when you got here? Help us understand how that happened.

Manuj Aggarwal  16:04

So Vancouver, like, you know, my wife’s side of family was based in Vancouver. So that was sort of an easy choice that we will go to Vancouver and find work. So as soon as I landed here, you know, back then a Craigslist, even now Craigslist is really popular for looking for opportunities. So I borrowed computer, and I started applying for jobs right away. So I used to wake up early in the morning, until late evening, you know, apply to all the jobs that fit my criteria, fit my skill sets, it doesn’t matter. You know what they were offering. And so I got a job within two months of landing in Canada, that was a programming job like a junior programmer. And this was a company that used to build software for greenhouses for the agricultural industry. And, yeah, I used to take the bus two hours each way. So I used to spend like, three to four hours commuting. And that was my first job. This was during  boom days, 1999 to 2002.

Mike Malatesta  17:21

You say you’re commuting two hours each way? Is that what you said? How did it feel when you when you got here? Like — I say here in North America, but when you got to Vancouver? How much? How much culture shock was there? How long did it take you to feel like, I don’t know, I assume you felt like it was home pretty quick. I mean, you’re married? And, you know, but how was that?

Manuj Aggarwal  17:55

You know, it was very strange. I mean, you know, I had, I had good conversational English, but as, as we know, like, you know, every dialect, every continent speaks language differently. So, you know, being in the workforce was, it was a learning curve, where, you know, people talked about it, they laughed on a certain joke, on a certain expression, certain tone that they use, right, like, and I didn’t get it, I was like, I don’t understand what this means. But then I realized, if I don’t make the effort of learning how people speak, how they interact, how they communicate, I will not be able to make much progress. So I made it a point to learn about the culture, to learn about how people interact, learn about the history of Canada, you know, all of those things, so that I can, you know, talk intelligently with people and share my ideas, because I quickly realized, you know, the technical skills that I have, they are a little bit secondary to first me building a relationship with somebody and building that trust,  like, hey, you know, this guy knows something about technology. If I just keep talking about technology or my skill sets, you know, I’m not gonna get much further because I will be only evaluated based on the skills I provide. But then, you know, I knew that I had more to give, I had more input, about business, about marketing, those type of things. And that will only happen if I start to build, you know, better relationships, I started to take interest in what people want to talk about. And then, you know, provide some insights or at least talk intelligently about those topics as well.

Mike Malatesta  19:48

And so in other words, it’s like, connect with people on a human level before you connect with them on a technical level.

Manuj Aggarwal  19:58

Exactly, exactly. Yeah.

Mike Malatesta  20:01

Was your wife’s family or parents there where you were for, you know, support? 

Manuj Aggarwal  20:09

See, it’s a very unique dynamic. Even from her family, nobody has ventured into like, you know, tech industry or working with some of the leaders in the world. So even for them, it was kind of strange. Like, since then we have split up. And one of the reasons was that, you know, I was accused of thinking too big, or thinking, you know, too differently, and I don’t know, success and growth is not everybody’s cup of tea, I guess.

Mike Malatesta  20:50

So that’s interesting, accused of thinking too big, what? What is that? Can you give me some examples of what the accusations might have been? I’m curious.

Manuj Aggarwal  21:02

I mean, again, it’s a general thing, where, you know, the concept is, hey, let’s seek security, you know, you have a job, which is paying six figures, let’s stay there, let’s not rock the boat, let’s not do anything else. And I saw an opportunity to grow a business from six figures to seven figures and beyond, you know. Also, it’s not just about money, but also your personal growth, your own growth in a way that you can learn some skills that nobody in your family, even in generations, thought it possible. Nobody in my family thought it was possible that anybody from their family will be invited to speak in the UN next to a Nobel Prize winner, somebody will be, you know, listed among the top AI experts in the world. And so when I realized that it is possible for me, I had to, I had to struggle for it, I had to, like, you know, put everything that I have into that. And then obviously, that creates, you know, that creates some level of insecurity, because as you are building the business, there is no income coming in. And, you know, even as you’re building the business, it’s not clear what exactly is happening, when are we going to get the results, when are you going to, you know, get that income that needs to be replaced now, so all of these things, they create fear in people, right, and the uncertainties and all that. So, when you’re faced with that, you have a choice whether you keep going or you quit. And I have learned in you know, in my life, there is no success, if you if you ever quit, if you make up your mind, you need to keep going no matter what. And eventually things work out, you know, something, something or the other happens, you meet somebody or you, you know, there is some opportunity opens up, but that will only happen if you keep going. So that is the discrepancy between growth mindset and fixed mindset, you know, where, where people want to settle, they want to be secure. Whereas, you know, some people like me, they want to see, okay, what is possible in life? Let’s go for it.  Let’s shoot for that.

Mike Malatesta  23:25

And not specifically as it relates to your ex or not, but I’m just curious, are you being, you know, quote, unquote, accused of this, did you ever think to yourself, I wonder if they’re right? Or was it just like, I’m sorry, but this is just how I think.

Manuj Aggarwal  23:47

yeah. I mean, you know, I don’t want to, I don’t want to just put this on one person. So no,

Mike Malatesta  23:53

and that’s not what I meant, I meant just men in general. Like, I’m sure she wasn’t the only one who ever said, You’re crazy, man. 

Manuj Aggarwal  24:01

I think that myself sometimes, you know, I was like, Okay, what the hell are you thinking and all like, you know, when you don’t see progress for weeks or months, and you just keep doing the same thing again, and again and again. And, you know, you wonder what the hell is happening to you. But then there is a voice inside you, if you can listen to that, it tells you that you are going in the right direction, just keep going, you know, one more day, you know, just one more day, keep going. And then the other thing is, then you start meeting other people who are like you, you know, and then they say, Oh, you weren’t like that, you had the same experience. I had the same experience. So you know, let’s talk about it. You know, it seems like you are doing the right thing. Let me have a look. They provide you feedback. And now you’re talking to the people who are on the same journey as you and you’re getting more validation. So that gives you much more fuel to keep going.

Mike Malatesta  25:01

Yeah. So in other words, it’s like get around people who don’t think you’re weird.

Manuj Aggarwal  25:06

Yeah. Yeah.

Mike Malatesta  25:09

This thing that you never quit, you mentioned. I was just listening today to Annie Duke. Have you heard of Annie Duke? She’s an author. She used to be a world champion poker player. And she just wrote a book about quitting. And her whole point was that, you know, this whole sort of grit, never-quit thing is just kind of crazy. Because the best people, the most successful people actually know when to quit in order to do something else. So it made me think when you said that you like you quit the factory. What other things have you quit along the way to getting where you are?

Manuj Aggarwal  25:57

That’s a great question. Great question. See, you know, one thing that happened, and I’ll give you a little bit context behind it, okay. Yeah, so one thing happened in 2008, I lost a lot of money, you know, as many other people, and at that time, I didn’t have a lot of financial knowledge. So, when that happened, I said, Okay, you know, I need to learn about how to manage my finances, how to manage my investments. And I came across this notion of a stop loss, meaning when you risk something, you need to have a number in mind, where you say, Okay, if this loss happens, if I lose 10%, or if I lose 20%, or some outcome happens by this date, that means I’m not going to go further with this, right. But at the same time, you have a broader vision. So which you will continue to go towards? So means I want to, you know, I want to impact the world with AI, that is my big vision, like, I want to impact billions of people with AI. But along that way, I will run multiple 1,000s and 1,000s of small experiments, okay, is this going to work or not? And each of those experiments will have some sort of a notion of stop loss, which will tell me did this experiment work or not? And if that experiment worked, I continue to double down on that. If that experiment did not work, then I just, quote unquote, quit on that experiment. Right? Okay.

Mike Malatesta  27:34

So you establish what I would call constraints around an idea. So if you’re within the constraints, you keep moving forward. And if you’re out of the constraints, you adjust or you reverse, or you do you make some type of shift? So TetraNoodle, how did that get started? And what’s it all about?

Manuj Aggarwal  27:58

Yeah. So my company, you know, I told you, I got a job very quickly in the .com-boom time. But when the .com bust happened, just right around the corner, and I lost my job. And then I applied for another job in New York for a startup company. So I worked with them for about a year and then September 11, happened, I lost that job. And then, you know, it kept happening two or three times. So I said, you know, I used to think that there is something called job security in North America, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. So I started my own company, this was back in 2000, year 2000, it was called Spider Communications back then, because of, you know, the web was just new. So I thought of a name. Try to be clever with that. But, but then, so I started consulting with a lot of startups, I started consulting with a lot of companies, you know, Microsoft, being one of the clients, Pearson Education, which, you know, the project that we did for them, it went into like, hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue. And I learned so much from those experiences. And in 2018, so everything was working great. Like, you know, I had a small client base, they were coming to me through word of mouth, but in 2018, I lost my mom. So my parents are my whole family back in India. And I wanted to travel more to see my family on regular basis. But my business was very local. And it was all word of mouth. So I said, Okay, you know, I need to figure out a way to get my name out there so I can be more location-independent. And, and at that point, as well, like, I didn’t know much about marketing or sales or you know, how to grow a business from the ground up. And so, I had to first of all, change the name, because a lot of people you know, Spider Communications was a 20-year-old name and people said, Is this like a phone company  that are you running? Or like an email software company? That was like, no, no, it’s more AI related. So I changed the name to TetraNoodle, and what we do in that is like, you know, data is becoming the new gold. Now, anybody who understands data, either they are at the forefront of their industry or they are going to be. So the evidence of that is very visible to everyone. For example, Amazon is the number one retailer in the world. And they achieved that position in less than 20 years. It’s a multi trillion dollar company. And Walmart has been around for 100 years, and they have been overtaken by Amazon. Because Amazon, at the core, is a data company, they understand data at a very, very granular level, they even optimize the route that their pickers take the people who pick the items from the shelf in the warehouses. So they track how they move. And they use algorithms to you know, optimize their tracks. That’s how efficient they are. Right? So when you understand data, when you understand AI, you can optimize your business or even your life to that extent. And so most people don’t understand it, most people do not know, what is this data science all about?  What AI is all about? How can it improve the business. So that’s where we come in, where we look at the data, we look at the situation, we look at the outcome that they are looking for, and come up with a way to you know, implement that in such a way that it gets them the growth, the exponential growth they are looking for very quickly.

Mike Malatesta  31:48

So I think most people that are listening would understand data as being important as a tool to sell stuff better to people. So Amazon’s a good example, you start searching on Amazon, and it quickly picks up on what’s interesting to you, and then to start showing you things that it thinks are interesting to you. Outside of that, what’s the power in data for Amazon, or for any company, Manuj?

Manuj Aggarwal  32:21

Yeah, that’s great question. Again, you see, our world is very complicated world, and our human mind is not able to comprehend a lot of things on the surface, meaning, you know, let’s take an example. You know, if we touch the stove, hot stove, immediately we know, okay, you know, it is going to hurt us. And that our mind is going to register one data point that next time don’t touch the stove. That’s one data point. But now imagine that, you know, we are in Antarctica, and the gas temperature is no more than 50 degrees. And, you know, the wind, wind chill factor outside is minus 30. And, you know, a whole bunch of other parameters come into the play. And then now we touch the stove. And, you know, it’s like, oh, okay, you know, it’s pleasant, actually, you know, I feel the warmth now. And now you are incorporating multiple data points into your psyche, to figure out what is right or wrong. And now, when you extrapolate that into millions of parameters, and you want to understand how the weather works, how macroeconomics work, how people are going to vote for a particular politician, you know, what kind of demand next year, you will see for a certain commodity, you know, all of these factors have so much intricacy and dependencies on number of factors, that our human mind is not able to comprehend that. So we go with the least common denominator understanding, and we say, okay, you know, my gut feel is that this is what’s going to happen. So let’s just go with that. But when you incorporate data, you don’t have to rely on gut feel, it gives you the objective outcome and says, with 99% accuracy, I’m going to tell you that tomorrow, it’s going to rain, right? Or next year, you know, the demand for wheat is going to be 200% of what it is this year, you know, or this new product that you’re selling, you know, it will do much better if you sell it in red versus blue, you know, these kinds of things. And then not only this, but you can actually start to see impact of AI and data on human mind. For example, how do we utilize data to raise the employee engagement, you know, we are all working in remote environments and a lot of companies are facing this challenge where their employees are not engaged anymore. You know, you can utilize data to really understand what is going on in the minds of people, like you can use sentiment analysis to understand, you know, what is the problem that people are facing, and then work on that problem to raise employee engagement, right? You can make your customers more loyal to you by speaking towhat core values they value, right? Like, for example, Gen Z generation, they value much more social causes, you know, climate change equality, these types of things. How do you discern that? You discern that through data, right. So, and then you will see that, you know, not getting into politics, but you will see that each and every year, people are collecting data through surveys and exit polls, and time and again, those exit polls are not accurate anymore. But then the same thing can be applied running Facebook ads, you know, Google ads and things like that. And you can present your point of view in it to the voters and say, Okay, these are the issues I’m going to be working on. Do you agree with me? If so, vote for me. So now you can see how data and AI and all these algorithms are shaping public opinion, right. And in reverse as well, because our world, believe it or not, is actually being controlled by AI already, because the world runs on the information that general public consumes the masses consume. It is not being edited. It is not being controlled by newspaper editors anymore. It is not being controlled by people, journalists in the field, it is controlled by AI, the algorithm determines what do you see on your feed on Google News on all the news sites? That’s the algorithm working? Right. Now you can see how data is actually intermingled with our society already?

Mike Malatesta  37:05

Let me go here first. So artificial intelligence. Do you think that’s a good name for it? Or do you think it should be something else? The reason I’m asking is because people I think people hear AI, artificial intelligence, and they think that it’s a thinking tool. It’s a human thinking tool, as opposed to well, I guess really a data collection tool. So correct me or tell me what you think about that term? Is that what you would have named it?

Manuj Aggarwal  37:51

I think nomenclature is very funny thing, you know, it changes changes over time. So it used to be called Data Analytics, you know, business analysis, you know, like, whole bunch of names. So, I will not be fixated on the name as it stands today. But I will say it is somewhat accurate, because, you know, as I told you, I also study human mind. And when you study human mind, you will see, you’ll understand that, in our mind, there are neurons and neurons, each of them when they get a stimulus, meaning when I see something new, or touch something new, or taste something new, you know, certain neurons will fire and then they will interact with each other, and they will vote, oh, this is a pleasant experience, or this is something I like to eat or whatever it is, and that vote of multiple neurons, that gets registered in our mind. And that becomes our intelligence. Right? Now, if 100,000 neurons fire 20,000 may say, oh, no, this is not a good experience. But 80,000 may say, Oh, this is a good experience. And the vote will be counted as a pleasant experience in our mind. The same thing happened with AI, because, yes, data collection is a huge part of AI project. In fact, 80% of the of the effort in an AI project is dedicated to collecting and cleaning data. But then after that, algorithms find very, very interesting patterns in that data. And then they figured out how the real world works, which is somewhat invisible to our mind, our naked eye, our human intuition. So a good example is I worked on a project where we created 3d printed orthotics, which are custom orthotics for people with joint pains. And the algorithms were trained by physicians with a minimum of 10 years of experience. But then, as the algorithm started to digest that information, learn from it, within a couple of months, they became more accurate. The algorithms became more accurate Then the physicians.

Mike Malatesta  40:02

Yeah, I’ve seen that in like reading MRIs, reading X rays. Yeah, they do better than, well, they may not do better all the time yet, but going towards they do better than an actual physician, because they’ve looked at more than even a physician with 40 years of experience. You can feed the AI many, many, many more visuals than physician could ever process, right? 

Manuj Aggarwal  40:49

Absolutely. Absolutely. One more thing I noticed, as I was, you know, working with the physicians, you know, humans are fickle. Because even if I have 10 years of experience in certain field, the performance on that day will depend, how did I wake up? Was my morning a planned morning? Did I have a fight with somebody? You know, did I get cut off in the traffic, you know, all of those things we carry with us during the day? You know, for sure. And the algorithms, I mean, they are pretty objective, they don’t get tired. They don’t like you know, they don’t have arguments and things like that. So that’s another factor.

Mike Malatesta  41:28

And long term. You know, there seems to be people come down on like, one or one side or another when it comes to AI is like, I love it, because AI is real goal is to make the human experience better. And then there’s the other side that says AI is real, real role is to take over my life in my world.

Manuj Aggarwal  41:51

Well, so the answer to this is, you know, let’s go back in history and look at all the inventions, major discoveries that humans have made, right. So when we invented fire, it was to cook food. But the same fire can be used to burn down a house. When we invented the lever, it was to help us lift heavy weights. You know, I you know, when the caveman decided that, okay, we’re going to kill a woolly mammoth, and eat for a month, they had to invent a lever to, you know, roll down a huge boulder, that human cannot lift, right? The car was invented to help us go faster. You know, the printing press was invented to help us spread the information faster. So all of these things are helping us to scale our physical ability. Right? Our two hands on legs are only capable of doing so much. But with these, these machines, these discoveries, we are able to multiply our capacity, our physical capacity. But AI is the only invention till date, which is going to multiply our cognitive ability. Right? So yes, there’s going to be losses in jobs. But every time a new invention like this comes along, you have to upskill yourself, you have to adapt, you know, humans have become the most powerful species, not because of anything else, but our ability to adapt. You know, we have gone through the ice ages, we have gone through the multiple, you know, multiple wars, multiple calamities, multiple things that have happened. But, you know, we are still here we are the most dominant species, because no matter what is thrown at us, we figure it out.

Mike Malatesta  43:42

So where does it in your mind and I’m your you may not be a futurist, but I’m going to put I’m going to I’m going to ask this question as if you are, where does it come? And will AI ever be as good of a human as a human can be? Or will the human brain always and thinking of the human brain and the way that it can, causes us to think and enables us to think or adapts us to think will always be ahead? And I know that sort of science-fiction-y a little bit but I think a lot of people are scared of that, like me, they don’t know where it ends, you know, they like it when it makes their life easier. They don’t like it when and when it makes them unnecessary. Yeah.

Manuj Aggarwal  44:33

So let me let me put it this way, right. Like, the thing is that we have before the advent of agriculture, our our, our evolution was solely dependent upon survival. Where are we going to get the food today? That was the only thing on our mind. That’s it. That’s it. After agriculture, we started accumulating resources. And we started thinking about okay, how do I make my myself more useful to society valuable to society, so that I can get more resources, right. But at the end of the day, and you know, you will realize that if everything was given to us, you know, whatever we want in our life, all the resources, all the, all the money and everything, we would rather spend our time doing things which we really like spending with spending time with our family, you know, painting, listening to music, whatnot, right. So the idea behind AI is not to become a better human, but to take away that pressure to think, rather, when AI becomes so powerful that most of the resources are available to us at a very, very, very cheap rate, very at a fraction of the cost of what we are able to get it for today, then our hearts and our emotions will become the mainstream thing that we drive for our hearts, and emotions, our creativity, our connection with others, that will become more important, because right now, we all desire that, but we have to put it on the side, because we have to spend eight to 10 hours working, you see what I’m trying to say? Yeah. So that is where we are going.

Mike Malatesta  46:19

Okay. And that’s, that, that’ll be an interesting place, if that’s where we end up because I can appreciate the, the, the opportunity and the hours to explore creativity. But there’s also this thing called money that you have to earn, you know, doing something, and it’s, it’s interesting to me, like, I guess, theoretically, everyone could earn money being, you know, using their creativity, which they kind of do now. But it’s a lot of times it’s applied to something that an AI could predict could potentially do for you or a robot or a robot enabled AI enabled robot or whatever. Yeah, it’s an interesting,

Manuj Aggarwal  47:00

let me let me give you some context on that as well. Right? Sure. The good the purchase price of a good that you buy, almost 70 to 80% of the of the cost, is just keeping checks and bounds on human beings. Like, let’s take a car, for example, right? The whole economy is setup, okay, there’s gonna be, you know, a mining company, mining the ore out of out of a mine, then that metal will get shaped into sheets, then, you know, it’ll be shipped to a car manufacturing company. And along the way, there are so many processes that are just making sure there is no theft, there is no cheating. There is no, you know, all of these things are just to keep check on human. How can I say behavior?

Mike Malatesta  47:58

Yeah, right. So supervision, safety, payroll, all these things.

Manuj Aggarwal  48:02

Right. Exactly, exactly. So now you can see, you know, if all of these things are now eliminated, taken off the table, the cost dramatically comes down. Makes sense?

Mike Malatesta  48:15

Yeah, sure. So let me go. Let me go a different let me go a different direction, if you don’t mind. So you’ve mentioned, you know, the power of the mind. And I have some notes here about, you know, you, I want to get your thoughts on optimization and tapping into the power of the mind, you know, you we started sort of started off early on about you having, you know, thinking big, and not quitting and doing things like that. And I, I know, You’ve done a lot of work in this power of the mind and optimization, peak performance, not just in computers or in technology, but in people. So I’m interested in your take on how to optimize people as people.

Manuj Aggarwal  49:00

Yeah, see, the very first thing is, you know, we need the first thing we need to do is we need to find out what drives people because what happens again, this is related to how we were talking about how the economy is set up, the economy set up to reward certain skills. And when we notice other people being rewarded more than us, we follow their path and we say, hey, you know, that guy became CEO. Now he’s driving a BMW, I want to be CEO. But they don’t realize if they try to emulate somebody else, but their passion lies somewhere else. They’re never going to be able to achieve the fulfillment they are seeking, maybe they will achieve being a CEO, maybe they will achieve being, you know, driving a BMW, but they will not achieve that fulfillment, and everything is driven off of that. Until you find fulfilment in your heart and your mind. You will keep striving for more. So the very first thing is you get familiar with yourself. The most important thing here is self-awareness. And when I say self-awareness, you know, again, people think that I know myself, you know, I know I like blue, I like to eat, you know, I like vanilla ice cream. I like all these things. But that’s not self-awareness, self-awareness is very, very deep inside you, you go deeper inside and see, what are the fears that you picked up during your childhood? What are the, you know, what are the things you are afraid of, what embarrasses you? You know, what are your true hopes? Like? Where do like, if there was no restriction on? You know, you need to get a degree, you need to have these resources? In a perfect world, in a utopian world? Where do you see yourself when you leave Earth? You know, what do you want to do? And then you work backwards from there, and then start to figure out, okay, you know, where are my strengths? Where are my weaknesses? How do I optimize these trends? And then the after that, the key is, how do I build a community around me, of people who can help me who think like me, because another aspect of the human mind is that grit and skill and experience alone is never going to get us there. The only thing that gets us there is when we are given something to us by somebody else, a human, the human network is very strong. So if you think about it, even our life is given to us by our parents, nothing that we have, is produced by us. It’s just our thoughts. And then through our thoughts and beliefs, we convince others to give them give us something. So when you become that, you know, single minded and you become so determined, and you start becoming consistent in your approach, then other people start to gather around you, and now you can start to, you know, transact with them, now you start to collaborate with them. And then your mind also starts to remind you that, hey, you know, you have something here that you can bring to the world, because so many people believe in you now.

Mike Malatesta  52:03

And do you think that? So that’s very interesting, when you sort of a work your way back from, you know, like you said, when you leave Earth, so it’s sort of like, working your way back . I guess this is what I heard from you, and you can tell me if I’m wrong, but it’s sort of like, once you have a purpose for why you’re here, you can build a framework around that supports the achievement of that purpose. I don’t want to put words in your mouth. 

Manuj Aggarwal  52:35

Exactly, yeah, so I’ll give you a very simple example to illustrate this, right. So let’s say I want to go somewhere, and I don’t know the address, I have the GPS, the GPS is gonna say, Give me the address, otherwise, I don’t know where to go. So most people, actually 99% of the people have no address where they want to go. So first thing is find out where you want to go. Like what exactly what I just said, and you heard it, what do you want to be? What do you want to have achieved by the time you leave Earth? And now you put in that address, you know, I want to impact a billion lives. Right? I my my mission in life is to use technology to help 20 Nobel Prize winners and 20 underdogs win a Nobel Prize. That’s my mission. Right? Now, when I put that into GPS, just like GPS works, even if I take a wrong turn, it will recalculate the path for me. It’ll say, oh, you know, you took a wrong turn, okay, you know, it’ll, it’ll be a little bit of a detour. But you can take that road and then take a ride, and then you’ll be back on track, right? So life is just like that. So once you know where you’re going, and you keep pushing towards that, then, you know, you will face challenges, you’ll make mistakes, you know, you’ll do all these things. But then just like the GPS, you’ll, you’ll come back onto your path.

Mike Malatesta  53:59

And let me shift gears to your podcast. Bootstrapping your dreams. So I want I want to understand why you why you started the podcast because as a podcaster, I’m always interested in why other people started. But I really wanted to also dig into this sort of mix that you have in your podcast between you doing you know, conversations with people like me, or whomever like Kara golden, or you know, some of the other people you’ve had on. And then these very short little, couple of minute, one minute, two minute, three minute four minutes where it’s just where you’re, you know, just talking about something that I suppose is. Well, I don’t want to suppose but I’m assuming it’s to do to be helpful to people, but it’s an interesting mix minutia. I’m always curious about how people cultivate their, their podcast and their thoughts about it.

Manuj Aggarwal  55:00

Yeah, I see, you know, I talked about experimentation earlier. So, when I started the podcast, it was pretty much interview style, you know, 3040 minutes, and we got some feedback that, hey, you know, it’s good material, but sometimes it’s too long. And, you know, it’ll be good to have some shorter episodes. So I said, Okay, you know, we can do some shorter episodes, then we said, okay, you know, if you’re gonna do shorter episodes, you know, out of a long episode, people generally, you know, even when we you and I listen to podcasts, we take away one or two nuggets, right? And we say, oh, you know that, that makes sense to me. So, so it’s basically an experiment that we ran that, hey, you know, why don’t we just put a couple of insights in a couple of minutes. And let’s see, see what happens. Because people are busy, and they just want, you know, some something to trigger their thought. So that’s where that idea came from.

Mike Malatesta  55:54

It’s a good idea. I’ve experimented with where I am in the process now doing like, one of one conversation, like this week, and then I do a solo episode on Friday, it’s a little longer than what, what you were doing, but for the same reason, just and I do it, one to have mixed up in the podcast, but to to give me an opportunity to express a thought or idea or share a thought or idea that I’ve, that I’ve been exposed to, in a, you know, a compact. Yeah, exactly. In a compact way, instead of Yeah, instead of someone having to listen for an hour to sort of get it, you know, even though I really do as, personally, I enjoy longer ones, because it really gives me a chance to sort of wind into things that I feel like, matter, too, too. Well, the matter to me, at least, I think they matter to people.

Manuj Aggarwal  56:53

Yeah, absolutely. No, I find these conversations very, very insightful. Like I think, you know, that. That’s one thing. I always tell people, if, if you want to achieve something, have as many conversations as possible, with like minded people, right? Yeah.

Mike Malatesta  57:15

So I guess I want to end with not only where you want people to connect with you, but is there anything that that you want to leave us with that I haven’t asked you about or haven’t asked you about in the right way? Because I want to make sure that the people get what you want from them?

Manuj Aggarwal  57:37

Yeah, sure. First of all, you know, if anybody wants to connect with me, just LinkedIn is the best choice or you can visit my website, Manoj Agarwal. So it my first name last But LinkedIn is a better choice, I’m fairly active on that. What I will say is that, you know, people can achieve great things in life. First, cultivate the self-awareness. You know, cultivate that belief in yourself, and learn how to communicate with others. Because those are the two things which are the biggest barrier in us achieving, you know, fulfillment, or what whatever, like material wealth, or you know, emotional wealth, anything, first, self-awareness and belief in yourself, and then being able to communicate to others. Because once you are able to do that, your thoughts will land where they need to land in other people’s minds, and they will start to accumulate around you.

Mike Malatesta  58:38

That’s a great way to end. Thank you so much, Minuchin. For those listening, do what you can today to make your future your property, the future that you want to own. Thank you. All right. Great. Thanks, Bruce.

Manuj Aggarwal  59:13

Thank you so much.

Mike Malatesta  59:15

Yeah. Oh, good. Yeah, I hope I hope that took you in a good direction. Yeah.

Manuj Aggarwal  59:21

That was a great question, though. Those were really, really insightful questions.

Mike Malatesta  59:26

Thank you. Yeah. Thank you. Yeah. And I really do like what you’re doing with your podcast, I’m gonna listen to a lot more of those short ones. For sure. And I listened to some of the longer ones to prepare for. Yeah, and when you have me on, but yeah, really? You’re a cool, dude. So thank you so much. Thank you. Yeah, my pleasure. So I’m

Manuj Aggarwal  59:44

looking forward to having another conversation with you online. So my team will arrange that and we’ll go from there.

Mike Malatesta  59:49

Okay. All right. Sounds good. Thank you later.

Manuj Aggarwal  59:53


Mike Malatesta

Mike Malatesta

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